Sunday, February 11, 2007

The final countdown, and Groovelily

Cue the cheesy keyboard intro to one of the 80s finest Continental Schlockrock Classics, "The Final Countdown" By the band Europe. I have, essentially, three days to get our acts fully together in order to leave on our massive road trip.

Hopefully right this second one week from now I'll be riding on a fan boat across some snake and gator infested swamp in the Everglades. I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this fact as it is 21 degrees out.

Lord knows I'm stocking up on the sunscreen now. I'm quite February white. Must find my shorts, my hat, my sunglasses and my Hawaiian shirt now, get them packed and be ready for departure.

Wish me luck.

4 groovelilyBefore I detail the rest of the week, I wanted to tell you all about GrooveLily.

GrooveLily performed at TCAN (The Center for Arts In Natick) on Friday Night. Amy had told me they were coming to town, and this is the closest they've been geographically to me in a while, so I had to go.

In December, I didn't get my act together to coordinate a trip to Manhattan to see them do Striking 12 in their off-Broadway run. As much as I would have liked to. It just didn't happen.

I knew that Jessie would want to see them, being the little musical theatre geek that she's become. They are right up her alley. Every alley she's got. So I took her out with me.

And halfway through the show she turned to me and says "Thank you."

I knew she'd love it.

GrooveLily is a trio from NYC who are hard to label so one shouldn't even bother trying. There is pop, there is folk, there is avant-garde violin driven prog-rock insanity. There are a lot of songs about just sticking to it and trying hard and hanging in there -- and how eventually honey, it will all be okay. Just get up off the ground and go. There is a husband and wife (Brendan on keyboards, Valerie on violin) and a percussionist (Gene) and all three of them sing. So there are layered harmonies, three different lead vocalists, there is excitement, there is Shakespeare, there is optimism, there is art.

Amy refers to going to see them as "church." And I can see why. She is at once ragingly jealous of them, and deeply in love and awe and touched by them. So I'm incredibly glad I went -- and incredibly glad I brought my girl. My girl who spent 55 of my dollars buying their CDs. She owes me big.

If you get a chance to ever see them -- please do. They're doing a semi-hiatus kind of thing while Brendan and Valerie work on a project called "Sleeping Beauty Awakes" in Culver City, CA. So Annie -- You should look into this because I think you are my only LA Area reader. I think you'll like it.

Gene stays home with his new baby. And that's cool too.

It was nice meeting them in person too -- Brendan is genuinely sweet and friendly, while raging on stage in a Ben Folds kind of way behind the keys, when he's meeting fans and friends he just has this sweet little smile and glow to him. I didn't get to talk to Valerie at all -- Jess and I talked to Gene quite a bit and I think Jess really enjoyed meeting him.

I'm constantly amazed by percussionists who can sing and play at the same time. Moreso than I am for any other musicians who play and sing simultaneously. It is really cool.

Anyway. Go see them if you ever can. Promise me.

This past week has been filled with me putting in a little extra work at work to get ahead of the game. I want to return to my desk knowing I'm maybe only 1 week out, if not hopefully two weeks out, ahead of where I should be. It is that Sisyphus thing -- gotta push the rock up the hill. And going on vacation often means the rock rolls down on top of me, squishing all those below. The devastation left behind when I go away is often mind boggling. How I do my job by myself frightens me. If I got hit by a bus (abducted by aliens, or eaten by gators) I'm not sure what they'd do in the immediate short-term. I'm sure they'd hire a monkey to come sit and do my job. A monkey could do it, but the monkey would have to be the worlds most patient and stick-to-it-iveness filled monkey EVAH. Good luck finding that monkey.

Anyway, this monkey is looking forward to going away.

So yeah -- work has been busy. I'm making sure no one has to do my job (so they can do their jobs which keep them busy enough) in my absence.

I also have been working like mad on a final revision to the new Cateringman Website, which has consumed time in a good way... it is fun working with catering man, and he loves the stuff I do for him. They went to a huge Bridal Expo last week and he wanted the site ready to roll, and now he's getting all kinds of great contacts and hits through the sit so he is thrilled.

