I see now why people who use more than one journal often post increasingly infrequently to one or the other, or give each one a specific purpose. So I think that I will try to start using this one for, say, books and music posts, and leave the other one for everything else. Books and music are a big part of my life, which I have been sharing all too infrequently. But if you're interested in other stuff, then feel free to try the LiveJournal.
So, without further ado, let's get started on the books I managed to get through in the last five months or so...not all of them, but hopefully at least a month's worth:
Vonda N. McIntyre: Starfarers. I'm not sure what I was expecting of this one, but I don't think it quite worked for me. It was very definitely a setup for a series, but it didn't get much more accomplished than getting the series started. I only have the next book in the series, so I guess I'll give it one more chance to hook me. ...Whatever happened to Vonda McIntyre, anyway? It seems like ages since I saw much from her. Well, it looks like there was The Moon & The Sun, from 1997, after she finished the Starfarers series, but since? Maybe she went back to writing Star Trek books, where I wouldn't have noticed her. My eyes are very adept at skipping over that section of the shelves these days.
Iain M. Banks: The Use of Weapons. I've heard many good things about Iain Banks's "Culture" series, but I haven't read much of it. I'd read Consider Phlebas and Look To Windward, but I know there were a number in between. This one seemed to next in publication order, at least, so I picked it up from the library. It's the story of a man who was not born in The Culture, but was recruited by them to do their dirty work. The one thread follows a current mission he's on, and the rest follows his timeline backward to the original recruitment. In that way the book really devolves into a sequence of individual scenes. Some of them, like the time where he's badly crippled, but manages to signal for rescue by smearing bird guano over an island in a particular pattern, are mesmerizing, but others are less so. It's interesting, but hasn't sold me on the series yet.
John Morressy: A Voice For Princess. I've read other material in this series, like Kedrigern In Wanderland, and a few short stories in F&SF or someplace like that. This is really light fantasy of a type that may only have been publishable during the fantasy boom of the 80's. Not to say that it's bad, but it's got some of the texture of Jack Vance with some of the silliness of Craig Shaw Gardner. It does come off as charming rather than lame, but it's still a little bit light for my tastes.
Steven Brust: The Lord of Castle Black. Perhaps Steven Brust should be promoted to my list of buy-in-hardcover authors--which so far only includes Robert Jordan and George R.R. Martin--but if so, I should have started with The Paths of The Dead, the first in the sub-series "The Viscount of Adrilankha". So I waited to get this one from the library. He continues on being delightful in the Dumas-esque tales written by the charmingly intrusive author Paarfi of Roundwood. Having only read "The Man In The Iron Mask" from Dumas's original "Viscount of Bragelonne", which this is drawing from, I can't see the parallels too clearly, but the next book should be getting there. Morrolan, well-known from the Vlad Taltos books but just getting introduced to Dragaeran society here, is the title character, and several important steps in his history are taken in this book. Not recommended to anyone who hasn't read at least The Phoenix Guards and the other intervening books, but to those I would simply recommend that you do read those books, then proceed to this one.
Dick Francis: Rat Race. Still working to catch up on Dick Francis's back catalogue, but it is seeming sadly more likely that Dick Francis may have stopped writing upon the death of his wife, so perhaps there's no hurry. This one was another air-taxi one, ground(so to speak)that he already covered in Flying Finish, but there's no sense of rehashing here. Another character, a pilot, with only a peripheral interest in horse racing, is drawn into that world when he ferries a famous jockey and they both are nearly killed. The characters and the plot seem to carry equal weight, and when the book ends, you miss the characters. And I will miss more of his characters if he doesn't write any more books...
Susan Elizabeth Phillips: Kiss An Angel. This is mostly a research book, actually. One of my works-in-progress seems likely to feature a circus in one part, so my wife recommended this to me. It's one of her romances, and contains a few elements that I find winceworthy, not being inured to some of the genre's conventions, but it does have some appeal beyond its informative value. Now I just need to get to that novel. Next year, perhaps.
