Two Headed Baby played a special gig last weekend.
It was a good weekend for me, in many, many ways. Iâ€™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. Iâ€™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.
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.
Iâ€™ve whined repeatedly about the Loudness Wars, but â€“ I smashed the hell out these recordings, just because it seemed the rock â€˜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 donâ€™t find it too painful to listen to.
Pics credit to Cheryl Collum, who, incidentally, happens to be my baby sister.
Instead of a music vid this week, Iâ€™d like to recommend to you this half-hour long presentation by a gentleman named Stephen Petranek. Itâ€™s called â€˜Ten Ways the World Could Endâ€™:
Itâ€™s from the TED Conference in 2002. This is the secret meeting that the Really Smart Cool People have every year. Up until recently, the proceedings werenâ€™t available to folks who arenâ€™t completely cool and smart. However, last year they started putting stuff on-line. I’m not sure why. Maybe they wanted everybody to know how cool and smart they are.
Massive props to The Dude for turning us on to TED months ago, in an email that that he sent to the secret Brainiac listserv that we maintain, where he told us all about it so we could become cooler and smarter. As if that were possible.
There are over 200 videos up on the TED site, and every one that Iâ€™ve viewed so far has been absolutely fascinating.
They’re not all as long as tonight’s featured flick, but you could waste at least a couple of days watching these things and probably enjoy them all. Except it wouldnâ€™t be a waste, as you would become progressively cooler and smarter with each one.
More later tonight, on my personal plans regarding that whole End of the World thing.
In the course of the article, it was revealed that, in Finland, thereâ€™s no mandatory testing for kids, little rote learning, and that, for the most part, the Finns prefer to let their teenagers be teenagers.
But buried in the middle of the article was an obvious reason the Finns are creating such bright kids: They actually believe in being smart.
For instance, the Finns are big readers.Â They even have libraries attached to their shopping malls.Â Iâ€™m pretty sure if there was a library attached to Barton Creek Mall here in Austin, the hoi polloi would beat a path through it to Starbucks and The GAP.
And even though the pay for teachers in Finland is roughly the same as what it is in the U.S., itâ€™s a prestigious job there. Applicants for teaching positions in Finland must hold a masterâ€™s degree.Â There are usually more than 40 applicants for every opening.Â But here was another secret: Teachers have more freedom in the way they teach than American educators do.
The other interesting facet is that Finnish teenagers are better at deductive reasoning than their counterparts in other counties.
We donâ€™t do smart here in the grand old U.S. of A.Â In fact, weâ€™re a country that despises smart people.Â The smarter you are, the more youâ€™re distrusted.Â Thereâ€™s been an anti-intellectual bent to our makeup since the early 1800s.
Our presidential picks are the most pronounced manifestation of this part of the American psyche.Â Eisenhower over Stevenson.Â Bush over Gore.Â (Does anyone remember the sturm und drang over Goreâ€™s â€œeye rollingâ€ during debates with Dubya?Â Yes, being dumbfounded by dumbness is a crime in this country.)
And now with John McCain as the presumptive nominee for the Republican party, Democrats are left with a choice between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.Â Odds are weâ€™re going to end up with a brokered convention, which would have been great had that been the case with the Republicans as well.
But here we are in a historic race â€“ first woman with a real shot at the White House and first black man with a shot at the White House.Â Given the fucking mess the Republicans have made of things (yes, with help from quisling Democrats) Democrats should be doing a happy dance right about now.
Except we canâ€™t.
The cold hard facts are that we cannot afford to have four more years of Republican rule.Â I know McCain is more palatable to many than most of the GOP candidates, but heâ€™s drunk the Neocon Kool-Aid.Â McCain has no intention of getting us out of Iraq.Â Heâ€™s salivating to out-Bush Bush.
From yesterday’s Wildcards signing in Albuquerque:
Click to embiggen.
They really did sign for the entire two hours.
Caroline, of course, is standing on the left side. (But it’s not her left. Hmmm.) From Left to Right:
Caroline Spector, Carrie Vaughn, Gail Gerstner-Miller, Vic Milan, Daniel Abraham, Sage Walker, George RR Martin, John Joseph Miller, Melinda Snodgrass, Chip Wideman, Ian Tregillis, and Walter Jon Williams.
