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Friday, October 19, 2018

Bad Joke Friday

Overheard at work:

Why is the graveyard so noisy?

Because of all the coffin!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Something for Thursday

Gene Kelly singing Lerner and Loewe. I'm not certain it gets much better than this. It's from Brigadoon, sung by American hunter Tommy as he walks through the heather with the beautiful Fiona, early in the story when he and his friend have stumbled upon a village in the Scottish Highlands that is strangely not on any map. It will turn out that this is because the village of Brigadoon only appears for one day every hundred years, and that by the time night falls, Tommy will have a choice to make: stay in Brigadoon with Fiona, and leave his world behind, or go back to his world, and leave Fiona behind?

This song makes for an enchanting dance sequence for Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse, but the music itself--with Kelly's typically flawless singing--is magical in itself. It's awfully easy with musicals, I've found, to get wrapped up in the costumes and the choreography and the sets, and almost forget that there's a tremendous amount of amazing music going on too.

Here is Gene Kelly, singing "The Heather on the Hill".

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tone Poem Tuesday

I post this one every year around this time, because it's spooky and amazing: "The Isle of the Dead" by Sergei Rachmaninov.

Monday, October 15, 2018

DONE

So this happened over the weekend:

THE DRAFT IS DONE!!! #amwriting #writersofinstagram #sciencefiction #spaceopera #forgottenstars #ahhh #huzzah #woot

At last. At long, long, lllooonnnggg last! This book took very nearly an entire year to get done, after I started it for NaNoWriMo last year. Oy!

By way of stats, the first draft topped out just shy of 194,000 words, which is longer than Stardancer and The Wisdomfold Path, but not as long as Amongst the Stars. I really am trying, as this series progresses, to keep each book in the same ballpark, length-wise. I don't want to have a problem with massive ballooning once I get to the latter part of the series, a problem which vexed JK Rowling with the Harry Potter books and George RR Martin with the Song of Ice and Fire series.

By way of story, this book launches the middle third of the larger story. Things start to get darker this time around (but never fear, I have no plans to go "Full Grimdark" in these books), and the story starts to get, well, larger in scope. The action is no longer limited to just the planet Xonareth. And if you like the lindiath--the six-legged bear-cats who always seem to turn up when most needed--this book will be for you. Lots of lindiath in this one! And not all of them are nice.

What's next? The usual "fallow" period in which I don't even look at the manuscript for at least three months, and then first edits. First edits result in the draft that goes to beta readers, and then based on their input I generate the second edits. Then the final version goes off to those who proofread...and then, it's time to get the thing ready. The upshot is that I wouldn't expect this book to be out in the world until early 2020, at my most optimistic.

But still, it's done. Huzzah!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Something for (Friday)

It's been a somewhat crazy busy week between work and my relentless focus of late on finishing the first draft of FORGOTTEN STARS IV (which I may well complete this weekend) and breaking in a new computer after my trusty old machine finally malfunctioned, hence the lack of posting of late. I"m still going to be focusing on finishing this draft, but meantime, here's a march by John Williams, because you can't go wrong with John Williams.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Holding pattern....

I got my trusty laptop in 2012. I bought it then even though my previous machine was still working because Windows 8 was about to come out, and I didn't really want any part of Windows 8, so I grabbed a Windows 7 machine before they were no longer the default.

That machine has seen me through nearly 6 years, if not exactly that much. I was planning to acquire its successor later this year, but yesterday the Tech Gods forced my hand. I went to turn on my computer and instead of the boot sequence, I heard four loud beeps, followed by the same four beeps, several times. This was a diagnostic code for a bad memory module.

I could have fixed this with new memory, but I was frankly loath to spend money to repair a six-year-old machine, so...now I'm doing initial set-up on my third laptop. After good experiences with Dell Inspiron machines the first two times, I stuck with them, getting a third yesterday. Now I am doing all kinds of updates and new installations and the like.

The only bummer part of this is that until the sudden computer failure I was on fire with my writing. FORGOTTEN STARS IV has taken nearly a year to write and at times it's been a struggle, but now I'm in the homestretch and I had been cranking out the words as I barrel toward the finale. Alas, now I'm stuck in a holding pattern until I complete setting up this new computer.

We'll see how I like Windows 10...I do dig the backlit keyboard, though! And I am upset that this new computer uses a different charger cord than all the other computers in the house. I'll have to get another cord or two at some point.

Anyway, that's where we are. Where are you?

