I have asked a couple of people for five Things that they associate with
me, to ramble on about in my journal. I extend the same offer to anyone
who comments here.
Here are the five things I got from pocketnaomi:
I believe I started making up songs when I was eight or ten years old, but
didn't actually write any down until I was in college and found myself
rooming with two other guitar players. They would have been classifiable
as filksongs if I'd ever heard of such things at the time. I only
remember bits of one of them, but was told at the last reunion I went to,
a decade ago, that one of those former roommates still sings that and
another one, which I had entirely forgotten. I keep them in my computer
It was my involvement with fandom and filk that finally "gave me
permission" to write songs, a few of which were worth singing in public.
As time goes by I seem to have gotten better at it.
I wrote five songs last year, my most prolific year so far, and more than
the previous five years put together. Last year also included my two or
three best songs so far.
I have a tendency to write lyrics first; if I start with music it may take
years for the tune to attach itself to a suitable lyric.
I've helped teach songwriting at a couple of weekend workshops run by
Kathy Mar; I don't claim to be much good at that, but you're
welcome to read my notes
for the 2007 workshop and draw your own conclusions.
Programming is, in essence, the art of giving orders to an incredibly
fast, incredibly accurate, and moronicly literal-minded demon. As such,
it represents a very useful skill for game-players and parents. You will
note that I do consider it an art, and in particular a branch of
literature. (My degree is in Computer Science, but I feel strongly that
any field with the word "science" in its name isn't one.)
Another way of looking at it is to say that the inside of a computer is an
alternate universe where magic works: programs are spells, and obey most
of the usual laws of magic. They also share with traditional magic the
fact that a misspoken spell can wreak untold havoc.
Programming, like reading, is one of those activities I do in a light
trance state. When I'm on my game (increasingly rare these days) I
occasionally look up from my keyboard after what seems like a short time
and wonder why it's suddenly gotten dark outside.
Our household has four Saturday parties every year: one in late December
or early January celebrating the new year and our anniversary, one in
March (the "It's Green!" party, now by long-established tradition the
Saturday after Consonance) to celebrate Spring, St. Patrick's Day, and our
birthdays, one in June (originally to celebrate the anniversary of
Colleen's flower business, but now just for the tradition of it), and one
in late October to celebrate Halloween.
We also have an Open House every Wednesday -- these were originally
devised by Colleen to make sure that she would have adults to talk to even
after our older daughter was born.
The house is also more-or-less open during the entire Winter holiday
season; we don't exactly expect guests, but are never surprised if they
show up, and occasionally invite them.
Our 25th Anniversary party was remarkable in being the only one for which
we hired entertainment -- the members of Golden Bough had been to a few of
our previous parties, and we booked them a year in advance to make sure
they'd show up. It was also the only one we had to rent chairs for.
... is/was one of my favorite science fiction authors. The name
"Mandelbear" comes in part from a post I made in alt.callahans, and in
part from one of my favorite characters, the Middle-Sized Bear, in his
story "Mark Elf"; my latest and arguably most autobiographical song is
called "A Talk With
the Middle-Sized Bear". My first filk song, "The Shores of the
Night", was loosely inspired by another of his stories, "The Lady Who SailedThe Soul".
My favorite story of his is probably
"The Dead Lady of Clown
Town", though it's hard to pick just one. I especially admire him for his
imagery and his narrative style; many of his stories are written as if
they were popular history, written years -- centuries, in some cases --
after the events they recount. "Drunkboat" is also worthy of mention; its
description of the first journey through hyperspace is simply a
translation of Arthur Rimbaud's "Le Bateau
... is one of my favorite singer-songwriters, and probably the celebrity I
would most like to spend a night with -- swapping songs, of course.
She's also a long-time science fiction fan, and more recently author. I
see from her tour
schedule that she's toastmistress at the Nebula Awards banquet this
year. I have yet to run into her at a Worldcon; she never goes to the
I have been known to perform one of her songs, "The Last Train", in filk
circles and even at a concert or two.
Her website includes lots of good
articles on being a songwriter and performer, backed by 40-odd years of
experience. Highly recommended.