I wish there was a Weekly Roundup today, but Iâ€™m afraid that the house remodeling adventures of the last two weeks have left me drained of my sanity, energy, and what little I have that passes for wit.
Remodeling, even the â€œeasyâ€ kind weâ€™re doing (replacing our old, animal-ravaged carpets with new hardwood floors and painting), is a nightmare. Itâ€™s particularly tough at Casa Spector because The Dude and I are packrats.Â The only difference between the two of us is that I tend to collect small stuff like vintage jewelry and The Dude has kept every piece of paper, toy, game, and hang tag that has ever touched his fingers.Â This can add up.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but trying to move the, hrummmm, stuff out of The Dudeâ€™s room was a week-long trial.Â It involved much dust, whining, and several threats.
Good evening, and welcome to 2008. Illness and travel have interfered with my posting the past few weeks. I do abase myselves (all mumblety-mumble of them) in the general direction of my fellow Brainiacs. *coff!* *coff!*
Part of it is that I don’t have much to post about. I have a major project at work, but it’s not something I can talk about just yet, as it will be sometime before we roll out the trumpets and red carpets and cast rose petals all about… Though I do have a bit of news, on the writing front: my editor, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, has made plans to visit NM soon, and as part of that will be providing feedback on The Work in Progress (a/k/a Feral Sapiens, the first in a series of novels I have planned set a few hundred years in the future). It’s currently scheduled for release in early 2009. Whee! I’ve been picking away at a couple of shorter stories set in the same universe, which I hope to complete and get out there soon. More updates as they occur.
Patrick is coming to New Mexico in part to help promote the launch of a new era in George RR Martin’s Wild Cards series: Inside Straight.
I managed to snag an early copy of the manuscript, and I must say, it is a compelling read: exciting adventure, chills — thrills — great characters. It’s a collection of stories that examines what heroism really means. The individual stories are integrated to the point that it reads more like a novel than a collection of short stories. It’s been my experience with earlier Wild Cards works that Martin has a deft hand as editor, and he delivers here. And his skills are well complemented by his sometime-co-editor, Melinda Snodgrass, who also has a story in this anthology. Daniel Abraham does an excellent job of weaving all the story elements together with the interstitial material, from the point of view of a pervy guy named Jonathan Hive. And as mentioned earlier, our own Caroline Spector has a kickass story in it. Highly recommended.
The Dude was out of town this week.Â This usually means I do extensive household projects and indulge in watching even more chick-flickage than usual.Â â€œSense and Sensibility,â€ â€œPride and Prejudiceâ€ — okay, Jane Austen anything — but you see where Iâ€™m going.Â I really thought I knew the ultimate in chick-flickage.
Boy, was I wrong.
See, I was booping around the dial, and as there was nothing on TV thanks to the writers strike and coverage of the New Hampshire primaries (thatâ€™s what the Internet is for, fer crying out loud!), I found myself deep in HD land with sparse pickings from which to choose.
But then I see â€œWe Are Marshallâ€ is playing on HBO HD.Â Yay, think I, Uplifting Sports Film.Â As The Dude and I are both well into our ohmyGodhasâ€FridaysNightLightsâ€jumpedtheshark? mode, I was ready for some good ole fashioned football as metaphor.
What I was not ready for was bawling my freaking eyes out for the entire hour and a half of the film.Â And as I was dabbing the tears from my eyes for the umpity-umph time, it occurred to me that I should not have been surprised.
See, the thing that I finally twigged to after lo, these many years, is that the biggest tear-jerkers arenâ€™t chick flicks.Â No, little precious, theyâ€™re sports movies.
Yes, our macho, testosterone-laden men are secretly huge suckers for the most shameless emotional manipulation available known to well, man.
Wherein I have no real good idea for a blog post, so I just talk about some random stuff.
I confess, I was a wee bit disappointed by the results of the Iowa caucuses.Â No, not on the Democratic side, thatâ€™s like, oh, any one of the candidates would be, you know, pretty much great. (And thatâ€™s â€œDemocraticâ€ not â€œDemocrat,â€ for our Fox-News-listening readers.Â I hate to confuse yâ€™all with the actual name of the Democratic Party, but I just canâ€™t stand how extra stupid you sound every time you deliberately mispronounce the name.Â Iâ€™m talking to you, George.)
