I must confess that I have never liked this one as much as "Little Earthquakes", though it does have some interesting songs, like "Space Dog" and "Waitress". It seems to be dominated, though, by piano-and-voice-driven songs that all sound the same(and go on and on, like "Yes Anastasia")to someone who doesn't want to sit there with the lyrics sheet every time through. So I will keep it, but I know exactly where they're coming from.
56. No Doubt: Tragic Kingdom
I got this album mostly because my wife wanted "Don't Speak". While I do also like "Sunday Morning" and "Spiderwebs", at least, I have to say that "Excuse Me Mr." is a horrible song, and would have kept me from buying the album for any other reason. It is somewhat diverse in its musical styles, and often I like that, but it didn't stretch quite far enough for me. I liked "Return of Saturn" better, and what I've heard so far from "Rock Steady".
57. Love & Rockets: Earth Sun Moon
Okay, you got me there. Love & Rockets have always been a guilty pleasure for me, because I harbour suspicions that they're really not that great. This one does have "No New Tale To Tell", but I'm not sure if it has enough to carry it the rest of the way. "Mirror People" isn't it.
58. Ben Folds Five: Whatever & Ever, Amen
Okay, maybe he not "deep because he plays the piano", and maybe "bitterness doesn't necessarily make good music". But maybe the piano gives it a different sound which is still worth listening to, and maybe bitterness can make good music. Totally keeping this one.
62. Green Day: Dookie
I have to say that I got this album mostly because of hearing it was good, and kind of liking "When I Come Around". I can't say that I like the album as a whole, though there are one or two other decent songs for sure. But I'm willing to consider it overrated.
63. Rush: Moving Pictures
This album is so much a part of my teenage years that I couldn't part with it. Sorry. It has aged a little bit, but it is a high point in their early work.
64. Pink Floyd: Dark Side of The Moon
Yeah, it's okay. I like the fact that "Money" is in 7/4, I like the buildup in "Eclipse". The rest of it may be an example of wondrous accomplishments in production for its time, but that doesn't make it all deathless music.
65. Sarah McLachlan: Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, Surfacing
If I get to keep one of these, I will definitely keep "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy", and I think it does make a difference. "Fumbling" had some good, powerful songs, like the title track and "Hold On". "Surfacing" was a bunch of pap, led off by a song saying "goths are cool".
69. U2: War
Another album that perhaps hasn't aged well, and it sure ain't "soul music", but I'll still keep mine.
70. Gin Blossoms: New Miserable Experience
I think I have this one, but I'm not sure; I get their titles mixed up. Not a great endorsement, eh? I do like some of their songs, but yeah, otherwise I tend to find them dispensible.
71. Counting Crows: August & Everything After
Kind of like the above. Some good singles, but I'm not sure about the album tracks.
72. Offspring: Smash
Great singles, but not sure about the album tracks. I'm noticing a pattern here.
74. The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
It's not my favourite Beatles album any more, but I think it was when I was a kid, so maybe that's why it's worn on me. I liked the movie, too.* And what's so precious about "rock and roll" that they should have been mindful of it? I've never been a big fan of the genre, particularly--I prefer what it turned into post-Beatles.
75. Sinéad O'Connor: Am I Not Your Girl?
This was when we really began to wonder about Sinéad, and we haven't really stopped wondering since, have we? Uneven, but has some good points.
And counting down my favourite songs:
438. The Bangles: In A Different Light, from Different Light
This album has continued to grow on me over the years, but this was one of my favourite album tracks after I first got the album. It doesn't feature Susanna Hoffs on lead(her voice sometimes gets to me), and it's got good use of metaphor, as well as harmony and propulsive music.
437. Los Lobos: Kiko & The Lavender Moon, from Kiko
Los Lobos go all over the chart for me, and I haven't really forgiven them for "Shakin' Shakin' Shakes", but this song's dark tone and unique musical accompaniment(french horns!)push it way above their typical work, and the mysterious lyrics complement it perfectly.
We never speak, we only acquiesce --Jane Siberry, "Dancing Class"
This album may be a bit uneven, and doesn't measure up to "Achtung Baby", but it's got some good songs, and shows that U2 doesn't rest on their laurels, anyway. Critics just can't be happy, I guess--if your first album is innovative and your second sounds the same, they blast you for rehashing, but if you explore the wrong new direction, they blast you for that. This may be why I don't really want to be a critic.
28. Red Hot Chili Peppers: Blood Sugar Sex Magik
This one I can sort of agree with, because while it does have "Under The Bridge" and "Breaking The Girl", it also has a bunch of crap, and "Sir Psycho Sexy", which I for sure can't play at work except on very, very low volume. The Chili Peppers have some great songs, but maybe I just need a greatest hits album or something, because I don't think they tend to supply enough for a full album at a time.
29. Macy Gray: On How Life Is
Another one that's just on my wishlist, not in my collection, but it got on my wishlist at least, despite Ms. Gray's horrible voice. Somehow it works just the same. Maybe it was overhyped to all hell, and certainly the followup isn't as good, but this one is okay.
31. Chemical Brothers: Dig Your Own Hole
They say, "You bought it because you like rock and would like hip hop if it weren't for all the rapping that tends to accompany it." Well, that's more or less accurate. Like there's a law against not liking the vast majority of rap music? (Is there much of a difference between Rap and Hip-Hop? I've always heard them used interchangably.) I just bought it because I liked "Setting Sun" and "Block Rockin' Beats".
34. Dave Brubeck: Time Out
I don't have this one, nor have I heard it, but reading it on this list made me take it out of the library, so there.
36. Prince: Emancipation
This one isn't on my wishlist either, because I think that out of the three CDs on this album, only one(I think it was the second one--the one with "Face Down" on it, anyway)was worth keeping. Until they release them separately, I don't think I'll be picking this one up.
