All posts in Music

Boldly Go

For this month’s Symposium, we had Reed and Isaac from their band World Racketeering Squad share some music with us. It was very “VH1 Behind the Music” as they shared their writing process as well as the inspiration for several of their songs. Isaac was able to describe some of the more technical aspects of songwriting in a way that I, the average non-musical person, could understand. They also treated us to two new songs still in beta. Their homage to Bowie’s “Space Oddity” was well received indeed. After that, Reed and Isaac blew my mind by creating songs on the fly, based on audience input, improv style. It was like a friend suddenly revealing a mutant power.

For the amusement portion of the evening, we returned to the bridge of the Artemis for a few hours of space exploration. This time around, we set up a network of laptops in the office. The laptops were then paired wirelessly with iPads which controlled the laptops remotely. That way we could all stand on the bridge with nothing but a slick Star Trekky-looking slate and play the game.

We had all six stations in play: Captain, Helm, Engineering, Comms, Science and Weapons. It was great to see how quickly everyone fell into using the bridge communication patter we’ve all been trained to use by Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek. Even though the Artemis was destroyed more often than not, everyone seemed to have a really good time.

I’m amazed that Artemis is not more widely known. Thom Robertson could be the next Markus Persson, bathing in money. Artemis is the Rock Band of sci-fi games, hours of fun. If you have a couple of Windows computers, a large screen, $40, and some buddies, I definitely recommend you check it out.

An Embarrassment of Riches

I may have mentioned this before, but there are too many things. And by “things” I mean books, video games, movies, TV shows, board games, songs, apps, and any other media one might experience. Right now, today, there are probably more things that I’d like to have a look at than I have time remaining in my life to do so. And tomorrow, someone will add even more.

I don’t like to leave things unfinished, no loose ends. But now I have this frayed blanket of partially read books, half-watched shows, unfinished video games, barely messed with apps, and board games still in shrink wrap. At one point these things were rare and hard won. As a child I created an impromptu garage sale to fund the purchase of the BattleTech board game, shutting the sale down the moment I could afford to buy. And then I played BattleTech for ages. Now everything is so easy to obtain, effortlessly plucked from the ether. But I feel like it takes a greater force of will to slow down and appreciate a single thing, knowing there are thousands more awaiting my attention. It is like touring the Louvre in a formula one race car.

I’ve decided I need to shift my perception of all this media, or at least to try. I’m trying to see it as another planetary ecosystem, something vast and ever present. In the same way that I do not need to play with every breed of dog on the planet, I do not need to play every game. If I see one I like, I will pet it and enjoy that moment. I’m really happy just knowing that all those things are out there and that sometimes my path will intersect with some of them.

Official Soundtrack

Alive – Pearl Jam
All I Really Want – Alanis Morissette
Bad – U2
Catapult – Counting Crows
The Mirror Song – Thomas Dolby
Everything Falls Apart – Dog’s Eye View
Tender – Blur
Down With Disease – Phish
Ghost – Indigo Girls
This Time – Ryan Houlette
Looking at the World From the Bottom of a Well – Mike Doughty
Running to Stand Still – U2
This Year – The Mountain Goats
This Too Shall Pass – OK Go

March Marches On

So, starting tomorrow, my Google calendar looks like a blocky cross section of the Funtime Mountains or the EEG readout of the Busytown heartbeat. Lots going on. Planned soirées and the like. It resembles a social person’s schedule, as opposed to a Netflix hermit. Continue reading →


I’m deleting all the music from my iTunes collection which exists only because someone else was into it. I had the habit of downloading an entire discography if a friend mentioned some music I should check out. Or maybe I had the music because a girl I liked liked it.

I’m just over 100 gigs now, which is still a ton of music, much of which I may not have even heard.

Mike Doughty, Yeah

As with JoCo, it seems that going to see Mike Doughty has become a yearly ritual. This time he dropped by the soon to be closing Cactus Cafe on the UT campus. Entering the sleek, hip student union made me pine for college and youth.

This was the first time I had seen the Question Jar show, where he answers written questions from the audience between every few songs. He kept the answers pithy and amusing. It was a typical Doughty set, with a few Soul Coughing tunes and stuff from the new album thrown in. I hadn’t realized how similar the guitar riffs were on about half of his songs. It created a perpetual anticipation: Which song is this? Is it going to be Circles?

He played Looking at the World From the Bottom of a Well and Tremendous Brunettes, but no Gambler cover and no Pleasure on Credit. Can’t have everything.


As is the tradition for this time of year, I went to see Paul and Storm and Jonathan Coulton at Antone’s. Jonathan Coulton has become even more Jonathan Coultonier than last time.

I must get to bed. I have a plane to catch in the morning.

A Night on the Town

I had assumed I was heading toward the usual Friday night routine of XBox and Netflix, my faithful companions. Then I got a text from Reed, inviting me out to hear his roommate play a gig at Momo’s. It is always a good idea to say yes to Reed because a good time is assured. Continue reading →


My project to slough off all the excess stuff in my life continues.

My music collection has been digital for years, save for a few collectibles and albums by friends. I’ve gotten my DVD collection down to about 17 boxes. Out of print films that you can’t get on Netflix. So I’m no longer buying movies of the common variety.

I don’t have very many video games either. When I finish a game or get bored with it, I sell it. I just signed up for GameFly, so I will never buy another video game unless it falls into the small, evergreen category where Rock Band resides.

Movies and games are both heading into an all-digital delivery system. There are many reasons for this, but a big one for the publishers is that the secondhand market will die. You can’t resell your digital copy of The Dark Knight to someone on Amazon. GameStop will eventually become a store for classic used games from the 2000s. One day it will seem ridiculous that digital information was bonded to physical platters and cartridges.

I’ve thinned down my book collection to two small book shelves. As I finish books, I’ll sell them to Half Price Books or give them away. Again, I’m only going to be purchasing hard to find items or books which make practical sense to own. I converted a majority of my Amazon book wish list over to a reading list for my brand new account at the Austin Public Library system. Holy shit, is this a slick operation! The online catalog system is robust. I can have books held and delivered to my local branch. I only stumped the system once or twice whilst searching for graphic novels. Their collection of every series I care about is comprehensive. They even had a copy of the out of print Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana, which is basically steampunk porn. All for free. Why didn’t I do this sooner? Also, if there is a Kindle version of a book available, I’ll buy that over the dead tree version. The Kindle iPhone app is actually pretty great and I’ve been enjoying 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on it.

The board game collection remains pretty large. I’ll probably thin it down over the course of a few years, getting rid of the so-so games, keeping only the ones I truly love.

I’ve also been untethering my online life. I’ve moved more and more documents up into the cloud so I can access them from anywhere. I stopped using desktop clients for mail, scheduling, spreadsheets, and twittering. It’s all web-based now. I can do all of my communication from anywhere. It feels good to shut my computer down when I’m done working instead of having to check in on it for new messages.

My iPhone is proving more and more invaluable. Today I set up a wireless storage app so I can keep my writing and important documents backed up on a password protected micro web server. It’s like having a magic extradimensional 16GB pocket I can reach into at any time.

When I can afford it, I’ll probably replace my computer with a laptop. I like the idea of being able to grab a backpack and take off, bringing my entire world with me.

I feel lighter.


We all get songs stuck in our head. Here’s my mental soundtrack of tunes that got stuck into heavy rotation this year.

So to Speak – DJ? Acucrack

Falling Slowly – Glen Hansard

Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well – Mike Doughty

Tender – Blur

Lollipop – Mika

Going On – Gnarls Barkley

Chase the Morning – Sarah Brightman

That’s Not My Name – The Ting Tings