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A public conversation about our worlds.

  • Monday: Morgan J. Locke
  • Tuesday: Madeleine E. Robins
  • Wednesday: Maureen F. McHugh
  • Thursday: Bradley Denton
  • Friday: Steven Gould
  • Saturday: Caroline Spector
  • Sunday: Rory Harper

Brain Activity



Ghost Riders and Vampires

November 13th, 2010 by Rory Harper

Well, hi, gang! Long time no see.

I got in a new suite of audio repair software tools a week or so ago and found myself rummaging around in my collection of old Los Blues Guys tapes, looking for something to throw on the slab and eviscerate with them.

The specimen we have here, after a fair bit of tweaking and EQ’ing and other more exotic processing that you don’t care about, is a performance from AggieCon XXII on the evening of March 22, 1991.

As far as I can tell, it’s the usual line-up — Unca Brad on drums, Unca Stevie on keyboards, Casey on bass and back-up vocals, me on lead guitar, and Unca Scott on rhythm guitar and lead vocals. Frankly, Brad and Scott are what make this performance so awesome. IMHO. As was so often the case. I’d kill to have Scott’s rhythm chops, and long ago gave up the idea of ever trying to learn to play drums, faced with the mountain that is Brad.

And we had a surprise rock-star guest in Warren Norwood, who sang his original set of lyrics at the end.

Without further ado, I give you:

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Ghost Riders in the Sky / Vampires in the Sun

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(Incidentally, either I or WordPress have completely lost the ability to format mixed text and pics properly. My apologies for this post looking so amateurish here. Working on it…)

Posted in Brad, mp3, Music, Rory, Steve | 6 Comments »

Facts Formed, Lessons Learned

January 7th, 2010 by Bradley Denton

2009 was a banner year here at Casa Ramrod, assuming that the banner said “Mission Accomplished” in a font called “Clueless Irony.”  (Yes, I know.  It’s been done.)

Nevertheless, I think I learned a few things in 2009 that may serve me well in 2010, especially if I retain the backup option of hiding under the covers.  Here, then, are a few 2009 True Facts and the lessons I’ve taken from them:

True Facts:  In June, I was diagnosed with small lymphocytic lymphoma/chronic lymphocytic leukemia.  SLL/CLL progresses slowly and is considered indolent.  So rather than start treatment, I’m engaged in “watchful waiting.”

Lessons Learned:  As I already suspected from my own personal habits, “indolent” is not a bad thing.  Barring meteor strikes or other accidents, then, I’ll probably live more-or-less normally for many more years.  I’ll just have to regard my body as if it were a suspiciously unattended package at the airport.

True Facts:  During both my endoscopy and colonoscopy, I was given a wonderful “twilight” anesthesia that made me forget the most uncomfortable and unpleasant parts of the procedures.  But I was given no “twilight” during my bone-marrow biopsy, so I remember every undignified second of it.  Afterward, however, I was given a snack.

Lessons Learned:  Drugs are good.  But so are cookies.

True Fact:  On the same day that a doctor first said the word “lymphoma” to me, I received an email telling me that the movie version of my second novel would begin filming in October.  This coincidence seems to indicate that God is a merry prankster.

Lesson Learned:  Not really a big fan of merry pranksters, here.

True Facts:  The movie did not begin filming in October.  Or November.  Or December.  This seems to indicate that Hollywood is a merry prankster as well.

Lesson Learned:  See above.

True Fact:  I have an amazing spouse who always has my back despite the fact that I’m a foul-tempered old crank who’s addicted to cookies.

Lesson Learned:  None.  I already knew that.

True Fact:  My friends aren’t half-bad, either.

Lesson Learned:  Suckers.

True Fact:  Throughout 2009, the first picture that popped up in a Google Images search for “Bradley Denton” was a photo of me kissing Steve Gould.

Lesson Learned:  Make one mistake, and you pay for it the rest of your life.