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Tone Poem Tuesday

Giacchino Rossini's overture to his opera William Tell is an interesting piece. First, the opera itself is almost never heard anymore, due to its very long performance time and its awkward libretto (from what I've read--I've never actually heard or seen the entire thing myself). The overture is pretty much all that is ever performed of that opera, but even more interesting is that the overture's four main sections are each distinct and as one listens to the work, the thing gets more and more familiar. The final section is one of the most famous passages of classical music ever written (owing, partly, to its use in the 20th century as the theme to various iterations of the adventures of the Lone Ranger). Before that is a pastoral segment that is almost as familiar as the finale. Before that is a stormy passage that many listeners may find passingly familiar--and starting off the overture is a slow passage for strings that I'll wager almost no one who doesn't regularly listen to classical music knows at all.

Here's the William Tell overture, in a performance with the score, so if you wish you can follow along!

Monday, October 01, 2018

Scenes from an autumn weekend

This weekend was our annual getaway to Ithaca for the Apple Harvest Festival, which we then supplemented yesterday with a trip to Letchworth State Park. Photographic goodness abounds!

At the Ithaca Apple Festival today! I really love Ithaca. #ithaca #ithacaapplefest

Jupiter on the Carl Sagan Planet Walk in Ithaca #ithaca #carlsagan

Chicken and waffles! 😍😍😍 #wafflefrolic #ithaca #waffles #yum

Shit, I love Ithaca #wafflefrolic #ithaca

Color-matching FTW (I usually try to contrast, but matching it up is nice on occasion) #ootd #overalls #dungarees #biboveralls #vintage #pointerbrand #lckingmfg #denim #rawdenim #bluedenim #denimoveralls #overallsarelife #flannel #plaid

(New thrifted shirt--flannel with banded collar! Hooray!)

Taughannock Falls #taughannockfalls #waterfall #ithaca

Lucky couple! #taughannockfalls #waterfall #wedding #ithaca

(We couldn't really get to the lower overlook at Taughannock Falls, but I can't begrudge the wedding party their almost-certainly beautiful photos.)

View from the deck at Finger Lakes Cider House #cider #ithaca #fingerlakes

Middle Falls #letchworthstatepark #ilovenewyork #geneseeriver #waterfall

Upper Falls, with the new railroad bridge. I actually prefer the new bridge to the old. Arches are more graceful than old box-style brace trestles. #letchworthstatepark #ilovenewyork #geneseeriver #waterfall

Looking south from Inspiration Point #letchworthstatepark #ilovenewyork #geneseeriver #waterfall #inspirationpoint

Waterfall selfie #letchworthstatepark #ilovenewyork #geneseeriver #waterfall #selfie #overalls #dungarees #biboveralls #dickiesworkwear #hickorystripe #denimoveralls #overallsarelife

Waterfall at this little park where we ate our takeout pizza. Lovely little spot. #avonny

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Something for Thursday

Well, that was quite the day that America just had, wasn't it.

In times like this I retreat to the stuff that endures. Like Astaire and Rogers.


Oh, and for the record? I believe her.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Something for Thursday

Another song that was used in Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2, this tune by Cat Stevens explores the hopeful frustration inherent in the father-son relationship. On the one hand, the fear that we're not steering them correctly; on the other, the fear that we're not living up. Not easy stuff.

Here is Cat Stevens with "Father and Son".

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Tone Poem Tuesday

Oh wow, you have to listen to this. I'd never heard of it, or its composer, until it popped up on a YouTube sidebar a bit ago. It's a suite from a ballet called Estancia, by a composer named Alberto Ginastera.

Ginastera, with whom I am completely unfamiliar, was a 20th century Argentinian composer who is apparently viewed as one of the most important composers from the Americas during that age. His music apparently (I'm getting this from Wikipedia) calls on Argentinian folk music, and a common them is that of the gaucho, the itinerant horseman of the South American plains. Listening to this work, I can certainly hear the vibrancy of Argentina, its exotic flavor, and the flamboyance of its dances.

Here is the Suite from Estancia.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Something for Thursday

From Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble -- producers of some of the most fascinating music out there -- comes this spellbinding musical telling of a legend of a bird who flew to the sun, lost its body, but gained pure spiritual existence, "Ascending Bird".

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Tone Poem Tuesday

For September 11, Elegy by Mark Camphouse, played by the United States Marine Band.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Something for Thursday (Friday Edition--farewell, Burt Reynolds)

Burt Reynolds is gone. I always thought he was quite an underrated actor.

Like many from my generation, this movie is where I first saw him (I think--it might have actually been Hooper). Here's Jerry Reed and "Eastbound and Down", from Smokey and the Bandit.

Tone Poem Tuesday (Friday edition)

I'm in crunch-time on drafting Forgotten Stars IV, which means that I've been focusing almost all of my energy there of late. But I don't mean to leave this space completely fallow as I did this week!

So, here's a Suppe overture. Because when in doubt, one can always listen to a Suppe overture. This one is Morning, Noon, and Night in Vienna, conducted by a very young and spry Zubin Mehta (who is now 82--where does the time go!).

