October 21st, 2006

twain & tesla

His youth a fountain. Overdrafted and still counting.

(title for triciasullivan)

One more reason why I like living in New England. The Connecticut Department of Homeland Security is apparently one of the donors to our local NPR station.

(For non-Americans, or Americans who get their news from CNN, National Public Radio is a privately-run not-for-profit agency, not a government-controlled broadcast arm, and not a crown corporation like the BBC or CBC. [I have a British friend who does not believe me on this point, but there you go. It's paid for by the listeners.] Public radio stations get about 2% of their funding by applying for grants, and that percentage keeps shrinking; most of the money comes from corporations trying to appear to be good citizens, philanthropical organizations, and community members with some extra dosh. Memberships run about $35.00 a year at the base rate.)

Anyway, NPR is one of the better news sources around, although they are fairly frequently accused of having a liberal bias. (This generally means that they're slightly to the left of Richard Nixon, by American political standards.) 

The announcement of sponsorship was in the same station break as a promo for "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me," a humorous news quiz show generally devoted to mocking President Bush and Vice-President Cheney, and whatever incidentals might happen along in the interim. This particular promo went something to the effect of, "Now that President Bush has the power to detain and torture anyone he likes, today's broadcast of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me will be replaced with an hour of patriotic music."

...in Yankeeland, even the fascists support mocking the government.

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problem cat

I get by with a little help from my friends.

One of the symptoms of my brain being on writerly downtime, around here, is that I start playing around with Photoshop. Which means icons.

I'm not particularly good at it (I certainly don't create the kind of mini-masterpieces other folks on the reading list do) but I keep myself entertained.

Anyway, that's what I've been doing in between reading Kavalier & Clay. Good lord, Chabon's kind of ham-handed about introducing the Designated Love Interests, isn't he? Maybe I am more subtle than I think I am.

Anyway, here's the new crop, which is partially anghara's fault. If anybody can't live without one of them, feel free to grab it.

        

I'm off tonight to brankauti's place for Practice Thanksgiving. Have fun without me, all.
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    Leonard Cohen - In My Secret Life
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phil ochs troubador

be a juke box hero, got stars in his eyes--

So, not too long ago, I happened to mention to stwish that I was thinking of taking up a musical instrument again. In my chequered past, I've mostly not-learned saxophone, bass, and six-string, and then what with one thing and another, dropped each and every one without a backwards glance or so much as a memory of how to read sheet music.

Anyway, this is a source of deep familial shame, as my mom is musically inclined (she was first chair first horn in high school) and in addition to being a historian, my dad is a luthier and pretty damned fine blues banjo player. You can hear one of his songs here: it's the song of the month on Lightnin' Wells' home page currently. Also, it's a source of annoyance to me, as I dearly love music, and would like to know more about it on a practical level.

And I frankly need some sort of creative hobby that isn't narrative-related, because writing is my job now, and no longer induces an alpha state. *g*

Anyway, after spending two days trying to convince me to take up harp (I thought about it, but that's way too twee for a fantasy writer) with me going "I dunno, I was thinking of picking up a second-hand banjo or guitar or something I can noodle around with" (My supreme ambition right now is to be able to play "Eleanor Rigby," to give you an idea of just how much I suck), he threw up his metaphorical hands (the only thing as stubborn as a Ukrainian is a female Ukrainian) and said, "Well, don't buy a guitar, I've got an old one Bud made lying around I'll send you."

Bud is my "Uncle" Bud, Bud Russell (no relation, afaik), a gifted woodworker and artist who also made me a fantastic pair of bear bookends that hold up my brag shelf. And stwish, given what he does for a living, tends to accrue old musical instruments the way I accrue books. Which is to say, check before you sit down, or you might have an intimate encounter with a mandolin or something.

Brothers and sisters, my dad pulled a fast one on me.

This guitar is a thing of beauty. The body is canary wood, and the faceplate is salvaged chestnut, patterned with borer holes. And it sounds fantastic. And he sent along an electronic tuner, so I have no damned excuse. I just tuned it and spent a happy half an hour playing chromatic scales and trying to hold down a c major chord without screaming. And man, I have no finger strength at all.

On the other hand, my ear is better than I thought. Which is something.

Yell at me if I don't practice, okay?

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    David Bowie - Seven