Free Podcast Theme Music

I put together some theme music for imaginary podcasts and posted it over on the Sound Design page. All three tracks are free and completely composed of Garageband loops except for some of the melody on the ethereal track.

All I ask in return is credit if you use them. I will also compose themes upon request and am available to do sound effect and audio design work on podcasts and for theatre.

Turn Them Lights Out, Bubba!

Today, hundreds of thousands of people, and hundreds of cities across the world are participating in Earth Hour. From 8 pm – 9 pm local time, people all over the world will be turning off their lights. In homes, businesses, city & state government facilities, the lights go dark as a way to raise awareness of energy consumption and conservation.

From their website:

Earth Hour was created by WWF in Sydney, Australia in 2007, and in one year has grown from an event in one city to a global movement. In 2008, millions of people, businesses, governments and civic organizations in nearly 200 cities around the globe will turn out for Earth Hour. More than 100 cities across North America will participate, including the US flagships–Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix and San Francisco and Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

We invite everyone throughout North America and around the world to turn off the lights for an hour starting at 8 p.m. (your own local time)–whether at home or at work, with friends and family or solo, in a big city or a small town.

Will you be doing this today? If so, drop a comment with some ideas of how to use that dark hour. I’m contemplating Scrabble by candlelight, possibly listening to some audio fiction through the iPod, writing letters to friends that I haven’t talked to in too long a time, or, maybe even just sitting quietly and contemplatively. How odd would that be?!!

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Book Review: Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson

Take the Earth, place it in a kind of time bubble that slows our time down to an infinitesimal crawl compared with the rest of the universe and shut out the stars and you create a world that poses a highly unique set of challenges to the characters involved. Sort of like the whole world has become Rip Van Winkle. What is most impressive about this novel, however, is not the big, science fiction ideas, or even the philosophical questions it raises about humanity’s relationship to the rest of the universe. For me, it was the characters that made Spin a novel to relish and Robert Charles Wilson an author to look out for.

The novel focuses on three main characters, Tyler (the narrator of the book), and his friends Jason and Diane, who are brother and sister. What struck me most about Spin was the way that love and friendship were played out between these three people, each of them struggling to understand and/or accept a world that changes radically in one single moment when they are children. That moment, the moment the Earth becomes separated from the universe and from the stars and even from the moon becomes the defining moment for all of them, yet they experience that moment and their subsequent lives in very different ways. Jason quests for knowledge at all and any costs while Diane retreats, at times, to the seeming security of religion and faith. Tyler is the middle ground, reaching after both of his friends but never able to match their purity of vision, their absolute commitment to either the mind or the spirit. I suppose one could see Tyler as the body, Jason as the brain, and Diane as the heart. But such schematics seem, ultimately, a bit hollow as I reflect on the book and the characters. What most struck me most about Spin was the honesty that Wilson demonstrates in writing the relationships between the three characters. Here is a book were people lose each other for years at a time . . . sorta like–or very like if you ask me–life. In addition, I couldn’t help but recognize Tyler’s feelings for Diane as they moved in and out of each other’s orbit throughout the course of decades (subjective time, of course, billions of years go by throughout the course of the story). The puppy love of a child, the flavor of true friendship being haunted by spice of sex and the fear of ruining everything, the growing apart and becoming strangers and yet still, somehow, connected on an intimate level are all emotions and situations that I have experienced in two of my most important relationships.

One of those relationships was with Emily Richardson. She and I met in High School and only “officially” dated for two weeks when we were freshman. And by “dated” I mean that we walked to the library holding hands and talked on the phone a lot. Then, over a spring vacations, she broke up with me. I don’t remember being devastated, I don’t remember really any strong reaction to that moment, but for the next ten years or so, I would orbit her like an asteroid: sometimes far away and distant, her form vague and only barely present and sometimes so near and present that I was always in danger of falling completely, leaving orbit and falling into her gravity well. Never to escape. Years would pass and I would believe that I was really, truly, over her. Then we would spend time together and I would begin falling once more. Yet, through it all we remained friends. She knew me better than almost anyone for a good long time and to this day I can still feel just how warm and right her embrace felt; how much just holding her in my arms could make the universe seem more manageable. We lost touch about four years ago when I was unable to go to her wedding. I hear she has a kid now and I miss her. I miss knowing the shape of her life, of sharing my own with her. I miss having a friend with whom I shared years of love (platonic as it may have been) and stories and memories and intimacies.

The point is that Spin, for all its science fiction and big ideas, is about relationships and the toll that time can take on them and, perhaps, the redemption that some relationships can offer after even more time. In a sense, Time is a forth character in the book. How time moves, how it feels to move through it becomes a central element of Spin: time that sometimes moves slow and sluggish and at other times jerks and twists violently, time that is a friend and time that is an enemy. Time, like the other characters in the book, is contradictory and never simple. Tyler does not spend every waking moment wanting Diane, yet she is never far from him. Jason is supremely arrogant yet he understands, more than the others, how to be humble in the face of knowledge. Diane lives a life of fear, but has more inner strength than the men in her life. Wilson gives the reader characters who are complex, dynamic and who feel instantly recognizable while at the same time always doing or saying something that defies expectations. In this way, Wilson brings a verisimilitude to his characters that is rare in any genre.

I read the book courtesy of TOR Books. And by courtesy I mean free. Yes, free. TOR has recently been giving, every week, a book away for free. You can download them in PDF, HTML or Mobipocket formats (and it is relatively simple to convert the HTML version into a Microsoft Reader format if you have a copy of Word 2003). No DRM, no catches – just free electronic books that you can read on your computer or any number of other devices. Having read one of his books in this format, I am extremely more likely to buy another book by Wilson in the future, perhaps even a hard copy version of Spin. For those who have doubts about the benefits to giving some work away for free, TOR’s experiment will hopefully provide a model that bears significant fruit for everyone, readers, authors and publishers alike. I, for one, eagerly look forward to reading and buying more Robert Charles Wilson, and whole-heartedly recommend Spin.

