The Den of Ubiquity
Thursday, February 28, 2002:
I Am Not What You Expected
I read elsewhere(on tpoh.org, if you really want to know)that Spike Milligan has died. Of course, the best-known part of his comedy career was probably in the 1950s, so it's not that outlandish that 50 years later he's dead. But I shall just try to commemorate him a little bit for those of you who may not know anything about him.
You've probably all heard of Peter Sellers, who became famous mostly through all those Pink Panther movies, or so it seemed to me. That was certainly where I first became aware of him. Spike Milligan had a small part in "Mel Brooks' History of The World Part I" as the guy in the Bastille, whose daughter is the one who tries to get King Louis to release him.
When I was about sixteen, I got invited to a birthday party by a girl I didn't know that well, though we had some friends in common. Her birthday was a few weeks after mine, so she got me a belated present, a couple of records. One of them was Depeche Mode's "Some Great Reward", but in case I already had that(which I didn't), she also got me "Goon Show Classics Vol. 6".
I'd never heard of the Goon Show before, and it was a while before I got around to listening to that record, and later still before I listened to it with any regularity(i.e. put it on tape and officially added it to my collection). And there, as you may have guessed, is where Spike Milligan, and Peter Sellers, probably got their start. It was a BBC radio show from the 1950's, also featuring Harry Secombe as the usual main character. But he played just one character, Seagoon; Sellers and Milligan between them played almost all the rest, with occasional guest stars. They did the sinister Grytpype-Thynne and his trusty companion Moriarty, the prepubescent Bluebottle and the presimian Eccles, the equally ancient Harry Crun and Minnie Bannister, and the eminently corruptible Major Bloodnok. They set the blueprint for British humour for years, probably until the advent of Monty Python, who owe them a great debt.
I don't know how many of their shows are available; I have six out of seven of the "Goon Show Classics" records now, with two shows on each, and there may be one or two others around somewhere. On the filesharing services I've found two or three recordings of really bad quality--as you might expect a recording made during the 1950's and only translated into electronic format in the last few years would sound. I have a book of scripts(for only nine shows in total), and a book of a few cartoons. There's probably more stuff out there, if I wanted to scour eBay and other places. Probably not a few of their original shows have gone the way of early Doctor Who episodes--discarded because the BBC would never believe that anyone would want to keep any of this stuff.
I'm still working on Frantics episodes, but Goon Show is on my list too.
I'm reading a very interesting book from the library right now(still working on Moonlight & Vines, but this is in my non-fiction queue, so totally separate). It's 200% of Nothing by A.K. Dewdney. (The K. is pronounced "Kee", short for "Keewatin".) I have his book The Armchair Universe, which contains a number of computer-oriented diversions--I think he was in the same "Mathematical Games" chair at Scientific American as Martin Gardner and Douglas Hofstadter were in their time. (Who's in it now, I wonder?)
This book, however, is not about games, it's about "innumeracy" and "math abuse". It punctures mathematical fallacies, misunderstandings of probability, and misuses of statistics. I've had trouble putting it down for the last two days. It confirms a lot of things that I always sort of knew(that the vast majority of quoted numbers were meaningless, wrong, and/or misleading), but gives concrete reasons for it all. I highly recommend to anyone who's not completely afraid of a few numbers. And those who are--well, they need it most.
One of the more interesting observations in the book is that, in general, any money gained by return on investment will, after taxes, pretty much cover inflation and that's it. Mostly due to the high correlation between inflation and interest rates.
A lot of articles linked to from the Blogger page recently have been trumpeting bloggers as some kind of journalists or something, an alternative to the mainstream media that can cover areas they can't, or give the real facts when they're glossed over by Big News. (I mean that in the sense of Big Tobacco and Big Oil, though I don't know if it quite works.)
I don't know about that. Maybe that's because I feel more like a journaler than a journalist. (Pretty clever, no?) I don't write about things I see, or things I read on the Net. A few opinions, and that's it. I don't feel like putting the kind of work into this blog to hone the writing or focus it. That's why my posts, and even my paragraphs, tend to wander all over the point. Topic sentence? What's that?
I suppose I do give my opinions of books and albums, even if I wouldn't go so far as to call them reviews. Just opinions. I don't think that people who like a book that I disliked are stupid or wrong, just have different tastes. Apart from that I guess I'm, at best, a "Life" columnist. Or an op-ed person. Not a journalist.
Maybe that's what Ev wants blogs to be, but let's face it, most of them are not. Maybe that's what it takes to be a "Blog of Note", and why I'll probably never be one.
Several stories now in Moonlight & Vines have been doing something that annoys me mightily.
It's bad enough when a book or story mixes third person and first person, but sometimes it can be done to great effect and makes sense in the end, like in Spider Robinson's Mindkiller. Sometimes it's done for a stupid reason but doesn't have a major effect on the story, like in F.M. Busby's The Breeds of Man, where the first first-person chapter comes over a third of the way through the story.
But what de Lint is doing, over and over again, is alternative first- and third-person viewpoint "chapters" in his stories--but for the same character. Normally it's done for different characters, or the same character at different times(like Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance). But for the same character? It's annoying, it's stupid, and it doesn't work. Whenever I go back into third-person there's that moment of disorientation when I have to try to remember what the name of the first-person narrator is, so I know who they are.
So, if you're a writer, remember--don't do that.
Getting a bit late here, and I have to go to a stupid J2EE seminar tomorrow morning. It's free, run by Borland people, and apparently I got signed up for it, so Edna and I are both probably going. If I don't forget or sleep in or something. It starts at 8:30(after a half-hour registration and "Continental breakfast" period), so I might at least be able to leave early.
I don't usually have a problem getting up earlier to have more time later. Except for that 8:00 Thermodynamics class I had. I'm amazed I managed to pull off a 70% in that class, especially since the textbook did not cover the same material as the lectures.
Okay, I'm babbling. On to the countdown.
576. Go Four 3: In My Dreams
Go Four 3 is probably my all-time favourite obscure band. And I know that Shriekback is fairly obscure, and Godley & Creme are a little bit obscure(apart from "Cry", of course), and They Might Be Giants are a little obscure(although apparently they won a Grammy for some song from "Malcolm In The Middle"--yay TMBG!), but these guys are way past that. They had a few videos on MuchMusic in the late 80's, they had an EP and an LP, and that was pretty much it. Actually, they continued on for a couple more albums at least as Thrill Squad, but I haven't had any luck tracking that down, and it's still obscure.
But I love both of their albums that I have. This is from their self-titled EP, which captures a lot of the same vocal harmony contrasted with heavy bass and guitar that The Pursuit of Happiness pulled off around the same time. I love Roxanne Heichert's voice, not gifted but still expressive. I can't even express why I like this band so much, but I do.
575. Christine Lavin: Bumblebees
Another Christine Lavin song, one of the serious ones this time. It's a ballady acoustic song about trying to deny feelings for someone that you know you could never have a relationship with...but then going for it anyway. (The title derives from that whole misconception that bumblebees shouldn't be able to fly because their wings were too small for their bodies. The secret of their flight, I understand, is that they rotate their wings slightly for a little helicopter effect, so it's not just pure wing aerodynamics. See? Simple solutions are often incorrect.)
If you are what you eat, then I'm dead meat. --Timbuk 3
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Wednesday, February 27, 2002:
How Can You Be So Unreal
I never use ballpoint pens if I don't have to. For years now, at least since college if not longer, I have by preference used felt pens, preferably with coloured ink. And when I say "felt" I don't mean the ones with actual felt tips; most of them have metal nibs, but I still use the term, I don't know why. Sort of like "lead pencil", I guess.
Green was my initial colour of choice, though I remember finding some fluorescent orange and green as well. In retrospect, I imagine that was hell for anyone having to mark my handwritten assignments. But eventually I settled on purple, whenever I could find it. My brand of choice is Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V5 Extra Fine.
You don't have to press so hard as with a ballpoint, which makes it harder to write on "carbon" sheets where you're trying to make imprints two or three sheets down. The ink runs a little easier, too, so you have to be careful not to smear, and my letters tend to run together a bit more.
One thing I find annoying, though, which may apply to all types of pen, is when a pen which has lots of ink in it(my pens have windows in the side so I can tell)doesn't want to write properly, because there's something wrong with the nib. And there's another pen which writes perfectly, but is almost out of ink. If only I could transfuse from one to the other. I probably have about six pens right now, half of each kind. New pens stay new for a little while before deciding on one category or the other.
I still label my tapes(and now my CDs)in black ink, though, for the most part. I just don't want them to look all weird in different colours. I do the tapes I make up for my wife in coloured ink to make it easier to tell them apart.
Episode 13 of "24" last night; they're up to 1:00, and I bet not many people on that show have had lunch, let alone any sleep. I think they've wrapped up a few too many plot threads. Sort of like "Twin Peaks" when they found Laura's murderer. It's almost like they decided that they could end the show there if nobody bought the rest of the episodes. We'll see if they pick up their momentum a bit next episode. I mean, Jack is still in trouble with his employers, there's still another assassin at least out there, not to mention Rick on the loose, the whole Belgrade angle to investigate, etc. And I'm hoping that the whole tiresome David Palmer scandal thing will somehow redeem itself by tying more directly into the rest of the plot.
It will be nice, after two weeks of Olympics, to get our NBC shows back, "The West Wing" and "Friends". I have been missing them. And, of course, like everyone else, I want to know what's going to happen with Joey and Rachel. Though sometimes TV shows get a bit predictable, in that you know that the odds of any two characters having a lasting relationships are much lower if only one of them's a main character. Because the main character's long-term relationship will very likely have to be of main-character status. So it was inevitable that Chandler & Kathy would break up, and Ross & Emily, and Rachel & Tag, but main-character pairs are still viable. Like most people, I was expecting something with Joey & Phoebe, but at least Joey & Rachel make a less predictable couple.
Still reading Moonlight & Vines. Most of the stories in it seem to have been originally published in theme anthologies. Maybe this explains some of the sameness I've seen in them, or maybe, as Pamela Dean once said, Charles de Lint's stories all have the same fundamental plot.
