But I haven't been seeing them on grass. The one was on the sidewalk. And somehow, one of them got into our car. I'm forgetting how, now, but it got in there. I would forget about it for an entire day, and then when I got home from work and got out of the car, I'd see it still clinging to the inside of the window of one of the back doors, just looking big and insectile and mindless. I finally got it out of there by opening the door and knocking it off with the largest wieldy-looking implement in our carport, the folding plastic snow shovel. I assume it hopped/scuttled off somewhere, and I haven't seen it since. But it gave me retrospective creeps, that it could have jumped down on me while I was driving, or on Luke, if we'd put him in there with it.
I haven't seen any in a few days, but I'm still not quite relaxed. I'm wondering whether the one window in the basement is sealed enough, if Simon is going to let some into the house when he forgets to close the patio screen door, and things like that. I hate insects.
I finished reading Dulcinea. It was okay, in the sense that there were both really good bits and winceworthy bad bits. For instance, in the pre-gunpowderish magic-using fantasy world, the first-person narrator used "terrorist", "theremin"(as a verb, no less), and "microphone"! Bad Shalanna. And it took me a long time to get into it, because Dulcinea, her father, and the "apprentice" Raz were all acting annoyingly. Dulcinea herself was the one who showed the most improvement, perhaps because she's still a teenager. But she flip-flopped between being surprisingly, almost implausibly, competent, and acting helpless.
It gets a little bit Harry-Potterish at the end(or perhaps more Dragonsingerish)with the introduction of a college of majick, but I gather more of that may feature in the next book, Dulcinea's Dragon. Or not--from the sample chapter included at the end, she may leave the school before we see much of it. Anyway, I may be sufficiently interested to check it out, as long as I don't actually have to buy it in trade paperback(or hardcover). This is something I'd be willing to buy used, or for mass-market prices. Not much chance from this publisher, though.
I also(as I might have mentioned elsewhere, possibly on LiveJournal)read Eric Raymond's excellent The Cathedral And The Bazaar. It's a book about open source, which is a hot topic today, especially in the world of writing web applications with Java, where most of the tools are open source. But Linux is, of course, an early example, and so is Apache. Netscape/Mozilla(all but orphaned by AOL)is more recent, and in fact was apparently spurred by Raymond's title article. I recommend it to people who are interested in computers and stuff.*
I have started Ian Watson's Alien Embassy. It's interesting, reading this book(from 1977)so shortly after Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice And Salt, because Robinson's book makes extensive reference to "the bardo", the afterlife place(from Tibetan lore, apparently)where souls are judged before returning to life. It also turns up in Alien Embassy, though not in the same sense. That is, it's an organization whose acronymized name is a reference to the mythical one.
Watson is going by the premise that western science basically collapsed after first contact was made with aliens...by a woman in a tantric sex ritual. Acupuncture, chakras, Kirlian auras, and Eastern philosophy have dominated, concentration of humanity in cities is being reversed, and a young African girl is about to start getting trained as one of these tantric travellers. Only in the 70's could one get away with this being science fiction.*
We bought a bunch of books at "Book Traders", a nearby second-hand bookstore, but few of them are ones I will be reading anytime soon. I am more likely to read one of the books that came in today in an amazon.com shipment--Ted Chiang's Stories of Your Life And Others. I loved his story "Understand" when I read it a few years ago, and have been waiting for more from him. This is a collection of multiple award-winning stories, including "Understand", and I bought it in trade paperback, something I rarely do. I am looking forward to it. Chiang is actually high on the list of authors I would like to meet at Worldcon...and so I should try to read his book first, right?
