Jill "xtingu" Knapp

Traveling musician. Singer. Road warrior in bursts. Dork. Easy to spot. Gauche eyeshadow fan. Unreasonably happy.

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I have a few things to talk about, but it's 2am (now 5:30am) and I'm now too tired... so I'm just going to leave videos of two songs from the Sunnyvale / Hot Breakfast!  house concert that happened in August in north Jersey.  (Huge thanks to Anthony Stramaglia for shooting and posting these!)

This first song ("A Thing to Get Through") is brand-new, and this recording was not only the song's very first "public" performance, it was also perhaps maybe only the 5th or 6th time we'd actually played/sung it straight through... Matt and I had learned it quite literally the night before.  It was a safe and friendly crowd, so I wasn't worried about making a mistake; I was more worried about crying in the middle of the song. (You can hear me start to get choked up a few times; you can just hear things tighten up and me make slight vocal adjustments to compensate.  Or maybe you don't hear it since I didn't use a mic, and/or maube you're not that anal about vocal mechanisms. Whatevz.  Anyway, getting choked up is normal and often happens when you lose a friend and you sing a song about the loss to a room full of people who loved him.)  Andrew (the songwriter and piano player) was Paul's (the friend who died) best friend, and they were VERY tight, and kept up their friendship via email since they lived on opposite coasts (Paul in north Jersey and Andrew lived in Portland, OR).  They are both gifted writers, and I secretly pray those letters/emails get published some day.  Heavy philosophy, social criticism, music analysis and theory, knowing thyself, etc.  

Anyway, the lyrics are below the video.


Below that is Video #2 for an old song ("The Job Song" a.k.a. "Get a Real Job") by our old band The Evelyn Situation. This song was written in 1992 for two women's voices and piano and guitar as an evil polka, and has been re-arranged over the years for 2 voices/one kazoo/two guitars/piano; then for one vocalist (me!) plus a 17 piece big band (the Industrial Jazz Group), all the way to this current stripped-down version of one voice, one piano (below).  The video for The Job Song is below the first one, and the lyrics (which are wonderfully clever) are below it.  (and yes, I was super-enunciatey. I didn't have a mic and I wanted to make sure everyone understood the words. I'd rather err on the side of over-pronouncey than mumbly. I hate when I can't understand a singer.)

A Thing to Get Through - - words and music by Andrew Durkin. (For Paul.)

Flying in to Jersey 
With the winter on my mind
I got angry at a stewardess 
Who was trying to be kind
My past was up ahead, and my future far behind
mm-mmm, mm-mmm, mm-mmm

If you had a fortune
Would you have been who you wanted to be
If you had a lifetime
Would you have used it to finally get free
If you had a second chance
Could you do now what you didn’t do
Or was life just a thing to get through

Some came from the beginning 
And some came from the end
Some I hadn’t seen forever
And some I might never see again
Help me, Jesus—is this anyway to treat a friend
mm-mmm, mm-mmm, mm-mmm

If you had a fortune
Would you have been who you wanted to be
If you had a lifetime
Would you have used it to finally get free
If you had a second chance
Could you do now what you didn’t do
Or was life just a thing to get through

Maybe you are laughing
From your attic in the sky
Maybe you’re that piece of clay
That finally learned to fly
Do you think we’ll ever know
What happens when we die
mm-mmm, mm-mmm, mm-mmm


The Job Song (words and music by Andrew Durkin)

This guy with horns said, "There's a cure for your financial state: don't do the thing you love, cause good things come to those who hate. I'm a powerful man, and though I think you're a slob, if you will flatter me, I'll get you a real job."

"Give up your dreams," he said, "Yes, that's the way to have it all. Look at your cousin Neil: he's young, he's rich (he's going bald). He may be dead in a decade or two, but he drives a porsche, and yes, you can drive one, too. Why don't you get a real job?"

Having just finished school, I'd never met his type before. "You're very kind," I said, "And yes, you're right, I'm very poor. But I don't see how your scheme could help me, And so I wonder if you might not tell me more. Why should I get a real job?"

"Well, don't you want to be like the people on TV? So bored and jaded and doing something that you have always hated? Just give in! How could it be a sin? The big machine must keep on rolling on... Why don't you get a real job?

For I have here in store each numbered casket for your generation: I've been waiting with anticipation! Truth, you'll find, is on the dotted line, so be a good sport. That's what life is for!"

Anyway. 

I have to tell y'all about the new consulting gig and Matt's music directing a show and me thinking about joining a christmas carol troupe for this holiday season to make a few bucks singing in malls, but that'll have to wait until the next post of One Post Wonder.

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10/8 '17 11 Comments
Wow. I remember the job song. Hearing it in a slow, mournful incarnation is very affecting.
Thomas Boutell 10/8 '17
I agree! And I could even stand to hear it slowed down further, a soft studio version with just the voice and piano.
Anne Mollo 10/8 '17
Thanks so much for giving a listen!

I'll suggest that to Andrew and see what he says... we're always up for trying new stuff.
No! I just meant, "Wow this song is so awesome I could imagine loving it in any style, from polka to sappy studio ballad."
Anne Mollo 10/12 '17
Thank you, thank you!
It blows my mind that you remember a song from a band I was in before I knew you. It blows my mind because I can't believe there was ever a time when I didn't know you.