Dumb People Live Everywhere

Ahh, it’s nice to know that dumb people live in places other than America. And by dumb, I don’t mean regular, run-of-the-mill ignorant dumb, I mean dumb to such an extent that it is almost awe inspiring:

Of course, we freely give airtime and political power to people as myopic as this guy when it comes to evolution so we shouldn’t smirk too much.

Bush & Musharraf Sittin’ in a Tree . . .

K I S S I N G

Oh what fun to have the President of the United States of America not only support torture but also, and outright, support military coups and dictators:

In a memo to the secretary of state dated Monday, Bush used his authority to exempt Pakistan from a law that restricts funding countries where the legitimate head of state was deposed by a military coup, as in Pakistan.The waiver, which Bush has approved every year since 2003, opens the way for the United States to provide about 300 million dollars this year to key “war on terror” ally Pakistan to boost its counter-terrorism operations.

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How very pro-Democracy of him. How utterly American and patriotic to support military overthrow of legitimate governments and then give them money when they can do something for us. Aren’t you so damn proud to be American with Bush as our leader? To all you moral majority types, to all you good Christians who continue to support an administration that breaks the law, disregards human rights, and makes charity conditional upon forcing its own judgments upon those in need, I ask you: “. . . why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye?”

And they say that liberals are moral relativists? Any Christian who continues to support illegal, immoral, unethical, and evil actions needs to do a little soul-searching before charging anyone else with moral relativism.

McCain Watch: Yes Please, No Please

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On the McCain news, a few interesting tidbits:

The Maverick thumbed his nose at the FEC when his latest campaign finance report showed that he blew past the public financing spending limit. He had agreed to take public financing when his campaign was in the crapper and he needed the matching funds. Once his political fortunes turned around, he decided that he wanted to withdraw from the system, and take private money. There’s also the possibility that he used public money to obtain a loan. The AP shows why he’s in trouble (or at least he should be . . .

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Since the presidential campaign began last year, no remaining candidate has been more absent from their day job than Sen. John McCain. The Arizona Republican has missed more than half of the votes in the Senate since January 2007. One MSNBC host is wondering whether the media-friendly GOP presidential candidate isn’t getting a pass from the national press and if McCain would have a better grasp on the issues if he had bothered to show up more often.

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The Senate voted today to ban the CIA from using torture on suspected terrorists and the most famous POW in the Senate voted against the bill. The Maverick is now most assuredly dead and the betrayal is complete. The blogosphere was all over this issue, and thankfully the measure passed, but for McCain, it was a show of pure cowardice. In other words, the Senator who himself was tortured for years and has previously spoken out against it, voted to allow the use of torture on others to save his political hide and pander to a party base that despises him. Is this the sort of weakness you want from your Commander in Chief?

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McCain TODAY: Complained About Wait Times at VA Hospitals. [Town Hall in Springfield, PA, 3/14/08] McCain LAST NIGHT: Skipped Vote to Help Veterans Get Veterans the Care They Need. McCain skips vote on amendment “To provide the Veterans Benefits Administration with additional resources to more effectively meet their increasing workload and to better address the unacceptably large claims backlog.” [2008 Senate Amendment 4194 to S.Con.Res.70, agreed to in Senate by Voice Vote; Thomas.loc.gov]

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There are, by some poll or other, an estimated 28% of Clinton supporters who would vote for McCain over Obama. I imagine that they are those Democrats who are anti-abortion, pro-torture, and don’t care about campaign finance reform (McCain-Feingold what?) or our Veterans, and are eager to start a war with Iran, support the telco’s in gaining immunity for breaking the law, and are pro-business and pro-lobby. They must be that group of Democrats who believe that abstinence only sex education is a good thing, no matter the statistics that point to it’s failure, believe that Catholic’s are evil and that Hurricane Katrina was punishment delivered upon New Orleans for its sins (God Damn America – which is only ok for white preachers to preach), and believe that we live in a fundamentally religious and and Christian country rather than a secular republic. (For more on McCain and religious issues, follow this link.)

Those 28% must be awfully confused.

44 Lines about 22 People

In the spirit of “88 Lines about 44 Women” I’d like to offer a small memorial to a number–22 to be exact–of people that I have lost along the years. Honestly, these lines are not brilliant, and some of them are not even good, but I have tried to communicate at least one essential element of each person, or my relationship to them. In a very clumsy and earnest way, I am trying to pay all of them a small tribute. The rhyme scheme is too Dr. Seuss and I should have gone for ABABCDCD instead of AABBCCDD – but you live and learn.

Enough dissembling! Here then, are 44 lines about 22 people:

Continue reading

The Persistence of Cats

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Our cat is a stubborn cat. She does not like doors that are closed and in her way. This morning, at about 6:30 am, I kicked her out of the bedroom and closed the door so I could get some extra sleep. Until recently, her tactic for getting through the door would be to start meowing and scratching at the door. Activities that, we could ignore and possibly even sleep through. Sometime in the last few weeks, however, she has decided to start trying to open the door by jumping up in the narrow space between a bookshelf and the latch door that Joya and I put up ourselves when we moved in.

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Of course, a cat crashing into a door is enough to wake me and keep me awake, but I also didn’t want to reward her behavior, so I was simply lying in bed, waiting for her to stop trying to get in when . . .

She did it. She jumped high enough and in just the right way and she unlatched the door and opened it herself.