1. Do you care for poetry? Do you have a favourite poem? Care to share some of it?
I've never been much for poetry. I will almost always tend to like rhymed and metered verse over free verse, because sometimes it seems that everybody thinks they can write free verse, when in fact it's probably crap. Of course, it's easy to write doggerel as well, but then at least you have crap that rhymes.* Also, I just tend to have greater difficulty parsing poetic writing, compared to prose. I look at a paragraph, and I can read it quickly as a series of sentences...but a sequence of lines in a stanza will flummox me every time.
I do like a few poets, though. Because of early exposure to "Cats", I've always had a soft spot for T.S. Eliot, and I quite like "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and, of course, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. There's also Ogden Nash, because he's often funny, occasionally Edgar Allan Poe, and Lewis Carroll(though I've never made it through "The Hunting of The Snark"). Maybe a few Robert Frosts. There's the occasional other one I've run across, but I'll go with "Prufrock" as my favourite.
I can quote a few lines, like "I grow old, I grow old/I will wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled", and of course "I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each/I do no think they will sing for me". Both possibly paraphrased. I'm sure the rest of it is on the Net somewhere.
This doesn't count song lyrics, because IMHO those are different. Though there's a great poem read over the track "Upon This Earth" by David Sylvian, on his "Gone To Earth" album, which might count. A quick Google search(god, I love Google!)reveals that this is Robert Graves's "The Foreboding", and goes:
Looking by chance into the open window,
I saw my own self seated there
Gaze abstracted, furrowed forehead, unkempt hair.
I thought that I had suddenly come to die,
And to a cold corpse this was my farewell
Until a pen moved slowly on paper, and tears fell.
He had written a name, yours, in printed letters,
One word on which bemusedly to pore. [I always had trouble making out that line in the song...]
No protest, no desire; your naked name, nothing more.
Would it be tomorrow, would it be next year?
The vision was not false, this much I knew;
And I turned angrily from the open window, aghast at you.
Why never a warning, either by word or look,
That the love you cruelly gave me could not last?
Already it was too late,
The bait swallowed, the hook fast.
Yeah, that's the stuff. Maybe I need to listen to it read out loud more, or something.
2. What does it take to "rock your world"?
I'm not quite sure what this means, actually. Something that makes me feel really good, perhaps...? (Where's a Random House Unabridged Dictionary when you need one!) Taking that interpretation, let me say that listening to most of the songs in my top 20 would probably do it, sometimes literally. Reading a really good book, watching a really good TV show... But that's too general, isn't it? This question, I don't like that much. Ask what you mean.
3. Have you ever done anything that landed you in financial trouble? Has somebody else's action ever caused you financial ruin? What happened?
Well, the most dangerous thing, I think, was when we bought my dad's car. He had a '94 Mercury Topaz that he was getting rid of, and for some reason I had it in my head that he was offering it to us for $3000. Even when he sent us an official appraisal, showing us that it was worth $6500, we didn't clue in. We had scraped up $3000--at the time, we were renting a condo, I had been at Joseki about a year, and Nicole may have been working at Blockbuster Video--and then Dad asked, "Where's the rest?" Well, we agreed to pay him off in installments, but he needed the money too, and eventually we had to take out a bunch of money on our Visa to pay off the rest. It was our mistake, really.
And then, most annoyingly, a few months later, I think even before we'd finished paying Dad for it, I rear-ended a pickup truck on the way to work, and it ended up being a write-off. It wasn't even that badly damage--I would never had used the word "totaled" for it, but apparently a few too many things under the hood, like the air conditioning(which, on some days in our short hot summer, I would really like to have again), were broken. Luckily we got close to $6000 for it, and eventually bought the '92 Dodge Spirit that we are still driving. It's okay, but I still think Ford cars have better heaters.
At the time of the accident, I was in rehearsal for the Walterdale Theatre production of "Ivanov". In a fit of epimethean lack of foresight, we had decided, when insuring the '94 Topaz, to not get the "loss of use" coverage...which would have, basically, paid for a rental car for us until the car was fixed, or possibly even until we got a new one. So I got lots of rides(luckily, the director lived reasonably nearby), and rode the bus a bunch of times, because it took us weeks to be able to get around to car shopping, even once we had the money.
