Oh, and thanks to LenLowLand for the link to despair.com, for some amusement looking at their "demotivational" posters. Of course, these are the people who trademarked the frownie, so you have to be careful, but still. My favourites were "Irresponsibility" and, of course, "Procrastination".
On with the countdown, so I can try to catch up on my sleep:
386. This Mortal Coil: Song To The Siren, from It'll End In Tears
I've since heard the original Tim Buckley version, but I don't think it can hold a candle to this version, with the divine Elisabeth Fraser pulling out all her vocal artillery, trills and vibrato and just plain good singing. I like to pretend I can sing along, but that's when nobody else is listening.
385. Timbuk 3: Shame On You, from Greetings From Timbuk 3
This song has faded somewhat over the years, but it's still kind of an amusing tongue-in-cheek piece reprimanding people who sabotage their career advancement by not caving in to the commercial system. They've faded into virtual obscurity(or have they actually broken up?), so I guess it worked for them.
May Jo equal the fine record by solving six puzzles a week?
He lent me a program called Fractal Terrains, which I was going to use to try to come up with a map for the planet I'm using in my own novel. I'm not particularly impressed with it, though; I played with it for a little while, and maybe I just didn't come up with the right combination of parameters, but I have no confidence that I could come up with something that would look like a real planet to me. Earth, for instance(and what other instances do we have?*)has some big huge continents, but also a bunch of little islands--I couldn't get that to happen. Also, it wasn't very fractal in its level of detail, which somehow the title of the program had implied to me, but didn't carry through on. I mean, with a fractal pattern you get the same level of detail no matter how far you zoom in, and real coastlines are very fractal in that respect.
Also, like most other such programs I've dealt with, it doesn't do rivers. Rivers are very important terrain builders, carving canyons and estuaries, and more importantly, they are crucial to the location of settlements. But I have yet to run across a program that can put them in. SimEarth, which does create fairly realistic-looking planets but has resolution problems, ignores them entirely. The best it does is assume that they must be present in swamp and jungle terrain, because you can have Cetaceans there, like Amazon River dolphins, I guess. So I guess I just won't be satisfied.
Still, that level of detail probably won't come up in my novel. But someday it may be important, right?
Winter has arrived in earnest. On Saturday it almost looked like the last of the snow we had gotten a week or so ago might finally melt away...but yesterday afternoon it started snowing, just a little bit at first, but by evening it was starting to accumulate. And this was the evening that we had to make three stops--to pick up Peter, to drop off Luke at Sharna's, and then go to the Cult of Pain meeting. And then all three in reverse, of course. The sanding trucks had not yet been out, but things weren't too slippery...yet.
Now I will have to shovel this morning before I go to work, and hopefully many of the streets will be sanded. The residential ones closest to our hours will naturally be the worst. I think that Sharna took back her real snow shovel(now that they have a real house with real sidewalks), so we might only have the plastic folding one.
So I will post this update quickly, because of the shoveling time I have to allow, and you'll have to wait to hear about Simon's birthday party and many other things.
I will quickly mention that I finished Moreta, and I swear the two previous times I read it I just skimmed through to the ending. This time the ending, fore-ordained, seemed a bit of a letdown. The task that let Moreta to her death just did not seem important enough to warrant the legend that had built up around it. But then, one of the subplots in the book was setting up some of the loss of knowledge that plagued the Pernese in later books.
Now I'm reading Azure Bonds by Kate Novak & Jeff Grubb, the only Forgotten Realms book in my collection; it's been there for over ten years now, unread until now. I still wince at the outright references to D&D spell titles and the like, but so far it's holding my interest. It's not necessarily encouraging me to read more of them, though.
I came up with another nifty theme pack of songs:
Billy Joel:Scandinavian Skies, from "The Nylon Curtain"
The Stranglers:Mayan Skies, from "Dreamtime"
Dream Theatre:Peruvian Skies, from "Falling Into Infinity"
Mark Knopfler & Chet Atkins:Tahitian Skies, from "Neck And Neck"
and maybe even
Paul Simon:Under African Skies, from "Graceland"
but let's not get carried away.