Steve Lyons: The Time Traveler Trilogy Volume 1. I confess, I was a big fan of the Micronauts comics when they came out way back when, and I even had a few of the toys, long since gone. I always seemed to like the SF/fantasy comics better than the straight superhero ones, though it took me some time to realize that. "Micronauts" was uneven, but it had its moments, mostly when they forgot about going to Earth and encountering numerous guest stars, and just dealt with the Microverse. The "New Voyages" followup series was even better, a truly mature comic.
When a new Micronauts series came out, I tried a few issues, but it didn't grab me. Still, I picked up this book on impulse at the library, and decided to try it. Well, it wasn't that bad, but it wasn't really the same Micronauts, which was the same problem the new series had. They had most of the same characters--the ones based on actual toys--but the ones that Marvel had created for the first series were of course unavailable to the new publishers. The book seemed to be another level off, though. As far as I could tell, the events from the new comic books were an alternate reality that the main character, a human boy, was beginning to remember, so they didn't have to worry about plot crossover too much. He got drawn into events anyway, and by the end was trying to set about restoring things to the way he thought they should be. But I don't know if I'm really inspired to try to track down and read the next two.
C.J. Cherryh: Defender. I think this is fifth in the atevi series, and there's one more at least. It continues to be compulsively readable, with her best-drawn alien race to date and the human who almost belongs more with them than with his own race. He continues to try defusing tensions and misunderstandings, if not outright hostility, between the atevi and the people from the spaceship that left humans there centuries earlier. I won't be able to hold myself off from Explorer much longer...
Dean R. Koontz: The Face of Fear. A fairly tight thriller, in which a former mountain climber who retired because of paralyzing fear has to somehow manage to escape from a nearly-empty skyscraper when threatened by homicidal maniac. I admit that a few of the plot points have managed to escape my mind after four months, but it was very effective, and would probably film well.
Robert Jordan: New Spring. This one I did but in hardcover, even though I had read close to half of it in the novella from the Legends anthology. Was it worth it? I can't say yet, I'm too close to the series. It's a prequel from the Wheel of Time series, one of three that's apparently coming out over the next couple of years. On the one hand it's frustrating to think that it might be slowing down the interminable pace that the actual forward-plot books are coming out at, but they will probably be interesting to read in any case. And is it any better to do all the prequels after you've finished the first series? I'm thinking Terry Brooks here, though it's not like I've read any of the Shannara prequels...
And that's all I can manage for now...that takes us to January 16th, at least. Hopefully more soon.
I've thought a lot about this whole countdown thing. At the rate I'm going, two songs a post is seeming way too slow. When I posted every day, it would be fine, but at any pace I think I could sustain today... That's one reason I'm posting here so erratically.
So I will try to increase the pace a little bit. I haven't figured out how for sure yet, but it may involve triangular numbers. Though I don't want to actually do more than ten songs at a time...
Let's try three:
286. T'Pau: Heart & Soul, from T'Pau
Though I had heard their first album called "Bridge of Spies", that's not what my copy says. Anyway, I liked this song a lot when it came out, and I remember being disappointed, for some reason, when Madonna's execrable "Who's That Girl?" beat it to the #1 spot on the Canadian charts. The largest part of its appeal to me is the counterpoint between Carol Decker's spoken and sung vocal lines; the rest of it it solid pop, but not special. Decker's vocals carry the song to its heights.
285. Style Council: Have You Ever Had It Blue, from the Absolute Beginners Soundtrack
I found out later that this song was a relyricking and retitling of a song from their "Internationalists" album, with a more political tone to them. The lyrics on this version aren't anywhere near so pointed, but they strike more of a chord with their appeal to the experience of crushing disappointment. The album version contains an extended intro that the video version did without, and I don't think it's really necessary...but maybe if I saw it in the context of the movie it would work better, I don't know.
284. They Might Be Giants: Letter Box, from Flood
A slight piece from what I think is their best album, this song is mostly notable for the high-speed lyrics in the verse, which are often hard to decipher, and hard to reproduce when singing along, as I am wont to do. But they are delightfully by turns childlike and biting.
