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above: Nakia ([ profile] austinchubbylimits) and His Southern Cousins rock the stage formerly known as WaMu.

Well, I started today with a horrible cold, possibly flu that had me looking for medicine at an HEB at 4:30 am. After that there was the crazy guy at the McDonalds that seemed to be yelling about some conspiracy theories about Louisiana cops and gay firemen. If this wasn't a bad enough sign, then a bird crapped on me as we entered the park for the last day of the festival.

Just about all the bears and several other people to come to see Nakia and his band make their ACL debut. He rocked, sweated and thrilled the crowd.

Since there wasn't another band we wanted to see until the evening, we went back downtown to go to the Lone Star Bears Beer Bust. While there I started feeling worse and worse. I wanted to get to the hotel before I felt too weak to get back to the parking garage. I spent most of the afternoon and evening here in the hotel bed.

Chris along with Sean and Karl went back to see Gnarls Barkley and the Foo Fighters, who close the show.

I'd rather be having fun with the boys. Boo for being sick. Hopefully I'll be feeling better before we drive home tomorrow.
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From Left to Right: Ben ([ profile] qualitykill), Paul ([ profile] skacubby), Scott and Chris.

Another day in the books as we saw The Fratellis, MGMT, John Fogarty, Robert Earl Keen, Alison Krause and Robert Plant and a great set from Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Lots of energy today. Many more people in the park today than yesterday, so much so we couldn't leave where we were to go see Iron and Wine. Sad about that, but still some good fun and good people here, again.

Some crazy lady insisted she take this photo of us from my iPhone. She did not know how to use it, and this was the third try. So much for me back there! Another girl wanted to know all about us because she saw the Bear episode of Kathy Griffin and recognized the Bear Flag.

Now my cold has really kicked in. Not good, especially with all the dust kicked up in the park.
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Sean ([ profile] alphaschnitz) and Karl ([ profile] bookbear) brave the sun in the Austin evening. The heat isn't as bad this year, which is nice. Crowd is huge as always. Caught Vampire weekend, Hot Chip, Patty Griffin, What Made Milwaukee Famous and David Byrne today, and that was before leaving the park early to go have "real" dinner at Katz's Deli.
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A few notes today:

● First, I watched the season premier of Heroes the other day, and I think we can start a drinking game with the number of stolen plots. Sure, they say there are only 153 plots in the world, but when you can clearly see they are stealing from “The 4400”, “X-Men”, “The Sixth Sense” and every other movie where the villain is somehow related to the hero. It doesn’t feel fresh and new. Of course, reading comics for so many years makes most of the plots and characters seem kind of old.

Although they didn’t introduce many new characters, there’s too many of them out there, and they rarely work together in any meaningful way. Sure, the idea is that at the end of the story, everything comes together, but the writers seem to have a hard time with that. Here are a couple of thoughts. Kill some characters. We’re starting to get some redundancy in powers and it just muddles everything. When you do kill some of them, then let them stay dead. There’s no way the audience can feel for the danger the characters are in if everyone can easily come back to life.

Speaking of new characters, there was the one “villain” who was locked up with the others in the paper factory. He is a cute Hispanic cubby, but since he apparently has been switched out with Peter Petrelli, now that he’s escaped, we the audience only see Peter, and the cute cubby in mirrors and reflections. It’s a lazy way to not have to explain to the audience that he’s really Peter, but that could be explained in dialogue. I’d rather see the cubby.

It’s also interesting how they are spending their effects budget. Some effects look great (the freezing, the speedster’s streak) others look terrible. I know you are working on a television budget, so you need to choose carefully.

Hopefully with the extra time off, Heroes writers worked harder to put together a season-long story arc like there was with the first season. There’s some indication of this, but it is tough to see how some of the storylines work together. One last thing. Too many characters can see the future. One is OK, but you have dreamers and travelers and sometimes they see different visions. It’s confusing to the audience and it’s used as a cheap way to build a threat – much like our current administration warning about attacks that haven’t happened. Let’s limit the visions of the future on this show.

● The Emmy Awards show was terrible, but I like both Mad Men and 30 Rock. It’s rare that I like the shows that win.

● I love that to try to preserve the economy until at least a week into November the Bush Administration wants to have an unelected official have the power to distribute 700 billion dollars of taxpayers’ money to banks and investment firms that couldn’t control their own businesses? No way. The Bush Administration has done terrible damage to the country grabbing powers that were not a part of the executive branch, or once had oversight by other branches of government. Congress has too many times rolled over to let them take it’s oversight power, or allowed the administration to write in restrictions to judicial oversight. Sorry, but this time we need to say no, even when the economy is tanking.

The bailout will happen, but it needs to be on terms that protects taxpayers and works to protect the government from falling into deeper debt. Mortgage lenders don’t like the idea of the government coming in and re-writing loan provisions, but it’s better to prevent foreclosure and have people pay back the loans rather than to have them just walk away. This was done in the great depression and can be done now. I hope Congress will have the guts to demand it.

