I consider it a stimulating week when it runs the gamut from a talk on life and gaming to a rock and roll self-help guru doing a seance.
Even so, today was what I call stacked up.
There was a friend in from out of town who wanted to meet this afternoon before she went off to an excruciating client meeting at the Cheesecake Factory.
She insisted we meet at The Continental, not my first choice, but a place that opened weeks before she moved from her house two blocks away.
The restaurant was decked out in Valentine's Day finery of the variety I remember from elementary school.
Red tissue paper hearts that folded out 360 degrees hung from the ceiling and red glitter hearts over the bar.
Frankly, if I had to be in the Continental on Valentine's Day, I don't think I'd want to be reminded of it with fake hearts.
By the time I arrived, she'd ordered a bottle of Prosecco plus a grilled cheese with fries and an order of Mexican corn on the cob.
We shared the bubbles, she ate some of the corn, I tasted the sandwich and then she lost interest in food and had it taken away.
Maybe it was all our stimulating conversation.
She explained how she wants to design a house with separate wings for her and her boyfriend so they can live together harmoniously without giving up personal privacy.
Since I'm not the type to order food I'm not going to eat, I also think it's unlikely I'll ever get to design my own house, so I shared more mundane things.
As time drew near for her to head to the land of chain restaurants, I could tell she was dreading it.
But duty called and once the bubbles were gone, we parted ways, her to certain boredom and me to much better things.
Ghostprint Gallery was doing their preview tonight of Benjamin Sack's "Eroica," incredibly detailed pen and ink drawings of imaginary cityscapes.
The centerpiece was "Us and the Universe," a mammoth 118" x 39" drawing that, as I heard someone observe, "belongs in someone's collection."
"Song of Pan" appealed to me for its pastiche of old world and new world cityscapes where domed cathedrals and skyscrapers coexisted.
Instinctively, I recoiled from "A Suburb of Utopia," with its massive on and off ramps to whatever mega-highway connected suburban hell (where the beige people live) to the real city.
As I walked around the gallery looking at these intricate drawings of buildings, roads and land masses, all I could do was admire Sacks' patience.
An artist who could get so far into the zone as to create these elaborate imaginings is a man of infinite fortitude.
If it weren't for my threadbare writer's pocketbook, I'd have wanted to buy "What Says the Deep Midnight?" with its sky full of swirling buildings.
I did notice that three of the smaller works had already sold, so some art collector is luckier than me.
From there I crossed the street to 1708 Gallery for Eric McMaster's talk on his show, "The Obstruction of Action, which I'd seen here.
On the sidewalk, I ran into a favorite painter and wine lover who was on his way to Ghostprint.
1708 was more packed for a talk than I'd ever seen it, but I managed to find a seat just before it started.
He began by promising to take questions after the talk as long as they were easy ones.
First came his favorite video of a chimp being taught to do an action to get a treat, then kids being taught the same thing.
When the chimp figures out how to get the sweet without doing the action, he does but the children continue to go through the motions.
McMaster was fascinated by that societal manipulation, presuming that it was because adults had told the kids what to do that they continued to do it.
His exhibition is based on that notion that too often our authentic action is modified by cultural teachings.
We heard about him hiring day laborers to play soccer while he filmed it.
About the clear sports uniforms he created and then photographed athletes in.
How he edited out the actual game footage of a beach volleyball game, leaving video of, as he put it, "Tall, beautiful people on a beach."
He finally got to the most poignant piece in the show, a video of a pairs figure skater skating alone.
"I had to do a lot of Facebook stalking to find a pair of figure skaters for this project," he said.
Hey, an artist has to do what he has to do, right?
The skater's partner had had a career-ending injury not long before McMaster was to film them skating separately.
As a result, McMaster filmed the guy skating alone for what, sadly, became his last skating performance.
"That's a bad way to end things," he cracked about closing with a downer.
During the Q & A, someone asked about whether the experience of filming an experience had more validity than someone watching a film of it.