I'm also reading Drew Carey's Dirty Jokes And Beer as lighter fare, something I picked up from the library booksale table last week. It's okay so far, if not always consistently funny. But then, he isn't always trying to be funny, and he seems to be okay at serious, too. I've never watched his show, apart from the April Fool's(?) episode which included a Sims-style scene, though I did get accustomed to him on "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"
Yesterday, while they were having the big concert in Toronto to promote tourism and convince people that SARS is really not a threat anymore(which it isn't, from everything I've heard from the people who live there), I ended up listening to the Rolling Stones' "Forty Licks", which I suppose is almost like being at the concert. It is an impressive body of work, though I would almost have to favour the first disc, of work before 1969, to the second. "Satisfaction" has really grown on me over the last few years, and "Mother's Little Helper" was disturbingly familiar. Some of the other songs I had actually only ever heard(that I recall)as part of Weird Al Yankovic's "Hot Rocks Polka".*
Today, I listened to the soundtrack of "Once More With Feeling", that musical episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I have to say, that while the music itself did nothing for me, and I am not impressed with Sarah Michelle Gellar's singing ability, it fills me with an increased desire to actually watch the show. Enough so that I am seriously considering getting a DVD player this weekend, so that we can either rent or borrow the first season's episodes. If we rent them, we'd have to try to watch the whole season in a week, which sounds impossible...but if we borrow them, then we have to find someone we know who has them, and most of those people are Cult of Pain members from Calgary, who won't be coming up until the meeting on August 9th(or from Singapore, who won't be here for the foreseeable future)...and we won't even be at the meeting, because of the Prairie Heraldry Society barbecue which I forgot about.
I've been looking at character guides and episode guides, just trying to glean some basic background information, even though I know I probably shouldn't. I've already picked up a fair bit, though, so it doesn't bother me that much.
I also listened to the "Daredevil" soundtrack, but I'd have to say that the only song I liked was that Evanescence one. When did movie soundtracks start to be filled with sludge-rock? I remember when they were all alt-rock stuff, like "Empire Records" and stuff. Maybe it's just the superhero movies, because "Spider-Man" was just as bad. Is this what the teenagers are really all listening to these days? Kids. But I will have to check out Evanescence.
Long weekend coming up, and I almost forgot about it! It's the Heritage Day weekend here in Alberta; it's not a national holiday, but most provinces have some holiday or other that day. There's probably one in the U.S., too, but I don't remember. Columbus Day or something.
It's been kind of hot around here for a few days--it was up to 32°C today. Almost as bad as last summer...except that last summer there was no respite. This summer, we do get rain every once in a while, and even some cloudy and cool days.
I have definitely gotten completely inverted from the majority with respect to my tastes in weather. Anytime the radio announcers say, "It'll be a beautiful weekend! Sunny, with highs of 29 on Saturday...", it just makes me wince. I'd much rather hear about clouds and rain. I don't like sunny weather, that's all there is to it. It's too hot and it's too bright. I'll sit down in the basement with my fluorescent lights and my computer and avoid it, if it's all the same to you. The rest of you walk around outside and get skin cancer if you want to.
Time to count it down, boyo:
302. Savage Progress: My Soul Unwraps Tonight, from Celebration
One of the best titles in my list, I have to say. This may have been the only song from this album ever to get a video release, and it may not be the best on the album, but it is pretty damn good. African rhythms, deep male vocal harmonies contrasting with the female lead.
301. Talking Heads: Road To Nowhere, from Little Creatures
This is the song that got me into the Talking Heads. To be sure, I hadn't really listened to them before, though I had seen my brother's vaguely scary "Stop Making Sense" single lying around. It still has killer harmonies, a propulsive rhythm section, and wonderful lyrics. Totally singalongable, too.
Please eat up quickly once the package is opened by you. --AjD
I spent a while last night filling in my "Interests" list, which was kind of fun. I hope to do a series of short posts over there on the interests on the list, just because I think it would be interesting. I haven't filled in my Friends list as much; I put in half a dozen talk.bizarre people, and then came across JT Traub, who was the only other person to put "Lorenai" as an interest. That's pretty much it so far.
I went to the optometrist last Saturday. No special reason, just a checkup. Nicole and Simon went a few days earlier. It was Simon's first eye doctor visit. Apparently at that age they tend to give you pictures to look at rather than letters, but from what Nicole said the pictures were not ones that Simon would necessarily recognize, like older-style phones. Simon knows all his letters, so he could have done that, and next time they probably will. He will almost certainly need glasses, but then we expected that. Neither of his parents is particularly keen-eyed. And he does seem to want to stand awfully close to the TV when he watches it.
My vision was fine, for the most part. My left eye is stronger than my right, of course, but that's to be expected, since I'm mostly right-handed. My glasses prescription hasn't changed since last time, and apparently I might actually be 20/15 with them on.
I have to go back this Saturday, though.