39. Wilco: Being There
My biggest beef with this album(also on my wishlist)is just the fact that it's a two-CD set by virtue of being about ten minutes longer than would fit on one CD. I hate that. I used to think Wilco was badly overhyped, but I never really listened to them, and with this album I decided I like them just fine. And I keep hearing good things about "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" too. (I didn't like the one Son Volt album I listened to, so there.)
42. The Police: Zenyatta Mondatta
Doesn't bother me much, though I do like "Ghost In The Machine" better. That one is suspiciously not on their list, though they do suggest getting rid of everything after "Regatta De Blanc".
47. Smashing Pumpkins: Melon Collie And The Infinite Sadness
I just bought this one, so I've only listened to it a couple of times, and maybe I'm not going to like all of it(more like Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" than The White Album or "The Wall"), but "1979" and "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" at least will keep me listening to it for now.
Now for more of that wacky countdown of my favourite songs:
440. Pete Shelley: No Moon..., from Heaven And The Sea
I like this one for its incredible drum section, which frequently punctuate the song with huge bass or snare drum rolls, culminating in a psychedelic bridge. Shelley's lyrics are also pretty good, using the sea/moon relationship as a metaphor without actually explicitly stating it, except in the title.
439. The Proclaimers: Sunshine On Leith, from Sunshine On Leith
A wonderfully sweet song from the Proclaimers, which is mostly one verse repeated twice, omitting some lines the second time through.
You break fingers, I'll break thumbs; you play glockenspiel, I'll play drums. --The Beautiful South
The wiki is kind of novel because it consists of a collection of pages(this is not the novel part), which anyone can edit at any time, and anyone can add more pages to. At the bottom of each wiki page is an "Edit Page" link which brings up the text of the page in wiki format, which is quite different from HTML for some reason.
Wiki pages are keyed by names which are multiple words concatenated together, and all capitalized, like MontyPython or UserName or WhatHaveYou. And if you enter a word formatted in such a manner into the text on a wiki page, then it will link to that wiki page, if it exists, or will provide you a link to create a new one.
So in some ways it's sort of like the alt. hierarchy of Usenet at its heyday, with everyone able to create whatever groups they want. Though wiki pages' contents do not really expire. It's totally susceptible to abuse, as you might imagine, but it probably wouldn't be difficult to add a login/password combination to the whole thing.
There are supposed to be other wikis out there as well. The one above, the original one, is mostly devoted to computer topics, with toleration for some off-topicness. Something with a totally free topic set could be really cool. Or overwhelmed by crud, according to Sturgeon's Law, but nothing's perfect.
I had a couple of long-awaited followups in my library CD list this week. One was "Vapour Trails" by Rush, which I only heard about through Tom at unproductivity. He had all sorts of nice things to say about it, especially compared to "Test For Echo", as I recall.
Well, I'm not that keen on it, particularly. My first listen was at work, not under ideal conditions, because I had to play it on quite low volume, and I didn't like it at all, but I thought I'd try it again at home, which is what I'm doing right now. So far it's a bit better, but still not great. I'm not a fan of Rush's new heavy sound, and "Secret Touch" sounds like they borrowed Collective Soul's guitar player. "The Stars Look Down" is an okay song, though. It'll still probably end up in my collection someday, but it's far from a priority.
I was more pleased by New Order's "Get Ready", which sounds like a worthy addition to their oeuvre. When it comes to New Order I like best their singles, collected on "Substance"(and then not the really early ones--only from "Perfect Kiss" on, really), and not their albums as much. I think this is an above-average New Order album.
These lists always sort of vaguely annoy me. I have a book called The 50 Worst Rock 'N' Roll Records of All Time, too. I figure that the only reason to slag off on records you don't like, in public, to try to come across as if your taste is universal and nobody with any taste should like them--to say, in a word, that they suck--is to show off your vocabulary of vitriol, and your arrogance.
I have a fair proportion of the albums on the list, I must say, so let me discuss those here(don't confuse this with the other countdown, coming later):
1. The Clash: Combat Rock
Well, I was never that attached to this one--I think that "London Calling" is a more solid album--but it has some decent songs on it as well. I've never been that convinced by the argument that an album may be good, but it's an inferior album for the band. It can still be good, though.
2. U2: The Joshua Tree
You know, I can sort of see this one. I am getting to the point where I can't stand "With Or Without You", overplayed as it is, and there are a few undistinguished tracks on side two. But "Running To Stand Still" and "Where The Streets Have No Name" redeem this one for me. As far the reviewers go, they probably just don't like U2 and are taking cheap shots at their most popular albums.
3. Nirvana: Nevermind
I haven't had this album for very long, and frankly at one point I would have been amazed to know that I would later own it. But I think it's a solid album, better than any other Nirvana I heard, so I'm gonna keep it.
5. The Beatles: Let It Be
This is indeed a very uneven album, and perhaps not the best swan song(or was that "Abbey Road"? I can never remember which one was released last), but it's still got great songs. "Two of Us" is like a summing-up of the whole Lennon/McCartney partnership, and while the title track and "The Long & Winding Road" are indeed pure McCartney(one of the reviewers' accusations, because everyone knows Paul McCartney has always sucked), there's also "I Dig A Pony" and "Across The Universe" for pure Lennon, and even "I Me Mine" for Harrison. Sorry, I'm gonna keep this one, too.
6. The Replacements: Tim
I'm not sure where they get the ordering for this list, but I think it's funny because The Replacements also had a "Let It Be". And apparently most people think that that album was better than this one; I've never agreed. Maybe it's not as punk or hardcore or whatever, but "Waitress In The Sky" and "Swingin' Party" are great tracks, and "Hold My Life" punks out pretty well too.
7. The Police: Synchronicity
I'd have to say that "Every Breath You Take" goes into the same bin as "With Or Without You", and some of the tracks are just silly, but the title track, "King of Pain", "Wrapped Around Your Finger", etc.... Maybe it's not the greatest final statement of the band, but it's still a decent collection of songs.
8. Lou Reed: Transformer
The reviewers make fun of silly lyrics, which has never been a sticking point for me. As long as I can sing along with them, I don't care what the hell they say. This is not really a favourite album, but I like it just fine.
12. Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti
Okay, now this one I have seriously considered. "Kashmir" is the only song on it I really like, and it is in general far too heavy for me. A lot of people do consider it a great album, I have been fairly consistently disappointed in it.
13. Stereolab: Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements
I'd also agree with this one to some extent, though I'd keep "Emperor Tomato Ketchup", and will still try other Stereolab albums--but this one is too noisy for me.
14. Oasis: What's The Story, Morning Glory?
Oh, c'mon. It's got three great singles, at least, "Champagne Supernova", "Wonderwall" and "Don't Look Back In Anger". That's all I ask for in an album, really.
19. Beck: Midnite Vultures
Actually, I don't have this one yet, but I want it. It was such a turnaround from "Odelay" and "Mellow Gold", going totally disco, but still being Beck. Sort of like Ween in their better moments, being totally faithful to a type of music while perverting its core.
I'll stop there, and maybe go on to the rest of the list later, if I feel like it. It'll give me something to write about if I feel uninspired, anyway.
442. Gordon Lightfoot: Sundown, from Gord's Gold
Gordon Lightfoot doesn't quite occupy a ranking spot in the Canadian music scene for me, certainly not up there with Leonard Cohen or Bruce Cockburn, but he has had some great songs. This one I probably remember being played on the radio as a kid, but I still like it.
441. Stevie Nicks: Rock A Little(Go Ahead Lily), from Rock A Little
After the propulsive opening of the album, this song is more laid-back, and maybe I haven't quite figured out the story to this one, but it's got a great moody feel to it.
'Maybe someday we'll settle down.' 'Yeah. Like silt.' --The Frantics
Limegirl was the hostess, with her trust companion Forever North, though the event was held at an Internet cafe just off Whyte Ave. There was apparently smoking allowed, though, so I don't think it would be the greatest choice for the next meeting. (This is supposed to become a monthly thing...) When I got there(at 7:15, but that was the shortest turnaround time I could manage today)there was also a guy named Randy and a woman named Steph. Taz showed up after that. Steph was a writer and photographer who was interested in using blogging to tie them together, or something. I think we convinced her, though blogging was not the principle topic of the evening. That would definitely be Pop Culture.
Pop Culture discussions usually consist of someone mentioning a band, or movie, or TV show, or whatever, and then the various people indicating whether they know about it or haven't a clue. Then those who know about it(and like it--if you don't like it, you have to pretend to not know about it)try to convince everyone else that it's great and totally awesome and they should investigate it, if not go out and buy/watch/see it right away.
"Randy" turned out to be Randy Reichardt, whom I've known of for quite a few years now, and probably met at ConSpec. He was one of the organizers of ConText '89, the written-SF-oriented SF convention where I met Nicole, so I probably owe him something for that. He's also involved with some kind of a science fiction collection at the U. of Alberta library(where he works), as I recall.
Anyway, Steph and I had to leave fairly early because we both have small children, and by the fact that Randy has already posted about the meetup on his blog(unless he did it at the cafe)means that it probably didn't last too much longer after that. But it was fun, and hopefully it will happen again.
Though if it keeps happening on Thursday nights, it may come second to Friends once the new season starts. I wonder if meetup.com allows changing of nights? Or, for that matter, why does it have to be the same night in every city? Or every month? If you're trying to schedule 85 people, then there's no way you can fit it into everyone's schedule, so you might as well just pick a date and see who can show up, but with 6 people there's room to maneuver.
I forgot to mention last night that I finally finished In The Company of Others, and it did pick up a bit by the end. It felt less like a failed C.J. Cherryh attempt; there's no way Cherryh could have pulled off Malley's character, for instance. It's just not in her style.
Now I've started reading Voyager by Diana Gabaldon, third in the series(which doesn't have an official name as far as I know). It's almost on the verge of historical romance, but not quite, because it's got time travel elements which are dealt with fairly clearly, not just some kind of mystical hand-waving. So I am enjoying them, though I don't know if I'll be waiting on tenterhooks for the next book like so many other people I know(most of them female). So maybe it is a girl thing, but I'm enjoying them better than The Mists of Avalon, say, so it's got some guy appeal too. Or maybe it just appeals to the feminine side of me.*
Thinking of the pop culture thing makes me think there should be some kind of interactive list of interests out there on the web. You know, people could sign up and then there would be a big list, completely extensible, of possible topics. Band, authors, movies, etc. So you could go there and note down which authors you like, which you don't like, and which you haven't heard of, and so on for each category.
Actually, to be ideal these should all be on little cards that you carry around with you. You hand them out to people, and they interface with their portable personal computing device and you instantly know who you can have "That was great, wasn't it?" about, who you should avoid, who you can recommend, etc. (And perhaps it should subdivide into books/albums too--I like early Tom Waits better than later Tom Waits, late Beatles better than early Beatles, etc.)
Something like rateyourmusic.com is something like that, but not quite comprehensive enough, because it only does music. There should be something for the whole spectrum of pop culture.
On to the countdown:
446. The Beatles: While My Guitar Gently Weeps, from The Beatles
This one is indeed a classic Harrisong, so I don't think I need to say too much here; my favourite part of the song is near the end when he sings "Look at you all", and then is silent for the rest of the line. I always like those kinds of things, where the pattern of the song is broken to emphasize part of it.
445. Pat McCurdy: Oh Man I Understand, from Pat In Person
Another song from the obscure musician from Milwaukee; this one is made to be played live, because for full effect you need the audience to be singing "Oh man, I understand" back at you after each line. That way you can get a built-in support group. And the great thing about Pat concerts, as I understand, is the loyal fans(PatHeads)that attend most of them and know all the songs and can sing along with them as appropriate.
The only thing you've got going for you is your willingness to humiliate yourself. --As Good As It Gets
Fairly low-key meeting tonight, at Sue & Karen's, and outside because of the oppressive heat. They have a wonderfully shady back yard, with a garden that represents a lot of work both on their parts and that of the previous owners. They have a sinuous hump of earth running down the middle which, it has been decided, is a buried dragon. I think they should put some kind of smoke machine at one end with a remote control, just to complete the illusion.