One of his pervasive themes, in his urban fantasy at least, is that there is magic all around us, and that we are just conditioned not see it because it interferes with our worldview. I don't know if he honestly believes that himself, or whether it's just the way things are in his fictional city of Newford.
I don't really believe anything like that myself. At least, I try not to. But it's nothing to do with conditioning.
Magic, like religion, all seem to spring from the fact that human brains are hardwired to think of things in certain ways. They learn about "the way things are", probably as young children, and then they resist assimilating any fact that contradicts that. First, they will try to explain it within the framework they've already learned.
Life after death makes sense to our brains because it doesn't make sense, on a primal level, for people to die. If they are alive at one point, they should be alive at other points, despite any evidence to the contrary. Even if they're not alive here, they might be "alive" somewhere else. So we make up stories where they go on "living" somewhere else.
Similarly, pre-technological people were used to things happening because people did them, so any phenomenon with no apparent cause must be done by a person that we can't see, a spirit or a god. Some people tied these together, so that the place where you live after dying is something else created by spirits and/or gods. These nonphysical beings can be appeased, because obviously if bad things happen it's because they're angry. And so on.
Rationality is a fairly recent fad, never universally embraced. Science provides us with real explanations for how things work, which are difficult to understand and rejected by a lot of people because they don't match the way our brains are used to thinking. But there's a lot of technology that testifies to it actually working that way. Most of us take it on faith, and just treat it like magic.
So am I closed-minded for refusing to believe in ghosts? Or are you closed-minded for refusing to believe in death?
One of the tenets of my personal philosophy is that simple explanations are usually wrong. Science is far from a simple explanation. What I mean by "simple" is "seeming intuitively right". The universe was not constructed for us(another axiom), so it should not happen to match the way our brains conceive of it.
Well, I'm sure that the process of evolution favoured brains that were able to deal with the reality we perceived, but there was no need to make quantum mechanics or relativity or even human biochemistry intuitive. All we had to do was be able to survive on the savannah or wherever it was. The fact that our brains embrace the idea of life after death means about as much as the fact that men have nipples. It was just easier for us to develop that way; they're side effects of other adaptations, not adaptations in themselves. Our fingers can type on computer keyboards, but it's foolish to think that that's what they were designed for.
Today I listened to "Like The Idea" by Think Tree, a band about whom I know very little, so it's likely I ran across the name on the All-Music Guide and decided they sounded interesting. They're bizarre and a little off-kilter(a word I've discovered I like to use a lot to describe music), sort of like a mix between The Presidents of the United States of America and the Smashing Pumpkins with a little bit of Dal-Dil-Vog thrown in. Standout tracks so far include "Everything Is Equal" and "Doh". I'm not sure if it's one I would actually want to own or not, but it's been so long since I added anything to my wishlist that it'll probably make it on. (No, wait, that The The album should go on there too. But still.) It's actually from 1992; I wonder what else the band, or its members, have done. I sure do like them better than Sparklehorse so far.
Now I don't have long before "The West Wing" starts(I am such a slave to the television set, it's pathetic*). And I haven't even read my other blogs since Monday. Something else I wanted to mention...oh, that was it. I read that Terminator 3 is going to be filmed in the U.S., not in Vancouver as previously intended. The reason, apparently, is that Arnold does not want to alienate the California voting public by taking a big movie out of the country, because he's planning on running for Governor.
Isn't that how Ronald Reagan started? Maybe he was SAG president first, but I'm pretty sure he was Governor of California before he became President. Can anyone out there picture President Schwarzenegger? I don't know if the U.S. is ready for that any more than for a black President, or a woman(deplorable, but it's probably true). An Austrian-born bodybuilder with a noticeable accent? Not terribly attractive, either, or so I always gathered.
Not that, had I the opportunity, I wouldn't necessarily vote for him. But then I'm known to vote for people with interesting names over people with boring names. Never once voted for Bill Smith for mayor of Edmonton.
Okay, now the countdown.
578. Mike Oldfield: Talk About Your Life
A song from "Discovery & The Lake"(at least that's what my copy is called, though I've seen others labeled differently), sung by the incomparable Maggie Reilly. (Actually, her solo work is not nearly as notable, but she does have a great voice.)
577. Lyle Lovett: Here I Am
From "Lyle Lovett & His Large Band", a funny song about...well, I don't know, but alternating unaccompanied spoken bits, mostly pretty funny, with the big brassy chorus. I love the cheesburger bit.
Barney: what you get when you feed a Smurf after midnight
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Monday, February 25, 2002:
Some Branches of Trust
I'm feeling pretty uninspired tonight, so this may be a brief entry, but I will try to make one. I'll just free associate until I feel like I'm done. Unlikely there will be an entry tomorrow night, so this will have to tide you over.
Trish & Jeremy were over for supper, a fairly brief visit since they left at 8:00, but us thirtysomething people aren't used to staying out so late. Nicole got lots of great social-worker research info for her current novel, and we also talked about books and movies and music. Jeremy sounds like someone that I could have decent music conversations with. I don't know him that well, just as Trish's husband, and often I just see her without him, like for lunch, or sometimes when she babysits, because they both travel out of town to do training, and not always together.
They said that Bruce Cockburn is going to be in town next month, so maybe I should try to snag a ticket. Only $35, that's pretty decent--it was at least half again that much for the Barenaked Ladies. I would, of course, go see them again. According to Jann Arden's journal she's on tour soon too, but that's probably already sold out. She lives near Calgary, so she's probably starting there. Actually, it occurs to me that Jann Arden and Bruce Cockburn are both touring to support greatest hits albums, and the BNL have one of those out too...maybe they will tour again for that! Hopefully at a time when I am able to afford it. Maybe even drag Nicole along this time. And Alanis's new album is out now or very soon, and I would like to see her too. I have missed many, many concerts in my time, though, so it wouldn't be a major disappointment to miss a few more, but when I know about them, it's frustrating.
I finished Naked Came The Manatee today. It was okay, but Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen together were not able to pull off a rip-roaring climax or finale, just tying up loose plot threads in a workmanlike manner. Some chapters were interesting, some were not, and on balance I'd rather read Big Trouble again. Or see it in theatres. Or even "Men With Brooms", that curling movie which seems to provide me with a reliable source of hits from search engines, so I'll mention it here again. That and the whole Rufus Wainwright/John Cale "Hallelujah" thing from Shrek. (To save you all time--John Cale sang it in the movie, Rufus Wainwright sang it on the soundtrack, Leonard Cohen wrote it originally, and Bono and Jeff Buckley have also covered it. John Cale's version is indisputably the best.*)
I decided to read Moonlight & Vines by Charles de Lint next, but I had failed to remember that it was short stories, not a novel. Oh, well, I got through Dreams Underfoot and The Ivory & The Horn, but I was really looking forward to a novel. I'll read it anyway, though, because I am a stickler that way.
But it bodes well for getting my circus book finished soon. I finally got to an actual section on the trapeze, which I may have to photocopy or something because it's exactly what I need to know. I'm beginning to think that making a minor character a knife-throwing target won't work, though. It sounds more like a carnie thing than a circus thing. Still haven't decided whether there will be animals at this circus or not. It might be easier without, but it's not as good a circus then. Well, I never said it was a great circus... The Shrine Circus is actually going to be in town in a couple of weeks, and it may be worth going to see that. It would be a research expense, anyway, not like I feel like filling out a self-employment form on my tax return to try to make it worthwhile.
Kiln People by David Brin has come in at the library, though. And I already picked up Robert Charles Wilson's Chronoliths on Saturday. He's another Canadian author, with generally good novels but somehow not so great on the conclusions. He has good beginnings and interesting ideas, but they often don't gel. Darwinia was one of his better ones, about a world where Europe had suddenly been replaced by an uninhabited prehistoric wilderness. That one came together better than most. Maybe this one will, too.
I decided to take out the next books of a bunch of series I'm in the middle of, or authors I want to read more of, to put with all the other ones that I think I should be considering reading. Patricia Cornwell and Diana Gabaldon, who my wife loves to read, as well as both Dean Koontz and Dick Francis, both C.J. Cherryh and Tanith Lee. Hell, why don't I just list them all? It will be diverting.
James L. Halperin: The Truth Machine. This is the one that Trish lent me a while ago, so I am planning to read it a bit more quickly than some of my other borrowed books, which languish for years because they belong to members of my family and so I anticipate not losing touch with them in the next ten years.
Candas Jane Dorsey & John Clute: Tesseracts8. One of a series of Canadian SF anthologies, which, let me be honest here, are sometimes a bit uneven. I've been known to bog down in them before, for longer than I like to spend on a book. So I've been putting it off.
Jane Yolen:Merlin's Booke. Jane Yolen is one of the authors that I associate, however indirectly, with the Fidonet SF Echo, that I spent time on some years ago, and still try to read books by. But it's been so long that I'm thinking of abandoning that practice. Her books tend to be okay, but not compelling.
Zane Grey:The Drift Fence. Yeah, I know, but my dad lent me a whole bunch of Zane Greys a few years ago(well, probably ten years by now), and I've been slowly working my way through them. They aren't bad(apart from Spirit of The Border, which was so racist I couldn't even finish it), so I'll probably read this at some point.
Gregory Benford:Furious Gulf. The third book in Gregory Benford's far-future series(if you don't count the two prequel books). The first two were interesting, and it might be nice to have some of those puzzles resolved.
Piers Anthony & Robert E. Margroff:Serpent's Silver. Now this is an oldie. I used to read Piers Anthony a lot, but slowed down substantially sometime around Firefly and The Colour of Her Panties. I do still have this book, though, and I want to read it just to say that I've read it. Not necessarily planning on buying the other three books.
Thomas Hardy:The Woodlanders. This is one of the few authors from English classes that I actually enjoy, if you don't count Jude The Obscure. I'm pretty close to having read all his novels, actually, though I think there's still one called The Trumpet-Major that I don't have.
John E. Stith:Reunion On Neverend. I've read a few pretty good books by Stith, including his classic Redshift Rendezvous, but I've been neglecting him in the past few years. Time to start on him again.
