More details, in case you're interested: I remember switching planes in Salt Lake City, and since I was only 12(or 13), and traveling alone, I got escorted by a stewardess to a special waiting room where I sat and read happily until they came to collect me for the next flight, where of course I got to pre-board. Not too bad, in all. On the last leg back, I chatted with a girl who was going to Great Falls, Montana, so the plane must have stopped a few more times as well.
I bought a lot of books in Arizona. There was a really good bookstore within walking distance of the ASU campus, with a great SF/fantasy selection. At least enough for my tastes at the time. I bought the Hitchhiker's Guide trilogy, which I had only vaguely heard of before; Jack L. Chalker's Four Lords of the Diamond tetralogy, which I had read two books of from the library; and probably some other Chalker and Anthony and stuff too. See, now I've forgotten most of it, but definitely the Douglas Adams ones stick with me. I think one night we got to watch the TV series adaptation, too.
I didn't really take much for courses down there--a Fortran course, and a "Latin & Greek in Modern Use" course. I've never used much Fortran, but that Latin & Greek course gave me a strong background in etymology that I retain to this day.
I never tried to get any university credit for those programs, and my mom never sent me back for another year. I think we couldn't afford it, though next year she told me that I was too old. Which was weird to me, because I wasn't, really, though I was already two years ahead of most of the people there; I was in Grade 9, a "freshman", when I went down there. That was where I learned about the whole freshman-sophomore-junior-senior sequence, which doesn't really show up in Canada nearly as much. I mean, I knew what they meant, but nobody ever used the terms.
I also discovered that math classes were done a lot differently, too. In Canada, or at least Alberta, we took topics from a number of different branches of mathematics every year. It sounded like in the U.S., though, you took one course in Geometry one year, then one in Algebra the next year, and one in Trigonometry the next year, or something. It still sounds weird to me, and maybe I just didn't understand how it really worked...
And that's it for me and the States. One day perhaps we'll go down somewhere for a Worldcon, or visit Nicole's cousin in San Jose, or go to New York and meet Nicole's agent. Who knows. I don't ever really want to live in the U.S., but I don't know if that's a rational decision or not. Certainly I have no intentions of moving there right now, but I never even considered American universities when I was applying. I could've gone to MIT or Caltech and really made something of myself. Or dropped out in disgrace after second year. I guess I'll never know.
364. Godley & Creme: The Problem, from Ismism
This is a really funny song, basically a huge shaggy-dog-story word problem that throws in exact numbers and improbable situations involving clocks set to different times and missed train rendezvous and all sorts of gimcrackery, droned on and on in Kevin Godley's deadpan voice. Not as mordant or powerful as some of their other songs, but still a great listen.
363. Sarah McLachlan: Drawn To The Rhythm, from Solace
I've heard Sarah McLachlan say a few times that she really admires Peter Gabriel, so often I can't help but think of her songs in those terms. The title calls to mind Gabriel's "The Rhythm of The Heat", but with nowhere near the raw power. Still, this is an effective song about succumbing to the mystical pull of the sea, so perhaps it also contains elements of "Song To The Siren".
There should be trembling, there should be sorrow.
Anyway, whenever I spend an evening out by myself, then I owe Nicole an evening of writing, which ended up happening tonight. Now, that wasn't as bad as it could have been, because Sharna and Nick were over, Sharna and Nicole making a traditional Dutch pastry which I believe is called butter letter, which is pronounced more like "boota letta" and contains a lot of ground almond. But I had to go out and do my Christmas shopping for Nicole in the afternoon, which I can't go into here because she reads my blog, so let's just say that it involved a lot of walking and looking for things in different stores. So I was tired when I got back, and generally vegged out, or wanted to, the rest of the day. I read a lot in The Nitpicker's Guide, for instance, rather than starting another book. Simon played his Magic School Bus CD, and I tried to keep Luke entertained, which is also not my forte. I can't wait until he can run around and play self-sufficiently, or even join in with Simon, which will probably be in another year-and-a-half. Maybe I should just keep looking forward to Nicole's parents moving down here, instead.