Though, next year will be the year where I will have officially spent more time alivewithh you in my sphere than without. That's pretty fucking cool. I owe it all to Jeremy being pushy and They Might Be Giants.
Ah, their Horse With No Name era! Fun fact: their recent albums... Which are numerous, because of the influence of Jonathan Coulton's work ethic... Are all excellent.
Thomas Boutell 10/12 '17
Yeah, I love me some TMBG still. I love how they've grown with the times, taken advantage of the technology, and still stay screamingly relevant (to me, anyway). I bought Jeremy their Fan Club membership and he's been known to occasionally share the fruits. SO GOOD!
I remember the Job song too! I used to put it on mixes.
Eeeeeeeeee!!
“A Thing to Get Through” - I experienced solid frisson with full hair follicle involvement. Thank you for sharing that, and for, you know, bearing the existential burden required to sing that in the first place.
Robert Bryan 10/8 '17
Aw, thanks for listening. :)

I've been revisiting some other videos from that night, and there's one where I damn near lose my shit every time the chorus comes around. Full-on voice crack... but it just sounds like I'm a shitty singer as opposed to someone feeling feels. Oh well. I don't really care... the only people who can see those videos are people who know.

If I think about music too much my brain explodes from wonder.

 

We (me, Matt, Kevin Niemi, and Joe Trainor) went to go see Yes (well, one of the two groups currently touring as Yes... the better one, in my opinion), and HOLY CRAP were they absolutely amazing. It was a five-piece band, and it featured an absolutely flawless (FLAWLESS!!) Jon Anderson on soaring, original-key, perfectly smooth and dead-accurate how-the-hell-is-he-73-years-old vocals, percussion, "acoustic guitar" (though his fingering rarely changed and we don't think it was actually plugged into anything) and celtic harp; Trevor Rabin on freakin' fantastic guitar, and the sparkly-caped Rick ZOMG Clearly No Arthritis Wakeman on keys and keytar. Since they had Trevor Rabin, the show had a bunch of songs off of 90125 and even "Rhythm of Love" off of Big Generator (and we all agreed that was the most we ever liked that song). The show was in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center, and it was so damn civilized! The crowd (with the exception of the one guy yelling "YES!!!") was super-enthusiastic but so respectful-- people didn't "woo" during quiet parts, and they clapped for good solos... and the Kimmel Center staff made you wait until between songs to re-enter the theater if you left to pee. (Of course, at a Yes show that could be 20 mins...) It was AMAZING and we are all still buzzing about it.

Little did we know a few hours later some fuckstick would be shooting a zillion people at a concert in Vegas. I can't wrap my head around it; I really can't.  I try, and I fail. I just can't make sense of this year. Whenever I see the phrase "President Trump" written, it seems like an '80s Bloom County joke where Opus, Steve Dallas and Milo are making fun of the 21st Century. 

Speaking of the 21st Century, we went to go see Blade Runner (the 1982 version obviously, but the Directors Cut, without the voiceover); Matt had never seen it before, and it'd been just under a decade since I'd seen it (though I was so tired during that screening that I slept through most of it). I really enjoyed it this time around. It was playing at Theatre N, which is a cute little auditorium in the Nemours building in downtown Wilmington. ​We ran into a zillion people there who seemed genuinely happy to bump into us, and it felt nice to feel liked. (Whatcha think? Is Deckert a Replicant or not?  Discuss.)

Get off my lawn

​​​​​​In other news entirely, I've decided there are some 21st Century things I just don't give a shit about, and I don't really want to learn about them or invite them into my life. The list (which is sure to expand) currently includes:

Any smart-home technology. My fridge does not need a fucking IP address. Neither do my lightswitches, lightbulbs, garage door openers, thermostat, etc. If I wanna turn a light on, I'll friggin' turn on the switch, thanks.  I trust GE to make a lightbulb; I don't trust them to have the expertise to lock down their products with the kind of internet security anything with an IP address needs today. And cars sure-as-fuck don't need wifi.  (Read the short article, and then scroll down for the related video from 2013 of a Jeep getting hacked while driving down the highway.)

Any voice-activated assistant, be it Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, etc. Screw you, you can't listen in. If I need to order more Luna bars, I'll fucking click three things on my phone. 

Facebook Messenger. Fuck you, I will never, ever install it. Ever. You already know how I feel about Facebook. I am not gonna get swept up in its bullshit, whether it's positive or negative bullshit. It's a timesuck, and I already suck at time. Besides, I'm pissed off enough about Trump and life's injustices without Facebook. (And for the love of god, please stop thinking/worrying I'm judging anyone who is on (or even loves) Facebook. I am not judging. I'm happy you've found something you dig. You do you, I'll do me. Done.)

Spotify. Fuck you, I don't give a shit. If I wanna listen to music, I'll fucking turn on my iPod, or Sirius, or WXPN. I haven't used Spotify and I don't care to try it. It bones musicians so badly that I can't possibly contribute to it. And even if it treated musicians fairly, I still wouldn't be interested because I'm lazy and don't like new things, SO THERE. 

That new-fangled Windows XP. (I kid, I kid.)

​​​​In still other news...

Matt and I have gift certificates to sensory-deprivation float-pods in West Chester. This will either be the best most awesome thing or the absolute worst possible thing for someone with crippling anxiety, but either way we're eager to give it a whirl. We'll letcha know how it goes. 

And in yet still other news...

Work is FINALLY starting to pick up. Hey, it's only October, right?  I'll be at UPenn every Friday morning between now and October 2018, and the occasional Wednesday, too. Yay. Money. This Friday I'll be there all day. If you work near Penn, maybe we could get lunch every once in awhile? 

OK, that's enough outta me. 

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10/5 '17 4 Comments
Deckert is a replicant. I wasn't even aware this was up for debate until my brother mentioned it. It's especially obvious in the director's cut as I recall...
Anne Mollo 10/5 '17
>>floating

don't forget to bring Uncle Sidney with you!
CM Adams 10/5 '17
I admit I don't get this, but I secretly hope it's code for brisket, which is code for... well, you know.
Yes. Same thing as brisket.
CM Adams 10/9 '17
 

I wrote this Thursday, August 24th.

I woke up at 7am this morning crying my face off from a horrible dream where I was alone in a hotel room on a work trip, and it occurred to me that I was dying. I was actually mostly OK with dying, but I wanted to be with Matt and my parents, and I couldn't get to them. There's a lot more to the dream, but I'm typing on my phone here at the hospital... I'm currently getting my 2nd iron infusion, so I have a tube in my arm and today it's extra-pinchy for some reason.