Posted in Barb, Brad, Daily Life, Dammit!, Health and Safety, Steve | 5 Comments »

Oliver Vale Rides Again

August 14th, 2009 by Bradley Denton

Oliver Vale

The official movie website:  www.aliveandwellmovie.com

Director Robert Rugan’s film-progress blog:  http://fromganymede.tumblr.com

Oliver Vale tweeting from the year 1988:  http://twitter.com/olivervale

Free, Creative-Commons-licensed downloads of the novel:  http://manybooks.net/titles/dentonbother09buddy_holly_is_alive_and_well.html

Posted in Brad, Movies | 8 Comments »

Changing All Those Changes

February 5th, 2009 by Bradley Denton

 Here They Played, and Still Play, Rock and Roll

At midday on Friday, June 19th, 1987, while en route to a convention in Minnesota, Barb and I stopped in Clear Lake, Iowa. I had just started writing my second novel, Buddy Holly Is Alive and Well on Ganymede, and Clear Lake was a logical place to take some pictures and do a little research. It was the town where Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson had played their last concert on February 2, 1959.

At the Clear Lake Public Library, a helpful librarian told me a story about Buddy’s glasses. It seems that someone (the county coroner?) from Mason City (the county seat) had taken the glasses from the site of the plane crash . . . and as far as the librarian knew, they were still locked up in a desk at the courthouse. Buddy’s widow, Maria Elena Holly, had even asked for them – and had been refused. The county, for some odd reason, thought they should hang on to them . . .

Read More »

Posted in Barb, Bob Y., Brad, Fun, History, Maureen, Music, People, Personal History, Pop. Culture | 10 Comments »

Backyard Sex, Part Deux

January 15th, 2009 by Bradley Denton

Dinosaurs 

We live in a semi-rural area. Well, mostly rural. We have houses and running water, but no streetlights, fireplugs, police officers, or Britney Spears sightings. (One good ol’ boy at the local hardware store actually swears that “Britney Spears” is something a spaniel does during a duck hunt.)

Another thing we don’t have is zoning restrictions. So even though we may look like a residential neighborhood from some angles, other angles will reveal that various folks have stocked their back yards with chickens, geese, sheep, goats, and donkeys. And they’re perfectly welcome to do so – ‘cause here along the Travis-Hays county line, a man’s home is not only his castle, but his Little Reata. (Just hit Netflix and rent “Giant.”)

Here at Casa Ramrod, all we have in the back yard are dogs. Or at least, that’s all we intend to have. In practice, at one time or another, we’ve also had squirrels, opossums, and armadillos (visually confirmed) as well as raccoons, bobcats, and skunks (otherwise confirmed). The occasional family of deer hops the fence. Plus, our veterinarian’s bulletin board sports a few too-curious-for-their-own-good doggie photos that provide direct evidence of porcupines in the vicinity.

But all of that’s not enough animal life for one of our nearest neighbors, who has gone the aforementioned chickens-geese-sheep-goats-donkeys route. He has even expanded his own Little Reata by fencing off some of the utility-easement alley behind our properties. All of which is cool with us, by the way. The more fur and feathers, the merrier. (Or at least the furrier and featherier.)

Our dogs Lucy, Linus, and Tillie were cool with it too . . .

. . . until the day the emus showed up.

Read More »

Posted in Barb, Brad, Daily Life, Dammit!, Dogs, Personal History, Sex | 7 Comments »

The Wedding of the Century

November 30th, 2008 by Rory Harper


Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you — Mr. Jesse Hawkins and Mrs. Rachael Hawkins.

 

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They were married last Saturday afternoon in an outdoor amphitheatre at Brownwood State Park, to my delight and to the applause of approximately 45 friends and family.

 

This is the terrible loss that I suffered, mentioned in my previous post. I gave up my most beloved daughter – but gained both a wonderful son-in-law and a vast herd of cattle in payment.

 

More below the cut.

 

: Read More »

Posted in Barb, Bob Y., Brad, Caroline, Hope, Maureen, mp3, Personal History, Rachael is Awesome, Religion, Rory, The Dude | 9 Comments »

THB For The Masses

November 28th, 2008 by Rory Harper

Two Headed Baby played a special gig last weekend.

 

It was a good weekend for me, in many, many ways. I’m planning to post in more detail on that later today or perhaps tomorrow.

