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mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I am falling behind in FAWM -- it's the 9th, and as of this afternoon I had only two songs up. Now, thanks to a collaboration with [personal profile] pocketnaomi, I have three (which is still behind, only not as much).

Today's s4s is Weird Load, and it was a heck of a lot of fun. N had the initial idea, and wrote the chorus (including the melody). I filled in the verses, and N posted it after some edits. Then I consed up the verse melody (which is almost the same as the chorus). It continues my short string of truck songs, although it's not connected at all to the other two.

Lyrics )

February Album Writing Month: FAWM.ORG/fawmers/mdlbear/.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Since I'm doing FAWM (February Album-Writing Month) (for the first time), and I've just uploaded my first song, and it's Saturday, I'm going to subject you to it.

The song in question is "Twenty-First Century Breakup Song", and it even has an audio track. lyrics, just for the record )

By the end of yesterday I'd squeezed out a four line verse and what looked like three lines of a chorus. The chorus actually made it all the way into the final song, having acquired two more lines. It took me a most of today to make the verses work, but when I got the last verse to come together I knew it was going to work.

The melody came together in less than an hour. That often happens; I tend to start hearing bits of it in my head while I'm writing. D is an easy key to play, and generally a good one for me to sing in.

mdlbear: (rose)

I'm not sure whether to lead with the back-story, or the song. I think the song. One of the songs. For some of the back-stories.

Today's song is Janis Ian's "Welcome to Acousticville" (Lyrics). It's on her album, Hunger. Go and listen. I'll wait.

Back-story - the song

I first heard "Welcome to Acousticville" the one time I heard Janis perform live, at a little Mexican restaurant called Don Quixote in Felton, CA. (You might want to look at my post, though it doesn't say very much.) "Welcome to Acousticville" was one of my two favorite songs from that concert; the other was "The Last Train" (lyrics. I've sung that one quite a few times, though not recently. Never had the guts to try "Welcome to Acousticville".

Janis Ian is a science fiction fan; I find it interesting but not surprising that my two favorite songs of hers are fantasy; neither would be out of place at a filksing.

Back-story - the title

This post grew out of comments by me and [personal profile] technoshaman on bairnsidhe's poem, "No Simple Highway". I've already posted a Songs for Saturday about "Ripple"; what brought this one on was the later discussion of my purple rose icon (which you can see on this post) in connection with psychopompery. (I know it isn't officially a word, but it's what psychopomps do, and I'm not the first one to use it.)

Back-story - the icon

The rose icon started out as a gif that somebody posted on Usenet; I took out the background and adjusted the color balance until it looked right. I created it in 1990, in honor of my daughter Amethyst Rose. I first used it as an icon on LJ in 2003; it appears to have been the second icon I uploaded, after the fractal that I still use as a default.

Since then, I've been using it as my standard icon not only for the Amethyst Rose posts, but for most posts and comments about grieving. Most people use a candle.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Back in November I wrote an S4S about Stan Rogers' "The Mary Ellen Carter". It's one of the two songs my family turns to when things are going bad. Here's the other.

Sydney Carter's song "Julian Of Norwich", more commonly known as "The Bells of Norwich", is about hope. It's been in short supply lately.

The lyrics are taken, more or less directly, from the writings of Julian of Norwich, who lived in what historian Barbara Tuchman called "The Calamitous 14th Century". Hope was in even shorter supply back then: the page in Wikipedia about the book lists ...the Hundred Years' War, the Black Plague, the Papal Schism, pillaging mercenaries, anti-Semitism, popular revolts including the Jacquerie in France, the liberation of Switzerland, the Battle of the Golden Spurs, and peasant uprisings. Not to mention the advance of the Islamic Ottoman Empire into Europe, ending in the disastrous Battle of Nicopolis.

The relevant quote from Julian's writing is

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

That comes through in the song's chorus as

Ring out! Bells of Norwich, and let the winter come and go. All shall be well again, I know.

This would probably be a good time for you to go listen to the song: Here's one, on YouTube, accompanied by hammered dulcimer. Here's another, with a very pretty harp part, recorded by the OHRWURM Folk Orchestra. (Interesting name, what?) There are others.

Nobody knows Julian's real name. She was an anchoress, who lived in a cell attached to St Julian's Church in Norwich. Her book, Revelations of Divine Love, is believed to be the first surviving book written in English by a woman, and is much beloved.

I'll leave you with the last chorus:

All shall be well, I'm telling you, Let the winter come and go. All shall be well again, I know.

I wish I could believe that. Maybe if I sing it loud enough.

mdlbear: (ccs)

In 1985 I wrote a song called: "The World Inside the Crystal". At the time there didn't seem to be any songs about computers, or programming, that weren't meant to be funny. (I think there might have been a few about AI or robots that were meant to be scary. It's entirely possible that this was the first serious computer song ever written.)

I also wanted to explore the notion that inside of computers is an alternate universe where magic works. I don't remember whether I came up with that, or somebody else mentioned it to me; it was definitely an idea that I was kicking around at that time. Kick it far enough, and it winds up someplace like this:

Beside the world we live in Apart from day and night Is a world ablaze with wonder Of magic and delight Like a magic crystal mirror, My computer lets me know Of the other world within it Where my body cannot go. chorus: You can only see the shadows Of electrons on a screen From the world inside the crystal That no human eye has seen. The computer is a gateway To a world where magic rules Where the only law is logic Webs of words the only tools Where we play with words and symbols And creation is the game For our symbols have the power To become the things they name. chorus Now you who do not know this world Its dangers or its joys You take the things we build there And you use them as your toys. You trust them with your fortunes, Or let them guard your lives. From the chaos of creation Just their final form survives. chorus Call us hackers, call us wizards, With derision or respect, Still our souls are marked by something That your labels can't affect. Though our words are touched by strangeness There is little we can say. You would only hear the echo Of a music far away. chorus

I can always tell the programmers in the audience -- they've been there. It won a Pegasus Award for "Best Science Song" in 1997, possibly because I mentioned it on Usenet.

There are several different recordings. The one to start with is Kathy Mar's cover here, off of her tape Plus &csedilla;a Change, with an awesome synth track by Chrys Thorsen. The one on my CD is okay, although I'm not all that happy with it now. It's way too fast, for one thing, and there isn't an instrumental break before the last verse. It's on YouTube courtesy of my distributor, CD Baby.