Stupid == the flying Wallendas without hands. --billbill
In a nutshell, I did complete NaNoWriMo, writing 50,007 words towards my novel in the month of November, though unlike the last two times, the novel is not finished this time. We also acquired a second vehicle, which is proving to be quite convenient. Which I also mentioned in LiveJournal, redundantly even.
But right now I think it's time to go over the books I've read in the last month and a half or thereabouts.
When last I wrote, I was reading...Hybrids? Has it been that long? Well, I finished it, and I thought it was okay but not Sawyer's best, nor his worst either. It didn't feel like it had much of a plot, even though it had some tension near the end.
After that I read The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman, by Louis de Bernieres, who I believe also wrote Captain Corelli's Mandolin, though I'm not sure. I read a lot of this on the bus, because this was when Nicole was in Medicine Hat with the car, and before we had our second vehicle. It was a bizarre book, reminding me more than somewhat of Gabriel Garcia Márquez's One Hundred Years In Solitude, about a remote village full of bizarre characters. It also has some ugly things to say about religious fanaticism.
I spent a week and a half at the beginning of November reading Mary Stewart's The Last Enchantment. It wasn't filled with thrilling excitement or anything, and it didn't really pull me along. It had its moments, but not that many of them. Mostly, it seemed to have years. We don't actually have a copy of The Wicked Day, next in the series, and quite frankly I'm in no hurry to acquire one.
By contrast, I spent a cool two days reading each of my next two. First was Lemony Snicket's The Wide Window, third in the Series of Unfortunate Events. They are very amusing books, more for the authorial voice, and its constant explanations of words and phrases a young reader might not know. And, of course, it's a quick read.
Also surprisingly quick was Tanya Huff's Stealing Magic. It's a Tesseract Books collection of fantasy stories involving a couple of different characters. One of them is a lusty, earthy woman who happens to be the most powerful mage in the world. The other is a female thief who gets into a number of scrapes. I had read most of the former stories before, since they were reprinted in OnSpec magazine a few years ago, and they were mostly written for laughs. The thief ones were not always so light-hearted, and I found them quite inspirational for the portions of my NaNoWriMo novel involving a Thieves' Guild.
From there it was onto Tanith Lee's Gold Unicorn, sequel to Black Unicorn. They're both young adult novels, but with some interesting themes to them. They're not quite as deep or atmospheric as some of her other books, but she doesn't pull her punches all that much. I certainly didn't feel like she was writing for 'kids' as much as she was accurately portraying a girl in her teens in a fantasy world.
The entire rest of November--another twelve days--was taken up with Steven Erikson's Deadhouse Gates. This was not nearly so much of a plod as The Last Enchantment--it actually is that long, close to 1000 pages. And well worth it. It's the second in his "Malazan Book of the Fallen", and I just now realized that said book was actually mentioned in this volume. Heh.
Erikson's work, while epic in scope, continued to draw more on Glen Cook for inspiration than it does Tolkien. There are some decidedly Asian elements in this one--religious fanatics waiting for their prophet in the desert, and roving tribes on horseback. There a number of sets of characters moving about, sometimes intermingling, and a lot of interesting plot twists. It only involves a few of the characters from the first book--the rest will apparently take the stage in book three, Memories of Ice, which seems to be contemporaneous with this one. Probably even better than the first book.
After that, I wanted something a little shorter again. I moved on to Billie Sue Mosiman's Night Cruise. These days, Mosiman is a writer of vampire novels, but her earlier works were straight thrillers. This one is about a serial killer who picks up a young runaway as a 'witness' to his killings, which he has done several times before. This time, nothing goes quite as either of them plan. It's more psychological than really bloody, as you spend a lot of time inside the head of 'Cruise', the killer. It doesn't quite have the impact it could have had, especially the ending, and might have been served by being longer.