Nobody else has really done much to us, unless you count the cretin at Vectoron who fired me two months after hiring me just to keep me from working for a different department. After we had moved from Grande Prairie down to Edmonton for the job(at least they still paid for our move). But that still wasn't "ruin", just setback.
4. Take a stroll down memory lane. There is a song, that every time you hear it, you think of this one person. What's the song, who is the person, and what memories does it conjure up?
Oh, there are dozens of them. I tend to associate people with music, songs or entire albums. Julia comes up in my head whenever I listen to Danny Wilson's "Meet Danny Wilson", The Cure's "Head On The Door" or "Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me", Malcolm McLaren's "Madam Butterfly", Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind", or The Nails' "88 Lines About 44 Women". Mike comes up when I listen to Tom Waits's "Bone Machine" or REM's "Monster". My brother has exposed me to so much music that it would be hard to pick just one, though Philip Glass would definitely do it. Trish turned me on to The Welfare $tarlets, and I remember seeing some more local people like Karl Roth and Bobby Cameron with her. Jody comes up with The The, Talking Heads' "Naked", Mike Oldfield's "Crises", "Five Miles Out", or "Q.E.2", anything by The Housemartins, or Shriekback's "Care". Jeremy--anything by Iron Maiden, among many others. Peter--Rush's "Hemispheres", "Signals", "Moving Pictures", or "Permanent Waves". Strange Advance makes me think of Kevin. Public Enemy's "She Watch Channel Zero" I remember a bunch of my brother's friends hanging out. Blue Peter's "Don't Walk Past" brings to mind a morning at my brother's waiting for him to wake up. T'Pau's self-titled album, and Club Nouveau's "Life, Love & Pain" make me think of Aaron Bielish, who recommended them to me. And so on. I have many associations for people I only know from the Net, where sometimes it's all that I remember about them...
5. Are there any occasions when you feel like you are missing out on something that everyone else seems to enjoy?
What, like reality TV? No, I already ranted about that one. In general, either I am grateful for all the time/money that I am saving compared to those poor slobs who watch sports/drink beer/whatever. Sometimes, if something gets popular enough without my being able to understand why, I will start to dislike it just on principle. That happened with "The X-Files", for instance. And when Jeremy, Dave and all their friends, even my brother at times, were obsessed with the game "Wing Commander".
I guess "Buffy" is the only thing I feel like I'm missing out on right now...I don't have the time to get into it, to even start watching it, but it sounds like something I would really enjoy.
6. What phrases "push your buttons" and why?
I'm pretty tolerant of these things, phrases and idioms. I try to be a descriptive grammarian, not a prescriptive one--not "Look what they're doing to the language now!" but "What an interesting new usage!" There are some "jokes" that really make me grit my teeth, though. Mostly they bug me because they rely on ignorance of etymology. Geeky, huh? A prime example is "If pro is the opposite of con, is progress the opposite of Congress?" Stand-up comedians come up with these things, and then everybody promulgates them. Or "Carpe Diem--seize the fish", which is just based on ignorance of Latin. (Though somehow "Illegitimi non carborundum--Don't let the bastards grind you down" doesn't bother me.)
I liked it in The Last Hero where Rincewind suggested their slogan should be "Morituri Nolumus Mori". Which is real, honest-to-god Latin for "We who are about to die do not wish to die."
7. Do you believe in life after death? What do you believe happens when our time is up?
At the moment what I believe is that there is little to no evidence for life after death...but it makes a whole lot of sense for people to postulate that there must be. For one thing, death is scary, and often seems senseless, or unfair. So to conclude, first, that death is not a real ending, that somehow life continues, is very reassuring, and so would be handy in that way. And then, of course, if you can use a "good" afterlife as a reward for a "good" life, and a "bad" afterlife as a punishment for a "bad" life, as judged by whatever moral precepts you happen to have, then you can make your meme complex really catch on.
Bonus Question: Everybody's talking all this stuff about me why don't they just let me live?
Probably because you're a public figure, which is tantamount to surrendering control over your privacy. Also, because you're a role model, you have to live to a higher standard than average anonymous people, because people look to you for cues on how to behave. That's probably at least part of it, but I'm sure there are many other reasons.
My wife and I often do the "Bacon chain" game, trying to link actors and actresses(or "actrons", as I like to call them generically)by way of the movies they've been in.
