Sunday, April 23, 2006

One Of Our Submarines Is Missing

As I was leaving work on Thursday, I caught up with my boss, Evil PXE (computer term for “Pre-boot Execution Environment” and pronounced “Pixie”) and another co-worker who thanked me for the List of Lists. “I especially liked the one about Poets naming breakfast cereals," she said. Evil PXE gave me a funny look.

"Oh, the one I liked was why the Little Teapot wasn't popular in school." My friend laughed and Evil PXE gave me another confused glance. I continued in a flat voice," She was short. She was stout. She slept around and everyone knew it."

"What?" Evil PXE asked.

"It's a joke. From the song?" I demonstrated the movements, putting one hand on my hip, the other as the pouring spout. "I'm a little teapot, short and stout...?" He continued to stare at me. "And she was a slut."

"That's not in the song," he said.

My friend and I laughed. "That's why it's funny!" She made her goodbyes and left Evil PXE and I in the hallway.

"You know, you can come in tomorrow if you want to..."

"I'm taking the day off, remember? CrafterKat and I have tickets to Thomas Dolby tonight."

He laughed, "I know. Have a good time. Who is opening for them?"

"I don't know. Some group called The Pleasure Bots or something. Could be...interesting."

By the time I returned home, CrafterKat was in her concert clothes and Critter had secured a sleepover with a girlfriend up the street. We shuffled her out the door and then filled each other in our day as we drove over to the Aladdin Theater, a lovely old theater complete with balconies and ancient wall sconces.

"It starts at 8:00, right?" I nodded. "Who is opening for him?"

"Well, some little band I've never heard of. The Pleasure Robots? The Sex Bots? I don't know." I pictured guys in white vinyl behind an array of synthesizers with inflatable adult mannequins as backup singers.

We parked and found seats behind the mixing board. The stage had a multitude of syntehesizers piled in one corner and a screen in the back of the stage. A couple of Apple notebooks could be seen , waiting for musical input.

The lights dimmed and polite applause enveloped us. Two men entered carrying electric guitars and proceeded to the two notebook computers which were hooked up to a synthesizer each. They pressed a few buttons and 80's era synthesized pop music streamed forth.

For the next hour we heard the same song repeated over and over. Well, maybe not the exact same song. "They kind of sound like Big Country," said CrafterKat. "No, maybe ABC. No, maybe A-Ha." The men played guitars...barely. You could almost hear the chords from time to time above the synthesized beat.

The best parts, though, were when each man would stride to their notebook, nodding their heads in time with the music and glance from the keyboard to their music partner. Their telepathic conversation was something like:

Bot 1: I'm getting ready to hit 'Enter'. Are you ready to hit 'Enter'?
Bot 2: I've got my next beat programmed. Are you ready to hit 'Enter'?
Bot 1: I'm ready to hit 'Enter'. We totally rock.
Bot 2: Okay, let's hit 'Enter'. In one...
Bot 1: In two...
Bot 2: In three...
Both: (press the Enter button on their notebooks)
Bot 1: We totally rock.
Bot 2: Yeah, we rock!

CrafterKat couldn't take it anymore and went outside to check the merchandise table. When she returned I learned that not only did they have a CD available, but they have one CD with thirteen versions of the same song!

"Portland! Are you ready to dance now? This song was from our Psykosonik days!" The Portland audience gave polite applause but it didn't drown out the people who were discussing Thomas Dolby and drinking beer. But Bot 1 didn't seem to mind and misinterpreted, "Well, we definitely gotta come back to Portland more often!"

Finally, the opening band finished and we waited patiently for Thomas Dolby to enter. He did a few moments later, wearing a long buttoned-up overcoat and head gear. Remember Lando's pal in the Cloud City who had the computer fused to his brain? He had nothing on Mr. Dolby.

The lights dimmed as Dolby approached the array of synteshizers. The screen behind him lit up and we were suddenly swooping and diving across the keyboards, following his hand movements. The head gear he wore had cameras above either ear allowing us to watch as he crafted melodies. Amazing.

For ninety minutes, Dolby dazzled us with liquid melodies and snappy rhythms. He played his commercial successes (Europa and the Pirate Twins ), some of his favorites (I Live in a Suitcase) and gave insight to the lyrics of a few others. He spoke to the geeks in the audience about some of his toys ("This adjustable stand is used by lots of parishes!") and how he marvelled at new discoveries in science. One of earth's sattelites has, for instance, captured solar flares and recorded them in ones and zeroes. Dolby took those binary bits and encoded them into midi, playing the solar music for us and then dipped into Windpower.

He ended his performance with She Blinded Me with Science, his most recognizable song from the 80's. After much applause, he returned to the stage and admitted that he didn't have any other songs queued up for the concert. "But, this went over pretty well at one of the other gigs I did," and he proceeded to build a song for us. A few taps on one keyboard, set the tempo and then repeat. A rhythm introduced on a second machine, overlaying the first. It took well over five minutes before the first strands of Hyperactive floated through the tiny theater. We were mesmerized.

As he closed up for the night, he added a few words for the opening band. "Hey, what did you think of Basic Pleasure Model?" Polite applause. "They've not performed on stage in nine years!" CrafterKat and I laughed.

Later that weekend, as we prepared dinner to christen our new deck furniture with a nice stir fry, Critter asked, "Who did you see in concert?"

CrafterCat answered, "Thomas Dolby. He's a musician we like from the 80's."

She looked up from the noodles she spooned onto plates. "Is he a Beatle?"

Sigh. I guess one of our submarines is missing...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


CrafterKat and Critter flew to Medford at the end of Spring Break to see OSF's The Winter's Tale and a musical called Honkey Tonk Laundry.