C.J. Cherryh:Inheritor. Third in her atevi series, which so far has been pretty good; Nicole has been enjoying them, anyway, and Cherryh has been one of my favourite authors for quite a few years now.
Terry Pratchett:The Fifth Elephant. I'm so close to being caught up on my Pratchett...
Ursula K. Le Guin:Malafrena. This is probably the oldest book on my to-be-read shelf right now, so it deserves some consideration on that basis alone, even if I don't expect thrilling, rushing excitement from Le Guin these days.
Iain M. Banks:Look To Windward. I enjoyed Consider Phlebas so much, and this book apparently overlaps with those events from a different point of view. I really should try some of his other Culture novels sometime, though. I never find them in bookstores, though; maybe it's time to try the library, except that I often don't like to put too many library books into my schedule when I have so many unread books of my own.
Orson Scott Card:Heartfire. This one would get me caught up on his Alvin Maker series; can't remember, but I think I saw in Locus that there might be another one coming out soon. That Card guy sure is prolific...
Storm Constantine:Burying The Shadow. This one is actually a random selection which I made from my entire unread list; coincidentally, it's also the only Storm Constantine I have that I haven't read. I've also heard rumours of more Wraeththu books, and maybe a sequel or two to The Monstrous Regiment...
Orson Scott Card:Songmaster. Well, two Cards! The other one will probably get read first, but I have to catch up on his backlist sometime.
Stephen King:Misery. I'd forgotten this one was on there! I'll have to try to remember it, because I hear it's pretty good, even if I have seen the movie.
Ru Emerson:Spell Bound. I've had this book for a long time too, and it may be just a cheesy fantasy, but it's thin, and I've never read this author before, so I might as well give it a try.
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.:The Magic of Recluce. There's so many books in this series, I thought it might be worth trying to see if it's any good. Not that I need another Jordan-sized series, of course, but if it's anywhere near as rewarding...
Mercedes Lackey:Magic's Pawn. I read her "Arrows" trilogy a few years ago, but I heard that her "Last Herald-Mage" series is better, so it's on my list to try as well. And also relatively thin.
Timothy Findley:The Telling of Lies. I'm not sure what to expect from this guy-- Not Wanted On The Voyage was a retelling of the story of Noah, but Famous Last Words was a weird WWII historical not-quite-thriller. And I hear his Pilgrim is excellent--my mother has recommended it to me multiple times.
Jeanne Cavelos:Summoning Light. Second in "The Passing of The Techno-Mages", a Babylon 5-related trilogy. I liked Peter David's Centauri one, and J. Gregory Keyes's Psi Corps one, but this one doesn't seem quite as good. Well, I guess being a decent author counts for something.
Diana Gabaldon:Voyager. Third in her "Outlander" series, which my wife, and many other people, are crazy about. I liked the first two well enough, but they're all so thick...
Tanith Lee:When The Lights Go Out. She's a pretty good author, although also a bit uneven sometimes. I keep hoping to find something else as great as The Blood of Roses or Delirium's Mistress--though there's a lot of hers I haven't reread, and who knows what I'd think of them now...
David R. Palmer:Emergence. On my list of award winners and nominees, though I can't remember what accolades exactly this one gained.
Robert Charles Wilson:The Chronoliths. Already talked about this one above.
Dick Francis:To The Hilt. I tell myself that I shouldn't read another Francis so soon already, but they're so good to read...
Anne McCaffrey:Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern. I keep rereading this one in hopes that one of these times I'll find a plot. Well, not quite that bad, but I still don't really remember what happens in it except for the ending. I've finished rereading her first six Pern books, and have no urge to reread much further, but I'll give this one another try.
Robert Ludlum:The Bourne Ultimatum. My mother used to read a lot of Ludlum, but then gave up on him because she thought they were a bit samey. I've only read the first two Bourne books; the first one was a while ago, but I recall liking it. So I'll probably try this one, but we have it in hardcover for some reason, and it's definitely the biggest book on the shelf.
George R.R. Martin:A Game of Thrones. Another promising fantasy series, but do I really want to start another? I'm told this one's worth it, though.
Tanya Huff:Valour's Choice. I'm a few books behind on Huff, a Canadian author who's usually pretty good. I haven't read an SF book from her yet, which this one is, so not sure what to expect.
Tanya Huff:The Second Summoning. Another Huff, too; the previous book in this series was a sort of goofy horror novel, but fun enough.
Patricia Cornwell:All That Remains. My wife likes these books a lot too, the Kay Scarpetta series, and there's enough of them out already that I might want to start catching up.
Dean R. Koontz:The Voice of The Night. Another of my wife's favourites, and I'm so far behind on him... This is one we picked up second-hand, though, I'm pretty sure.
Tad Williams:Otherland: River of Blue Fire. I did just read the first one in this series, but you know, maybe it's time to stop taking a year or more between books in a series, and actually read on while the memory is fresh. Except then the books blend together when I try to think of them later. Memory is a fickle thing.
Sheri S. Tepper:Jinian Footseer. Just got up and added this one while I was typing this list. I've been rereading her True Game series too, and last time I read this book, anyway, I liked it very, very, very much. Hopefully it's as good as I remember.
So yeah, I have a few choices about what to read next. I keep trying to decide when I'm not actually in front of the shelf, though, so I forget two-thirds of them. I sometimes try to come up with a monthly theme, but it doesn't always work out that well. But this is practically the least strictured my reading schedule has ever been.
This has been less brief than I expected, so on to the countdown!
580. The Grapes of Wrath: Do You Want To Tell Me?
Another of the decent singles from the album "Now & Again", an upbeat country-tinged number about trying to have a relationship with someone who doesn't know what they want. Always associated in my mind with the time that the group performed it on the First Annual YTV Youth Achivement Awards, hosted by Jim Carrey back when he was just the white guy on "In Living Colour", in which Nicole won the award for Writing.
579. John Hiatt: Back of My Mind
From his album "Stolen Moments"(though I had to look that up)comes a mesmerizing story of trying to survive a childhood of abuse, and not always succeeding. The lyrics here are simply amazing.
The crows seemed to be calling his name, thought Caw. --Jack Handey
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Sunday, February 24, 2002:
It's Much Bigger Than Me
Another missed day, yesterday. Not just blogging, really, everything. Simon woke up at 6:30 and refused to go back to sleep; it was Nicole's turn to get up, so I could stay in bed, but I slept fitfully until 9:30, and got up not feeling completely rested. Dreamt that I met Dick Francis, who apparently had also participated in NaNoWriMo, and was amazed at how much he drank. We went out to United Furniture Warehouse to buy our kitchen chairs. Our last few furniture trips have all ended up there anyway, so we decided to save time and skip the comparison shopping. We ended up with six pewter and blond-wood chairs, three of them discount chairs and three which will have to be ordered in, and all of which are getting one of those staingard-type treatments anyway, so the net result is that we still don't have the things, and may not for a while yet. Hopefully the ones we have will survive until then.
I did dishes in the afternoon, though I really had to force myself to start them. It's always the same--I begin the weekend, say on Friday night, thinking about the two days of freedom and how much I'm going to get done, and then by Saturday afternoon I am seeing all the things left to be done and realizing that the weekend's already gone, assigned to one task or another. There's usually a little more time than I think, like the hour and a half or longer after Simon's bedtime, but it's still not enough. I might have found time to blog yesterday, but I finished Otherland at 10:00, and after that couldn't muster much energy for anything.
Simon has been very contrary recently. On Saturday he didn't want to go down for his nap, and protested quite vigorously until I had almost given up, and then fell silent and slept for a good long time. Tonight he skipped his nap because we were playing D&D again; I had him downstairs at about 6:30(our supper being pushed back by excessive snacking), and finally got fed up when he kept saying he wanted to play a computer game but said "No!" to every one I suggested. And he's got this annoying habit right now of not answering questions. I ask, "What do you want to play?" and he repeats, "What do you want to play?", over and over, until it drives me crazy. I realize that often he doesn't know how he should answer questions, but even if he just repeated them once it would be okay, it's over and over and over again that I can't stand. Another thing he does right now is--well, he'll say, "I want a cookie." Nicole will say, "You want a cookie?" and Simon will say, "Okay!" as if you were offering it to him instead of just repeating his question. Not quite as annoying, though.
At about 7:45 Nicole called me upstairs, because Simon was being just too cranky and she was going to try to put him to bed. Well, his tantrum at that set new household records, because nothing would calm him down that even smacked remotely of bedtime. We got him into his pajamas and he kept trying to take them off, and he refused to let us read him a book or tell him a story. Finally we wrestled him into his crib, where he stood up and even tried to climb out a couple of times. We went down to the living room, where we could still hear him screaming, "Don't go downstairs! It's not bedtime!" Finally, about 8:30, he started getting a little more plaintive, saying, "You gonna come upstairs?", and eventually I did. Then I brought him down, got him some milk, Nicole read him a story, and he went back to bed as sweet as you please. But first he had to fight.
I'm sure this is all highly normal two-year-old behaviour, but it's exhausting.
In the D&D game today, we did actually make some progress, completing one of the major objectives of our campaign, despite continually running out of healing spells and having to stop adventuring for the day after probably about two hours of game time. Those stirges in particular are nasty. But despite getting two characters transformed(temporarily)into silver statues, leaving mine as the only active player character to try to get help, we managed to come out okay, and in possession of the Bagpipes of Valere. ("The grave is nae bar tae me skirl.") Don't ask.
Right now I'm in the middle of Naked Came The Manatee, and it's about as uneven as one would expect from an unevenly matched set of authors trying to write a novel chapter-by-chapter. The second and third chapters each introduce that author's signature character from their series of books, and one of those has already apparently left the storyline by this point. The plot, such as it is, is weird enough, but the writing does not captivate. Still, I'm sure I will persevere and finish, but it probably won't go on my wishlist for eventual purchase.