My mother has glaucoma, you see. She's getting treatment for it, but she's got it, and so I have to get checked for it. And not just with those puff-of-air tests they do, either. I still pass those no problem, unpleasant as they are.
No, I have to get my eyes dilated so they can take a good look at my nerves and blood vessels, to see if there's even the glimmerings of a problem now, and if not to see what the current state is so they have something to measure it against later.
I've never had my eyes dilated, and in fact I hadn't even heard of the procedure before that South Park episode with the succubus and the Loch Ness Monster. I go in Saturday morning, they put in some drops, my eyes dilate, and then they look at them. After that, 4-6 hours later, it wears off.
While my eyes are dilated, I will have trouble doing things like reading or looking at a computer screen. I guess I'll be doing dishes for some of that time, so it won't matter too much. I'll probably have to bring sunglasses so that I don't get blinded when I go outside. Or maybe it will be cloudy. (It's gone back and forth this summer, an immense improvement on the unrelenting heat of last summer.)
It's a little bit scary, but hopefully it will turn out okay. I'll keep you posted on the experience.
I finished reading both Andy Nebula and The Salmon of Doubt. The latter I already posted about on my LiveJournal. The former was a pretty good read; for a YA book, it had some pretty frank talk about drugs in it. Drugs as evil things that can hijack one's life, of course, nothing all that ambiguous about it, but then these drugs had pretty unambiguous effects. An interesting take on the whole "manufactured band" phenomenon, too.
Now I've started reading Shalanna Collins's Dulcinea. I remember Shalanna from the Fidonet Writing Echo some years ago--probably almost a decade, by now. I read that one a lot, though a lot of my posts didn't get through for whatever reason(Fidonet not being the 100% greatest transport medium), so I guess I was mostly a lurker. She'd told a story of screwing up her first signing with an agent, and I'm glad to see that she has recovered from that one. Not very far into the book, which is a YA fantasy with the titular female protagonist(though with the prosaic last name "Brown").
I want to try to fit in Ian Watson's Alien Embassy before the end of the month. It's currently in the position of being probably the book I have had the longest without having read, and I like to keep that position moving ever-so-slowly forward, at the rate of one a month if possible. I was very impressed by his short story "Windows" in Asimov's some years ago, and I started buying his books. I don't think I've read any of his novels yet, though...so this should be interesting.
I picked up a few CDs recently, too, some new at A&B Sound, and some cheap at the library booksale table.
The new ones were:
Weird Al Yankovic:Poodle Hat. As often, I stumbled across this one without being aware that he had a new album out, though I'd heard about his parodying the Eminem song(which I haven't even heard). All in all, a decent contribution to his oeuvre.
Neil Young:Are You Passionate?. I keep hearing bad things about this album, but then, the first Neil Young album I bought was the lambasted "Landing On Water", so that's par for the course. I think the songs on this album work quite well, and hope he does more albums with Booker T & the MG's.
Cake:Prolonging The Magic. Not altogether that new, I've actually been wanting this one for a while, but I just hadn't gotten around to picking it up. I am glad I did.
Hooverphonic:The Magnificent Tree. Very glad to have this one, too! It is an exquisite album.
The The:NakedSelf. Not quite as good as I remember on my last listen, but I'm still happy to have it.
From the booksale, I got:
Philip Glass:1000 Airplanes On The Roof. Well, I didn't care for it that much, but for a buck I was willing to spring for it. It's not like it was bad, more that it didn't make an impression.
Goldie:Saturnzreturn. I remember being quite impressed with the hour-long opening track, "Mother", when I first listened to this one some time ago. The rest of the album(most of which is, of course, on the second disc)is quite listenable electronica.
Sophie Zelmani. Another one that never really made it onto my wishlist, but there was one quite striking song on it, "You And Him(String Version)"(though I'm not sure where any alternative versions of it may be, since there aren't any on the album), about a woman talking to a homeless man and trying to overcome her first impressions of him. The rest of the album hasn't made much impression yet, but that song was worth a buck.
Rollins Band:Weight. I'm not sure about this one, since mostly it's too heavy for me, but "Liar" was a fairly approachable song, so I might keep it around for a while.
I am still borrowing CDs and listening to them, but I just can't keep up with them. Maybe I'll try commenting on them realtime on LiveJournal or something.