We talked about collaboration, which was interesting because at one point there were six of us there--Sue & Karen, who share a house, Ann & Barb, who have been friends for a long time, and me & Nicole. And all of us had tried collaborating at some point, or were even trying it at present; furthermore, each pair had one member who wrote from an outline and one who didn't. I don't know if that's the ideal combination or not. I don't even know if any pair of collaborators do it quite the same--heck, I think most writers do it differently from other writers period, so collaborating should be the same kind of thing.
Nicole & I don't tend to sit down and write together, but either pass something back and forth between us, or even trade drafts. Okay, we haven't done it a lot, so there's not much to generalize from, but I just don't think I'd like working over someone's shoulder, or vice versa. Of course, I don't like writing that much anyway, or at least I never seem to be willing to make time for it. Have I started revising The Shadow & The Flame yet? I haven't even reread it since I finished it. I have proved that I can write if I force myself to, but I just find myself unwilling to exert that force.
Oh, well. There are more writers out there right now than could possibly get published anyway. If there's someone else who really likes to write, why should I compete with them for market space?*
My headaches are still not completely gone, and now I seem to have picked up Simon's sore throat and cough. It doesn't really feel like a cold, just a throat infection or something. It's very raw and phlegmy, and I'm constantly clearing my throat and still sound hoarse. My headaches were a little worse on Tuesday, so with the combination I stayed home sick. I'm sucking Halls all day again.
My appetite has fallen off a bit recently, too. I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing, a side effect of the antibiotics or taking too many Advil, or the result of throwing up back on the 5th, but I just can't seem to eat as much as I used to. I have to practically force myself to eat a dessert after supper, or even several hours later. And my servings seem to be getting smaller, too. It's probably a good thing for my diet, but I hope it's not indicative of anything more serious.
I didn't really talk about my birthday yet, I guess, since that was on Sunday. It was extremely low-key--I only got a few presents. Well, either the RAM or the Billboard chart book was my present from Nicole. Simon got me a kite, which I guess we'll have to take out someday and try. I was never very good at kites, at least as a kid, but I suppose we can try it. Simon has the book Curious George Flies A Kite, which may be where he got the idea.
My grandma got me a new dress shirt, which I already knew about because she phoned me to confirm the sizes. It might be a nice one to wear to Steve's wedding. My mom got me a book, Eunoia by Christian Bök. It is a strange book, since Bök is apparently inspired by the Oulipo, with their emphasis on wordplay over content. The first part of the book has five chapters, A,E,I,O, and U. And each of them is written using that particular vowel and no others. Remarkably, they all form fairly coherent narratives, if not necessarily excessively meaningful. At least, the ones I read so far, A and E, but I have skimmed the other ones as well. Really, it's a hoot to read, and I may add some of its sentences to my tagline file.
Then we went out to rent some movies. We ended up with "Gosford Park", "The Majestic", and "Fight Club". "Gosford Park" was a little hard to follow at first, with so many characters and so little exposition, but eventually we got enough clear to mostly be able to figure out the plot and what was going on. We had figured out one of the murderers, at least. Good acting throughout, I would say.
"The Majestic" was a bit slow, and maybe a bit manipulative emotionally, but it was a decent straight role for Jim Carrey. He hasn't quite pulled the Tom Hanks transition into dramatic actor, and I don't know if he ever will, but he restrained himself fairly well. Its final message, placed in the McCarthy Witch Trials, does seem to be particularly relevant in the disturbing climate in the U.S. today, though I don't think that could have been intentional from the movie's inception.
"Fight Club" will probably be Friday or Saturday. I've heard some interesting things about that movie, so I'm curious about it. I'm not sure what to expect, to be honest.
I haven't updated my web pages(besides this one)in a while, and I really should. I should mention Luke, for one thing. And I keep thinking that since I am focusing so much of my web attention on my blog right now, I should make that more clear from my web page design. Though it would be a lot of work and I don't think I want to do it all right now. But maybe a bit at a time...
Nicole wanted me to scan in some pictures of Luke(and family)to send to people. I took them to work, but as I rather suspected, we are still in the situation of having two scanners that we can't use. All our computers use Windows 2000, see, and the scanners don't work with it. I don't really need, or have space for, a scanner of my own, but I should ask Brenda how much she'd want for it.
Anyway, as I did last time I wanted to scan pictures, I brought the scanner home, and probably this weekend I'll set it up and scan some pictures. It did occur to me, just now, that I could actually try to find some pictures to scan and put up on my web pages. What a concept. I should ask Nicole to pick some out for me, because frankly my photographic impulses are fairly rudimentary. I don't mind taking the odd picture, but once they're taken, I don't really care if they go into albums, or if our relatives get copies, and which ones they get. All that I am willing to place on Nicole's shoulders, because she does care.
I don't know if I've mentioned that Simon's current favourite phrase is "What's wrong with..." If he asks for milk and I give him juice instead, he says, "What's wrong with milk?" If he wants to go downstairs and I don't, he says, "What's wrong with going downstairs?" And so on. It's the beginning of the "Why?" phase, I guess, with a different phrasing. I am sort of looking forward to explaining to him why the sky's blue, and things like that. Maybe not where babies come from yet, though.*
Sometimes, though he just says, "What's wrong with me?" And then I begin to feel like I'm a bit too hard on him. I'm going to give him an inferiority complex. I play all these hard games, like Chip's Challenge, on the computer, and when he tries them he can't do them very well. He complains, and I confess I get annoyed with him, peremptorily tell him what he should have done and why he can't finish that level any more. I hope he proves me wrong, because quite frankly he can't do a lot right now, but I bet he can do better than most kids his age, and I don't want him thinking he's stupid for the rest of his life because he can't figure things out right now.
Hopefully he doesn't take it as seriously as I fear. Hopefully he's still pretty resilient and won't be scarred for life. Hopefully.