There have been some good ones in concerts. The one at Consonance 2009, with Tres Gique, is one of the better ones. Here's another, at Baycon 2009. Consonance 2012 appears to be my best (recorded) solo performance. Audio players don't come off all that well on DW, but I'll close with one anyway.

mdlbear: (smith-lightsails)

"Ship of Stone", by Don Simpson, is my favorite song. Not filk song; song. I don't remember the first time I heard it, but it was written in 1981, which is just about when I was first getting involved with filk; I first heard it sung by Leslie Fish, so it would have sounded a lot like this (from her tape Chickasaw Mountain). Here's a more recent version from Avalon is Risen. This is Kathy Mar's a capella version, from Yankee Doodles, recorded at the 1986 Worldcon.

I sing it too, of course. Probably the best recorded version to date is in Tres Gique's concert at Baycon 2009 [ogg] [mp3]. There's a solo version in my Fan GOH concert at Baycon 2010; you can find others in Tres Gique, Consonance 2007 and my concert at Conflikt 2009.

I really need to make my music easier to search for, don't I?

The thing I love about this song (aside from a melody that lends itself perfectly to my picking style) is the vast sweep of history it implies. Earth has been lost in the depths of time, and become a legend. Humanity has spread throughout the galaxy -- the "wheel of light" -- living in fusion-powered starships (you can tell that from the "blue, glowing wings" that sweep up interstellar hydrogen to burn). All that's left of Earth is the song and the story it tells.

A few years back (I don't remember how many) after reading Norman Spinrad's novel Riding the Torch, Don confirmed my guess that that had been his inspiration.

One's first impression, hearing the song, is that it's set a few thousand years in the future, but that would be way too short a time. It's been long enough for humans to have spread throughout the Milky Way, which is some 200,000 light-years across, and to have evolved (or more likely engineered themselves) into many different sub-species. It's as if the story had been passed down to us from the Late Paleolithic; about the time of the earliest known bone flutes.

As I say on the lyrics page on my website, "If one of the songs we're singing now is still being sung a thousand years from now, it will probably be this one." Next time it comes up for a Pegasus, please vote for it.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

We took advantage of the fact that N and her kids are up at this end of the household for Thanksgiving to get in some practice. Mostly this consisted of songs we are working on harmonies for; in addition the idea is to go down to Everett tomorrow and sing for Colleen in her hotel hospital room. Fortunately there's a lot of overlap. I'm not entirely sure of the order, but we worked on:

There's a story about "Gentle Arms of Eden". Back in 2009, at Consonance, I was in two different groups, Tres Gique and Tempered Glass, which had consecutive concerts at Consonance. We also had a problem -- we wanted to move a song out of the second set so that Tres Gique's bass player wouldn't have to come back on stage during the second concert for that one song. N thought for a little while and pulled up a set of lyrics and chords from some website or other, and asked if I thought I could play guitar on it. I looked at it -- it's in G -- and said yes. I spent the next 20 minutes running through it with N before going on stage for the Tres Gique concert; we sent Tres Gique's drummer down to the lobby to print it out.

We got the printed lead sheet about half a minute before going on stage for the Tempered Glass set, and pretty much nailed it.

NaBloPoMo stats:
  13854 words in 26 posts this month (average 532/post)
    548 words in 2 posts today

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

It isn't the song I originally intended to write about, but it's been a rough week, and the first song I turn to when things are going down the tubes is "The Mary Ellen Carter".

You probably know it, especially if you've been hanging around me, or filkers in general, for a while. Just in case you don't, though, or you need to hear it again, here's Stan Rogers singing it. It's the second version I heard; I don't remember who I first heard singing it at a con, but I tracked down the CD -- it's on Home In JHalifax -- and learned it, because because I had to. The lyrics are in the first comment, but just in case you want a version with chords, here you go.

It's not about making me feel better. That doesn't work. It's about making me feel defiant enough to damned well get up and keep going anyway.

Afterward, depending on what's going on, I'll sing "Desolation Row", "Bells of Norwich", or maybe even QV. But it's "The Mary Ellen Carter" I turn to first.

And you, to whom adversity has dealt the final blow, With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go, Turn to, and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain And like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again. Rise again, rise again; though your heart it be broken And life about to end, No matter what you've lost, be it a home, a love, a friend Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.

See you next week.

NaBloPoMo stats:
  11005 words in 19 posts this month (average 579/post)
    438 words in 2 posts today

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

One of the songs Lookingglass Folk have been working on recently is "Mary O'Meara" (words by Poul Anderson, music by Anne Passovoy) -- according to my archives we started working on it in mid-July, and possibly earlier. (Bears have notoriously bad memories; find and grep are my good friends.)

I remember reading the song in Poul's novel, World Without Stars back in 1966, when it was serialized in Analog under the title "The Ancient Gods". A good story, but what really made it memorable was the song, verses of which were threaded through the story. When I heard it at a filksing, at least a decade later, it brought the whole thing back.

OK, before we go any farther, if you haven't heard the song (it's passed out of the filk repertoire in recent years, possibly due to over-exposure) go listen to it! Here's "Mary O' Meara" sung by Windbourne on YouTube. The only copy of the lyrics I could find online is here, on Mudcat -- skip the comments. Darned if I can figure out where I found the chords [pdf]; possibly in a songbook somewhere.

 

Now, go over to kjn | The origins of Mary O'Meara, where you'll find the song that inspired it: "Anna Lovinda", by Norwegian songwriter Erik Bye, published in 1960. The post contains translations of the original lyrics, and a Danish translation that was probably what Poul was thinking of.

Reading those, you can tell that the basic story and most of the imagery of "Mary O'Meara" came directly from "Anna Lovinda". What's more, the meter is fairly close as well. kjn's post has a good analysis, which I'm not going to try to duplicate.

At this point, I'm going to leave you with this stunning performance of "Anna Lovinda" by Sissel Kyrkjebø, Bjørn Eidsvåg, and Åge Aleksandersen from 2006.

 NaBloPoMo stats:
   5068 words in 11 posts this month (average 460/post)
    339 words in 1 post today

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Today I'm going to talk a little about my all-time favorite Grateful Dead song (and occasionally my favorite song, period): "Ripple". OtherBear ran across a drop-dead gorgeous cover of it: Ripple - Playing for Change [YoutUbe]. Go listen and watch; I'll wait. Let there be songs to fill the air!

What I like about that video is the absolutely seamless cutting between the various musicians. Just magic. Makes you want to go off with a guitar and sing it -- so I did. The chords you usually find on the web are in G, so it's dead simple to play, and right in the middle of my vocal range. (The original was in F, so it would be perfect on a 12-string tuned down the traditional two frets. Just sayin'.)