I don't know if there's more songs out there to fill this pack:
Jon & Vangelis:Italian Song, from "Private Collection"
Rufus Wainwright:Greek Song, from "Poses"
The closest I have is stuff like
Ann Mortifee:Beirut Song, from "Journey To Kairos"
Bruce Cockburn:A Montréal Song, from "Further Adventures of Bruce Cockburn"
The Waterboys:Glastonbury Song, from "Dream Harder"
The Colourfield:Hammond Song, from "Virgins & Philistines"
Big Star:The India Song, from "#1 Record"
The Cure:Kyoto Song, from "Head On The Door"
Pink Floyd:The Nile Song, from "More Soundtrack"
Dead Can Dance:Persian Love Song, from "Toward The Within"
Groucho Marx:Toronto Song, from "An Evening With Groucho"
but I really would like to have one more with just "<Nationality> Song" for the title. Someone out there record one?
Some more countdown songs:
388. Christine Lavin: Regretting What I Said...(A Musical Apology), from Future Fossils
This is a funny and charming song(which has a very long "real" title, which I will not include here)about taking back a number of gruesome fates she wished on her boyfriend when he announced that he was going on a surprise ski trip. Light and frothy, but still witty.
387. Eurythmics: Julia, from 1984 Soundtrack
The sole filming of "1984" in 1984 had a number of issues, and so did the Eurythmics "soundtrack" which did not accompany it. But this song, with its multitracked Annie Lennox harmony and understated musical accompaniment, is a slow and moving ballad which rates among the Eurythmics' best work. Pity it's buried on this album.
Jaded zombies acted quaintly but kept driving their oxen forward.
Ian Hunter:Rant I was never a huge Ian Hunter fan. I think I picked up his "All-American Alien Boy" album on a whim at some record fair, extremely cheap, and I frankly had no idea who he was, but I liked the album title and a couple of song titles. Later on I found that he did the original version of "Once Bitten Twice Shy"(which I'd only heard by Great White); still later I found out he had been with Mott The Hoople. But I grabbed this album anyway.
So it was a pleasant surprise. I wouldn't call it solid, and Hunter's voice sounds worse than ever, but I was quite amused by the biting wit of "Morons", and "Purgatory" and "Good Samaritan" are none too shabby either. The rest of it wasn't quite as inspired or listenable, though, but all in all this was better than I expected.
Elastica:The Menace I remember some video by Elastica, probably from their prior album, some years ago, and don't remember much about it except that the band was mostly women. So this was another one I picked up on whim. This one, unfortunately, was not as rewarding, except for the cover of Trio's "Da Da Da", and that's just not enough.
Oh, and Tom was right in his recent comments--it was Neil Finn's "One Nil" I was listening to not Tim Finn. My excuse is that I've been listening to a lot of Tim Finn recently--well, at least three of his solo albums("Escapade", "Big Canoe", and the self-titled)passed through my tape deck, and his name just comes easier. Neil Finn was with Crowded House(or Split Enz, I suppose, but I never listened to them at the time), so he doesn't seem like he should be solo.
I was about 25 pages into Perdido Street Station, and still not enthralled. Then I went in to get my library card renewed today for another year, so I could tell which of the items I had out I could renew and which I had to bring back, and discovered that Perdido Street Station was due back today. I could get away with returning it on Monday, as I often do, but there is no chance I would get that thing finished this weekend. So I said, to hell with it. I may or may not read it again at some point, but right now I feel no guilt about abandoning it. This is weird for me--the last book I did this with, abandoning a short ways into it with intent to read it again someday, was Brian Aldiss's Helliconia Spring, or whichever the first book in that series was, at least fifteen years ago. I still haven't gotten to it, but I think next year I may get around to it. No, really.
2. On average, how much TV do you watch in a week?
I can calculate this pretty exactly. It'll be 6.5 hours once "24" comes on. Three one-hour shows("24", "West Wing", "Push, Nevada"), two half-hour shows("Friends", "Scrubs"), and five half-hour reruns("Scrubs")weekly. I begrudge much more time than this, unless of course I'm in Hawk Hills.* I don't even watch "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" anymore.
3. Do you feel that television is bad for young children?
On the one hand, I don't feel that, say, watching Granny hit Sylvester with an umbrella is harmful to kids, although I don't want Simon to watch South Park until he's well, about 25.* On the other hand, I don't want him to spend all day watching TV either, because it is passive entertainment. He spends a lot of time these days having imaginary conversations with Luke and playing with his toys in very creative ways, and you can't tell me that watching educational children's programming for four hours would be any better than that. So we let him watch a maximum of an hour...and that also includes time spent playing games on the computer. (Oddly enough, if he watches me playing computer games, that doesn't seem to bother us.)
