Monthly Archives

August 2011

Books

Haven’t done one of these in a bit

And since I’m going on Internet Furlough next week, here, have a massive book roundup post!

Picked up from Alert Nerd:

  • One Con Glory, by Sarah Kuhn. Checked this out from the library, after hearing it raved about on Smart Bitches, and liked it quite a bit. So I bought the PDF version of it. Very quick read, very geek-friendly short romance. Recommended!

Picked up from Carina Press, electronically:

  • Lure of the Mummy, by Janis Susan May. This is Carina’s first horror release, and I grabbed it partly on those grounds–just to support Carina’s releasing of non-romance-related genres. But also, the protagonist is described as ‘pudgy, balding, and awkward’, and I felt I wanted to support a story with a non-pretty protagonist on general principle.
  • A Line in the Ice, by Jamie Craig. An SF Carina release, likely to be sci-fi-romance based on the description, but I’m okay with that!
  • Last Car to Annwn Station, by Michael Merriam. Urban fantasy. The title alone got my interest.
  • Quarter Square, by David Bridger. Again, urban fantasy.
  • The Devil’s Garden, by Jane Kindred. A fantasy novella, which I grabbed in no small part because the character is genderqueer and spends some time living as both a female and a male, given what’s in the blurb. Stories about non-traditional gender roles FTW!
  • Endless Night, by Maureen A. Miller. Romantic suspense.
  • Courting Death and Courting Disaster, by Carol Stephenson. Romantic suspense.
  • Portrait of Seduction, by Carrie Lofty. Historical romance.
  • Alchemy of Desire, by Crista McHugh. Historical/steampunk romance, it looks like.
  • Hunting Human, by Amanda E. Alvarez. I’d call this urban fantasy except it doesn’t seem to have an urban setting. There are werewolves!

Picked up from Barnes and Noble:

  • The Hour of the Time, by Vincent Hobbes. Short story, available for free. Grabbed it because I like free things!
  • First, There Is a River, by Kathy Steffen. Historical fiction, grabbed it when it was the Nook freebie of the week.
  • Untouchable, by Scott O’Connor. Another Nook freebie. Looks like it’ll probably be grim. Will hold this one until I’m in the proper mood.
  • What Angels Fear and When Gods Die, both by C.S. Harris. The first two of her Sebastian St. Cyr historical mysteries, re-purchased in ebook form.
  • Raven’s Shadow and Raven’s Strike, by Patricia Briggs. A fantasy duology of hers. I’d already read the first in print and wasn’t very impressed at the time but want to give it another shot, so I re-bought it in ebook and got the second one as well.
  • The Flower to the Painter, by Gary Inbinder. Picked up because Gary’s a fellow Drollerie Press author and because I liked his previous book, Confessions of the Creature, his Frankenstein sequel.
  • Southern Gods, by John Hornor Jacobs. Picked up after seeing this in a Big Idea column on John Scalzi’s blog, and because the idea of a Southern Gothic horror story with blues and Lovecraftian monsters is RIGHT UP MY ALLEY, yo. Also, Mr. Jacobs, I totally see what you did there with your mysterious bluesman’s name.

And last but not least, just grabbed from Drollerie since this sounded halfway intriguing:

  • Iodine, by C.L. Hilbert. A futuristic/apocalyptic treatment of the Little Red Riding Hood story.

185 for the year.

Quebecois Music

Anything that gets me to practice

I may not have reached GBS levels of fangirling with these new boys from Quebec, but Le Vent du Nord have done something only GBS has seriously been able to do before: they’ve gotten me to pick up my instruments and try to play along, especially now that userinfospazzkat has gotten Apple TV working on our big TV at home. This means I can bring up YouTube videos on my iPad and channel the right onto the TV, which is super cool.

Because it means I can do things like watch this video or this one of Le Vent du Nord, and try to pick apart the songs they’re playing and see if I can do it too!

“Laniaire” is currently my favorite LVN song sung by Simon Beaudry, and he’s very easy to follow on the melody line in that–I picked out the melody pretty quick, just by whistling the first couple of notes into a tuner to get the starting pitches and then picking up the piccolo to get the whole tune. But Simon’s capoed on his fifth fret in that video, and based on what the piccolo was telling me, I was fairly sure the key was G minor.

Which gave me a bit of a fit. I had to backtrack down the neck to try to figure out what key’s chords he must have been playing in order to wind up in G minor, and that told me he’s playing chords in D minor. Which, for a fairly beginner-level guitarist like me, is CRAZYTALK. D minor has never been my friend. Fortunately, capos are mobile! So I capoed on 3 instead of 5 and instantly got a set of chords much better matched to my skill level. I love you, E minor. (heart) (heart) (heart)

(ETA: D minor, not C minor like I’d originally thought. I forgot about the frets going up by half steps! See what I mean, people? Beginner-level guitarist.)

