Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Just Before the Battle, Mother

So. Here's what's been going on in my world.

I got home from work Friday about 5:30. I immediately set about the task of finishing, once and for all, now and forever, the Band Video. The video that will serve as what director Ed calls the "Oral History Project" for the band's 20th anniversary concert this Sunday. Interviews with people in the band who were there from the beginning.

It's a long story about this video, and let's just say that I wanted to end up turning nine interviews, well, eight and a half really, into a coherent video I could hand over to Ed and not be embarrassed about. I almost made it, I think, but we'll see after I see his reaction. If in fact there will be a reaction.

I don't know if I can possibly explain the major drain upon my spinal cord that was this video, but I'll see if I can give a few high points as a background to set up Friday night.

These riveting highlights include, but are not restricted to:

1. Due to varying circumstances, it became mine to do.
2. Due to my mom's illness and impending hospitalization, it had to be completed this past weekend.
3. Due to my own illness, and the fact that I had to work during said illness, I didn't have a lot of down time to work on it before the weekend.
4. Due to time and location limitations, I spent too many practices filming interviews instead of getting to practice with the band, not that it particularly mattered.
5. Due to circumstances beyond my control, one of the three people who began the project with me was not at the final practice (Wednesday) where I was filming. Therefore, I had to go through 20 minutes of badly shot "practice video" and fish him out of it for a few questions.
6. Due to what I thought was Flip incompatibility but discovered was yet another Windows Movie Maker bug, every single fucking video I shot either froze, lost sound, or went completely black while I was editing, causing me to have to scrap many entire interview questions and start over, increasing my work time about tenfold.
7. Due to all of the above, I was of a very foul demeanor going into this whole thing.

OK, so back to Friday. I set right about making the video. I asked Ed via email for a piece of music I wanted to use as background music if he had the clip and could get it to me by about 1am. I waited, and started the task at hand.

With the colossal pain the ass that was all that freezing and losing of clips, I finally got every person's interview edited and labeled, and a storyboard written down of which clips went where. I had an outline; I was ready to put the clips together.

Which I started doing, only to find that clips that I'd saved in perfect condition were themselves freezing, losing sound, and going black.

It was at this point that I started to panic just a little bit. OK, Mr M's probably reading this, so I'll be honest. I panicked like a woman falling off the face of the earth.

After much internet surfing, I finally found out that this was in fact a bug in Movie Maker. Which put my mind at ease about what was going on, but still left me with clips I couldn't use and no way to put them together.

So another couple of hours going through every clip and writing down what I needed to re-edit, and a foray into Premiere Elements.

I don't know how to use Premiere Elements. Well, I didn't Friday night. I can use it like gangbusters now.

Anyway, after the thirteen re-edited clips were also labeled, I put the movie together in Elements, learning as I went. Learning how to make titles and make sure the text in the titles wasn't exposed long enough to carry over into the next frames. Learning to edit and not lose everything that came before and after. Learning, editing, learning, editing. Cussing, editing, learning. And cussing.

I finally had a basic finished product at 6:00 Saturday morning, and boy, do I love coffee, because that and sheer will were all that got me through. I played what I had and it kind of worked. Until I realized something.

I really wanted music.

I still didn't have the piece I asked for from Ed, chalked it up as a lost cause, and picked something else. I spent another hour recording and editing music in five and ten second increments, and spliced it into the video. I was finished at 7:00, as the sun was coming up, and I have to say if there's one thing I'm proud of it's that I learned the whole soundtrack part of Elements in an hour.

I burned it to disc and went to bed at about 7:15.

I slept till about 10:00, then got up and got ready to go to Mr M's to play some clarinet trios and deliver the video to him to get to our band president, along with two heavy bags containing the band's archives. I left home, got to the 2d red light on the Betty Bet Bet Inspirational Highway, and realized I'd forgotten the archives. I turned around and went back home, but still made it for trios in time.

Oh, and when I got out of bed Saturday and went to the computer to see if the disc was burned, there was an email from Ed with the clip of music I asked for. Oh well.

Mr M made a nice dinner, we watched a movie, then I had to drive back home at night on three hours' sleep because Sunday was the day I was taking my mom and dad, aka Granny and Paw, to R'noke so we could get a night's sleep before being at the hospital for her heart catheterization at 7:00am Monday. I really slept Sunday night.

We got to the hospital, and got Granny ready for her procedure. It was a long day. It was 7:00 when we got there, but they didn't take her down until about noon. She was gone a few hours, Paw and I sat around and looked at each other a lot, and when they brought her back she seemed to be in very good spirits. She said her doctor told her everything was fine. We wanted to believe her, but she was on drugs so we said, "That's wonderful!" and waited to hear it from the doctor himself.