Just listening to my copy of Elton John's "Caribou". Mostly I don't find it particularly striking, compared to "Honky Chateau", apart from the two tracks I already know, "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" and "The Bitch Is Back", and the tense closer, "Ticking". "Solar Prestige A Gammon" is, as one might expect from the title, a bit silly, a sort of phonetic reproduction of an opera song from what I can gather. I have some trouble getting into early Elton John albums, apart from the aforementioned "Honky Chateau", but I keep trying them in case they eventually stick.
Oh, and one other from the library this week that I forgot to mention, Joy Division's "Substance". I believe that, like New Order's album of the same title, it's basically an amalgamation of their single and 12-inch releases. Now I did quite like their album "Closer", or so I recall since it's been a few years since I listened to it, but this one really turned me off. Only "Love Will Tear Us Apart" was very melodic; the rest was just too noisy or cacophonic for me. I like New Order much better.
On with the Top-750 song countdown:
582. Joe Jackson: One More Time
My first recollection of this song, the opener to "Look Sharp!", is my brother's then-girlfriend, Christa, describing it, and the whole album, as "petulant". I can see her point, since this song consists of the narrator challenging/begging his departing lover to repeat that they were never really in love at all. But it can be seen as petulant or vitriolic depending on how you listen to it, and how you react to Joe Jackson's voice. It's got a great energy to it that is almost as close to punk as I'm willing to get.
581. Evangeline: Rhumba Girl
I checked out this album, a self-titled one, at the library solely on the basis that I have a story called "Evangeline"(yes, the one I'm currently supposed to be expanding into a novel), and did end up kind of liking it despite its being pretty much country. It's an all-female band which has great harmonies, and a more cajun-flavoured sound than your average country. This one has a couple of great guitar riffs in it and a snappy syncopated chorus, and a sensuality to the lyrics that makes me wonder whether they mean by "rhumba" what Stephen Sondheim once meant by "foxtrot".
Drink and cook the prodigal son, fondue forks for everybody! --They Might Be Giants, "Hot Cha"
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Friday, February 22, 2002:
It's Not My Obsession
Some of you may have noticed that I didn't blog yesterday at all. Well, what can I say--I didn't. When it came right down to it, it just didn't feel like the most important thing I could have done last night was satisfy my arbitrary whim to blog every day. So I covered December 28th to February 20th, that was pretty decent. I will try not to slip back to once or twice a month, or never, but I won't try to force myself to do it when I can't think of anything to say.
I've been a lot shorter on time recently, but so far I haven't reacted to it as I would have expected. I mean, I not only have an hour less every day, but I also have to cut back from all the internet usage I was getting away with at work. But am I feeling pressed for time, and grabbing for every tiny vestige of it I can get?
Oddly enough, I'm not. I'm not counting minutes to make sure I don't get stuck with Simon for any longer than Nicole does in the evening; sometimes I purposely give her extra time, and it doesn't feel like an imposition. Sometimes I feel like staying up past 11:00 to try to get something done, but I did that before, too.
I think what happened is that I just lowered my expectations. I don't start lengthy tasks that I won't get done, so a lot of things have been put on the back burner. I'm not expecting to finish reading all the Diarist.net award nominees for this quarter, for instance, and a lot of other internet-related projects have been put on hold.
I don't know how long this will last, though. I don't think I'll be able to keep it up all the way until Nicole starts to make lots of money with her writing, or we win the lottery or anything. (Not like I buy tickets with any regularity--I know the odds.) Maybe long enough to get out of the doghouse here at work and be able to get a better salary and shorter hours at the same time. Or find something else. (Yeah, right, I love job-hunting so much, and so many other software companies out there let their employees work short hours every day. So, not likely.)
Last night I did end up reading about something called the "Zen Television Experiment". Some of it was interesting, but a lot of it just sounded like good old "TV is Satan" propaganda. Now maybe some of that is needed to combat the pervasive view that TV is indispensable, but some of the claims made in that document are either ludicrous, or irrelevant.
For instance, TV is apparently not "restful" for one's brain, because the sequence of images shown are intended to imply more than they show, so your brain can fill in the gaps more effectively than they could. Well, that's probably true. TV craftsmanship has been improving over the years, and audiences learn more about what to expect, and conventions of the medium, so shortcuts can be taken.
But TV is not the sole perpetrator of this heinous crime, of providing only part of the story and making your brain fill in the gaps. What about movies? They use most of the same tricks as television, if you discount commercials, which I agree are probably bad. They use "Technical Events" to make your brain interpolate things that are not actually shown, and make your poor neurons work! Heavens! That's surely bad.
And how about books? Why, all they do is provide a bunch of text which describe a number of things, like imaginary characters that you have to visualize yourself, and imaginary actions taken by those characters, ditto, and providing hints about background events that you have to puzzle out yourself. Now that's hard work for those brain hemispheres, too! So books are bad.
Let's not even forget that letters themselves, alphabets, and language are evil as well, because they take arbitrary symbols or sounds and make your brain assign meanings to them based almost entirely on the indoctrination you received in childhood about what the rest of society agrees to pretend they mean. That's got the word "indoctrination" in it, which is bad, and contains a message of conformity to society, which is also bad.
I'm sure I'm just whacking at a big huge straw man here, which bears only a slight resemblance to the author's points, but that's the one point I seized on that made no sense to me. Well, I'm sure it makes Zen sense, where the whole goal is to stop using your brain entirely. Now that's clever. No, it's something that you can try to do if you want to, in countries where the practice is not forbidden, but you can also choose to actually use your brain if you want to. I prefer reading myself, but is it really putting less work on your brain? Probably more. And yet few people condemn it. Who out there says, "I think people should read less!"? Maybe somebody should. Universally supported positions should still be examined.
It is good to watch TV critically whenever possible. When we had a functioning remote control, I always watched commercials on "mute". And I wish I could remember where I heard this, but someone once said that the trick to figuring out commercials is to determine what they're trying to convince you of, and conclude that it's not true or they wouldn't have to try to convince you of it. This doesn't really apply to factual information("McDonald's is selling McPizza for a limited time"), but does apply to any implications that accompany it. The example I remember is the Sunny Delight commercial where the teenage kids all head for the fridge and grab the "Sunny D" in preference to all the unlabeled soda products. What they are telling you is that teenagers think it's cool to drink "Sunny D", and that therefore parents should buy it for them. So obviously the reality is that teenagers don't think it's cool, and if you buy it you'll end up drinking it yourself.
Beer, or pop, commercials often imply that if you drink that product you will have fun and meet lots of attractive members of the opposite sex. Car commercials usually imply that you will drive, with great skill and at high speed, to exciting places in the countryside or wilderness, and possibly meet attractive members of the opposite sex, or else have fun with your family. Laundry detergents imply that they are better than the other laundry detergents. I'm sure you can fill in your own list.
I promise that I will tell Simon all about this stuff as soon as he's old enough to understand it, by which point it will be too late, but eventually it will sink in, I hope.
Stupidest thing I heard yesterday was a reference to "Bruce Springsteen's hit CD, 'Born In The USA'." Now I'm a bit fuzzy about when precisely CDs came out--my best guess is based on "The Wedding Singer"--but it may very well have been released principally on LP back in 1984 when it came out. Probably cassette too, although cassettes didn't outsell LPs for a few years after that, if I recall correctly.
In my own vocabulary, musicians don't make records, or tapes, or CDs. They make albums, which are collections of songs. Those albums are potentially released on various media, but to say that "Led Zeppelin IV" is a record denies its existence in cassette or CD form, which I'm sure exist. Probably 8-tracks, too.
The choice of term is arbitrary, I admit, but "album" has always seemed to me to be the least tied to a particular physical medium. Some people have told me that an "album" is definitely a vinyl disc, like a "record" or an "LP", but what can I say, it's the term I chose. Besides, a "record" in Britain is a "single" in North America, and a "record" in North America is an "LP" in Britain. (This information may be out of date, so don't take it as gospel.)
Besides, "album" is Latin for "something white". Doesn't sound like a record to me, sounds like a nice neutral name.
Today I listened to 'NSync's "Celebrity", and it was pretty good. I still haven't decided if it's good enough to put on my wishlist or not, considering that I didn't find any songs besides "Pop" that really screamed to be added to my collection. I do like that song a lot--not that it'll make it into my Top 750, or even my Top 1000. Fairly light on sappy ballads, the biggest turnoff of boy-band music for me. I don't mind it when they've got their attitude or they're trying to make you dance, it's when they're telling some girl(s?) that they'll love her forever that I crave to yarf.
Plus, they are at least co-writing most of the songs on the album, too. How much of that is legit or not("Hey, Justin, can you think of a word to rhyme with 'dance'? Give you co-author credit."), it's a good sign that maybe in the future they will do something really interesting. Without it the chance goes way down.
Yesterday I had "NakedSelf" by The The--finally, five years after "Hanky Panky", and more since "Dusk", when he actually wrote some of the songs. The album listing inside includes at least one unreleased album in that time(what, are those bootlegged or something?). Anyway, it's pretty much at a par with the The The opus, with a track or two that would've fit on "Burning Blue Soul", but overall a bit more like "Dusk". The most striking song on first listen was "GlobalEyes", which is lyrically mostly a rhyming song like InXS's "Mediate", but coming off a bit more profound than that.
584. The Welfare $tarlets: Twenty Something
I heard about this band thanks to my friend Trish, who I believe actually saw them in concert. They're an all-girl "indie" band from either Saskatchewan or Manitoba, I forget which. I picked up their album "Underground" in a discard bin, and it was a pretty lucky find, though I had heard several of the songs on a six-song demo tape that Trish had had. (Hey, Barenaked Ladies and Moxy Früvous both had good results starting with one of those...) Anyway, this is a pretty good Gen-X angst song with nifty guitar work on it, somewhere between folk, rock and country.
583. Leonard Cohen: So Long Marianne
One of those rare songs where Leonard nailed it himself, so you don't have to search for a decent cover version. Okay, maybe not that rare, but Cohen and Dylan are both somewhat vocally challenged, so similar rules apply. The backup vocalists do help a lot on the chorus, but even without them he does a very creditable job on the song.
Alfredo just must bring very exciting news to the plaza quickly.