It's a very strange song. For the most part, I have no idea what it actually means, but it hangs together nevertheless, invoking an overall feeling of slightly mystical tranquility that's been missing recently in my life. It just sort of ripples along quietly. The fact that the chorus is a haiku (though not in the usual 5-7-5 layout; it's 6-7-4) probably contributes to the tranquility:

Ripple in still water When there is no pebble tossed Nor wind to blow

If you left YouTube up, you might want to check out some other versions. this, for example, is the studio version, which is where I first encountered it. Also, check out The Annotated "Ripple" for the lyrics and more. Dodd may be going a bit off the deep end with the analysis; literary criticism really isn't my field so I can't be sure. But there really are some amazing depths in that song.

If I knew the way, I would take you home. See you next week.

NaBloPoMo stats:

   1528 words in 4 posts this month (average 382/post)
    333 words in 1 post today

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

As far as I can tell, Careage of Whidbey is the only skilled nursing and rehab facility on the island; Colleen has been there since last Monday getting her legs back after a week in a hospital bed. (She's doing extremely well, but that's another story.) I've been bringing a guitar along when I visit.

So yesterday I was playing for her after lunch when somebody came to tell us that the ice cream social was starting at 3:30. Colleen and her caregiver, V, immediately volunteered (voluntold?) me for entertainment.

It wasn't a very big audience, and I'm rather out of practice, but it seemed to come off pretty well. (I was surprised at just how well - the usual sketchy chords, but no trainwrecks.) I neglected to keep track, but the songs I remember doing were: "Get up and Go" (I started with that one because it was perfect for the venue), "Wheelin'", "Where the Heart Is", The Bears (together),"Windward", "Ship of Stone", "Gentle Arms of Eden", "The Rambling Silver Rose", "The Mary Ellen Carter", "The World Inside the Crystal", "Keep the Dream Alive" (went out on that one, IIRC), "Bells of Norwich", "Bigger on the Inside", "The Owl and the Pussycat", and "The Times They Are A-Changin'". I think I'm forgetting some, and they're in no particular order.

I did The Bears ("A Talk With the Middle-Sized Bear" and "A Tribute to the Middle-Aged Bear") together, with N's brilliant parody serving as an intro to "Windward". I think they work perfectly in that order.

It was the most singing I'd done in a long time, so it gets an S4S post even though yesterday was Friday.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

This week's S4S isn't actually a song, but it is music. "The Opposite of Forecasting" is Austin, TX's Weather, Sonified. It's a project by Douglas Lausten <Lownote.net>.

You can read the Music Notes, explaining how the weather is mapped into muic, or the Tech Notes, about how the hardware works. Or you could just go to this link to hear it in your browser.

Let's see whether I can add a player: -- yup! Can't seem to apply any styles to it, though, and I have no idea whether DW will allow it.

Credit for finding today's s4s goes to siderea.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Two rather amazing things this week on Songs for Saturday. The first is this spectacular music video for "Master of Tides" by Lindsey Stirling on YouTube. It's kind of a flash mob production, only, well, just watch it. Potential triggers? Mild ones, probably; I just can't resist a little alliteration: pirates, pyrotechnics, Poseidon; also waving tentacles.

You can always count on Lindsey for a good show. The Behind The Scenes video is also a lot of fun.

 

The other thing that astonished me this week was finding out that I and one of my songs are mentioned on Wikipedia (at the end of Section 1). Does that mean I'm notable, or does that require an article? Maybe just notorious. I'm mentioned at the end of the "Real-Life Implementation" section.

I found this out because I was writing a cover letter for a job with a description that mentioned possibly working with the IETF, and I wanted to prove that I knew my way around the RFCs. So I looked up RFC 1149, and there it was: Paper Pings (A Note on the Implementation of RFC1149).

(Right now citation [6] is just a raw link -- I probably ought to go in there and give it a proper citation.)

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I was up early this morning (never did get all the way back to sleep after the 4am power outage) casting about for something to write about for this week's S4S. Maybe I need to open my songbook at random? Throw darts at my CD collection? Then I saw "Playing Together" by dialecticdreamer in my reading list. Music! And part of a series tagged with tammy lin. Iiiiiiinteresting. I love a good rabbit hole.

So I clicked on the tag and found that where I'd started was only the second story in the series. Which was good, because I'm a rather slow reader. The first one was, not too surprisingly,

"Tammy Lin"...

Anyone who's ever heard any version (there are hundreds) of Child Ballad #39 can see approximately where this is going (and how much fun Dialecticdreamer is having flipping things around).

And at the end of the post are the notes, starting with "Musical soundtrack that helped shape the story". Links. Lots of them. Even better, scattered throughout the 39 (at time of writing) comments are more links. So, yeah.

I'm not going to copy all those links into this post. Just go read it and click for yourself. I'll be somewhere down the rabbit hole.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I'm starting this post with, really, no idea of what I'm going to write about. I figure that after two weeks you're probably tired of "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" even if I'm not. And I was considering doing a Father's Day post with two of my songs, but apparently I used those two years ago, and anyway Fathers' Day was last week.

Then I got to thinking that I'm feeling kind of old right now. So that suggests a certain song by Pete Seeger: Weavers Re-union Concert - "Get up and go". The intro, from 1980, is painfully appropriate.

Folks more familiar with the version on Pete's album may notice that they've changed the ending of the first verse, which was originally

My ears in a drawer, my teeth in a cup My eyes on the table until I wake up.

The Lookingglass Folk version takes those lines in a slightly different direction, so here you go:

Get Up and Go Anon, music Copyright 1964 Pete Seeger How do I know my youth is all spent? My get up and go has got up and went But in spite of it all, I'm able to grin And think of the places my get up has been Old age is golden, so I've heard said But sometimes I wonder as I crawl into bed With my eyes on the table, my teeth in a cup My brain in a hard drive until I wake up As sleep dims my vision, I say to myself Is there anything else I should lay on the shelf? But though nations are warring and business is vexed I'll still stick around to see what happens next How do I know my youth is all spent? My get up and go has got up and went But in spite of it all, I'm able to grin And think of the places my get up has been When I was young, my slippers were red I could kick up my heels right over my head When I was older my slippers were blue But still I could dance the whole night thru Now I am old, my slippers are black I huff to the store and I puff my way back But never you laugh, I don't mind at all I'd rather be huffing than not puff at all How do I know my youth is all spent? My get up and go has got up and went But in spite of it all, I'm able to grin And think of the places my get up has been I get up each morning and dust off my wits Open the paper and read the obits If I'm not there, I know I'm not dead So I eat a good breakfast and go back to bed How do I know my youth is all spent? My get up and go has got up and went But in spite of it all, I'm able to grin And think of the places my get up has been

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Thanks to a comment by [personal profile] filkferengi on last week's S4S, I'd like to draw your attention to Myth & Moor by Teri Windling; available locally as terriwindling_feed. Terri posts marvelous long posts on a variety of subjects; in particular links to music videos, mostly on Mondays. I am probably not going to subscribe, at least not unless my time-management skills improve by an improbable amount. Your mileage may vary.