Finally, I reread Roger Zelazny's Sign of The Unicorn, third in the Amber series, just finishing that last night. I read the first five Amber books in a two-volume omnibus a loooong time ago--probably in high school, so at least fifteen years ago. I reread the first two a few years ago, but hadn't yet gone past that. The first one was always my favourite anyway, but I think I kind of got confused about what happened in the last three. So I'm rereading them, and while it can get a bit confusing keeping track of the thirteen Amber siblings(some of whom are dead, and some of whom are only presumed dead), I am once again intrigued. After rereading these I may go on to the second Amber series.
Now I'm reading Borderland, a shared-world anthology co-edited by Terri Windling. The Will Shetterly novel Elsewhere that I read a while ago is set in this universe, but apparently this one should have come first. Well, I'm reading it now. There's only four stories in this book, one of them by "Bellamy Bach", which they admit is a pseudonym, probably for Shetterly himself in this case. There's also a Charles de Lint story, an Ellen Kushner, and a Steven Boyett. So far I'm only in the second story, and the first story takes place some year earlier, so it's hard to say how much the world itself will jell.
I also read a few non-fiction and humour books in there. I just finished Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe, which was an excellent introduction to string theory, taking me far beyond the vague memory of having heard about "seven dimensions curled up" for every point in space. A lot of the explanation in the text is done using three-dimensional or fewer analogues, so it only delivers some of the flavour of the full glory of Calabi-Yau manifolds and other esoteric mathematical devices. It's hard to me to gauge how accessible it makes the material, since I do have a Physics degree, but it uses a minimum of equations, and lots of helpful diagrams. And my eyes didn't glaze over once.
I'm sure there was more than that, but that'll have to do for now. Well, I know I read the latest Darwin Awards volume, and a few Worst-Case Scenario Survival Guides, but there's not much to say about those...
Lurching ever onward in that countdowny thing:
288. Prefab Sprout: Cue Fanfare, from Swoon
This is a peculiar song, as those from Prefab Sprout's first album tend to be, whose lyrics involve Bobby Fischer, among other things, and which has a bit of an edge to it that was often softened on later albums. It's fairly singable, if nothing else.
287. Suzanne Vega: The Queen & The Soldier, from Suzanne Vega
This was one of the first songs to strike me from Vega's debut album, with its fantasy-esque storyline. It's probably an allegory or something, but I was never good at that stuff. It seems to be one of the more "folky" of the songs on the album, though that can often be deceptive, with a synthesizer or two lurking in the background.
'Why, this is other people, nor are we out of it.'
I signed up for NaNoWriMo again this year, of course. How could I not? I waffled for a while about what I should be writing--a sequel to one of the last two novels? Something involving the Calgary-based superhero group led by Joe Clark, retired International Agent? Maybe some cosmic battle fought on higher planes of existence?
But I ended up deciding on another fantasy novel, in what I am tentatively planning to be a huge, sprawling umpteen-book epic series. Because, unlike some people, I like such things. In the NaNoWriMo forums, I got involved in a discussion of Robert Jordan, and all these people saying that they stopped reading the series in the third book, or the fourth book, or the seventh book, or the tenth book, or whatever, often because of frustration with the interminability of the series. For me, that's practically one of the selling points.
I'm cannibalizing two previous stories, which both seem to fit with the overall plot I have in mind while taking place far enough apart to be able to define the world almost by triangulation. The world, which one of the stories is already sort of set in, is something I built as a world-building exercise in the summer of '85 staying with my grandparents in Stettler. I've lost most of the notes I made, but I remember the highlights. There's a big decaying empire to the south, a big decadent Aztec-style empire to the east, and in the middle a sort of ithmus, like about a quarter of Europe, where everything else happens. I tossed in a bunch of cultures because they seemed like a good idea at the time, and I wanted all the AD&D races there, but whatever else, I have to keep the elves.
Anyway, I'm still trying to finish my Space Empires III game before the end of the month. I've still got a week, but it's a bit busy. This weekend will be taken up mostly by Simon's birthday--he turns four on Sunday--as well as Nicole's brother Wayne's, on Saturday.
