So there’s a meme going around on FaceBook about concerts. Basically, list 10 concerts, 9 of which you have actually been to and 1 you have not. Your friends are supposed to guess which one is the false claim.
I love music. I mean, if I could I would have a soundtrack backing my daily movements. I’ve been playing an instrument, either keyboard or guitar, since I was nine, and I have been buying albums (as opposed to 45 rpm singles) since I was fourteen. I went to my first honest-to-gosh-wow concert when I was thirteen (I’ve written about that before and will not repeat it here, because it was an anomaly) and started regularly attending at fifteen.
I have not seen a lot of live acts. Compared to some, I am woefully deprived of live concert experience. But I treasure the memory of all the ones I did see, which, mulling over my list for this silly/fun meme, turns out to be not too shabby.
I have seen Yes—my standard, musically—about eight or nine times. The first time was their Close To The Edge tour back in 1972. Poco opened for them.
Opening acts are very important. I mean, we usually go to see the headliner, but those opening acts are sometimes more significant. I only saw Gentle Giant because they opened for Rick Wakeman on his first solo tour, for Journey To The Center of the Earth.
I have seen Emerson, Lake & Palmer at least five times. My other standard in terms of music.
Jethro Tull five times. And here opening acts matter. I have seen, opening for JT—Brewer & Shipley, Journey (pre-Steve Perry), and The Band.
I saw a more or less forgotten British prog group that was AMAZING opening for Yes—Gryphon.
I saw Livingston Taylor, who opened for ELP (and a sadder pairing I have never seen since—no one gave a dove’s fart about Livingston Taylor at that show).
I have seen Kansas three times, Styx once, Starcastle once, and REO Speedwagon once. Of course. I live in St. Louis and am over forty.
Cat Stevens. John Denver (thank you, Vickie).
The Eagles, once, before their whole Hotel California period, but more importantly Dan Fogelberg opened for them. He was all by himself, no band, with a single guitar and a piano and he blew the Eagles away.
Joni Mitchell. Crosby, Stills, Nash (never Young). The Grateful Dead, twice. Santana (three times?) Deep Purple.
Uriah Heep, Fleetwood Mac (twice), Jeff Beck (twice), Jefferson Starship (twice), Jan Hammer, Ted Nugent (before he decided he was more than just a good guitar player)…
Earth, Wind, & Fire.
Mark-Almond. Focus. Billy Joel (twice). Renaissance. America. Wishbone Ash. Hot Tuna.
The Moody Blues (thrice). The Beach Boys.
Harry Chapin (twice).
Genesis (thrice). Robert Palmer (opening for Jeff Beck).
Led Zeppelin. And then, many years later, the Page & Plant tour. David Bowie (once, early, the Ziggy Stardust tour).
Todd Rundgren’s Utopia.
The Who (twice).
Unfortunately, opening for the Who was Lynard Skynnard. That is one of the downsides of opening acts, from time to time you will see (and suffer through) a real disappointment. Opening for Uriah Heep I saw an outfit called Tucky Buzzard, which was the only time I preferred a Stones version to the cover. (Sorry, folks, I know the Rolling Stones are up on Olympus for a lot of people, but I can’t stand them. Love their songs—done by other people, except this time.)
Then there were a whole roster of Other Acts that may surprise. I saw Neil Diamond, who is a consummate showman. I saw Liza Minnelli. Ferrante and Teicher. Arlo Guthrie.
Joe Pass, Oscar Peterson, and Count Basie, all in the same night. Branford Marsalis.
Barney Kessel and Herb Ellis (you can Google them and then acquaint yourselves—superb jazz guitarists).
At this point I would have to go unbury all my saved ticket stubs. I have missed a few, I know. More than a few, maybe. So I’ll probably have to do this again.
But it sent me down into the archives and I came back with some terrific memories. We stopped going because the scene grew progressively less tolerable. First when the drug of choice changes from pot to beer. I’m sorry, it’s true—sitting in a crowd of several thousand beer-swilling people can be a bit dangerous. Whatever else you might say about it, marijuana makes for a much more pleasant audience. Then the security situation got ridiculous. I don’t care to be patted down just to see a concert. And to be fair, I don’t care for big crowds to begin with.
But occasionally, you just have to go see a performer you love. So this summer we’re going to see Santana. Again.
So thanks for the meme—er, memory.
I am a marginal Luddite. My friends tease me about it, not without justification. “What do you mean you don’t know how work that? YOU’RE A SCIENCE FICTION WRITER!”
A rather uncharitable way to look at it, but not without some merit. It is, however, like telling a scientist he’s an idiot because he can’t program his VCR (!). Or maybe criticizing an engineer because he can’t solve a Rubic’s Cube. Be that as it may, I have a rather antagonistic relationship to modern tech and I do not feel entirely unjustified. The last time I was upbraided for being unable to deftly wend my way through a computer problem and the science fiction writing came up, my retort was “Dammit, it wasn’t supposed to work this way!”