My mother was born in Stettler, and my dad in Wetaskiwin, apparently. Though I had to look him up.
3. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer?
I believe it was a program to edit "Sims:Hot Date" downtown Sims. Before that I unfortunately upgraded to Internet Explorer/Outlook Express 6.1.
4. What's your favorite restaurant?
I'd say The Cheesecake Cafe, if the one on our side of town hadn't closed down.
5. Last time you swam in a pool?
Father's Day, I think, just before I got my most recent round of ear infections. My brother-in-law Nick, who's a lifeguard, attributes that to the hot tub more than the pool; apparently the hot tub is just like a teeming tub of bacteria, kept at just the right temperature.
6. Have you ever been in a school play?
Bien sûr, mes amis! Not only did I play Tiny Tim in some junior-high-school version of "A Christmas Carol", being two years younger than the rest of my class, but let us not forget Mr. Sowerberry the undertaker in a Grade-5 presentation of "Oliver!", Ariel in a Grade-6 abridgement of "The Tempest", and a production of "The Curious Savage" in high school.
7. How many kids do you want?
Right now we're looking at three. The third will likely wait until Simon is in school, so another couple of years at least.
8. Type of music you dislike most?
While I am not particularly fond of rap, death metal, or country on the whole, I reserve my greatest contempt for ballads wherein male singers promise to love some girl forever. I mean, c'mon, girls, they all say that, but how many of them actually mean it? Rick Astley's "Together Forever" also counts in that category.
9. Are you registered to vote?
10. Do you have cable?
Only first-tier; we can get the networks and few other channels without an antenna, but we don't have Space, Bravo!, etc., having abandoned them in a fit of frugality a few months ago because we didn't watch them that often.
11. Have you ever ridden on a moped?
I don't think so. I vaguely recall a ride on the back of a motorcycle when I was a kid. I didn't enjoy it much.
12. Ever prank call anybody?
No, I never got up to juvenile pranksterism in particular. Too busy playing D&D.
13. Ever get a parking ticket?
I don't think so. I know that Nicole got one at the University once, but I am in general conscientious and/or lucky. Never gotten a speeding ticket, either.
14. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving?
Bungee jumping...no. Sky diving...a little bit more likely, but still no. I am afraid of heights, and even the controlled fall of a roller-coaster is likely to give me the pallor of death.
15. Furthest place you ever traveled.
I've been to Prince Edward Island, and possibly Cape Breton as well; I've also been to Tempe, Arizona. I'm not sure which is farther from Edmonton. I've also been as far as Victoria, but I know that's closer.
16. Do you have a garden?
Not really. We have a patch of dirt which is separated from the rest of the lawn by a wooden frame put in a previous owner, and which grows weeds rather than grass, but that's the closest we get.
17. What's your favorite comic strip?
It's hard to call, but it'd come down to Doonesbury, For Better Or For Worse, or Bob The Angry Flower
18. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem?
I know one verse, but I don't know if there's more. There's probably more.
19. Bath or shower, morning or night?
Baths, never showers unless I am desperate and the accommodations offer nothing better. Either morning or night, no particular preference. Actually, afternoons, if I have the time.
20. Best movie you've seen in the past month?
It may actually be "A Bug's Life", but it has not been a particularly stellar month. "The Tuxedo", "The Last Castle", and "The Time Machine" all disappointed in small ways.
21. Favorite pizza topping?
Pepperoni. Yeah, well, mushrooms are okay, and bacon, but don't get me into olives or green peppers or anything weird like that. All of those before anchovies.
22. Chips or popcorn?
Either is fine. Popcorn is more often on hand, but takes more work to prepare, especially since I require a lot of butter; chips don't stay around long, but you can eat them right away.
23. What color lipstick do you usually wear?
Neon-Glo Rainbow-Brite Transparent. Why?
24. Have you ever smoked peanut shells?
I always heard it was banana peels. So...no. I can't even remember the last time I had to shell a peanut to eat it.
25. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant?
Yes, and I won second prize and $10 of Monopoly money. ...Men are allowed to take this survey, right?
