Well that's another day gone by lost to Pokemon Go.
I woke up late again and struggled to think of what to eat for about two hours straight. It's not that I don't have anything in the house to eat--I have a lot of food... I just couldn't decide what to eat. I groused about it on Facebook but this started a barrage of suggestions on what to eat and of course people are suggesting foods I can't eat and I just.... I give up. On the plus side I have learned that hardboiled eggs last forever in the fridge, and that egg salad is a thing I can make myself.
Anyway, I was going to go to Target right after lunch but instead joined a couple of raids around the university with the couple of people I met yesterday. They wandered off after the second raid and I stayed behind to chat with a couple of people who had just arrived, and had also just moved to Riverside.
I took a Lyft to Target because I cannot be bothered to take the 40-min bus ride. Found Pokemon Go Plus tucked away in the corner, and continued to shop for some other stuff.
Got home, set up Pokemon Go Plus, and then went for a swim.
There were a LOT of people in the pool today. At one point, I had just lifted my head out of the water for a breath of air. In general I keep my head low so I can duck it under right away, but today, as I did that, a kid jumped into the pool.... and inadvertantly shoved water into my mouth. WHO KNEW CHILDREN COULD BE A MENACE IN THIS WAY.
Nonetheless, I achieved my 4 sets of 6 laps and skedaddled out of there immediately. I can definitely feel the consequences of slacking off though; my arms were burning by the time I hit the last few laps. I'm going to have to figure out an alternate exercise during fall and winter because I hiiiiighly doubt I'll be braving the pool when the temperatures go down.
I went shopping for groceries. I bought sugar-free stuff! Blackberry jam and brownie mix! Also sucralose. I, uh, made a mistake of buying a box of small packets of sucralose, when I really wanted to buy just the granulated stuff for baking. I have no idea what to do with all these sweeteners now. I also bought more extract when I had bottles of the stuff already, whoops. I'm pretty excited about the sugar-free brownie mix... will try making it tomorrow and see how it is. I also got more canned foodstuffs like sardines (SARDINES!) and tuna. I bought bread, too. Sourdough bread. I saw some gluten-free baking flour, too, so I'll get some of that next time once I've figured out baking with sucralose.
I'm really liking the Pokemon Go Plus doohickey. I'll go to campus tomorrow and walk around a bit to replenish my Pokeballs, and then see if I'm up for a run at some point.
A couple friends let me know that talking about composing for orchestra is, in fact, something that might be of some minor interest and also I am taking a break from working on Dragon Pearl
while the Dragon borrows my laptop (which is my writing machine), so.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional composer! I did not go to conservatory. I am an interested amateur. My background is seven years of more or less classical piano, including a few years at the Houston Music Institute (relevant because they taught some theory and basic composition), a few years of viola, and years of screwing around on basically every instrument I could get my hands on, including three summers of classical guitar, mandolin, soprano recorder, pennywhistle, ocarina, and diatonic and chromatic harmonica. (Harmonicas actually get pretty complicated, more complicated than I personally can deal with--different tunings, cross-harp, slant-harp, etc. I only know the basics. ) This kind of jack-of-all-trades-ism is not great if you want to be a performer
, where you really ought to become expert in your chosen instrument(s), but it's not awful if you want to compose
 To anyone who doubts that the harmonica is a "real" classical instrument, I present to you Villa-Lobos' Concerto for Harmonica and Orchestra with soloist Robert Bonfiglio
[Youtube], which is the recording I used to have before the stupid fucking flood. That's a chromatic harmonica, BTW; you can tell because of the use of the chromatic slide in some of the ornaments. More information
. I will FIGHT anyone who tells me the harmonica is not a REAL INSTRUMENT.
Further caveat, I am only discussing Western music. I don't know enough about non-Western traditions to tell you anything useful about them. I compose more or less neoclassically because that's what pleases my ear and I feel no need to be innovative in a technical/theoretical sense. (Schoenberg's twelve-tone system is brilliant from a technical/theoretical sense but I cannot usually stand listening
to it except in the limited context of certain kinds of film/TV scoring. I wouldn't listen to it for fun
And for yucks, I have perfect pitch, which in almost all contexts is either useless or an active hindrance (I am a suck liar and let's just say that I avoid a cappella performances and first-year string players like the plague--there's such a thing as good a cappella, but unless you are Carnegie Hall good I don't want to risk it), but has limited applications in the realm of music, ahahaha. For most applications relative pitch
is hell and away more useful. (I actually get interference between relative and perfect pitch, which sucks.)
Anyway, let's talk a little about the fundamentals of music from the standpoint of composing.
I keep telling people that composing for orchestra is not hard. Composing for orchestra well
is hard. Because it's true! It's a lot of things, true, but you can break it down into components. I'll talk a little more about this below.
Music is about patterns--creating tension with different dimensions of pattern, then resolving it. In terms of pitch, you only have twelve of them repeating across various octaves to work with! But because you can combine
the pitches in different ways, you can come up with different melodies. Speaking in terms of standard music notation, that's the "horizontal" dimension. And pitch is combined with patterns of rhythm--units of time. ( cut for length and tl;dr )
Okay, I am out of brain and I'm not sure any of this even makes sense to anyone who is not me. :] I am happy to answer questions (or, if you compose music yourself, talk shop!).
- thinking about:
In the spirit of solidarity with Charlottesville, I went off to laugh at neo-Nazis with 20,000-40,000 of my closest friends, and get labeled an anti-police agitator by our Very Own President, today.
The general idea, as transmitted in one of the orientation sessions I went to, was to show up, stand tall, and nnnnnot let ourselves get drawn into confrontations by the white supremacists, who would be trying their darndest to make this happen.
So I got decked out in my "I stand by my Muslim neighbors" t-shirt and wandered down to Roxbury Crossing, found fairly organized Socialists a-plenty, and got the best poster off them ever. Picture with a new friend from much later in the march, slight content warning for concentration camp imagery:( One cuts pictures. )
They also had lynching ones, but basically I'm squicked by blood and gore, whereas the concentration camp one might well be triggering to some, but it also had people pausing to look at it, nodding to me soberly, and moving on. (I also got several high-fives for the shirt.)
Anyway, I eventually found the actual Black Lives Matter march leaders, plus Tito Jackson (candidate for mayor) doing his best preachin', and then we got started late. (Because, it is a march and it is required.) Soon enough, I stumbled onto my brother and his wife, or more accurately he stumbled across me while admiring my poster, and had marching partners. (I was going to hook up with Dedham Unitarians, but I couldn't find them.)
Since we started late, and because 20,000 marchers move slowly, we missed the so-called "Free Speech Rally" entirely, since they got shuffled off at 1:30 or so, and I wasn't even to the Common by that point, I think.
