Archive for June, 2013

all the moons of mongo

Before I became a musician, I was a glass sculptor. I didn’t melt glass and form it that way; I broke, cut, assembled, built. I’d use metal and plastics and silicon with the glass. I rose through the local neighbourhood show circuit and won some judge’s awards and got into galleries and then into a srs bsns downtown gallery, and sold a bunch of pieces. You can see photographs of many sold and unsold pieces here, but here’s a large one that sold at that last downtown show:

Gods at War

It was shortly after that – reasonably successful – downtown gallery show that when I realised… this just isn’t my art. Not in the sense of evoking passion, anyway. And the ideas just stopped.

Despite that, I kept the studio wondering if that art would turn itself back on. It didn’t. So, I’ve decided enough is enough: I’m not going back to this. I’ve found another glass artist who wants my raw materials; I’m turning the space into a rehearsal studio! This is awesome and exciting.

But there’s a lot of sculpture still sitting out there. CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF THESE WORKS. If you’re interested in any of the pieces, make an offer. If you’re local or can get to Seattle, that offer can be a willingness to pick it up – tho’ I’d at least like to get materials cost back. I’d so much rather have them in someone else’s houses than gathering dust in an attic, there just aren’t words.

Remembering Someone Else’s Grandmother

A couple more are finished but not photographed; Water Dragon is the better example. Depending on how this goes, I’ll get around to that.

Many are too big to ship without hiring someone. Some smaller pieces (such as Breech and Remembering Someone Else’s Grandmother) should be fairly simple.

And then, there’s the unfinished All the Moons of Mongo:

All the Moons of Mongo

A huge piece, originally envisioned as a wall hanging; kind of a frieze. That was not a good idea. So in the end, it became a mobile assemblage – each moon (Frigia, Land of the Lion Men, Arboria, City of the Hawkmen, Mingo City/Ming’s Palace) is separate, with a metal grid base of aluminium. Each one is intended to be displayed individually around a large room, and they can be stacked as seen here – tho’ the wood blocks visible here would be replaced by glass brick I never bought.

It’s about 90% complete. I will finish this if someone wants it.

Otherwise, it’ll be disassembled.

This isn’t to say I dislike like the piece – or any of the work. I’m entirely fond of it. Of the ones that didn’t sell back when I was doing this for galleries, there several I’m just going to keep – they’re marked on their individual pages as collection-of-the-artist.

(tiny and not available; it hangs in my house)

But of all this – there are just far too many, and they’ve been sitting far too long. It needs to get out and into the world. So if any of it strikes your fancy, make an offer. Even if that offer is just a willingness to pick it up – particularly in the case of All the Moons of Mongo. Yes, you, too, could have a kingdom of Mongo, to rule as your own. I’d much rather you had it in your house, than it be scattered…

…into atoms.

tea and lasers

Vancouver has everything, including The Laser Cutter Cafe, which is what it says on the tin: tea and lasers. I think I’m in love and I’ve never even been there. Seriously, the supervillain trade alone will be…


monstrous. Muah ha ha HA HA HA ha ha ha ha!

Here, this looks like magic, but it’s actually just copper being diamagnetic. Or magic. One of those. Anyway, check out what happens with a big copper pipe and a big, strong, neodymium magnet, it really just looks wrong:

Finally, two articles relevant to your interests. BECAUSE I SAID SO. First: How hackers make mincemeat out of your passwords. Passwords are just a problem; if you only have one and you use it lots of places… that’s not a good answer, no matter how solid it is. The game now is damage control, really.

Second: patent troll targets podcasting. No, it’s not new, but it’s ongoing, and honestly, it’s time to tear it all down and start over, because this is bullshit.

editor why i

Editing the next episode of The Geekmusic Podcast tonight. I’ve mentioned a few times that it’s about an hour of recording to get 20 minutes of podcast, I think? So if you’ve ever wondered what kind of things get cut out, well, here y’go:

The Soup Digression (mp3)
(C0splay, MC-3P0, Klopfenpop, Solarbird the Lightbringer)

It’s about a minute long. The third episode will be all those guys and me, plus news and stuff, up sometime next week – hopefully the 11th, as usual.

go your own way

As the current SFWA fail event continues – tho’ they have, to their credit, formed what appears to be a serious committee to figure out paths forward – you’ve seen some calls about forming a new organisation. Cora Buhlert does so, at the end of a particularly good roundup of links*.

Now, I’m not going to say what a group of writers should and shouldn’t do. But I have a fair bit of organisational experience, some of which is relevant, so am going to provide some council here. There are things any such effort must know and consider.

First, getting a bunch of people together to all sign up for something is fairly easy – particularly if they’re all pissed off at somebody else and want to make that statement.

But getting said pissed off people to do actual work? That’s not easy at all. Most of them won’t, ever. Understand this before you start.

And that’s bad, because building a credible organisation is hard, not-fun work. SFWA’s already having credibility – don’t laugh, okay, laugh, but also cry – is what makes all this insanity over the last six months a serious problem, as opposed to being fan wankery. Were SFWA just a fan club for writers, a lot fewer people would care.

But they’re not just a fan club for writers. For better or for worse, they’re a fairly legitimate professional organisation, which can and has successfully lobbied in the past for the business interests of their members. Consider Harlequin Horizons and Publish America as recent examples, but there are others.

They provide access to legal council, help with contracts, have an established and somewhat-recognised award – the Nebulas – that publishers and fans recognise. They have, as an organisation, helped stop abusive business practices towards writers, and their actions are taken seriously because of the weight of their organisation.

They have a lot of organisational knowledge which would be lost.