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Wednesday, February 20, 2002:
I Tell Myself It's All A Game
Right now I'm listening to a CD I borrowed from Darren, or perhaps more accurately from his wife Bohdana, called "St. Petersburg Classics: A Taste of Things To Come". It's all Russian classical music, or at least "former U.S.S.R.", since it's got some Georgian stuff, at the very least. Rachmaninov, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov are the names I recognized, at least. It's pretty good stuff, though it has the same problem most classical music does for me, which is that you can't pick a goddamn volume level for the stuff. It goes crashing fortissimo, and then suddenly you're at pianissimo for five minutes, and then crash it goes again. Great if you're in a concert hall, bad if you're listening to a CD at work.
It all makes me feel like I should be watching "Fantasia" at the same time, though.*
I listened to Macy Gray's "The Id" yesterday. I didn't mind it, though it didn't particularly grab me overall; I liked "On How Life Is" better. I did like "Oblivion", though, a weird accelerating Cossack song about, well, oblivion.
One of the columnists in the Edmonton Sun today was saying that he though it would be a good idea if some streets were off-limits to cyclists. I'm sure he won't make any friends with that one, though of course newspaper columnists aren't supposed to make friends, they're supposed to make people want to write letters for and against, generate controversy, and generally make the newspaper better-known.
Now, as with many such issues, I can see both sides of it. I rode my bike a lot as a kid, in Grande Prairie, where traffic was not generally so extreme. I stuck to bike trails, service roads and side streets when I could, and rode on the left or on the sidewalk if I had to. I knew, without being told, that riding on the street was not particularly fun; there wasn't enough room for you between the parked cars and the traffic, you caused traffic problems, and in general you annoyed people and risked getting sideswiped or thwacked by a suddenly-opening car-door.
So I never seriously considered riding my bike much in Edmonton, more for fun and exercise than for actual transportation any further than the grocery store. Around the neighbourhoods of Millwoods, there's enough sidewalks, residential roads and broad grassy strips that it wouldn't be a problem, but I wasn't going to try downtown or any of the busy thoroughfares.
I've been primarily a motorist now for several years, and let's face it, cyclists are annoying. There's very few lanes designated for them, and if they try to ride as part of traffic, they generally can't keep up to the speed limit of 50 km/h, let alone the 65 that most people actually want to drive. As the columnist said, the police would probably ticket for obstruction a car driving as fast as most cyclists can ride. I drive the speed limit myself, and I annoy people enough as it is.
It's true that cars consume nonrenewable resources, and pollute the atmosphere(though not as badly as they used to, at least not most of them), and are often driven by idiots who sometimes crash them into things and people to disastrous effect. But does anyone out there seriously think that everyone is going to give up and switch to bikes and/or buses anytime soon? Especially in Edmonton, even though the winter weather has been mild. But proponents of city cycling quickly assume the aspect of crackpots. They're a small minority(concentrated mostly around the University, I understand, to little surprise), and not a very successful lobby.
So if someone came to me to sign a petition to fight a bylaw to prohibit cycling on major streets, I'm afraid I would refuse to sign it. I'd sign one to make riding on sidewalks legal--my experience was that I was perfectly able to avoid pedestrians if I wanted to, at least when I was fourteen. And there's no way, with rush-hour traffic as congested as it is, that I would consent to having entire lanes set aside for bicycle traffic. Making it easier to cross bridges and overpasses, okay. Cyclists don't have much more choice than motorists about which routes to take there, and it's cruel to make them try to squeeze into traffic lanes there. But generally you can find shortcuts that avoid the major arteries and still get where you're going, if you don't have to worry about the difference between a 50 speed limit and an 80, because you can't go either speed in the first place.
Gimme a C! Gimme an O! Gimme a U! Gimme an N! Gimme a T! What does that spell? DOWN!
586. Our Lady Peace: Naveed
See, Our Lady Peace does have some good songs, despite what I may say about their albums. This song has good variance in sound level, from the opening bass and snare drum, with Raine Mehta repeating "C'mon, c'mon, Naveed", to the higher energy of the chorus, and back again. I like that kind of variation; I always like a moment of silence in a song(which, I admit, "Naveed" doesn't have), or generally some respite from monotonous crashing guitars.
585. Debbie Gibson: Another Brick Falls
I never minded Debbie Gibson nearly as much as Tiffany. Debbie has never done the complete overhaul that Alanis Morissette did, but she still writes her own stuff. This song, from her third album, "Anything Is Possible", is a fairly articulate expression of the frustration you feel at never quite finishing or resolving anything in your life. And you can dance to it, too!
The reader of this sentence only exists while reading me.
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Tuesday, February 19, 2002:
What If I Walked Off The Line
I often get very strong memories associated with particular songs or albums, from some point where I was listening closely to them while something else was happening. For instance, I still, after fifteen years or more, associate the song "Memphis Thing" by Rob Jungklas with playing a particular game called "AE" on my Apple ][.
I'm listening to a tape right now that has two different albums on it(both taped off of records for portability), "Through The Barricades" by Spandau Ballet and "Dreamtime" by the Stranglers. (Must've been going through the S's.) Oddly enough, since both are on the same tape, I have different memories associated with each album.
Late summer of 1995, I had just gotten my Certificate of Equivalence from the University of Alberta, which meant that I had basically completed a B.Sc. in Computing Science, but I already had a B.Sc. in Physics so they couldn't give me another B.Sc., for some reason. I was job-hunting, and so was Nicole. Nicole had been shelving at the U. of A. libraries, but that was only a seasonal position. Nicole's sister Sharna was working at the Grande Prairie Regional College library, and she kept emailing Nicole about job openings there, which Nicole applied for. After getting interviewed for two of them, and not getting them, they finally decided to hire her for a third one.
So we were moving up to Grande Prairie. This was okay for me, because I had grown up there, and both my parents lived there or nearby, and okay for Nicole because Sharna lived there and it was closer to her parents as well. Anyway, we rented a moving van, loaded our stuff into it, and drove up, I in the moving van and Nicole in our car. We didn't make any special effort to stay close together on the highway, instead agreeing on several meeting points in towns along the way.
The van had a tape deck in it, and that was when I particularly recall listening to "Through The Barricades", which I don't think I had had for very long at that point. I knew the title track quite well, and it's still one of my favourite songs, but this was the first time I gave the rest of the album my more-or-less undivided attention.
It turned out that one of our rendezvous, at the KFC in Valleyview, was shanghaied by the fact that a)there was no such place there(it's a fairly common fast-food restaurant, so I thought it was a good bet; I was wrong), b)Nicole and I entered the town at different places, and c)there was some kind of rodeo or something going on which made travel through the centre of town impossible. So we eventually gave up on each other, each hoping very strongly that the other had not met up with some misadventure on the highway, and headed to Grande Prairie to Sharna's, where we were staying that night. It was not the most fun ever, and just one of many unfortunate situations that arose because we did not completely specify a place to meet. (That one was my fault, because Nicole had suggested a different place to meet and I overruled her in favour of the imaginary KFC.)
The Stranglers album was at the other end of our Grande Prairie sojourn. We'd been there for two years; Nicole had been working at the library, and I had been mostly working for Terranet. Terranet closed down in July 1997, and I went looking for jobs, mostly in Edmonton because Grande Prairie was not particularly rich in the field I thought I wanted, Unix system administration. This was when I ended up getting hired at Vectoron.
They wanted me to start right away, and of course Nicole needed to give her two weeks notice, we had to find a place to live in Edmonton, pack, etc. I ended up staying with relatives in Edmonton for the first week, and I vividly remember sitting on the bed in their spare room, listening to "Dreamtime" on my tape deck and trying to read up on Windows NT for work. I didn't actually have a fun time that first week(not being able to hook up my computer anywhere, among other things)and the second week I stayed at Sharna's instead(she had moved back to Edmonton a year earlier).
I talked in a much earlier entry about how the "Vectoron" experience ended up. In some ways it's sad that we had to move back from Grande Prairie, because I knew lots of people in the theatre there and it was fun to get involved in. But the writer's group there, "Write Ons", was nowhere near the quality of the Cult of Pain, and when we were there, anyway, housing prices were astronomical. And I might still be unemployed, or working at some horrible job, while Nicole worked full-time and didn't get the chance to write. So maybe it all worked out for the best. Who can tell?
We did go out to see "The Count of Monte Cristo". The theatre was more crowded than we were expecting, but I guess it is "Cheap Tuesday" and there's a teacher's strike on, so no homework. We went to one of those "Express" ticket machines, and since we were both still stuffed from dinner, we didn't bother getting any popcorn or anything. I almost lost my ticket, though--the machine printed out two slips of paper, and I grabbed them and went. I didn't notice that there were three slips of paper, and that the first was our stupid Interac receipt, until we got to the ticket-tearers. Luckily, the women who had been behind us in line was still there, and had noticed the problem, so I got my ticket okay. It would have sucked to pay another $7.50. I remember when that was the price on regular days--now it's Cheap Tuesday price at the overpriced 16-screen megaplex.
But Nicole got her Public Lending Rights money today, which is kind of nice. See, the government has this program where authors get paid an annual fee based on how many of their books are in libraries across the country. So, in other words, it's not a gyp for people to read your books from the library instead of buying them!
Now we can afford to buy some new kitchen chairs, too. We bought a set of four some years ago, and two of them have already broken. They have metal frames, but they're badly welded or something. I had one as my computer chair, but it started to come apart right where the back joined the seat, and eventually broke. One broke when a friend of ours sat down on it. The other two have survived all this time, but they're showing cracks along the seam now as well. It's only a matter of time. Plus, we only have two, so we have to get our cheap torn-vinyl-seat chairs out when visitors come, or even the wheeled office chairs. Or, most annoyingly, my own computer chair, which I always forget to bring downstairs the next time I go down to use my computer, and have to go back for.
I was also going to say something about Guy Pearce, who may be one of my favourite new discoveries. He was great in "Memento", and he was admirably slimy in "The Count of Monte Cristo". I am really looking forward to "The Time Machine". Although even more I'm looking forward to "Big Trouble"! We saw the trailer for it again; it was postponed after September 11th, and probably delayed even more because of Tim Allen's other movie, "Joe Somebody", but now it might be coming out at last! Yay!