I did encounter some AntiFa-plus-BLM activists around 3:30 or so down by Park Street T stop, who had found some of the white supremacists who (for agitation reasons) had stuck around. One of them got pizza thrown at him (which almost hit me as I ducked into the convenience store), and then another one was rather literally surrounded by people *entirely* willing to argue with him until the cows came home, so I figured that was pretty much covered and bailed. As it turns out, there was a little bit of violence after that, but not much at all.
About 25 arrests for minor things, and a white supremacist arrested for carrying a gun without a permit or something similar. There were also some people throwing rocks (and bottles filled with piss, wtf?) at the police, sigh. Overall, the police were incredibly helpful during the march, and then got somewhat violent as the day progressed, but they were only slightly more pissy than I expected. Overall, worth thanking.
Link smatterings: Scale
of the so-called "Free Speech Rally", as compared to counter-protestors. Roxbury Crossing area, around when things started
, some Globe photos.
Returned books to library. Got these from the booksale shelves for 5 cents apiece (they were 1 cent apiece but I told the librarian to keep the 8 cents of change):
- Star Trek tie-in novel Ishmael by Barbara Hambly--I read this a long time ago and like Hambly :)
- Star Trek tie-in novel Uhura's Song by Janet Kagan \o/ I read this a few years back and also thought it was lovely! I'm really thrilled to own my own copy, in decent shape for a library discard even, although it means the library didn't want it anymore. -_-
What are some of your favorite recent libraryspoils/loanspoils/bookspoils?
ETA: Oh, and while I'm at it, I'm sad I woke up from a dream involving an animated TV series of P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath. I'm several books behind in that series (at this point I might as well wait until it's all out before rereading the whole thing from the start) but would that not be awesomesauce?!
We ended up eating out last night. I'm not convinced it was a great idea, but we realized relatively late in the day that we had nothing thawed. There's a whole chicken in the freezer in the basement, but thawing that is going to take a few days. We went to Evergreen again because Scott really wanted to (Cordelia and I have both eaten there twice in the last four weeks) and because we happened to be out that way to visit a bakery that Cordelia was interested in. We all ended up with enough leftovers for a second meal, so there's that.
I used the c-PAP for three and a half hours last night. I'm not entirely sure why I didn't put it back on after I got up to visit the bathroom, but I didn't. My dreams were semi-anxiety dreams with lots of circling back to redo things.
I woke with a headache this morning. Caffeine and food seems to have killed it (it wasn't quite bad enough for me to take an Amerge. I only have two left. I might be able to get more during the next week, but I might have to wait until I see my doctor on the 28th).
I think I'm going to be spending a lot of time in the bedroom this weekend. Scott's watching The Defenders, and I don't want to listen to it because that's not much better than having to watch all the violence.
Our cleaning lady moved around all of the stuff I'd put aside to get rid of. I'm sure she thought that putting all of the clothing together made sense, but some of that stuff is wearable, and some isn't. The stuff that isn't has to go to a completely different place. The stuff that is wearable can go to the same place as the non-clothing stuff, and that's how I had it all sorted.
Today's goal is to finish filling out the various forms that we need to take to high school registration on Monday. A number of them are things that I need to consult with Scott and Cordelia about because they involve spending money on things that Cordelia may or may not actually have any interest in or on things that I know we want (like the yearbook and school pictures) but that we need to decide which version to get.
Marks and Spencer and the National Autistic Society have launched a school uniform range aimed at the parents of autistic children
. Note that I say aimed at the parents of autistic children, rather than aimed at autistic children. All the blurb is to do with how easy it is to put on, and how hardwearing it is. The subtext is that it's designed for kids who can't dress themselves. This is clearly aimed at parents.
The other way you can tell that actually autistic people were not involved in this is that if you ask any autistic person what is most important for them in clothing they will tell you it's the fabric it's made of. Many autistic people have comorbid eczema, and a lot of those that don't have sensory issues, which mean that fabric and texture are hugely important in clothing. Something that is in contact with your skin all day needs to be made of something non-irritating; that almost always means 100% natural fibres. Cotton, or bamboo, or silk, or modal. Sometimes wool, but sometimes not. NEVER SODDING POLYESTER. And some of the clothes in that M&S range are 65% polyester. And of course it's very wearying that the only clothing specifically designed to be worn by autistic people is school uniform, because nobody of above school age is autistic, and no autistic child ever wears non-uniform clothing. AND they've "removed pockets for comfort". I have never known an autistic person who didn't want MORE pockets, as long as they are made from 100% natural fibre too.
So what would clothing for autistic people actually look like? Well, from the conversation on twitter today:
- Clear, obvious fabric labelling on the rack/shelf. While most of us just want everything 100% cotton, some of us prefer other natural fabrics like linen, and some actively prefer viscose or modal. Some of us can cope with silk or wool, some can't. Every single one of us, though, would like to see fabrics clearly, obviously labelled on the rack, without having to go hunting through the clothes for a tiny illegible care label.
- No polyester. Not even a little bit. Not ever. No, not even in linings.
- Linings are important! Linings are the bit that is actually in contact with your skin, so they need to be all natural fibres too. Note, though, that this does not mean you can take a garment made out of something horrible and line it with cotton and it will be OK - outer fabrics need to be touchable too.
- Care labels to be made of the same fabric as the clothing, not scratchy plastic.
- Elastic to be covered with the fabric the clothes are made of, not left to be in contact with your skin.
- Flat seams! Or even NO seams!
- For Cthulhu's sake, SOMEBODY make some bras we can wear! It is really, really, incredibly difficult to get hold of cotton bras, to the extent that I have considered making my own. And even if/when you DO find them, they are covered in non-cotton frills and lace and fripperies. And have stupid care labels made of plastic right in the middle of your back.
- Comfort and fit are much much more important than being on trend. I saw an article the other day that low slung waist trousers are coming back into fashion and actually cried.
- Moar pockets, on everything, especially women's clothes - but again, made of the same fabric as the actual clothing
- Stop saying things are "cotton touch" or "cotton feel" or "cotton rich". All this does is bugger up searching for cotton things. And actually, make your website searchable by fabric. That would be amazing.
And a clothing store for autistic people?
- Would be lit sensibly, not with migraine-inducing lighting.
- Would have the afore-mentioned obvious, clear clothing labels on the shelf/rack.
- Would sort by size and colour as well as style.
- Would have assistants that wait to be approached rather than badgering you the second you enter the shop.
- Would not have music at all (many many autistic people love music, but find music that they don't like intensely irritating; whatever music you play some of us will like and some won't) and would ideally have sound baffling so that other people's conversations are not intrusive.
