Recent Images

I haven’t put up any new images just for the sake of art in some time.  Yesterday, April 23, I was downtown, by the Arch, to photograph an event—ReadMob—and while there I took the opportunity to do some photography for myself.  Here are some of the results.  Hope you like them.

 

 

 

 

 

More Music

I wish I had recordings.  Sometimes, these monthly jam sessions just turn out sweet.

I don’t have much to say about this past Saturday night’s coffeehouse other than everyone had a good time and we had some surprising performances.  So rather than try to recapture the musicality, I offer a few images.

Bob is a multitalented player, whose skill I envy.  A pleasant surprise was his daughter, Diane, showing up, who turned out (not very surprisingly) to be musically adept as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The guy on the right is one of my oldest friends, Tom.  Back in The Day we had aspirations to be rock stars.  For my money, I got something better—a lifelong friend.

 

 

I “premiered” a piece I’d written a long time ago for a friend and colleague, Allen Steele.  He wrote a delightful story called Blues For A Red Planet and I couldn’t resist doing something musical with it.  Aside from a quote from Holst, there’s not a lot Martian in it, and I’ve never played it publicly before because it requires a decent drummer—which I finally got with Bob, providing the appropriate thunder.

 

Ended the evening with an unexpected bongo number with our two drummers.  Reminded me of some of the percussion moments from Santana concerts.

Embassytown Aurality

I don’t post music videos normally, but I thought this was exceptional. It’s music based on China Mieville’s truly excellent novel, Embassytown, which I urge everyone to get, read, immerse yourselves in. This novel goes on my list of “novels to be used to teach science fiction” along with a handful of others. Enjoy.

New Tree

So what do you do with a bare patch of backyard?  Why, put a tree on it!

Donna wanted something for the front yard, which is admittedly rather plain and neglected.  We spend most of our time in the back part of the house where the bay windows look out over an increasingly eclectic yard.  (Donna keeps saying we need to simplify, get it more low maintenance, but…)

So we bought a Japanese Maple.

We both love Japanese Maples.  We bought one shortly after moving into the house and it thrives to this day, but what we wanted was a red one and that first one, after an initial showing of red leaves, turned a lovely green and stayed that way.  So we’d always planned on getting another and trying again.

 

 

Donna found it, of course, and after some negotiation, we brought it home.  You see it here, newly arrived, next to a piece of scultpure I will now have to move.  (We were going to move it anyway, but this has just hastened the day.)

 

Now, I do not enjoy yard work.  It was sort of understood when we bought the house that I wasn’t going to be real big on it, and we agreed to a division of labor.  It’s worked out pretty well.  I do enjoy the results of good lawn care and the kind of aesthetic experimentation Donna likes to get into.  Of course, there’s been overlap, but mostly the yard is her creation.

 

Usually, the hard part involving me is in deciding where to put what.  This time, it was just obvious.

 

 

It’s a beautiful tree.  We “swiped” some concrete edging from next door (long story, it’s all cool) and after an afternoon’s work we have a new member of the forest in our yard.

Now, of course this wasn’t the end of it.  Oh, no.  Donna’s last job resulted in considerable neglect of the actual lawn, half of which had become overrun with weeds.  So in order to make the new tree more at home, we have proceeded to put down new sod—fescue, to be precise.  And that got a little muddier.

 

Obviously, she’s having a good time.

 

 

 

 

I think she does great work.

This brief interlude of domestic engineering was brought to you by my fascination with a woman I’ve been in love with for over three decades and who I can’t say enough good things about.  I don’t get to brag about her very much…at least, it feels that way to me.  So I thought I’d share this.

Now back to our regularly scheduled diatribes.  Later.

Missouri Has A New Poet Laureate

From the Governor’s Office we have the announcement of Missouri’s third state poet laureate:

Gov. names university professor poet laureate

Jefferson City – Gov. Jay Nixon announced the appointment of William Trowbridge, Lee’s Summit, as Missouri’s new Poet Laureate.

Trowbridge is a distinguished university professor emeritus at Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville, Mo., and the author of more than 340 published or forthcoming poems. His appointment will run for two years, and during his term, he will present and lecture on poetry to school, community and civic groups throughout the state.

“Professor Trowbridge is one of the country’s outstanding poets, and we are honored to have him as Missouri’s poet laureate,” Nixon said. “With a number of outstanding candidates from our state, the decision is never easy. I appreciate the work of the Missouri Center for the Book and of the advisory committee in making its recommendation to me.”

Trowbridge has published eight collections of poems, including Ship of Fool in 2011, and his work has been reprinted in more than 30 anthologies and textbooks. He was co-editor of The Laurel Review from 1986 to 2000, and his poetry has earned several awards.

Trowbridge is Missouri’s third poet laureate; he succeeds David Clewell, of Webster Groves.

http://governor.mo.gov/newsroom/2012/Gov_Nixon_appoints_William_Trowbridge_as_Missouri_s_new_Poet_Laureate

Work and Mothers

I don’t have a lot to say about this kerfluffle over the remarks of someone who, as it turns out, is not actually working for Obama regarding Ann Romney never having worked a day in her life.  This kind of hyperbole ought to be treated as it deserves—ignored.

But we live in an age when the least thing can become a huge political Thing, so ignoring idiocy is not an option.