This place is such a mess. It's a hopeless pigsty. And people who think they live in pigsties are probably going to be disgusted at ours. We don't have big goopy patches on the furniture, or rodents running around loose, but apart from that it's like Rebecca Romijn's character's apartment when she guest-starred on "Friends" as the woman who was the incredible slob. We put up our Christmas tree on Saturday night, with the net effect of decreasing the usable floor space in the living room by a quarter. I clean the cat's litterbox about one-fifth as often as I should, and for weeks now it's needed a complete cleaning, but I haven't gotten around to it. I have dozens of tapes sitting on my shelf that I have listened to but haven't put away yet, and by this point I've lost track of just where they're supposed to go. We tried to find our favourite(and practically only)tape of Christmas music on Saturday night(Frank Mills/Roger Whittaker), but who knows where it's vanished to.
It's just so frustrating. I want another entire house where I can go and dump stuff from this house that I don't know what to do with. Maybe just a couple of rooms would do it, with plenty of tables for sorting things and shelves and drawers for putting things after they're sorted. But we don't, of course, have the space for that here. And most of the problem is things that get taken out, or just acquired, and never properly put away. Or thrown out, as they should be if I weren't such a horrible packrat.
But when I actually have a free hour, or(bliss!)two or more, do I clean up? Do I put tapes away? Do I try to organize? No! It's Sims time, or Lorenai time, or blog time, or something. And most of those "free" hours come at the expense of sleep time, in the evening. I don't know how long I can maintain this, though in general what eventually happens is that one evening I go to bed at 9:00 because I am so incredibly tired, and then after that I feel like I can start going into sleep debt once again.
After I finished my novel, I made up a little list of what I wanted to get accomplished in the remainder of the month. I don't know if I've managed any of it yet. Probably I'll try frantically to get it all done in the last few days of the month(and year)that I have off, when we get back from Beaverlodge. We'll probably be heading back on the 27th or 28th; I can't see my wanting to stay any longer than that, though my brother might have different ideas. Well, they can't ride with us anyway, with our two car-seated children in the back seat, so they're on their own for traveling, and they can stay longer if they want. Whatever.
Steve & Kelly are coming from Toronto to Edmonton by train. Apparently Kelly's brain injuries, suffered a few years ago, make the possibility of having a seizure a near-certainty if she takes a several-hour plane trip. She's willing to risk it going back, but she doesn't want to come out here for the holidays and then have to go into the hospital right away. I wouldn't want to risk it going back, either, but she says they don't have time for the train both ways. Well, whatever, it's up to her, I guess. Sounds a bit scary to me, though.
I finished Corbie a few days ago already, and...well. It doesn't make me feel good about the publishing industry in 1966. I mean, if somebody had given me a copy of this in a computer file, or on printer paper, and told me it was their NaNoWriMo novel, that it was a first draft they'd written in a month, I'd have believed them. It had no real plot, per se, though a few attempts at social commentary and vague hints at mythical allegory that suddenly burst out full-force at the end of the novel. By the time the main character's mysterious history is revealed, it's all too prosaic and I just, in general, don't care. Maybe in the 60's this all seemed profound, but it hasn't aged well, if so.
After that I read Reunion On Neverend by John Stith, which I just finished this morning. This book was a little disjointed, too, though it had its moments. The book seems to move through distinct phases, with different levels of tension, and hence different moods. It doesn't hang together well, the characterizations are a bit flat, and I think Stith did a better job with Redshift Rendezvous, or even Manhattan Transfer. Stith is sort of like Robert Charles Wilson, in a way--they have great ideas, but they can't quite connect them together into an entire novel. So their books are often interesting to read, but not ultimately satisfying.