- Would open from (say) 12 till 8, rather than 9 to 5. Autistic people are more likely than others to have odd sleep patterns and/or working hours.
Now, if some kind banker or venture capitalist would like to give me a wad of cash to make this a reality... And to M&S and the NAS... I do appreciate that you're trying, and I don't wish to appear ungrateful, but if you consulted any actually autistic people in fomulating that clothing range it's not immediately obvious. Please, please, bear in mind the priorities of actually autistic people, not the parents of autistic children, when making clothing that the autistic people are actually meant to wear. Remember the phrase: nothing about us without us. Thank you.
Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.
Christopher Brown, Tropic of Kansas. Apparently two different professional reviewers described this as “the feel-bad book of the summer,” which makes me laugh and yet is not entirely wrong. (I enjoyed this book.) It’s an alternate America torn apart by climate change, a fascist government, the surveillance state, and…alternate. Yes. It is indeed alternate. But there are parts that make you wince, and the “ultimately hopeful” ending promised on the cover is a…conditionally hopeful ending. It’s the kind of hopeful ending that involves burning down institutions that need burning down. Which, depending on your personality, may be upsetting for you right now or just what you need.
Lois McMaster Bujold, Mira’s Last Dance. Kindle. This is the latest Penric novella, and I felt that it completed the arc of a previous story rather than standing on its own. It explores a bit more of what exactly it means to have all of Desdemona’s previous hosts living in Penric’s head with their own identities, but it’s at novella length, not novel, while juggling action and romance along with it, so while it seemed to me to be handled respectfully, there was plenty of room to go into more of it if she continues with this series.
Italo Calvino, Collection of Sand. This was a series of essays, all very short, very erudite, very much in the vein of, “Huh, wouldja lookit that.” If someone is not going to get intimidated by it being Calvino, it’s an ideal bathroom book, despite not being screamingly marketed as Italo Entertains You On the John or anything like that. Short attention span theater of letters.
Zen Cho, The Terracotta Bride. Kindle. Another novella, this one set in a Chinese-Malaysian hell with all the theological implications of same–with technological developments appropriate thereto, and interpersonal relationships the same. There’s a lot packed into novella length here, and I liked it.
George MacDonald Fraser, The Steel Bonnets. A history of the Scottish-English border and the wars and raids they had and the period when they settled down into not so much having them. This had been on my library list for awhile, and I thought, well, I’ll give the first few pages a chance and send it back rather than have it languish indefinitely on my list. Fraser doesn’t do what a modern historian would do with the topic, but he’s plenty engaging. I had had quite enough of the exploits of various clans and their scions by the time I was done, but it was a fast read for its size and worth the trouble of getting it from the library; I’m glad I tried it rather than thinking that anything that was on the list that long was clearly not a priority.
Seanan McGuire, Down Among the Sticks and Bones. A novella prequel to Every Heart a Doorway, and…I feel like it undermined that book weirdly. Every Heart a Doorway did the not-obvious thing, it did the “what happens after” thing. Down Among the Sticks and Bones gives you the portal fantasy that begins it all. Except that of all the fantasy worlds hinted at in Every Heart a Doorway, it picks the most obvious, least interesting one to portray–and only one–and then gives a backstory that makes the plot of EHaD feel…like it makes a lot less emotional sense to me. I don’t want to be more spoilerific than that, but people who have read both and would like to talk should email me about the experience.
Naomi Mitchison, The Fourth Pig. This is a collection of Mitchison’s retold fairy tales, done in the 1930s. It is fascinating in its own right, it’s fascinating if you’re passionately interested in the Great Depression (which I am), and it’s fascinating if you’re interested in retold fairy tales and want a look at what they looked like before Angela Carter got at them. I’m slowly working my way through Naomi Mitchison (she and Gerald Vizenor and Rebecca Solnit are the triumvirate of the moment that way–write me a joke where they walk into a bar) and I’m very very glad to have gotten to this one.
Rebecca Solnit, Savage Dreams: A Journey Into the Hidden Wars of the American West. And speaking of whom. This is not what I thought it was. It is mostly about nuclear testing. It is a bit about Yosemite and how we construct ideas of wilderness and other legends of The West. But it is really, really substantially about nuclear testing, which is something I mostly had focused on when it was interesting from a physics standpoint; what Solnit illuminated in some ways and could not illuminate in others, was not trying to, was the category of nuclear testing that occurs when the physics has been settled, and as a recovering physicist that had an extra-special horror. I think there are ways in which she made some stabs at understanding the physicists involved and got some part of the way there and some ways in which…eehhhh. I love me some W.H. Auden, too, but he is not a source of all models for everything in life maybe? I mean, maybe I’m wrong, maybe he is, but we can at least talk about this. “W.H. Auden handed me a dichotomy!” You’re allowed to hand it back I think. Uncle Wystan is dear and beloved, but so are your 6-year-old cousins, and some of the things they hand you can be deposited in the trash and your hand washed thoroughly after. I am still glad I read this. But I spent moments making faces of not-really-no.
Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh, Cary Pietsch, et al, Lumberjanes: Sink or Swim. What is better than Lumberjanes? Lumberjanes with a focus on water myths. Yes. For sure.
So today was going to be a bit more productive. I absolutely meant to go to campus and finish clearing my office, bring home some stuff, and then turn in keys. And swim in the afternoon.
Instead, turns out the Pokemon Worlds Championship in Anaheim was happening so Niantic released Kangaskhans and Unowns in downtown Anaheim. Someone in the Pokemon Go Riverside FB group was offering to drive folks out. This is how I ended up in a car with three white Americans who did normal things like listen to metal music and go to baseball games on the road to Anaheim... a young couple and a dude who's probably closer my age, possibly older, jumping in even later than I did.
We parked in the convention center around 2.30-ish? and walked around trying to catch things until maybe 6.30. There was a lot of walking. We left around 7-ish, stopped by In-and-Out on the way, and yeah.
So. Got a lot of walking done!
I've been zigzagging between S1 and S2 because the Dragon didn't want to watch S1 (too much interpersonal drama for her taste) so I was watching S2 with her up till her bedtime, and going back to finish S1 with Joe.( cut for spoilers? )
(ahahahaha my husband gets the joke in my moodicon tonight but I wonder how many other people will get it?)
The conference is over, and I am super tired and omg why do my feet hurt? I didn't do that much walking, and indeed spent most of the last three days sitting. The physical spaces the conference was held in were agreeably compactly laid out, so I didn't have do a lot of hiking down halls to go from one session to the next. But I feel like I've walked for miles.