Then it was back across the street to Candela Gallery for rocker Ian Svenonius, who was performing a seance for his new book, "Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock and Roll Group."
When I walked in, I said hello to Ward from Chop Suey, sitting at a table selling Ian's book, but continued on to the back gallery where the chairs were set up.
All at once, I heard, "Hello, Karen," from the mic and looked up to see Marty from Steady Sounds welcoming me. "Karen's always the first one."
I suppose I could be known for worse things.
The crowd straggled in but before long the room was overflowing with all the chairs taken, the benches and couch full and people standing in the other gallery to hear.
Clearly a lot of us were looking for some supernatural action tonight.
Eavesdropping on the guys behind me, I heard a discussion of dubstep that had me in stitches.
One guy brought up his latest obsession - dubstep.
"Sorry, dubstep and I are not on speaking terms right now," the other said.
"Really?" his friend asked.
"I couldn't even speak bass to dubstep right now," he admitted.
Wow, sounds like he and dubstep had ended really badly.
An acquaintance appeared and took the chair next to me, providing conversation about a favorite Fredericksburg restaurant, how much he liked Saison and where in northern Virginia he could find a psuedo-Brooklyn.
When Ian took to the mic, it was to promise us, "I'm going to do a little reading and give you some accrued knowledge."
Just then seven protesters, complete with signs, came in shouting and waving their signs, calling for Ian's book to be banned.
That was followed by their lawyer getting up to read a statement from the group about their issues with his book.
Ian had promised to give away dead rock stars' secrets and the protesters were living rock stars who didn't want to share the spotlight.
Then Ian started lamenting not having any candles. A guy stood up and offered him some.
He bemoaned not having a robe and a woman gave him hers, a black one complete with hood.
"Now I need four volunteers," he said and my friend immediately grabbed my arm to raise it for me, but my arm was stronger than his hand.
Four willing volunteers were chosen, given scripts and candles lit.
"Hello, spirits," they said in unison, asking to conjure up the dead, preferably dead rock stars.
How else were we going to find out how to make a rock and roll band?
As it turned out, it was pretty easy to specify the spirits we wanted.
Paul McCartney spoke through Ian (of course he did), explaining that the Beatles' success was due to Puritanical American repression.
"Middle class Americans could only accept something primal like rock and roll once the Brits repackaged it for them."
Tell me something I didn't know, Paul.
He left and next Little Richard came through Ian, informing us that, "Nostalgia is the most fervent of all emotions."
His advice to new bands was to manufacture nostalgia and appeal to pre-teenagers, not teenagers and adults.
Next appeared Brian Jones and one of the volunteers stated flat out that she didn't have any idea who Brian Jones was.
"I usually listen to new bands like This Will End in Tears," she said, making me laugh out loud.
Can't you just imagine their earnest new record?
The drowned Rolling Stone advised the would-be rock and rollers to "Perform in an unready state or put out a bad record so you'll have a major obstacle to overcome."
The spirit told us that the only way to achieve rock and roll perfection was with death or by breaking up the band, also known as virtual death.
"Look at the Sex Pistols or My Bloody Valentine," he exhorted.
But, alas, he disappeared too, only to be replaced by the spirit of Jim Morrison, who reminded the unaware in the audience that he had been in the Doors.
He lamented the loss of album covers and liner notes. saying kids used to pore over albums for hours.
That they were objects to hold gave them an aura of meaning, something that no longer exists in this age of MP3s.
Naturally Morrison brought it all down to sex, saying that rock and roll was a replacement for erotic conquest.
"The protesters were right," Ian said. "Everybody should buy my book and burn it!"
There was his book pitch.
He commented on the beautiful Candela Gallery, saying, "It's like an interior version of Australia, wide open."
And what did the man who'd channeld dead rock stars leave us with?
"Failure is a career opportunity. Look at Loverboy and the Association!" he said, giving it his all. "Success just means failure eventually."
Ain't it the truth? Just ask This Will End in Tears.