He finally showed up at 6pm to tell us such. He said she looked fine, well, not fine, but no digression at all from her last cath. He released her at 6:15, and we were back to the hotel by 7pm or so. Granny was amazingly energetic and had eaten in the lock-up, and I went out and got Paw and I salads and stuff at a nice deli, I delivered his to their hotel room, then I went back to mine, put on my pajamas, and spent my evening in bed, thank you very much. A restful evening, good night's sleep, and traveling back home with Granny today.

I finally fell off to sleep about 1:15am. I had a nice doze, and my wake-up phone call came. "Holy damn, it only feels like I've been asleep five minutes," I said, then rolled over about three times in my king-sized bed as big as New Jersey to pick up the phone. I caught sight of the clock. It was 1:30am.

"Oh, crap," I muttered.

It was Paw. This is the phone call my sister and I get that we call "The Same Thing Happens Every Time."

"Bet (or sister), your mother's so sick, and I don't know what to do."
"What's going on?"
"She's so sick, sick at her stomach, vomiting, dizzy, staggering around, freezing to death."
"Call 911."
"She doesn't want me to."
"She's sick! Call 911."

The phone call of last night went exactly the same way, and I got Paw to agree to call 911 while I rolled three times towards the end of my king-sized bed, into the floor, where I pulled on the same clothes I'd worn all day, fumbled around for keys, shoes, handbag, hair dryer, no wait, I don't need a hair dryer, and staggered down the way to their room. The ambulance was just arriving.

They took her back to the emergency room of the hospital. Paw rode with her in the ambulance, I drove behind. When I got there she was still being brought in, so I had to sit in the emergency room waiting area with bums, winos, gang members, and about 27 people in ones and twos wearing pajamas. I shouldn't have bothered dressing.

We sat with Granny in the emergency room until 5:30am, where many people looked at her, asked questions, took blood, did x-rays, and freaked out over her leg, which was swollen, red, and the temperature of hot coals. She had a fever. She was throwing up. They said she probably had another blod clot in her leg or an infection, possibly cellulitis.

At 5:30 they told us they wouldn't know anything more for at least two hours, and Granny was sleeping like a log - at least she was getting some sleep - so Paw and I decided to go back to the hotel and call my sister to let her know the situation. She went to bed - and also slept - thinking all was well. (I wouldn't call her earlier as a return of favor. Last time this happened, she let me sleep and called me the next morning.)

She said she'd come down today and we'd tag-team it from there. I said fine, but I had to get at least a couple hours sleep or I'd never be able to drive home. She said she'd start out at about noon. Wonderful, I'm going to bed, I said. It was about 7:00.

I slept. Until the phone rang, and when I rolled over three times in my king-sized bed to answer, I saw it was 8:30, and I knew Paw was going to be chomping at the bit to get back to the hospital. He was. I pleaded for just a little more sleep so I could drive home without totaling their vehicle and killing my person, and he said OK. I slept again, and the phone rang at 9:15. "OK, OK, I said," and rolled three times to the end of my king-sized bed, falling into the floor and going to the door in my pajamas to take the "Do Not Disturb" (or "No Moleste" if you're Spanish) sign off the door. Paw was standing by the car patting his foot.

So I pulled on some clothes, right over my unwashed body, combed my unwashed hair, packed up everything including the hair dryer, and packed it into the car. We went back to the hospital, where they told us Granny had a room assigned but was still in the emergency room. We walked over there, Paw with all of Granny's belongings and us looking just a little too much like the Joads, and got to her emergency room stall. It was empty. They told us she'd been taken to her room. We went there. It was empty. Finally, someone told us she was in "Vascular Surgery." We waited, and I finally had to leave without seeing Granny or knowing anything that was going on with her, and again, boy do I love coffee, because it was that minus any will at all that got me home in one piece.

I only found out this afternoon that "Vascular Surgery" can also mean "Getting an Ultrasound," and that there is no blood clot and they think it's cellulitis. As I write, I've heard from no one to tell me any different.

At least this time it happened we were already in R'noke, at a hospital and with doctors I trust. Maybe they can get to the bottom of all this unlike the incompetents and time-wasters in the hospital here in town.

I don't know how long she'll be in the hospital. I don't know how many more 2 hour drives to R'noke I'll be taking this week. I don't know much. I know I'm tired.

I also know two more things, which I'll leave you with.