Also in a comment, my old friend [personal profile] andyheninger has a few more Richard Thompson links. For some reason I never got into Fairport Convention, which is a pity.

I'm still a bit hung up on "1952 Vincent Black Lightning". I found a series of lessons on YouTube:

  @ 1. 1952 Vincent Black Lightning Guitar Lesson - Simplest Version
    - The Travis Picking Guitar Series - YouTube
    2. 1952 Vincent Black Lightning Guitar Lesson - Verses + Main Theme
    3. 1952 Vincent Black Lightning Guitar Lesson - Verse Variations
    4. 1952 Vincent Black Lightning Guitar Lesson - Interludes + Ending

(I may be missing one.) I'm still waffling over whether I'm crazy enough to try to learn it.

And finally, by way of Emacs news for 2018-05-21, we have Joseph Wilk explaining how to use Emacs as a musical instrument. For example, this video, titled "You fall into your screen". Not exactly my favorite type of music, but it's definitely my favorite text editor.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

By way of my college alumni eNews email, I found This Is Me, a music video by the Carleton Phoenix Project. As it said in the newsletter, The members of the Carleton Phoenix Project have an unusual goal: to practice letting go of perfectionism. This spring they posted an open invitation for singers to take part in a music video—no experience necessary, only the courage to step up and participate.

So they put out a flyer, and got 15 random staff, faculty, and students brave enough to go into a professional recording studio and make a video. Every once in a while you have to step out of your comfort zone. They interviewed the singers afterwards. Inspiring.

That's where the "1969" in the title comes from: that was my graduating class. Which means we're having our 50th reunion about a year from now.

But YouTube videos are kind of like potato chips -- you can't take just one. So I followed a link to one I know I'd seen before, but apparently never linked to: Richard Thompson singing 1952 Vincent Black Lightning. And was blown away all over again.

I'm not all that familiar with Richard Thompson, but I probably should be. The only thing that might stop me is his guitar playing, which is somewhere between Travis picking and black magic and makes me want to hang my 1952 Martin on the wall and take up accordion. Even with the tab in front of me -- which it is, right now -- I wouldn't have a snowball's chance in Hell of coming anywhere close. Doesn't mean I'm not going to try to learn it, because it's a hell of a song even without Thompson's guitar behind it. Maybe I can get somebody to play fiddle for me.

Here's a cover by a band appropriately called Red Molly. If you don't know why that's appropriate, you haven't listened to the song. What are you waiting for? Here -- have another cover, this one by Miranda Russell. Russell reminds me somewhat of Leigh Ann Hussey, who would have loved that song.

As Thompson says in his introduction, It’s a simple boy-meets-girl story, complicated somewhat by the presence of a motorcycle. It starts out

Said Red Molly to James that's a fine motorbike, A girl could feel special on any such like Said James to Red Molly, well my hat's off to you It's a Vincent Black Lightning, 1952.

... and off they ride. James turns out to be an outlaw --

Said James to Red Molly, here's a ring for your right hand But I'll tell you in earnest I'm a dangerous man I've fought with the law since I was seventeen I robbed many a man to get my Vincent machine...

... and promises to give her the Vincent if fate catches up with him, which of course it does. He's shot in the course of an armed robbery gone bad, and in proper Barbara Allen style Molly rushes to his bedside,

Said young James. in my opinion, there's nothing in this world Beats a 52 Vincent and a red headed girl Now Nortons and Indians and Greeveses won't do They don't have a soul like a Vincent 52 He reached for her hand and he gave her the keys He said I don't have any further use for these I see angels on Ariels in leather and chrome Swooping down from heaven to carry me home He gave her one last kiss and died And he gave her his Vincent to ride.

As a bit of a footnote, the "angels on Ariels" line inspired this bit of fan fiction among others. Also see "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" on Wikipedia.

And now, if you don't mind, I'm going to go take another look at that tab.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Our garage is about 2/3 cleared out, thanks to a combination of G taking a van-load of his stuff, and a lot of boxes getting moved to the house, the over-garage apartment, and the 7x10 greenhouse tent I got last week. The missing box of the shed is presumably going to get shipped this week. We'll see. Meanwhile, N has ordered a storage pod -- the contractor put us onto a local (Freeland) storage company that recently started renting them.

The first part of the week was a bit rough -- see previous post.

The magic incantation to remap caps-lock to super is setxkbmap -option caps:super. That means that I can now run xmonad on laptops too old to have a "windows" key. It also works with hyper, which might be a good option if I want to keep super as the Logo key for mac, but mostly it makes the older Thinkpads usable. This makes my inner geek very happy.

A lot of my time this weekend has been taken up by reading. In addition to the usual suspects on my reading list, there was this post by tkingfisher (Ursula Vernon) linking to her Hugo winning The Tomato Thief, as well as Ursula Vernon's Short Stories. About halfway through that.

But most of my reading has been around the extraordinary Nathalia Crane, thanks to this post by minoanmiss. There are more links in the notes; for now I'll just leave you with "The Janitor's Boy" set to music by Natalie Merchant, and this, from Swear by the night and other poems:

APHRODITE IN COURT They arrested Aphrodite, lacking homespun, Pressed her finger-tips upon the tattling black ; Wrote the charge in good old English hieroglyphics — Jennie Doe abroad with nothing on her back. Jennie Doe, with brambles clinging to her tresses, Jennie Doe, with eyes of azure flecked by flame, Apprehended as a gipsy scorning gingham — Twenty constables to swear unto the same. When the case was called she suddenly grew sullen, In the court-room hung her head and would not speak Till a gentle little linguist born in Athens After many tries saluted her in Greek. Then she sighed and jurists paid their debts in marble, Sat the magistrate a Phidian recruit; Clerk and crier quaffed the quiet of the quarry At her second word — the ripple of the lute. Near the bar still lies a Parian mantilla, 'Tis a shawl the matron made the prisoner wear When the law arranged to interrupt a goddess And accuse her of exhibiting the bare. They arrested Aphrodite in the morning, Yet the court remains as statuesque as Greece, Each attendant in apparel of the pebble, On the bench a stony justice of the peace. By the counsel table stands the little linguist Where the instantaneous chisel also fell, And so eloquent his ashen consternation Aphrodite may in time undo the spell.

She was 12 years old when that was published. "The Janitor's Boy" is in her first book, published when she was 10.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (rose)

Unless the sound of silent thoughts carries up the Rainbow Bridge, I won't be saying "Happy Fathers' Day" to my Dad. He died a little over 17 years ago. He got me interested in computers, over 50 years ago -- I miss him every time I think "I'd love to call Dad and tell him about..."