Next up I'm going to start Glen Cook's Shadowline, first in his Starfishers trilogy. Cook is probably best known for his excellent Black Company series, and his pretty-good Garrett series, but he has quite a few others, including at least two entire trilogies from the 80's that I haven't read yet. This is SF, which is not his forte, but we'll see how it works out.
At the library I ordered in a copy of The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. My brother's been talking this book up for me for a while now, and I was taken by the whim to order it. For some reason, with the whole fatwa against the author, I thought it must be some kind of heavy-handed criticism, like Solzhenitsyn or something, but now I get the impression that it's more like a satire. I'm not sure if I'm going to drag it along for Christmas or not, but I'll give it a try, anyway.
I grabbed a huge haul of books at the library booksale table on Saturday. They had a higher concentration of SF paperbacks than usual. I won't list them all here, but it was certainly far more than I've read in the past week. This is why I will never catch up.
Oh, and I was very intrigued, and surprised, by the news in the latest Locus that the next Robert Jordan book, Crossroads of Twilight, due out in less than a month!, is supposed to "end the current story arc", and that the next book is going to be a prequel. The news astounds me, because there are so many plot threads left hanging at the end of Winter's Heart that it doesn't seem possible that Jordan can tie them all up. I won't spoiler them all for you here, but trust me, there's a whole bunch. Maybe that's not what they meant, but what else can they mean? Maybe they meant the next book after Crossroads is supposed to tie everything up? I'm just not sure, but I'm foaming at the mouth to find out. I may even buy the thing in hardcover. I will try to resist, because I think my name should be fairly high up on the library request list; I first put in my request in August, so I would think so. But we'll see if I can hold out or not. Because those hardcovers are overpriced and overmassive, and I really don't want to buy one. Still...
I went through a whole bunch of library CDs this week. Not just ones that were due this Saturday(!), but several others as well. I'm trying to keep from having too many piling up that I'd have to listen to over the holidays.
It started out to be a good week. I started with David Bowie's '...hours', which was pretty good, not as impressive to me as "Earthling" was, but still a solid album. I can't remember what song I thought was the best though; I suspect it was "Something In The Air", but I can't remember for sure. Then there was The Who's "Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy". This is the closest I've come so far to liking a Who album...and I suspect that it's mostly singles anyway. But "The Kids Are Alright" and "I Can See For Miles" are definite classics, "My Generation" didn't bug me as much as it usually did, and "Boris The Spider" was amusing. I still tend to like solo Pete Townshend better, though. Then there was Nerf Herder's solo album, which was...well, I think you'd call it "power-pop", and pretty decent at that. "Van Halen" was funny too, but "Nosering Girl" was almost touching.
After that, it went a bit downhill. Well, I didn't expect much from Right Said Fred's "Up", which I requested on impulse when looking for the Peter Gabriel album of the same title(same with the ABC album, as the observant might have guessed). It was decent, though it was weird to think that it came out in 1992--I keep thinking of the early 90's as the time of grunge, since "Nevermind" came out in 1991, but I guess it didn't take off, or dominate, right away. Garth Brooks's "Scarecrow"--well, I didn't expect much either, but I was curious after listening to the Chris Gaines album. Nothing particularly noteworthy on the album.
Then there was the much-lauded "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" album by Wilco. I quite liked "Being There", but was lukewarm on "Summerteeth", and this one didn't strike me at all either. All the songs were too low-key for me, I guess, and too lyrics-focused. The one bright spot seemed to be "Heavy Metal Drummer", which was a bit more upbeat and lighthearted.
What else... I had T Bone Burnett's self-titled 1986 album, which I think was the only one the library had. It was okay, but nothing great, just straight-ahead roots-rock. I heard of him mostly as a producer, and as Sam Phillips's husband, and because of his great song on the "Until The End of The World" soundtrack, "Humans From Earth". But I guess that was a few years later. The Get Up Kids' "On A Wire" was not too bad, though I had trouble pinning down any of the songs; I may give it another listen, since it's not due back right away. And Emm Gryner's "Public", another female Canadian singer-songwriter album, was not too bad, though again lacking a standout track, so might require another listen too.