Tonight we tried something a little different--the "Endless Bacon Chain". In this, you start with an arbitrarily selected actron, and then try to see how long a chain you can make without duplicating an actron or a movie. So you could go, like:
1: Kurt Russell.
2: Madeline Stowe, from "Unlawful Entry".
3: Drew Barrymore, from "Bad Girls".
4: Steve Zahn, from "Riding In Cars With Boys"
Etc., until finally you give up because you've reached someone with no remaining links. Consulting reference materials is allowable, but only in positions of difficulty. We didn't keep count of the length of our chain, but we came up with a pretty damn long one. We missed a few people, like Keanu Reeves, but it's not a perfect system. We also managed to include four cast members from "Friends".
I've been working on my own little movie database, for work on Bacon Chain projects, like the standard chains, and the "Bacon box" proposed by Matt Enlow, where you select N actrons who have each starred in movies with each other. I talked about this one before, and am too lazy to go look up the reference. I think I managed to get a good set with Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, and possibly Rick Moranis all starring in movies with each other; other sets have proved more elusive, and I haven't gotten above four. But then, my database is far from complete. I wish I could just download it from IMDB, and winnow out the stuff I don't want. Maybe I should try to automate a program to do that...nah, too much work. I'm not that lazy.
Here are some of the foursomes I've got, anyway--you fill in the movies, if you want:
Barbara Hershey, Dianne Wiest, Jeff Goldblum, Peter Falk
Bruce Willis, Harvey Keitel, Jon Lovitz, Steve Buscemi
Bill Pullman, Carrie Fisher, Tom Hanks, John Candy
Andie McDowell, Bruce Willis, John Travolta, Madeline Stowe
Joe Pesci, Kevin Costner, Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro
Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore, Tommy Lee Jones, William H. Macy
Ethan Hawke, Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman, Robin Williams
Al Pacino, Christopher Plummer, Dennis Quaid, Ed Harris
I've got more, but those should do you for a start...
On to the countdown:
352. Queen: Funny How Love Is, from Queen II
When I listened to Queen albums a lot as a kid, I usually skipped the first two, since I didn't like them as much. I've still never really gotten into them, but this one song stuck with me. The lyrics are clever and catchy, and the sampled guitar work is pretty cool to listen to.
351. Brian Eno: The Great Pretender, from Taking Tiger Mountain(By Strategy)
This is one of those albums my brother got me to listen to(so is the above, for that matter), and I thank him for it. It's hard to pick out individual songs, but this one is a great combination of music and lyrics. I could probably do without the several seconds of electronic crickets at the end, though.
I'd like a Slow Comfortable Screw On The Beach With An Orgasm....
At one point, when I was googling for "Horvendile", which had turned up on the NaNoWriMo web site(as the title of the allegedly longest novel for some time, whose excerpt consisted of one pejorative sentence repeated over and over), I ran across Ralf Hildebrandt's site, where he has annotations for all the Sandman issues(and a few other comics as well). But I knew that I had to finish writing my novel first...and then there were other books I wanted to read...but now I have thrown caution to the winds. (Oh, hang on--on Neil's site I found a more up-to-date link to the Sandman annotation project. The other one must be an out-of-date mirror?)
What I've been doing is reading the issues normally, and then later coming back and going through the annotations. I've learned a few interesting things, and have even found a few more that I could contribute. Some of the things I found were, for instance, printing mistakes in the original comic versions that were corrected in the trade paperbacks, word balloons missing or covered over with lace overlays. There are also a lot of thing that seem really obvious, to me at least, like, well, an explanation of "jack-o-lantern". I guess it's not culturally universal, but among the people who are likely to read Sandman?
"Sandman" is one of the comics I reread regularly. Others include "Grimjack", "X-Men"(though my collection of that is far from complete), "Cerebus", "Love & Rockets", and sometimes "Dreadstar" and "Silver Surfer"(the later series that started with Steve Englehart writing). I haven't done any of them in a while, though, just lacking the urge--once I even wandered around looking at the comics(which I have sitting in magazine files on the top of my bookshelves)and trying to summon up the impulse to reread one of them, but to no avail.
Now, though, it's been taking up almost all my computer time, doing the annotations. It seems to take as long to go through the annotations as it does to read the comic in the first place, for instance.
