Archive for June, 2012

A Birthday Tribute for MVM

It was difficult to post the clips for this week… that’s right, I’m throwing down with double feature. It’s been a while, and this is a special occasion within parts of the family…

First, some back story.

Circa 2000, I ragged hard on some of my coworkers that were country fans. One of the dominant songs that I had picked up on was Kenny Chesney’s She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy. “Really?” I would ask. Sometimes, I would say it in a really pronounced southern drawl, trying to sound as redneck as I could. I thought it was corny. Chesney had cut several albums by this point, but I think that’s the track that really broke him out into a wider audience and started marking him towards his current style and fan base.

Jump forward six years and there I am, at a Kenny Chesney concert with the woman who would become my first wife. It was his Road and the Radio tour (with Jake Owen & Dierks Bentley as the two opening acts)… here’s part of what I wrote at the time:

Kenny Chesney has a concert “tradition” I guess you would call it. Jenn says that there’s a letter he has on his website [back in 2006, remember, not sure if it’s changed since then] where he says, “See y’all in the parking lot, and see you at the show.” Well, credence can now be placed in that tradition… while we were at the show [in the parking lot, tailgating – we got there right after the gates opened], this John Deere gator comes cruising through… nothing unusual – there had been a couple of maintenance groups and grounds/parking crews that had come through – this one seemed a little different.
     In the passenger seat was a guy wearing a grey, sleeveless t-shirt, khaki shorts and a faded red ball cap. “Oh my god, is that…?” Jenn muttered. Twenty feet from us, no obstacles, it was Kenny in the Gator. He pulled up after about ten yards and stopped to take some pictures, the kind that could be used on his website of for concert slideshows. Amid the mass and photo op, Jenn holds up our bottle of Cruzan Rum [who was one of the sponsors of the tour] and calls out, “Hey, Kenny, want some Cruzan?” He looked, smiled, and started to laugh. That was only at 5pm… the show didn’t even start until 7pm.”

Through Jenn, I had become a fan of his Be as You Are (Songs From an Old Blue Chair), and some of his more upbeat/rock oriented singles, including some from the The Road and the Radio album. When his Live: Live Those Songs Again came out that fall (2006), she ordered a copy through the KC fan club, and it became a regular staple in the car.

So much so that it was spinning in the CD player the morning after she died n March 2007, and I drove to work with tears streaming down my face as the first three songs from the album played. [To clarify, I was not going in to work, but to start the paperwork process of the aftermath.] As a result, I’ve had a hard time listening to Kenny Chesney since. Even going to a concert in 2007, experiencing the music felt a bit hollow.

I tell you all of that to tell you this: her birthday would have been today, and she would have been 32. Like I mentioned, this is a double feature week. The first selection is my choice of a memorial, since there isn’t an official video for Be As You Are, here is Old Blue Chair… one of her favorites from the album.

And, with the rest of her family and friends in mind, the second one should be fairly obvious once you hear the refrain.

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Exercise 2a

[Originally written 5/25/2007]

What? Don’t just stand there, move to the desk. Wait there. Don’t move.

 What are you doing? No smoking! Think! No, don’t put it in the trash. Put it in your pocket. Get up. Be at O’Flannary’s Pub in one hour. Get out – and bring the pictures!

 You’re late, now sit. Talk to me. Quit lying! Look at her – look closely. Tell the truth, or she’s gone.

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Apple WWDC Thoughts

I will admit up front that I only know snippets about today’s WWDC Keynote and the announcements. Work being what it is, I was only able to follow announcements via live-update tweet feeds like Endgaget, CNN and the like, instead of dedicate a solid two hours to watch a live stream. Short of that full viewing, here are my thoughts on what I was able to catch from the feeds…

New Computers
Kind of “meh,” not because I don’t think they are any kind awesome – the streamlined MacBook Pro actually looks kind of interesting (More power in a slightly smaller size, as heavy duty as the Pro line is supposed to be? Worth looking at… looks like they’re trying to work the Pro line towards matching the Airs.) Speaking of which – new Airs coming out with 512 GB storage? Yes, please! (Ye olde adage from my father: when it comes to storage space, get as much as you can at a given time… it’s easier to have the extra space and not need it for a while then it is to go small and then run out of space so fast you need to drop more money to upgrade after the fact.)  I’m not in a position to need a new computer (and if I did absolutely have to have one, as long as my Air is still kicking, it would be an iMac – strictly for the ports and beefier system and hard drive (for video capture projects and processing, really, which isn’t as pressing an issue at the moment), so while I can oogle the new shiny, since the upgrades were really only about the laptop lines, it’s quite easy for me to make my save vs. new shiny tech on this one.

OSX – Mountain Lion
I noticed the preview on the main Apple page a couple of months ago, and I’ve been looking forward to seeing more. The upgrade will only be $20 when it goes live in July, and the added iCloud/iOS integration features are a huge step towards continuity of devices, which is part of the problem I have had with so many tech/organizational tools in the past. I’m sure there are going to be a couple of features I will have to toggle with (not sure if I really want Game Center to be active, and I will need to become intimately familiar with some of the notification features so I can flip them off when I am trying to bash out a huge word count and turn them back on (maybe) when I’m done.

iOS 6
This was sort-of an expectation. Rumors were flying about a possible iPhone 5 making an appearance today (although there were more people lately leaning towards a fall release), but with the announcement of iOS 6 there is a fairly strong bet that new phone hardware is on the horizon. What I like from what I saw: the new Maps feature, Siri for iPad (if you have a 3rd Generation), FaceTime over Cellular (really only viable if you have an unlimited data plan, but it’s a nice option to have). What’s not so hot (to me): deep Facebook integration, and that the upgrade won’t work on 1st Generation iPads.