I picked them up at the airport and brought them home, CrafterKat telling little snippets of adventures the whole way home. As I finished making dinner, the two of them unpacked their things, returning from their bedrooms to show me things they had brought home from vacation.

Critter brought in two coloring books, one on Midsummer Night's Dream while I was stirring up the Caesar salad. CrafterKat brought out a bag of scrapbooking goodies from Craft Warehouse.

I spooned up the pork loins from the slow cooker when Critter came back to the kitchen. "Hold out your hand and close your eyes," she told me.

I complied and was rewarded with one of my favorite Easter candies, Whopper Robin Eggs. Grinning, I gave her my thanks and added, "You must have found my stash."

She gave me a puzzled look, furrowing her brow. "These are from my travel bag. CrafterKat bought me some."

"Oh." I plopped the delicious morsel into my mouth and began cleaning up the spill from the slow cooker.

My words finally registered. "What did you say?"

"Nuffing," I managed around the sweet and lowered my head so she couldn't see my smirk.

"Wait." She ran to the kitchen entry way and yelled down the hall, "JewelGeek already bought some!"


Monday, April 03, 2006

In Order To Relate The Story

Things are finally returning to a bit of normalcy in our home. March consisted of Critter getting ill, CrafterKat getting ill, me staying home with a temp for three days, and Critter getting ill a second time with a fever and a sinus infection. By Spring Break we were over the worst of it and able to finally enjoy some of the things that had been accomplished between high-pitched fevers.

CrafterKat and Mr. GoGoGo spent one weekend removing the old toilet and vanity from the downstairs bathroom. We chose a lovely yellow paint with a chiffon butternut type of name that looked completely different than the butternut chiffon. More eggplanty than meringue but less creamy than lemon. All I know is that I was hungry after finally choosing.

The following weekend, Mr. GoGoGo returned and laid new vinyl flooring in the bathroom and downstairs hallway. The new vanity and sink went in, followed by a new toilet, showerhead, and medicine cabinet/mirror. It looks fantastic! We have just one piece to put in—storage over the toilet to hold hand towels and other small items.

With Critter feeling better and school let out for a week, one of her best friends came to spend the night. The girls sang karaoke during the day and CrafterKat and I tried to tidy up loose ends around the house. We had purchased a new CD Recorder for our stereo unit (our anniversary gift to ourselves) and new stereo speakers since our old ones were from the days of the Partridge Family. We sat amidst stereo components and relabeled all the cables and tested the speakers.

When things finally worked as they were supposed to (meaning no kitties had unplugged anything during a break), CrafterKat began testing the new CD recorder with cassette tapes of a story she has enjoyed since childhood, Treasure Island.

Click. Whir. Click-click. In order to relate the story of Treasure Island…

“I’m not getting any levels on the CD player,” CrafterKat sighed. Click. Rewind. Random buttons were pushed. The girls entered and departed again, giggling. I left the stereo in her capable hands and called my Mother, the Social Butterfly, to check in. “Hello, it’s your mother,” I said into the receiver. She laughed. “Sorry, I’ve been in Mom mode this evening.” I looked up at the clock and realized it was time for Critter’s antibiotic. “Just a minute.” I dashed into the bathroom and retrieved the pill bottle, informing Critter that it was time for her medicine. My mother on the other end of the phone chuckled. “Okay, I’m done now.” We discussed her weekend and when she was going to come up to our house again.

Click. Whir. Click-click. In order to relate the story of Treasure Island, I must begin in the year seventeen…

“Presenting, the blue fairy!” Critter’s friend announced. Critter emerged in a blue Shakespearean era gown from her play clothes collection, complete with fairy wings she had made at Craft camp last summer. Her friend wore pantaloons and a checkered jester shirt. They giggled and returned to the bedroom.

…the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow Inn. Click. “The CD isn’t moving. I’m not getting any sound recorded.” CrafterKat went downstairs looking for something.

I returned to my phone conversation with my mother. “So you want to come up on Wednesday, then?” CrafterKat’s cell phone rang. I ran to her purse and answered, trying to make sense of two conversations. “Hello Grandpa. I’ll see if CrafterKat is available,” and began walking towards the stairs.

Critter emerged in another ensemble and the expectant is-it-a-boy? look on her face. “No, it’s Grandpa,” I told her and my two phone callers.

Mr. GoGoGo informed me that he needed to speak to Critter about fishing poles. I handed the cell phone off and returned to my mother. CrafterKat emerged a few minutes later and tried again.

Click. Whir. Click-click. …and the brown old seaman, with the saber cut, first took up lodging under our roof…

The fairies returned to the modeling runway, one wearing a Roman tunic and green velvet half-cape, the other in a cream gown from the fifties. We applauded their fashion sense and CrafterKat informed Critter that the dress was actually LaLa’s wedding gown, from fifty years ago. Critter’s eyes grew large at this pronouncement and she ducked back to her room to get another outfit.

…Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest. Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

Leaning against the hole in the living room where the new fireplace will sit, I brought CrafterKat up-to-date on my mother’s agenda, “…and so my Mom’s picking up the fishing pole for Critter’s speech…”

A hooded figure emerged from the dark hallway and proceeded to my abandoned chair by the computer. “I want to suck out your soooouuuuulllll,” Critter intoned to my empty seat.

“Aaaaaccckkk!” I gurgled and fell to my knees. “Nooooooo” and proceeded to fall face forward on the carpet, my feet sticking up in the air.

…keep a weather-eye open for a seafaring man with one leg…

Critter laughed and picked up her cloak to run back down the hallway. The fashion faeries eventually went to bed and CrafterKat’s fiddling finally produced recorded results.

As I said, things are finally returning to normal.