The Copyrights and Kepi Ghoulie at the Bug Jar

I headed out to the late show at The Bug JarMySpace link (219 Monroe Ave.) First up was The CopyrightsMySpace link who played some superb high-energy punk-rock with a rich thumping bass. Next up was Kepi GhoulieMySpace link (a.k.a. Kepi: The Band) former front-man of The Groovie GhouliesMySpace link. Well, his new band is naturally very similar in that it's still a ghoul-themed punk-rock band, but it's got a more gritty, distorted sound that suits them well. Plus more people.

Unfortunately they hadn't learned the Ghoulies' Chupacabra yet so I'm stuck with it in my head — perhaps until the next time someone mentions the Chupacabra (or is it three times into the mirror?). Regardless: I had an absolute blast.

Brunch at Mario's

Ali and I decided to go to Mario's Italian Steakhouse (2740 Monroe Ave., formerly Mario's Via Abruzzi) for their Sunday Brunch Buffet. We'd been before, but it sure is a good time. After noon, you can even get mimosas as part of the brunch. We took our time and had three square meals over the course of some 3 hours or so. If you have the time, it's really worth the price.

James' Big Lebowski Party rocked

I headed over to James' place and a few of the people from MEETinROCHESTERMySpace link had already arrived; Ali had a few things to do first so she got there a bit later: not long after Mr. Lebowski was in seclusion in the West Wing.

Anyway, The Big Lebowski is still great. The whole slacker philosophy of The Dude warms my heart: pretty much a hippie, but without the glom-on Communistic need-more-than-they-are-able whinyness that turns your average free-living hippie into a damn dirty hippie.

I opted to dress up … I don't think anyone else did beyond maybe a Hawaiian shirt. I approximated the Dude's look when he's introduced: sniffing quarts of cream in the grocery store while wearing slippers, boxer shorts, and a terrycloth robe over a dingy T-shirt. When I stopped for wine I almost paid by check for effect, but it came to more than $0.60.

After the movie I ended up staying very late — generally hoarding the conversation to be all about me and what I've done in the last few years. I guess people were interested, but I was being pretty conceited about it and didn't really pay much attention. Well, save for the fact that nobody really tried to change the subject. Most people stayed until at least 11 or so, but I left James and Ken around 3:30 or so.  Yeesh.

Abeline is a cozy place to visit

So I stopped by Solera Wine BarMySpace link (647 South Ave.) and was talking with the owner, John Fanning. He gave rave reviews of this place called Abeline Bar and Lounge (153 Liberty Pole Wy., formerly Tara) — noting that it had very little traffic but could be a trendy hang-out. He had talked with Abeline's owner and commented that the location didn't get much traffic; the reply was something to the effect of "well, it's here and people will figure that out".

Anyway, I headed over and ran into a friend and shot some pool. The Park Avenue BandGarageBand link was playing until late so — unlike what John said — the place was pretty packed. The beer selection is quite good: bottles only, except for one beer on tap. I can imagine that it would definitely be a neat place to hand out on an off-night. When there's a band, it's a bit … umm … intimate.

I was only at Tara once and that was years ago, but I think the layout is pretty much the same. I think the lights are brighter at Abeline and the men in the posters generally have shirts on.

Disassembling the Bike With 2 Brains for the last time

I haven't mentioned it in a while, but today I cut up The Bike With 2 Brains so I could make it into something else. It was kind of sad — I even said goodbye before I put saw-to-frame. But then again, now it's all new: now it can become other things and I can finally put that chapter to rest.

Sometime in the past year or so, I realized what has been wrong with it. It's like it's been sick or something. When I brought it to Burning Man in 2005, it went out and had a life of its own: I brought it to the desert and let people take it away and do whatever they wanted. I designed the project that way and it went well. But ever other time I've brought it out, it's just a thing: a toy to play around with. As such, it's never been as good as that first time out.

Now I could redo the experiment, but it was hard on me. I had to search for it so I could recover it at the end of the event in 2005 and it was a difficult, stressful, and frustrating experience. I could do things to make it easier to finish that aspect of it, but why? All I would be doing is to try and revisit that first experience.

So now it's gone: really in pieces. It'll become some new things this year and I'm excited to get started on those things. Now I can.

Autumn in Halifax and the Weird Weeds at the Bug Jar

I got to The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) a bit early just in case but things got started later than usual. I chatted a bit with Dave Merulla of Autumn In HalifaxMySpace link who was interested in what I'd think of the show tonight. Despite my description last week, Dave would be playing things vanilla acoustic style: no "Leaves" (additional members who join him now and then) and no "band in a box" (a reference he made a few years ago to the digital effects he uses).

In the end, the show was excellent. It's still Dave and still his songs. He was clearly itching to use some effects or have people accompany his playing at times, but he persevered. Afterward he said that he likes to do a few shows all alone like that to shake out the songs. It's like he's building a foundation: that the melody and lyrics have to be strong on their own before he fiddles around with adding decoration and style. And they are generally strong songs to start with. He'll be playing them with "The Leaves" in July at The Little Theatre Café (240 East Ave.).

I've come to really appreciate what he's trying to accomplish. He said that he enjoys playing with additional people for the variation it causes — that there's always something unknown by doing that. He commented that it's usually a matter of trying to figure out which of the wheels is going to fall off first. And as such, the band is constantly changing … I said that my notes on bands are thrown way off with this kind of thing: by this time next year, Autumn in Halifax will have a completely different sound, although rooted in the same quality of music.

I got to thinking about how I like to see people do what they've done before, but it kind of makes them machines. I already have machines for that: they play back audio recordings. So no matter how many times any band plays something different, there's always the possibility of revisiting what was through the last CD.

