Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   Fanny in Bearsville
Wednesday, September 29 2021
I had a dream this morning that had me running some sort of panel, one where there is a question-and-answer at the end. But I ran it so badly that there came a point where there were no further questions, but I didn't acknowledge the fact. I just let there be a long period of awkward silence during which nobody knew what to do. The silence finally ended when someone in the audience asked if there were no further questions, at which point I snapped out of my inattention and ended the event. Thinking about the dream afterward, it seemed like a metaphor for the inattention I've been giving to my day job of late.

Yesterday Gretchen was going through our credit card bill (which was unusually large this time) and found a mysterious charge and wondered if it was legit. It was a little over $50 from and was for something the day after I'd paid to renew one of my domains. So I looked it up and found it was for "privacy," something I had definitely unchecked a box so as not to pay for. Apparently "privacy" shields your address and phone number from bots, which would be useful, but I give fake information for that stuff anyway and there's no reason to be paying $50 for it. Today I was in a rage when I called up to complain about the charge. The guy on the other end of the line sounded like an nice older man, but he had a script for me, and it wasn't enough for me to just demand that I not be charged for "privacy." He was compelled by his script to tell me what I was risking by not paying for it. "Great," I said, "I want people to call me!" I insisted. He then tried to give me "privacy" for free, suggesting to me that providing it costs them nothing. But I didn't want that either. "I don't want to pay for things I didn't order!" I said many times during the call. This sort of thing, where a craptastic company charges for things you explicitly didn't order in hopes that you won't notice it on your bill and then only correct it when you call and complain, that seems like a business strategy to me, since the downside (irate people calling to cancel unwanted services) doesn't outweigh the upside (lots of people unknowingly paying for things they don't need that cost nothing to provide). But it contributes to a sense that contemporary corporate capitalism is amoral and predatory and that the shoddiness of the world is constantly increasing.

Gretchen and I haven't done much going out to events since the pandemic began back in March, 2020, but tonight Gretchen had bought us both tickets for the first event of this year's Woodstock Film Festival, which was happening tonight. (Last year during the pandemic, the festival had been almost entirely virtual, though there had been events at drive-in theatres.) Gretchen has been increasingly dismayed by my decreasing desire to attend cultural events of this sort, so at this point she just buys tickets for both of us and announces it a day or so before the event. Before the event, though, we'd be having dinner at a restaurant in Woodstock, which is still something I enjoy doing. I met Gretchen at the bookstore, and we decided to have dinner at the Bear Cantina, the new(ish) Mexican incarnation of "the Bear" that we'd dined at once before in its current form. It was only a little after 5:00pm when we got there, so the only people in the cantina were elderly people there for the early bird special (something I jokingly told the maître d' we were there for). We chose a seat way in the back away from the others for better protection from floating viruses. Happily, the cantina had added even more vegan options since we'd last dined there, so Gretchen could order something called vegan tacos and I could order a vegan burrito that supposedly contained vegan mozzarella (though I didn't actually encounter any in mine). My burrito wasn't actually all that great, but I like the atmosphere in the Bear enough to go back and do it all over again. I also drank the big 14 ounce margarita. Our conversation was mostly about Powerful's hospitalization and my latest ideas for the dock on Woodworth Lake. I said I'm thinking about taking three sixteen foot two by eights as the basis for the fixed part of the dock up to the cabin, though that would require another trip in the Subaru.
The venue for the Film Festival event was in the Bearsville Theatre next door. There was some confusion out in front as people were asked to prove their vaccination status (Gretchen and I had our Excelsior Passes) and that they'd bought tickets, after which we were given pink wrist bracelets. Most of the people attending the event were elderly women, which made sense given that the movie would be Fanny: the Right to Rock, a documentary about a forgotten all-female rock band from the early 1970s named Fanny.
In the venue, everyone was required not only to be vaccinated, but also to wear masks, though there were a few who weren't being too serious about the latter. After some unexpected disorganization, the film started.
I'm fairly knowledgeable about classic rock, but I'd never heard of Fanny. And interesting things about Fanny extend beyond the fact that all its musicians were women. A large fraction of those women were Filipinas and they were also mostly lesbians, living together in a big group house in Los Angeles, where they entertained, hung out with, and collaborated with a steady stream of more famous musicians such as David Bowie, Joe Cocker, and Todd Rundgren (who was probably at the event tonight).
The film ran 90 minutes, and I have to say I'm just not able to sit comfortably through a movie like I used to. I think this is partly because my attention span has been ruined by the World Wide Web, but there are age-related issues too, ones that make sitting in a chair that long an uncomfortable exercise. I think I'd eaten a bit too much too, which was causing some discomfort under my lowest ribs. The film was interesting, but I felt impatient to get the information given the pace it was being delivered. And then the QA afterwards was a complete shit show that reminded me of interviews with athletes after a game. "Gotta give 100%!" is one of the things I sarcastically whispered into Gretchen's ear.
But after all that, two of the members of Fanny (now in their late 60s or early 70s) got on stage out in the bar area and performed a few songs. Joining them on stage were David Bowie's long-time bassist Gail Ann Dorsey, Kate Pierson of B52s fame, and John Sebastian from the Loving Spoonful (all three of them live in or near Woodstock). It was a very Woodstock show: super casual and intimate, with the ad hoc band often inviting anyone in the crowd who knew the lyrics to various (and sometimes unrehearsed) songs to to get on stage to join them in singing (though all the nobodies present were too shy to actually do so).
The most interesting part of the performance came when John Sebastian told us a little about how he'd come to write "Do You Believe in Magic" (which he and the members of Fanny were about to perform). He said he'd actually wanted to do a cover of "Heat Wave," but the autoharp he was using couldn't play the right chords. So he shifted "Heat Wave" to a minor key, sped it up a little, and that became the basis for "Do You Believe in Magic."