Time to continue counting down my 750 favourite songs:
304. Peter Gabriel: Kiss of Life, from Security
It's mostly the intense and propulsive drums that I like from this song, since I haven't made much headway with figuring out the lyrics yet. It's more fun to pound the steering wheel to than to sing along in the car with, so far.
303. 'Til Tuesday: Winning The War, from Voices Carry
I make no bones about liking 'Til Tuesday better than Aimee Mann's later solo work. This song was one of my favourites from their first album since I bought it(though the first two singles were strong enough to get me to do so). Maybe it's the harmony on the chorus, or the interweaving vocal lines in the coda, always one of my favourite techniques.
The pills that I took, they made my fingers disappear --David Bowie, "Time Will Crawl"
A. If I make an exact duplicate of a hero, then I will assume that any time it is out of my sight it could conceivably have been switched with the original hero, and act accordingly.
B. My dungeons will not be connected with the rest of my headquarters through a complex maze of passages. There will be one simple, well-lit corridor(devoid of alcoves, as another rule states), so that there is no chance that escaped prisoners will be able to sneak past me while I am going to interrogate them.
Of course, one of the main points of the movie was that the bad guy was not infallible, far from it. But still, I had to shake my head when I was watching it.
I'm still fiddling around with Marvel Superheroes stuff. I found an interesting web site, at heroplay.com, which had some nifty utilities for MSH, including character generators, character sheets, and the like. I haven't tried them all out yet, but the MSH Character Generator looks like it might be a bit of a timesaver.
They had a PDF copy there of the "Ultimate Powers Book". I think that Jeremy probably had this one--at least I think I'd seen it before--but I'd forgotten about it. It was an attempt codify every single possible power that anyone has ever had in any comic book, plus anything else that seems like a natural interpolation. So it suffers from serious kitchen sink-itis, but I was getting a little bored with the relatively tiny list in the MSH book, so I guess I'll try it.
One of my favourite powers listed in there was "Troubleseeker", which basically means that every few days you are automatically teleported into some situation where your help is needed. You can't leave the area without teleporting back(not even if someone else is carrying you!). Sort of like the protagonist in Dean Koontz's excellent Cold Fire. Or, if you add in Time Travel and Dimensional Travel, and a British police box, you get The Doctor... Or maybe even "Quantum Leap".
I think I've come up with a tentative plan about what to do with my superheroes. At the moment I've mostly just generated the cluster of mutants in the Calgary area; I've been converting their powers to the UPB equivalents, which is not always easy, and been coming up with little histories for them. But what do a group of heroes need? They need a reason to come together, and a reason to stay together. They need a place to stay, and ideally they need some equipment.
I kept toying with the idea of making of the mutants bad guys, but I haven't managed it yet. Somehow the bad-guy origins are just not occurring to me. So I thought, I need a whole different class of people to be the bad guys. How about the good old alien invasion? The slow, infiltrative kind.
I had a kooky idea for someone who could be a mentor, and I swear it wasn't entirely inspired by the Royal Canadian Air Farce. See, I remembered how Alpha Flight was sponsored by the government, and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau turned up in reference to them at least once. That made me instantly think of another former Prime Minister who is currently more or less based in Calgary--Joe Clark. Now Joe Clark was Prime Minister for less than a year, because of the quaint tradition of the "non-confidence vote" that we inherited from British politics. It's one of the first political events I actually remember, in fact, his getting voted out of office. He returned to politics briefly a few years ago, and won a seat for the Progressive Conservative party in Calgary.
So he'd be perfect! Say that when he was Prime Minister, he was contacted by a member of this alien species, who opposed the conquest of Earth, warning him about it. Maybe he kept it to himself, maybe it's really why he was voted out of office. Anyway, he keeps in contact with the aliens, and eventually manages to broker a deal where the government(which has been dominated by the Liberal Party for years)clandestinely sponsors groups of superheroes. The Air Farce often lampooned him as the goofy "Joe Clark, International Agent", or called him "Joe Clark, the Dan Quayle of Canada". But hey, maybe he was an international agent!*
I was also thinking that this might be first generation of mutants, and maybe the dissident aliens also engineered that somehow, by introducing mutagenic particles or chemicals or radiation or whatever into the atmosphere. Maybe the dissidents are mutants themselves, second-class citizens of this other race. I haven't worked that part out yet.