26. Orange juice or apple?
Neither. I am fond of both fruits, but not fond of either type of juice. I like the apple-lime blend, and pink grapefruit.
27. Who was the last person you went out to dinner with and where did you dine?
Nicole, Simon and Luke were the last person I went out to dinner with, and we dined at East Side Mario's, a relatively new New-York-Themed(tagline: "Badda Boom Badda Bing!")restaurant that has opened up in South Edmonton Common. We order in a little bit more often.
28. Favorite type of chocolate bar?
I barely have one, but I tend to prefer either a Hershey's milk chocolate with almonds, or possible a Cookies 'N' Creme. I used to be partial to(at various times)Special Crisp, Mirage, Coffee Crisp, and Oh Henry.
29. When was the last time you voted at the polls?
Last time we had an election. I can't remember whether there was a provincial or national one more recently.
30. Last time you ate a homegrown tomato?
When I lived at home. I don't like tomatoes, but my mother made me eat them sometimes. We certainly don't grow them ourselves.
31. Have you ever won a trophy?
I think I might have won something for my portrayal of Ariel, but that was more a plaque than a trophy; same thing with a few Music Festival entries back when I was still doing piano. So no, I don't think so.
32. Are you a good cook?
No. I am an indifferent and unwilling cook who is often afraid to deviate from a recipe.
33. Do you know how to pump your own gas?
Of course, who doesn't? Finding a full-serve service station in Edmonton is like looking for the Moline gay district. Checking my own oil I'm shakier on--I can do it, but I prefer not to. I can wash my own windshields, too, but I always leave some dirty patches.
34. Ever order an article from an infomercial?
No. Somehow I knew they would never be worth it.
35. Sprite or 7-up?
These days it's more Canada Dry ginger ale, and before that I always tended to go back and forth.
36. Have you ever worn a uniform to work?
No. I don't think I've ever even worn a suit to work on a regular basis. Lucky bastard, aren't I?
37. Last thing you bought at a pharmacy?
Perhaps my foam earplugs, for bathing while I had my ear infection. Or maybe some Baby Tylenol for Luke.
38. Ever throw up in public?
Well, does "in my dentist's office" count as public? First time they gave me that flouride treatment for my teeth, when I was a kid, I swallowed some and it came right back up, with interest. Apart from that, I tend to opt for privacy for vomiting.
39. Would you prefer being a millionaire or find true love?
Since I've already found true love, can I take the million bucks?
40. Do you believe in love at first sight?
No. I'm pretty sure I've gone over this before, but I believe that the intense attraction you can feel at first sight is not love; it can lead towards it, but it doesn't have to.
41. Ever call a 1-900 number?
Maybe when I tried to register for the one-time-only Canadian "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?". I totally choked on the first question, though.
42. Can ex's be friends?
I don't have any, so I can't attest to this personally, but I think that it is certainly possible, though not all the time. My parents are not friends right now, for instance.
43. Who was the last person you visited in a hospital?
Nicole, after she had Luke.
44. Did you have a lot of hair when you were a baby?
You know, I'm not sure. I'd have to check, and if this is still here, then I forgot to do it.
45. What message is on your answering machine?
"Greetings, cosmic travelers. Nicole and Aaron are on an astral journey right now, but please leave a psychic imprint after the chimes and they will contact you as soon as they have returned to this spiritual plane." Or something like that.
46. What's your all time favorite Saturday Night Live character?
I have barely watched the show, but my friend Julia once showed me a tape of Toonces the Driving Cat sections, and those were pretty funny.
47. What was the name of your first pet?
When I was growing up we had a cat named Esmeralda, though I'm told that my parents also had some of her siblings, and maybe even her parents, at some point. We also had a dog named Cinders for a while as well. Now we have our cat Felicity.
48. What is in your purse?
This is an annoying question, and I will not answer it. My wife doesn't even bring a purse with her consistently any more. I thought about changing it to "backpack" or "pockets", but no, you will just have to stay in the dark.
49. Favorite thing to do before bedtime?
Do we mean "while awake during the day", or "between the decision to go to bed and achieving sleep"? I will interpret this as the latter. In general I sit in the bathroom and read several pages of my current book before going upstairs to bed. More than you wanted to know? Well, you asked...