On that cheerful note, let's go on to another installment of that countdown of my 750 favourite songs:
448. Blondie: Angels On My Balcony, from Autoamerican
I've had several songs from this album on my list already, because I think it's just a great album. This is one of the best, with a great pop melody, fairly low-pitched vocals from Debbie Harry, and some touches of harmony.
447. The Rainmakers: The Wages of Sin, from Tornado
The Rainmakers had a great wry wit to them, courtesy of Bob Walkenhorst's lyrics, and this one takes a humorous poke at religion. It's all in good fun, though, honest.
It's dog eat dog, cat eat mouse, mouse eat cheese, and cheese just smells. --Stan Ridgway, "Pick It Up(And Put It In Your Pocket)"
Imagine my relief, though, when I found the Island Directory, which seems to be part of a United Nations "Earthwatch" environmental program. It's not perfect, of course--for one thing, it omits all fresh-water islands, and some of those can be pretty sizeable. It left out, for instance, Grand Manan Island, in the Bay of Fundy, which last I heard was salt water, and it's missing the actual sizes for a number of quite large islands, which often I can find elsewhere. But it's given me a lot more data than I had before.
Looking at the island list made me think of the British island of Rockall. Rockall was, I thought, a fictional island created by William "Antony Swithin" Sargeant for his "Perilous Quest For Lyonesse" tetralogy. But Nicole told me recently that she had remembered that Rockall was a real island, though much smaller than what Sargeant had come up with(we both saw him on a world-building panel at ConText '89, the SF convention where we met). I also just recently heard that Sargeant had passed away, so since I was already in Google, I went to take a look.
And I found The Rockall Times, an irreverent British online newspaper which is published by people who may or may not once have visited the desolate island of Rockall(which is, as its name implies, all rock). Though they do have photos. At their site you can read more about Rockall's checkered history, more than you would expect for such an inconsequential piece of real estate. They also talk about a lot of stuff which is not at all Rockall-related, including such online quizzes as "Have You Slept With A Celebrity?" and a variety of satirical articles which probably make more sense if you're British. But it looks like it should be funny, anyway, even if not quite The Onion yet.
Still working my way through In The Company of Others, which I think could have used a good editing or tightening or something. Today I started thinking about how great a book this could have been if only C.J. Cherryh were writing it. Julie Czerneda is not pulling it off. She diffuses the tension with a ratio of two paragraphs of exposition to every one, unnecessary words in almost every sentence, and just general overwriting. It's entirely possible that I will not be voting this book in first place for this year's Aurora Award.
And now for the counting of the down:
450. This Mortal Coil: Drugs, from Filigree & Shadow
I like this version much better than the Talking Heads original from "Fear of Music", because it's got a beat to it and Alison Limerick's vocals are more powerful than David Byrne's. Maybe the Talking Heads version is more like a real drug trip, but that doesn't make it a better song, does it?
I had actually lost my liner notes for "Filigree & Shadow", but a quick web search, as always, turned up all the information I needed. Apparently Alison Limerick went on to have a career in dance music, which seems a bit of a shame after her brilliant vocals on this song and "My Father". But whatever....
449. Elvis Costello: Tiny Steps, from Taking Liberties
This was part of my brother's attempt to convince me that Elvis Costello wasn't all bad, after my initial bad reaction to "Everyday I Write The Book". It didn't do the whole job, but it did do some, showing me a slightly more raw and rough side.
There's too many clues in this room. --Gordon Lightfoot
You’re being contacted because you were a participant in the Blogger Insider. As some of you may know, and most of you probably don’t, Keith has decided to pull the plug on the blogger insider program. So, a few of us who would like to keep it going have decided to take it upon ourselves to start it up anew.
So, if you’re still interested in participating, please send us an e-mail with your name and current website address. If you could also forward this e-mail to anyone you exchanged questions with in the past, or anyone you think might be interested in joining, or even post this on your site if you’re so inclined, it’d be appreciated, thanks. And if anyone's interested in helping out, please let us know that too.
So anyone interested in the Blogger Insider concept, feel free to do as I did, email those guys(sounds like they don't have a web site yet, but I'm sure one will surface)and let them know. For those of you unfamiliar with it, the principle here is being assigned another participating blog(and blogger)at random, exchanging questions(usually after reading the blog, but not necessarily), and then posting the answers. I've found it very interesting, in general.
Then there's clix fix, an interesting blog review site that may or may not continue, but I think it's worthwhile and so I link to it here. I've always been quite interested in Clix, no matter that it's mainly just an ongoing popularity contest. Maybe it's for the same reason that I just bought a book of Billboard Top 40 Hits, 1955-1999, that I like to look at lists. In any event, at clix fix they review only sites that are actually participating in Clix, and try to get a Good(content & design), a Bad(content & design), and an Ugly(bad design only)every week. So far, anyway--it's only been up for a couple of weeks. And I know there are other review sites out there that I don't read...but this one said nice things about TranceJen's journal that I totally agree with, so obviously there's some commonality there. Until you find me there under "Bad", of course.*
Fans of Blowing Bubbles in the Wind may have noticed that it's disappeared recently, for reasons of domain registration kerfuffle; in the meantime, you can find it at http://www.sherina.gametribe.net/bubbles/ for a little while.
We are still managing to cope with Luke's presence. He's sleeping pretty well at night already, still waking up for a couple of feedings but mostly letting us sleep. The first couple of nights seem to be the worst, and after that they settle down. However, he does sometimes go into near-screaming fits in the evening, where nothing seems to calm him down. Nicole says it reminds her of descriptions of colic. Please, let it not be that. But that's usually not supposed to start until at least one month...
It all comes back, slowly, all the things you have to do with the baby around. Bringing Nicole a glass of water when she starts to nurse, because she always gets thirsty and she doesn't always think to do it beforehand. When changing a baby's diaper, always be prepared for extra contributions after you've removed the soiled diaper, so get the new diaper in place, or something else more expendable than your diaper pad/clothes/carpet at least. Leaving a receiving blanket in every room for wiping up spit-up and catching drool(though neither has surfaced so far). And so on.