I've forgotten about the Lent calendar thing for a few days, so let me play catch-up:
For Saturday the 16th, it just says, In the South, 325 million boys and girls are not getting basic schooling. Give $1 to encourage more primary schooling. Now, are they talking about the Southern Hemisphere, or the Southern States? The population looks like too much for the Southern States, so they must mean hemisphere, but it's an annoying phrase. And what about the people living just north of the equator? Do they get any of this money, or do they get gypped because they're on the wrong side of Quito?*
Sunday I guess you're supposed to give at church, so no recommended donation. For Monday the 18th, it says, 5¢ for each coloured marker or pencil in your home, to share with those who have none. Now that's a bit ambiguous. I presume that blue pens don't count as "coloured", nor black ones. I predominantly write in purple ink, but those are pens, not markers or pencils. And what about crayons? Are crayons not in as short supply in the Third World? Anyway, I'm sure we have a set of ten pencil crayons upstairs, and some highlighters, and I usually have five or six purple pens around at any given time, of which only two or three are generally in good working order, the rest just not having quite run out of ink yet, so I can't bring myself to throw them out, but they don't write very well. What's that? Let's say 19, which is what my wife wrote down on the calendar, for 95¢.
For today, it says, 50¢ if you ate something made with sugar. Well, I had a Wagon Wheel for lunch, and raspberry ribbon pie for dessert after suppoer, so I guess that's four bits from me.
Oh, and I tinkered with the design a little bit. You probably noticed. Nothing sophisticated, just wanted my columns to be wider because little narrow columns and wasted space down the side were starting to annoy me. Now my sidebar looks too far over. Well, I'll get used to it, and so will you, so quit whining.*
And now it's getting late, so once again on to the countdown:
588. Red Hot Chili Peppers: Breaking The Girl
I'm only an intermittent fan of the Chili Peppers, but this song is great, not as edgy as some of their others and having a great vocal line to it, showing that guy(okay, I confess, I don't know his name)can actually sing. From "Blood Sugar Sex Magik", the only Peppers album I actually own.
587. The Grapes of Wrath: What Was Going Through My Head
Another one from the Grapes, from their "Now And Again" album, which is what I mostly saw them on tour for. It had three great singles, and the rest of the album was decent but not spectacular, not as solid as its predecessor, "Treehouse". This song is in waltz time, with great harmonies and string accompaniment, but there's a rhythm guitar underpinning to it. The lyrics don't always make sense, but they're singable.
I don't know what kind of medicine is inside this melon.
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Monday, February 18, 2002:
Don't Strain Your Brain
It is fun playing D&D, still, and Darren is doing a pretty good job of building his adventure and running things, but it does take up an afternoon...and then, after snacking on all those chips(or, in my case, Cheesies), we don't feel hungry for supper until like 7:30. Simon skipped his nap, of course, since there were all these people in the living room(well, us, Darren, and two others), so he had to go to bed right after we had supper. And he was pretty cranky before that. We actually managed to end the gaming session without all of the characters being at binary hit points(0 or 1)! Last time we got our butts kicked by stirges, of all things. And we've managed to make actual forward progress, too.
I slept in until 9:30 this morning, and then we went grocery shopping shortly after I had breakfast, and then it was lunchtime when we got back. I didn't actually get to check my email until after 6:00. Then there was one message which Norton AntiVirus just choked on and wouldn't allow through at all. This time, at least, I was able to telnet directly into the POP server and delete; the last time this happened, I think, I couldn't remember my email password so I didn't have that option. I ended up turning of virus-checking and downloading the email, and then having to disinfect everything. I deleted all the rest of the junk mail while I was up there.
I'm really getting into Otherland, already 182 pages into it even though I started it only yesterday. It's 780 pages long, so it bodes well. It's definitely not very fantasy, and after Maelstrom and Across Realtime I was getting a bit tired of science fiction, but so far it's okay. Maybe next I'll read some Charles de Lint or something to really get the fantasy thing.
Tomorrow I may not be able to post, which would make it the first day I missed since I started posting after Christmas, on December 28th. (Since Lynda won't keep track of this for me...*) I get up with Simon in the morning, then I go to work, and then Nicole's cousin Shirlene is coming over for supper and babysitting Simon while we go out to see a movie, probably "The Count of Monte Cristo". And "24" is on at 10:00; hopefully we'll be back by then. If not, then I suppose it'll get taped and I can come downstairs and we'll watch it some night when there's no figure skating*. Otherwise, I won't really have an opportunity to write anything, let alone post it. Unless I do it at lunch or something.
And next month we're going down to Calgary for a weekend to visit some of Nicole's family down there, as well as going up to Grande Prairie for Easter. So those might also cause gaps in my posting schedule. I make no apologies for this--my loyal readers are lucky that I post daily as it is, because many people don't.*
Tonight I don't have that much to write about, so I must just cut it off here and go straight to the...
590. Joan Armatrading: I'm Lucky
I believe this is from an album called "Walk Under Ladders", but I have it on a collection called "Track Record". I like it because it's got a neat synth-based sound to it, and Armatrading's detached vocals suit it perfectly.
589. Blondie: Rapture
I always loved Blondie's "Autoamerican" album, and this was one of the reasons. I really liked the rap section as a kid, all about the "Man from Mars" and that stuff. But the sung portions contrast the horns and rhythm section, with Debbie Harry's ethereal vocals.
Base 8 is just like base 10, if you are missing two fingers. --Tom Lehrer, "New Math"
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Sunday, February 17, 2002:
All We Have To Do Now Is Take These Lies And Make Them True
I'm getting a little bit annoyed at the Fairy Tales book that Simon has. (I think my mom gave it to him, but I'm notoriously bad at remembering the origins of gifts, so I could be wrong.) It's just a little bit too revisionist for me.
For instance, "Rapunzel" has turned into an adopted child's story, because the witch who took Rapunzel away from her parents is more like a protective mother figure than an evil captress. "Sleeping Beauty" does get points for having her prick her finger on a needle instead of a spindle(how many adults know what a spindle looks like?), but loses on several other points, like the rest of the castle falling asleep because of a separate spell rather than from repercussions of the princess's curse. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind reading novel-length adaptations of fairy tales, but these don't have the depth of the novels and they don't have the resonance of the original tales.
So anyway, I got out my big book of Grimm's Fairy Tales and have started reading those to Simon. He doesn't like all of them--he didn't sit still for "The Goose-Girl", but I did read "King Thrushbeard" and "The Frog Prince"(which is one that is in the other book), and he seemed to like those. He brings the book back to me to read, anyway, so he must enjoy it, even with a paucity of pictures, maybe one per tale if that. Wait'll I try him on "Little Snow-White". We'll see if he recognizes it.
Fairly lazy day today. I got up with Simon and we played Sims in the morning; miracle of miracles, it didn't crash, but I didn't try going to the big restaurant downtown which has been the most problematic, and I didn't try to switch neighbourhoods. I also found this shareware "Battleship" game that he likes, and I don't mind playing.
Does anyone else register their shareware? I confess that I don't. Part of it is because that I'm stingy, I have had more than my share of pirated software in my life, and I'm just not used to paying for it. It still all tends to seem ludicrously overpriced to me, just like it did when I was a kid. Besides, I have a lot of really old shareware--stuff that's designed to run under Windows 3.0 if you don't have 3.1--with only a postal address to send your cheque to. Am I going to gamble that, eight years later, the person who made the software is still there to receive the cheques? I don't think so. But that's mostly just a good solid reason to offset the fact that I just don't want to.
Though I've promised that if I ever get really rich, I'll pay for all the software I've ever used without paying for. Well, I'd probably give the job to one of my assistants, to do all the actual tracking down of people. Yeah, this is dirty filthy stinking rich, and I doubt I'll ever get there.
Anyway, Nicole and Simon went to church, and I ended up trying to watch "Porky's", which I had taped after "Groundhog Day" several weeks ago. This was a notorious film when I was about junior-high age, and everybody wanted to have seen it. Well, it was pretty much as raunchy as I expected. I fast-forwarded through most of it, and I did catch a few inklings of actual redeeming plot value(like the son of the abusive father standing up to him at the end), but generally it was horny high-school students trying to get laid. And not even Generation-X high-school students, but 1950's high-school students. Not even Baby Boomers--Silent Generation. But all things considered, I'd rather watch "Mischief", which manages to be a wee bit more wholesome with a lot of the same material.
Dishes this afternoon, which were not as bad as they could have been because Nicole has actually been doing some during the week, for which I will surely recommend her for beatification. Also laundry, so it was a high water usage day.
I finished Come To Grief, and then had to fight not to go and pick up another Dick Francis right away and start to read it. Somehow it ended up being one of those books that I didn't want to end, just go on and on. And I know there's really nothing wrong with reading two books in a row by the same author, but it just goes against the grain for me when I've got hundreds of other authors clamouring to be read as well. I also felt that I should be dutiful and read one of the Aurora-eligible books, which is to say a Canadian SF book published in the last two years. But none of them were appealing to me. I'm three books behind on Tanya Huff, two on Julie Czerneda, and forget about Charles de Lint.
But in the end I decided to start Tad Williams' "Otherland" series. I've got a copy of the first book which just says Otherland, but I am assured that its real title is City of Golden Shadow. Only a dozen pages in so far, but it's interesting. I heard it's sort of a virtual reality story, but it sounds like it is reality to some of its inhabitants. I actually saw Tad Williams interviewed on TV once, just before the series came out. I had read his "Memory, Sorrow & Thorn" epic fantasy trilogy, where the third book, To Green Angel Tower, was so long that it was actually released in two 800-page volumes in paperback. So the idea that he was doing science fiction was very interesting, and I am actually looking forward to this series. It's one of a few series I've been meaning to try for a while, along with L.E. Modesitt, Jr.'s Recluce series and George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice And Fire". I'm also moderately curious about Terry Goodkind's "Sword of Truth" series, but I was turned off them at first by their obvious Robert Jordan-imitator marketing. Do we need another Terry who's best known for writing a series just like another successful series?* But one day I'll give it a try, I'm sure. Just need to run across the first novel second-hand.