 

I set up a laptop to record the gig as best I could through a single mic off to the side, and seem to have caught about two-thirds of it on disk. I’ve just finished processing a couple of the songs, and thought you might enjoy listening to THB in full fury.

 

Rachael was there, and told me that we sounded awesome, but she was being especially kind to her Papa last weekend, because I was suffering a great loss. The audience danced their asses off, and didn’t throw anything sharp or too hard at us. I figure that we probably didn’t suck, much.

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Rockin’ In The Free World

 

Blues Medley

 

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As you may know, our old drummer got bored with just hitting things and wandered off to try to learn how to be another goddam dime-a-dozen guitar player. Bob Yeager, who still enjoys smashing the hell out of everything, has gracefully taken his place.

 

Caroline Spector on bass, cello, and vocals, Warren Spector on rhythm and lead guitar, Gilda Ginsel on vocals and keyboard, my nice friend Bradley Denton on vocals, harp, and rhythm and lead guitar. I was up there, too, mostly played rhythm guitar.

 

However, we made the mistake of allowing both GreyLion and Bulky Jones to sit in. And they wanked endlessly. Please forgive them.

 

I’ve whined repeatedly about the Loudness Wars, but – I smashed the hell out these recordings, just because it seemed the rock ‘n roll thing to do. Another mea culpa for that. I tried to leave a few dynamics in place.

 

This stuff is meant to be played loud, though, so you should turn the volume knob all the way to the right. I hope your neighbors don’t find it too painful to listen to.

 

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Pics credit to Cheryl Collum, who, incidentally, happens to be my baby sister.

Posted in Bob Y., Brad, Caroline, mp3, Music, Rachael is Awesome, Rory, The Dude | 7 Comments »

Fun With (Electoral) Math; or, How Omaha Can Save the World

September 25th, 2008 by Bradley Denton

College Dean

Several different “Interactive Electoral Maps” for the 2008 Smackdown are available online . . . but my favorite is at http://projects.washingtonpost.com/2008/pick-your-president/.  This one allows you to screw with the Electoral College in all sorts of ways, much as you probably did with your Actual College.

The best thing about this map, to me, is that it includes options for splitting up the Electoral Votes of Maine and Nebraska.  You see, unlike every other state in the Union, Maine and Nebraska do not have a winner-take-all policy regarding their Electoral Votes for President.  Instead, they use the “Congressional District Method,” in which the popular-vote winner of each Congressional District is awarded one Electoral Vote (just as each district has one Congressperson), and the state’s overall popular-vote winner is awarded the remaining two Electoral Votes (just as each state has two Senators).

So far, in actual practice, this has never resulted in a split Electoral Vote for either Maine or Nebraska.  But I want to believe that 2008 could be different, particularly in Nebraska.  For one thing, Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District is home to the University of Nebraska, where support for Senator Obama is reported to be strong . . . and the 2nd District is basically the city of Omaha, which (among other blue-leaning factors) is the home of billionaire, philanthropist, and Obama-supporter Warren Buffett.  (You can forget about the 3rd District, though.  They’re red ’til they’re dead.)

I’ve had a lot of fun playing Electoral God with the map as a whole, making swing-states like Ohio and Pennsylvania swing first one way and then the other.  But somehow I can never manage to convince myself, even for a make-believe moment, that Florida will ever wind up in the blue column.  (Comedienne Sarah Silverman thinks there’s a way it could happen, however.)

My favorite tweak of the map — and note that “favorite” doesn’t mean that I think it’s either likely or desirable, but wackily possible – gives WA, OR, CA, WI, MI, IL, IN, OH, PA, NY, VT, ME, RI, CT, DE, MD, NJ, HI,  and DC to Senator Obama.  Everything else goes to Senator McCain.

This results in a 269 to 269 tie, which throws the election into the U.S. House of Representatives.

Unless . . .

You click that tiny little box that represents Nebraska’s 2nd District, turning it blue.

And then, with its one Electoral Vote, OMAHA SAVES THE WORLD!!!

Well, I mean, jeez.

SOMEbody has to.