Anyway, I have been on the verge of tears for 10 days. I don't know if it's that I've been in slightly more emotional situations lately, i.e., the house concert was great, but made us miss Paul; seeing Patty in California was awesome but her mom recently died and reminiscing was so, so good, but also really sad. The eclipse was happy and wonderful, but got me choked up. And singing just about anything makes me cry... if it sounds bad, I cry... if it sounds good, I cry.  I don't get it. Maybe this is the world's longest bout of PMS... but I've gotta figure out how to handle it, because I can't cry at rehearsal or during the shows!

Anyhoo, tonight I have my first Lizzie rehearsal since vacation. They moved into the theater while I was in California, so tonight I'll be seeing the set for the first time. I'm not gonna be able to sing tonight because my voice still sucks from this cold. Argh!

In other news, everyone here in the hospital chemo/infusion suite is extra-chipper today. It's a bright, sunny, 80-degree day today, and I think people are just kinda feeling the change of season starting. There are three other patients here right now (as opposed to last week where all 20 chairs were filled), and one patient is telling her cancer story-- she's a relatively new patient-- she's 37 with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. She said she had no idea she was even sick until someone mentioned she looked a little yellow. So she went to the doctor and he was like "Get your ass to the hospital NOW."   So hearing her story and the other patients talking about their chemo ports and yadda yadda makes me STOP BITCHING about having a dumb cold. (A crappy, tenacious cold with a lungmeat cough that is now here a week and holding my voice hostage... but whatever.)

We're taking our Billy Joel tribute to The Rehoboth Beach Bandstand this weekend, and we had to cut our 2-hour show down to 75 minutes. It'll be a quick but fun show. And when we get home we'll have a dogggggg. (We're dogsitting JD. Yaaay!) 

[...time elapses...]

Aaaah. My infusion is finished. They also gave me a steroid (Decadron), which, in addition helps prevent any potential death by anaphylaxis that iron infusing can sometimes (rarely) cause, will also reduce the inflammation of my vocal cords, so my voice should be back soon. 

August 28th Update

So it's a few days later and the Billy Joel show in Rehoboth was a smashing success... the guy who booked us said we had a crowd of about 1000, which is impressive considering the bandstand only has seats for 350. It looked like a sea of people out there, and everyone said that the audience was all singing along and dancing, which is cool. As usual, my damn mic barely worked and a zillion audience members complained to me after the show about it. I wasn't able to hear myself in the monitors so I crammed two earplugs in just so I could hear myself, and it was sub-optimal at best. Oh well.  

In other news, the ladytimes have kicked in, so at least I know why I was a crying hot mess last week. And hopefully it'll only last a week or 10 days so it'll be over for when Lizzie opens, considering we're wearing all white.  

If you're coming to see Lizzie, might I gently suggest coming to the second weekend if your schedule allows? 

In the last bit of news, we're dogsitting JD again. They've changed up his meds and he's a lot "doggier" now-- he's getting around better and seems happier, too. This is the best news.

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8/28 '17 6 Comments
Glad to know you're back in control of your Jillness.
Okay, one more time for the slowies in the room like me: what are all the dates and times for your show?

Seriously considering crashing on your couch just sose I can see Lizzy but also seekritly sose I can meet you and, well, crash on your couch.

I suspect all of my own busy life plans will interfere with this plan, but a girl can dream.
Anne Mollo 8/28 '17
Very much looking forward to the show!
Thomas Boutell 8/28 '17
We're coming to the first weekend because custody schedule and inflexible ex-thing.

I have been having weird upsetting dreams lately too ... I have been sick and I blame the cold meds. Or just the floaty feeling of illness. Some of the dreams feel like echoes of other people's dreams.

Glad to hear about JD. Last time I saw him he was Not Good.
"This is the best news."

It really is.
JD update: Not Good as of today.
Jeremy update: same.
 

My friend Anthony Stramaglia (whom I wonder if Thomas Boutell and Jeremy Moskowitz know from the classic computing shows they've gone to?) attended this weekend's house concert, and was kind enough to tape all of the songs.  I am SO grateful to him for doing so, because in all of my prepping for the show, I totally forgot to set up something to record the happenings. Anthony is a life-saver and an all-around awesome guy-- he used to run a local BBS back in the day. (Epsilon Process in the hoouuuuussse!)

So this morning he sent out a link to the second Sunnyvale song of the evening; this one is called "The Enemy."  This song is an old Evelyn Situation song, and we retooled it for one voice, as opposed to the three voices that sang it back in the day.  We dropped the key a step because in the old days Danielle (top voice) sang the melody on the choruses, and now that I'm covering all the parts essentially, we had to drop the key so I could sing the choruses that lay a little higher, as well as the verses (which I always sang because they, like my balls, hung low).  (so classy.)

This song was always my favorite Evelyn Situation song. It was written from the perspective of a person who was left behind as their significant other decided she was leaving the "cold cold northeast."  (In case you're wondering: Yes, Jeremy knows the song was inspired by him, though he wasn't interviewed before the song was written or anything. Durk just sorta imagined that this is how someone in Jeremy's position might feel.)

Once again, I tried to be extra-dictionny with the words so you could catch them all.  In the event you can't, here's a link to the lyrics.  (Click "Lyrics" from the cutting-edge 1996 FRAMES web technology, and then choose "The Enemy."  (Huge apologies to Tom, whom I can hear cringing from over here! lulz))

If you want to hear what the song sounded like in its original Evelyn Situation format, click here.  Cue college-age Jill.  Good lord, how I loved that band like it was my only true, true love.  And daaamn, how I love how the voices end the song with Danielle resolving to the 7th of all places, because why the hell not.