At some point I managed to get a double IPA from the bar, which gave me a pass on having to wear a mask. Interestingly, I'd been kind of cynical about everything I'd been experiencing until I was about a quarter of the way into my beer. After that, I felt like a willing part of the social organism. Suddenly the musicians seemed clever and spunky, and I ended up being disappointed when they eventually ran out of material. (Their spontaneous cover of "Heat Wave," was a glorious shambles, but the crowd ate it up all the same.)
As for the music, I wouldn't say it was really my thing. It was a bit bluesier than I prefer, though there were a few standouts that I liked, including a recently-produced Fanny song (one not performed tonight) that sounded a little like something by Def Leppard. (The singer for Def Leppard was actually one of the many people interviewed for the documentary; he said Fanny had influenced him when he was just beginning to find his feet musically.)
Gretchen and I split up into our separate cars in Woodstock, and Gretchen drove to the Uptown Kingston Hannaford ("Ghettoford") because it was still open and she wanted to use up the balance on Powerful's SNAP (food stamp) card. The way SNAP works is that if you don't spend the money allotted to you for the month, it disappears from your account ("turns into a pumpkin") at midnight on the first of the new month. Being in the hospital, Powerful has little use for his SNAP card, so he's entrusted it to Gretchen. Her goal at the Ghettoford was to spend all of the remaining ballance on Powerful's card and not too much more than that. She ended up buying lots of expensive shelf-stable items as well as a stack of frozen vegan pizzas.

As you may recall, I planted cannabis this year, as I have for something like the last ten or so years. Recreational cannabis was legalized in New York in March of this year, though it's still technically illegal to grow for another year. But it's unlikely anyone is going to get in trouble for growing it at this point. I successfully grew five females this summer (a personal record), of which this was my biggest and most impressive. (I made the mistake of growing my plants in MiracleGrow, which worked great until they started producing buds, after which the non-bud leaves started to yellow and die. I managed to salvage the plants by removing much of the MiracleGrow from around the plants' roots and replacing it with stone-studded clay from the nearby forest.)

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