Science fiction, and folk music -- he would have loved the filk community. He took me to trade shows and conventions back before they stopped allowing kids in; he would have enjoyed a filk convention. He would have loved my CD, Coffee, Computers, and Song!

Songs for Sunday:

  • The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of -- I wrote this a couple of months before Dad died, and sang it for him on my last visit.
  • Rainbow's Edge -- Mom had asked me to write a song to sing at Dad's memorial. I don't sing this one all that often.
  • The World Inside the Crystal -- Dad was a programmer (when he wasn't being a chemist). I don't think he ever said so, but I'm pretty sure this was his favorite.

Not exactly the playlist I'd planned, but...

ETA: as I hoist my glass of gin I'm reminded of the way Dad made Tanqueray martinis: straight gin -- there's a bottle of vermouth somewhere in the house. For a slightly sweeter version, open the bottle.

mdlbear: A tortoiseshell cat facing the camera (ticia)

Note the mood. I try to use the first term that comes into my head, since that's less likely to be overthought and edited. So the combination of Good Drugs and a good cat seems to be working. That, and things going fairly well.

  • I am pretty much over my injuries from my run-in with a sidewalk last Tuesday; I have a referral to ENT to get the nose checked out, since it seems somewhat more congested than it used to.
  • I am a lot less worried about how little Ticia is eating: As you can see in the notes for last Sunday and yesterday, she has gained back some of the weight she lost in the first few weeks, and since she was overweight to begin with, that's good.
  • We have started brainstorming for what we're going to do after I retire (and the household starts bleeding money). Present thinking mostly involves tiny houses, and moving to someplace cheaper after N's kids are out of school.

Lots of links this time. Especially noteworthy are:

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: Welcome to Rainbow's End (sign) (rainbows-end)

In view of this article in praise of clutter, on NYTimes.com, it seems like a good idea to post "Bigger On the Inside" as today's Song for Saturday, a tradition that has been sadly lacking of late. Note especially the lines ""It's all the friendly clutter here / That makes it feel like home." Yeah, that.

I don't seem to have a recording of the most recent version, but The Baycon 2011 version does have audio: [ogg] [mp3]

This is very much our household's anthem.

Bigger On The Inside

© 1991, 2014 Stephen Savitzky. Creative Commons by-nc-sa License Some Rights Reserved.

Our house is bigger on the inside than it looks from on the street
There must be something odd about the way the corners meet.
We warn our friends about it, but they always seem surprised,
And I sometimes can't imagine how our stuff all fits inside.
    We have computers, toys, and magazines, and quiet cozy    nooks;
    The bathroom's lined with cedar planks, and the living room with books.
    There's boxes full of god- knows-what  in the attic up above,
    And we always keep good company and love.
Colleen is halfway buried as she crochets up a quilt 
I'm getting in some songs before my voice begins to wilt.
Kids are shouting back in Emmy's room, the pizza's getting hot;
Folks come over every Wednesday whether we're at home or not.
When we moved North to Rainbow's End some things got re-arranged;
The family's gotten bigger, but the main things haven't changed.
Folks are singing in the Great Room, and the chili's getting hot;
They come over every Sunday whether we're at home or not.
    We have computers, toys, and magazines, and quiet cozy    nooks;
    The bathroom's lined with tiles and the living rooms with books.
    There's boxes full of god- knows-what  in the cupboards up above,
    And we always keep good company and love.
There's a gallery of science-fiction pictures in the hall,
And something's taped or bolted on to each square foot of wall.
Our children's closets look just like a baby dragon's hoard;
It's true that we're disorganized, but at least we're seldom bored.
There's a guest crashed on the futon couch who's too wiped out to leave,
And something in the fridge that's been there since last Christmas eve.
We're packed in five dimensions, and through the twilight zone,
It's all the friendly clutter here that makes it feel like home.

Inspired by a friend's account of a visit to our house. At the Younger Daughter's insistence I have pluralized ``daughters'' in verse 2, and at the older's insistence changed the name in verse 3. Now, of course, ``some things got rearranged'', and the former verse 2 has moved down to verse 4, where ``daughters'' has become ``children''.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

I wrote a song last weekend, "Windward". (Here's the original post for reference; you'll note that the lyrics have changed somewhat since then.) It quickly became part of a matched set, since it made much more sense to sing it with the original. Thursday when we sang them for Emmy, Naomi came up with the title "Travelers" for the pair.

This is the second time we've done a pair of songs -- our first was "The Bears" -- "A Talk With the Middle-Sized Bear" and Naomi's brilliant "A Tribute to the Middle-Aged Bear". Only this time Naomi wrote the original and I wrote the parody.

Parody isn't exactly the right word for it, of course. Adaptation might be closer. In both cases, what started out as an obvious and silly throw-away ended up cutting deeper than expected, more of a complement than a commentary. It's an absolute delight when this happens. (It's also a delight when you approach the original songwriter worried about whether you'll still be friends after they've read your lyrics, and their response is ``This is brilliant!'')

ETA: The Wolfling recorded our debut performance; you'll find her videos on YouTube. Watch Where The Heart Is and Windward. It came off surprisingly well for a brand-new song.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

So, unless you were hiding under the same rock I was all week, you probably noticed that Jonathan Coulton re-recorded "Code Monkey" for Slashdot's 15th Birthday. When I finally listened to it this morning, I realized that it was prime s4s material. Never mind that it's Sunday -- the tag still matches. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

It's kind of appropriate, because I just started my new job this week, as a code monkey. I mean, sure, I have a fancier title than that, but what it comes down to is picking (mostly) well-defined little coding tasks off a list and writing the code. OK, we all get some say in the tasks, too, but it's all part of a huge edifice mostly designed by somebody else.

I've done this before. Recently, even -- what I did on the web services side of $PREV two years ago was like that. I can do it, and do it well, but it was demanding without being all that satisfying. I'm worried that this gig will be similar.

It'll pay the bills, and it'll be challenging and even fun in places, but I don't think I'm going to love it. (You will note that I am not going off on a riff comparing the expected experience to various kinds of casual relationship. This is a Good Thing. Trust me.)

mdlbear: (ccs-cover)

Because I'm surprised that I haven't taken the time to do it earlier, I've logged on to CD-Baby and dropped the digital download price of Coffee, Computers, & Song from $15 (which is where they set it by default, I guess) to $9.99. I probably ought to set it up on Bandcamp, too.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

Y'know, I can't miss today's Songs for Saturday -- the combination of Woody's 100th birthday and Bastille Day is just too perfect.