Nicole's going down to Medicine Hat for some more readings on Tuesday, and that's a long enough drive that she will be going down Monday, and maybe staying overnight in Calgary on Tuesday instead of coming all the way back. To prevent logistical nightmares, the kids will be going back to the grandparents' in Beaumont, so I will essentially be on my own. I have a number of plans, the majority of which I know from experience I will not execute. But I will probably go to a NaNoWriMo get-together on Monday night, at a bar which is relatively near the office. The problem will be killing time in between, but I think I've decided that I will finally make some time to go down to the University library and check out that Dictionary of Minor Planet Nomenclature book. Tuesday night I will probably just go home and watch "American Beauty", which Nicole has no interest in watching. As long as I finish it in time to tape "24".
For some reason, since the end of summer we've gotten more TV stations than we used to. We cut back to basic cable a year or more ago, because we were mostly watching network programs, and didn't have much time to watch more. But now we're getting a whole bunch of channels again, and as far as I know aren't paying more. Mostly I've been trying to catch a few Star Trek:TNG reruns on "Spike". Tonight we were fortunate enough to catch "Dark Page", one of the few that we had never seen before, with Majel Barrett's best acting in the entire series.
The only new show we've really stuck to this year is "Coupling". I know, but I never saw the British version, and likely never will, and this seems to be going well enough. "The West Wing" doesn't seem to have changed too much for the worse, despite Aaron Sorkin's departure. I hope Gary Cole's character will get some airtime, because I tend to like him.
I finally managed to finish The Plains of Passage, despite forgetting to bring it with me for Thanksgiving. It wasn't quite as bad as it could have been, but it really could have had the prehistoric botany and zoology cut out into appendices or entire separate books. And sometimes Auel gets a little hamhanded with her characters. It had its moments, but I'm glad I'm finished it.
When I was up for Thanksgiving, I ended up reading Robert Sawyer's Iterations collection, which was a library book. I'd read several of the stories before, but quite a few were new to me. One of them, "Fallen Angel", didn't really work for me, but it was apparently inspired by a particular sculpture, and maybe seeing that would have made it work better. On the whole it was pretty solid, though.
After finished The Plains of Passage, I read another library book, Tricky Business by Dave Barry. Ever since reading Big Trouble, I was hoping he'd return to fiction, and he has, with admirable promptness for someone who is surely very busy thinking up booger jokes. I mean, honing his craft of humour. I think it holds up quite well with its predecessor, and proves the first book is not just a fluke. It has some almost harrowing moments to go with the madcap humour, and engenders some serious suspense, too.
Then I went on to Starfishers, the second book in Glen Cook's SF trilogy of the same name. The first one, Shadowline, was an almost straightforward military SF book, with two mercenary bands manipulated into opposing each other by the nasty human offshoot race, the Sangaree. The Starfishers proper, a mysterious group that live in deep space, are only a minor plot thread in the first book. The second book takes a quite different tack, following a spy sent to infiltrate the Starfishers, with a friend who turns out to be one of the survivors from the first book(maybe I should've noticed that earlier, but I'd forgotten his name). There are also Sangaree involved, but the book focuses on the main character, who has some problems because of frequent psych-conditioning into various cover identities. It jumps around a little bit in the timeline, as Cook often does, and the same character goes by different names, even in his own head, at different periods. I hope we see more of him in the third book, Star's End.
Now I'm reading another Robert Sawyer: Hybrids, the third in his Neanderthal Parallax trilogy. It's another slow-paced book, like the last one. Sawyer does seem to be seriously proposing his "Neanderthal" world as a utopia, despite its lack of agriculture, universal electronic surveillance and recording, and ruthless eugenics program. It does ask some tough questions about humanity and our own cultures, though, and is often interesting.
I'm also making my way through I Have Landed, Stephen Jay Gould's final collection of articles on natural history. As usual, he seems to spend more time writing about scientists and philosophers than he does about science, but it's still fitfully interesting.