I’m sure Republicans will try to block the bailout legislation if it comes in with a lot of oversight. They will say that the Democrats were just trying to grow government and put in a lot of wins for them, but the Republicans can easily use the bill to try to make political points as well by refusing it. Since Republicans like to say they are for free and open markets, they can say, oh, the bill didn’t pass because there were too many demands (like the CEO pay bit) that made it unpalatable to business, and argue that business will drive the economy if it’s left alone. Bull. These companies got into trouble and are driving the economy to ruin. I don’t want long-term oversight, or government ownership, but there has to be restrictions and accountability. I don’t think the Republicans are up to the challenge. Hopefully the Dems will be.

● I’m getting ready with Chris to go to Austin City Limits Festival (ACL) this weekend. I’m ready to get away from the calls and callers we’ve had these last two weeks. It’s been crazy as people are looking for advice, but we can only provide information and a bit of guidance. People always pick the worst time to take action with their retirement accounts, selling out of funds when they are down, and buying “hot” funds when they already are at their highpoint. It’s tough to tell them that. I also hate when we are told to reduce our lunchtime due to the high volume of calls. I’d be happier to stay later than cut my lunchtime.

● As for ACL, I don’t think there are many people we know going. I’ve heard from a couple, and of course we are excited to see Nakia ([ profile] austinchubbylimits) take the stage at the event. It should be cooler this year, too. 90 degrees instead of 108. There’s a lot of overlap this year during the afternoon hours where two or even three good bands are on at the same time. There will be lots of choices to be made.

● Damn, I’m already wanting lunch and it doesn’t come until 2:30 today. The person who popped popcorn needs to die.
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I'm probably writing this way too late, but system problems at work yesterday made the whole day a total bitch, and I never did get around to writing down my final Olympic thoughts, so here goes.

First, credit where credit is due, NBC did do a better job of showing all of the different sports this year - if you had cable; and you were willing to stay up into the wee hours. Badminton? Sure. Wrestling? Yes, a day after it happened, but yes. Where NBC used to show a more diverse lineup of sports in their latenight segment, this year they just placed it all on cable. There's still the bias of showing events that American's are in, but not as much as NBC Primetime.

NBC does a lot to protect it's affiliates, holding many of the big sports for primetime. This year was very odd because some events would be taking place live in the morning, Beijing time, and others would be held back from the night before. Of course everything was highly edited. It's odd when they are covering just a small group of competitors and suddenly you find that someone has taken a medal and was never covered.

Lets reduce the amount of beach volleyball. it's an awful sport and only serves as a way to get scantily clad women on TV. At least they aren't underage, but still. They barely show the Decathlon, the classic Olympic sport, won by an American even, but they show hours of people in the sand.

The second week of the games just fell flat, not only because the Michael Phelps show was over, but because the US wasn't doing so well in the running events (we did fine in the field events, but they don't focus on that), that NBC seemed a little bitchy about it. The games seemed to run out of steam after swimming and gymnastics were over.

Lastly, the closing ceremonies certainly didn't bring the excitement and the wonder that the opening ceremonies did. It didn't help that NBC tried to stretch out a 90 minute event into 3 hours with tons of flashbacks. The large tower just made the floor show look like the worlds largest showing of Chinese Acrobats at Six Flags. The fireworks still amaze, though.

London really came in and rattled the whole thing with the rock-and-roll double decker bus. Leona Lewis and Jimmy Page? Talk about a change in tenor at the ceremonies. They really livened up the ceremony, and then China couldn't really comeback because their pop-spectacular features government friendly songs sung by Jackie Chan and a group of people you never heard of. "Beijing, I Love You" is no "Whole Lotta Love."

For the 2012 games London should just load up the entire opening ceremonies with world-class pop acts, Annie Lennox, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Pet Shop Boys, Spice Girls, and whoever is hot at the time. Screw the thing of we have a billion people, just show that a small island has put out a ton of pop culture over the last 50 years or so and have that as your opening ceremony. Done.

Hey, note to the Republican convention guys, if you also thought the second week of the Olympics was too much, so will the second week of political stump speeches. People are already tired of presidential politics this year, and will be even more so next week when your giant American flag is up in St. Paul.

Otherwise, I am sunburned again. I can't seem to use the aerosol spray cans of sunscreen without missing some very large swaths. I have stripes right now.

Off to work, from what I hear the software problem we had yesterday still isn't fixed, so it should be quite a day.
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Hot mess fierce tranny John ([ profile] furrytxcub) asks:

You can go back in time for the sole purpose of erasing one artist/band from the whole of musical history. You only get one. Who would it be?

While there are many artists that would be great to have eliminated from the planet, I really can think of only one that I truly would want to have eliminated from history completely.

Paula Abdul.

To me, Paula Abdul marks the moment when music really went to crap in the 1980's. New Wave was officially dead when she decided to stop being a Laker Girl and start singing. Sure, there were already signs that pre-formulated pop was once again rearing it's ugly head, but when she came onto the scene, about the same time as Tiffany and Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, you knew it was over.

The moment Paula Abdul came on the scene, the really strong woman seemed to disappear in the pop world. For the years preceding we had women like Debbie Harry, Chrissie Hynde, Joan Jett, Annie Lennox and even Madonna, who still had control of the music and image. Paula Abdul had more in common with the 60's girl groups, controlled by producers and publicists than having an act on her own.

Paula Abdul unleashed things the Mary Jane Girls, Samantha Fox, Expose, Rick Astley, Wilson Phillips and New Kids on the Block. I don't include Debbie Gibson because she at least wrote her own music. Unlike Milli Vanilli - sort of the culmination of the whole problem, I suppose. While grunge pushed out this crap for a while, it came back in the late 90's again. I guess it always re-occurs, but I think Abdul really sums up the end of one of the better music periods of my life.

