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chicken

A feeble attempt

I'm trying to get back in the habit of posting a monthly recap here. The highlight of this month was attending CONvergence July 4-8 in Bloomington, MN. Kevin and I had never been to this con before, but the establishment over the past few years of Skepchick-sponsored skeptic and science-themed programming had caught our attention, and the long holiday weekend provided a good opportunity for us to travel. Registration took a ridiculously long time, but other than that, we had a great experience. Kevin and I both signed up for panels; he sat on 4, while I participated in 2. The party scene was especially fun, and we spent a lot of time in the Skepchick room (where my feminist hero Amanda Marcotte held court and served as DJ) and the adjoining Freethought Blogs suite. I also met my favorite Tarot dealers from The Tarot Garden (one of whom doubled as the bartender in another favorite party room, The Brass Falcon Airship) and a couple of fellow Doctor Who fans I used to correspond with regularly online: fizzixrat and John Seavey. (I am on the far left and John is second from the right in the photo below, from the panel Doctor Who: The Wilderness Years.)

panel

Kevin and I did a bit of live recording at the con, which appears on Flopcast 062. This coming weekend, Kevin will be at the rescheduled Boston Comic Con (postponed from April due to the Boston Marathon bombing) and I will be visiting with my family before heading off on what is probably my last trip of 2013. After two years off, I'm attending the National Barbie Doll Collectors Convention, which is taking place in New Orleans. With all of our travel this year, I'll only have 3 vacation days left after I return, so Dragon Con is unfortunately out of the question for me (but Kevin will be there, as usual).

penguin

Well, that didn't go as planned.

So, no trip reports were forthcoming this month, either about my most recent Galapagos cruise (photos) nor my earlier Mediterranean cruise (photos). Instead I racked up more mileage, first attending the second annual Women in Secularism conference in DC and having a lovely visit with gregmce and his partner, Charlie. The following weekend, Kevin and I took a quick trip to Chicago to attend the wedding of Jeff and Jen, our fearless leaders on the aforementioned Galapagos trip. Jeff runs his "field trips" and other events under the College of Curiosity brand, and I definitely recommend keeping an eye on what he has planned for the future. While in Chicago, I also got a chance to visit with my college friend Noah, who writes at The Hooded Utilitarian and The Atlantic.

I turned 42 this month, and I put together a playlist to mark the occasion. These aren't necessarily my 42 favorite songs, as I limited myself to one selection per artist, but they are 42 songs that I love by artists whose work I enjoy. I even tried to make it flow reasonably well. You can download a zip file of all the songs here.

Read on for the playlist and scattered notesCollapse )

kaboobie

Cruising again

Kevin and I just returned from another cruise, and I will report on it soon, but first I have some unfinished business to deal with. Our last cruise was in October 2011, and I never finished writing it up. Even when our friend and fellow traveler Naomi belatedly blogged about this trip, I still didn't get my act together. I will be referring to her posts (listed below) along with my notes to refresh my memory.

Istanbul: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Israel: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5
Greece: Part 1, Part 2
Kusadasi: Part 1, Part 2

First, let's catch up on my previous entries:

Quick Update
Istanbul

I shall resume by talking about Israel in my next post. Watch this space!

monkey

Now I've gone and done it

I completely missed a month. The question is, will anyone notice?

I've been meaning to write something about my 13th consecutive trip to Gallifrey One. I'll try to get around to it before we leave on our next vacation later this month.

In the meantime, I've been having fun with the Flopcast show notes. Even if you have no interest in listening to the podcast, you might find it amusing to look through the photos and videos I put in the notes for each episode (you know, if you're really bored one day). Kevin and his co-host Kornflake are at MarsCon this weekend and should return with some entertaining interviews and hijinks for inclusion in future shows.

chicken

Slow Start

I had all sorts of lofty ideas about posting more frequently in the new year, but here I am at the end of the month with only my usual summary.

The first event of note was another one of Kevin's surprise road trips. We wound up in Hartford, CT to see a workshop performance of a rock opera called "The Clowns", the non-musical parts of which were written by Matthew Dicks. Kevin and Matthew grew up in the same neighborhood and rode the bus to grade school together, although they were a year apart in age. It was a few years ago that Kevin discovered Matthew had become a novelist, and since then he has enjoyed his books Something Missing, Unexpectedly, Milo, and Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend. It was fun to meet up with Matthew and to see a production in workshop, at the end of which the audience was encouraged to fill out feedback forms and ask questions of the writers and cast. The composer and lyricist, Andy Mayo, based the songs on opera arias, some of which I actually recognized (such as the famous one from Carmen, aka the singing orange from Sesame Street that terrified me as a kid).

The next day I made a return visit to Cradles to Crayons, where I volunteered through work back in October. This time my Mom came with me, and we both had a rewarding experience.

Later in the month, Kevin visted the local convention Arisia and recorded a live episode of The Flopcast there. Other Flopcast topics this month included the works of Kevin Smith and angry things.