50. What is the one thing you are grateful for today?
You know, I've never been one of those "one thing grateful for" people. Maybe it helps some people deal with petty day-to-day problems, but I can get out of ill-tempered moods without having to resort to that. Maybe I should be grateful for that. It's not like there's nothing I could be grateful for, but I don't feel like trying to pick one every day.
I think I mentioned that at the last dentist visit I was given some "remineralizing rinse" to take. Well, let me tell you that it's a pain in the ass.
First of all, I have to floss every night before taking it. This would perhaps not be so much of an inconvenience if I didn't tend to go to bed close to midnight with the awareness of having, once again, stayed up later than I really should have. (Not necessarily later than I wanted to, just later than I should have.) One night I'm pretty sure I forgot to floss, too.
Then, it tastes awful, and I have to swish it around in my mouth for 60 seconds. After that, I have to wait ten minutes before I can rinse the foul stuff out. So I can't go to bed and fall asleep right away.
Maybe twice, I have managed to do all this earlier in the evening, closer to 9:00 instead of when I went to bed. I don't normally eat or drink anything besides water during that period anyway, so it's not usually a major problem. It's just remembering to do it before bed that's the problem.
This better substantially improve the quality of my teeth, anyway. I better see visible improvements, huge shells of glistening mineral coating covering my teeth and protecting them from any and all bacterial incursions. Never having to brush or floss again. Or I could just do like Nicole's dad and get all my teeth pulled. No, I don't think so.
I might have mentioned earlier how they were doing construction on 50th Street for a while, mostly just doing things involving removing sections of curb near sewer gratings, and I think moving around the sewer gratings and then putting the curb back in. They did it on 66th Street a few weeks after that, too.
The net visible result of this was a bunch of lighter patches of new curb, and bare patches of dirt around those. Then, a few weeks ago, they went around putting squares of sod on them.
Now Edna was telling me about sod this summer, as they were putting some in their own yard. They had been instructed to keep the sod not just moist, or damp, but soggy for a few days until it took secure root. Well, guess what? The city people who were putting in the sod didn't do this. They just put them on and forgot about it. Now there's maybe two places where it's actually looking a little bit green--the rest the sod all died right away, and now they'll probably have to replace it next year. Unless sod has some major recuperative powers I don't know about. I admit to not being a plant expert. But it looks pretty dead.
And on 66th Street, they're still putting it in. It's been close to freezing for the last couple of days, very windy, and it snowed this morning. Why are they wasting money trying to put in sod? Are they just trying to make sure no weeds grow by spring? Then why don't they just put down some squares of green tarpaulin or something? It's enough to make me want to refuse to pay my property taxes.
When we lived in the townhouse in Lessard(on the west end, south of West Edmonton Mall)before Simon was born, there was a shopping centre on the corner which was really kind of sad. It had the Lessard branch of the public library, which was fairly new when we arrived there, and a very nice Chinese restaurant we patronized often, but that was practically it. It had the shell of a convenience store, which was never occupied with an actual store, though it was used once as a politician's campaign headquarters, and it looked like it had once had a gas station as well. The lack of a convenience store was annoying, but we coped.
Anyway, at one point they put a bunch of sod in there, too, covering up what had been just bare dirt. It wasn't a bad idea in that sense, but once again the sod was neglected and almost all of it died. So, again, what was the point? It's just stupid.
Edna also said something that her father had told her, about never mowing your lawn in September because at that point your grass is storing up energy for the winter, or something. This sounded good to me, because our grass had been parched all summer and really low-maintenance as far as mowing went, but by September, we'd gotten some more rain and it was starting to grow. I've just left it since then. It's kind of long in our backyard, but I really don't care; it's not too bad in the front yard, and our neighbours' yard is bad enough that our looks good in comparison. Lawn care is just not something I care about, but I don't want to get fined by the city for not keeping it up(as apparently can happen).
Now it's all covered with leaves, of course, and I suppose we should probably rake those up sometime. I don't care much about that either, but if I have to mow it next year it's easier if it's not full of dead leaves.
After I got my B.Sc. with Specialization in Physics(I had been going for Honours, but a bad third year, including dropping out of my Quantum Mechanics course, forced me to drop back), I got another summer research scholarship. I elected not to go with Dr. Schmitt that year, instead ending up with the Canadian Network for Space Research. Then they kept me on for a year after Nicole and I got married.
