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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:


Ghost Riders in the Sky / Vampires in the Sun


(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 »

Black Symphony

October 12th, 2009 by Rory Harper


My apologies for missing my post yesterday — I spent a great weekend in Austin, hanging out with my Wild-Ass NeoPagan Tribe(TM) at the ScotchtoberFest party and seeing Zombieland with She Who Is Awesome and her thrall, Jesse. Then I rode back to CS in a cold, wet miserable drizzle. I’d neglected to bring my foul-weather gear with me because said there was a 10% chance of rain this weekend. I felt like a drowned kitten by the time I slithered off the bike. can go screw themselves.


Anyhow — I’ve always been a total sucker for orchestral rock. Except for prog-rock, which generally sucks. Saw the Moody Blues live three or four times, and the Metallica thing with the London Symphony Orchestra is also a fav.

Symphonic Goth Metal takes it to new level for me. Tonight we have Within Temptation’s magnum opus, Black Symphony, on the turntable. They got the Metropole Orchestra and a bunch of monks who’d given themselves over to the dark side to play with them one night.

They’re a Dutch band with a long and apparently happy history as a family. Sharon den Adel, their lead singer, has some amazing pipes on her. She’s also a major hottie. Unfortunately, she’s hooked up with her lead guitarist — as all chick singers do — and has even gone so far as to have a child with him in a futile effort to convince me to quit sending her those letters professing my undying adoration.

I had a difficult time deciding which cut from the album to present to you. They range from pretty-damn-metal to pretty-damn-symphonic. I have the album, and highly recommend it to you, especially the version that includes a DVD of the concert.

Click the pic at the top of this post for Jillian, which opens the album after the overture.  I encourage you to surf YouTube for other excellent songs from that night. The cut for Jane Doe isn’t on the US version of the album, and it was the one that got me into them to start with.  It does rock harder than Jillian. The big Frankensteiny guitarist who chases her across the stage in this vid is her main squeeze. I just don’t know what she sees in him.

You can also hit their site. It leads with Utopia, a ballady new song that isn’t metal at all, but is kinda-sorta heart-breaking. It’s a pre-sale song for their upcoming An Acoustic Night at the Theatre. It’s got an orchestra in it, so I’ll have get it, too.


Posted in Music, Rachael is Awesome, Rory | 7 Comments »

Nothing Else Better To Do

September 27th, 2009 by Rory Harper


Okay, it’s been completely dead in here for far too long.

I’ve been a near-total hermit since sometime late last year. I blame Obama. But I’m hereby officially re-committing to posting some postings at least once a week. I already have a couple in my head. They may not all be the casual masterpieces that you’ve grown accustomed to seeing from me. But they’ll be something.

I’m kicking off with a new song that I’ve largely finished mixing this morning.

It’s probably the most highly-produced song I’ve done yet, with all sorts of layers and panning and automation envelopes and synths and on and on about stuff you don’t care about.

And, Ghod help me, I smashed it all to hell with compressors and limiters. It just seemed like the kind of tune that called for that. Another sad victim of the Loudness Wars. I left a few transients in there somewhere. Maybe.

I like to think that this one is in the finest tradition of EatOurBrains.

I hope that it’s an easy listen for you.

…Uh… You should play it loud….


Nothing Else Better to Do


EDIT on 10-04-09: I’ve just loaded a slight remix of the song, for increased clarity. I brought the vocals forward so that they’re more intelligible, increased the strings’ level for ear candy, and got rid of some mud in the bottom end. I don’t know about you guys, but I usually don’t enjoy having mud in my bottom end.

Hugs to all of you


Posted in Dammit!, Geniuses, mp3, Music, Rory, Zombies | 9 Comments »

Stand By Me — Around the World

April 29th, 2009 by Rory Harper

This is a transcendant piece of video- and music-making. Sean e-mailed me the link, suggesting that we might enjoy it.

At least in my case, he was absolutely correct in his surmise. It’s a version of Ben E. King’s classic ‘Stand By Me’. It starts out small and personal, then quickly achieves orbital velocity as it goes global.



It’s too late for us to be among the earliest adopters on this song. But, if you haven’t alrady seen it, you have my heartiest encouragement to click the pic. It’s uplifting. And it rocks.


Posted in Music, Pop. Culture, Rory | 2 Comments »

Op zoek naar Maria – Dans in het Centraal Station van Antwerpen

April 3rd, 2009 by Steven Gould

This is what I said on Twitter:  Oh my god, OH MY GOD, OMYGHOD, OMIGHOD!