I'm being cagey about the identity of the conference because of reasons. Suffice it to say I spent three days getting my radical on with people who, hmm, could be said to identify as "psychiatric survivors" – people whom the mental health system has done profound harm and violated their human rights – from around the world, many (most?) of whom might be described as activists and there in that capacity, some of whom are also clinicians or ex-clinicians or psychology researchers. Lots of very explicit intersectionalism and inclusivism. Very emotionally intense, super intellectually stimulating, enormously morally compelling.
Since the default assumption at the conference was that attendees were psychiatric survivors, I was "out" about not being a psychiatric survivor myself but a mental health professional and there as an ally. That was... a very hard experience to describe. To do such a thing, and do it ethically, is extremely demanding of energy, because it entails such a high level of self-monitoring and attention to others, at literally every second. Yet at the same time, it was so wildly validating of my ethical values as a person and a clinician, in ways I hadn't even realized I was hungry for, it felt very spiritually nourishing and emotionally supportive. I realized after the second day that just in the program book and in the presentations I'd attended, that I'd heard the word "humanistic" more times in those two days than I'd heard it used by anybody not me in the previous five years. Or maybe more. I'm a humanistic therapist, and I'm literally welling up again just reflecting on that, and how clinically-philosophically isolated this reveals me to have been. And, my god, the first, like, three times the term went zipping by I thought, Hey, do they know what that means, technically, to a therapist? Ah, they're probably just using it as a synonym for "humanely", as lay people usually do. And it became clear that, no, at least some of the people using the term really did mean it clinically. And I was like Oh. They don't need me to explain it to them. They already know. Which, is, like, the fundamental unit of being understood. Talk about your being called in from the cold.
I went to this conference thinking of myself as an ally, someone there to support another people as they do their thing – an in a really important sense, that is exactly right – but to my surprise, I discovered that these people, despite not being clinicians, were clinically my people. I wound up doing a hell of a lot more personal sharing than I would ever have expected – certainly vastly, vastly more than I have ever done in a mental health professionals context. It was like, I suddenly realized I was in an environment in which I could talk about how furious I am that I am forced to use diagnoses on patients without their consent, how frustrated I am by how the bureacratic systems in which I must work compromise the integrity of the treatment I try to provide, how disgusted I often am by the conduct of colleagues and mental health institutions (I discovered the wonderful expression, "psychiatric hate-speech"), how indignant I am at all sorts of idiocy and injustice and unfairness in the system – all the things I am so careful never to say because of how poorly my colleagues may take it. (Not my imagination: The last session I attended drew quite a number of clinicians, who were all "AND FOR ANOTHER THING!"; the presenter afterwards told me she had presented the same talk at a conference on the philosophy of psychiatry for an audience that was half psychiatrists, and, in contrast, they were furious with her for her temerity.)
I got to have conversations about capitalism and disability, culture and identity, the history of psychiatry, the history of nationalism, what you can and can't do inside the health care system, other countries' nationalized (or not, where mental health is concerned) health care, and how money affects mental health care; I heard a slew of what I would call "mental health radical coming out stories". I met someone who is as into the history of the DSM as I am, and someone who has written an academic article about the ethical and clinical problems of diagnosis. I got politely chewed out once, early on, for using oppressive language, and then immediately apologized to for it, them saying ruefully that they have "a chip on [their] shoulder" about mental health care professionals and shouldn't have talked to me like that, and I assured them I was there to be chewed out and have my vocabulary corrected and was fine with it; I'm pretty sure they were way more upset about what they said to me than I was, and I feel bad about putting them in that position by my ignorance – but we've exchanged phone numbers and I'm hoping I might yet make it up to them.
There was a point where somebody asked me something like whether I had been learning a lot at the conference so far, and I thought a moment and replied that I had, but, "I am at this conference not just to learn things. I am here because, as a person and a clinician, these are my values."
So it was an experience that was weirdly simultaneously hard and easy. If you had asked me four days ago I would have said that it's probably impossible for an experience to require a very high level of scrupulous self-monitoring and yet feel welcoming of and safe for emotional vulnerability and risktaking. Yet that was precisely my experience.
It was demanding and beautiful and powerful and huggy and astonishing and uplifting and I'm exhausted and weepy and have like twenty new best friends.
Some books I’ve recently read and enjoyed! As always, none of this comes close to anything like a review, because reviewing isn’t a thing I’m good at.
Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw
Dr. Greta Helsing (yes, she’s related) specializes in treating London’s supernatural denizens–people whose safety might be at risk if most Londoners knew they existed, and who might not get any sort of healthcare otherwise. It’s not going to make her rich, and it’s difficult enough with her small practice to care for vampires, mummies, ghouls, and…other sorts of creatures, without someone going around trying to kill her patients.
I thoroughly enjoyed this, and am looking forward to the next installment. You can read the first chapter here.
Ack Ack Macaque by Gareth Powell
It took me way too long to read this, but that gives you some idea of how out of control my TBR stack is. Back in 2014 I was absolutely tickled when Ack Ack Macaque tied with Ancillary Justice for the Best Novel BSFA, and I was really glad to be able to meet Gareth in person at Worldcon later that year. Now I’ve finally read this! It was a lot of fun. In the wake of WW2, France and Britain have unified–look, just go with it, ok?–and a hundred years later there are nuclear powered airships, and actual monkey Ack Ack Macaque is the central character of an amazingly popular online multiplayer game. In the non-game real world, murders and skulduggery are happening and the very survival of everyone on Earth is at stake. This book is great fun, a quick, compelling read. I’m putting the sequels on my ever-growing TBR pile.
The Course of Honour by Avoliot
Okay, this one is kind of a bonus. As in, it’s free! You can click that link and find the Download button (up there in the righthand corner) and nab a copy in your favorite ebook format. Or, you know, you can read a chapter right here on your screen, and then click on to the next at whatever pace.
I want to thank Liz Bourke for tweeting about this, because I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I’ve said before that I’m not much for category romance (though I do enjoy them now and again), but the fact is I’m a sucker for a good Arranged Marriage/Fake Marriage plot. And this was a good one! Jainan was married to Prince Taam of Iskat–a marriage arranged for political reasons, and when Taam suddenly dies [ahem] accidentally, the Emperor of Iskat declares that party-loving Prince Kiem will step up. And…look, I’ll just paste in the “additional tags” here, so you’ll see what you’re getting into:
Romance, Slow Burn, Arranged Marriage, Pining, past abusive relationship, space princes, Court Politics, Emotional Hurt/Comfort
Space princes. I mean. Seriously. Give it a look, and maybe leave some kudos if you like it.
Mirrored from Ann Leckie.
I did not finish this book not because I thought it was poorly argued or poorly written, but because, despite it being very interesting, I just cannot brain this right now. (I'm under deadline for a novel.)