I finally went to the doctor on Monday night to see about these headaches, because they still hadn't started to subside. He listened to my story and took copious notes(a different doctor than the one I'd seen about my ear infection last time, who barely listened before leaping to his own conclusions), checked my blood pressure(normal--so no lurking brain embolisms, at any rate), and then looked in my ears again. Apparently the ear infection is still there, though I can't really feel the pressure in my inner ear the way I could. He thinks that the headache is from that. It makes sense, because the last time the headaches died down about the time my inner-ear pressure started up, so if they're part of the same infection... I've got more, and supposedly more powerful, antibiotics this time(though they are smaller, more expensive, and I'm to take fewer of them), which are supposed to wipe this thing out for good, and if the headaches still persist...well, then it's time to see the neurologist.
He didn't think it was migraine, though, because while those tend to be one side or the other, they also tend to be felt in the front as opposed to the back. I'd be just as happy if it was the ear infection thing, which seems plausible, and went away in due course.
Though it hasn't really shown signs of diminishing yet. Last night I took my last Advil, but figured I should be able to stand it by now without painkillers. After all, I hadn't really been noticing any pain. Ha ha. By 4:00 this morning my head was the worst it's been since the morning after Luke was born. I'd taken a Tylenol when I went to bed, but it was doing nothing at all. So it was time for more Advil. Awful as I went, I got up at 4:15 to go in search of drugs.
I remembered going out to a Shoppers Drug Mart at Millbourne Mall late at night when Simon was small, for baby Tylenol when he was miserable with a fever, so I thought I'd go there. But apparently it was "OPEN TIL MIDNITE", not "24 HOURS". So I drove around the neighbourhood, despite the pounding headache in all four corners of my brain making me doubtless a wee bit hazardous. Well, I didn't get stopped by the police or anything. I also did not find one pharmacy open in the whole of Millwoods, or at least in the eight or nine shopping centres that I swung by in the next half hour. So I returned home in defeat.
Luckily, Nicole remembered her Tylenol-3, and I eagerly wolfed down a couple of those. It took a little while--I remember the delay in effectiveness from back when I got my wisdom teeth out--but soon there was only a remnant of minor discomfort, and I was able to sleep.
This morning, though, my stomach was delicate again, though not quite as bad as it was on Friday either. Apparently it's taking the Tylenol late at night on an empty stomach that causes the problem; noted. I managed to choke down a few crackers and a little bit of cereal, and eventually things settled down. And I went out to get my Advil. Good Advil. I could do commercials now, I bet.
I remember one Bill Cosby sketch("Toothache", I think it was)where he talked about taking painkillers that didn't actually get rid of the pain, just postpone it. Then it comes back with "little pain buddies" when the painkillers wear off. That was almost how it felt this morning. (He was eventually able to get rid of the pain entirely by taking Midol. And I did look at that when I was in the store...)
A couple of days ago my optical mouse started to spaz out on me. Now I love my optical mouse, because I hate cleaning mice. Edna at work is pretty good at it, but some of mine challenge even her(she tried when I brought one down to Calgary as a spare for the laptop). Our house is always very dusty, because we're pitiful housekeepers and also own many, many books, and all sorts of cruft always accumulates inside the mouse. But the optical mouse never had that problem. I put it on my dusty Amazon.com mousepad and it works like a charm.
But on Monday the little light at the front, which always annoyed me when I first got it but soon came to be a welcome sign of life, kept going out. And when it did, the mouse stopped working. Windows would go into "Unknown Device detected" mode and try to find a driver for it, screwing things up even more. Finally, I gave up and plugged in my old serial mouse, which worked not too bad but lacked some sensitivity, so it was sometimes hard to move it small distances. (I have a PS/2 mouse somewhere as well, but it's even worse.) At least I could point it at things, though. I get quickly frustrated with having to do everything by keyboard. I discovered how much I actually use my little scroll-wheel, though, because it wasn't there.
Today we got ambitious and went shopping in the afternoon(I was still recovering in the morning)for a number of things. A new mouse was one of them. We went to Staples(I am steering clear of Future Shop these days), and the guy there said he'd never heard of an optical mouse failing like that, which is somewhat reassuring. I'd hate to think that optical mice just bit the biscuit when normal mice would just need to be cleaned. Nonetheless, I did shell out the $6 for a two-year extended warranty which would allow me to bring in a non-functioning one and exchange it for a new one at no extra cost. Not that this mouse will fail like that, of course, but if I hadn't it would. (See, I told you--I'm an atheist, but at some level I do believe in malicious Murphy spirits who must be appeased by making extra preparations that will only be necessary if you don't make them.) And it's working fine.
I also got some more RAM. I had done the research to find out exactly what kind of RAM I needed, and today I finally took out seven screws so I could open up my case and see how many RAM chips I had right now. Luckily, I had one 64M chip, so I could easily double my memory by only buying one more. (From the sounds of things, a 128M chip is not much more expensive than a 64M right now, but I would've had to buy two...) I haven't noticed a major difference yet, but my email downloaded a little faster(the virus checked usually slows it down, I think). I still managed to crash The Sims:Hot Date after only a couple of minutes downtown, though. I need to check the web site to see if there's a patch or something, because that's annoying. But I'll have to try it playing with eight Sims and four or five guests to see if that speeds up...especially when the email program is downloading in the background. That's when it always seems to grind to a halt, and if it's because of memory this should help.
I also got another windshield wiper, so I can fix the other one on my car; some AA batteries to replace the one in the clock in the living room that has apparently been losing time at an astonishing rate(though we can never quite catch it in the act); a new mechanical pencil(my current one is a Dollar Store piece of crap, and I'm tired of waiting for the missing piece of my decent one to turn up); the Billboard Top 40 Hits book I mentioned earlier; and a couple of other books, Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett and a Caroline Cooney for Nicole.