That sounds impressive, but it wasn't really. Their offices were in the sub-basement of the Biological Science building, where there apparently used to be a TV studio of some kind. The "Space Research" they were doing was mostly dealing with the aurorae, and how precisely charged particles from the solar wind interacted with the Earth's magnetic field to produce them. Apparently it's not a very clear-cut issue. It was a "Network" because the government had sponsored a number of places doing related research to work together somehow in their "Network of Centres of Excellence" program.
The only visible networking I ever saw was the Easter we went to Kananaskis and I saw some of the other scientists at other Space Research Centres. Some of them were actually working on things more to do with the space program, like instrumentation for space vehicles and such. But it varied a lot. Kananaskis was a nice place, though. We went up to Lake Louise one afternoon, though that wasn't as impressive.
Anyway, I was mostly doing programming there. They had a couple of parallel-processor computers, and they had a magnetohydrodynamic(MHD) simulation program that they were running which currently took several days for a single run. They wanted to see if they could take advantage of the parallel processors to cut that time down. So I looked into it, and discovered yes, they could. One of the computers had only four processors, and the other one had more, but the four processors were better quality so I think it ended up running faster there. Besides, the other one was a Myrias, and Myrias was a company in the process of disintegration. When I started, there were ten people at Myrias; a year later there were four, and there were many more ex-Myrias people already.
I also, while I was at CNSR, discovered the Internet, and Usenet in particular. I wasted a lot of time reading and writing newsgroup posts, mostly in alt.callahans, talk.bizarre, and alt.pub.dragons-inn. I also played a lot of Nethack--which was what had led me onto Usenet, via rec.games.hack. The workstations they had there were all NeXTs, and those were cool. Now I imagine they'd be antiquated and outdated, but at the time they were the highest-powered computers I ever used, and they had a Unix back end, so that was where I first started to learn Unix. I got to play with Mathematica a bit, too.
There were several graduate students there as well, that I got to know somewhat. I never really considered becoming one myself, though, because quite frankly I couldn't picture myself doing research. If I did, it might have been in astronomy, which was not quite the Space Research thing, so it wouldn't have been with those guys anyway. I also liked Sherwood, the system administrator, who introduced me to The New Hacker's Dictionary, and a whole new world there, too.
Finally, after I was there for a year, they got their funding cut and they had to lay me off. I kept my Internet account there for a couple of months, before Sherwood deleted it--while I was actually reading Usenet one morning. I managed to go in and salvage the stuff I had accumulated there, copying it all onto disks, and Sherwood gave me a lead to a friend of his who ran his own UUCP site, atlantis.uucp. It was very slow, though, and the groups I read were often several days behind...but at least I wasn't actually out of contact.
But it was working there that got me convinced that programming was really where my future lay. And I've never looked back since.
I listened to a lot of folk CDs this week, because I picked them up six weeks ago. That's the way it works for me, most of the time--I get CDs from the library, and they are due in three weeks. Often, especially if I pick them up off the rack, nobody else has requests in for them and I can renew them for another three weeks. And I am chronically so far behind that I never get around to listening to them until the week they're due. I suppose this probably abuses the system, but it's too hard to catch up. If I did, I'd slack off and fall behind again.
Be that as it may...I listened to three different collections, and there was a fair bit of crossover. One of them was "On A Winter's Night", compiled by Christine Lavin; one was "The Women of Kerrville", a collection of live performances by female folk singers; and one was "A Nod To Bob", a Bob Dylan tribute album largely composed of folk artists. I hadn't heard of Eliza Gilkyson before, for instance, but she had songs on two and her name was mentioned in the liner notes on another.
Being compilations, they were of course a bit hodgepodge. Often there were songs that were pleasant enough, but didn't engender in me a desire to hear them again. A lot of "almost" songs. I took the CDs back to the library yesterday so I have to go by memory here, unfortunately. Let's see, what did I jot down as good songs...on the "Winter's Night" CD, there was "Heaven" by Julie Gold, author of "From A Distance"(but don't hold that against her)and David Wilcox(the American folkie, not the Canadian rocker)'s "Frozen In The Snow". From the Kerrville album, the only one that really stood out for me was, oddly enough, Vicki Pratt Keating's "N.Y. 10/11/91". But there were a lot of almosts on the album, including Catie Curtis's "Dandelion".