Heath Fogg Davis is a trans man and associate professor in political science at Temple University, and his book, Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter? suggests that there are many situations in which clinging to gender categories is not necessary and even counterproductive. The context appears to largely be USAn, although I only got a little way into the book so that might not be true of later chapters.
The book opens with the case of a public transit system in Philadelphia that used to issue passes in both male and female variants. It begins with the dilemma of a trans woman who bought a female pass, only to be bounced off the bus because the bus driver judged her not to be a "real" woman, so she bought a male pass, and was bounced off the bus for not being male. At that point, she's screwed--what does she do? But trans people weren't the only one hit by this--a lot of cis people who didn't match certain bus drivers' preconceptions of gender presentation/appearance were also sometimes denied passage.
Davis then goes on to examine the reason why bus passes even had this designation to begin with. Apparently the stated intent was to reduce fraud--basically, each person was supposed to buy their own pass, and they were trying to prevent husbands and wives from sharing a single pass. Except, of course, if you look at the problem and the "solution," it makes no sense--you could easily still have fraud with two people of the same "sex" (whatever that means, a topic Davis takes up later) sharing a pass. So basically the "solution" screwed a lot of people, was intrusive and humiliating, and didn't even solve the problem.
The chapters in this book are:
Introduction: Sex Stickers
1. The Sex Markers We Carry: Sex-Marked Identity Documents
2. Bathroom Bouncers: Sex-Segregated Restrooms 
3. Checking a Sex Box to Get into College: Single-Sex Admissions
4. Seeing Sex in the Body: Sex-Segregated Sports
Conclusion: Silence on the Bus
Appendix: The Gender Audit: A How-to Guide for Organizations
 I lived for two years in a dorm in undergrad that had co-ed restrooms. Nothing bad happened. My dad would have blown a gasket if he had found out, though. :p
I only got through the intro and the very beginning of chapter 1 and what I saw looked encouraging and thought-provoking, but please don't ask me what's in the rest of the book because I genuinely don't know. I'm going to return this and hope to check it out later when I have more brain so I can think about the issues properly; it's good knowing the book exists so I can return to it at some later point.
This is not even an interim con report, because I slept approximately an hour before my panel on lycanthropy at nine this morning and I have spent most of the afternoon either at other people's readings or mooching around the dealer's rooms (I have three beautiful postcards by Darrell Tutchton
and a half-pack of Dwight Frye character cards
that I bought from the aptly monikered Mike Hunchback) and in slightly less than an hour I have to moderate a panel on the Lovecraftian erotic, but as we were passing through the lobby of the Biltmore Hotel I spied a flatscreen TV with the sound off and the text crawl at the bottom of the screen confirmed that Bannon is out of the White House
, so I'm sure all sorts of unpleasantness will spin off that with his Breitbart base—roll on the globalist conspiracies—but at the moment it feels like genuinely good news out of our government and it's been a long time since that happened. Oh, and earlier today I was handed a translucent lime-green plastic tentacle, so I have been carrying it around in my coat like a reasonable person: in other words, there is
a tentacle in my pocket, but I'm still happy to see you. So far, NecronomiCon, so good.
- listening to:TV on the Radio, "Staring at the Sea"
My body: A tiny bit of post-nasal drip leading to slight throat soreness, probably just allerg—
Me: NINE HOURS OF SLEEP, STEAMY SHOWER WITH PINE AND MINT ESSENCE, NASAL RINSE, SALT-WATER GARGLE, ANTIHISTAMINE NASAL SPRAY, STEROID NASAL SPRAY, CLARITIN, AGGRESSIVE TOOTHBRUSHING
My body: —look, forget i said anything, okay?
I refuse to get sick. REFUSE. R E F U S E. J has had a horrid cough for a week and is on antibiotics and prednisone (when they prescribe prednisone to the guy with insomnia, you know it's bad), X is wrapping up a course of antibiotics for a throat infection, and J had to do that for his own throat infection last month. So far I've been fighting off all the respiratory bugs Kit brings home from daycare, but I don't take my ability to do that for granted. And I can't take most antibiotics without serious mood effects because apparently I depend on my gut flora for emotional management, so I have to be extremely diligent about my preventive care.
I'm going to go have spicy curry for lunch and drink some ginger honey tea. Fuck off, germs.
My left elbow is hurting a lot. It's been giving me trouble for a couple of months, but it's now hard to sleep because of it, and bending it and straightening it both hurt like hell. Clenching my fist hurts the elbow, too, as does lifting anything heavier than my cell phone. I'm seeing my doctor next week, so I'm going to talk to her about it then. The pain at night thing is the biggest problem. I can get by without using it to lift/carry most of the time, and I'm managing not to move it much even without wearing a sling.
Neither heat nor ice help, but Tylenol does help a bit. I suspect that being low on sleep isn't helping at all as I tend to hurt more when I'm tired.
This is pinpoint pain, so I'm assuming tendinitis.
The first of my two stories for this year's pod_together
challenge has gone live today.Title:
The Last on Your PathFandom:
The Pretender (TV)Podfic by: fred_mousePodfic length:
About twelve minutesWord count:
Teen and UpTags:
Gen, Introspection, Pivot Point, Seeing ThingsNotes:
The challenge requires putting the text version of the story and the audio links in the same AO3 document.Summary:
Sydney's seeing things he knows can't be real. Eventually, he has to listen anyway.The Last on Your Path
I'm up early after not nearly enough sleep because I got smacked with a migraine overnight. Amerge and caffeine seem to be beating it back, but going back to bed won't work for a while yet. I haven't slept since about half an hour before Scott's alarm went off.
I didn't take Ativan last night. I don't know if using the c-PAP without it contributed to the migraine or not.
I did a little writing last night, but I feel like I'm groping in fog to find the characters. I'm firmly in one POV, and that character can only guess at who the other character is which isn't helpful because it means I haven't defined him clearly in my own head. I'm also flip-flopping on what the POV character is willing to do to achieve her goals, and I feel like the story is already too long.
I don't think I'm going to finish the treat I started for Captive Audience by the exchange deadline. I expect the recipient would still want it if I finish it later on. It's a tiny fandom, so not many people were likely to read it anyway.
I'm looking at my holds list at the library and trying to figure out how I ended up with four movies and a season of anime all to pick up on Sunday. There's a waitlist on the anime series and on one of the movies, so I guess I give those top priority. At least the anime is only twelve episodes.
Who gets to read "Riddles in the Dark" when reading The Hobbit out loud. =>
(I thought I was all set to read it to the Pip, since Chad got to read it to SteelyKid! But, foolishly, since chapter 3 is pretty short, I let the Pip talk me into just a little of chapter four last night . . . without checking how much of chapter 4 was left, or asking Chad to save chapter 5 for me.)