This is not to say that there was not good music in the late 80's and early 90's, but you had to dig further sometimes. At the same time some of the best stuff from REM, the B-52's, the Cure and Depeche Mode was out, all groups that carried over from New Wave.

Of course now she's on American Idol, influencing yet another wave of schlock music (though I do like some of Kelly Clarkson's stuff). I'm sure if she didn't exist, there's plenty of other packaged pop girls who would take her place between Randy and Simon, but since it is her, and I already tag her with the destroyer of New Wave, then it's just adding insult to injury.

BTW: Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give you Up" was number 1, 20 years ago today.
Should you be inclined to ask me a question, you can still do so HERE, where comments are screened.

Otherwise, since other attendees of TBRU have been mentioning it, apparently there is a meet and greet scheduled for 11am on Saturday March 22 (Easter Eve?) in the host hotel lobby bar. I'm not sure if that means that [ profile] wooferstl wants us all to get drunk early or what.

I'm hoping that we can turn it into a big lunch gathering and surprise some unlucky restaurant with a group of 20-30 bears waiting for the lunch special. I love to see waiters when they get a big group of us!
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For [ profile] arthole...

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Shannon and Kendall

Shannon Grady and Kendall in Tulsa, OK

Other poorly lit iPhone photos from Bears on the Run are located HERE. (Chris has better photos HERE)

After dropping Joey off at the kennel pet hotel, Chris and I drove up to Tulsa on Saturday. We got off to a late start and thought we might miss some of the show, but Bobaloo called me saying they'd be on gay time. Well, after a boring time driving through dozens of small Oklahoma towns, and a few speed traps, we checked into the hotel, and made our way to the industrial area where the Tulsa Eagle was at.

Oh, and I got princess parking. Why? Because it was a bit too early for people to show up at the Eagle. The bar isn't too big, though there's a sizable patio, and there's a decent stage area. It seems that Chris and I go to the small shows, as there weren't many people in attendance in Dallas, and fewer in Tulsa, for a while at least.

Let's just say Tulsa is weird not only is it a city where most every way in or out is a toll road, but there's just something off about it. I've been to Oklahoma many times, and yes, it's a strange world - this from someone who lives in Texas, but Tulsa, we'll that's another story. From the reactions and talking to a few locals, I'm guessing they just don't get a lot of visitors. Of course a couple of the guys were smitten with Kendall - not unusual by any means, but this was in a creepy, stalker way.

I think that one reason the crowd wasn't too big was that there's not an LJ community there. Not one of the performers, nor those of us who traveled to be there, knew anyone from Tulsa. It's like an LJ black hole.

The show itself was awesome. Although the locals seemed to react in some mysterious ways, the boys put out a fine show. Since seeing them in Dallas, they seemed much more sure of themselves. Transitions between artists went better and they were just more seasoned. There were more collaborations and fine tuning to make sure the set lists worked with the crowd. Adding Josh the violinist helped round out the music.

You could tell that they were better in relating to the audience, too. Despite the small crowd, they were there specifically for the event, and stayed with them. some folks who came in at the tail end of the show, ready for their Saturday night out, weren't quite so respectful of the performers, though

I know that on future tours I'd like to see a closing set featuring all of the artists. I understand on this first tour they didn't have a chance to collaborate while on the road, but perhaps next time.

I couldn't be more happy that the tour has been a success and will likely spawn more opportunities of these guys.

It was cool to be able to be groupies, heading out to a late dinner after the show (I still can't recommend Denny's, for food, or waitressing, but we had a good time), and then seeing them again, and talking about their road experiences the next morning (we stayed at the same cheap motel). We exchanged a little bit of contact information with those we didn't know so well, but hope to keep up with, and sent them on their way to Wichita.

Chris and I turned west and went to Stillwater where I showed him where my fraternity's national headquarters was, and went to Eskimo Joe's for lunch. I've gone there many times with frat brothers when we would visit, so it's always a special, fun place. I've bought several of their famous T-shirts, too. Chris wasn't so impressed, but I think it's just a place that has fond memories for me.

We drove up on US 75, but took I-35 back through Oklahoma City. The swing around the city is still bad where I-35 and I-40 meet. Here I thought they fixed that. I thought about going to the memorial where the Murrah Federal Building once stood, as I was there back in 1995 when it was bombed, but I've never returned to see the memorial. Unfortunately it was already getting late and I didn't have good directions, so we kept on going so we could pick up Joey at the pet hotel.

It was great getting to see another show, and to meet Mark from Homopod Radio - which I guess i need to listen to. It was also great to see the BotR guys (Elijah, Shannon, Kendall, Bobaloo, Matthew and Josh) again and see how well they had done, and spend time with them after the show. It made for a very special weekend, even if it was in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I'm impressed with what they did, and how they pulled it together, and makes me want to find the courage to put myself out there and do something bold, too.
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Nakia sings

I really should be more timely, though I did upload a few photos of the recent Dallas stop of the Bears on the Run Tour. Perhaps this will get me going on getting the alaska photos uploaded (hell, where are those Boston photos from a year ago?)

