Sunday, June 30, 2013
Friday, June 28, 2013
Thursday, June 27, 2013
When I studied history, one teacher showed us an old picture on FloScreen of something she called “nature”: flat courtyards of green stuff called “grass”, dotted with brown sticks with darker green fluffy stuff on top – she said nobody knew what they’d been called. Through the middle of the picture ran a coil of blue, curving through the grass – she said that was what rivers used to look like. Our river didn’t look like that. Our river was a swirl of brown running through a deep Geocrete channel.
(from Extinct Doesn’t Mean Forever, edited by Phoenix Sullivan)
7*/10. The full review is here.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Kitaro - My Best is, naturally enough, a compilation album. Released in 1986, it contains "early" Kitaro music, and comprises of tracks from his first 6 or 7 albums.
There are no lyrics, just 11 tracks of good, relaxing, multi-layered, ambient music. Great to read a book by.
- TRACKS (favorites in Pink) -01. Rising Sun
05. Silver Moon
06. Four Changes
07. Sacred Journey II
09. Silk Road Fantasy
10. Shimmering Light
It's hard to pick favorites for this album, even listening to it now as I write this. To a certain degree, the tracks all sound similar, and it doesn't help matters when you zone out and let it fade into background music. The truth is - they're all equally good tracks.
I purchased the LP for $2.99, probably at Revolver Records. IIRC, I cleaned them out of Kitaro vinyl one night.
I converted the album a couple months ago, and ISTR I didn't think it was badly scratched. But listening to it full-blast right now, Track 01 didn't clean up well. The rest of the album did, though. I may have to go back and manually remove the scratches from that first track.
The biggest problem with converting K-MB was chopping it into its tracks. Kitaro likes to fade out of one song while simultaneously fading directly into the next. In two cases, (Tracks 02 & 03, Tracks 09 & 10), I just kept them combined.
Kitaro has been putting out albums since the 1970's, but I've only recently started to listen to his stuff. I've converted two LP's, downloaded 2 CD's via Freegal, bought another 3 CD's (used), and have a couple more LP's sitting in the TBD (To Be Digitalized) pile in my man-cave. Needless to say, I highly recommend his music, especially to bibliophiles.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Saturday, June 22, 2013
“Mistress Weatherwax a bit poorly, is she?” said Hodgesaargh, coming in.“I think you could certainly say that, yes.”
“Oh dear. Want some tea?”
“It’s a nasty night. If we’re stopping up, I’ll put the kettle on.”
“Do you realize, man, that she might get up from there a bloodthirsty vampire?”
“Oh.” The falconer looked down at the still figure and the smoking anvil. “Good idea to face her with a cup of tea inside you, then,” he said.
(from Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett)
8*/10. The complete review is here.
Friday, June 21, 2013
Kulgrinda is a Lithuanian folk/pagan band dedicated to restoring the traditional songs, dances, and rituals in the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. The back-to-our-roots movement seems to be gaining some momentum, although sitting here in Arizona, I'm hardly the one to properly gauge it.
It appears to be a push-back against the dominant established church, which is the Russian Orthodox Church. These days, "Russian anything" is not overly popular in the Baltics.
Since several of my multiple personalities would be viewed as pagans, we are overall happy about this resurgence. And of course, the one bona fide Druid personality in my head is positively ecstatic.
There are a number of Kulgrinda's videos out on YouTube; I won't bother to post the links here. But I found it to be apropos music for today, the Summer Solstice. ANAICT, their music is not yet available at Amazon.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
WTF kind of a word is that? It appeared in the Scrabble section of the daily newspaper a couple weeks ago. By the "par score", I knew it had to be a 7-letter word. And heck, there are two N's and two O's, so how many combinations could there be? Naturally, "midnoon" came into my consideration, but I rejected it. Naturally, I was stumped on this one until reading the answer in the paper the next morning.
In fairness, it is a real word. You can google it and read its definition at Merriam-Webster's site.
But WTF, man. Noon is a 1-dimensional point in the time dimension. It has no width, so there is no mid-point. You can have "high noon" (exactly at the point of noon), "noon hour" (12:00 to 1:00), and even "noonish" (around 12 or so). But you can't have "midnoon".
It's a stupid word that needs to be purged from our language. If we don't, thousands of years from now, our descendants will find it in an ancient dictionary of ours, and conclude that we were mere Neanderthals, brain-wise.
Monday, June 17, 2013
“We don’t know what it will be like for us when we tip back. What if you go back but have to be around people who might drag you down, who might erase all the work you’ve done here? What if the place and the people you came from are what make you afraid in the first place? What if going back is a disaster?”
I hadn’t thought of it like that.
(from The Shells of Chanticleer, by Maura Patrick)
8*/10. The full review is here..
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Friday, June 14, 2013
Iain Banks (aka Iain M. Banks) passed away on 09 June, after a short battle against gall-bladder cancer, and at the all-too-early age of 59. He was a top-tier contemporary Science Fiction writer.
I've read two of his books - The Player of Games and Against A Dark Background, and two more of his books are on my TBR shelf. His world-building was fantastic and there was a flair to his writing. He will be missed.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
It was thought that peace might reign in the Nemeni house now that it clearly had a strong and resilient heir, with Domin now the oldest. That illusion shattered two years later when Lanova, the brother that was two years younger than Domin accidentally tripped and fell into Domin’s sword eighteen times.
(from The Fall Of House Nemeni, by M.D. Kenning)
4*/10. The full review is here.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
This is yesterday's Arlo & Janis comic. Which is timely, since last Saturday the neighbor lady showed up on our doorstep with two loaves of bread in her hands, wanting to know if we wanted them.