First of all, it was at once sad and so incredibly heartening to see my dad taking care of my mom last night. She was sleeping, she was completely out of it and probably didn't even know we were there half the time, and yet he was tucking in her sheets and blankets, combing her hair, making sure her arms were placed where her IVs wouldn't hurt, patting her hands and feet. 54 years later and still as in love as the day they married. Half of me said, "If someone doted over me like that it would drive me crazy," and the other half said, "God, how I wish I knew someone would dote over me like that if I was so sick."

And finally, Huckleberry Hound, aka Lucky Huckie, laid in bed with Granny all day Monday. She was fine and up and around and out of the hospital. When I got them set in their hotel room afterward, I took Huckie back to my room to stay Monday night. Then all this happened.

You may think I'm weird, but you tell me he doesn't have some sort of medical good luck mojo.

I promised you an honest-to-God blog, didn't I?

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Tonight's blog comes courtesy of the fantastic new keyboard Mr M bought me. It's lighted. It also types like a dream. Thank you, Mr M.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Oh, how I wish I had something interesting to say.

But I don't.

I went to the grocery, washed clothes, took a bath. I didn't practice my clarinet, not that it matters anyway, and didn't eat dinner.

I'm in a damn rut.

And I could drone on and on about it, but that's just boring, so I'll say goodbye and get to the acrowinners.

One day I'll do another honest-to-god blog. I'm just not sure when.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners! So, how about St Patrick's Day?
- Honorable Mention goes to Kellie (with an ie), with her "A Very Excited Saint's Welcome." (He's not excited; he's drunk!)
- Runner-Up goes to Marla (MarlaMarla), with her "Angry Veterans Eat Soda Wafers." (Sorry, it just conjures up a great picture. I'd be angry too if I had to spend St Pat's eating soda wafers.)
- And this week's winner, and recipient of a box of Kleenex and a jar of Vick's Vap-o-Rub, is LilyG, with her "Ahoy variegated elf -- Saint Waldo?" Again, an acro containing "ahoy" grabs me. Remember that!
- Thanks to all who played, you've all done very well! Now go have a beer.


Monday, March 16, 2009


Hello, lovers of letters, lovers of words, lovers of acromania. Welcome to the latest round.

First of all, a big congratulations to last week's acro champ the DeepFatFriar. Was there an acro last week? No, but if you'll scroll down to the meager entry titled *cough* you'll see that the Friar took those letters and made three very appropriate acronyms with them. The man is dedicated. Apparently moreso than I.

Anyway, to a new week. Let's see. Tomorrow is St Patrick's Day. I haven't celebrated St Pat's in years, but let that be our acro. Love St Patrick's Day? Are you Irish? Are you not Irish but consider yourself to be on March 17th? Do you hate the day? Do you refuse to wear green? Do you like Notre Dame? Do you like Lucky Charms? Anything at all. Just vent on the Irish.

All the other rules are the same. Everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronym they can, ones that match not only the topic above but the letters below. The letters are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket uses St Patrick's Day as an excuse to get drunk on Harp and start arguments with the other items on my desk. Then tomorrow at 10:00pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners.

So the topic, "St Patrick's Day." The letters:


There you go. Drink up and acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
*We're having an honest to god summer storm here. I'm watching it with my door open at 10:30pm.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders. It'll be a short Picture Sunday, but I'm really making the effort to do more blogs.

First of all, I'm feeling better. I finally got the results of my x-rays, and it showed not pneumonia, but your garden variety crud. Yes, I'm as normal as the next coughing, hacking person in either direction of you. So I'm keeping up with the medication, and this past Friday I began to feel almost human.

Then I spent a portion of today tromping around in the rain, so we'll see.

Things are very busy in Betland. It revolves around a couple of things, one being sick, two being my mom's (Granny's) ongoing medical crises, and three being the video I'm supposed to be making for the Community Band's 20th Anniversary Spring Concert. Time's a wastin' on that, and I fear I won't be able to do it the way I want to. Well, fear isn't really the word, I know I won't be able to, the fear comes in having a finished product not what I want.

Anyway, it'll happen, and there's no need to bore you with the details.

I can't remember if I mentioned this earlier, but my buddy Stennie got me a little program for my birthday last month, something called Claymation Studio that's supposed to be a fun lark for creating claymation and stop-motion videos. Only it hadn't been such a lark for me, because although I'm sitting here with cameras out the wazoo (and believe me, it's a painful condition), none of them seemed to be compatible with the program.