Now, though, the trick is to try to work out the actual changes. I’m not as comfortable with minor chord progressions as I am with major ones, so I’m going to have to step through this song slowly and see if I can figure out what Simon is doing based on what’s described here. Also, any guitarists out there want to chime in on basic progressions I should get to know for purposes of Celtic-flavored music, by all means, please do!

Meanwhile, “Cré mardi” is my favorite LVN song sung by Nicolas Boulerice, the hurdy gurdy player, so far. This thing’s in G, which is about as friendly a key as you can get. I was able to more or less pick out the first half (where they’re all doing call and response vocals) on the piccolo; the second half is harder, where they’re going into the mouth rhythm and Olivier Demers is echoing them on the fiddle. The tune is called “La turlette du rang des Sloan” according to the album this song comes from, but Googling for that basically gets me hits about that exact track on that exact album. TunePal doesn’t know it either. So I guess I get to figure this thing out the way a proper traditional musician should: BY EAR. 😉 Fun!

Also, as soon as I can figure out how to say “my fandom plays bouzouki” in French, I am totally going to have a Simon icon. Possibly also Nico, because the hurdy gurdy is AWESOME. And very possibly also Olivier’s stompy!feet, because that’s +20 to Awesome on top of his being a fiddle player. \0/

On a final (not related to Le Vent du Nord) note–HA, I have in fact managed to get “Banish Misfortune” into my brain enough that I can stumble through it without consulting Matt’s PDF of session tunes! Now if I can do this again on my octave mandolin, that’d rock.

Great Big Sea, Music

Bring out your Great Big Sea videos!

People, I am experiencing a potentially life-changing event here. I ain’t up to GBS levels of fangirling on Le Vent du Nord quite yet, but those lads from Quebec now very well and thoroughly have my attention, and it’s very significant that at an earlier point today, the number of LVN fan videos I’d added to my YouTube playlist had in fact outnumbered the Great Big Sea videos!

And that, my friends, is pure crazytalk. The lovely Monsieur Beaudry is laying down a very, very compelling case. But this is THE HONOR OF THE DOYLE at stake here. So I put out a call on Twitter and Facebook and Google Plus for people to hit me with their favorite GBS vids on YouTube–and I now repeat that call here! Link me up with your favorite Great Big Sea vids, people! Bonus points if they’re from shows I actually attended!

Remembering that userinfoangelina_zooma had pointed me at a vid of hers I’d never looked at, I finally looked at that tonight. And I gotta tell you, you have never heard “Cod Liver Oil” until you have heard it performed by Murray Foster. Behold!

And for the record, yes, C minor IS the key of someone who’s been drinking until five-thirty. ;>

Music

Back to the eight-stringed path

This post starts, like many of my days do, with the Handsomest of Marketboys yakkin’ at me the other day on my morning walk through the market. I was, I believe, telling him about my forthcoming furlough, in which I shall be not only taking time off from work but also from the Internet–so it’ll be me, my writing, my userinfosolarbird, and my guitar. He told me by way of reply that if I ever wanted a thousand-dollar Stratocaster, I should let him know.

Now this gave me pause for a couple of reasons. One, I already kinda knew that the HofM seemed to have a bit of musical inclination; I’ve heard him sing a time or two off the top of his head. Two, Jesus Jumping Christ on a pogostick, if you’ve got a thousand-dollar Strat sitting around and you’re not playing it, you are doing it a sore injustice. (Said the owner of a near-thousand-dollar Taylor 210, who is very conscious of the General STERNLY awaiting her return to him.)

So I told him I had no need of another guitar, since I had two, and he should be playing his!

Which of course sent me down the path of remembering I haven’t been playing my guitar much lately–not out of lack of interest, but because of change in focus at session. In the back of my brain, though, I’ve been pondering that I’ve got all these other songbooks and things, and other instruments, and it’d be nice to bring at least one other instrument with me to session that I could pair up with the piccolo to trade off between. Maybe not the General since the General’s too much instrument when I’m really playing him and he’s really more of a I WANT TO COMMAND THE RHYTHM LINE instrument anyway, at least in my hands. Which is not what I want to use the General for when I’m in a session.

Bring in Le Monsieur Beaudry and his bouzouki. As I’m looking through Le Vent du Nord’s site gallery tonight, I’m thinking–y’know what, I’ve got a goddamn bouzouki myself. AND an octave mandolin, neither of which have been played much in the last few years. So I tuned up both Autumn and Spring tonight, and looked in my mandolin fakebook, and lo and behold, there is “Banish Misfortune” waiting for me to start playing with it. It’s a slightly different arrangement than what we’ve been doing in session, but that is entirely okay. This is where my fledgling “pay attention to what my fellow session players are doing” powers can start activating!

Tried playing both Autumn and Spring tonight and realized that right now, Autumn’s fret spacing feels more comfortable to me, possibly because I’ve been more used to the General lately so I’ve been used to a narrower neck. So when Dara and I have our off-weeks for session practice, I’m going to start spending time on Autumn as well as with Shine, who will remain my primary session instrument for the time being.

I feel very good about this plan. \0/

Quebecois Music

Pretty bouzouki player pics achieved!