God damn, I love music.

ps: I wrote this while getting my iron infusion today. It went well. I can already feel the difference. Tomorrow I will be really cooking with gas. I go for a second infusion next week because MOAR MOAR MOAR.

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8/15 '17 5 Comments
I love all of this. Especially that you are getting infüzd. I love your voice and your good health.
Thanks! Eeee!

Also: This magical spelling pleases me. :-)
Frames don't really matter, good user experience matters OH MY GOD I CLICKED A BACK LINK AND THE FRAMES ARE FRAMING THE FRAMES FRAMECEPTION it's fine
Thomas Boutell 8/15 '17
Hahahaha!

I figure the band was from the 90s, so should the web-t'knology. Written in Notepad, like someone intended. (?)
Jill "xtingu" Knapp 8/16 '17edited
GORGEOUS song! And you sound amazing, I love hearing before-I-met-her Jill. :)
Jenn A 8/18 '17
 

Yes, I know you all know this. But just in case: 

Please, PLEASE!! PROTECT YOUR EYES DURING THE SOLAR ECLIPSE.  Everyone knows how to make a pinhole camera, but some people erroneously believe that you look at the sun through the hole in the paper. NO NO NO.  You look wherever your pinhole camera is projecting the image onto. 

Or, you need to get some ISO-certified eclipse-viewing glasses. But PLEASE don't look directly at the eclipse.  "But I can look at the regular daytime for a second, so why can't I look directly at an eclipse?" BECAUSE YOU CAN'T, OK?

House Concert in NJ with Sunnyvale and Hot Breakfast!

In other news, we were up in NJ at my folks' place on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday this weekend, because Hot Breakfast!, along with Sunnyvale, co-billed on a house concert in north Jersey at my brother's house. ("Sunnyvale" is our new bi-coastal musical project which includes me, Matt, and my pre-Matt lifelong musical collaborator Andrew Durkin. We play Andrew's compositions-- some are retooled versions of old Evelyn Situation tunes, and some are brandy-new compositions.) Andrew lives in Portland (OR) but was out east taking care of some family stuff, so we decided to try to play a show while he was out east. We also used this house concert as a way to honor Paul's memory. After Paul's memorial service in January, we all vowed to stay in touch... so we called everyone together to hear these Sunnyvale tunes which were all songs inspired by Paul's passing, or songs on which Paul had some input while Andrew wrote them, or songs that Paul had played on back in The Evelyn Situation days.  Hello, house concert!  It was attended by my and Andrew's and my brother's overlapping high school friends; some I hadn't seen in eons. 

Here's a video of the first Sunnyvale tune of the night, called "Blood and Bone." It's my favorite of our Sunnyvale new tunes. I sing a bit more "legit" (meaning "treat these songs more like an art song rather than a pop song." Or, more precisely, find someplace in between art-song and pop-song) with Sunnyvale songs as opposed to the "always huge voice, all the time, always with a knowing wink" with Hot Breakfast.  It's sincere. Since I was mic-less for this, I really tried to focus on my diction because I wanted everyone to catch every word. I might have over-done it... I was nervous as hell, mostly because I wasn't able to get through a lot of these songs in rehearsal because I kept crying. (Plus, many of these songs are brandy-new and I've only sung them once before. Or never.)

I fucking LOVE this song so much; it's in 6/4 which just gives it this hypnotizing droney feel... but then I love how the piano part and the vocal intertwine with his majestic right-hand thing with the vocal's wordless "ooohs."  And then the bridge goes into a quicker 4/4 time as it talks about remembering how it feels like to be a child on the family vacation, and just *being.*  [1]

OK, so now here's the video of the first Sunnyvale tune of the night, called "Blood and Bone." It's my favorite of our new tunes. (Music starts around 1:10. Feel free to forward through my thank-yous and the backstory.)

Lizzie

What else. Lizzie rehearsals continue to go well. The girl playing Lizzie hasn't been at the last few rehearsals because she was wrapping up another play, and then she caught the plague, poor thing. But the other cast members have been doing good work, and Lizzie will plug right in, no doubt.​​​​​​​

Iron Time!

In other news, tomorrow (Tuesday) is my first-of-two iron infusions. I cannot wait... hook me UP!  And then Wednesday we leave for California to visit Patty and to see one of Matt's plays at the Little Fish Theater in San Pedro/Los Angeles... and then we fly home during the eclipse. Wooooot!  We'll be home late on the 21st.

So that's the latest!

If you've emailed me (Shelle Klein Houser ​​​​​, Lindsay Harris-Friel ​​​​​​, Thomas Boutell ​​​​​​), I know I owe you a reply. I'll reply soon, I promise. 

Xoxo!

Jill-o

 _____________

[1] How the hell did I get so lucky to get to sing the songs that Andrew writes? It was just right-place-right-time -- If Andrew wasn't on my bus on that band trip in 1986, he never would have heard me sing, and he never would have asked to work together. And then none of the Area Code (201) / Brooklyn Ferry/ Evelyn Situation/ Jay's Booming Hat / Industrial Jazz Group bands ever would have happened. Which then means that I wouldn't have had the musical taste and experience that makes me me... which means I wouldn't have been the right fit to sing Matt's music in either the "Matt needs backing vocals for his solo record(s)" to "holy crap, playing as a duo is fun, let's do this more" days, up to and through to the Casarino Royale and now to the present Hot Breakfast! days. And now I get to make music with these two absolutely It's all right-place-right-time... and once again, I am the luckiest girl in the world. THANK YOU, UNIVERSE.