Friday after work I set about editing what video I had from Wednesday night's Band Video shoot, then after a rest and dinner, I got out the webcam Mr M was kind enough on Wednesday to loan me indefinitely. Lo and behold, the Claymation program recognized it immediately, and I played with it for a long time. I shot some seriously horrible video, which put me into yet another technical hair-pulling episode, but tonight that self-same Mr M was also kind enough to walk me through some resolution settings, and things are improving. (Got to admit it's getting better, a little better all the time, can't get much worse.)

Anyway, let's go back even more here. What I was playing with Friday night was something I'd found in the stuff I packed away at my folks' house when I moved into the Poderosa lo those many years ago. I actually went there looking for something else I'd packed away, but I must have packed it really good because it remains packed somewhere.


I found my Pee Wee's Playouse!

I knew I had to bring it home with me to do something with. And while the video I shot Friday night was lousy, expect to see something going on with Pee Wee and the gang in the future. I didn't say near future, I don't have the time, but we'll find a purpose for the Playhouse.

Anyway, I'm still without a scanner, and have one - yes, one, you lucky bastards - recipe card scanned from work in my collection. I put the rest of the envelopes on the kitchen counter in an effort to remind me to take more to work to scan for future showings.

Now, think food. What one word strikes the most fear into the heart more than "liver?" Well, none, so says I, and so this week's recipe is only for the brave. From the "Beef" file in cardland, please close your eyes and say hello to Liver in Sour Cream.

Well, speaking of beefs, I have a beef right off the bat with the title of this dish. That's liver under sour cream. And on sour cream. That's a liver/sour cream sandwich, is what that is! And it's delightfully vile, and served with beets, another scary food unless said beets are pickled, and I can just tell those aren't. Any mom who'd serve liver would serve un-pickled beets. And that's a mom whose kids grow up to do drugs and join gangs.

So save our youth! No liver in, on, or under sour cream!

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I didn't eat tonight. And I'm hungry. Is there a dinner suitable for midnight?


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

As Betland Limps...

...through another week.

I'm still sick, had a chest x-ray yesterday but don't have the results yet. Not that it would matter if I have the plague, nothing in my life will change, I'll still have to work out the week because the boss is on vacation. I'll still have to haul my cookies to band because I volunteered to do a video for the band's spring concert (2oth Anniversary), and it's woefully behind schedule.

I don't feel like writing a blog right now, or much else, for that matter, so tonight's blog will be a rare masterpiece.

Seems our friend Duke stood on his head and looked under his sofa, and there behind an empty bag of Fritos and about 17 cat toys he found a copy of his old album. From back when he was the hottest electric washboard player in the business. He was nice enough to send me a copy of it, but not nice enough to autograph it for me so I could sell it on Ebay. Thanks a friggin' lot, Duke.

I see a comeback opening for the Hackensaw Boys. I'll bet you had a lot to do with Salvage Hackensaw's early musical influences.

Happy week. Ish.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Picture Sunday

Hello. Still sick, believe it or not. Therefore, keeping this short and sweet.

Last week's Picture Sunday was all about my musical career and all the albums my bands have released through the years (see below. well, slightly below.) At the end of that blog, I invited everyone to send me pictures of their bands' albums. When I did that, I had no idea how much I needed takers to my invitations for there to be a Picture Sunday tonight.

And you came through.

Lily sent the information to me, so I put her album together for me.

Lovely. I remember the Currants. I think I saw them once opening for Madness.

Then Mike sent me his band's history. It is below.

First band: Nisei.
Our release: What Ships Are Built For.
Genre: avant-garde prog
Major influences: Tuxedomoon, the Residents, Cabaret Voltaire, James Joyce's
Finnegan's Wake.

Then I joined Bell's Vireo.
Our release: I Consider That Cooking.
Genre: post-punk.
Major influences: PiL, Wire, the Minutemen, Timothy Carey movies.

After that, I was in Headfirst Productions.
Our album: Where The History Comes From. (we were Eddie fans)
Genre: indie/sunshine pop
Major influences: Harpers Bizarre, the Sopwith Camel, Brian Wilson, the Slinky

Finally, I joined Bookend.
Our as-yet unreleased album: Four People Died.
Genre: hard folk.
Major influences: M. Ward, Giant Sand, Captain Beefheart, Joaquin Phoenix's new

I went to see Headfirst Productions once, and they actually did a cover of the Slinky jingle. The crowd went wild.

Thanks to the both of you for basically doing my blog for me. I needed it.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* And a shout-out to Duke, who gave us a pictureless history of his musical career. I remember reading about this amazing electric washboard player in Rolling Stone back in the late 60s. Little did I know I'd actually know him one day.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Betland has the flu.