It looks good, and I'm happy with what we've done, but there is more to do.

Also, I'm having a problem implementing Paypal to run on the site. He doesn't want a shopping cart or a store front because he isn't selling product. He wants it so that people can just pay what they owe him online. So if Mary Jones owes him a 50% deposit for her wedding, she can just pay it. Or if Jon Smith owes him $400 for that cocktail party, he can pay it. And I can't find where that works so I guess I need to call Paypal and rent a clue.

I can't set it up so that he can accept donations, because he's a business and that doesn't work like that. So I'm frustrated.

Hmmmmm. Any paypal advice would be welcome. I've never used it for setting up on a webpage -- I have always just made donations to people and been done with it that way. So if you can help me, that'd be cool.

Geoff has a project due tomorrow and I am procrastinating making a trip out to Home Despot for the last two or three things he needs for the project. He and two other boys worked together to create space survival suit back pack things for survival on Saturn. Nice.

The kids were really clever and smart in their reasonings for what they put into their designs... and I love how they worked together. Everything is well thought out, even though they are highly fantastical.

Channeling my inner Professor Frink I say: "No one could ever survive on Saturn, with the gas and the atmosphere and the gravitational pull! Snort. Gah-hey! Glavin."

So they do their presentations tomorrow night at school. Should be fun.

Speaking of presentations, Jess did her very first powerpoint presentation in History class on Friday. They had to pick a subject from the 1700s or 1800s. He didn't care what they picked -- just do a powerpoint presentation.

Of course, this wasn't a history project, it was a computer skills building project. The way most educational situations have become lately. Let's work on the academics and build the secondary skills in technology so they become primary skills for the kids by the time they get out into the workforce. From my classes in Educational Technology (which, by the way, I would love to get back to if I ever have the time) it is similar to teaching a child the academics of English (primary content) while teaching them how to use a pencil or a library catalog (secondary skill content). Computers being primary out in the world, the kids need to learn how to use them if they are to succeed.

And powerpoint in business is an essential tool.

So her teacher gives them a wide open topic "Anything in the 1700s or 1800s" and my Jess chooses the treatment of mentally ill people during the 1800s.

She did tons of research and put together her outline and built her presentation. She gave her presentation, and a lot of kids in the class interrupted her with "ewwww!" and "That's so wrong!" and "Oh my God you are so sick" (for doing the topic).

Jess was pissed at them and wanted to scream in their faces:

"Sorry kiddies!!! Life isn't always puppies and kittens! This topic is a part of history, and it wasn't pretty, but it HAPPENED and I'm doing a REPORT on it. I am not sick for picking it. You're sick for being head up your ass ugly Americans who just want to focus on pretty flowers and happy crap!"

The heart of a goth girl in a Barenaked Ladies T-shirt.

Anyway -- she got a 98 on the presentation. Which is all that matters. But in the end, even her teacher thought that the topic was rather sad and dark. Part of me wants to shake him hard and just ask him what difference does it make if it is dark and sad? It happened. It's important. It was a thoughtful and deep presentation instead of what kind of bricks were used to build a certain building in Maryland. Or a big fat lie about how wonderfully our nation treated the indigenous populous during the 1800s. He should commend her -- not cringe.

Perhaps they all need holes drilled in their heads to let the pressure out.

As her mom, I'm proud of her. There is a part of me that wants her to dig into these things and learn them, read them, digest them, present them to others and say "It ain't pretty but it happened and it is true."

Be a reporter, a communicator, a witness to the history that so many people want to deny ever happened. Someone has to carry on truth.

Someone has to pick topics and historical moments and keep them alive so that they won't happen again, or so that people can learn from them.

But part of me thinks that maybe next time she should make everyone happy and write about fashion during the time of the Louisiana Purchase. That'll make people bored, but keep them quiet.

And she'll get the same grade I'm sure, but won't make anyone think for a second beyond themselves.

Alright -- I have been procrastinating so long. Must get a shower and go out and get what I need to help Geoff finish his project. I'm not sure I'll get to touch base again before we leave. So I will bid you fond adieu.


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