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8/14 '17 6 Comments
Right place, right time, right Jill.
Thomas Boutell 8/15 '17
We are all products of our experiences. I'm so lucky to have had the experiences that paved the way for other experiences, which pave the way for other experiences. It all starts with surrounding yourself with people who inspire you. (Hello, Philadel.)
Make sure that's ISO certified, not NASA certified (apparently some products are claiming the latter, nonexistent honor). My cousin's husband is the Chief Medical Officer at NASA, and he's been all over FB reminding people that NASA does not certify (or even endorse) products.
Kate Haney 8/16 '17
Indeedy! Mine are ISO-blessed... at $4/pair with a minimum order of 25, so I'll share them with people on the plane. But there are lots of bogus, cheap specs out there that have "NASA" or pictures of galaxies all over them, which means nada, but people are buying them up like crazy. I'm very worried about the eyeball damage.
Also, I am in love with your cousin's husband because he has the coolest job on the planet (and probably on other planets!).
It is a very cool job. He's a bit of a schmuck, but he suits my cousin fine.
Kate Haney 8/20 '17
 

Hit a home run with Verizon Residential and a bunt to first with Verizon Wireless today. It's been a Verizonny day. 

In a nutshell, Verizon Residential came out (and was on time!) this morning and they confirmed my diagnosis and remedy, because I am awesome.  So yep, turns out the ONT (optical network terminal) wasn't getting power from the outlet, and was only getting power from the BBU (battery backup unit).  The tech was awesome and took one look at our 10-year-old ONT/BBU and immediately said "I gotta replace this shiznit," at which point I said "Whoa whoa whoa, Amigo... the new units don't have battery backups, so you're not allowed to replace it because I have a landline that relies on the battery in the event of a power outage." And he was like, "Holy shitballs, you're right, which is weird because you appear to have both technical skills and boobs."  Yes, I get that a lot. I understand. It's an anomalies in your home and native land of DelCo, where everyone has Rodney Anonymous' accent.  Anyway, he replaced the power supply and didn't charge me anything, and said "I just gotta warn you though... a sales guy is gonna call you and they're gonna try to get you to upgrade your FIOS. Right now you have 256MB Up/Down, which was bleeeeeeeeding-edge speedy 10 years ago, and now we've got Gigabyte Up/Down. So just brace yourself." I asked if I was in any danger if I didn't upgrade... like, was I vulnerable to some nutty exploit, and he said "Nope, none that I can think of. As long as you keep your router firmware up-to-date and don't keep default passwords, you should be OK."  So, yeah. I call that a win for now.

* * * * *

The bunt to first base happened overnight last night when I tweeted to VZWSupport about a problem that has been plaguing our neighborhood and environs since May 2014: We had a freak hailstorm in May of 2014 with baseball-sized hail that got me and my neighbors new roofs/siding/car bodywork/etc.

(see cool photos of hailstones and damage to my house and car: https://www.flickr.com/photos/xtingu/sets/72157645237393142/ )

It also knocked out the Verizon cell tower that serves our area, and since that very afternoon, cell reception for everyone around here has been shittastic... you either have baaaaaarely one teeeeeeny bar of signal or none whatsoever, or you have to go outside to make a call. (This is why I still have a landline.)  Various neighbors have called VZW to complain over the years, and Verizon resolved the individual Incidents (be selling signal boosters to people who complained) but never addressed the Problem of fixing the smashed tower. So after I tweeted VZWSupport last night, they called me today and I was able to explain to the rep that it wasn't just me and Matt experiencing this, but it was over 200 customers in the area, many of whom are switching (or already switched) to Sprint.  She said "Holy crap, we'll get someone out there within 5-7 days!" Which seems like a long time, but we've waited three years, so what's other week?

There's a slightly more locked-down social media site called "NextDoor" which is a neighborhood message board that somehow verifies you actually live in a certain neighborhood before it lets you join. This "Damaged Verizon Cell Tower" has been a very sore point for a looooong time, but I'm suddenly a hero today for telling everyone in our surrounding neighborhoods that this might FINALLY get addressed. I am cautiously optimistic, hence a bunt to first base.  I'll keep y'all posted... I'm sure you're all biting your nails wondering how the cell reception is in North Wilmington, Delaware. 

Other than that...

Music Stuff This Weekend

We've got two gigs this weekend. On Friday (6/23) we're playing this neat town festival called Smyrna At Night. Smyrna, Delaware is a cute town about halfway down our tall skinny state that has a street festival every summer where they close the main drag, have a ton of vendors, food trucks, bands, and stuff all night. We're playing an indoor venue at prime time, from 8-9pm at a place called The Drunk'n Baker, which is a bakery that makes booze-infused treatz.*  Should be fun, even if I won't eat their boozey snax.

The second gig is the next night (Saturday, 6/24), where we're playing in our Billy Joel Tribute Band at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, on the big stage downstairs. Show starts at 8pm.  I sing lead on a few things, I sing backup on a zillion others, and play tenor and also saxes, and a crap-ton of percussion. It's a blast, and I love playing this music with my friends... it's an 8-piece band and we make a good racket. If you're in or around Philly, come on out if ya want. We'd love an audience. :-D

On Sunday we'll do a belated Fathers Day up at my folks' place in NJ and we'll stay with them for a few days. It'll be nice.

So that's the news. 

Riveting, I know.

Ok, bye. :)

____

Seven dollahs, get a big bagga treatz!" (Inside joke. Sorry.)​​​​​​

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6/22 '17 9 Comments
"Seven dollahs, yah get a big bagga treatz!"

I fuckin love you. Have I mentioned that recently, cuz I do.

Laughed out loud in my hotel. Hope I didn't wake the neighbors.

Also - Nice work with Big VZ - both counts. I love that the kid tried to warn you of the impending call from the sales droid. Because of COURSE there's going to be a call.

And the cell tower? That seems like it will be a MAYJOHR win if it happens.

Your customer complaint fu is so VERY much stronger than mine. Remind me to have you come with me the next time I have to deal with VZW...
Matt Lichtenwalner 6/22 '17edited
Sometimes autocorrect is good. "Also sax:" now my favorite typo
Thomas Boutell 6/22 '17
So I wanna say I am proud of you for taking it to the man and getting good service ... and I am, but the fact that getting honest, helpful service from a vendor who YOU PAY is a victory, not a commonplace occurrence ... that makes me sad.