Which is a shame, because I have a couple of interesting things to relate. But they'll have to wait. I'm going back to bed.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders, and welcome to another scintillating edition of Picture Sunday.

It all started on Facebook. Memes go around on Facebook like the crud, and every time I turn around I'm seeing "25 Random Things About Me," "My Life As It Appears On iTunes," "My Senior Year," and on and on till my head spins. I've done a couple, left more.

But I did one a couple of weeks ago that was a blast, and what was even more of a blast was seeing the end results done by other people. Without going into too much detail, here's what you do.

Go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random - the first random article is the name of your band.

Then go here: http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3 - the last few words on the last quote on the page is the title of your album.

Then, if you dare, go here: http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days - the third picture will be your album cover.

Then you go to the photo program of your choice, put them all together, and voila, Bob's your uncle, easy as piss, you have your band's album.

Here was mine:

Yes, Stochastic Tunneling were a dreamy, jangly guitar kind of band that lasted about a minute. If anyone is interested in "Leave Others To Talk Of You As They Please," contact me. I have a stack of them in the crawlspace of the Poderosa. (Our album also had the unfortunate circumstance of looking more like a greeting card than an album.)

However, this was just so much fun I couldn't leave it at one album. And since I've had such a storied musical career, I thought I'd show you some of my other bands' albums.

(Now, I have to be perfectly honest and put an aside in here. Apparently the "Random Quotes" page just randomizes itself on a daily basis, because every time I hit the above link today I got the same page. So to try and make it fair, I closed my eyes, scrolled up and down the page a few times, and wherever my cursor was at the point, that was the quote I used. If I repeated quotes, I repeated the process. And as for band names, if a name came up randomly on Wikipedia that was already a band's name, I gave it a pass.)

Back in my 20s, I was in an all-girl band. We tried to cash in on the popularity of the Go-Gos, and our first album was full of all-girl fun and frivolity. Until we all started fighting over each other's boyfriends and one of the girls got a skin condition, then it was goodbye. It sure was fun being in Self-Propelled Modular Transport, though. Our album "Saying What We Know" is a forgotten classic.

When Grunge came into fashion, I donned my rattiest flannel shirt, stopped bathing, and joined up with a quartet called Dragon Buster. We were loud, snotty, and, well, while this works for the majority of young bands on the scene, we weren't that young and people got tired of us rather quickly. Our album "Kissing & Kicking" demands play at a high volume.

Now, people may have been tired of Dragon Buster, but we weren't tired of each other. Well, most of us weren't. The drummer was as ass and we fired him, hired someone else, and re-formed as Fair Play. Our sound was edgier, our hair shorter, our hygiene better, and our wardrobe shinier. And our album "Perfectly Delightful" was, well, just that. To us. To the public at large it was just another Dragon Buster album.

After the whole Dragon Buster/Fair Play thing I was pretty worn out, and frankly, no one was interested in hiring me, so I knocked around a while as a session musician. One of my efforts was working with Romanian songstress and free spirit Dimitru Carlaont, on her album, "Dimitru Carlaont Makes People Nervous." The album was aptly named - she made me very nervous.

After that I got an opportunity I never thought would pass my way. A New-Age Contemporary Christian group, Edict of Chateaubriant, asked me to join them. We recorded one album together, "Understand Him," but as you might imagine, me hanging around with a bunch of New-Age Contemporary Christians didn't last long. They were dull, and I was kicked out after I was accused of corrupting the harp player.

Finally, there was my very short-lived stint with Alt Country Band Pyramid of Teti. We did one album and played a showcase in Austin to promote it. No one came. We played anyway. We got kicked out of the club. We played on the street. We got arrested. We would have played in jail, but they wouldn't let us have our instruments in the cell. In the end, we had to sell them to make bail. We ended up hating each other.

So that's why I sit at home and play the clarinet now.

Oh, but wait! There's one I forgot!

I know you're waiting for a recipe du jour, and as it happens, there was this band I was in years and years ago, way back in the seventies when I was just a teenager. Let's see if I can find that old album cover around here somewhere.....

Ah, here it is.

Oh, boy. The Quick Dishes. We were something else. Our only album, "Ham Roll Up!" was a rockin' good mix of guitars and synthesizers. Our hair was long, our trousers were flared, our music was loud, and our sales were nil. But, man. Good times, good times.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* If anyone would like to make their album for me (if you haven't already in Facebook, or even if you have), that's why I printed the instructions. If you make one and send it to me, I'll put it in the blog. It'll be a record party!