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Something for Thursday

I've really been grooving to the soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 of late, and of the wonderfully-chosen songs from that film, this one for me is a standout. I suspect that many people, like me, had never heard this song before the movie--or even heard of the song, as it was apparently just a regional hit in the 1970s, being about a road in Chicago. But it's got this nifty energy to it that reminds me of some of the best country-rock out there.


I especially like the poetry in the lyrics, such as "And the blue lights shine with a heavenly grace to help you right on by." Great song!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Tone Poem Tuesday

I still owe him a much longer post, but meantime, this past Saturday marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein, one of the greatest musicians this country has ever produced. Here he is conducting the music of another of America's greatest musicians, Aaron Copland, in his Appalachian Spring ballet. This is still the finest performance of this work I know.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Something for Thursday

A bit of film music adapted for chamber performance, by the great Joe Hisaishi. From My Neighbor Totoro, here is "Kaze no Torimichi (The Path of Wind)".

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Behold...THE GEEKIVERSE!!!

Check this out, folks: I have joined local geek commentary website The Geekiverse as a staff writer! Huzzah!!

In addition to other things, I'll be mainly writing a regular column I'm calling Curios from the Outer Rim, in which I look at geeky stuff that's at least fifteen years old, so as to balance the ever-present focus on what's coming out today/this weekend/this month/this year. My first installment is live now, so go take a look!

Tone Poem Tuesday

Remember how in the movie Amadeus Antonion Salieri is presented as a basically competent composer whose music might have been nice at the time but deserved its fade from memory? Well...no, Salieri was no Mozart. But he wasn't a boob, either. He was prolific and talented...like many a composer, really. And the movie, though great, took significant liberties with musical history. Salieri did not hound poor Mozart to his death, even if their relationship was frosty.

Here is the overture to his opera Les Horaces. This is not the work of "a mediocrity"!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tone Poem Tuesday

We did a piece by Vasily Kalinnikov last week, so this week...let's do another one!

Just as last week I was unable to dig up much actual information about the Bylina Overture, so too am I unable to find a lot out about The Cedar and the Palm, which is a "symphonic picture" written in 1898 (which happens to be the year my maternal grandmother was born). Here it is:

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Announcing THE CHILLING KILLING WIND

Crossposting from ForgottenStars.net: it's the back cover blurb for my next novel, and my first released book not in the Forgotten Stars sequence! It's a supernatural thriller titled The Chilling Killing Wind, and I can't wait for it to be out there in the world. I will have a date nailed down soon, but for now, I'm planning for mid to late September.

So what's the story about? Well:

Tonight, former detective John Lazarus will finally put his old life behind him. He has a new job as a teacher, a new home, and a new love. All he has to do is get through tonight’s execution of Roy Edgar Chalmers, the last of the three men who killed John’s wife in a botched robbery. Once Chalmers is dead, John Lazarus will be done with his old life at last.

But tomorrow the murders will start: strange, violent crimes whose only connection is the pair of voices exhorting the perpetrators to kill. As an occasional police consultant, John Lazarus will increasingly suspect that something abnormal is at the heart of these killings. And when Roy Edgar Chalmers, not nearly so dead as he should be, approaches him for help, John Lazarus will realize that maybe his old life isn’t quite done with him….

Stay tuned for more!

Something for Thursday

James Horner, scoring Field of Dreams: "The Place Where Dreams Come True" and "End Credits". One of the most magical endings to a movie I have ever seen, and Horner's music is a major part of that.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

An EVENT of MOMENTOUS IMPORTANCE.

This Saturday, at Off the Beaten Path Books in Lakewood, NY, a certain author will be doing his first-ever book signing.

If you're in the neck of the woods and you want a signed copy of Stardancer, The Wisdomfold Path, or Amongst the Stars--or all three!--drop on in!

Sooo... is it kosher to wear overalls to one's own book signing? (Oh yeah, I'm doing a book signing! Off the Beaten Path Bookstore in Lakewood, NY! If you're within a six hour drive, come over!) #amwriting #writersofinstagram #writerinoveralls #indiebooks

Tone Poem Tuesday

I've long loved the two symphonies that Vasily Kalinnikov wrote, but I've been largely unfamiliar with the remainder of his output. Kalinnikov was a talented composer who produced a lot of rich, emotional, and songlike work before his untimely death from tuberculosis in 1901, when he was just 35 years old. Had he been able to live to his seventies, I wonder what rank he might hold in musical history.

I haven't been able to find much information about this particular work beyond its title: Bylina, an overture. You probably don't need to know more than that, though. This music is its own reward.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Forest murmurs: Hunters Creek Park

Walking at Hunters Creek Park yesterday.