(Last time I read even-numbered chapters through chapter 12, then Chad read chapters 13 & 14 together, so I did odd-numbered from fifteen on; which, to be fair, now that we're back on me doing even-numbered, means I get to do the spiders and Smaug again, which were great fun. Still! "Riddles in the Dark"!)
It's my late night at the office. I videocalled home to say goodnight to the baby. They were tired, so after a while they waved bye-bye. I said "Okay, Kit, bye-bye! I love you!" and signed love you.
And they signed love back.
Kit: [earnestly signing love at the camera]
My baby told me they love me. I'll just be here in a little melted puddle forever.
Like many of us, I’ve been struggling to process what happened in Charlottesville over the weekend, and what’s been happening in this country for a while now. The racism and hatred and violence didn’t magically appear out of nowhere. It’s been building up for a long time…in fact, much of it has always been there. It’s just boiling over into the open right now, making it harder (but obviously not impossible) to look away and pretend it’s not happening.
Part of the argument I’ve seen centers around free speech and the First Amendment. Free speech is a right, an important one, and rights apply to everyone. Even people you dislike and disagree with.
But freedom of speech in this country is not and has never been limitless. From the U.S. Federal Courts, here are a few examples of actions not legally protected by freedom of speech:
- Students making an obscene speech at a school-sponsored event.
- Making/distributing obscene materials.
- Inciting actions that would harm others (e.g., Shouting “fire” in a crowded theater.)
Now, here are some of the “alt-right” protesters who gathered in Charlottesville.
( Read the rest of this entry » )
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
Scott and I set out about 9:30, and we got home with Cordelia a bit after 8:00. It was a really long drive. Scott and I listened to podcasts and an audiobook on the way up. The Hamilton soundtrack played the entire way back because Cordelia finds it soothing and because Scott and Cordelia both sing along with the whole thing.
We got to the area near Interlochen about an hour before we were to pick Cordelia up, so we got lunch at the only restaurant we could find. It wasn't terrible. It also wasn't great. I finished my meal still feeling hungry and without any options for more food.
The Interlochen campus is really nice. I'd have liked to look around more (and the unclaimed Ingress portals only had a little bit to do with it), but Cordelia was really eager to get out of there.
Scott's parents invited us to stop by on our way home, and we did. The timing worked out that we arrived a little after 6:00, so they fed us dinner-- chicken, asparagus, mashed potatoes, and salad.
I dropped my Ativan tablet last night and couldn't find it (those things are tiny!), so I slept without it. I was exhausted enough that I slept soundly until Scott's alarm. After he got up, I didn't get back to sleep until he left. That wasn't because of him. It was me feeling too warm then too cold then having my neck hurt then... Well, on and on.
My allergy trouble hasn't come back. I'm hoping it won't, but the cleaning lady coming today may set me off again because the various cleaning products cause me problems breathing (one of the big reasons we have her come in).
Super-nervous about chapter six (just posted).
I always worry about tearing it, you know? In the showbiz sense. Breaking credibility, within a context, even if that context is pretty incredible (in the sense of not credible) to begin with, like Overwatch. And I kind of feel like I'm dancing up to that line with that chapter, with Venom as a character.
If people make it through Terrifying in Flight, I think chapter seven ("Is It Good Enough For You, Still?") will clarify some things. Angela thought, in chapter six, "that's a lie," and she was correct. But I can't put that in front of chapter six, I can't say, "trust me here," because, well, y'can't do that, it doesn't make sense.
Questions of identity float around in Old Soldiers, and this is part of that arc, and and and and.
"Letting us take the first shot, then?" Gabriel Reyes asked Venom, eyeing the new intel sent along on sideband. "We got Sombra's location reports - thank you."
The Talon assassin nodded. "Yeh. I..." she frowned. "Gabe, luv, I'm gonna get this out there. I voted no. But I lost, so I'll go along."
"I appreciate that." Reyes gave Oxton a considering look. "You sure, though? The way you stormed out..."
The assassin nodded. "I've got my reasons, and I've made my promises - to Amélie - and I keep 'em." Just ask G/C Henderson, she thought, Oh wait, you can't, he's dead. The memory made her smile, just a little. Small but lasting comforts.
"Glad to hear it. Thank you," replied the tactical advisor. Promises to the Widowmaker? That'd do it. "We collectively - all of us at Overwatch, Tracer possibly excepted - want to bring him to justice, intact. Not just have him disappear again."
Lena "Venom" Oxton snorted, a little. "Might be right about Tracer. But for us - well, it's better than nothing."
Reyes breathed out. Good. "I'm putting together some plans, based upon your intel - and ours." He brought his right hand to his chin, thoughtfully. "I just wish we had a sniper. Closest we've got is Mei, and she's good with that ice pistol of hers, but it's not the same thing."
Venom thought about the problem, and a solution. Would Amélie be okay with it? Yes, she thought so. With the right conditions attached. Maybe even... proud. Let's float it. "You might. Have a sniper, I mean."
Gabriel tilted his head and stared into the screen. "...Amélie's suddenly willing to work with me?"
"No," Venom said. "But I am."
"Since when are you a sniper?"
Another snort. "C'mon, mate, how long have I been with the world's best sniper? Like I've told Winston - she teaches me her tricks."
"I can't see how you have the patience for it. How good are you?"
"I'm good, mate. Not Amélie good, but... good. Very good."
Gabe looked dubiously at her, through the screen. "How very good?"
Venom thought about it. "I keep a list of better snipers than me, right? Amélie's on top, of course; Zhanna Orlov's below her, Shimada Hanzo a few steps down, all that."
She's good enough to keep that list? he thought. But aloud, he kept it to, "Sure."
"Everyone on that list keeps a list like it. Amélie's still on top, but theirs has a question mark, down... maybe below number ten? But on the list."
"And that's you?"
Venom smiled. "Can't confirm that, luv. But."
"You willing to demonstrate that at the embassy?"
"Maybe. There's conditions." She looked thoughtful, glancing down to the side. "I have to check with Amélie. She might veto this."
Gabriel nodded. Talon secret tech, or something like it. Fair enough. "Let me know. It sure would be nice to have a sniper available."
Two days later, Tracer appeared on the balcony outside Winston's office, in the usual tangerine and white. She waved towards the glass door, and Winston started to let her in, then stopped, blinked, and stepped back.
"Honest, luv, it's me," came her voice through the door speaker. "Horizon Angle Delta Vector Seventeen Nine Seven Nine Banana Clown."
