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Wow. This month very quickly and in a big way sorta got shot all to heck. Things have been frantically busy around here and I haven't felt much like writing anything witty or funny (like I ever have). The house remodeling (guest room) project and other things (like band) have been keeping me busy among other things. Speaking of the band, we have a show (probably our last for awhile) this weekend at Duggans Pub in Lincoln. We have at least one new song to play and it is sorta totally sweet. We'll also be playing some familiar favorites. Then, we'll be off into the spider factory again for more grafting. I'm going to shut up now, but I will be back...

When I was younger, I used to enjoy flying in planes. There was something about the weightlessness of it all that I really liked and I didn't even mind going through a bit of turbulence. As I got closer to my current height (and arrived at it), it's become much less fun for me, though. Airplanes are not made for oversize people of any sort (height or girth) and in our four legs of flights last weekend there was only one leg that I could even stand up in the aisle. On the other three, I could stand up straight and comfortably place the back of my head against the top of the plane as if I were laying down and resting my head on a pillow. In addition to this, my shoulder width left me with about 2 inches of clearance on either side of the overhead storage bins when I walked down the aisle.

As you can probably guess, actually sitting in the seats is also a chore and I always hope that the person ahead of me never decides to recline their chair at all. Really, there's no place to go for them if they do, as I only have about 2 inches of room between my knees and the seats ahead of me, so I usually fold my legs up and try to tuck them slightly under my own seat (of course, if the person behind me has jammed a bag under my seat, this makes that possibility more remote). Fortunately, we sat in an emergency exit row on the very last leg of the trip (which was also the longest section of flight), meaning about 3 more inches of leg space for me. I'm always astounded at how tightly people are packed into airplanes, probably at least partially because I always feel sardined no matter what the situation.

The only good that can come of vacation plane flights for me is either a bit of catching up on sleep or reading, and after getting 45 minutes of shut-eye on the first leg and feeling completely awake, I sat down and started plowing through the pages. I finished my book on cadavers (funny side note: I read the chapter on airplane crash cadaver examination the night before we left) pretty quickly in, and it was a good, if somewhat mainstream read. The actual title of the book is Stiff: The Curious Lives of Cadavers by Mary Roach. Although I didn't go for her sense of humor most of the time, the book is a quick read and isn't really that morbid despite the title. Basically follows what happens to corpses after they're donated for science and even talks about the history of research that was done on the dead (both legally and illegally). Interesting stuff, but not quite filling.

In addition to the above book, I also started and finished the yearlong diary of Brian Eno entitled A Year With Swollen Appendices. As you could expect from a diary, there's a lot of navel-gazing and some of that I could have lived without, but overall it's a very fascinating read with many little bits that are worth writing down or remembering. Although his musical output hasn't been quite as interesting for some time, he's still an interesting thinker who seems to always be putting together different combinations and ideas in his head. Some of his entries on the creative process are some of the best in the book, actually, even though many would probably consider him to have created his most unique work years ago.

By now a 5-day silence is no big deal around here but the main reason for no updates was that TG and I actually went on a vacation. We'd been planning (and promising) to go to Portland for many moons, but we finally decided to take an extended weekend trip out for Labor Day and it was a blast. The hosts (Andrew and Aimee) were gracious, the weather was lovely, and the food was bountiful and quite tasty.

In the past, I probably would have written up a trip journal of some sort, but I'm a lot busier than I was in those days and a quick roundup will have to suffice. Although we left our puppies at the kennel for a couple days, we did manage to get some surrogate puppy loving from one Grendel, a very cute and playful fellow who I had the pleasure of playing much tug-of-war and fetch with. Jumping back to the mention of eating above, I must say that every place we ate was awesome. On our first night, we ate at Queen of Sheeba, an Ethiopian (our food priority for the trip) place with large servings and good beer. Since we hadn't eaten for nearly 10 hours, it really hit the spot and reminded me why I wish there was an Ethiopian restaurant in Nebraska.

The weekend days were basically spent kicking around Portland and doing a bit of shopping. We hit record stores and vintage stores and book stores (Powells basically blew my head apart with its massive size). Portland is a beautiful town with amazing vegetation (everything from roses to bamboo) and more little shops and restaurants than you can shake a stick at. My haul for the weekend was a pile of CDs and a book on typography that you could use to anchor a boat. Also, I had a full stomach most of the time and other food highlights included a stop at a yummy Thai restaurant and a gluttonous meal of quesadilla and spicy fries at a comfort food restaurant that was so hip it hurt. It would also be wrong of me not to give a shoutout to 3-buck chuck!

Again, I have to give a shoutout to our very gracious hosts for the trip Andrew and Aimee. They have a cute house (and dog) in the Hollywood area (I'm told nearly every section of Portland has some sort of name) and it was good to see the gang again (including Angie).

The happy ending of the trip was that we were able to pick up our puppies the day we got back, even though we were told up front that the kennel would be closed on Labor Day. I called when we got home from the airport just to make sure and they were indeed open, so we packed up and hauled out and had a reunion with the little puppers. They've been as snuggly as can be since. As for Portland, we'll be back...

I know I've been cryptic about Marianas lately, but it's simply because we haven't been doing a lot outside the confines of the studio. We've been meeting in small groups and tinkering on between 6 and 12 tracks and they're all in various stages of completion and satisfaction in our minds. Although a few things are clicking, we're definitely being rougher on ourselves this writing process and throwing out ideas if they don't tickle our fancy. However, we will be heading into a bonified studio (Presto!) in the next month or so to lay down some tracks for an EP that we're going to release in the next couple months. It will be a precursor to a full-length that we'll record and put out sometime next year (if all goes as planned) and should feature exclusive stuff.

At any rate, our first disc Onward + Upward is still chugging along nicely, helped in big part by a distribution deal that we've set up with Pehr. We met Adam (who runs Pehr and is also in the band Timonium) last year when we played in Lawrence and now he's helping us to get into stores across the world. So, not only can I say that you can buy our disc at Amazon, but there are also scores of other places where it's available online now. One Norman Records even gave us a rather nice review and sold several copies. Will we sell out of all 550 copies of our first pressing? Stay tuned...

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