A couple things. She's done this several times now. And this is "store" bread, not homemade. It is also "past-its-expiration-date" bread she gets from a local bakery. She and the owner know each other through church. We won't identify the denomination, but they have magic panties.
It should also be said that we and our neighbors are not particularly chummy. Indeed, "frosty" would be a more appropriate description. So this act of sharing bread stems not from friendship.
So what is it? I've eaten some and haven't come down with the runs or food-poisoning. Is it penance she's doing for thinking bad thoughts about us? Or, like the Arlo-&-Janis strip, does she for some reason think we're down to our last dollar?
Monday, June 10, 2013
I picked this 4-LP boxed set up for $3.00 at the local Half-Price Bookstore. This is an out-of-print 1966 Time-Life release; part of their Story of Great Music series.
As noted in the lower-left corner, the music consists of works by Beethoven, Rossini, Schubert, and one Karl Maria von Weber, who, frankly, I had never heard of. In addition to the music, there's a 60-page booklet giving the biographies of the four composers, and a 36-page "Listener's Guide", which you can memorize and impress your peers.
That being said, Beethoven is clearly the dominant composer here - 5 album sides are devoted to his music. Rossini gets one side ("The Barber of Seville"); Schubert 1½ sides; and poor Weber gets just about ½ side.
If you're expecting "war" music (I was), you'll be disappointed. The tie-in apparently is that all the music was written around the time of Napoleon, and that all the composers did some 'revolutionary' things to classical music. In addition the three non-Beethovens apparently had contact with Ludwig himself, albeit sometimes in a very minor way.
-TRACKS -01.) Leonore Overture No. 3 (Beethoven)
02.) Overture to "Der Freischutz" (Weber)
03.) Symphony No. 5 (Schubert)
04.) Songs from "Die Schone Mullerin" (Schubert)
05.) Piano Concerto No. 4 (Beethoven)
06.) Piano Sonata No. 27 (Beethoven)
07.) Selections from "The Barber of Seville" (Rossini)
08.) String Quartet No. 16 (Beethoven)
09.) Symphony No. 3 (Beethoven)
The tracks are given in order, but some take up more than one side. All of the selections are enjoyable, but none of them will make you gasp in awe. Beethoven clearly outshines the others, but Weber was a pleasant surprise, and you'll laugh when Rossini's Barber of Seville starts up with the "Figaro" chorus.
The discs themselves were in variable conditions. Side 1-3 were almost pristine, but 4 and 5 had lots of scratches. As usual, the de-popper scratch-removal program struggled with the scratches that were in the "low-volume" portions. I had to amp up the volume of the "cleaned" music by about 30%.
Time-Life numbered the discs so you could stack them on your 60's turntable and listen to sides 1-4, and then just flip them all over and listen to sides 5-8. That's nice, but modern turntables (is that an oxymoron?) aren't stackable, and honestly, four straight hours of classical music is a bit much.
At $3.00, this boxed set was a good deal, but I'll probably delete Tracks 04 and 07, which are from operas. I prefer my Light Classical music without any singing.
Sunday, June 09, 2013
Thursday, June 06, 2013
Suppose I threw you down the strata, back into time, Joan’s mother had said to her. After just a hundred thousand years you’d lose that nice high forehead of yours. Your upright-walker legs would be gone after three or four million years. You’d grow your tail back after twenty-five million years. After thirty-five million, you’d lose the last of your ape features, like your teeth; after that you’d be a monkey, child. And then you’d keep on shrinking. Forty million years deep you’d look something like a lemur. And eventually-
Eventually, she would be a little ratty thing, hiding from dinosaurs.
(from Evolution by Stephen Baxter)
9½*/10. The complete review is here.
Wednesday, June 05, 2013
Tuesday, June 04, 2013
Monday, June 03, 2013
I have grown to like Southern Rock. Primarily because its bands almost have two lead guitars, which inherently means some bitchin' guitar solos.
That being said, I don't know how I've missed out on Outlaws for so long. Fortunately, a friend posted one of their songs on FaceBook a couple weeks ago, and that spurred me to go get a bunch of their albums to convert.
Outlaws is their 1975 eponymous debut album, and it frickin' rocks. The vinyl was in good shape and cleaned up nicely.
- Tracks (favorites in pink) -01.) There Goes Another Love Song
02.) Song For You
03.) Song In The Breeze
04.) It Follows From Your Heart
05.) Cry No More
07.) Stay With Me
08.) Keep Prayin'
09.) Knoxville Girl
10.) Green Grass & High Tides
There Goes Another Love Song got all the airplay, and worthily so. But Green Grass & High Tides is really the high point of the album. Waterhole is just the band showing off on their musical talents, which is jaw-dropping.
The whole album is strong. The vocals are great, the guitar-work is tight, and the songwriting is superb. This is what Crosby, Stills & Nash should've sounded like. For some reason, their used LP's are cheap, and I think four others are on the floor, waiting to be converted. So you can expect to hear me drool some more over these guys.
Sunday, June 02, 2013
Saturday, June 01, 2013
"What are your fees?" inquired Guyal cautiously.
"I respond to three questions," stated the augur. "For twenty terces I phrase the answer in clear and actionable language; for ten I use the language of cant, which occasionally admits of ambiguity; for five, I speak a parable which you must interpret as you will; and for one terce, I babble in an unknown tongue."
(from 'The Dying Earth', by Jack Vance)