Posted in Brad, Dammit!, Disaster Relief, Fantasy, Fun, Health and Safety, Horror, Politics, Science Fiction | 3 Comments »

The Internet Is For . . . Sociopaths

July 11th, 2008 by Bradley Denton

He's out there.

In my fifty years, I have encountered only one person whom I have deliberately, unequivocally, and publicly cut out of my life.

That person then completely (and blessedly) vanished from my personal radar for eighteen years.

Some of my fellow Brainiacs, and some of our visitors, will recall this individual as well – or will after I describe him. Thought he was gone, didn’t you?

Well, thanks to the Internet, he’s back. So this is the latest and greatest reason why I don’t like the Internet. (Oh, sure, I use it. Here I am using it right now. However, as I’ve noted before: I don’t like cars, but I know how to drive. And I don’t like guns, but I know how to shoot. Life in the modern world often requires unpleasant compromises.)

What was the deal with this guy? And why did you shun him so utterly? many of you are wondering.

I’ll attempt to explain.

According to the American Psychiatric Association (as quoted on Wikipedia – a dubious source, but since it’s on the g***amn Internet, an appropriate reference point), a person must display three out of the following seven criteria to be diagnosed with “antisocial personality disorder” (that is, to be considered what a layman such as myself would call a “sociopath”):

1. Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;

2. Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;

3. Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead;

4. Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;

5. Reckless disregard for safety of self or others;

6. Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;

7. Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.

The only one of these characteristics that this guy didn’t clearly display (from my admittedly non-professional vantage point) was Number 4.

But as for the rest – you better believe it. Six out of seven.

Add in a pretty high level of insidious personal charm, and you’ve got Poison.

Read More »

Posted in Barb, Brad, Dammit!, Education, Health and Safety, Horror, People, Personal History, You | 13 Comments »

The Return of LAUGHIN’ BOY

July 8th, 2008 by Bradley Denton

Laughin' Boy - Wheatland Press - Darin Bradley cover

As I return to Eat Our Brains after an absence of a few weeks, I’m also announcing the return of my novel LAUGHIN’ BOY as a trade paperback.  It’s available for preorder from Wheatland Press right this minute.  The stunning cover art is by Darin Bradley.

LAUGHIN’ BOY was originally published as a limited-edition hardcover by Subterranean Press in 2005.  It was a gorgeous book, and it sold out . . . but its cover price and small print run meant that a lot of potential readers didn’t see it.  So I’m beyond delighted that Wheatland Press is now publishing this less-expensive but equally beautiful edition.

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“[Laughin' Boy] is one of the funniest novels of the past decade.”

                                  — John Clute in SciFi Weekly (SciFi.com)

Posted in Brad, Fiction, Horror, Publishing, Science Fiction, Writing | 11 Comments »

Who Do You Love?

June 5th, 2008 by Bradley Denton

What Mr. McDaniel Made 

On Tuesday, I had lunch at my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant in the world, which happens to be located five minutes from my house. My favorite barbecue joint is maybe another minute beyond that. There’s a terrific pizza-and-burger joint nearby as well. Manchaca, Texas is a near-paradise in this regard. And we just got a deli, so I’ll have to check that out. If it’s any good, I may never leave this ZIP code again.

In the booth next to mine at the Tex-Mex joint, two gentlemen were having an animated conversation in Russian. One of them sounded pissed-off about something, but I could be wrong about that. Anyone speaking Russian always sounds a little pissed-off to me. (Ditto if they’re speaking German.) (Or English.)

I had never heard anyone in Manchaca conversing in Russian before. Our two most common languages around here are Spanish and GoodOlBoy. So as I was leaving, I thought about pausing beside the two gentlemen and welcoming them to Central Texas, since they obviously weren’t from around here. But at the moment when I might have done that, one of them was gesturing with a crushed quesadilla. So I kept walking.

Now, if I had actually stopped and spoken with them, what would I have said after welcoming them to this small chunk of the world?

Well, I might have asked the same question the restaurant host had asked as he’d seated me. He’d seen that I was carrying the new issue of Rolling Stone with B.B. King, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Carlos Santana, Buddy Guy, and a few others on the cover — and he’d asked me:

“You know what happened yesterday, right?”

