Archive for the ‘ Music ’ Category

Enter Megatherium

MegLogoBlackSo here’s the story. A few years ago, some friends and I formed a rock band and after a long, long, LONG series of discussions in which what I considered to be some awesome band names got rejected, settled on the name Megatherium. Most of us had never played in public before, I didn’t know which end of a bass was which and knew next to nothing about music and music theory. We played Jonathan Coulton covers (badly) at the local con, we had a great time, then came back the next year, covering a bunch of werewolf, zombie and vampire songs (“Werewolves of London,” “I’m a Vampire,” “Zombie Me” and others). Then we lost our guitarist and our drummer went back to school, reducing his availability for lessons and practice. We played some original stuff at one more con, then kind of went on hiatus.

MegPoster2011We didn’t stop of course, but given that performing was at that moment not feasible, my singer/ex-gf/bff Rhia and I decided to focus on learning to record music. I dropped a small bundle on a recording package, taught myself the basics and we went to town. The result is our first recording, “Sound of Wings,” a song that Rhia wrote about the hero of one of my many unpublished novels, and also (I suspect) about me, and just the thought of someone actually writing a song for me gets me all misty-eyed and sentimental. So here is our first recording — this is not the final version (it needs violin, drums and some reworking of the vocals, particularly the first chorus), but it’s a labor of love and devotion and friendship that makes me very happy. It’s not slick, it’s not professional, and it’s got all sorts of glitches and mistakes, but dammit, it’s our fucking song. Enjoy.

Sound_of_Wings

SowAnd (quick revision after the fact) here for the record, are the lyrics, proudly written by Rhiannon Louve:

SOUND OF WINGS

Who am I? Just a man

Grounded by life’s demands

Got no hopes, got no plan

Anymore

 

Who am I? Just a man

I don’t know where I stand

But I dream of a time

When I’ll soar

 

I’ve seen death, and I’ve seen pain

I’ve seen love and pain again

I’m still here, I’m still sane

But what for?

 

Take a breath, wear the chain

Weather passion’s wind and rain

Still I cry in my soul

I want more

 

CHORUS

Sound of wings

Through my dreams

Nothing’s ever as it seems

Make the shift, brave the rift

Here I roam

 

Take my face

And take my name

But to my soul you have no claim

I may burn, but I’ll return

To my home

 

BRIDGE

Here in darkness

Self I’m finding

By my power

Fear I’m binding

 

Through survival

Revelation

Through compassion

Transformation

 

Who am I? Just a man

Yet much more than I began

My whole world in my hand

And it sings

 

Who am I? Just a man

But I taste life and understand

My heart soars on the soft

Sound of wings

 

REPEAT CHORUS

 

It’s Finally Getting Hot

Here in the pacific northwest we’ve been largely spared from the heat that’s been ravaging the rest of the country. So far it’s not gotten over about 85 and it’s actually drizzled a few times. This weekend it’s finally getting into the 90s, but the trees are still lush and green and there’s enough moisture in the air that it isn’t getting too horrific.

I think I’m over the hump on my rewrite, and am now hopefully coasting to completion. We’re leaving for Gencon in about 11 days (I hope to send bulletins and photos for all you benighted folks who are missing it), and I’m hoping to at least have a draft done by then. Maybe I’ll try to placate my dreadful fear of heights by editing on the plane or something.

I met with a neighborhood organizer today and I’ll be participating in a Democratic get out the vote push. I haven’t worked on a campaign since I registered voters in ’88 (and discovered that I was actually unknowingly working for the Church of Scientology — there’s a story I’ll have to tell someday), and I figured it’s time to put up or shut up. I’m pretty pissed off about the way politics has gone over the past few years, with the lunatics apparently running the congressional asylum, and politicians saying things like “Sure I believe in bipartisanship, as long as the other party does exactly what we want them to and doesn’t expect me to compromise on anything.” So, in order to at least hold the line against whackjobs like this guy until people come to their senses, I’m registering Democrats and reminding them to vote in November. It ain’t much, but it’s something.