Yay you!
Boo Corporate America.
*pumps fist in solidarity*
I'll be there is Smyrna with my (most likely cranky) 6 yr old in tow. Hoping to finally meet you!
Ursula Sadiq 6/23 '17
Wait ... Ursula and Jill, you've never met?
That makes sense considering the timing, but still, it feels weird.
Jill I saw you through the window - but kid was extra cranky melting down, so we didn't come in. . . . some other day!
Ursula Sadiq 6/23 '17
No worries at all! Just saw this now that we're home, so I wasn't on the lookout and didn't know to be disappointed. :-D

But get this-- your name was totally brought up tonight! Kristen Halversen (new last name is Pickering) was there and her super-talented son Brody joined us as an intern when we recorded our last album. Kristen said to me, "Hey, I didn't know you know Hamlet! We were in the honors program at UD together!" And then started naming people we knew, and she mentioned you, and I said that we hadn't yet met but were probably going to any minute. IT'S LIKE I WAS PSYCHIC.
Told you.
 

I am jealous of Thomas Boutell ​​​​​​'s fancy bullets he used in an earlier post. I don't know if my bullets here will be as pretty and diamondy as his. Let us try in a listo!

  • Last night (Thursday May 25th) was a bittersweet night... about 73 million musicians and singers and players* played over 6 hours of music in a huge, free concert on both stages as we said goodbye and thank you to World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington. World Cafe Live pulled out of The Queen because it was bleeding money despite all their efforts to keep it in the black, and last night was officially the venue's last night, so all of the bands that were known to be Queen favorites were on the bill and we threw a Thank You and Goodbye show to give the venue we love a royal sendoff.
  1. With that many bands and players/singers, there was no way to give everyone their own time slot; so we created these giant "supergroups." For example, Matt and I told everyone they could use our saxophone-playing skills -- so two bands (Shytown and Vinyl Shockley) took us up on that as we bulked up their horn section -- we played one song with each of those two bands -- easy peasy.  And then The Joe Trainor Trio became JTTwelve (!) because Joe added a sweeeeeeet five-member horn section, he added a guitarist, and three women on backing vocals, so Matt played sax for that, and I sang backing vocals. 
  2. We were sent the charts for the two songs ahead of time, so Matt and I had time to rehearse them at home. But last night once we arrived and met the two other horn players for Shytown and Vinyl Shockley, they handed us a stack of music for a bunch of other songs and said, "Just watch us for cues," and away we went! Sight-read it on stage, no time to play through anything before we went on. I LOVE THAT.  And to sweeten the deal, these guys would even throw in the occasional "horn section moves" which were a blast... nothing too nuts... but every once in a while we'd do an intuitive choreographed "pop" and it looked cool as shit.  It felt SO GOOD to just jump in, feel trusted by strangers, trust them as well, connect into their neural network and be a horn section.  God, I love being a musician.

It was a magical, bittersweet night... and I'm so happy to be part of the World Cafe Live community.  

(And I'm also very happy to hear that we now have an "in" with LiveNation... but that's a topic for a different day.)

[Edited to add on Saturday: The muscles/tendons in my left forearm that control my left pinky (The G# key, as well as all the sub-C notes on a sax) is nice and sore, as are my hands and the muscles in my neck. I friggin' LOVE playing Moose (my tenor sax) but lorrrrdy these hands hurt afterwards. Totally worth it, though!]


---------

* There is an important difference between a singer, a player, and a musician.  Just because you can carry a tune or play an instrument does NOT mean you are a musician. Can you arrange a song? Can you tell me what a diminished chord is? Can you tell me the difference between dorian and mixolydian modes? Could you music direct a show? Could you write the parts out for all of these other instruments?  No? Then you're not a musician.  Words have power.  Please do not appropriate the title of what so many of us have trained so hard daily for DECADES to achieve.  


(x-posted to xtingu.dreamwidth.org)

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5/28 '17 7 Comments
I didn't use standard listo bullets. I just pasted in some Unicode diamonds. The End uses diamonds in their own design, so it felt apt.
Thomas Boutell 5/28 '17
Ah! That 'splains it!
Can you just use html? Like, could I do the ol' "•" and get a bullet?
oh PLEASE tell me there's video of all of this! i was so bummed i couldn't get down there for the show, it sounds like you kicked your usual ass! <3
Jenn A 5/29 '17
EEEE JENN IS HERE! [Clicks ALL his "give keys" buttons]
Thomas Boutell 5/29 '17
LOL - yeah, I pretty much just had the same reaction.
Also? Welcome aboard. It's good to see you here.

Also also? I'm with you on the whole "Christ, I hope there's video..."
Jenn! Yesyesyes! Be here!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️
 

OK.  We're recording tonight, and while Matt is recording some guitars and keys, I sat back and played with my phone and let the Internet happen.

I'm not sure how it happened, but I wound up on YouTube, and a video popped up in my "Hey, this video might appeal to you" List... which is always interesting because I told Google and YouTube that I didn't want it keeping track of my YouTube video watching history or my search history... so I'm not sure what it bases its suggestions on.  But either way, it suggested this quickie compilation of the dance numbers from a movie I'd never heard of (The Rich Man's Frug?) that Bob Fosse choreographed.  So I watched it.

AND GOOD GOD, this very well may be one of the top 20 most amazing things my eyeballs have EVER seen, and I've seen some cool shit.  This here is a miracle and the pinnacle of what humans can accomplish.

Behold:

RIGHT!??!?!

WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL WAS THAT?!? OK, yeah, it was from Sweet Charity. But other than that, WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT??

(And am I the only one who was looking for Jenn Rice in that video?)