I have still been managing to make decent progress in my current book, though, which means that I chose right. I picked Mirabile by Janet Kagan...which impetus also came from the NaNoWriMo web site, when I spied Kagan herself in an online forum. Mirabile is really a collection of stories, mostly published in Asimov's, where I read them originally. As such, it's not quite up to her full-fledged novels, Hellspark and Uhura's Song, but it's still a rip-roaring good read.
The basic setup is the titular colony world, where humans landed some time ago after traveling in a(or more than one?)generation ship, packed with triply-redundant encoded genetic samples of Earth animals. By triply-redundant, I mean that the DNA for some creatures would be included in the "unused" sections of others. This might lead to things like dandelions hatching dragonflies, or weird hybrid creatures called "Dragon's Teeth" appearing, as the environmental context changes.
Our main character, Annie Jason Masmajean, is a jason(everyone has an occupation as their middle name), whose career is tracking down Dragon's Teeth, trying to stabilize existing species, trying to deal with the existing Mirabilan biosphere, and whipping up creatures from genetic samples. Each story takes a slightly new tack, and there are many other common characters running through the book, whose individual stories make more sense when you read things in order and close together. So I would recommend it, too, though it's not in my all-time top ten like Hellspark.
I did manage to finish The Satanic Verses early in the new year. I stand by my earlier appraisal of "interesting, but not compelling". And I wouldn't think it would be worth a fatwa, either. But then, I'm not a Muslim.
After Mirabile it'll probably be into Terry Pratchett's Maurice And His Educated Rodents, out from the library; if I'm still rereading Sandman, and I probably will be, then I will have both of the Good Omens authors going at once...
By the way, twice, in writing this post(in Wordpad, as always), I went into the Blogger interface to see if I had written about Mirabile or Horvendile before. I love that little search box on the edit screen. I don't know what other people use it for, but I, mostly, use it to keep from repeating myself too much.
Nicole and I went to see "The Two Towers", finally, this weekend. Separately. That is, I went on Friday night, and she went out Sunday afternoon.
It's not ideal, but it worked. Simon was asleep, and Luke close to his bedtime, when I went out to the 9:30 show(coming home at 1:00 AM), and Luke took his nap and Simon played on the computer while Nicole was out today. I had to do dishes, though.
Anyway, the movie was good, though "The Two Towers" was never my favourite book from the trilogy. The biggest problem with the movie, of course, is the fact that the second tower in the book is supposed to be Minas Morgul, which Frodo, Sam & Gollum reached at the very end--and they ended that storyline earlier in the movie. So Saruman made some comment about Sauron's tower(Barad Dagor?)and Saruman's(Isengard? Or is it Orthanc?)being "the two towers", and I guess that'll have to do. Oh, and I just realized that they also cut out the scene where Gandalf & Co. confront Saruman and Wormtongue at the tower at the end. At this point I hope they leave it out, because I always loved the opening of "The Return of The King" with Pippin riding with Gandalf on Shadowfax. (They could flash back, I suppose.) I'm willing to bet they probably cut out "The Scouring of The Shire", too. But I could be wrong.
I keep thinking that if you wrote a Douglas Adams version of the book, you could call it "The Two Towels".
A pretty good batch of library CDs this week, overall.
The three that I liked, unfortunately, I'm having trouble keeping straight, musically. Those three were "Bleed American" by Jimmy Eat World, Dada's self-titled album, and Geggy Tah's "Sacred Cow". They are all somewhere in that nebulous land between power-pop, alternative, and rock.
Geggy Tah seemed to be more alternative, with weird songs that kept reminding me of the Rheostatics, except with better singers. But "Whoever You Are" and "Don't Close The Door" were great songs, more in the power-pop vein. Or alt-rock. Man, I just can't tell. I just listened to that one, so it's clearest in my mind.
The Dada CD I seem to recall as being closer to mainstream rock, with one song, "Spinning My Wheels", that sounded just like Oasis. My favourite song was the whimsically titled "Beautiful Turnback Time Machine", which sounded more like Third Eye Blind or something.
And Jimmy Eat World...well, the two songs I remember, "The Middle" and "The Authority Song", are definitely more at the power-pop/alt-rock end of things, but I seem to recall the album as being more varied than that. It was all of Thursday that I listened to that one... But definitely all wishlist items.