Right, so generally I like what I saw, but think there will definitely be some settings to be played with on the OS side when they come out. If you followed the event, what are your thoughts?

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Losing… on MVM

It was during 1993-94, my senior year of high school, that this week’s selection was released and gained prominence. I remember someone from JROTC chanting the chorus a few times while we were out doing one of our PFTs.

I never fully plugged in to Beck, in fact I only have a couple of his songs in my entire library, but this one is like a time capsule for me. Turns out it was released as a single by an independent label, and on the strength of that airplay he landed his big label contract and the song was included on his first big label album Mellow Gold.

Here’s Loser.

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Ray Bradbury…

I never met him an the only thing I can with all certainty say I have read is Farenheit 451. When it comes to recognizable names in SF canon, Bradbury is up there with Asimov and Heinlein (to me) as one of the cornerstone writers of the genre – the ones whose productivity spanned not just years or decades but generations.

I heard about the passing first from John Scalzi’s post reflecting on meeting Bradbury when he (Scalzi) was 12. Today, Neil Gaiman has posted a couple of items at his site, and while I haven’t read through both posts yet, there is something that struck me, which is this:

Last week, at dinner, a friend told me that when he was a boy of 11 or 12 he met Ray Bradbury. When Bradbury found out that he wanted to be a writer, he invited him to his office and spent half a day telling him the important stuff: if you want to be a writer, you have to write. Every day. Whether you feel like it or not. That you can’t write one book and stop. That it’s work, but the best kind of work. My friend grew up to be a writer, the kind who writes and supports himself through writing.
Ray Bradbury was the kind of person who would give half a day to a kid who wanted to be a writer when he grew up.

That last line… that’s the sort of thing that makes me sad that he is no longer here. Excuse me, I need to start looking deeper into the Bradbury canon to catch up.

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Sharing Some Penmonkey Advice

One of the sites that has become a frequent stop for me is Chuck Wendig’s blog terribleminds. He often throws up assorted “Top 25” lists (usually about some form of writing/craft related insight)… Sometimes they can be a little repetitive, much like you might remember from ye olde school days when the teachers might have to explain an example thirty different ways for the twenty-eight kids in the math class to understand the Pythagorean Theorem or the Quadratic Equation. He recently distilled his writerly wisdom into a quick shot of Everclear (or, cheap moonshine if you feel you’re running a little low on antifreeze), which is simply this (image his):

Which sums up the whole foundation of professional writing knowledge.

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Tor News…

Tor announced back in April that they would be going DRM-free by July. John Scalzi’s Redshirts, released today, is one of (if not) the first “new” title hitting the streets without DRM attached. As part of his release junket/tour, Scalzi has been at the Book Expo in New York. While there, he sat in on a panel/conversation that discussed Tor’s decision.

One of the announcements, elaborated on here, is the reveal of this: their own e-book store.

I can’t say that I am surprised.. I had a niggling thought that this may be a possible route that they could go, similar to what Baen Books has been doing for years. Actually, it’s been conjecture on the internet in general that more publishers should try going that route – becoming their own e-tailer when it comes to ebooks – instead of (solely) farming them out to the usual places (Amazon, etc.)

Here is my chunk of questions, though: once the store is opened, will the ebooks still be available through the usual suspects (and other venues) or will they be solely available through the Tor Store? (If you go look at Baen, for example, a couple of titles I looked up on both B&N and Amazon, dead-tree versions are available, but no ebooks.) The other question, how will the prices swing – stick with Agency or set their own? (Again, using Baen as the model for comparison here: most of their ebooks are $6 or less, and that’s including new releases.)

In short, I’m looking forward to seeing how those questions pan out as the summer progresses…

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Going the Distance… on MVM

In the mid-1990’s, Cake emerged on the scene, making a commercial splash with their second album, Fashion Nugget, and two big singles from the album: The Distance, and a cover of I Will Survive. The cover ranks on my list of quality covers that I don’t mind hearing frequently. In fact, these are my default Cake songs that I will throw in a playlist, despite the fact they are still making music.

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Exercise 1 – First Invention

[Originally written 5/18/2007 – 3AM Epiphany]

The alarm went of at five o’clock this morning. It was another early start to a long day. The coffee pot was already bubbling forth the morning’s first nectar from heaven by the time the shower was over and I had gotten dressed. After the second cup, with a two-day old bagel chaser, it was time to head for the job site after pouring a third cup.

 It has been three months since the building fell, but while at the site, it still seems like only yesterday. Everyone was glued to the televisions around town, then later, around the country. By the end of the day, the world was embroiled in shock at the turn of events. Who would have thought that a quiet place like this could be struck down so nonchalantly?

 June used to work on the fifth floor. She was so happy when she got the promotion that took her from the third. It was a joy to help her move her things into the corner office that overlooked part of downtown – not that there’s ever been much to look at. The tallest buildings were between five and ten stories, anyway, but the office faced east, so she always had a great view.

 June has always been a beautiful woman – her light red hair always looked great, and she kept it trimmed to shoulder length. It was generally straight, but there was a hint of natural curl to it that made most women jealous – her hair always seemed perfect. Her soft blue eyes were easy to get lost in, as had happened on many occasions. June could have been a double for Nicole Kidman, someone had told her, and she smiled at that.

 People initially said it was a structural problem that contributed to the accident. Like hell it was a structural problem! The building had been standing for almost ten years, and we were a good crew that built it. There have been dozens of earthquakes around here and even a tornado that did some minor cosmetic damage, but the building was sound.

 When the phone rang that morning, the voice on the other end was shaky. They said there was a delivery truck that had been parked right next to the building. When it blew, it had to have been packed full of something, it took out most of the substructures and framing on the east side of the building. June was one of the lucky ones – if you can call it luck… she never knew what hit her.

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