A couple of links to boost my ego a little bit:
First, there's a review of the Open Space anthology in "Challenging Destiny". About my story, it says "'The New Paranoia Album' by Aaron V. Humphrey tries to make some points about the power of pop culture in a fantastical story but it didn’t seem make as big an impression as it needed to." That's an interesting deduction on the part of the reviewer, about what my story was trying to do, though a bit misguided. Frankly, I wasn't "trying to do" much with my story, just entertain myself with a story which is more, really, about its main character's struggles with obsession than it is with the power of pop culture in general. But whatever, at least I got mentioned.*
Second, in a recent entry in "Cosmic Log", the author was talking about books related to solar flares. Mentioned was Thomas T. Thomas & Roger Zelazny's Flare, and I remembered having written a review of that back when I was actively reviewing books on rec.arts.sf.written, ten years or so ago. So imagine my glee at finding a link to a collection of reviews of the book, and my review being there! It's like a brush with fame or something. Oddly enough, that review is not up on the web with the rest of my reviews; I may have to remedy that now, and see what other ones I might have missed.
An exercise to the reader: at my current rate, at what date will I reach the top of my countdown? Don't neglect higher-order derivatives.
290. Fleetwood Mac: Never Going Back Again, from Rumours
This quiet acoustic number from the blockbuster album is one of the most striking, probably because of its very quietness, and the oblique lyrics.
289. Depeche Mode: Behind The Wheel, from Music For The Masses
The synth-driven beat to this song is the main attraction of it, with the lyrics just icing on the cake, following the usual Depeche Mode themes.
Balloons cost more when they're blown up. Well, that's inflation for you.
At close to 10:00, we thought we'd head up to the Tor party, which was up on the 8th floor of the hotel...out of the "party floor" area, so we thought it might be a little more private/intimate. Ha.
The hallway outside the room was already pretty populated, and we could hear the colourful roar of many conversations going at full blast. Inside the suite itself, it was packed. It was possible to navigate, carefully, from place to place, and we did manage to go over to the food table in just a couple of minutes. But it was just too much. We should've tried to mingle, or maybe even schmooze, but we didn't see anyone there we knew that we could talk to, and neither of us was very good at introducing ourselves to strangers. If Jim Minz was anywhere around, we didn't see him. So we made a strategic withdrawal. So much for the big "publisher's party" opportunity. Maybe for extroverts, but not for us. "Pop" go all the bubbles of talking to authors whose books I like(not like those bubbles contained much in the way of rational conversation on my part anyway).
We made our way down to B.J. & Ann's room instead. The night before, they'd said that Mike Resnick was going to be reading some of his stories there at about 11:00. It was probably closer to 10:30, but there was several people there anyway, so we hung out there. I can't remember who all was there, but some subset of our writer's group complement, at least, so we had people to talk to in a low-pressure kind of way. There were also a couple of women in belly-dancing costumes, whom I had seen around the Con(e.g. in the dealer's room earlier).
Mike arrived in due time, and had three stories to read, two humorous and one serious. One was a Lucifer Jones story, one in another series I forget, with a P.I. in a magic-based world, and the serious one was an African alternate history. They were all pretty good; all recently sold, I believe, too.
And in between the stories there was belly-dancing. They had music, and they obviously had done some practicing. At that point in the evening, it felt highly surreal.
After that, we went back to our hotel(taking the much shorter John Street route, rather than the long, dark and scary Spadina Avenue one)and crashed.
Crawling a little further up the charts:
294. This Mortal Coil: Strength of Strings, from Filigree & Shadow
I have since learned that this song was a cover of a Gene Clark(ex-Byrd)song, but I still like this one better than the original. I've lost my liner notes for this album, so let me do a quick net search to see if I can find out who's singing... Okay, according to this page, it's Dominic Appleton, whoever he is. ...Apparently he's from a band called Breathless, who sounds kind of interesting, have to check them out. Anyway, the song has a wonderful sense of menace, especially from that eerie sound sample at the beginning.
293. Rush: Afterimage, from Grace Under Pressure
A wonderful song about trying to deal with the death of a good friend, and being confronted with memories at every turn. This album is among Rush's best at combining guitars and synthesizers, as evidenced on this song.
When all you've got is lawyers, make lawyerade. --d.