(Dammit, Jim, I’m a writer, not a software engineer!)
Constant upgrades, byzantine interfaces, labels on functions that do not make intuitive sense…it’s easy, perhaps, to decipher a language if you already speak it.
I’ve been with Earthlink for years now. Partly, this is because I have little patience for shopping for this kind of thing. I had a bad experience with an ISP when I first connected and Earthlink has been reliable. As time passed and I did more things, they have been far more helpful than not, so I stuck. I am a loyal customer given a bit of useful attention, courtesy, and spoken to in English (this is to say, not talked to like I’m a 15-year-old digital nerd who lives and breathes this stuff).
So I called them. Turns out, my DSL modem was over nine years old. Well past the average life expectancy of such things. Back and forthing, finagling, and communing with the service techs, I opted to purchase an upgrade to a fiberoptic connection with a new modem and higher speed.
Then I discovered that my router was also ancient and decrepit and may have been the culprit all along. No matter, I had a spare, which worked fine.
Until last weekend, when I lost all connectivity and had to simply wait till the install guy showed up.
Which was supposed to happen today. But instead, he knocked on my door yesterday, just as I was about to leave for work. After a moment of panic I chose to go with it, because who knew when the next available time would be? After two hours, I am back online. The connection is faster. No, really, I can tell. It is.
Which then prompted going around the house re-entering passwords and upgrading the other machines, etc etc etc.
And going through the sixty-plus emails that had stacked up in my inability to access my online world.
But it also means my distractions are back.
Oh, well. What is life without distractions?
Just in time, however, as the final notes from my agent on my new novel are about to pour down the pipeline into my lap for me to tend to and get back to her so she can start pushing it to all the people who don’t yet know they want it and want it badly. Timing.
Which also means I have to get back to work on the other projects sitting here.
I am, unfortunately, easily distracted, but I’ve come to understand that the thing that distracts me most, more than anything else, is when things don’t work. It nags at me when something of mine is broken. Nero Wolf once described rancor as a “pimple on the brain” that muddled his thought processes. In my case, it’s knowing I can’t do something I ought to be able to do but a glitch is blocking me. Pimple on the brain. Annoying.
But for now, problem solved, and one hopes I can glide through all this unperturbed for another nine years. At which time, some other something that shouldn’t be a problem (and wouldn’t be in one of my stories, where technology works as it should, unless its not working is a plot point) goes wrong. Meantime, a bright day ahead.
I would say something about other things, but I don’t want to spoil my mood. I am back, my window (pun intended) to the world is open once more, and I have what is in this modern day and age the All Important—Access.
I will say that Coffey, my dog, was delighted to have the technician here. She followed him around, scrupulously checking his work, making sure he was doing everything according to standard—her standard, which may be higher than my standard in some things—and enjoying having me around an extra couple of hours.
The pimple has cleared up, for now. I’m back working on…things. (I’m writing this instead of what I should be writing, grumble-mumble…)
To close, I will offer up a staple of the internet realm, something I seldom indulge mainly because I don’t have the subject on hand with which to indulge it. I have to borrow one for such purposes, but…
I give you a cat picture. Have a good day.
We took a long weekend and headed to Jefferson City for a few days with our good friend John. Away from the office and the nattering requirements, we shared good food, conversation, music. There were a couple of side-trips and opportunity to make a couple of new images.
I like these.
Between drafts of the current project, I thought I’d relax a few minutes and do a new image. Played with this a bit…making an otherwise ordinary scene just a wee touch creepier.
In lieu of an impulsive screed on the latest inanities, some images from this January past.
From a day of wandering on an icy January before…well, before everything seemed to change.
I’m giving my office a thorough resort (long overdue). Also, I’m attempting to catch up on sleep (likewise long, long overdue) and taking the first few months to relearn the art of short story (so overdue as to almost not be doable). In the meantime…the other night, coming home from work, the city was ensconced in a thick fog, and for once I pulled over to do some images. So while I am endeavoring to straighten out the physicality of my existence, for your edification…
Let us hope for more clarity as the year goes on.
Still not ready to post about the year, so…
I hope everyone had a Christmas Day of comfort, some joy, and a bit of doing what you wanted to do. I hope this will find you all well.
I’m still ruminating on the events of this year. There will be a lengthy post sometime before 2017. I confess to being about as stunned by events as I have ever been.
The good news, personally, is that I’m working on new short fiction. If my office weren’t so damn cold I could do this all day. But to fill the gap till I pull ideas together for some kind of analysis, here’s a new photograph. Something to sort of sum up, visually, my feelings about this month.
May you all be well. Season’s best.