Maybe this will turn into my NaNoWriMo novel this year. Superheroes in Calgary.
Of course, there will likely be tons more mutants in the rest of the world, too, if I keep to my original premise of one in every million or so people being a mutant. But I could change that(6000 mutants is a lot to keep track of, quite frankly), or downplay it. Or it could even just be Canada that has mutants, for whatever reason. I kind of like that idea.
Anyways, I'm still having fun with the idea, so I'm running with it.
I finished Driving Force, which was a perfectly good but not exceptionally brilliant work from Dick Francis. Now I'm mostly frantically trying to finish the Rebecca Blood book because it's due back at the library tomorrow...but reading it makes me want to blog, so I'm going back and forth.
I'm also reading Douglas Adams's The Salmon of Doubt. I elected to treat it as a nonfiction book, despite the novel fragment at the end--the fiction book I'm really reading right now is Ed Willett's YA-SF Andy Nebula, Interstellar Rock Star. (Hmmm...apparently Ed, an SF Canada member, is quoting me reviewing Soulworm. I remember reading that one, but I don't remember when I posted the comment he quoted. It sounds like me, though...)
Anyway, The Salmon of Doubt is incredibly engaging, and makes one realize how superficially one could judge Douglas Adams based solely on his Hitchhiker's Guide books, even adding Dirk Gently. I feel his loss more keenly on reading this book than I did when it actually happened. Dammit.
I still have to get around to reading as many of the Hugo/Aurora eligible short stories, which are probably online somewhere to facilitate being voted on. The voting deadline is the end of the month, I think, which is only a little over a week away...
Continuing on with the counting down:
306. Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper: Circus Mystery, from Root Hog Or Die
This is one of those rare Skid songs, and probably his best. With atmospheric music, Skid lovingly recounts various symptoms of distress in the circus community, making many bad puns along the way. What is the circus mystery? He never says.
305. OMD: Crush, from Crush
This album is so much more than the two singles, "So In Love" and "Secret". The title track features Andy McCluskey's huskily melancholy vocals in constrat a number of repeating patterns of vocal samples, with lyrics that complain of rain and allude to heartbreak.
'I want you to accompany me on the safari.' 'I've never played one in my life!' --Seagoon & Bloodnok, "The Goon Show"
I've been toying with the idea of going to LiveJournal, actually. I've been reading Rebecca Blood's book on blogging, and I think that I've gotten myself into a rut blogwise. I can't do short entries anymore. They have to be long. So I don't get anything really spontaneous.
I've got a system, you see. I do my countdown entry, and from the lyrics of the two songs in that entry I draw my title. I can't convince myself that I can write an entry anymore without such a title, or to "waste" a title on an entry that's just the countdown. Or something. That's the obsessive-compulsive side of me. Or perhaps just the hobgoblins of foolish consistency.
I have often seen people who have more than one blog/journal. Sherry has a blog for short entries and a journal for longer entries, both on her own site. TranceJen has a Diaryland site for her journal, and a LiveJournal for quizzes. Zannah has a blog for links, a journal for longer entries, and...something else...for shorter daily entries.
I can see that being able to let things out in short entries would make it less likely for long entries to come out. But then I think, my long entries aren't coming out anyway! So what do I have to lose?
I hadn't realized that LiveJournal had tightened its admissions recently, though. You either have to have an invite from an existing member, or you have to pay. It makes a certain amount of sense. They make the code free, so anyone can start their own LiveJournalesque site with different limitations. It's big enough that it can't be accused of being cliquish.
Getting an invite will hardly be a problem. Last time I checked, at least half a dozen former talk.bizarre folks had LJ sites, and some of them should be kindly disposed towards me. I'll try to put something on my sidebar, at the very least, if and when I get a LiveJournal site.
I've been doing a lot of weird things lately, sort of comic-related.
Rereading my X-Men comics for some reason made me dig out my old Marvel Super-Heroes RPG boxed set. I had this urge to create my own world of mutants, and possibly other heroes as well, and see what happened.
It's hard to create decent characters, of course. I've been mostly rolling them up, and sometimes it doesn't work that well. Not to mention having characters with Strength Feeble(1) and Fighting Excellent(16) or something.