For breakfast I had my semi-usual bowl of Quaker-brand Life cereal. I've been eating that for many years now, as a happy medium between the "healthy" cereals and the "sweet" cereals. Every once in a while I get sick of it, but as long as I switch off with something else, I'm usually okay.
Usually, though, I don't see something black floating in my cereal bowl after I've had a few spoonfuls. Even less frequently so I notice that the black thing has little legs, which are moving to keep it from drowning.
EEEEWWWWW! A BUG! IN MY CEREAL BOWL!
I cannot stand bugs. I cannot deal with bugs. A bug that(it occurred to me later)I came close to putting into my mouth... No. I had a major case of the willies in the hallway while Nicole more-or-less calmly disposed of it, and the former contents of my cereal bowl.
I got out a clean bowl, and a clean spoon, and poured myself another bowl. A few unenthusiastic bites into that one, it occurred to me that a)the bug may not have been alone in the cereal box, b)the bug may have laid eggs or something in the box, and/or c)the bug may have polluted the contents of the box with its feces. Another bowl of cereal went in the garbage/down the drain. And the rest of the box, which luckily wasn't too much. (How much of that had I eaten unawares before now?)
I had some nice toaster waffles instead. Which put me a bit behind, but I didn't want to skip breakfast entirely.
Ew. Bugs. <shudder>
I was planning to continue my Worldcon memoirs sometime soon, but it's been low on my time allocation list. I will, however, fill in a couple of things I forgot to mention in my Thursday coverage.
First of all, when we were talking to Jim Beveridge, he told us about growing up in southern Ontario, and spending his summers working at the amusement park on Bob-Lo Island. This was the same Bob-Lo island that I wrote about last summer, which we tried to visit while down there for my brother's wedding. We had to inform him that these days, rather than hosting an amusement park, it is now an upscale gated island community. But it was interesting to run across it again...
Secondly, I forgot what it was we had been doing between registration and going up to B.J. & Ann's hotel room. A look at the "pocket schedule" would have enlightened me, but I didn't think we'd gone to anything... We had, though, gone to the Spider & Jeanne Robinson musical performance in the ballroom of the Royal York.
I'd seen Spider before, briefly, at ConText '91 in Edmonton. He'd been scheduled for a musical performance then, in one of the con rooms, but decided at some point to sing in the bar, instead. This proved to be a mistake, because the bar was full of people who were not expecting Con programming, and were drinking and smoking and talking instead. And Spider was insufficiently amplified, if at all. So after trying for a few songs to hear him over the roar, we gave up.
This was somewhat better, at least soundwise. Spider is a passable musician, sings pretty well, plays the guitar not too badly. His songwriting skills are also passable. I'm trying not to damn too much with faint praise, but let's face it, Spider is a better SF writer than he is a musician. He's a good SF writer, he's a fair musician. That's all there is to it. His musical tastes also do not intersect with my own that strongly, being more into folk and blues.
But it was an enjoyable session, and the patter was witty--Spider is, admittedly, a pretty good comedian. The seating was a little haphazard--people moved their chairs out onto the dance floor from the tables along the sides. So if you wanted to sit down, then generally you had to get your own chair, then find somewhere to put it in the rough semicircle around the platform Spider was performing from.
I don't think we stayed for the whole performance, either, because Nicole was getting restless by that point...and I was, as I said, less than entranced.
Friday later, I promise.
Racing up the charts:
296. Tragically Hip: New Orleans Is Sinking, from Up To Here
I've always found the Tragically Hip a bit uneven. They are(or were)huge here in Canada, if apparently more of a cult phenomenon elsewhere. This was one of the few songs of theirs that I actually liked right off the bat. The lyrics are, like most of their songs, a little impenetrable, but dark and blurred enough to go with the music of the song.
295. Go Four 3: Death of Love, from Go Four 3
Another song from my favourite obscure independent band of the 80's, this one from their six-song debut EP. It has a brooding feel to it as well, and would probably go nicely with "New Orleans Is Sinking".
We promptly judged antique ivory buckles for the next prize.