The gorilla opened the door, still wary, and Lena Oxton stepped inside out of the sunlight. In the office, she looked less blue around the edges, thanks to the warm lighting overhead, but the tint was still there, and her goggles had a fleet of extra red eyes, in mobile plates, along the sides and top. "I wanted to arrive dressed as Tracer, so's nobody'd notice, but..." She pressed buttons on her grapple, now equipped with familiar and frightening extras, and her suit changed to black and green. "Mockingbird reporting for sniper duty."
"Lena, what did you do?!"
She smiled in a broad way, most unlike her spider, and most like herself. It helped, a little. "Nothin' permanent. I swear. This is just what I look like when I'm a sniper."
Gabriel and Angela came up the stairs to the ambassador's office, and froze in their tracks at Winston and Lena. Angela shrieked a little, and Gabriel shuddered. "That... that is... deeply disturbing. Lena, are you still you?" asked the doctor.
Gold-tinted eyes - regular brown still visible underneath, if you looked closely - darted to Dr. Ziegler. "Guess I shoulda warned ya, huh? Yeh, it's still me in here." Her voice was the slightest bit slower and lower than usual, but clearly still hers.
"What have you done to yourself?!" Angela leaned forward, and Mockingbird stepped fluidly back, with an ah-ah-ah finger motion. "Sorry, doc, no scans. That's the rule if I'm gonna be here like this."
"I wasn't going to. Is it, is it..."
"Permanent? Nah. Nothin' to it, really. Some drugs, some other tricks."
That's a lie, thought the doctor. "Why?!"
"All the sniper traits. Night distance vision. Stability, in motion. Patience - well, for me, anyway. Stillness, too - I can stop my heart for three minutes in this mode and be just fine. But I keep my twitch reflex, and the energy I store up is barmy! I won't need to eat for four days. Which is good," she joked, "'cause don't ask me to read a menu in the dark right now."
Gabriel shook his head back and forth. "Your whole organisation is not right in the brain."
Mockingbird laughed, a very Tracer-like laugh, and that, too, helped. "When we're on the range, I'm gonna be even scarier. I'll ramp down my emotions s'more and turn the spider all the way up." She brought up her vizor's extensions, and her goggles' primary field went dark red.
Winston reached out to her, without words, and she took his hand. "Or maybe I won't." She reset the vizor to standard mode. "Didn't think you'd be this fruck out, big guy. It's okay, honest."
"You weren't here when Amélie killed Gérard, you don't..." He felt her hand. "You're cool to the touch," he said, quietly.
"Not that cool. Just enough to avoid bein' picked up on infrared. Won't fool the best models, but it helps."
"Please say you aren't turning into Amélie. I... I don't want you turning into Amélie."
Mockingbird snickered, saying, "Well, they do say married couples start to look alike," and activated the vizor again.
"Lena, no! Be serious! I don't want to lose you."
She smiled, waved the magnifiers away, and held her friend's hand against her face. "Aw, luv, no. I like who I am. This is fun, but not... as fun. It'll all go away later. But right now, you need a sniper." She lowered his hand, and patted his shoulder. "I can shed most of this in about an hour, if I really need to."
"That's all it takes?" asked the Swiss doctor.
"For me? Yeh, in an emergency. I can throw 'bout half of it off in under a minute, if I really gotta - but it hurts like the dickens."
Gabriel shook his head. Crazy people, Talon - all of 'em. "Where's your rifle?"
Mockingbird, it seemed, had Lena Oxton's famous half-grin, and she flashed it, and flipped her pistols. "Right here." She popped them together, they locked, and the barrel extended. From a pouch, she pulled out a surprisingly conventional-looking scope, which snapped right on top. "But: ground rules. One: no scans. Sorry, doc. Two: I'm not Tracer, I'm Mockingbird. Stick to it, I mean it. No "Lena," no "Tracer," not outside this office. Three: nobody, and I mean nobody, touches my tech but me. Anyone does, I walk away completely, and for good. No more Mockingbird, and" - she said this slowly, and clearly - "no. more. Tracer. either."
She waited a moment to make sure all that had sunk in. "These are the terms. Otherwise, I leave now, no harm done, and Tracer comes back tomorrow wondering if she missed anything. Agreed?"
"Le... Mockingbird, this cannot be good for you," said Angela. "I promise, just a circulatory..."
"No," the sniper said firmly. "None."
The doctor sighed. "You are not the only one here who experiments with her body in extreme ways. You are stressing it more than I think you know. I want to help."
"We do this before breakfast, luv. But, y'know, if you ever want to switch teams, you could do all the scans you..."
"I don't think so," the doctor interrupted. "But how am I going to know how to treat you in the field, if necessary?"
Mockingbird tipped her head, and smiled. "I'll give you this." She held up a small memory card. "Complete treatment protocols for anything that has to happen faster than a Talon extraction team can reach me. You can have it once everything's settled."
"I insist that I be allowed to practice these protocols. At least the physicality of them. In battle," she did not really have to say, "it matters."
"Ah, yeah! As long as your nanos aren't taking samples, that's fine."
"And may I please, at least, examine you later? When this is over? To be sure you've handled this well? Your own doctors may want that data."
Mockingbird thought about it. The compassion was genuine, she was pretty sure, but so was the desperate curiosity to know how all this worked. There would be things for her to find, later, but little she wouldn't've had a chance to see before, and she'd be looking in all the wrong places... good enough, she decided. "They'll already have it, but - deal."
"Thank you." The doctor looked a little bit relieved, if still more than a little concerned. "I accept."
"Winston? How 'bout it?"
"Gabriel, are you willing to work under these conditions?"
The former Blackwatch head nodded. "I've worked under way worse than this. I'm good. Uh, I... accept the terms?"
"Oh, right," said the assassin, "This has to be for the whole organisation." She switched to Tracer colours, and said, "On behalf of Overwatch, I, Lena "Tracer" Oxton, agree to the terms of Mockingbird's service," before switching back. "Sounds like a bloody software license, don't it? That just leaves you, Winston. And Mei, but she's not here yet."
"I don't like it," said the gorilla. "But... deal. No scans, no handling, no anything."
Mockingbird smiled. "Brilliant!" She tossed Angela the memory card. "Have fun with that. The rest of us - let's go shoot some wings off mosquitoes!"
"You know, as a sniper, I'll be going for the head shot," Mockingbird said over Overwatch comms, launching herself high into the air with her grapple. They'd started at the indoor range, but she got bored with 50 metre shooting and started coming up with creative ways to undo target clips with bullets, and the army's outdoor range was much more interesting. Still carried by momentum on the way up, she twisted left, and took the head off the first target dummy.
"We've been over this," responded Gabriel, watching as she took the head off a second target on the way down, before even landing on her cliffside perch. "We want him alive." He took notes that started with 'Terrifying in flight.'