Then, in another fit of geekiness, I decided that I wanted to figure out where my mutants came from. By random means, of course. So what I needed was population tables, the more specific the better.
It's pretty hard to find, and download, the appropriate data from Census web sites, but I managed to find some for Canada, at least, from last year. The entire population of Canada, broken down into cities, counties, towns, or whatever census units they came up with.
I whipped up some code to loop through it, with a 1/1,000,000 chance of every person being a mutant. I quickly discovered that shortcomings of Microsoft Access's pseudorandom number generation. Whatever cycle length it has before the whole sequence of numbers repeats again, it's definitely lower than 38 million. I noticed it because there was a weird cluster of mutants in Calgary, and then another one later on. But I can deal with a cluster of mutants in Calgary.
I know that it's just another project I will never finish...but I enjoy the process more than I enjoy finishing things, really.
Reading the X-Men guide spurred me on, too. One thing I always wanted was to be able to construct an intricately woven storyline like that. Though Nicole says that that is, basically, a soap opera. The X-Men universe comes complete with evil twins/clones, obscure deaths and frequent resurrections, and even children who age offscreen(say, by being sent into the future and brought back as adults).
I confess a certain curiosity to actually read some of the comics from after my time. I also confess that I can't stand most of the modern comic art that I see, though. It all seems to look the same, which makes me wonder who they're all emulating. Art was never the reason I liked a comic book, though. It's hard for me to even pay attention to it sometimes, though I try. For instance, I decided that Paul Smith was one of my favourite artists from the X-Men run, though John Byrne seems to epitomize the characters best.
I took a quick look in at a nearby comic store for back issues. I managed to fill a couple of gaps, #128(the end of the Proteus storyline) and #135(the one where Dark Phoenix destroys a star). When I opened up #135, it seemed like the pages were stuck together...but only for the first half of the issue. Was it stuck? I tugged a little bit, but not too much. Then I happened to notice the problem. It was stapled an inch or two from the spine. In fact, those were the only staples holding it together--the copy had obviously slipped when being stapled, or something.
I took out the staples, but I haven't yet managed to restaple it properly. My stapler isn't deep enough to insert a whole comic page, and without the little curved notch at the bottom of the stapler, the staple won't curve back on itself properly. If I can find two staples and unfold both of them, maybe... I haven't tried to get a discount from the comic store owner, since likely he hadn't noticed.
I've considered going on to reread the New Mutants as well, but I never liked those quite as well, especially the early issues. There's also X-Factor and Excalibur, neither of which I have very much of. But for now I'll hold off.
I finished reading The Years of Rice And Salt. It was fitfully interesting, but started to drag towards the end, IMHO. The fact that you switched characters and plotlines(if any)every hundred pages made it difficult to maintain interest. Though it is nice to see an alternate history with this kind of scope, the lack of character continuity is why they usually don't make good novels. The reincarnation thing also faded out towards the end, as the general culture became more secular, I guess. So, in a nutshell, I don't think it'll be my top choice for the Hugo novel. I'll have to figure that out sometime before the end of the month...
That book took me more than a week, so it was nice to go on to something shorter: the Explorer anthology, edited by Julie Czerneda. This is from a series of SF anthologies aimed at kids, and it's quite short. Five stories, and each of those is under twenty large-print pages. I finished that in about an hour and a half of total reading.
I still want something quick to read, so now I'm 60 pages into Driving Force by Dick Francis. It's not that involving so far, but maybe that's because I was reading it while Simon and Luke were playing in the living room, not a good environment for undivided attention. Nicole, trained from reading on the school bus, can read oblivious to such distractions, but I have no such training. I can read with music in the background, and that's about it.
I'm going to end it here, with another countdown entry. I have sent off an email to a former t.ber on LiveJournal, so hopefully in a day or two I'll get started on there. Hopefully I won't abandon this one entirely...
308. Laurie Anderson: Born, Never Asked, from Big Science
I have a few versions of this song. The version on "Big Science" has a spoken intro followed by what is mostly a violin instrumental, with a few more spoken words. On "United States Live", though, the spoken intro is part of "So Happy Birthday", and the instrumental is called "For A Large And Changing Room", which is a great title IMHO. There is also a version of "Born, Never Asked" proper, without the spoken intro, and with a more drawn-out coda.