Dallas was the first stop on the Bears on the Run Tour. It was a small, but enthusiastic group, many of us knowing each other from LJ. Thursday night as the guys went out on the town to promote the show, I got to meet the other artists on the tour, so the show felt like an intimate group of friends. By the time Matthew Temple hit the stage as the last act, I got the feeling that we were all at some bonfire telling stories and listening to people sing their tales.

Truly, I knew some of these guys, but never heard their music, certainly not live. It was a great show with laughs, a lot of hugs, some working out of details on this shakedown cruise, and a group of artists that looked very happy about getting on the road and just entertaining.

Let me tell you a little about each artist we saw.

Bobaloo: Really, most of us here know him. He's the wild and crazy guy and made a good MC introducing the acts. He came out in a few costumes, including an ensemble that mimicked the 80's rocker Billy Squire. Lets say his guitar playing needs some work, but still "the Stroke" is a song that deserves some ribbing.

Elijah Black: Rocking guitarist with soulful roots. Just good, crunchy music.

Shannon Grady: The voice of BTalk provides catchy guitar hooks with intimate story telling. His voice is soft and quiet, but clear and it draws you in.

Kendall: He's a ball of energy. The lyrics are fun and the costume...well, maybe he shouldn't be so shy and should show off a little. :-) He was the best in getting out in the audience and partying. Still, a serious song does show there's something deeper behind the performer.

Nakia: Funny, I've know Nakia for a few years now, but never really head him perform. What a suprise and a treat. Delicious white boy soul that I'm going to have to make a trip down to Austin to see as he performs with his full band. Definitely check him out.

Matthew Temple: Blues Rock and a story teller. You can see he's had experience and experiences. It was like he was the camp leader and we were the campers - especially as an orange light kept him half in light, half in shadow. A moving, emotional finish.

Afterwards i loaded up on some CDs, talked to both the artists and also the concert goers. It was more than a performance since we all had connections. I had such a great time.

That evening the performers packed up and we went to the Roundup for the unofficial aftershow party. We had a good time talking about the show, dallas, life etc. We also had some of the guys do an impromptu sing-a-long with Marge, the cross dressing guitarist who's out on Dallas' gaybourhood sidewalk just about every weekend.

I urge all of you to go see Bears on the Run if you're near the tour dates. (Especially you Houstonians - the show is tonight!) I so wanted to go to Austin last night, and if we had a dog sitter...well. still, there's a chance we might road trip it out to another show before it's all over. It was just that much fun!

I hope the rest of the tour goes great, with big, enthusiastic crowds!
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Hey there everyone, wow, it's been a bit. Well, sadly this isn't a real update but more of a shameless promotion.

The Bears on the Run tour is kicking off here in Dallas tomorrow night at 7pm at the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Resource Center (just off the Cedar Springs Strip) and I want to urge my Dallas area readers to come out for the launch of the inagural tour.

Of nothing else, there's a whole lot of cute boys singing, and it's early enough you can hit the bars afterwards. It's also good to support the independent music artists in our community!

Shannon Grady ([ profile] plaghs) from the BTalk podcast is organizing the event with Kendall, Elijah Black, Matthew Temple, Austin's own Nakia and MC'd by Bobaloo.

For the other Texans out there, the tour also makes stops in Austin on Saturday and Houston on Sunday. The tour also plays several other cities in the southeast and midwest.

Get more information on the tour HERE.
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It's been a pretty busy weekend here. I guess I did get a little jump start on being more social. We saw Hairspray on Friday night which was good. much better than I thought it would be. Travolta seems to be in another movie, or doesn't get the joke, but he does OK. The new Tracy, Nicole Blonsky, does a really good job with the whole thing, but it seems, thinking back to my recollection of the original movie Tracy get's the spotlight. in the new film they turn the attention away from her at the very end, and highlight her more famous co-stars. The new Tracy is so good, I wish they would have let it play out as it once did.

I just finished Michael Tolliver Lives which is a good book. Not high literature or anything, but a good solid read. It has much to do with getting older and the changes your relationships with people take, so it resonated a lot with me, even though the character is 15 years my senior.

I finished that book so I can now get on to reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Yes, I'm one of those people as well, but I tend to read at a more leisurely pace, so I probably won't be finished with it for a couple of weeks or so. I don't think I could - or even would like to devour the book like some have done this weekend. I fully expect to have the ending spoiled for me by the time I get through, if not by LJ (and some of you have already come close...) probably by Chris.

Chris bought me a copy of the book when he got his on Saturday morning. we bought two because I didn't want to wait on him to finish before I got started, and I thought he would take it on his trip to Miami coming up. Well, Chris is already half way through it, only slowed down by some training he needed to do and my desire to pick up comic books. I guess I could have waited and would have had it in my hands by Tuesday. oh well, we can always give a copy to a library or something when we're done.

We went to Zeus because their 7th anniversary sale included discounts on the new titles, so it was a good deal. Richard ([ profile] dedagda) was very excited about his upcoming trip to Comicon. I know it will be cool for him because he goes in as the reigning champ of store owners after last year's Eisner win. We talked a lot about what new TV shows they might introduce at the con. I mentioned The Bionic Woman, Chuck and New Amsterdam (which I think has been retitled). Perhaps they will talk about the upcoming plans for a Shazam! movie, or the long awaited Watchmen flick.

