Star Wars in Concert

March 23, 2018

Last night I went to see Star Wars with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, and it was a lot of fun. First, I love live symphony music. Second, the Star Wars soundtrack is one of the greatest of all time. The both together? Excellent.

Watching the symphony play the soundtrack live with the movie, I notice things I wouldn’t otherwise. Like, the woodwinds play a big part. (Listening, I always thought it was strings and horns?) And also the silences. Places where there’s no soundtrack at all:  a big chunk of the Battle of Yavin has no music. Darth Vader and Obi-Wan’s duel? No music. The music starts again at the emotional beats:  the moment Obi-Wan turns his lightsaber away in the duel. The death of Red Leader in the battle.

The whole soundtrack is great, but when you hear the music in concert, played as concert music, you’re only going to hear the set pieces:  the opening titles, the Imperial March, etc. But seeing it with the film? You get to hear the whole thing.

A couple of years ago I went to see and hear when the symphony did Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the thing I noticed on that one is the Ark’s theme: it has its own theme that gets played when people talk about it, when Indy discovers the next clue on the quest, etc. And it builds. The first time we hear it it’s just one flute. Then flute and clarinet. Then all the woodwinds. Then the strings. So that by the time we get to the climactic Nazi reveal ceremony and all the terribleness, it’s the entire orchestra and the audience has been musically primed for the emotional build the whole film.

It’s great.

Next, I decided I’d really, really love to see “2001: A Space Odyssey” with a live symphony and chorus.



working, working

March 21, 2018

Wednesdays have become my day to Do All the Things. Last Wednesday was checking out the Linking Asia exhibit at the Denver Art Museum, a) because it’s cool and b) it’s very relevant to the novel I’m working on right now.

This Wednesday was riding.

Next Wednesday will be getting ready for Norwescon and the Philip K. Dick Awards.

And right now, the novel is about to head into the homestretch. Which means I’m about to maybe go a little bit crazy until it’s finally all finished.

Stay tuned.


bird geekery

March 19, 2018

One of the things I’ve learned since really starting birding a few years ago is that ornithologists are constantly making up new species. And getting rid of other species. I mean, not actually. It’s just that the science is getting better all the time, DNA analysis is a thing now, and sometimes a regional subspecies turns out to be a whole new bird, and other times a couple of different species have hybridized with each other so much they’re actually just the same bird. So imagine my shock when I learned that they split off the Canada goose into a new subspecies. Canada goose, one of the common birds in the continental U.S. Some might even call it a pest. And now there’s another whole species, the Cackling goose, that basically looks exactly like the Canada goose except it’s short and stubby. Like this:

To make matters worse, it mostly hangs out with Canada geese. This means to ID and check off a Cackling goose, I needed to start paying attention to gigantic noisy boring flocks of Canada geese. Like, mindfully, and stuff.

Why are you doing this to me, ornithologists?  Why?!?  I can tell other birders are cranky about this too because over on eBird, instead of reporting Canada and Cackling geese separately, they just enter them under “Canada/Cackling Goose.”  Which is cheating. But I can understand. I want to try to be at least a little accurate.

Well, I decided this was the year I was going to do it. I was going to spot my Cackling goose. Because seriously, they’re two different birds once you see the differences. Cackling geese really do have short necks and short little bills compared to their former species-mates. And they’re small, and some of them have those prominent neck rings.  When you look at comparison photos online, they’re definitely different.

But comparing photos online versus spotting actual birds moving around in the wild? Yeah.  So basically I’ve spent the last two months taking pictures of one of the most common boring birds I see on my outings and bringing them home and comparing them to online ID sites to determine that no, in fact, those are still Canada geese.

I knew if I could just actually positively ID a Cackling goose in the wild, I’d figure it out.

Well, I did it on Saturday. I totally, 100% without a doubt got my Cackling geese. Like, once I spotted them they were obvious. And it isn’t just that they really are stubby little versions of the other. They acted different. Like, they all clumped together quietly drifting along on the water and looking vaguely embarrassed at how loud and obnoxious all the Canada geese were being.

Like they might actually be happy to be split out into their own species.

You go, little Cackling geese. I got yer backs.



March 16, 2018

Every year I think the crocus are coming up earlier, and then I check blog posts from previous years and no, they’re right on schedule. Which means we’re due for a big snow right when the tulips start blooming. I don’t think my tulips — which are sprouting all over the place — have ever actually bloomed, because the buds get caught in that late freeze.

Given that my attitude on gardening is “Let’s put some things in the dirt and see what happens!” I suppose I can’t expect too much more than what I’ve got. Which is actually quite nice if chaotic. Those crocus in spring make me so happy, every single year.

My container sage appears to have survived the winter and is re-sprouting. One of my back-burner projects is researching cocktails with herbs as garnish. I’ve seen some that use sage. Time to dig out those recipes!

Oh god it’s finally spring, I’m feeling so much better about, well, everything.

Current WiP:  crossed 80,000 words this weeks. It’s probably going to end up being the longest thing I’ve ever written.


intermediate yoga

March 12, 2018

One of the things I’ve done this year in an effort to push myself is to start going to the intermediate yoga class. The basic one was starting to get a bit boring, which was a really good sign that I was ready to move up. The intermediate class is not boring. No, it’s more like, “Holy cow slow down just a sec wait a minute how are you doing that?!”

Which was what I thought when I first started the basic class, so there ya go.

Today, I had one of those moments where I did a pose that I didn’t think I would ever be able to do. Standing, holding one’s leg straight to the side. I didn’t get it quite straight, but I also didn’t fall over. That felt really good.

There’s an advanced class. I’m not too sure about that. Yet.


Couple of announcements:  My Black Panther review is live on Lightspeed, along with a review by Joseph Allen Hill. A two-fer!

Reminder that tonight at 7 pm MT I’m doing a live Google Hangouts, with a reading and Q&A, so stop on by and ask questions.  Here’s the channel.

And I saw A Wrinkle in Time.  It’s. . .not very good.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been this sad that a movie is not very good. Like, I usually get angry. But this one, I’m just sad. I’m probably not being fair the film — I have a feeling it’s going to change some 10 year old’s life because it’s going to be the exact thing they need to see at the right time. But that’s part of the problem — it feels like it’s aimed at 10 year olds.

To be brief, there’s way too much exposition, the pacing is off, the plot is disconnected, and the emotional core just wasn’t there. It’s very pretty, at least.


Just a reminder, I’ve got a Google Hangouts livechat scheduled for this Friday, 7 pm MT.  I’ll be doing a quick reading and then answering questions.

You can access the chat via YouTube, here.

The Pixel Project, which works to end violence against women, has a whole schedule of author livechats for the month. For more information, check here.

See you Friday!