Here's a link to NPR: At 100, Woody Guthrie Still Resonates. And here's the Wikipedia article on La Marseillaise.

Here is one of the only two surviving film clips of Woody performing: The Ranger's Command - 1945, and here's Woody singing This Land Is Your Land.

And here's Tear the fascist down "This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we dont give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, thats all we wanted to do."

And here's La Marseillaise in my favorite scene in Casablanca.

It makes me angry that this is all still so relevant.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Apparently I missed Sunday. Probably because of having too many accumulated to-do items between then and Monday. :(

Anyway, I appear to have spent most of the day going up and down the garage attic stairs, bringing down the last of the old file boxes full of receipts. (I happen to know that there are still a couple of letter files and perhaps a drawer or two.) Old receipts really have to be shredded; they have such things as complete credit card and social security numbers on them. Those were more innocent times.

I didn't go out for a walk, but the stairs made up for it, I think.

As a belated S4S entry, how about Harp Twins Camille and Kennerly? That, and O Fortuna Misheard Lyrics. From the sublime to the ridiculous?

raw notes )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

A week from yesterday, on Saturday, June 9th, we're having our last party at Grand Central Starport. It's been a long run, and a good one. We've thrown at least two parties each year since we moved in 36 years ago, and four most years. Over a hundred parties.

We're moving.

Moving out, moving North, and moving on. Parties at the Starport will probably continue -- our renters are fannish. We will certainly continue to have parties, though perhaps not until we move from our apartment to a house, a year or so down the road.

But... our household, our Starport... yeah. Last chance.

We're also downsizing. A lot. So a lot of things will be up for grabs. We're giving away a lot of books, because we'd rather see them go to good homes than get a few cents for them at a used bookshop. A goodly pile of other stuff. Get it while it's hot.

There will be potluck, and soft drinks in the tub -- bring something you know you can eat, plus enough to share. There will be filking. There will be nostalgia.

The maps and directions are, as usual, on the web at the Grand Central Starport Home Page.

Bonus Song for Sunday: "So Long It's Been Good To Know Yuh" by Woody Guthrie [YouTube].

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

Something I've run across several places over the last couple of days is the official video for S. J. Tucker's "Neptune". It's gorgeous. While you're at it, check out the rest of her videos.

Then go to the S.J. Tucker - Skinny White Chick website. Because Sooj is awesome.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

This week's song is James Keelaghan's "Boom Gone To Bust", for reasons that should be obvious.

And I headed west when I had turned twenty
When the foundries and factories had closed
And in my minds eye I thought I might settle
Out here where my father was raised and was born
I worked as a jug-hound a rough-neck a bouncer
I worked where I wanted, I drew damn good pay
Saw no end to our luck and so we just pushed it
But O.P.E.C. and mortgages ate it away.

This recording is from Lookingglass Folk's "Trinitite" concert at Conflikt 2012.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

In honor of the communities I set up this morning ([community profile] underground_rail on DW and [livejournal.com profile] undergroundrail on LJ) to promote [personal profile] pocketnaomi's idea of a new Underground Rail, I give you the song that inspired it: [personal profile] catsittingstill's song "Underground Rail".

Here is Lookingglass Folk's version, from our concert at Conflikt.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

It's a bit of a grab-bag today. I found myself needing to finally learn the melody to a couple of songs that I'd so far only played guitar on, because I want to do them in my upcoming concert at Consonance. You know that thing about dominos? That.

So the only recordings I could find were back in 2009. And, for some unaccountable reason, I hadn't put up the audio for that concert. It soon became clear that one reason I hadn't was that the performer tags in the audio files were wrong...

... and once I'd fixed that, I decided to put my concert index into a sensible, most-recent-first format. (It had been most recent year first, but most recent last within each year.) So that's done now. And Baycon 2008 didn't have an index.html file. It does now.

So here you go:

... and if you're still with me, there's a somewhat off-the-wall bonus. You see, this week the R&D lab I work for publicly announced a subsidiary in India called Ricoh Innovations Private Limited (RIPL)

So what was the first song that popped into my head when first I heard about it? Right. The Grateful Dead - Ripple. I've been waiting five months to post that one...

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

So, to make up for having missed a couple of weeks worth of Saturdays, you're getting a bonus this week.

After talking it over, Naomi and I decided that it'll be better -- or at least simpler -- to ask for forgiveness than permission, so the entire recording of Lookingglass Folk at Conflikt 2012 is now up on the web.

I don't like the way the guitar came out -- sorry about that; if I have time I'll try to process the other recording I got from [livejournal.com profile] hms42. But the performance? Yeah. That worked.

Please enjoy.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

Since I recently prompted a wonderful poem: "The Bear Spectacle", in ysabetwordsmith's recent Poetry Fishbowl!, this seems like a good time to post about The Bears.

The Bears are a suite of two songs: my semi-autobiographical "A Talk With the Middle-Sized Bear", and Naomi Rivkis's wonderful parody of it, "A Tribute to the Middle-Aged Bear". We (or I, if I'm performing solo) usually do them together. You sort of have to do that with the really good parodies, otherwise lines have a tendency to leak from one to the other, and either hilarity or havoc ensues.

The best (ok, only) recording of the two of them together is part of my Fan GOH concert at Baycon 2010.

The Middle-Sized Bear is one of my favorite characters in Cordwainer Smith's story, Mark Elf. You'll find out all about him in the last section, titled "Conversation with the Middle-Sized Bear". He formed part of my "Mandelbear" persona on the old newsgroup alt.callahans, but it was only a few years ago that I discovered that he was also a large part of my personality as well.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

OK, so it's a day late, but that means I can offer you a first-hand account of the Lamplighters' production of The Gondoliers by Gilbert and Sullivan.

For my money, The Gondoliers has the best music of any of the G&S operettas; it's lush and lyrical and sparkling. And the Lamplighters are a world class company, making the air ring with song in San Francisco for just a few months shy of 60 years. In Colleen and my 38 years worth of season tickets we've never been disappointed.

Simply gorgeous. They're performing next weekend in Walnut Creek; it's not to be missed if you're in the area and fond of such things.

For extras, here's The Gondoliers Preview podcast on YouTube; the G&S archive page points to two recordings at the Internet Archive.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

This song was written in response to a challenge: my sister-of-choice Naomi (whose birthday is today!) told me that she'd go with me to ConChord 2008 if I promised to sing a song either by her or about her. By a month before the con I still hadn't learned any of her songs, and was still struggling to write something, when I happened to think back on how easy a time Colleen had had getting through the airport with a wheelchair. This just fell out, then, as the answer to ``I can walk, damnit! What do I need a wheelchair for?''