In the woods at Hunters Creek Park #hunterscreekpark #wny #eastaurora #nature #hiking #trees

This park is "undeveloped", meaning it's a parcel of land in the wilderness and farm country southeast of Buffalo, with no amenities other than a fairly extensive series of trails, some of which are more heavily traveled than others. The access to the park consists of two gravel parking lots, and that's it. The park follows Hunters Creek (hence the name) as it cuts through an impressive ravine on its way to Buffalo Creek, which in turn becomes the Buffalo River, which empties into Lake Erie just upstream of where it empties itself into the Niagara River. All this water, therefore, is destined to plummet eventually over the great Niagara Falls themselves.

But anyway, Hunters Creek is a fascinating pleasure. The only people you encounter here are fellow hikers and mountain bikers, and occasionally a person camping overnight (I'm not sure this is permitted but I know it happens).

A few photos from yesterday's bit of hiking, which involved a side trip to the Creek itself because I'm always drawn to water.

Trees overhanging the creek #hunterscreekpark #wny #eastaurora #nature #hiking #trees #stream #runningwater

Looping trail #hunterscreekpark #wny #eastaurora #nature #hiking

Not a lot of water now.... #hunterscreekpark #wny #eastaurora #nature #hiking #stream #runningwater

Mossy rock #hunterscreekpark #wny #eastaurora #nature #hiking #moss

The dee-oh-gee's shadow on the creek bottom #Cane #dogsofinstagram #greyhound #greyhoundsofinstagram #hunterscreekpark #wny #eastaurora #nature #hiking #stream #runningwater

Adventurers. #Cane #dogsofinstagram #greyhound #greyhoundsofinstagram #overalls #dungarees #biboveralls #vintage #gap #gapoveralls #ootd #denimoveralls #overallsarelife #hunterscreekpark #wny #eastaurora #nature #hiking #stream #runningwater

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Monday, July 30, 2018

Dispatches from Warwickshire

It was Faire Time this weekend! Specifically, our more-annual-than-not trip to the Sterling Renaissance Festival. A good time was had by all, but for the "Pics or it didn't happen" lot, here are pics.

It starts with turkey legs.

We stood in line for half an hour to get a turkey leg. #yum #sterlingrenaissancefestival #renfest #renfaire

There's always a parade, featuring Her Majesty the Queen.

God save the Queen! #sterlingrenaissancefestival #renfest #renfaire

Strike up, pipers! #sterlingrenaissancefestival #renfest #renfaire

Piper and fiddler #sterlingrenaissancefestival #renfest #renfaire

People-watching is always a prime pleasure:

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I bought a couple new mugs (no idea where to put them in our kitchen, but that's a problem for another time), an oil lamp (for use in my library), a hand-carved jewelry box for The Wife, an ocarina for The Daughter, and another knick-knack or two. I managed to not buy a quill pen with inkwell, but I don't think I'll dodge that bullet next year. And I passed up this amazing lamp-post with dragon:

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This is a vendor whose wares are sadly still well beyond my price range, but...someday. Oh yes.

Special mention should be made of this fine vendor, who went to special efforts to get a signal on his wireless doodad of mercantile magic.

This vendor's efforts to get a signal to complete the sale did not go unnoticed. #sterlingrenaissancefestival #renfest #renfaire

And then there's the jousting!

On the field of Tourney #sterlingrenaissancefestival #renfest #renfaire

Knights await melee, fisticuffs, tomfoolery, and roughhousing. #sterlingrenaissancefestival #renfest #renfaire

To battle! #jousting #sterlingrenaissancefestival #renfest #renfaire

Order is maintained during the Tourney by the Impressive Scotsman...

The Impressive Scotsman takes the field. #sterlingrenaissancefestival #renfest #renfaire

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...who must sometimes resort to forceful measures to maintain honor and peace on the Tourney Field.

Vexeth not the Impressive Scotsman! #sterlingrenaissancefestival #renfest #renfaire

But lurking behind it all is the watchful eye of Milady In Blue, whom I have decided is secretly scheming to revolt against Her Majesty the Queen and take the throne for herself. Maybe she has one of the knights bent to her will? Who knows!

The Queen crosses the Tourney field. What treachery doth Milady In Blue have in mind? #sterlingrenaissancefestival #renfest #renfaire

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Milady In Blue. #sterlingrenaissancefestival #renfest #renfaire

What schemes might lie within Milady's heart? Who knows! But I can tell you this: as fun as the Faire is, it's even moreso when you're a writer and you can fill a bit of downtime in the day's activities by making stories about those around you...such as this fellow, who dared utter the most bitter calumny against the great Bard himself, Mr. Shakespeare.

The brigand who dared insult Shakespeare!

But maybe I'll form more of a tale about him next year.

Exeunt!