I remember back in the 1990s a brief flap over Robert Reich.  I’m not certain but I believe it was Rush Limbaugh who started it by lampooning the Clinton Administration’s Secretary of Labor for “never having had a real job in his life.”  Meaning that he had gone from graduation into politics with no intervening time served as, at a guess, a fast-food cook or carwasher or checker at a WalMart.  Whatever might qualify as “real” or as a “job” in this formulation.  In any event, it was an absurd criticism that overlooked what had been a long career in law and as a teacher before Clinton appointed him.  It’s intent was to discredit him, of course, which was the intent of the comments aimed at Mrs. Romney by asserting that she has no idea what a working mother has to go through.

A different formulation of the charge might carry more weight, but would garner less attention.   It is true being a mother has little to do with what we regard as “gainful employment” in this country: employees have laws which would prevent the kinds of hours worked (all of them, on call, every day including weekends and holidays) for the level of wages paid (none to speak of) mothers endure.

Hilary Rosen raised a storm over remarks aimed at making Mrs. Romney appear out of touch with working mothers.  A more pointed criticism might be that Mrs. Romney does not have any experience like that of many women who must enter employment in order to support themselves and their families, that a woman who can afford nannies (whether she actually made use of any is beside the point—the fact is she had that option, which most women do not) can’t know what working mothers must go through.

But that’s a nuanced critique and we aren’t used to that, apparently.  Soundbite, twitter tweets, that’s what people are used to, encapsulate your charge in a 144 characters or less, if we have to think about it more than thirty seconds, boredom takes over and the audience is lost.

Unfortunately, the chief victims then are truth and reality.

So the president gets dragged into it for damage control and the issue becomes a campaign issue.

Which might not be such a bad thing.  We could stand to have a renewed conversation about all this, what with so many related issues being on the table, given the last year of legislation aimed at “modifying” women’s services and rights.  Whether they intended it this way or not, the GOP has become saddled with the appearance of waging culture wars against women, the most recent act being Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin’s repeal of that state’s equal pay law.  Romney is the presumptive nominee for head of that party and one of the things he’s going to have to do if figure out where he stands on these matters and then try to convince the country that he and his party are not anti-woman.

Yes, that’s hyperbolic, but not by much.  This is where the culture wars have brought us—one part of society trying to tell the other part what it ought to be doing and apparently prepared to enact legislation to force the issue.  Ms. Rosen’s remarks, ill-aimed as they were, point up a major policy problem facing the GOP and the country as a whole, which is the matter of inequality.

That’s become a catch-all phrase these days, but that doesn’t mean it lacks importance.  The fact is that money and position pertain directly to questions of relevance in matters of representation.  Ann Romney becomes in this a symbol, which is an unfortunate but inevitable by-product of our politics, and it is legitimate to ask if she can speak to women’s concerns among those well below her level of available resource and degree of life experience.

The problem with all politics, left, right, or center, is that in general it’s all too general.  Which is why Ms. Rosen’s remarks, no matter how well-intentioned or even statistically based on economic disparities, fail to hit the mark.  She can’t know Ann Romney’s life experience and how it has equipped her to empathize with other women.  Just as Ann Romney, viewing life through the lens of party politics, may be unable to empathize with women the GOP has been trying very hard to pretend are irrelevant.

Like with Robert Reich’s critics, it all comes down to what you mean by “real” and “work.”  And that’s both personal and relative. Isn’t it?

LeGuin Again

Last July, I had the honor and privilege of interviewing Ursula K. LeGuin by video link, she in Portland, Oregon, I in Columbia, Missouri. It was a delight for me and, I hope, for you. I have finally been able to upload the video to the Missouri Center for the Book site. It’s on YouTube and now it is here.

Enjoy.

Some Tribble Time

Last Friday, the 6th of April, I had the pleasure of being on-stage host to Mr. David Gerrold, writer.  If you’re not familiar with his work…but what am I saying?  Of course you are!  Even if you may not know it.  David Gerrold wrote one of the most loved episodes of the original Star Trek, the marvelous The Trouble With Tribbles. Even those who don’t especially care for the show tend to like that one.

But if that’s all you’re familiar with by him, then I urge you to correct that lack.  David Gerrold is one of the best SF writers in the business.  I pointed that out last Friday to a packed house.

 

Me as host as photographed by Robert S. Greenfield

 

Donna and I had dinner with David prior to the evening’s performance.  We’d met him long ago so could not say we knew him.  Conversation ranged over the map, but kept coming back to writing and voice.  I sometimes find it hard not to go on about how much I liked someone’s work, but the fact is he wrote some stories that stuck in my head, chief among them being The Man Who Folded Himself.  We talked short fiction, novels, politics, the ill-fated St. Louis Worldcon of 1969 (which he attended and I didn’t) and then did a quick tour with the estimable Jenny Heim of the St. Louis Science Center.  The Star Trek exhibit really is very good and it amazed me how much there was, just how long we’ve been living with this fictional universe.

I did a quick minute or two song-and-dance to introduce him, then he took the stage and regaled us with behind-the-scenes stories of working on the original Star Trek and related minutiae (for instance, the episode was initially called A Fuzzy Thing Happened To Me but had to be changed because of a potential conflict with H. Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy stories).

David Gerrold, April 6th at the St. Louis Science Center, photo by Robert S. Greenfield

I still pay too little attention to the credits on television shows, a habit from a childhood like, probably, most others in which the stars of the show were the most important aspects.  I did not know till that night that he had written one of my favorite episodes of Babylon 5, one called True Believers, which I thought then and still consider one of the most powerful of a strong series.

Anyway, it was a great evening and I am thrilled to have been invited to be part of it.

Oh, and please note—the photographs were taken by Robert S. Greenfield.  You should check out his online galleries.