I'm also using it as a prompt in today's Crowdfunding Creative Jam.

Steve.Savitzky.net/Songs/wheelin/ [pdf] [ogg] [mp3]

Wheelin'

© 2008 Stephen Savitzky. Creative Commons by-nc-sa License Some Rights Reserved.

When you see her in the evening in a bright green dress
Walking fast down the hallway you might never guess
That the lady has a weakness she's reluctant to confess.
No, you might not notice when she's dancing reels
That she made it through the airport on a set of wheels,
And she still isn't certain that she likes the way that it feels.
    With her lover right behind her lookin' tired but proud
    They were wheelin' their way through the airport crowd;
    And the way it made her feel made her want to weep out loud. 
    'Cause they were cuttin' past the line at the TSA
    Asking healthy young people to get out of her way
    Savin' her strength to make it through another day.
When she has a good day she can walk a mile
Dance through the evening with grace and style
Greet her lover at the door with a tight embrace and a smile;
Next minute she's collapsing like she's half-way dead
With a fire in her body and an aching head
And she'll pay with pain and the rest of the weekend in bed.
    So with her lover right beside her lookin' calm and cool
    She walks up to the counter feeling like a fool
    And tries to tell herself that a wheelchair's only a tool.
    Soon she's wheelin' past the line at the TSA
    Feeling weird watching people getting out of her way
    But it's the easiest journey in years to the end of the day.
Well, her body is a battleground and life's a war,
And she's lost against her limits many times before;
But she's still fighting with a few new tricks in store;
Because a wheelchair is a weapon, not a mark of defeat
And she can stay standing longer with some time off her feet
The battle isn't over, and winning will be sweet.
    With her lover right behind her lookin' fierce and proud
    They'll be cutting a swath through the airport crowd
    The way it makes her feel will make her want to laugh out loud.
    'Cause she'll be wheelin' past the line at the TSA
    Watchin' tough young punks scurry out of her way
    Savin' her strength to make it through another day.
    Yeah, savin' her strength--to fight another day.
mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

I've been wanting to post this Songs for Saturday for a while, only the last couple got derailed somewhere along the way. Anyway, I'd like to point you at Cat Faber's "Alice Day" posts. The name is explained in a footnote to this post, where Cat says,

I promised my friend Alice a new song every two weeks so she would have new stuff to practice. This is where I'm putting them. I have been doing this for a while, actually but this is the first time I have mentioned the inspiration. So, Happy Alice Day.

Anyway, she's been posting a new song every couple of weeks since some time in March, mostly with mp3's attached. Enjoy! They're all worth a listen, but I think "Pepper-Spray Pike" is one of the better ones. Never anger a bard..."The Atheist's Anthem" is another good one, and captures a lot of what I, too, believe.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

There aren't any actual songs in this post. But soon! You see, Naomi and I started a new duo, Lookingglass Folk, less than two weeks ago.

One of our goals for this weekend's rehearsal session was to figure out whether we would be able to take over the concert slot at Conflikt originally scheduled for Tempered Glass. We figured we'd probably know by Monday.

It only took one rehearsal. The answer is, as pocketnaomi posted last night, Yes.

Yeah, it's still a little rough around the edges. But not for long: we work well together.

We hope to see you at Conflikt.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

This wonderful little video came in by way of Google+ this morning, and I figured I'd share it: Copying Is Not Theft - YouTube

It comes from QuestionCopyright.org | A Clearinghouse For New Ideas About Copyright. Here's another: Credit is Due (The Attribution Song) | QuestionCopyright.org. Just because copying isn't theft, it doesn't mean that it isn't sometimes wrong. Credit is always due, and sometimes payment is, too. (Though I personally believe that the term of a copyright should be exactly the same as that of a patent, namely 20 years.)

And All Creative Work Is Derivative isn't really a song, but it's a brilliant piece of choreography. Using statues.

You can find the whole collection of ""Minute Memes" here at QuestionCopyright.org.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

My former band, Tempered Glass, has fallen apart in a shower of jagged shards. Naomi and I intend to keep making music together, and we're pleased to announce that we are now a duo called Lookingglass Folk. We are hoping to pull off our first concert at Conflikt next year, taking advantage of the year's worth of planning and hard work we put into it as Tempered Glass.

The next two months are going to be a wild ride for the two of us, but the concert we're putting together is going to be worth it. I'm going up the weekend after next for a rehearsal; we'll know then whether we can pull it off. If we do, it will be something special.

We'll see you at Conflikt. Give us a listen.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I was originally going to post something entirely different today -- I wanted to post one of my own love songs. Maybe I'll save it for February. Because I started thinking about the internet censorship laws now being debated in the House, and what's going on in New York, Davis, Seattle, and, well, just about everywhere...

And in the car this morning I remembered Die Gedanken sind frei.

Since the days of the Carlsbad Decrees and the Age of Metternich Die Gedanken sind frei was a popular protest song against political repression and censorship, especially among the banned Burschenschaften student fraternities. In the aftermath of the 1848 German Revolution the song was proscribed.

OK, then.

Here's Die Gedanken sind frei, the rally song of the 1942-43 German anti-Nazi youth movement, the White Rose. And here's Pete Seeger's translated version from his 1966 album, Dangerous Songs!? (Lyrics here.)

And remember that if those bills pass, and the Great Firewall of China comes to the US, this could be the last song I'll post here.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

Really short one today, because I'm posting from Orycon away from my familiar desktop, on a marginally-configured netbook. But I was impressed by The Doubleclicks' concert last night. Impressed enough to buy two copies of their CD -- one for the wolfling daughter who decided to spend the weekend LARPing rather than come down and enjoy the con.

Enjoy!

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

A short one today. In honor of Bank Transfer Day - Wikipedia and the Move Your Money Project, I'm posting a couple of recent protest songs. Very recent. The first is [personal profile] catsittingstill's "Getting Out Of Hand", which is so new it doesn't have music posted yet. But it has footnotes! I'm a sucker for songs with footnotes.

And for the global Occupy movement that Bank Transfer Day sprang out of, here's Zander Nyrond's Occupy The Earth. You'll find the lyrics here, in his LJ.

You also need to listen to talis_kimberley's The Steps of St Paul's (lyrics here, download here)

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

There's a party today at Grand Central Starport, so the most obvious song to post for today is Bigger On The Inside, which I wrote 20 years ago (has it really been that long?) following a usenet post about a visit (waves at [personal profile] liralen) to our house.

No video (I suppose I ought to learn how to make those synchronized-image things), but you'll find the audio here.

Bigger On The Inside

© 1991 Stephen Savitzky. Creative Commons by-nc-sa License Some Rights Reserved.