Also today’s a pretty huge thing for me since we’re going to go see Johnny Clegg (aka the White Zulu) and Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the Washington Park Zoo. I’ve never been to one of their concerts out there, and it looks like it’s going to kick ass.  I have been a fan of the good Mister Clegg for a quarter century or so, since I bought a used copy of the Scatterlings of Africa single (check out the video — damn that man could dance… he could even fall down artfully) while reeling from the aftereffects of divorce and financial meltdown. I pretty much wore out the record (as well as Jefferson Starship’s Find Your Way Back – totally 80s video, huh? I’d love to play that Pete Sears solo, and can anybody tell me what the hell that thing is that Paul Kantner is playing? — which has also been an anthem of mine every since), and finally saw Juluka in concert (the opener was Murray Attaway from Guadalcanal Diary, and damned if I didn’t become a fan of theirs too).

I’ve raved about Johnny Clegg before and I probably will continue to do so until they nail my coffin shut. To see him with Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a real treat, as I consider them all to be heroes of both music and politics, people who stood up for freedom and equality in the face of entrenched authority and showed the rest of us the way. I was particularly happy that when I programmed Johnny Clegg and Juluka into one of my music service programs and it started bringing up related artists, and I saw that there are now many integrated bands from southern Africa, producing music and showing what we can do when we work and live together instead of in separate armed camps. Sometimes I think that some politicians, talking heads and agitators have completely forgotten the saying that united we stand, divided we fall.

Anyway, enough of that for now. It’s a very warm Saturday and I’m going to go pack a cooler full of ice and sodas and dance to the sounds of freedom as the copper sun sinks low. Hope all are doing well. Keep in touch :)

My, my it’s been a while.

I’ve been lax, haven’t I? I think being sick for a week (then sick again for another week or so) threw my rhythm off. If this blog is going to go anywhere I need to make sure I stay current.

(BTW, I’m probably going to stop doing the Zeitgeist writeups… I’m having a ball with the fiction and the game is going well, but the fact is I just don’t have enough time to write the chronicle… It was a nice idea tho, and I kind of hate admitting defeat on that particular project, but oh well…)

Click the damned link or they'll yell at me for using their artwork!

That said, I’m sitting down to a nice breakfast of turkey bacon and scrambled eggs with red pepper and aleaea seasalt — my focus has been on protein all week since I fell slightly off the carbohydrate wagon a couple of weeks ago. I admit to eating 1.5 Voodoo Donuts at work this week, since the principal of the school I work at bought the IT guys a couple of big pink boxes full. It’s very hard to resist glazed donuts covered with breakfast cereal, min-m&ms, marshmallows and bacon. Not all at once, mind you, though that might be an interesting flavor.

Owing to a marvelous stroke of luck I got a great deal on a hotel room and was able to attend Norwescon after all. I roomed with Tev, my buddy and drummer, and had a great time overall. As Beth wasn’t feeling great, it was my intention to call it an early night on Saturday, but Tev and I fell under the malign influence of another female friend of mine and we ended up party hopping for quite a while.  I am quite pleased with myself as last year I drank to excess, which led to an overall loss of inhibitions, which then led to me eating waaaay too many cookies and chocolate, which then led inevitably to a vexing diabetic crisis, and as a result I was sick for about a week. Not this year. This time I drank to excess (hey, ya gotta have some fun), but maintained sufficient willpower that I only had a half a cookie and half a cupcake. We ended up in the hotel hot tub and I enjoyed watching my friend attempt to seduce the two other female con-goers who were there. She did not succeed (not that I saw anyway), but it was fun to watch. I still think women can get away with outrageous behavior toward each other that would get a man arrested or at least thrown in the pool, but this is the way of the world and I’m not in any position to change it.