Last weekend we went to the Boston Skeptics book club, where we discussed Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman, a memoir about her upbringing in and eventual escape from an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. Later that evening we saw Adam Carolla at the Wilbur Theatre, then staggered across the street to the Encore Lounge where Niki Luparelli (mentioned several times on this blog) was performing with her pianist, Dapper Dan, to a small crowd of very drunk people.

Last, but not least, I started swimming lessons this month, making good on a promise to get this taken care of before our next cruise in March. My instructor is very patient and is focusing not on technique but on getting me to a point where I am comfortable "hanging out" in the water. I'm making better progress that I expected and am living proof that it's never too late.

chicken

Wrapping up

This isn't really a year-end wrap up; I don't have the attention span for that. This will just be my usual summary of what I've done over the past month. I do hope to write more in the new year, however, starting with reviews of some of my favorite albums. Watch this space!

We had some nice family time in December. Two of my cousins (sisters Jenny and Sarah) came to stay with my folks for a few days, along with their significant others (Chris and Dylan, respectively). We had been to Sarah and Dylan's wedding in July, and this was our first time meeting Jenny's boyfriend Chris. We enjoyed hanging out and eating together, and Kevin's cookies (fudgies) were very popular with everyone. We broke out the fudgies again the following weekend, as we celebrated the failure of the world to end (yet again) with our friends Jonas and Mary-Alice. During their party, we were all delighted to see about a dozen turkeys pay an extended visit to the backyard. Strangely, they were all male except for one female; one party guest called this a "reverse harem" and expressed her jealousy.

turkeys

Events we attended this month included a stand-up performance by Steven Wright, the Boston Skeptics Book Club (featuring Mary Roach's Bonk), Skeptics in the Pub with Seth Mnookin (author of The Panic Virus), and two concerts. Since we never pass up a chance to see Freezepop, we stayed out way past our bedtimes one Friday night to attend the Boston Band Crush Holiday Spectacular, which also included Emily Peal, The Field Effect, and Sidewalk Driver. Another fun Friday night was spent listening to '80s cover bands Van Railin, Gunpowder Gelatine[1], and The Power of Love.

December felt extra festive this year, perhaps because we spent so much time talking about all our favorite TV Christmas specials on the Flopcast. I sat in and took over list-making duties from Kevin on episodes 031 and 033, covering Rankin/Bass and non-Rankin/Bass specials, respectively.

I hope everyone reading this enjoyed spending holiday time with friends and family. Happy New Year!

[1] We discovered this all-female Queen cover band when their lead singer performed "Under Pressure" with Niki Luparelli last month at the Bowie tribute concert.

monkey

Squirrels and Monkees

Last-minute update, as usual...

Kevin and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary on the 11th. That weekend there happened to be an opening of a new exhibition by Alex Ross at the Norman Rockwell Museum in western Massachusetts, so we drove out and spent the night after attending a lovely opening reception that included a tour of the exhibition by Ross himself and a chance to get in line early for autographs.

Just one week later, we headed west on a longer drive, ending up in Buffalo for a Monkees concert. After the passing of Davy Jones earlier this year, it was a bittersweet occasion but also a chance to see Mike Nesmith touring with the band in the US for the first time. Since the tour wasn't coming any closer to us than New York, we took this opportunity to visit Buffalo and re-visit the black squirrels at Niagara Falls (I'm told they're a Canadian import).

blacksquirrel

We spent the evening before the concert with our friend Rebecca Watson of Skepchick, her partner, and their upstairs neighbors/landlords. After comsuming Burmese food, red wine, and various pumpkin-flavored delicacies (or not, in the case of Pumpkin Hershey's Kisses), we retired to our hotel. A cool-looking diner we passed along the way became our breakfast spot the next day. My old friend Graeme came down from Ottawa for the concert as well, and we had dinner and after-show drinks with him and his wife Julie.

monkees

The concert was fantastic, a nice complement to last year's show, which wound up being Davy's last tour. They naturally played a lot of Mike's material, which sounded great, and a suitable tribute to Davy was included with several video numbers and an audience-participation rendition of "Daydream Believer".

I took the week of Thanksgiving off, accomplishing very little. We spent Thanksgiving Day with Kevin's family, as usual, but on Saturday we had a second complete dinner with my family, featuring a turkey brined by my sister. In between the two we saw Niki Luparelli and the Gold Diggers with our friend Andrea again, this time performing a tribute to the music of David Bowie, complete with burlesque dancers Babes in Boinkland. It was certainly an eye-opening experience!

The cold weather has held off so far, but today I broke out the winter coat for the first time this year. The Christmas tree is already up, and in just over a week you'll be able to download a holiday episode of The Flopcast in which I weigh in on the best Rankin/Bass holiday specials. So break out the egg nog and get ready for a festive month ahead!

kogepan

Fall

Since my last update was in early September, I had intended to post again in early October. Best laid plans and all that...so now it's time to jump in the Wayback Machine and try to remember everything I've done since I last posted.

