Jun 13 2010



With my sister away for the weekend, I thought this would be a good time to haul out her accordion and see if I could still play some music on it.

Verdict: I believe it would depend on your definition of the word “playing.” And possibly the word “music.”

Nevertheless, I do believe that Mona was glad to see me. And I’m of the opinion that if I could put in a little practice time, I could work up a passable version of, if not “Lady of Spain I Adore You,” at least “Delores Waltz”.


In a nice example of sheer synchronicity, Catherynne Valente wants to learn the accordion, and has acquired one.

This doesn’t actually surprise me… the accordion is a fantastical instrument, suitable for a fantastical author like Ms. Valente. It is weird, wonderful, half magic and half steampunk.

It is a musical instrument of mystery and romance, drenched in passion, and built on…

Built on…

Built on sheer geekery.

Seriously, folks. What did computer programmers do before there were computers to program?

They designed the accordion.

See that daunting array of buttons on the left?

Absolutely, completely, wonderfully logical. Each of those buttons is a solution. Collectively, they solve for the entire range of possible harmonic structure.

With an accordion, you can sound as if you have eight hands — or click a tab, and sound like a lonely clarinet, a lost calliope. Click again, and you’re an oom-pah band.

shiny sparkly serves the same purpose as the bumps on your F and J keys

And the bellows? The accordion breathes. If you breathe, you’re alive, and if you’re alive, you have passion.

Weep, scream, whisper. Stamp your feet and shout for joy.

Mar 27 2010

What I said


Over at Chad Orzel’s Uncertain Principles blog, he’s asked for book recommendations.  Here’s what I said:

Robert Charles Wilson’s SPIN. If you haven’t already, that is, as it’s not a new book. (Actually, I’d be interested in a scientist’s take on the science in it…) You can follow it up with everything else ever written by Robert Charles Wilson.

On the absolutely opposite end of the spectrum: Catherynne M. Valente’s THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND IN A SHIP OF HER OWN MAKING. (I haven’t quite finished reading it yet, so I hope that after recommending it, I don’t watch it flip around and prove me wrong!) That one’s online, and can be read for free, although the author politely requests donations (which I shall, even should it flip; the pleasure I’ve got from it so far is already worth the bucks). http://www.catherynnemvalente.com/fairyland/ In a certain mood, I’m ready to read things that are clearly shaped as fairy-tales, and I’m finding Valente’s take on the form both charming and moving.

And for something smack-dab in the middle, how about PANDEMONIUM by Daryl Gregory? I came across this book when I was a judge for the Phil K. Dick award (a strictly-SF award, so the book was disqualified by some of the judges as not being SF, in their opinion). I found it fun, and poignant, and clever and deep. (Don’t read the cover blurb, however — I feel it gives too much away.)

Right after I posted it, I had a vague memory of actually having said those things to Orzel in person.   If so, I now look like a dope.

Ah, well.   At least the readers of his blog will now have heard of those books, and might read them.  Pass on the good stuff whenever you  can, say I.

Mar 6 2010



I’ve got stacks of books to read.

I’ve also got stacks of books to write…

Today, I decided to consume instead of produce.

This inspired by the fact that although David Anthony Durham’s Acacia has been in my possession for nearly a month, I have not finished reading it.

And Chad Orzel’s How to Teach Physics to Your Dog.

Not to mention Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, which (as far as I’ve yet read into it) is exceedingly wonderful in every way.  And is also online and free to read, so you have no excuse  not to go there right now.

Plus: I will play some guitar and sing for my own bemusement amusement.

That’s my day.no pic of valente's book -- it's online