I was disappointed that instead of voting for the cross-dressing, philandering, shithouse crazy, pro-abortion candidate, the Republicans chose the former-preacher, shithouse crazy, anti-choice candidate.Â Who, and god love â€˜im, is advocating doing away with the income tax and instituting a 23% federal sales tax.
This idea plays well to his base:Â morons.
Now, in all fairness, if you donâ€™t actually think for longer than a nanosecond about how this whole thing would work, it might sound like a good idea.Â You only pay taxes on the stuff you buy.Â
But if youâ€™ve ever had a class in ciphering, you know that there is no more regressive tax.Â Doing away with the income tax places a far greater burden on middle-income and lower-income folks than on the wealthy.
The dirtiest little secret about this idea is that in order to replace lost income tax funds, weâ€™d have to run the national sales tax at more like 50%.
As most of yâ€™all have figured out by now, I am not, by nature, a cheerful sort.Â But it being That Time of Year when everyone and their dog is making up lists of The Best, Worst, Blah-Blah-Blah of 2007, I thought, why the heck not get in on some of that action?
But, as I am in touch with the great powers of the universe, instead of looking back, Iâ€™d like to make my predictions for 2008.Â Iâ€™m certain I will do just as well as any other real psychic.
In 2008, all the school boards across the US will simultaneously decide that creation â€œscienceâ€ isnâ€™t, and will boot all references to it from classroom text books.Â They will also remember that one of the most basic tenets of our democracy is the separation of church and state and will start teaching that in school. But they wonâ€™t ignore the historical significance of religion, and will teach how it has affected our world — both for good and ill.Â Â
In 2008, Americans in droves will voluntarily give up their gas guzzlers for more fuel-efficient vehicles.Â They will also pressure the government to support real energy reform, not just crony giveaways to develop ethanol.
In 2008, Americans will demand that oversight in government be reinstated.Â Democrats and Republicans will drop their petty bickering and unite to clean up government, realizing, at last, that everyone loses when the government is run like a banana republic.
Unlike Steve, I havenâ€™t actually had anything to promote in the last year on EOB.Â Happily that has changed.
Next month, Tor Books will be releasing INSIDE STRAIGHT, a new Wild Cards book.Â I have a story in it.Â Itâ€™s plunked down in the middle of the book and the title is METAGAMES.Â As I am really not a short-story writer (Iâ€™m far too wordy for that), I was happy that this book is very tightly plotted and reads more like a novel than a collection of shorts.
Words! Words! Words! I’m so sick of words!
I get words all day through;
â€œShow Meâ€ from My Fair Lady, Music by Frederick Loewe, Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner.
Unlike Eliza Doolittle, I have no problem with words.Â In fact, I frickinâ€™ adore words.Â Iâ€™m so enamored of words that The Dude calls me a â€œJargon Monkey.â€Â
I am not at all offended by this.Â However, if he started calling me â€œMonkey Faceâ€ like Cary Grant does to Joan Fontaine in Suspicion, I might be less than thrilled.Â (On the other hand, if he said it using a Cary Grant accent… but I digress.)
What got me started on the whole, â€œI love words,â€ thing, was catching a promo for some movie the other day and one of the characters used the word â€œshenanigans.â€Â I was gob-smacked with delight. (Gob-smacked is another word I like.Â Okay, maybe itâ€™s more of a phrase, but work with me here, people.)
How often do you hear â€œshenanigansâ€ used?Â Not very.Â But itâ€™s a fantastic word.Â It rolls off the tongue — rich, full, polysyllabic, completely evocative of what itâ€™s describing.Â Damn, thatâ€™s some fine word there.Â Â
Later that same day, I was in the pharmacy waiting for a prescription.Â At the end of one aisle was an entire end-cap full of â€œcuratives.â€Â â€œWhen did yâ€™all start carrying nostrums?â€ I asked the pharmacist.Â â€œWhat are nostrums?â€ he replied.Â I pointed at the end-cap and said, â€œPalliatives. Potions of questionable efficacy.Â Nostrums.â€Â He nodded.Â â€œGood word.â€