Now I totally need me a French version of the My Fandom Plays Bouzouki icon.

Because yum, oh my, and hell, he even looks good just HOLDING the bouzouki. Fortunately, he can also PLAY it:

Furthermore, it must be said that damn, that boy’s voice is pretty too:

Also, this pic of the pretty Monsieur Beaudry and his colleague Monsieur Demers on the fiddle TOTALLY wants a caption. I love that look on Olivier’s face. I’ve seen looks like that exchanged between The Doyle and the McCann!

Music, Quebecois Music

And the winner is…

Le Vent du Nord, who take over as my official Second Favorite Band. They narrowly, narrowly beat out La Volee d’Castors on the grounds that:

  • Simon Beaudry is gorgeous, and as previously noted, I have a marked fondness for cute dark-haired bouzouki players! (Note: yes, I am aware he’s holding a guitar in that picture. I have not yet found a suitably pretty picture of him with a bouzouki. Being imaginative, I can extrapolate!)
  • LVN actually seem to periodically do US shows, if their tour calendar is any indication. Which means there’s an off-chance I might actually get to see them perform if they ever head out this way, and if they do, I am ALL OVER THAT.
  • LVN’s website has an English edition as well as a French one. LVC’s website currently does not, and while I can still kinda poke my way around theirs and make reasonable guesses about what’s what, a coherent full English site is still more helpful.
  • LVN also provide lyrics on their website. While I speak only a meager handful of phrases in French, I can at least use the French lyrics to read while I’m listening to the songs, which can let me start to try to parse them as words, as opposed to “lyrical nonsense being sung by guys with sexy voices”! The English lyrics provided are spotty at best, and are clearly the half-assed output of a translation engine, but they are at least enough to give me a half-assed idea of what various songs are actually about.
  • Nicolas Boulerice has a hurdy-gurdy, and Unusual Instruments FTW!

Now, all this squeeing aside, LVC are still very, very close behind the gentlemen of LVN, on the strength of their music alone!

And I fear that Carbon Leaf has now slipped to fourth place. Sorry, lads! (I do however resolve to check out CL’s forthcoming live album/DVD set, and show them some love too.)

Music

I’ll get the hang of this yet!

userinfosolarbird and I have been doing this thing for the last several weeks where we go to session only every other week–and use the off-week as a practice night. Meanwhile, I’ve shifted from taking the General to session to taking my piccolo instead, and focusing on learning the actual melody lines for various tunes.

This is working out pretty well! I can only play five or six tunes semi-reliably–by which I mean, I can actually play “Si Bheag Si Mhor” by heart, and about five others if I’m reading the sheet music at the time. I ALMOST have “Banish Misfortune” down by heart but the C part is still eluding me. What this tells me though is that by practicing, I CAN learn these things. And it gets noticed in session, too! Once you start showing up and being able to play the tunes, you get significantly more cred, even if you’re still pretty much a newbie like me.

Right now I’m focusing my efforts on the handy dandy PDF session leader Matt gave me, with about 25 tunes he’s fond of and considers a good introduction to sessions in general. From that, I’ve been working on “Banish Misfortune”, “Road to Lisdoonvarna”, “Morrison’s Jig”, and a bit of “Blarney Pilgrim”. Although I haven’t actively practiced them yet, I can also whip through “Kesh Jig” and “Foggy Dew” if I’m reading the PDF.

Meanwhile, I’ve got TunePal on the iPad and I spend a good chunk of session these days just listening to what the others are doing–and seeing if TunePal can figure out what the tunes are so I can save ’em for later exploration. Half the time, the app has a pretty good idea of what it’s hearing. If it wibbles and has no goddamn idea, I’ll just ask! Then I can look it up manually. And once you have a tune in the app, you can make it play it for you, adjusting the tempo if you need to. It’s a GREAT learning/reference tool for session newbies. Highly, highly recommended if you have an iPad.

Last night’s session in particular was relaxed and groovy, with just me, Dara, Matt, and a couple new folks Dara and I hadn’t met before, a woman who played fiddle and mandolin and a guy who played guitar and bodhran, and from them I picked up a couple more tunes to add to TunePal for later investigation: “The Yellow Tinker” and “The Frieze Breeches”. Plus, I had to giggle and giggle at one particular wibble TunePal had trying to identify tunes–when it offered me “Whiskey Makes You a Lunatic”. Which had NOT A GODDAMN THING to do with what was actually being played, but the title alone made me LOL, so I had to add it to my list.

And to tie back to my French Canadian fangirling post, I’ve also decided I have designs on learning “The Jig of Slurs”, “Irish Washerwoman”, and “Atholl Highlander”, which make up the “Fortierville” set that’s track one on La Volee d’Castors’ kickass live album. It’ll be approximately oh, I dunno, EIGHT YEARS before I’m able to play that set nearly as fast as they do, but TunePal helpfully provided me the sheet music to each. I’m armed. I’m dangerous. I HAVE A PICCOLO. BRING IT.