The other stuff was fun too, with panels on the future of gaming, upcoming movies (saw some great trailers, but none for Prometheus, dammit — prequel/spinoff/addendum, whatever to both Alien and Blade Runner? I am so there…), and a nice long session with successful UA writer J.A. Pitts answering all of our burning questions about writing and the writing lifestyle. Unfortunately, I need to remember next year that if I’m attending a two hour seminar that goes right through the dinner hour I need to bring power bars, or else what happened this year will happen again — i.e. stumbling out of the panel early and slouching into a seat at the restaurant, staring blankly at the walls and drooling while Beth, angel of mercy that she is, says “Oh dear… We need to feed you, don’t we?” Diabetes is a harsh mistress sometimes.

(And I also had my cell phone go off in the middle of the panel, earning me a very dirty look from the great Jay Lake… My habit of either inadvertently offending or acting like a complete assclown around famous authors continues. I’m so very sorry…)

This week I completed a 12,000 word assignment for Paizo Publications, which will be coming out soon as part of their popular monster series for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (which I consider the REAL 4th Edition) and I’ve  fired off a message to the head of Crafty Games about writing for their FantasyCraft series (no reply yet — I’ll rattle his cage again soon). I finished the first draft of a Steampunk story that I want to submit to Irene Radford’s next anthology — I’m up in the air about the setting. I don’t know whether to set it in a “Post Civil War-Like” world that resembles the US in the 1880s or set it in a “Steampunk USA” that uses all the same names and places as the US so that the reader will recognize it. The imaginary setting has the advantage of no historical or political baggage, but requires more exposition, while the “real” Steampunk USA will be more familiar, but will require some nods to real-world politics and touch subjects like slavery. I’m leaning toward the “real USA” model even though the story is the first “USA-like” setting, but we’ll see what my readers think. I truly want to put some work into this story and make it as good as I possibly can, as I love the whole steampunk thing and I’d love to be in a new anthology.

I think I’m ready to post the next three Wulf novels at Smashwords, now that they’ve settled their conflict with Paypal. It was a touchy situation, and it might have affected a couple of Wulf stories, even though the matters at-issue were touched on only obliquely. In short, Paypal had demanded that Smashwords remove erotica that contained pedophilia (which Smashwords has never, ever sold and never, ever will… I find the whole concept horrific, creepy and unbelievably nasty), bestiality, incest or rape.

While I think everyone can agree on the first matter (ecch… ugh… disgusting… etc.), the other three aren’t especially pleasant, but certainly can be included in fiction and be appropriate to a story. I have one scene of a villain doing it with a wolf, but it’s not especially erotic (I don’t think anyway) and it’s used to demonstrate how utterly perverse the character is. And when it comes to fantasy, where do you draw the line? Werewolves, minotaurs, dragons? Is sex with an imaginary creature bestiality, or what? Like I said, a slippery slope indeed.

I think incest is pretty icky too, but I wouldn’t prevent someone from writing about it, especially if everyone’s consenting adults. And for crying out loud, rape is all over the place in romance fiction, which is written and read almost exclusively by women. A lot of it is what a friend of mine called “aggressive seduction” which is kind of like the scene (which numerous women of my acquaintance have told me is incredibly romantic) in which Rhett Butler carries Scarlett O’Hara, kicking and protesting, up the stairs, presumably to be ravished in the bedchamber. A lot of it is pure fantasy, utterly unconnected to real world crime. Numerous well-intentioned people have tried to make the connection between adult entertainment and sexual violence, and as far as I’m concerned they’ve failed — for proof just look at the horrific things done to women in countries with tightly-controlled media and no access to adult material.

Sorry, I rant.

Anyway, I think my point is that most of these items that Paypal was so upset about can be included in works of fiction and that one person’s unacceptable obscenity might be someone else’s harmless entertainment. I’m very glad that Paypal and Smashwords have worked out their differences. I would have kept my books on line, but I might have had to make some minor bowdlerizations, essentially censoring my work to suit the whims of a faceless corporation.