Where does the time go? I feel like I have barely any time to fritter away on weekends any more. Even this weekend...well, today is practically over, and tomorrow the D&D game will take up most of the afternoon, and we will probably have to go grocery shopping in the morning.
Lordy, how I long to be independently wealthy, with my time completely my own. It's always been the tradeoff, time or money. When do I get both? Yes, I know that my wife is writing as fast as she can, and if she can start to support me on her own income, she will, but it's a slow process, and many writers never get there. She's gotten into the tier that's actually published, but there are so few that are up higher than that into actually making a living, or getting rich. So until then I still have to work my butt off at jobs that, in general, I hate because they're jobs, and they keep me from doing what I really want, which is not working. And I defy anyone to find me a job that pays as well, that I actually like, and that doesn't require uprooting the family and moving to California or New York or Seattle or something. I don't want to be an American citizen, for one thing--I like being a Canadian. No offense to my American readers, I'm not a rabid anti-American like some Canadians are, but I still don't want to live there.
Enough of that, count with the on down.
592. Cyndi Lauper: All Through The Night
Another track from her first and biggest album, "She's So Unusual", a very sweet ballad that deserves a little more recognition next to "Time After Time".
591. George Michael: Freedom '90
Back before George Michael got completely full of himself, on "Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1", was this funky and danceable number about his recovery from his teen idol days. He may have sunken into dullness since, but this song shows that he once was really able to pull it off.
All things are possible, except skiing through a revolving door.
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Saturday, February 16, 2002:
I'm Giving It All In A Moment Or Two
I'm beginning to think that the groundhog, whichever one has dominion over our part of the world, anyway, did not see his shadow. Because at the rate we're going, our snow is going to be all gone by the end of February. It's been above freezing every day this week, which is abnormal. We got a little bit of snow one morning, but I swear it turned to rain at noon.
This means another summer of forest fires, with not enough snow to get the forests damp enough. I'm beginning to think that climatic changes are going to get rid of our plentiful mixed forests up here in northern Alberta and turn them into more prairies like southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. The forest fires will keep going on until the trees don't manage to come back, and then it will just be tall grass because that's all there's enough moisture to support. Our soil is not that great, either. Maybe if all the trees burn up it will be.
Absent-mindedness strikes again. I blithely wrote about nothing much happening this weekend, while all the time I knew, somewhere in my head, that on Saturday February 16th we were having a meeting of the Cult of Pain. Not until we were coming back from our usual Saturday morning mall trip did Nicole make some remark which caused things to click in my brain. So that's one thing we're doing this weekend. It'll be a weird meeting, though, since about half the membership have cancelled out already. Still, we will have a couple of members who have missed the last two or more meetings there, and from experience we know that if someone misses a meeting and doesn't get input on when the next one is, it makes them that much less likely to be able to make the next one, and so it goes. We're working on an actual web page, and when it's in a more completed state maybe I'll put a link on my sidebar. Until then, if anyone who writes SF or something close to it in the Edmonton region is curious, send me an email for more information.
And then Darren is back up in town, since it's Reading Week here, so he has the entire week off from his teaching job at Red Deer College. So now we've also got a D&D game scheduled for Monday afternoon. That should be interesting, especially since one player who's been away for the last two or three games sounds more likely to be able to make it. On the other hand, two others have moved out of the country. Well, what can you do?
So anyway, the writer's group meeting is why I'm putting this entry up a little bit early today. Hope you appreciate it. Simon's going to a babysitter tonight, instead of joining us at the meeting, so we might stay a little later. Or, because of the lack of anything constructive to do at the meeting, we might go home sooner. In case you wonder, we often do critiquing of previously-handed-out stories and such, but we also shoot the breeze a lot. Ann and Barb tell their WorldCon stories about Mike Resnick and Gardner Dozois, and there's half the meeting gone right there.*
On our morning shopping trip we got a new toaster, because Nicole has been getting fed up with the wild misbehaviour of our current one. Simon's started having toaster waffles for breakfast with reasonable frequency, and they end up at wildly-varying degrees of doneness. This is probably at least a ten-year-old toaster by this point, if not twelve or thirteen. So we got a new toaster with something called "ToastLogic", which is superior to old, crappy toasters that vary their toasting level depending on ambient temperature and voltage fluctuations. It keeps reminding me of the talking toaster on "Red Dwarf". It's also got windows in the side so you can see, and a removable crumb tray at the bottom. Now nobody tell me there's no progress being made out there!
We also got a portable bed side-rail, because we are still contemplating moving Simon into an actual bed, since sometime around the end of June the crib will be getting another occupant. We have a single bed, inherited from Sharna & Nick, which at the moment is mostly a diaper changing surface and auxiliary storage for Nicole, because it's in her office. So her computer will probably have to move into the bedroom if Simon moves into the bed. I've mentioned the possibility of the bed to him a few times, but I don't know if he knows what I'm talking about yet.
Gettin' that old countdown feelin' again...
594. Kate Bush: The Kick Inside
My favourite song(and title track)from her first album, recorded when she was seventeen, and sounding like she uses a falsetto all the way through, something that thankfully disappeared after two albums. Or maybe her voice actually changed in pitch.
593. Jane Siberry: An Angel Stepped Down(And Slowly Looked Around)
A "verbal mosaic", as I call it, from her album "When I Was A Boy". It features several guest vocalists, like Rebecca Jenkins and Holly Cole, doing various vocal lines, as well as several from Siberry herself. The music is fairly eclectic, but compelling, and while I have no idea(apart from the angel thing, which I got from the title)what's going on lyrically, it's pretty cool.
The more things change, the more they remain things.
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Friday, February 15, 2002:
Kiss Today Goodbye And Point Me Toward Tomorrow
Lots of things to write about tonight, so I'm sure I will forget some of them. Oh, well, more stuff for this weekend.
My dad is not coming down this weekend, so it is mostly free of commitment. It seems that he's suffering a little bit of financial crunch as well. It's a bit sad, really, my dad still having to work for a living at his age(he just turned 54). Aren't your parents supposed to be retired, or at least able to take expensive cruise vacations or something? As a Generation Xer, aren't my parents supposed to have more money than me? But he's still working as a salesman, as he has all his life. Right now he's selling furniture, but he's also done insurance, and linen services, and even farm equipment. He's a tremendous extrovert, gregarious as all heck, which failed completely to rub off on me. But we both love music and theatre.
For a while it seemed that every time I talked to him he was telling me about someone else his age who had died or killed himself, so I think he's started living for the present a lot more, buying expensive stereo systems and such rather than banking for the future. But then, maybe he does have RRSPs and just never talks about them.
Okay, so not only is "Blowing Bubbles In The Wind" offline, but so is "Every Little Thing I Do Is Magic"! What's next--Trance? <shudder> Sherry let her notified readers know that her site will be back up as soon as they find a new host for it(moral: never count on the company you don't work for anymore for Internet access or hosting--I've learned that one myself). So Ferra--what's up?
Traffic was bad today. Three lanes crawling southward, four cars crossing the intersection at every green light before there's no more room on the other side. At least there was a reasonably good reason for it this time--all three lanes being blocked off by an accident, so we had to creep around them on left-hand side. I was in the left lane the whole time, so I was honour-bound to let people in in front of me. And then the guy in front of me, who hadn't clued in to the fact that everybody in the middle lane was signaling left, decides he has to go into the right lane, so he's signaling the other way. Maybe he just wanted to be behind me instead of in front of me.
I've ranted about several things that annoy me in traffic, so let me continue that trend here by talking about jaywalkers. I've never understood jaywalkers. It looks like just the stupidest thing to do. I'm not talking about crossing in the middle of a residential street where there's only a few cars going by an hour, and driving slowly because of all the curvy roads. I'm talking about crossing main thoroughfares at rush hour. There was a woman as I was driving home who was standing on the median waiting for traffic to clear. She's less than half a block from the corner, where she could have crossed legitimately and safely. What is up with that? Maybe I'm just too straitlaced and law-abiding for my own good, but I just don't get it. It's not that much of a deal. Maybe it's the thrill, the endorphin rush. Why don't you just go skiing or something? Or snowmobiling on a half-melted lake? That'll learn ya.
Where I leave work, there's a bad left turn I take. I don't like left turns at the best of times, but this is off of a side street onto a minor artery halfway between two traffic lights. Often the traffic seems to be timed so that just when it's dying off on one side of you, the next batch arrives on the other side. There's a crossing light there, but it's a very slow light. I'm not quite sure how those things work, but it seems like there must be a minimum five minutes it will allow to lapse before it stops traffic. But it can take longer than that to wait for a gap in traffic, so I'm always happy to see a pedestrian show up there.
What I don't understand are the people who stand there and press the crossing button over and over and over and over again, as if that will make it come sooner. Do they really believe that? Most of them now light up when they've been pressed, so you don't even have the excuse that you don't know whether it's working or not. Some crossing lights are just slower than others, but I see people do this at ordinary crossings as well. (Edmonton is rife with them.) Someone should put up signs and say "Please press it only once. If you press more than once, it will not let you cross." Actually, I think someone told me that as a child, that if I pressed it once it would let me cross but if I pressed it twice it wouldn't. So I was very careful to only press it once. More children probably need to be told that.
At the Ash Wednesday service at her church, Nicole got an interesting little Lent calendar from the Canadian Catholic Organization For Development And Peace. It's basically a place where you can donate to help third world nations or something. Nicole already has a Foster Child, I think in Mali or somewhere in western Africa. (She had one in Mali for sure, but then it turned out that he'd been accidentally assigned two, so she was transferred to another one.) But every day on the calendar is marked with suggested donations based on your own life(every day except Sunday, where you're just supposed to pray, apparently). If I remember, I will try to share these with you throughout Lent, not because I'm proselytizing for these people, but because it makes a neat daily thing to do.