One of these days I should go out to Comicon. It sounds like a total nerdy blast!

Chris and I finished the weekend going out to Dave and Busters for their dinner and tokens special where we earned a lot of those yellow tickets at things like skeeball and those strange coin drop games. Unlike say Chuck E Cheese, the food is pretty good and you don't feel like a dork playing skeeball next to a 10 year old. Still, most of the prizes you can win for those tickets are made for those much younger than us, though I don't know anyone who needs a set of clip on dolls of the Blue Collar comedians.

I also picked up some new music, including the new Magic Numbers album, which is good. We did miss Entourage tonight, so we haven't totally gotten our fill of pop culture this weekend.
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No time to really post tonight. I've spent several hours getting ready for tomorrows interview-demonstration.

Here's a song from the band I've probably know the longest, from re-runs in childhood to purchasing the albums in the 80's and even seeing a reunion show. This song, Randy Scouse Git, from Headquarters was about Mickey's trip to see the Beatles as the recorded Sgt. Pepper's. This song is 40 years old this year.
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Seven, eh?

1. I'm the third grandchild of my paternal grandparents, first of my maternal ones. Out of the six of us, two to my uncle, two with my parents, and two to my aunt, I'm the only boy. I think there were some expectations of lineage that have pretty much gone into the ashcan.

2. My great-grandparents on my father's father's side only met their oldest granddaughter before being killed in their bedroom by a robber. This was 1966. There's a small church in Milton, Florida that's named after them. I've been told that the robber just recently got out of jail and has a grudge against the family. I'm the only Edwards of the clan still left in Dallas, so I've been warned, but since this guy is in his seventies, and got out of jail after a 40 year prison sentence, I'm hoping the chances of a meetup are low.

3. I played saxophone in high school after not being trained well to play trumpet by my middle school band teacher. He also changed me over because I had braces. Damned Braces. It's a wonder I kept going playing saxophone, because as an instrument, it sucks. Still, Band got me out of PE, and made me the guy I am today. Thankfully I got to college and our band was small, so I switched over to Tuba and had a blast. I wish I had played tuba much earlier. Now I can barely remember the fingerings, I'm so out of practice.

4. I can take you, if asked to any of the houses my family has lived in except one. They are all in Texas, but not necessary close to each other. The one I don't know the address of is the one in Denton, TX where my dad had a job with Acme Brick (used by coyotes) and my mom finished getting her Home Economics degree at North Texas State.

5. I had a speech impediment when I was young, and when I started to go to school I went to speech classes everyday for a couple of years. That's where one of my earliest friends was made. I'm not sure what the impediment was, but it's been gone for a long time, and the therapy sessions are one reason I don't have as pronounced of a Texas accent.

6. My first paying job was scooping ice cream at a Baskin-Robbins. The owner was a control freak and wanted your scoops to weigh the same 5 ounces. He had his costs down to the penny. Needless to say, I sucked. It would be five years before I got another job. just because I didn't need one until i had to start paying for college myself. I worked for St. Lukes Hospital in Houston's Medical Center microfilming old ovarian cancer records.

7. I think I've been a Bear for a lot longer than I've been out. I first heard of the bear thing by picking up Bear Magazine around 1993. At that time I was already overweight, hairy and bearded. I'd already lusted after my friend Mike, who we called Ogre, who was also hairy and bearded. Thank god for hot outdoor band practices in college where his shirt would come off. sadly he's married and has children, but still kinda hot. One of my frat brothers, Gene, was a coverbear for American Bear magazine, but I never picked up that issue. A little weirdness, perhaps?
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We saw Ratatouille this afternoon. It was a great little story. Brad Bird is certainly a master. I also found the music to be well-suited for the film. For Pixar, not having Randy Newman at all must have been a stretch. This would be one of the best Pixar films if you ask me. Great storytelling, voice actors that don't make you think "oh, it's that guy" and a lovely visual.

I think Pixar has gotten past the need to wow us with the visuals, since computer animation has become so normal to us now, but this one has a realism that was just fantastic. If you took out the characters, which are cartooney, the backgrounds and the kitchen and the food look really realistic. It's quite an accomplishment. Still, it all comes down to the story, which is simple and told, as I said, really well. I think I'd rank the Pixar Movies released so far thusly:

The Incredibles
Toy Story
Finding Nemo
Toy Story 2
Monsters, Inc.
A Bugs Life

The Wall*E teaser trailer makes me want to know more.

Otherwise, on a completely different subject, I've been thinking about the recent terror attacks in Great Britain. they seem simple enough, and British and Scottish officials have done a decent job of pulling everything together and keeping the public safe. The thing is, they've been through this. The IRA attacks over a couple of decades gave them useful training and knowledge on how the police should deal with the small attacks like this.

There was no panic, just a resolve to try to get to the ones involved with the planning and execution of the attacks. I do wonder how they handle the racial profiling there, since it always seems to be such a hot button issue here. the people there do know that these guys are trying to intimidate them, and Britain, having been through WWII and other terrorist attacks does seem to hold their stiff upper lip well.

I'm truly worried though if something similar were to happen here. I'm worried that we've been placed in such a terrorist panic in this country that people would just go batshit crazy. I'm worried that police aren't really trained for this kind of work, even with the SWAT teams and all. I'm worried that just like the threat of Anthrax a few years ago, the media will take hold of a story like that and blow it out of proportion.