"And we want him dead," she retorted. "I want him dead. Don't get me wrong, Gabe, I'm here, I'm goin' along with your plan, but alive's not the sniper's job." From that upper perch, she hit three for four on moving ground targets. Two headshots, one ricochet shot that missed, a follow-up direct shot leaving a grazed neck. That last one would walk away, with medical aid. "Damn."
'Never really stops moving,' the new Overwatch tactics expert added to his notes. 'Highly mobile.' "We just want the tactical visor gone."
She spun around from her nest and ticked a faceplate off the sixth target dummy. "And that's a headshot."
"Tracer's not here, luv."
"Hiya!" She triggered reload, and launched herself to the second perch. He noted she wasn't jinking at all, no teleports, no rewinds, just running, moving with the grapple, and nothing else. Still all about movement, though.
Bang, target down. "No additional shots after the visor's gone." He could almost feel her dirty look from the ground. Bang, another ricochet shot, target missed.
She landed, swore, and took a second shot on the second target, moving within her section's perch point for a direct shot, taking the dummy down. "Not even to save another agent?" She ran a strafe pattern against moving dummies, bang, bang, bang. Four for three, including a domino shot. All perfect.
Jesus, she's good, Gabriel thought. Maybe not Amari good, those ricochet shots aren't working, but... Aloud, he said, "Except to save another agent."
"Short day for me, then." Another reload, and she launched herself into the air, diving to the final shooting perch. Gabriel surprised her with three airborne targets. Bang, down, bang, down, bang, bang, down. "Seems a shame if I have to get all gussied up." She landed and rolled to the third sighting point.
"A short day would be very, very good indeed."
Three fast targets, running along the ground, zagging, all with faceplates - the most human of them all. Three shots, three faceplates off, all targets down. "My way would be even shorter."
"Mockingbird. Please. I know what you are. Don't make it harder."
Lena Oxton breathed in, carefully. She wondered, occasionally, how long she could make this Talon-Overwatch joint arrangement last, and this was one of those times. It's for the best, she reminded herself. If, occasionally, a right pain in the arse. "Sorry, Gabe. I'm workin' so hard to remind everyone it's me in here, maybe I overdid it a bit. Is that it for the first round?"
"Yeah, that's the first set. What'd you think?"
"I liked the surprise skeet, that was fun! But I was sloppy. I can do better, if I drop the banter. And nothin' returned fire!"
"This is a target range, not a combat simulator, what'd you expect?"
"Might fix that."
"If we had the money. You're supposed to know that."
"Maybe Tracer's supposed to know that - I'm not."
Right, he thought. "Mockingbird, secure weapon, and return to start. We'll reset the range for another round."
- thinking about:
also on ao3, angela ziegler, gabriel reyes, mockingbird, old soldiers, overwatch, overwatch au, tracemaker, tracer, tracermaker, venom, venomaker, widowtracer, winston
Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.
Okay. About five years ago I told Daron I’d do a Liner Note. Maybe six. Not sure. I promised some day I’d give you guys my list of best bass songs ever or something like that.
What this actually is, is the list of songs that probably influenced by young mind the most and why I play bass the way I do.
We’ll start in what they now call “classic rock” but when I was a kid was just called “rock.”
Pink Floyd’s “Money” was all over the radio when I was growing up. WBCN was the main station I listened to, coming out of Boston, when we were at the Cape during the summers, and WNEW from New York when we lived in Connecticut. That first instrument you hear after the money sound effects is the bass.
Speaking of Boston, a band from there was of course hugely influential, namely Aerosmith. Listen to the bass groove on this:
Maybe a touch repetitive, but a groove is a groove and the one in Sweet Emotion is damn near perfect.
I had to include this one from Queen, too, which was written by their bass player, John Deacon, so it’s no surprise it has a great bass riff. The story I heard was that the other guys in Queen were encouraging Deacie to write a song so he could make more of the publishing and songwriting money that Freddie and Brian were getting the lion’s share of. He was hanging around with the Bernie Edwards from Chic and came up with the riff, but the song didn’t develop until later. They weren’t planning to release it as a single, but Michael Jackson (who was a close friend of Freddie’s and loved their music) told them they should. They did and it went on to be Queen’s biggest hit all over the world topping pop, rock, and disco charts and selling more copies than any other of their songs.
Of course, two of the most influential frontmen of the late 1970s to early ’80s were bass players, Geddy Lee of Rush, and Sting of the Police.
(By the way, Anna Sentina, hottest bass player on YouTube and I don’t mean that because she’s gorgeous to look at either.)
In the above track, “Walking on the Moon,” you can particularly hear the way the bass and the guitar “talk” to each other. In particular it’s always been my theory of rock song composition that the bass asks the question that the guitar answers. It’s the like straight man who sets up the punch line in a comedy duo.
And of course The Police were hugely influential on me and Daron. We don’t sound anything like them really, since what we do isn’t reggae-inflected in the slightest, but as far as musicality and the way we utilize instrumentation, yeah.
So now we come to my top five actual favorite bass songs.
1. Duran Duran “Rio”
The bass is basically the lead instrument while the guitar is the rhythm. John Taylor was self taught. That didn’t stop him from being a genius. I later heard he was trying to play like Bernie Edwards in Chic. I was too much of a white boy to hear Chic while I was growing up, but Bernie Edwards influenced so many of these guys who influenced me.
This version is a dance remix where the bass part is a little louder than on the regular radio version so you can hear it better:
2. The Cure “Killing an Arab”
3. The Cure “The Lovecats”
I couldn’t decide between the two of these so here are both of them in my top five. “The Lovecats” is another one of those ones where I feel like the bass asks the question and the rest of the band tries to answer it.
(The song isn’t an anti-Arab song, by the way. It’s all a reference to a scene in Albert Camus’ book “The Stranger” but people assumed and/or have used it that way. The Cure ended up playing various charity shows for pro-Arab causes trying to balance out the karma.)
This video of “The Lovecats” is an acoustic version. Robert Smith plays slide guitar on it. The bass part is right on.
4. The Pretenders “My City Was Gone”
There are some great live videos of The Pretenders on tour this past April (2017). They’ve still got it.
5. Shriekback “My Spine is the Bassline”
This one might be a bit more obscure, but you can tell by the title it would have interested young, bass-loving me. And it did not disappoint.
There are lots more that I love but this collection pretty much defines what I’m about as a bass player. I grew up thinking that this was what bass players did. It never occurred to me that in huge swaths of pop music the bass is never this active or even audible. I only heard what I wanted to hear, and that worked out well for me.
Okay, your turn. What are your favorite bass songs?