Anyway, the other band up was The Weird Weeds. They do a sort of accessible experimental music — a bit of alternative-rock and with a bit of experimentation and a bit of harmonization. One of their members was nursing some kind of cold with whiskey, but they still did a great job.

A more unified theory of fear, excitement, and completing projects

Sondra and I had a discussion this morning about getting things done. We've both completed projects of various scales in our lives but were trying to figure out why it's so hard to finish the last step. We focused on creative projects where one starts with but an idea and makes that come to physical reality — step-by-step. It seems like it's not too hard to get a project started although there is some resistance because there's not yet a foundation which makes a creative idea alone pretty easy to dispel (except those ones that really nag at you). Once things get rolling it's even easier because there's always some next step to strive toward. But then right at the end, it seems the last few steps are just drudgery. We wanted to figure out why.

Since I've been on the kick of blaming everything on fear, I decided to do that here too. Like I blogged before, I feel that fear and excitement differ only in one's attitude: that if you're anxious, it's fear, but if you're joyous, it's excitement. In both cases, it's a reaction to your logical mind's "no answer" reaction — it happens when you don't have enough information to divine the best course of action … or you just don't know what's about to happen at all.

So with the end of a project, all the facets you tried to control are finally put to the test — and then there's all the things you didn't think of. Will it be like I thought it would? Will people react to it like I thought? Will it last? Will it fail? — All these unknowns suddenly come to the forefront.

But then we were discussing it and neither of us really felt that we were afraid of finishing a project. Usually we pushed through with either force-of-will or were excited to finish it, but never really "afraid" per se. But I still felt it fit the pattern of fear and the reaction to it: the process of dawdling through the last steps of a project indicate a fear of completion — that anxious reaction to the unknown.

So if there is indeed a fear/excitement (or fexcitement, if you will) reaction to this unknown event, is there a way to uncork it, let it out, and handily finish a project? Why was it that some projects we worked on seemed to never touch that dawdling stage but even accelerated to completion?

Yes.: it's celebration.

Whenever we had a project that was easy to complete, there was a celebration at the end. That's what I get from Burning Man: it's a celebration to declare the completion of projects and the presentation of them.

In fact, the more general case is that one celebrates a rite-of-passage. By celebrating, there's focus on the opportunity: the new, unknown things that are to come. By not celebrating, it's a focus on the loss: the absence of what was, and a dreary apprehension toward living without that ever again. For instance, a high-school graduation party celebrates a step toward adulthood, taking focus away from the death of childhood and coercing fear into excitement.

So projects call for a rite-of-passage celebration as well: from "in process" to "done". Because when a project is completed, the activity stops and the project makes the transition from something that is "to be" to something that "is". Focusing on the activity of the project and the end of "doing" — and specifically ignoring that transition to a new form — makes it a mourning experience of loss, an unpleasant experience to avoid.

I want to far overuse this technique in the near future, celebrating everything. But then I might skip that step and save it for the "big" things that really need a kick-in-the-pants.

Bicycling with the Weekly Rochester Cruisers' Ride

Ali and I went on the weekly Cruiser's Ride this week. We've gone in the past but this is the first time I got to blog about it. Anyway, it's a group of bicyclists that starts from Dogtown Hots (691 Monroe Ave.) — they used to start at Monty's KrownMySpace link (875 Monroe Ave.) but everyone kept getting dinner at Dogtown first. We got rolling around 8:30 or so and meandered through the city streets all over the place, covering some 9 miles or so all around (I measured as best as I could remember on a map). I finally got to see The Legal Wall — although I guess it's now the "somewhat legal wall" … perhaps someone in the group wasn't confident of the concept or that something changed. In case you don't know, the principle is that the owners of buildings in this area permit and welcome artists to apply graffiti. Some of it is fantastic. Pardon me if I don't specify exactly where it is because the cops have been on a rampage shutting good things down of this ilk.

The ride "officially" terminates at Lux LoungeMySpace link (666 South Ave.) although this time, they wouldn't permit us to bring our bikes to the back yard as they had in the past. Ali and I both had custom-built bikes [by me, in case you're wondering] and she didn't want to leave them locked up in front so we went to Solera Wine BarMySpace link (647 South Ave.) with John and had a glass of wine so we could sit by them and keep an eye on them.

A Consumerism Relapse

This past weekend I held a Garage Sale and it went pretty well. I got rid of a lot of things, and then on Monday and Tuesday I took most of the rest of it to the thrift stores and such. I ended up spending all the money I made on a second Argon/Carbon Dioxide tank for the MIG welder. At least I didn't fall behind. Plus, now I can weld all day on Sunday even if one tank runs out — and it always does.

But in regards to my relapse into consumerism, I was thoroughly excited to win an auction on eBay for one Fujitsu ScanSnap S510M (at $100 under Amazon's price). It scans double-sided in color and outputs to PDF files — with additional options to convert to text (with "optical character recognition" or OCR) or to place text-under-graphics so it's human readable like the paper copy, but mostly searchable as well (except for OCR errors). It whips through 18 pages a minute (although my lowly G3 PowerBook can't keep up, especially with its 1/10th-speed USB 1.1 interface). In all: it's awesome so far. My qualms with it are that it doesn't scan very accurately, allowing compression errors to originate in the scanner, and there's no way to set specific scanning resolutions: only interpretative ones like "Best" or "Fast". I was also disappointed to find that Adobe Acrobat 8 won't run on Mac OS X 10.3 — I'd need at least 10.4 for that.

So now my free time is going through old documents, shoving them into the scanner, and getting rid of the originals. I know: I have too much fun.