So I then read the comments, and miraculously, many were positive, and not the usual mouth-breathing lose-all-faith-in-humanity comments. Many people kept talking about "Emma" Something-or-Other and "Maybe" and even mentioning Beyonce, I didn't know what any of that meant, but enough people were talking about these things as if some person named Emma had a song called Maybe and that the video was inspired by the Fosse thing.

I'm a curious chick, so I entered those words into YouTube's search bar and I was expecting to be taken to some Arianna Grande bullshit (not that I could pick an Arianna Grande out of a lineup)... but the next thing I know I was watching a video that looked like it was directly ripped off/inspired by the Fosse thing indeed, and the lead singer looked like a 10-years-older Baby Spice maybe... and hey what do you know, that's exactly who/what this is. And HOLY SHIT, what is this song?! It has... genuinely interesting and challenging chord progressions! A really interesting melody! Damn fine production! It isn't auto-tuned to hell! It was created with genuine fucks given! 

Apparently this song "Maybe" by Emma "Please Don't Call Me Baby Spice Anymore" Bunton was a hit 10+ years ago, but I guess I stopped listening to Top 40 radio long before that so it never made it into my ears even once.

Hot damn, I love this little song!

And the video is cute, too.  It ain't no Fosse, but the nod is appreciated. If you're gonna steal an idea, steal from a great one, I guess.

Anyway, that's all I have to report.

Enjoy.

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11/27 '16 1 Comment
Loved the Bob Fosse video!
Karen Kuhl 12/1 '16
 

Haven't blogged in eons. Life has been whizzing by.

Matt's super-active, fashion-plate, socialite grandmom (age 95) was diagnosed with aggressive stomach cancer about 3 months ago, and it's shocking how quickly she went from vibrant and happy to a shell of a human, just withered and weak. We all rotated vigil and visited pretty much daily, keeping her company, playing cards, BSing, and keeping her spirits up until she no longer had the energy. About three weeks ago she seemed to stop fighting, and she left us on Monday (exactly one week ago). We had the wake yesterday (Sunday) and today we buried her. I will miss her very much; we had brunch together nearly every Sunday since Matt and I got together, and I will never forget how she accepted me into the family without question. In her final weeks I painted her nails so she felt a little more human. She told me she didn't like my new hair color, which made me happy she'd tell me. :-)  I loved her very much, and it's hard to believe she's gone.  Her ex-boyfriend-turned-dear-friend Harry will also be missed, as I imagine I won't see him around any longer. I'm not lying or exaggerating when I say I have a pretty good crush on Harry, all 89 years of him. 

Music-wise:
Played in two Eagles tribute shows (the band, not the team) a few weeks ago, which were fun but bittersweet since it was In The Light's first tribute since losing Christian (our bass player) so suddenly in the accident this summer. 

Played in a huge tribute to the 80s this past Saturday at The Queen as a fund raiser for City Theater. I sang a few songs but was so, so pround to be in the band. I sang backing vocals on every song, and got a Roland Handsonic electronic drum kit and programmed and played the crap out of it (or played actual hand percussion) for almost every song... even played some sax. That band was a true Dream Team of every instrumentalist I idolize, and it was an honor to be the weak link on that stage. 

Between Grandmom support and the tribute shows, Hot Breakfast has taken a bit of a back seat which happens from time to time but I don't like. Now that our obligations are over for a bit, we are focusing on getting our Christmas EP recorded and released in time for our December 17th Very Dorky Christmas Show at The Queen. We plan on turning the upstairs stage into a cheezy living room (complete with fake fireplace and couch and front door), and our Narrator will tell the audience how Hot Breakfast just doesn't have the Christmas spirit this year... as random musicians "stop by and knock on our door" and cheer us up by playing a song or two. It should be a really fun night and a cute homage to silly late-70s variety shows. (If only we could get Charo.)

Anyway, we buried Grandmom today, and after the repast we all went home for naps, and the core Casarinos got together for pizza. Betsy's sister and brother and their spouses came to town from Connecticut and California respectively, so it was nice to talk to them. We got on the topic of "Have you ever had a relative or friend visit you after they died" and that led us to talking about Edgar Cayce which led me to now have three Edgar Cayce books on my nightstand. I love my second family so, so, so much. 

Right now I'm laying in bed as Matt is playing guitar in the other room. There is nothing I love more than hearing the sounds of Matt's creativity echo through the house; the music he writes resonates with me so deeply and so perfectly, and I can't believe how lucky I am. I feel very loved and so warm and snuggly.

We'll be at my folks' place for a week starting this weekend... my dad is going to Asheville, NC to visit his sister, and my mom can't really be left home alone, so Matt and I are going to keep her company. We're bringing up some recording equipment so maybe I'll be able to lay down some lead vocals on the Christmas EP this week while Mom snoozes. (Mom likes to snooze. Luckily the back room where Matt and I stay is clear on the other side of the house.)

I'm sorry I haven't been very present online... I have been reading LJ and OPW but just not having the energy to respond. Caring for Matt's grandmom every day plus work travel and rehearsals was taking every brain cycle and every ounce of nurturing energy I had... and ultimately I ran out of juice.

(Speaking of which, it's probably time for an iron infusion soon. I should get my labwork done.)

Life has been insane, but as of right now, it is finally calm. It is bittersweet, this calm... but as always, life goes on. Everything continues. The leaves are changing color and starting to fall, and soon we'll nestle in for the winter, and with any luck will put the house up for sale this spring.

More soon.

originally posted at xtingu.livejournal.com

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10/25 '16 25 Comments
Way to drop a bomb. To where do you want to move?
Huh? I've been talking about moving back to NJ for like four years. :-)
I just realized that the way I worded that sounds extremely rude. I didn't mean it that way. I'm sorry about the loss of Matt's grandmother. I'm glad you're getting so much love and fulfillment from Matt's family and your tribute shows. You've talked about moving for years and it sounded like a new development.
I knew you didn't mean it rude, even if it read that way, I know you're not a rude person, so I gave you the benefit of the micro-doubt. You are kind and good. :)

But yep, we've been talking about moving forever, but now since my Mom is in pretty shitty shape, it's becoming more urgent, unfortunately.
I think what I meant was (I typed this while waiting for V's train to arrive), was, to where specifically do you plan to move? What's the landing strip?