I saw three concerts in September, and all of them were all-female! Kevin, Kristen, and I went to see Dar Williams perform at the Somerville Theater, with Jill Sobule opening. Later in the month, Kevin and I saw the Ladies of Ragnarok (Molly Lewis and The Doubleclicks), with special guest Marian Call (whom we had also seen at Dragon*Con). Finally, I went by myself to a house concert while Kevin was out of town. This was part of the Voices United series, sponsored by AU. Catie Curtis was the featured performer, and the added presence of The Nields was a pleasant surprise.

Also in September, we switched from Comcast to Verizon FIOS for our TV/internet/phone service. (We actually didn't have a phone line through Comcast, but even with the phone we are saving a significant amount of money each month with Verizon, plus I was able to ditch my personal cell phone for even more savings.) We now have a larger DVR and a second set-top box that allows us to watch content on our upstairs TV that was recorded on the main TV. I find this especially useful during football season.

Our social calendar was pretty busy in October. Kevin and I had the pleasure of seeing Bob Newhart perform at the Wilbur Theatre. My sister moved back home to start a new job, with boyfriend and cat in tow, and it was lovely hanging out with them and some members of my extended family who were visiting during peak foliage time. I hosted a baby shower for our friends Sarah and Andy, who are expecting a baby girl in early December. Andy also joined us once again for RiffTrax Live; this time we suffered through Birdemic, an environmentally-themed thriller with glacially slow pacing, horrible acting, and ridiculous CGI. And there's a sequel in the works, in 3D, which I find too terrifying to contemplate.

Our friend Andrea introduced us to Niki Luparelli a few months ago, then joined us last week to see Niki perform a tribute to the music of James Bond with her band, the Gold Diggers. And just last night, Kevin and I revisited one of our favorite concert spots, Tupelo Music Hall, for a delightful solo performance by Marshall Crenshaw. If you know him at all, it's probably from the 1982 hit "Someday, Someway". Here's a newer song he performed last night that I particularly liked.



Last, but not least, the Flopcast Halloween episode is up today. The show notes are much more photo-heavy than usual; check them out if you enjoy pumpkin art!

monkey

Recovering

As I try to shake off the last of the con crud, here's my summary of activity for August, extending through Dragon*Con last weekend.

Kenny Loggins wasn't the only Footloose-themed performance we saw this Summer. Kevin had a surprise in store — a performance of Footloose: The Musical in good old Woonsocket, Rhode Island (where we saw Fame: The Musical last August). Unlike Fame, this show stayed close to the plot of the film that inspired it, with some additional musical numbers padding out the soundtrack hits. The leads were merely adequate; the guy playing the Chris Penn character stole the show.

Another curious echo of last August...I once again saw Chris Collingwood from Fountains of Wayne perform "A Dip in the Ocean" (and a handful of other songs) live, although this time he was accompanied by Paul and Storm, for whom he opened. That's right, this time Paul and Storm were not the opening band, but they performed "Opening Band" nonetheless. (It came second in their set, after their recent hit "Write Like the Wind (George R. R. Martin)", which I include below because I encountered at least two people at D*C who hadn't seen it yet.)



Other outings in August included RiffTrax Live featuring Manos: The Hands of Fate, which we endured alongside our friends Andy and Sarah. We might re-team with them for Birdemic in October, if we can summon the strength. We also took a short weekend trip to Connecticut to see George Hrab perform, even though we would see him again less than a week later at Dragon*Con. We took the opportunity to catch up with some friends at the show and stop by the PEZ Visitor Center, which wound up being quite fun.

And then there was Dragon*Con. What can I say that didn't already make it onto Twitter or Facebook? The most entertaining events for me were the annual Star Party hosted by the Atlanta Skeptics on Thursday night (with music by Marian Call and the aforementioned George Hrab) and the Freezepop concert on Saturday night (actually 1:30 am Sunday). I don't always put up with the massive crowds at D*C very well, but at that concert I was happy to be one of the masses crammed into the Atrium Ballroom, singing along to "Brainpower". And then they went and blew my mind with their encore. After promising us "the truth about what happened in Jabba's palace", the band launched into a cover of "Lapti Nek", the song performed by Sy Snootles in the original release of Return of the Jedi but expurgated from subsequent releases. (You can read more about its strange history on io9.)



I have vivid memories of watching a behind-the-scenes documentary on the shooting of Jedi and hearing a vocalist singing the English lyrics to "Lapti Nek" as they showed the Sy Snootles puppet. I also recall that my college boyfriend's roommate had the soundtrack, complete with lyric sheet, and that's where I learned the song's title, as well as that of the Ewok celebration song, "Yub Nub". Some of the lyrics to both songs have, tragically, stuck with me to this day.

If there is one photo that sums up all of D*C, it would be this:



That's our friend Liz, joining with the Skepchicks in some adorable Star Wars crossplay[1], with me in my Teefury Slap Bet Commissioner[2] shirt.

ETA: Check out the latest Flopcast episode for live Dragon*Con reporting! The show notes have more photos and an entertaining video.

[1] I guess droids are genderless. Does C3P0 ever refer to R2 as "he"?
[2] From How I Met Your Mother

iconologia

Yikes!

Almost missed my post for this month. I'm at Dragon*Con at the moment (literally, at this moment, watching a BSG panel) and will have lots to report when I get back!


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