I've been meaning to look up some of Pratchett's non-Discworld books for a while(after all, I'm only a couple of books behind him in the series now), but today when we were in Indigo we went to check the Young Adult book section to see how many of Nicole's books they had(a respectable number, as it turns out, and some of them turned face out)I happened to see the Pratchetts there. They had the Truckers/Diggers/Wings series as well, but I was never quite as interested in those. I hear those might be coming to either the big or small screen sometime, which could be interesting.
I spent most of Monday finishing A Storm of Swords, even there were a few places where I wanted to put down the book for a while, or even hurl it against the wall(which, since this is a hardcover, would have done some serious damage to the wall). But I'm not that kind of person. Sometimes, though, it seems that George R.R. Martin can be gratuitously mean. The good and nice and honourable characters are being winnowed out one by one, or sometimes reaped in huge swaths, it seems sometimes. I won't put any spoilers in here, but there's at least one major, sympathetic viewpoint character killed in this book, and in such a way that I was deeply shocked and troubled. I was angry, and if I could have killed the character responsible for the deaths, I would have. And these are just characters in a series of books--imagine if they were one of your family? But that family is almost gone anyway.
Sometimes Martin seems to be trying to demonstrate that cunning and treachery will always triumph over honour and a pure heart. The latter type of character die because of trusting someone they shouldn't. Does that mean that the lesson is never to trust? Is that really what Martin wants to put across? Or is he just making us realize how thankful we should be for living in countries where we don't have to worry about one faction's armies or another suddenly deciding that we're on the wrong side? Because there is no law in the kingdoms of Westeros at this point, only the rule of force. And it still feels like it's going to get worse before it gets better.
And the characters who seemed the most evil in the early books are now being painted a little bit more sympathetically, perhaps because from their own viewpoint they are nowhere near as bad as people think they are. I am beginning to root for the exiled Queen Daenerys to come in with her dragons and burn the bloody thing to the ground. She is certainly looking like the lesser of many evils.
I wonder how long I will have to wait before the next book comes out. I have a feeling I will be shelling out for the hardover of that one, somehow, unless we can weasel it out of Nicole's brother again.* I'm sure I'll end up going through them again doing character lists and trying to figure out the death toll per book.
In the meantime, the next Robert Jordan should be out this fall, and I expect that hardcover may well end up in our house too. Jordan's world is a bit more fantasy--the bad guys are nowhere near as capable, at this point, as the good guys, so you can see hope. In Martin's world, hope is rare and fleeting, it seems.
Martin's world has taken over my dreams, though. For the last three nights dreams involving characters from A Song of Ice And Fire(the official name of the series)have dominated my sleeping mind, or at least have been what I remembered when I awoke. The headaches, usually worse at night, added to my sense of disorientation when I did wake up, which was frequent. I don't remember Robert Jordan affecting me that way...
I hardly read at all on Tuesday, perhaps to try to clear my system a bit, but also perhaps because nothing would be able to measure up to the power of his writing and his world. I wanted to read more, but more is not here yet. And I didn't want to go and start reading Terry Goodkind or Steven Erikson or whoever else is out there these days. Maybe I needed some Pratchett, as an antidote.
But what I started was Julie Czerneda's In The Company of Others, which I am still only a couple of chapters into. She's a Canadian author, and this novel is nominated for an Aurora award this year. The voting closes at the end of July, so I wanted to get this done by then. At the rate I'm going I'll just squeak by.* I'm sure I'll speed up at some point, but now the Billboard book has been distracting me.
The heat seems to have returned. I think it was Monday, or maybe Sunday(I lose track of the days quite easily when I'm not at work), that it was cloudy and cool all day(with a three-second rainshower to make things complete). That was wonderful, truly. But the last couple of days have been unremittingly hot with barely any cloud at all. A bit of wind when you get outside, but that's all. Luke has been wearing just his diaper most of the time, because to put anything else on him would be cruel and probably turn him into a baby raisin in a puddle of sweat.
We do have the furnace fan on now, circulating air throughout the house, but I'm beginning to think that what it's doing is piping the hot air downstairs, because I'm in the basement right now and feeling quite prickly. Maybe it's the humidity, too. We need a good thunderstorm. Hell, we need a good week of rain.
We really should have bought a sprinkler today, because our back lawn is going to die out completely at this rate. The only water it gets is from when we empty Simon's kiddie pool, and that's in a big dump which probably mostly all runs off. We don't really care much about our lawn, but we don't want it to die off, because it'd be such a pain having to put in sod or do the Japanese rock garden thing. Though when we bought the house, the inspector told us that we had "negative landscaping", which basically means that if you dumped a huge quantity of water on our back lawn, it would seep towards the house. And we have thousands of books in our basement. So maybe if the lawn all died off we could call in the landscapers and get that fixed. I'm sure it wouldn't cost more than an arm and a leg, and then we wouldn't have to worry about that either.*
Continuing that pesky countdown(with a post every four days, Luke will be in college by the time I finish this):
452. Genesis: Tonight, Tonight, Tonight, from Invisible Touch
This is one of several songs in my countdown list that I'm mostly familiar with in a version which was shortened for single/video release. The version on the album includes a minute or two of stupid synthesizer & drum sounds in the middle that don't improve it one bit, in my opinion, so I don't blame them for deciding that was what needed to be cut. Phil Collins/Genesis can be pretty uneven, but this song is pretty powerful, and apart from that extra album bit is an excellent example of the trio working together.
451. Radiohead: Creep, from Pablo Honey
There are a lot of Radiohead fans out there, or maybe it's just that those who are are very rabid about it. Try as I might, though, I just can't figure out what it is about them. Neither this album, nor "The Bends", nor "OK Computer", has managed to convince me that there's anything to it. Apart from this one song, which is a masterpiece of musical simplicity, and lyrically manages to evoke feelings that I'm sure a lot of my fellow(former)social outcasts are familiar with, from the days when the idea of talking to a member of the opposite sex made you physically ill. The rest of Radiohead does nothing for me, but this song(which I understand was recorded in an actual first take)validates their existence as far as I'm concerned.