I missed yesterday's already: Fair trade helps ensure a fair income for cocoa farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America. 10 cents for each piece of chocolate you eat today. Well, I had a Wagon Wheel in my lunch yesterday, so I guess that counts as a piece of chocolate. But for dessert we had lemon meringue pie, so no chocolate there.
Today's: One billion people in the South do not have safe water. 5 cents, to share with them, for every glass of clean water you drink today. Now this is harder to calculated because at work I have two small pop bottles that I fill with water and drink. Let's call that three glasses each for the sake calculation, so six glasses there. I know I had one glass in the morning(to rinse the grapefruit juice out of my glass), one with supper(to rinse out the milk, ditto), and probably two since then. I will probably have two more before I go to bed. So that's twelve glasses in total, for 60 cents. (It still bugs me that the cents character is not on my keyboard. It probably has an HTML code, but I confess I'm too lazy to go check it.)
Most people probably drink fewer water and more coffee and pop and stuff, or alcohol. I drink iced tea, the occasional hot tea, also occasional pop, very occasional alcohol, and about one glass of milk and juice each a day. For the rest, I stick to water. If you drink water with stuff in it, then often that stuff just needs to be shipped right out again, and the stuff that really needs to get excreted gets crowded and has to sit in your kidneys or wherever for a little bit longer, and that means kidney stones! Well, maybe not, but I don't believe in drinking a lot of extra electrolytes since I don't exercise often enough to need them.
Well, that was fun. And so far we owe 70 cents. Wait until March 12th. They really gouge us then.
At work today I started listening to Gov't Mule's "Live...With A Little Help From Our Friends". Two CDs. I haven't decided whether I'll listen to the second one yet, the first one was so annoying. It's all live stuff with songs stretched out to ten or twenty minutes with endless solos and noodling and crap in it. It was beginning to drive me up the wall. And I think there's about five tracks on the second disc, which is seventy minutes or so. You do the math. I've never heard of these guys; maybe a studio album of theirs would be better, if they couldn't go longer than eight minutes or so. But I doubt I'll bother giving them the chance. They don't sound like my kind of band. I'd rather listen to Phish.
Oh, and Mix 96 managed to drive me away for several of the few minutes I listened to it today, by gratuitously and without provocation playing "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley. I still hate that song, and "Together Forever". He did have a couple of decent songs, but those weren't them.
Ooh, the Friday Five! I actually almost checked for this at 10:00 last night, but decided against it. Decent questions, maybe I'll do them today:
1. What was the first thing you ever cooked? Hmmm. Interesting question. Well, if you accept failed attempts at cooking, then when I was probably about ten or eleven I tried to make myself Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. I put a pot of water on the stove, boiled it, and then opened that little pouch and poured it in. Imagine my chagrin when it didn't miraculously turn into maraconi noodles, but instead into some scummy coating around the edge of the pot. I immediately fetched my mother, who informed me that the pouch contained the cheese sauce, which went in later, and the noodles themselves were sitting right there in the box. This was a promising start to my cooking career.
2. What's your signature dish? Well, in my bachelor days I made pretty good lasagna(from a recipe my mother made), or meatloaf with tons of stuff in it, like cheese and mushrooms. Or mashed potatoes, which I have to make for myself because Nicole just doesn't like potatoes that aren't heavily fried in butter. (I like my mashed potatoes with about 1:1 potatoes:butter ratio myself, so I guess I can't talk.) Or cheese fondue, which Nicole also doesn't like and so usually ends up being made when I have to fend for myself for a few days. Whether any of those is "signature" or not I don't know and don't care, because cooking is not something I consider a skill of mine.
3. Ever had a cooking disaster? (tasted like crap, didn't work, etc.) Describe. Well, I already told the macaroni story, but I have another one. In the last week or so of my bachelorhood, when I had moved into her place but she was up in Hawk Hills preparing for the wedding, I tried to make a Kraft(yes, again!)Pizza Mix. I made up the dough, let it rise, and then floured my hands as the box instructed. Then I tried to spread it through the pizza pan. The flour just did not work! The dough still stuck to my fingers, and all over the place, and eventually I gave up and threw it all out. When I talked to Nicole later, she said that(as I might have noticed if I had paid attention when she made it for me before)she also tried flour, discovered it didn't work, and after that had used butter on her fingers. Ah.
4. If skill and money were no object, what you would make for your dream meal? Lobster with garlic butter sauce, possibly accompanied by escargot as well. For dessert, lemon or sour cream cheesecake.
5. What are you doing this weekend? Hopefully not a lot. Three days of kickin' back. A little bit of dishes, a little bit of laundry, maybe grocery shopping on Monday. I should finish Maelstrom and probably start Come To Grief by Dick Francis, read some more of my circus research, and maybe even do some writing. Probably a lot of playing games with Simon, possibly including Sims since we'll have time for it. I am seriously considering uninstalling "Hot Date" entirely.
Now, back to my countdown of my top 750 songs:
596. Joe Jackson: Another World
Another one from "Body & Soul"; yes, I just did one of those. Well, I tried to separate them a little bit, but I guess I don't care that much. This is the first track on the album, and it's a got a nice percussion section to it.
595. A Chorus Line: What I Did For Love
From the musical, of course. It's got a key change in the middle, and a bunch of harmony singing at the end, so that's really enough for me. Maybe there's more to it than that, but that suffices.
Have you seen Quasimodo? I had a hunch he was back.
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Thursday, February 14, 2002:
The Only Ones That I Fear Are Those Who Never Have Doubts
I take pretty much the same route to work every morning, and the same route home(though not the same as in the morning), unless there's major traffic issues, and even then they have to be pretty major. I keep getting burned when I try to take shortcuts, because suddenly I'll be in Industrial Park area and there'll be signs saying "No Thru Route".
I imagine I share one or both of my routes with many other people whom I see, if not every day, several times a month. But I don't generally tend to recognize cars, or even license plate numbers, from day to day. Just not something my brain cares enough about to store.
There is one guy I recognize, though, but then his car is a wee bit distinctive. It's actually one of those car-truck hybrids, with the cab like the front seat of a car, and the truck bed about the same size as back seat and trunk. Don't know the technical term, if any, or even the make & model. What makes it more distinctive and easily recognizable to me, though, is the fact that the back window has "SOULFLY" written on it in letters that might have been printed directly from their album cover.
I listened to that album a few months ago(I think it was self-titled, but I could be wrong). I recall I also had an album by Life of Agony at the time("Soul Searching Sun"?), and I thought that the bands should practically have switched names. "Soulfly" to me, before I heard the album, sounded like...well, a "soul" band, maybe something more like Blessid Union of Souls or something. But their sound was more dark and metallic, and "Agony" would be a good word for such a band to have in their name. Life of Agony, on the other hand, was more "modern rock", as I recall, and could have probably gotten away with "Soulfly" as their name.
It's too late now, I suppose. If only people would think it over more carefully before naming their bands!
I'm beginning to suspect that "MIX 96", my radio station of choice(which doesn't say much, since I don't listen to it that much), is changing its format slightly. Heretofore there were four basic FM radio stations in the Edmonton area that I switched between--"Power 92", which is mostly pop/rap/dance, "K-ROCK", which is classic rock, "The Bear", which is rock and classic rock, and "MIX 96", which was 80's pop and its more recent analogues. But they've been playing a lot of modern rock recently--Lifehouse, 3 Doors Down, Nickelback, Five For Fighting, Matchbox 20, etc. They still play other stuff more like their old roster--the occasional 80's hit, Chantal Kreviazuk and Maren Ord and Jann Arden, Barenaked Ladies, etc. But I don't think there would have been as much modern rock on there before. Is "The Bear" losing ground? Well, I don't really care about radio station politics, but it was on my mind so I thought I'd write about it...
Been a less-than-killer Valentine's Day today. Well, Nicole and I have been trying to be a bit frugal recently, so there were no flowers, no chocolates, no cards, no presents. And we of course didn't manage to find a babysitter for tonight, since most everyone else has plans of their own. We were going to try to have dinner out, though. I got home about 5:20 and we immediately headed for a Boston Pizza which is only about a few minutes' drive away, even through rush hour traffic. But it was packed with people already, and didn't show any signs of abating. I can sometimes get a bit phobic in closely-packed crowds, so I decided after a few minutes that we should just go home. We eventually ordered out from Pizza Hut.
Simon skipped his nap today, apparently, which means we would normally put him to bed at 8:00. A-Channel was playing "The Object of My Affection" then, so we thought we might try to watch that to see if it was any good, after we put Simon down. Well, Simon threw the tantrum of his life thus far, and wasn't even coherent for about ten minutes, by which point we managed to discover that he wanted us to read him a book. It seems that that had become part of his bedtime ritual, and we were bypassing it in our attempt to get him in bed before the movie started.
I remember a book called The Laziest Robot In Zone One, a library booksale book which I had picked up over a year ago because it looked like a cute SF children's book. Simon went through periods when he would want it read to him over and over again, so Nicole would often hide it, and it had languished unread for some months. So I thought it might be time to dig it out again, and it seemed to do the trick. He protested half-heartedly after I finished it that Mommy should read it(which often happens with new or rediscovered books), but fatigue seemed to have finally caught up with him, so he went down. It was now 8:20, so no movie.
Oh, well, it's a crassly commercial holiday anyway, isn't it? Well, maybe, if I hadn't proposed to Nicole twelve years ago today. But February's been, on the whole, a fairly crappy month so far, so this is just par for the course. At least it's only 28 days long.
On to the countdown. Why? Because we care.
598. Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians: Carmelito
From their "Ghost of A Dog" album, this is a quirky little song of Mexican-American banditos and best friends who have a fatal falling out over a little bit of confessed adultery. Surprisingly cheerful for its topic.
597. Billy Joel: Shades of Grey
This song, from his "River of Dreams" album, is one of those songs that resonates very well with my own personal philosophy. I wanted to write more--tried to write more, in fact, and erased it, twice--but I don't feel like getting into this one right now, so just go listen to the song and see what you think.
Everybody has something to hide except for me and my squid.
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