The Bob Dylan tribute was interesting, though I am really only passingly familiar with Dylan, and in general don't understand what all the fuss is about. But I was excited by the first track, Eliza Gilkyson's cover of "Love Minus Zero/No Limit"(why a slashed title?), because I have finally found the source of a T-shirt quote I saw years ago and always thought was really cool--"Statues made of matchsticks crumble into one another". My life is just a little bit more complete for that. The Roches are always good, and Suzzy & Maggie Roche do a song called "Clothes Line Saga" that is more interesting, IMHO, for their singing than for the lyrics. Finally, there's what is possibly the best version of "All Along The Watchtower" I've ever heard, by Tom Landa & The Paperboys. It's kind of Celtic rock, but with a better drummer than most, and I'd take it over U2's or the Indigo Girls' cover versions, and maybe even the original. (I know Jimi Hendrix probably did that one too, but I'm not into Hendrix much.)
I do really mean to listen to more Dylan, but I can never decide if I want to try new Dylan or old Dylan. So far I've struck out on both ends.
Today I did try to get a little bit ahead on next week's CDs, so I listened to Tim Finn's "One Nil". I hadn't been keeping track of his new albums, but I liked Crowded House a lot, and "Try Whistling This" is pretty good, even if I still can't pick out any particular songs. This one involved Wendy & Lisa, as well as Sheryl Crow, though I wasn't sure how much of an effect they had on the sound. It did include a couple of songs that rock out a little bit more, which is good--I can only take so much of the slow, moody almost-acoustic singer-songwriter stuff. Definitely a wishlist item.
I finally finished Divine Intervention last night, just in time to take it back to the library. It was okay, but it didn't quite gel for me. It did, however, do a good job of combining a fast-moving plot with lots of scientific speculation, about such disparate topics as semiconductor-based intelligence and reverse-time-arrow future sentience, as well as thrilling SF-enhanced scenes like being trapped in an airlock with air pressure steadily increasing, or fighting with bows and arrows on the outside of a spaceplane. So it had some great moments, and some clever writing, but overall didn't quite live up to its promise.
Now I've started rereading Gateway by Frederik Pohl. I can't remember how long ago I read this, but at least ten years by now, and possible more like fifteen, putting it back in high school. I initially put it on my reread list when I was in the middle of reading the next book in the series, Beyond The Blue Event Horizon, because a few years had passed in between and I'd forgotten most of the first book. I did that kind of thing a lot, before I realized that by the time I finished reading the second book, the author had generally refreshed your memory of what had happened in the first book. But it's still a great book, probably better than the rest of the series, and worth a reread.
I'm also bringing Azure Bonds, my only Forgotten Realms book, also purchased many years ago, The Mask of Timeby Marius Gabriel, a gift from my grandmother several years ago that I have not yet gotten around to reading, and Elsewhere by Will Shetterly, from my "Echo" list of people that used to be associated with the Fidonet SF Echo--in this case, Shetterly is a Minneapolis-area author and friend of Echo constants Pamela Dean and Patricia Wrede. I'm phasing out the Echo slot in my schedule, but this is still in there.
At the library, I also grabbed a couple of paperbacks. One was Naked Came The Phoenix, another book in the tradition of Naked Came The Manatee, with each chapter by a different author. This one is female authors, though, as opposed to Florida authors, so things might turn out better. Or at least different. Then there's the new James Alan Gardner, Trapped. We're big Gardner fans in this house, and his Festina Ramos books are always bang-up reads. What is annoying, though, is that the Coles bookstore in the mall doesn't have the book yet...but the library does, even though it was just due out this month. Maybe it's time for another Chapters run...though since they're owned by the same company, it's not going to do them much damage.
Downing the count once again...
396. The Replacements: Waitress In The Sky, from Tim
It took me many listens to this song to figure out that Paul Westerberg is just dissing airline stewardesses. It was funnier before I knew that, but it's still nice and jaunty, and it's a change from rockers bemoaning airlines that break their guitars.*
395. Prefab Sprout: Don't Sing, from Swoon
From before Prefab Sprout started to get all airy and ethereal, this song from their first album is a bit more energetic. I don't know particularly what Paddy McAloon is talking about--"whiskey priests" is a recurring item--but it's fun to listen to.
It's so fresh, you'll sue it for sexual harassment!