But it's mostly the violin music that I like. It's a very dramatic piece, which probably has some synth underpinnings now that I think about it. Anderson was "classically trained"(as they always say)on the violin, I believe, and here you can really tell, because it's exquisite.
307. Happy Rhodes: Runners, from Equipoise
This song, like many of Happy Rhodes's, benefits from the contrast between the upper and lower registers of her voice(so frequently misidentified as "Kate Bush and Annie Lennox"). The chorus, in the lower register, is sinister; the verses, in the upper register, sound sprightlier, but the lyrics have an undertone of menace to them as well. The song is about trying to survive all the dangers of the modern world, and also about worrying about them to the point of paranoia.
The book itself? Well, I'd have to say that it was a rip-roaring addition to the Harry Potter œuvre, and now I have to wait for the next one? The level of conflict in the Harry Potter world is definitely escalating, and with any luck there will have to be a bit less sneaking around in the last two books. (And I was right--Harry does get to teach "Defense Against The Dark Arts"! Sort of.) I don't want to spoil it too much for anyone who might happen to read my site, and most people don't need me to give too much background, but suffice it to say: It is worth it to read it now.
From that one I went on to an Aurora nominee, Karin Lowachee's Warchild. This is also a first novel, and in fact a winner of the Time-Warner First Novel Contest. And it's a really good novel, too. It starts with the main character being eight years old, and the things he undergoes from that age onward are often quite harrowing. He has to deal with issues of trust and betrayal on a regular basis, and it's a wonder he doesn't end up more screwed up than he does. An excellent book, and probably deserves whatever awards it can get. (John W. Campbell, at least, and possibly Philip K. Dick, and maybe even the Aurora.)
Now I'm reading Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice & Salt, which I believe is the last of the Hugo nominees. It's sort of an alternate history--the population of Europe is almost completely wiped out by the Black Plague, so the cultures of Islam and China dominate the world. But while we start with a journey through the fringes of the shattered continent of Europe, it's not a focus of the book. The focus is on the journey of two souls, "B" and "K", who are reincarnated over and over again into different forms and cultures, moving us forward through history but also through their own spiritual development. (Their particular incarnations always happen to have the same first letter, so you can tell who they are...) You get numerous afterlife scenes, which I suppose should technically make the book fantasy, although Stranger In A Strange Land had them too, didn't it?
Not much for nonfiction. I have been reading Rebecca Blood's The Weblog Handbook, in an attempt, perhaps, to rekindle my interest in blogging. There's always other things to do, though, unfortunately.
I have started a project I'd been considering for while, which I'm calling a "Wheel of Time Concordance". It's not really a "concordance", because I believe that to do that I'd have to tally and index every word in Robert Jordan's series, but I am trying to go through the books and painstakingly note down every character's appearance, synopsize the events of each chapter, and generally keep track of things in a systematic way. I'm up to Chapter 9 of the first book, The Eye of The World, and the project is holding my interest.
There's not as much to keep track of in this book, as I recall--not as many ongoing characters introduced, that is, though a lot of history is covered. This is really the first good reread I've given this book, though--I did go through it for my namelist project, but I could skim over whole chapters and just look for proper nouns without reading much more than that. But there's lots of things that have significance to me now, after ten books, that meant little or nothing on first read. Like Rand's dream of Tar Valon as a place of menace, for instance. Which won't mean much to most of you, of course...*
Lots of other projects ongoing too, but with luck I will have time to talk about that before August rolls around.
310. Kate Bush: The Night of The Swallow, from The Dreaming
"The Dreaming" is the most innovative of Kate Bush's albums, but also the least accessible. Her lyrics are often cryptic, and this song is really no exception, but musically it's more listenable than some of the songs, particularly the Irish fiddle sections. It has a real sense of drama, that the characters in the song are getting involved with something they won't be able to handle, though it seems like a simple job, "a hired plane, no names mentioned". You could base a whole movie on what's said and implied in this song.
309. Five Guys Named Moe: She's On A Mountain, from Five Guys Named Moe
I believe this band is pretty obscure, possibly a local Alberta band, and they might not be the only ones to use the name. But I found myself liking this album more and more as I listened to it, and this song in particular. The drums, vocals, and rhythm guitars all combine to propel it forward, and the harmonies make it compelling.