The British attacks seem to be on a very low level of car bombs scheduled to go off in relatively similar amounts of time around the country. This doesn't sound to me like the organization that pulled off the September 11th attacks, or the 4/11 attacks in Spain or the 7/7 attacks in London. It sounds like a bunch of hooligans with some sort of grudge trying to make a point and hope the country will kowtow to them.

In this country we have been living longer with the threat, that I'm afraid that we'll snap when the inevitable does come to town. Especially when you mix in politics. we have so many politicians pushing fear and saying how tough they'll be on terrorism, how fast would one of them call out the National Guard (what's left of it)? A car bombing is a crime, and should be treated as such. Now, if it were bigger, say a a repeat of the Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City, that would be a bigger issue, but remember what was first said by the media when it happened - that it must have been caused by muslim extremists? Fear makes us jump to conclusions.

When something like this does happen over here, and it will, I hope we can deal with it as calmly and rationally as the British and Scottish. I hope we won't once again go running to politicians to exchange our freedoms for security and go on misguided attempts for vengeance when all we need is some simple Law and Order.

The fact is, there are terrorists out there, there are fundamentalists out there of several stripes (some blow up abortion clinics, remember?). What we need to do is show that we won't lose our freedom, and we won't turn back the clock to take away freedoms and civil rights that have been earned and fought over. We are stronger than they are when we don't let ourselves be motivated, and subjugated by fear.

The life we have now is far superior to the one they envision for us. We must not allow violence to change who we are.
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Hello LJ Land! Long time no see.

I guess I should just get this off of my chest first, since it seems to be the most important thing that's happened lately. Today, somewhere around 5:30 pm, I became a licensed general securities representative. I still can't sell you anything, because there's a state sales license that I would need, but hey, I'm one step closer.

I'm just going to re-phrase it all and put it into bigger letters: I Passed the NASD Series 7 Exam!

It's a really big relief. Although my current job wouldn't have changed had I failed, many more jobs open up to me now, and that's a good thing...the other good thing is that I shouldn't ever have to take this whole damned thing again. No, it won't be the last license exam I'll ever have to take if I keep going forward, but it is one of the biggest hurdles.

Now I know someone who remembers back to my last post might be saying, "Weren't you supposed to take this test two weeks ago?" The answer is yes, but when I actually got a mentor to teach me most of what I didn't know/understand about options, she looked at me and asked me if I was really ready for this test. I honestly said that i wasn't, and she asked if I still had time in the testing window. The test is scheduled, you have to take it in a certain period of time, or you have to pay to set up another time window. I said I'll look to see if I could postpone. Luckily there was one date left at not the original testing site, but the one off in Ft. Worth. So that's when I moved it.

Since rescheduling, I really finally learned what I was supposed to know. Seriously, two weeks ago I had some knowledge, but I really would have bombed the test. No, I didn't get more mentorship, or help from the company, but I did get to borrow a book that made sense (not the one the company provides) and I got busy with the online trial tests that really did give me the information I needed. Apparently much of the reading I did in the other books was a waste of time, and I plan to tell our training department that.

I feel really good about this, because I did it mostly by myself. I could have done more to look for help, and probably should have, but in the end, I scored a 75, which is two points higher than the national average. You need a 70 or higher to pass. Think about that folks, most of the financial advisors of the world passed with a C- average. Makes you think about your money.

The whole thing is something I've done before when I took the Series 6 eight years ago, you sit in a little cubicle with a monitor and a mouse, and choose the best answer of the four choices given. The difference is that you get a lunch break because the test is just that long. The testing center was next to a Buffalo Wild Wings (BW3) and normally i'd get a trivia box and play, but after punching answers 1-4 for a few hours, I wanted to get away from answering more questions.

The waitress at BW3 asked me if I was taking the Series 7. I said yes, and she said that they get several people for lunch who are taking it. Apparently it's the most common test with a lunch break. She asked why I wasn't huddled over books and papers, trying to cram for the second half. Apparently many of the afternoon patrons are looking for the littlest edge, but I said to her, "I either know it or I don't. A few more minutes of trying to dredge up trivia isn't going to help me much."

I'll admit that the last month or so has really gotten me off my stride as I retreated from the online world a bit, trying to use that time for a better cause, but I didn't stay a total hermit. I have watched the bigger season finale episodes of shows and Chris and I have been out to see Spiderman 3 and Shrek the Third (I could have waited for both - doesn't bode well for Pirates 3), and we saw Better than Ezra at the Wildflower! Festival (click for a blurry photo).

Still, my workout schedule is all screwed up, and my work ours have gotten jostled as I tried to pick up overtime hours and still study, and sleep. I look forward to getting back to normal, and perhaps cooking a little more because our eating out budget has gotten out of hand, and dang it if gas didn't finally hit $3.00 a gallon this past week.

Chris took me out to Texas Land and Cattle tonight to celebrate. I was quite happy to be celebrating, and quite happy to see what comes next. Right now I'm more excited to be able to read a normal book, one that's fiction, and has nothing to do with my job, investments, or anything dealing with the number 7.
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Hayseed Dixie covering the Scissor Sisters
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I'm a little upset that I didn't get tickets to go see The Police in concert. Tickets went on sale this past Saturday and while I was at work, actually working, I forgot to log on and slog through the site to order tickets. There's also that thing about a concert in late June that kind of makes me forgetful about it on a day in March.