I was brought up to believe in nature over nurture.
Simon woke me up on Friday morning at 7:30; at first I thought he was the cat climbing on the bed, but no, it was the kid. The headache was still there. I'd had a Tylenol at about 3:30, and it hadn't seemed to have much effect, so I had some Aspirin instead. (We have both because I generally prefer Aspirin, but it's verboten for pregnant women.) That may not have been a good idea, because I ended up throwing up several times that morning, and of course not eating much for breakfast as a result. I'm not sure if it was the Aspirin on an empty stomach; it could have been something I ate yesterday, like the awful chicken at the hospital cafeteria.
Finally I felt well enough to consider leaving the house(though not without a handy bucket), and called ahead to the hospital to see if I could talk to Nicole. She was scheduled to stay for 24 hours, but when I talked to her she was apparently in the process of being discharged, as everything was peachy-keen. So Simon and I drove over and then got to wait around as the discharge process ground slowly on. But finally we were free to go.
My stomach improved to the point where I was able to have a lunch of saltine crackers and keep them down; my headache didn't really improve, though it was more focused on one side of my head than the other. And we started to settle down to try to find a new household equilibrium with the addition of this new element. It hasn't happened yet, but I am home for another week, still, so we will hopefully have to time to deal with the extremes first before I go back to work and we found out how our schedules will really shake out.
For instance, Luke was having trouble getting to sleep Friday night, crying whenever we put him in the bassinet but not really wanting to be fed, just held. Finally we gave him a bottle of formula(which fills him up more than the thin colostrum that comes in before the milk), and then at 1:30 AM, I got up with him and took him downstairs to give Nicole a chance to sleep. I finished reading Permanence, and then just lay with him in the dark for a while, and then at about 3:00 I took him back upstairs and he settled down in the bassinet without a peep and slept for a few more hours. Simon slept through the whole thing, blessedly.
Today we took Luke out shopping with us, which was fairly painless, at least as far as Luke was concerned, because he slept in the car seat and then slept in the stroller. Simon, though, was distressed at the speed of our schedule(we wanted to get home before he woke up hungry), because we had to skip several of his usual fun stops. We had had to leave a little bit later than usual because the public health nurse stopped by at about 10:00 to check a few things with Nicole and Luke. We do know a bit more what we're doing this time than we did with Simon, so the visit was probably shorter.
I did talk to a pharmacist, while Nicole was getting her Tylenol-3 prescription filled(for the "afterpains" that come about on second and later births when the uterus continues to contract), and it sounds like I may be starting to get migraines. That sounds like fun. My mom always said that she got them, though after reading Oliver Sacks' Migraine I wasn't sure about it. I certainly didn't get any of the more bizarre effects I read about in the book, just a painful headache. But the fact that it was mostly on one side is apparently a significant indicator, and is another possible explanation for the nausea. Anyway, she recommended I get some Advil, which so far hasn't had any appreciable effect.
The headache will probably fade over the next couple of days anyway. I hope so, because yesterday I really just didn't feel like doing anything, and today hasn't been much better. It's another reason I haven't blogged again until now. And even now I should probably really be in bed, in case Luke has another restless night. Nicole and I both had supplemental naps, though.
I did go through a lot of CDs this week, between the ones I bought and the large number of library ones that I had due today. I still haven't caught up with all of them(CD listening also not mixing well with migraines), but I'm getting there.
The best find of the week was Cozy Bones' album "Piss Perfect Hotel". I always think that band and album names with profanity in them are just shooting themselves in the foot, but whatever... It took me some time to track down some information on Cozy Bones, but apparently they're a band from White Rock, BC(southeast of Vancouver)who are quite well-known in their hometown, at least. From this album I can see why; it's a wonderful mixture of different styles, somewhat reminiscent of Collective Soul(whom I also tend to like). I think they could do really well for themselves, so let me plug them here.
I also liked Sheryl Crow's latest, "C'mon, C'mon", but then I expected that. I had some reservations about "The Globe Sessions" after the first two singles, which I didn't like as much as some of her others, but that turned out okay as well. Aerosmith's "Just Push Play" was pretty much what I expected, and it was decent but not exceptional. What else...I took them back today, so it's hard to remember. Front Line Assembly's "Implode" was uninspiring industrial/drum'n'bass stuff. And right now I'm listening to Ivy's "Long Distance", which is mostly bland pop, though the current song, "Blame It On Yourself", is a little bit more interesting. The lead singer is almost reminiscent of Stereolab, but the music is nowhere near as interesting.
I did mention reading Permanence by Karl Schroeder, which I didn't think quite measured up to Ventus but was still interesting. There was lots of neat SFnal concepts in it, but somehow the plot didn't feel like it took advantage of them as fully as it could have.
And now I am, gloriously, into A Storm of Swords(by George R.R. Martin, of course). I started it this morning, and I'm already 220 pages into it. It is not disappointing me in any way, and there have already been some delicious plot twists coming totally out of left field. It's hard to say whether things have reached a low point for the "forces of good" in Martin's world or not, but certainly the forces of selfishness are hampering them in their efforts to combat the actual evil which is surfacing.
Counting the down:
454. Rush: In The End, from Fly By Night
On Rush's second album Neil Peart's songwriting hadn't really taken over to the extent it did later, so they were still a bit Led Zeppelin-ish at times(though I didn't really listen to much Led Zeppelin at the time, so I didn't realize it). This one starts out acoustic and then goes electric, with Geddy Lee singing in his signature early-Rush near-shriek. Still, it's an effective song.
453. Rolling Stones: Sleep Tonight, from Dirty Work
This low-key track showcases Keith Richards over Mick, and presages his "Talk Is Cheap" album a few years later. It stands in good contrast to the rest of the album, which is often a bit overwrought and hard-edged. ...It's also an appropriate message for the next few days, I think. I really should get some sleep tonight.