(Huh huh, huh huh... landing strip. HUHHUHHUHHUHHUUUUUHHH...)
Aw, I'm so sorry. She sounds badass to me.

Re the Christmas show, have you seen the bill Murray Christmas special?
Thomas Boutell 10/25 '16
Yeah, she was amazing. I know it sounds trite, but I am happy she's not suffering any longer. When she was sick, we comiserated by saying, "This is total bullshit."

I haven't heard of this Bill Murray Christmas Special, but I love me some Bill Murray so I'll start digging around! Thanks for the tip!
I believe it's called "A Very Murray Christmas" and I'm pretty sure it's on Netflix or Prime (though I don't recall which one).
I am excited to see it!
Please give Matt (and yourself) my condolences. That just sucks. Happy that she's not suffering, but it really sucks.
Will do. And it's true, it sucks. She was awesome. Thanks, sweetie. <3
Oh, I'm so sorry your grandmom is gone. She sounds amazing.

These days, I am so All Done losing people I love. Maybe sometime I'll be lucky enough to have one of them visit me.
Anne Mollo 10/25 '16
Seriously.
I thought 2015 was shit, but 2016 is the Year Of Everyone Dying, and other than Grandmom, the deaths in my sphere have been freak accidents and random "o hai, ur ded now, thx."

I AM OVER IT. Which is to say, I am not over it.

I lost all of my grandparents by 1991... but Grandmom was Matt's grandmom... but she took me right in and made me feel so welcome, and it was so wonderful having a grandmother again.

<3
How are you guys holding up? Losing a loved one hurts so much, even if it's time. How is Mom doing? Why can't she be left alone?

Thinking of you with lots of love.
We're holding up OK because we really haven't had any downtime yet for things to sink in. It's go-go-go-go all the time, between work trips, gigs, rehearsals, Grandmom care (and then Grandmom memorial services, funeral, burial, etc.).

My dad has been wanting to visit his only sister (Aunt Judy) who lives in Asheville NC for a while, but he can't leave Mom alone because she can't care for herself. (Sadly, it's because she's too heavy and out of shape -- which translates to she's in too much pain and too out of breath to care for herself. That's the bottom line.) So I offered to my dad that we would come up and be with Mom while he visits Aunt Judy. (Honestly, I would have loved to go with him to see Aunt Judy, but my brother and sister-in-law are simply too busy to care for Mom.)

I'm an idiot. I just realized that I have about 47 half-written LJ entries explaining the Mom Health Sitch... but I have not posted any of them, so it's no wonder why people seem puzzled re: Mom.

In a nutshell, a few months ago Mom was given a year to live. We later learned that it's "You have a year to live if you don't take better care of yourself," which means we all have to step up to take care of her because she can't (won't?) take better care of herself.

In all honesty, I didn't know how much care my dad was giving her until I just talked to him on the phone tonight to coordinate when Matt and I will be heading up there. He said that he needed to have a half-day with me before he heads out to Asheville so he can show me all of the care routines.

So I just learned that instead of just hangin' out and keeping an eye on things (which is what I thought we'd be doing), we're actually on oxygen tank filling/rotation duty, CPAP duty, medication dosing duty, insulin monitoring and correction duty, commode duty (and doody), showering duty, infected and non-healing wound-care duty, fallen-and-can't-get-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night duty, cooking duty, cleaning duty, and THEN general keepin' an eye on things duty. And also hangin' out duty, playing cards duty, seeing movies duty, etc. It's not all work, I imagine.

My dad is a saint, because my mom isn't easy.

I have the feeling this week my brother, sister-in-law and I are going to have to have The Big Talk... because if I didn't know the kind of constant care Dad is providing Mom, there's no way in hell my brother or sister-in-law know.

Anyhoo... thanks for asking. I imagine I'll be doing a lot of blogging this coming week from NJ.

xoxo
Shit. I knew Mom wasn't in great shape, but I didn't know it'd become that bad.

I'll be home for Thanksgiving (and probably a week before that) and at least two weeks at the end of the year. I can also take some time off as needed.

Point being: you know the deal. Can I come up and help out at some point? Does she need anything I can provide (even if that's just a visit one afternoon)?

Lemme know.
Awww, thanks sweetie. Yeah, it happened pretty fast it feels.

I'm sure she would love to see you... hell, so would I! So depending on where we wind up for Thanksgiving or Christmas, maybe we could work out a visit, with me at least!
I would like that very much. And seriously - anything I can do to help...
Oh shit, Jillbot, I am so sorry your Mom is in such bad shape. Your Dad is, indeed, a saint, and I am sure he needs a break and is happy that you and Matt can cover his duties for a bit. If you need to talk, email, text, primal scream ... I'm here for you.
Thanks, darlin'. I know you know how a lot of this feels, especially the oxygen part of it and the unnecessary shame that goes with it.

I'm sure I'll be blogging a lot this week... I'll make sure to remember to copy/paste it here from LJ... seems like OPW is where the cool kids are at now.
I thought it was bad, but I didn't know it was That Bad.
My heart goes out to you, and to your dad. Being a caregiver is Rough. If there is something I can do to help, please ask.
Yeah, I knew it was bad and had been getting steadily worse... but when Dad rattled off the duties/doodies that's when it really hit me. My dad is a saint. He really is.

Jill "xtingu" Knapp 10/29 '16edited
He really is. Was before this.
Dammit, I'm so sorry.

I know it's hard but you're absolutely right you need to make sure your siblings 100% get it. People second guess your actions something awful when things get, well, awful.
Thomas Boutell 10/28 '16
Sibling. Only two young Knapps to help out. Sigh.