By the time I remember that they had gone on sale, it was Sunday morning and the first show was sold out. In a 20,000 seat arena. And they added a second show. And it had SOLD OUT as well! I was actually kind of stunned. I didn't think that the police were thought of so fondly, and I didn't think they'd get such a response since a). those who want to see Sting with a lute would be disappointed, and b). most people under 30 have never heard of the group since they broke up in 1986.

I then decided to take a look on the secondary market, and there were all of the tickets. Ticket speculation is just as big of a market as PS3 resales were - for about a week. Something tells me that if you can get tickets to shows easily, you could make a good living on the resales of those tickets.

I didn't need good seats, I just wanted to be there, but when the furthest seat in the arena was now going for twice the original $50 selling price, I decided that this was a concert event I was just going to have to miss. It's sad in a way, but then again I have seen The Police before. It was my first concert, and the first one that my parents let me got into Houston for. that was the 1984 Synchronicity tour and it was at the Summit - now Lakewood Church. Sting wore the big red, yellow and blue outfit from the Synchronicity II video. Ahh, those were the days.

I really have better things to spend my money on, but it would have been fun to see the same group...several years older. perhaps they will come again. Heck, the Stones still tour.

Personally, I'm looking forward to more new acts, like seeing the Scissor Sisters next week!


Otherwise, my friend Jerry ([ profile] goofycubb) sent me some questions to answer...

1. Do you miss Houston? Me? :) LOL

I'm finding hard to believe that it's been almost a year since I was last in Houston. My parents worry about me!
I don't miss the city so much, but there are a few places - namely Beck's Prime and James Coney Island. I also miss the ripcord and wish I could move all of those places up here. I also miss driving on Memorial Drive. As for you, I really wish you were here to watch the Amazing Race with! Or just to hang with. Those were good times. When are you coming to visit us? :-)

2. Will you ever go clean shaven again?

Well, most people who know me these days have never seen me clean shaven. I think the last time was 1994, and i have no plans to do it again.

3. What is the strangest thing that someone has said while you are in bed making whoopee?

Generally I'm the one who comes up with the bad puns and such! I guess it was the mutually crazy conversation about Bears releasing genetically enhanced pheromones on a dance floor, triggered by thumping dance music. It was at TBRU, and the sound created for this - "Paaaft!" -became a catchphrase for the weekend.

Let's just say that mixing the two of us in bed was not only fun, but also a lesson in non-sequitur thinking.

4. What is under your bed?

Occasionally Joey, but otherwise it's the surge protector outlet strip that powers the CPAP.

5. Did your mom ever catch you masturbating?

Thankfully no, thanks to a lock on the door, but occasionally she did try to open the lock with a coat-hanger. This would normally be when she was mad at me for something. I'm not so sure what she would have done if she caught me with a Muscle and Fitness magazine in one hand...
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Today's Red and Rover
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There’s nothing worse than trying to launch the next cool device than having Bill Gates in a brown coat made to match the color of your music player (the coat actually has the Zune logo embroidered on it) Well, you could also add an unknown Seattle DJ.

Microsoft launched the Zune this morning. It’s their iPod rival, or at least they hope it is. They are spending a great deal of money to get this initial product off the ground.

Bill Gates is not a hipster, no one sees the man, who’s looking a little more like the Simpson’s Mr. Burns here, as a guy who hangs with Bono – except when Bono needs some more cash to fund a charity. Kids are not down with Bill Gates.

Really, Steve Jobs is much more rock-star like, and the events show it. Apple events tend to feature John Mayer or Alicia Keys. This morning’s Microsoft event featured the Secret Machines. Really, not a bad pickup, but then not big news, either.

Sure, a potential Zune or iPod buyer probably doesn’t care about Steve Jobs either, but who would you rather have at your product announcement? Gates should have given the spotlight over to Ryan Seacrest, who has more clout with the youngsters, or perhaps Mark McGrath, former Sugar Ray singer and Xtra host on TV. If they weren’t available, how about John Hodgeman, the PC guy in those Mac ads?

Chris and I were out at Target last night and they were setting up the display for the device that included two tied-down non-working mockups of the device. They looked like bricks with a screen, and the brown one looks…well, as ABC is calling their new gameshow, shat-tastic.

I could go on and on about how it’s a Toshiba Gigabeat player in Microsoft clothing, or how the file-sharing feature is hopelessly crippled, at least at launch, but here’s one of my problems with the device. It doesn’t have the address book. I don’t know how often I use the address book in my iPod. Of course it syncs up to my Mac’s address book pretty easily. The Zune also won’t play games, and at this time there’s no TV shows or podcasts available for it.

I also think the name is dumb…it’s supposed to sound like tune, but with a crazy z, which apparently is the next “X” thing. Now I thought the iPod was a dumb name as well, but Apple at least had the foresight to think that the device might be used for more than just music.

Still, Microsoft has a record of throwing enough money at a problem to eventually make something of it. The old joke is that it takes MS the third release to get it right. Eventually, Zune could hit the right group of features and start selling. Still they will probably never catch up with the engineering style that Apple has.