And yes, the Wulf website is almost done. I’m being a wimp and using GoDaddy’s web authoring tool, so the site looks a bit generic. I also discovered that it doesn’t handle big files well, so I’ve split the Wulf “books” up into their component short stories. The first three books (Heart of the Lion, The Demon Crown and Stormking) are ready to go, but I’m going to have to work a bit to split up the Dark Vengeance trilogy. However, I’ve delayed starting this site so long I think I want to get published asap, and I’ll announce it here when I go live.

There’s band practice this afternoon, as we continue to hone and develop our new guitarist, molding him like clay into the image of what we want. Actually, I’m learning to play along with him (though the bass remains my true love), but I’m fearful we may not have new material or our requisite talent developed in time to perform at Orycon this year. It’s okay really — I know it’s going to take time and I’m patient. Rhia and I will need to get together and work on our Celtic Lament song (“The Springtime Rains” possibly? Not sure about the title), we’re trying to up the tempo and metallize our zombie song, which I think sounds WAY too tame and jazzy, and I want to suggest coming up with a “fast” bridge f0r our hit single (note that all chart listings are approximate) “Black Pony.” Given the recent popularity of ponies, I think this song has real potential, even if it’s actually about an evil pookah spirit that only pretends to be a black pony, taking young people for horrific breakneck rides to hell. I think it’s ironic (and possibly in a good way) that our song, about an evil spirit that rides headlong across the land at terrifying speed, is actually a rather slow song… A fast bridge in the middle might be a very good way to capture the essence of what the song’s about.

And while I’m on the subject (don’t worry I’ll connect the dots), I went to my beloved and awesome daughter’s 22nd birthday get together at Portland’s own monument to sci-fi kitch, the Space Room last night, bringing her a Miskatonic University Library Sciences t-shirt which I picked up at Norwescon, and just to see what kind of reaction I’d get, wearing my own “Brony” t-shirt which I’d bought at the same time (yes, I bought the HP Lovecraft t-shirt that represented cosmic horror and nightmarish revelations about an uncaring universe for my daughter, and I bought the t-shirt with cartoon characters originally intended for the entertainment of six-year-old girls for myself). Upon seeing the shirt, Devon was thrilled, telling me that she’d been very concerned that I’d make fun of her for watching “My Little Pony” episodes on my Netflix account.

I admitted to my fondness for the show, especially as an antidote to recent depressing and soul-crushing events at work and in the world at large, as well as against general ennui and sadness about the past, the frailty of our existence, the fleeting nature of love, time and the universe, and the unutterable dread of oblivion that all men feel. And in the end, the hopeless horror and crushing loneliness of HP Lovecraft doesn’t really stand much of a chance against the power of friendship, love and tolerance, does it?

Now I’ve moved on to rich Colombian coffee and the stack of literary agents at my elbow is growing larger and larger in my mind. I’m going to toddle off soon and get back to work on stuff that might actually pay some bills. Oh yeah, and I’m going to work on my arpeggios and my root-five 9ths.

One final note, I just saw the Joss Whedon-penned “horror” movie The Cabin in the Woods, and to quote Mystery Science Theater 3000, not everyone will get it, but the right people will get it. I cannot recommend this movie enough, assuming you have my literary tastes, you understand the concept of satire, you have a sense of humor, you love a good horror movie (and there are so few of them) and you have a relatively strong constitution (though the gore and grue in this is considerably less than many films I’ve seen lately). See it, and tell me what you thought of it.

Okay, the coffee cup is growing empty and I need to start looking up agents and maybe even putting novels up on Smashwords. Just a few hours left til I have to go pick up Daniel and Rhia for practice. Another weekend, more endeavors. More to come. I’m thinking of putting up a review of The Sword and the Sorcerer or Beastmaster next. Waddya think?

(And next time I do a panel with J.A. Pitts I’ll bring food and turn off my cell phone. Promise.)