I saw it when Rachel Maddow twittered it. (Yes, I follow Rachel Maddow slavishly.) I’ve watched it six times and every time I end up with a big grin on my face.

Posted in Music, Steve | 3 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 »

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.


Rockin’ In The Free World


Blues Medley



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.



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 »

A Change is Gonna Come

November 9th, 2008 by Rory Harper

Props to OpenLeft for posting this tonight.

Seal is out with a new album of soul oldies. This song and vid totally blew me away. I’ve always thought of the Sam Cooke version as being definitive, but Seal’s version competes. Among many others, Otis Redding covered it and did not suck, either.



Seal was a serous Obama activist. The sub-text here ain’t so sub.


Addendum: I also really like Seal’s ‘Amazing‘. It feels like a much slicker cousin to Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy‘, which still gets stuck in my head occasionally.


Posted in Music, Politics, Rory | 1 Comment »

Obama, Lama, Duck

October 30th, 2008 by Steven Gould

So, if you aren’t familiar with the original (like Noble Girl and Twilight Ninja are) you won’t appreciate this as much, but I think it’s wonderful.  However, you can stop after the first repetition cause it repeats several times.

Posted in Art, Dammit!, Music, Noble Girl, Pop. Culture, Steve, Twilight Ninja Girl | 4 Comments »

Lonesome SugarLand Blues

September 21st, 2008 by Rory Harper

I’m baaaaack!

Yeah, it’s been pretty dead in here for far too long. There have been a lot of reasons for that, and I’m delighted to see Morgan posting this past week.

One major reason for my not writing, that I haven’t mentioned before, is that I’ve been needing to spit out some poison for some time now. I’ve been planning this long, angsty post for the past couple of weeks. I started it today, then, as happens so often, I found myself saying “Hey, frak this. I wanna play with the toys!”

So I today uploaded my very firstest YouTube vid. Go Me!



It is further evidence (as if that were needed) that the rest of Two-Headed Baby is wise to not allow me to sing with the band. It’s completely unedited, no audio or video processing whatsoever. I’m inordinately pleased with it.

I  probably still need to get that angsty post out of my system. But not today.


Posted in Fun, Music, Rory | 5 Comments »

The NSFW Band

July 13th, 2008 by Rory Harper

I’m going to try to start restoring some of our lost posts tonight, if I can keep my ADHD self focused for long enough.



In the meantime, I commend Don Was‘s site to you. He’s a long-time famous music producer and musician, and the site has a zillion videos of various recording sessions posted.

Perhaps my favorite among them is ‘I’m Coming Home’, by the marquee-friendly band Jackshit.

It rocks hard, with a tasty guitar solo. I am in love with the sound the bassist is getting.

And the drummer, who apparently just climbed right off the tractor to cut his part, has a slammin’ solo, too. Click the pic for more.


Posted in Music, Rory | Comments Off on The NSFW Band

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 »

And, Alas, Boldly Gone

June 1st, 2008 by Madeleine Robins

You might say that Alexander Courage was something like the Fifth Beatle of Star Trek. Or at least his theme music for the original Star Trek was. Even when Sarcasm Girl was very very tiny and the first few notes of the theme (glockenspiel, flute and oboe, the Spouse says) would come on (and this was for Next Generation, which would then go off into its own theme music), the kid would bounce up and down and say “Mama, mama! Captain! Space! Final frontier!” The eight note brass fanfare that was used to introduce scenes on the original series has that same effect: immediately you’re there, with the cheesy special effects, the scenery chewing–and also, the hope that mankind could get its shit together and go out into the universe to make friends with strange new civilizations.*

A lot of that had to do with Courage’s theme, which was both swaggering and yearning, very much rooted in that time in our history when Americans had been asked to consider what we could do for our country (or species). Courage, who died last week, had a long career in film and TV, and Star Trek was only a tiny part of it. But it’s the part that will always be, for some of us, the soundtrack of space exploration and mankind boldly trying to use its power for good.

*Or at least check out their women.

Posted in Daily Life, Music, People | 1 Comment »

To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before

May 30th, 2008 by Steven Gould

Four minutes forty-five seconds. Really, it will change your life.

Posted in Art, Dammit!, Dance, Horror, Labor Relations, Music, Steve | 9 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 »

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