More from my ever-telescoping countdown:
368. Traveling Wilburys: Margarita, from Vol. 1
This song has some great harmonies, although, like several on the Wilburys' first album, it sounds like every member got to write and sing a verse of lyrics, so it doesn't always sound coherent. Still, it sounds great.
367. Bruce Cockburn: Fascist Architecture, from Humans
I first heard this song on the "Waiting For A Miracle" album, where I think it's a different, and possibly better, version from on "Humans". Actually, at first it was my least favourite song on the album, but it really grew on me over time. It helped once I realized that the "Fascist architecture" of the title was actually a reference to the walls of stricture and control that had grown up around the singer's freedom of thought. It sounds more pretentious than it is, trust me. It's got a nice bass ostinato, which I tend to like, and an oblique melody.
I say, put Schrodinger in the box & see how HE likes it.
I notice with a certain weird amount of vicarious pride that ph8, to whom I have been linking for a few months now, and reading as regularly as I read most of my favourite blogs, has been designated a Blog of Note. This has meant, in practical terms, about half a dozen hits from people clicking on his list of links...which includes me, because I let him know that I linked to him. This has pushed me over 20 hits a day on my blog. Score!
I actually first tried ph8 from Clix, because I always checked the "Blogger" subtable, and he was on there. He had no banner(and still doesn't), so out of reverse psychology I clicked through, and liked what I read. And now I am reaping the rewards. I will be on the "Blog of Note" list myself in a matter of days!* All I need to do is, oh, I don't know...start posting again? Though my rambling, topic-bouncing entries are nothing like ph8's polished comedic gems. This guy should be a humour columnist in some online newspaper or something. He could be drafted by The Onion! I'm clever, too, and witty and fun...but just in a different way. Like the way I geek out about heraldry and dating simulations. ...What? I'm not cool? Darn.*
A few interesting links that I ran across while doing research for my novel:
Crow City. I was trying to find the names of members of the crow family, because I decided that that was how "Crocus" had named the planets, etc. in the solar system my colony world was in. The world itself was named Raven, which is, of course, the coolest corvid name. But anyway, I found this site, whose future purpose is, apparently, to "be a virtual crow world, where you can live life as the crow family member of your choice". With, of course, virtual roadkill for you to eat on the Information Superhighway. (Wow, that's probably an obsolete cultural reference by this point...was it Clinton, or even George Bush Sr. who said that?)
Rank Insignia. I was too lazy to go upstairs and look up military ranks in our encyclopedias, so I looked them up on the Web instead. This site is actually a .mil site, so it must be authoritative! For the American military, anyway. I don't know how much the ranking system varies from country to country, though in Britain they have Brigadiers and stuff...
Quantum Entanglement And Teleportation. I checked this at the last minute just to be sure that I was thinking of the right quantum phenomenon when I said "entanglement". It turned out I was, and there's other cool info here, too. I didn't realize that the polarization of photons was a type of "spin", for instance. Because that would be much easier to measure than the spin of an electron. This is on a Star Trek tech site, and it's full of typos and misspellings, but all in all it's an interesting read.
Other cool sites I ran across:
The Sobey Virtual Wall of Honour--Pier 21, Halifax. This is from one of the major landing sites of immigrants to Canada, where you can view information contributed by a number of families when they arrived, or later. Nicole's dad and his family were on here, which is how I ran across it. Well, I thought it was cool.
Fantasy Film League. This is like a fantasy sports league...except you pick actrons and directors. Much more interesting to me--of course, if I was into sports at all, it would be for the player statistics, so fantasy sports is more up my alley than watching the wretched things. You pick a director and six actrons, and then you get money when movies they appear in are on the box office top ten lists in US or UK. I am definitely going to sign up for this. Apparently the games run for a year at a time and start every three months, so there's on starting in January if you want to sign up. I did, and I can't wait to see what David Lynch will do with Keanu Reeves, Bruce Willis, Steve Buscemi, Gabriel Byrne, Gary Sinise, and Jennifer Connelly, starring in "The Black Lodge"...