Our house is bigger on the inside than it looks from on the street
There must be something odd about the way the corners meet.
We warn our friends about it, but they always seem surprised,
And I sometimes can't imagine how our stuff all fits inside.

    We have computers, toys, and magazines, and quiet cozy nooks;
    The bathroom's lined with cedar planks, and the living room with books.
    There's boxes full of God-knows-what in the attic up above,
    And we always keep good company and love.

There's a gallery of science-fiction pictures in the hall,
And something's taped or bolted on to each square foot of wall.
Our daughters' closets look just like a baby dragon's hoard;
It's true that we're disorganized, but at least we're seldom bored.

Colleen is halfway buried as she crochets up a quilt 
I'm getting in some songs before my voice begins to wilt.
Kids are shouting back in Emmy's room, the pizza's getting hot;
Folks come over every Wednesday whether we're at home or not.

There's a guest crashed on the futon couch who's too wiped out to leave,
And something in the fridge that's been there since last Christmas eve.
We're packed in five dimensions, and through the twilight zone,
It's all the friendly clutter here that makes it feel like home.

At the Younger Daughter's insistence, I have pluralized "daughters" in verse 2, and at the older's insistance changed the name in verse 3, both to reflect current reality.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

I was sitting around idly wondering what to do for my Songs for Saturday post when I got the news via min0taur that Bert Jansch had died last week. It doesn't even seem to have hit his official website yet, but it hit me hard. Bert was one of my heros.

The song that immediately popped into my head was Needle Of Death -- it was on his first album, which I bought close to the year it came out, 1965. I think it's still the only album of his I ever owned, but his sharp-edged songwriting and astounding fingerpicking left a lasting impression.

I could spend hours browsing through the recordings on YouTube. I probably will. For now I'll just leave you with Angie, from his first album, and this video of him performing Alice's Wonderland.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

I was pondering what to post this morning. It's not that I was in an unusually weird mood, but this video of Tom Smith singing "I Had A Shoggoth" popped into my head. Ok, now my mood is unusually weird. The best thing about this one is the amazing Judi Miller signing it. Never having heard it before!

Warning: not keyboard-safe. Put your drink down in a safe place.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I'm not sure when or why I fell in love with The Rose; I was reminded of it about a year ago, when I followed a link to LeAnn Rimes performing "The Rose" with The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles.

I quickly followed more links, and found these performances by Judy Collins and Joan Baez.

And, just for completeness, here's Bette Midler singing the version from the movie that everyone else thinks of. But the song wasn't written for the movie, and it was never sung by Janis Joplin.

Here's the real story, in songwriter Amanda McBroom's own words, and here's Amanda herself singing it. And here's a live performance. I think I like that one best.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

Just a quickie today, since I'm traveling and away from my usual posting client, but this is way too good to leave on the shelf until it becomes seasonal. If you love mathematics, or are a fan of xkcd, you really need to go over to YouTube and watch/listen to The Gauss Christmath Special by the amazingly wacko Vi Hart. Then go check out Pachelbel's Music Box Canon in D. I could go on. And on.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

Over Labor Day weekend I moved from a software development job at Ricoh eWriter Solutions, back to R&D at Ricoh Innovations. The preceeding Wednesday morning, as part of my weekly status report, I sent around email pointing to a farewell document, When I Go - Steve Savitzky's Farewell To EWS.

The title was a blatant excuse to embed this video of Dave Carter's When I Go, performed by Pete & Maura Kennedy on YouTube. Go watch and listen. I'll wait.

I love that song. Talk about New Song Energy -- of course I tracked down the chords, downloaded it, and learned it. I earwormed it for nearly a month.

Here are Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer performing it live. It wasn't my first whirlwind romance with a Dave Carter song -- I vividly recall practicing "Gentle Arms of Eden" on Naomi's bed, about an hour and a half before we first performed it in pubic, at Consonance 2009. Why don't I have the audio for that one up? Hmm.

Anyway, that's my Second Songs for Saturday. Enjoy.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

Every once in a while a song, or a songwriter, grabs me. Call it New Song Energy. If I'm really lucky it's a new song of mine, but mostly it's somebody else.

It's not so often that it's someone whose name I can't hope to pronounce, writing in a language I don't understand. I'm damned if I know why nobody seems to have recorded English versions of Trịnh Công Sơn's songs except maybe that, judging from the translations I've seen, it's unlikely that singable translations exist. Which is a damned shame.

I was pointed at Trinh by a coworker, our lovely Vietnamese lab tech Gloria, on my last day at EWS. We had a good talk. She gave me a freshly-picked pluot to give to Colleen, and the name "Trịnh Công Sơn" written on a post-it note.

You should probably start, as I did, with this video of CÁT BỤI - Sand and Dust. (translation here)

Now listen to the lovely Hồng Nhung singing Đóa hoa vô thường - "Evanescent Bloom". There's a translation here, though not in my opinion a very good one. There's a rather different live performance here.

Sad and lovely. But maybe a little hard to hear why Joan Baez once called him the Bob Dylan of Vietnam. So try Trinh himself singing Gia Tài Của Mẹ translation: A mother's heritage.

      A thousand years of Chinese reign
      A hundred years of French domain
      Twenty years fighting brothers each day
      A mother's fate, bones left to dry
      And graves that fill a mountain high

Starting to sound a little more like Dylan? The original words, in Google's excessively literal translation (and slightly cleaned up), have even more bite:

       A thousand years of the slave ship 
       One hundred years of Western colonial invaders
       Twenty years of civil war every day 
       of her fortune a bone dry forest 
       of the mother's legacy, a mountain full of sweat 

OK. If you can handle the video, watch Hát Trên Những Xác Người - Song about the Corpses of People - sung by Khánh Ly. If not, just turn your monitor off and listen. If you don't speak Vietnamese, you can just skip the interview; the song starts at 1:16. If you do speak Vietnamese, how about helping me come up with some singable translations? There's a good, but not singable, translation in this blog post.

      This afternoon, climbing a hill, singing on top of corpses
       I have seen, I have seen
       On the road, people holding each other and running to hide

       This afternoon, climbing a hill, singing on top of corpses
       I have seen, I have seen
       In a garden, a mother holding her child's lifeless body

       A mother claps her hands and celebrates her child's corpse
       A mother claps and cheers for peace
       People clap their hands for more harmony
       People clap their hands for more miserable hardship 

It's about the Massacre at Huế. I grew up with this stuff on TV, and Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs on vinyl.

I have no idea whether this will turn into a series; we'll see. But I miss [personal profile] gridlore's Heavy Metal Sunday series. We'll see.

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