Not quite so much fun was Stacey Earle's "Dancin' WIth Them That Brung Me". A bit too twangy, folk-country for my tastes, apparently. Didn't make nearly so much of an impression on me, anyway.
I confess I didn't really give Braid's "Lucky To Be Alive" much of a chance. But I discovered when I put it on that it was a live album, which is rarely a good introduction to a new band, and the sound quality was just so execrable(or maybe it was just the music)that I actually took it out after three tracks. Maybe I'll try a studio album if I can find one.
I've also had the privilege of listening to a lot of Jack Grunsky's "Imaginary Window" recently. It's a children's CD that we got from somebody a year or two back, but I've started actually putting it on for Simon downstairs, since often I'm not listening to anything else anyway. It's not too bad, though sometimes I have to wince at the cheesy "Our School Rap". But it's got decent covers of "La Bamba", "Hot Hot Hot", and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", and a very multicultural flavour, songs tinged with Chinese, African, Spanish, or Native influences. So it could certainly be worse. It could, you know, be Barney.
I still haven't written much about the whole Christmas vacation thing. Well, it was cramped on the drive up, mostly because of Steve and his luggage, and of course all the presents. Steve got the cramped between-the-car-seats position in the back, but he did help to keep Simon and Luke entertained. Bags were piled up on the floor in front of the car seats, Steve probably had one between his knees, and whoever was in the front passenger seat had a big present on eir lap. It was a major production when we actually got to a place where we had to all get out of the car...or, even, just Steve.
We stayed one night in Grande Prairie with my dad, who is at interim lodgings right now. He wanted to sell his condo and move down to Edmonton, but apparently there's some problem with the condo complex being built too close to the edge of the Bear Creek ravine, so there's a lien on it, and it'll take a few months to sell. So he's rooming with a friend in a small house, and we had to all fit into it. Simon was in a sleeping bag on the floor in our room, and Luke in a travel-crib, in such a way that it blocked closing the door of the room.
Then Dad caught an early flight down to Calgary, and we packed all our stuff up again and drove to my mom's place, where we could finally unload all our presents and stuff.
Probably the most fun I had the time we were there was when Steve and I were playing on Mom's keyboard. She's got a neat synthesizer keyboard and stand, with the usual selection of sampled modes and a few prerecorded melodies. So at first a lot of it is spent trying out all the sounds, and then picking out a few melodies. I tried playing some of the Christmas songs from the songbook, but I am extremely out of practice. I can barely read bass clef anymore, and I never did get the hang of playing accompaniment, so it was very stumbling when I tried with both hands, and often little better when I gave up and just did the right-hand part.
But one afternoon Steve and I were playing around, me with the high notes and he with the low. I'd been trying to pick out a few melodies by ear, trying to stump Steve, and I got him good with the Buggles "Video Killed The Radio Star"--which I thought was really funny because that's from one of our favourite albums, which Steve even said he'd been listening to recently. He got me with "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", though, which I confess is a melody I just don't know. Anyway, he started playing this low bass ostinato part, and I started switching the modes on him, and then doing a little bit of improvising before switching again. Near the end I was just trying to switch as fast as I could. And Steve just kept on going. I guess that's what you would call a jam session or something, eh?
I so want one of those keyboards someday. Or something. Try to reproduce a few songs I like, and then maybe see about creating my own. It'll probably never happen, but you never know. Sometimes I improvise weird songs for Simon and Luke, so maybe there's hope...
On with the first countdown entry(of my 750 favourite songs)of 2003. Will this ever end?
360. Mark Korven: Time Heals Slow, from Passengers
Mark Korven was an Edmontonian musician, who produced this independent album before going to Toronto and doing other albums, like "Ordinary Man" and "This Must Be The Place". This song is mostly synth with a little drum, probably also synthesized, in the background, in a slow but compelling rhythm, and vocals that start out low and dreamlike until they shift up into the higher register later on. The overall effect is quite powerful.
359. The Christians: Forgotten Town, from The Christians
A nice little pop song from a British band that came and went. At least, I never heard of them past this one album... This song's got a propulsive rhythm track, wonderful harmonies, and a minor-key melody, which brought it this high up the chart.
I'm starting up a line of evil voodoo greeting cards. --Meryn Cadell