I finished the Merovingen Nights shared-world anthology Festival Moon a few days ago, and it was okay. Obviously not everybody is C.J. Cherryh, but it did have Janet Morris, who...livened up the Thieves' World series, as well as all of Cherryh's "Sword of Knowledge" collaborators(Mercedes Lackey, Nancy Asire, Leslie Fish)and a few others I'm too lazy to check on right now. A lot of the plot was setup for future volumes, I could tell, with characters being introduced and then placed into situations where they could come into conflict with other ones. Cherryh wrote a framing story, probably after all the submissions(or at least synopses)were available, to link them all together, and that gets a bit scattered at half a dozen pages after every story.
Now I am rereading Winter's Heart, the ninth book in Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series, in preparation for Crossroads of Twilight, Book Ten, to come out in January. I'm also getting back into my project where I list all the characters in the series, though I still have to go back and do A Crown of Swords, and I discovered that I somehow missed two chapters of The Path of Daggers, so now I wonder what else is missing... Well, whatever, this is just for fun. I am once again enjoying the antics of all the characters, and speculating on what's going to happen next. It's just like candy for my ongoing-plot-loving mind.
I'm reading very slowly these days, though, with so many other demands on my time. Once I can start getting caught up on all the things that I put off while I was writing my novel, then...it'll be Christmas, and I can get a lot of reading done.
Though my brother and his wife(how odd to be writing that sentence...*)will be coming to visit with us, so it may not be quite as relaxing as some other holidays...though, I may hasten to say, still likely enjoyable.
Library CDs from last week...a light bunch, thankfully. ...Now what the heck were they? Ah, yes.
Yes:Tormato. I've become quite attached to "Drama" and "Fragile" since my brother introduced me to them, and I like "90125", but other Yes albums haven't hit me quite the same way. This one didn't quite make an impression on me, though I found it easier to listen to than "Close To The Edge" or "The Yes Album".
Silver Jews:American Water. I can't remember where I came across this band's name, which is a little bit odd; this album is a collection of quirky mostly-acoustic alternative pop, which also didn't really connect with me.
Coldplay:A Rush of Blood To The Head. I liked the first album(though still haven't acquired it), and I liked the leadoff single to this album. The rest sounded good, not as good as the first single, but what the heck, this is still an album I'd like to have someday.
Loudon Wainwright III:Attempted Mustache. I like Loudon Wainwright III better in the region of "More Love Songs" and "Fame & Wealth", when he has more confident musical backing. This is a bit earlier, and still fairly appealing, but most, to me, on songs like "Nocturnal Stumblebutt"(about sneaking a cigarette in the middle of the night)when he has that music b ehind him. The rest of them sounded more interesting in the liner notes and lyrics than they did when I actually listened to them. Not yet sure on this album.
Now on to the ever-more-prolonged countdown of my 750 favourite songs:
374. Animotion: I Engineer, from Strange Behaviour
Animotion's "Obsession" is one of the first videos I ever saw regularly, and their first album "The Language of Attraction" was one of the first I ever bought. This one, from their second album, is a much better song, still synthpop, but with more interesting lyrics. A lot of their stuff hasn't held up from the mid-80's, oddly enough, but it's nostalgia city for me, baby.
373. Sheryl Crow: Maybe Angels, from Sheryl Crow
The opener to Sheryl Crow's second and self-titled album has one of my favourite elements, the slow underlying beat which repeats through most of the song, incorporating a variety of unusual sounds. In that, it's practically Depeche Mode at first, but not for very long. The lyrics, about approaching the supernatural in a variety of ways, are clever and very singable.