My big question is why start out with a 30gb model? . Truly it’s the 4 and 8gb iPod nanos that sell the best, moving many more units than the full-featured video iPods. I guess that you couldn’t get the Zune’s big “feature”, the crippled wireless music sharing, into that small of a package.

Don't get me started on the scam that is Microsoft Points. Remember the scheme to make money in Office Space?

For now, the Zune looks like a pretty boring device, but Microsoft has been chafing watching Apple steal away the lead in converging media and hardware. Microsoft knows that they must work harder to make sure they sell more copies of Windows Media Edition, and re-establish Windows Media Player as the dominate player. Having iTunes take that away is bad for Microsoft’s business. Now with Apple prepared to offer it’s own video solution next year, it’s even more important for Bill to get back some market share.

I’ve always found it interesting that Microsoft keeps trying to be a media company, but never seems to know how to implement it, whether it’s with MSN, MSNBC, or with the opinion site, Slate (now owned by the Washington Post). Microsoft wants to be a part of it, but never can establish the cool factor that would bring partners along. Microsoft, and Gates are always seen as the nerdy coders in the backroom, while Apple hangs out with Beck.

Still, Microsoft will buy or control what it can to have its place at the party, much like Anna Nicole’s former husband. He may not have the looks, but he’ll eventually get the girl.

Welcome to the Social, Bill. Now we’ll all be waiting to see what the rockstar has up his sleeve.
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I see that recent Austin City Limits headliner Willie Nelson and member's of his band were arrested for a possession of marijuana. Really, is this news? I remember as we went from Willie's set to Massive Attack's across the field Saturday, we went from the weed section to the ecstasy section. Well, hopefully Willie can pay for the band's fines and Willie won't have to serve time. Not that I'm a legalization guy, but really, in the big picture is this really important? I would suppose Willie makes an easy target.

After Willie and my early Sunday morning allergy attack, we loaded up and checked out of the hotel to spend our last day of the festival. Scott ([ profile] xkot) called us and asked us out to brunch, and Peter ([ profile] texaspenguin) suggested Trudy's which was good. Now I have another place to suggest when we meet new people in Austin.

As we were driving over to Trudy's the downpour began and I was wondering if it was going to be worth to to go out to the park. There were other people waiting for a table who were also unsure about the day. I also was getting calls from Nakia to say that they were probably going to sit out the first acts and wait for the big acts to come on later in the day. Still Nakia and Ben ([ profile] qualitykill) had been jumping from stage to stage the last two days, including running backstage, so we were lucky when we did see them. Personally, I just can't run around that much in the heat. We're more park and listen people.

Chris checks the schedule

Luckily the rain had ended by the time we finished lunch, so Chris ([ profile] f__k) andI decided to risk it and go see KT Tunstall. Peter gave us a couple of umbrellas just in case. The park condition was decent, with just a few soggy patches, so we took our place and watched.

Once KT finished her pleasing set, David ([ profile] metacub) and John ([ profile] gtijohn) came out of the heart of the crowd, finding the bear flag. They had gotten there early to specifically see KT. None of us had plans for a bit, so we hung out together again, which was certainly great. I could go on and on about how good it was to meet our Bay Area visitors, but you get the idea.

So, who did we see on Sunday?
KT Tunstall
Jack Ingram (he was there, we just didn't move)
The New Pornographers

Jack Ingram was just one of those things where we were parked, and he came on the stage. He wins the prize for worst stage banter as he went on and on about who he is, repeating his name ad nauseam, and telling everyone he plays country music. In contrast The New Pornographer's had good banter, especially when singer Neko Case, complaining that her monitors weren't working sing-songed "I'll give a blow job to anyone who can give me some reverb!"

Of course it was nothing like the banter of the heavily bleeding Ben Kweller the day before, asking and getting a tampon from the crowd to stop the flow from his nose. It was the most talked about event at ACL, even getting the Flaming Lips to to mark the incident with red paint and tampons on stage.

The last set we all saw was the Greencards at the small Austin Ventures stage, while most of the crowd was either listening to Ben Harper or the Flaming Lips. The Greencards is a British bluegrass group that had done the Austin circuit for a few years before moving to Nashville. They played a satisfying set, trying not to be drowned out by Ben Harper. I think all four of us were fine with ending our weekend with a smaller, more intimate performance by some talented musicians.

Since Chris had jury duty on Monday, we had to leave early. David and John joined us for dinner at another Austin institution, Chuy's. As we had dinner a large thunderstorm moved in drenching the town. We knew that Scott and Peter were at the park watching Tom Petty. I saw stories later that Petty had to stop, and much of the crowd ran for the buses, but that eventually he came back and finished his set. By then we were long gone, back up I-35.

David and John chill, ACL style.

I know Chris and I were sad to leave the company of David and John, and hope that they will come back in future years. We were glad to see Scott, but we did miss the other guys who were there the last two years. I hope that for 2007 we can bring in more folks, because the event is just fun, with some incredible acts and a great city. Chris and I plan plan to continue making this an annual tradition.

As Chris and I travelled back home, Sirius was playing several ACL artists on 18- the spectrum and 26 - Left of Center. They did have a person "in the field" so to speak, doing a few reports back, but it wasn't as if they were an event sponsor. I was very glad that for whatever reason someone was allowing me to remember the event in music through the rain, across the state.


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February 2013



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