Oh, yeah. I knew. So he and I commiserated over it for a few minutes.

And later, as I left the restaurant, I found myself profoundly satisfied to live where I live.

It ain’t perfect, and there are too many born-again churches and Bush/Cheney bumper stickers for my personal taste. But on the other hand –

It’s a place with tremendous brisket and chimichangas. It’s a place that now has at least three conversational languages (four, if you count Baptist). It’s a place where the veterinarian knows the names of all your dogs, both living and passed-on, and buys your books to boot. It’s a place where harp legend James Cotton sometimes shows up at the local bar just to jam with whoever’s playing that night. It’s a place where black buzzards stand guard on cell-phone towers, protecting the community from the Evil Dead. It’s a place where the volunteer fire department serves breakfast five days a week.

It’s a place where we’re glad there was a Bo Diddley.

You know what happened Monday, right?

And if you answered “Yes” to that question, here’s another one to answer just for yourself:

“Who Do You Love?”

Posted in Brad, Daily Life, History, Music, People, Personal History, Pop. Culture, You | 6 Comments »

Disillusionment No. 18,612

May 16th, 2008 by Bradley Denton

Blackburn (2007 edition) 

From Publishers Weekly online, May 12, 2008 (“Picador Works the Trade“): 

One way the imprint is getting sales reps excited about older titles is through an initiative called “The Best Books You’ve Never Read.” The idea, Farrell said, grew out of a conversation with Augusten Burroughs. Burroughs, who is published by Picador, was talking with staffers at the house last year about some of the gems on the imprint’s backlist. He sang the praises of one title in particular, Blackburn by Bradley Denton. . . .  With that endorsement, Picador republished the book in April 2007, with a glowing cover quote from Burroughs, and the Best Books program was born. (Though Farrell said the title “wasn’t a blockbuster,” it sold well enough to entice Picador to continue the program.)

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“wasn’t a blockbuster” ??

Dang.  My mother lied to me.

Again.

Posted in Brad, Education, Mom Is A Liar, Publishing | 4 Comments »

A Wild and Crazy Truth

May 15th, 2008 by Bradley Denton

Let's Get Small 

I usually dislike books labeled as “memoir” (though I occasionally read them), because I’ve always known they can’t be trusted.

In fact, when the whole Million-Little-Pieces debacle unfolded a few years ago, I was bemused by the “Shocked! Shocked!” reaction it provoked. Seriously, now: Were daytime-television bookclubbers really surprised to discover that “memoir” is French for “big fat self-serving lie”?

Besides, even if a memoirist endeavors to be as truthful as memory allows, he or she will still get something wrong. I myself, the earthly avatar of Honesty and Cub-Scoutiness, have discovered that I often just flat misremember things. Last year, for example, I wrote an essay for Eat Our Brains in which I described a childhood game that I said had no name, but that I would refer to as “Dizzy Idiots.” Then, a few months ago, my Baby Brother (who could now crush me ‘twixt his thumb and forefinger like an overripe grape) reminded me that the game I had described did have a name. It was called “Tornado.”

[Well, Baby Brother would have a better memory of that game than I would. He was the one who wound up in the Emergency Room because of it.]

Read More »

Posted in Art, Brad, Fun, Geniuses, History, People, Pop. Culture, reading, Writing | 4 Comments »

I Think Brad Has the Same Harp Rack

May 14th, 2008 by Steven Gould

Seen at BoingBoing.

Posted in Brad, Movies, Music, Science Fiction, Steve | 7 Comments »

Sometimes You Just Have to Shoot the General Land Office

May 1st, 2008 by Bradley Denton

 BLAMMO!

On the west side of Congress Avenue in downtown Austin, between Sixth and Seventh Streets, stands a statue of a lady in her nightgown . . . firing a cannon.

This statue (which you can see in its full downtown-Austin context via Google StreetView) depicts a real person and event. The lady was Angelina Eberly, and modern-day Austin probably would not be the capital of Texas were it not for her cannon shot – which was the only shot fired during the so-called Archives War of 1842.

Read More »

Posted in Brad, History, People, Politics | 14 Comments »

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