Now, that doesn’t mean people can’t go and start a competitor. It doesn’t even mean that you shouldn’t. But anyone starting such an organisation needs to know that it will take many years of hard work by many people to establish the first solid levels of credibility and durability needed by any such organisation.

That might now be necessary. But approach the task knowing this.

The second thing you need to know – or decide – is whether you want a professional organisation that actually is a professional organisation, or a protest/fan club.

The latter is easy, but utterly meaningless in this context. And it’s really easy to fall into that latter category. It’s so tempting to let as many people join as want – you get more names, you get a bigger membership so it looks like you have some clout with writers, you get a funding boost from their membership fees.

Such organisations can be great fan clubs, but are rarely good protectors of business interests. SFWA’s requirements for membership are there for a reason: to insure that only those serious enough and business-savvy enough to get an advance-paying contract with a major publisher are in the organisation.

In other words, pros, or at least, semi-professionals. Why? So it doesn’t turn into a fan club. So that everybody who joins cares about the business side of writing, and doesn’t just LURVE TEH SKIFFIES.

At very least, you’d need to go the Romance Writers of America route. Sure, they let anyone join who says they want to be a romance writer. But they also have their pro-membership inner group, which is a separate membership class. And to join that, you actually have to prove things.

So, were you to go up against SFWA as a competing professional organisation, you’d have to have the same sorts of standards just to be considered at all legitimate. And you’ll have to grow to a reasonable fraction of their size before the sorts of people who talk to professional organisations will also talk to you, and you will long be the, aheh, “weak sister.”

Which defeats the purpose.

And that gets to my third point: to accomplish the real goal, you’d need to supplant SFWA.

Right now, SFWA is the kind of place where vicious and sincere misogynists like Vox “women ruin everything” Day can get 40-ish votes for President. It’s also the leading F&SF English-language writers’ organisation*, and is likely to remain so for some time.

That should not be allowed to stand.

Even were a peer competitor to be successfully launched, SFWA would stay around, and by being first, and by having a track record, and by having durability, would remain by reputation the ‘more important’ version – or worse, the ‘real’ version – for a long time. A successful and sustained launch still does not mean you’ve won.

So to win** here, through competition, what do you need to do?

You need to either replace SFWA outright – drive it into irrelevance – or force it to reform from the outside. Failing to do either means you end up with a likely-even-more-mysognistic SFWA still being the leading writer’s association in F&SF.

So, in the end, you have three options (other than do nothing). One and two are both reform SFWA, just through different paths. The third option is to supplant it, and drive it into irrelevance. The third option is much more difficult.

And given that should either one or two succeed, the need for a competing organisation goes away*** – well, I know what my choice would be.

But I’m not a writer, and it’s not my call.

Good luck.

*: See also Jim Hines’s continuing collection of reactions/Q&A.
**: Note that winning w.r.t SFWA won’t do a lot regarding horrible fan misogyny that Ann Aguirre writes about. That’s a societal issue and has to be fought on a far wider front.
***: The World SF Blog has totally legitimate complaints about SFWA being American-specific. But forming a transnational professional organisation limits that organisation’s scope dramatically. The legal support has to be unique per country, as does the business support, to fit national law; it’s less one organisation and several separate ones with an umbrella group, in practice. To be a truly transnational organisation requires doing either a lot less, or a lot more, and spending a lot more money.

eta: No matter how you slice it, Angela Highland points out certain market realities that say SFWA needs to rethink the specifics of its membership requirements. Maybe they should follow RWA’s lead.

poison ivy

I’ve had a hoarse and horky weekend, thanks to forgetting my seasonal allergy meds on Friday – I must be the only serious supervillain who can be laid low by forgetting her antihistamines* – and I’m pretty much thinking I want this retail therapy:

…on the T-shirt. I mean, honestly, the band name comes from the opening credits of this show. Well, of the show they’re parodying, The Powerpuff Girls. Who are they protecting Townsville from? Crime, and the Forces! Of! Evil! How can I not? XD

But I also have way too many T-shirts. I collect them for concert-wear, in form-fitting sizes (usually small), so I can show up on stage with a Fire Ferrets/Republic City T and things like that. It’s fun. 😀

But I do have an awful lot of them at this point.

Maybe I should get this one larger. It’ll probably shrink. Now, where did I put that Chemical X…

*: You know what’d be funny? If Poison Ivy** had pollen allergies.
**: Strangely, I am not allergic to poison ivy. Or Poison Ivy, for that matter. But she’s got a girlfriend.

ps: I did a bunch more work on the website over the weekend. Little things. Did you know the albums on the blog can play while you’re reading the blog? Check it. 😀 And if you see any bugs, let me know!

going on

Not bring a fiction writer – I gave it a go once and have a couple of awfully nice personal rejection letters from high-level editors for efforts – what SFWA does isn’t entirely my bailiwick. But the latest sexist eruption from the old guard has Anna, who is a writer, asking – in rather clear terms – what the hell this organisation is for, and why it’s worth her time.

I’ve read excerpts from Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg’s “rebuttal”/”counter-opinion” piece (courtesy Foz Meadows, who posted them), responding to a Jim Hines commentary on sexism in the field, and I find myself led back to a place I’ve been before.

Now, I don’t like making this kind of generalisation, and if it weren’t such a matter of strong self-identification of the group itself, I wouldn’t. But Baby Boomers have always been generationally hyper-identified. Until 1978, it was a rallying cry: “don’t trust anybody over 30.” Then they started turning 30, and it became “don’t trust anybody under 30,” and they’ve never listened to anyone else since.

Of course, I speak in the general, and there are always exceptions; I even know a couple. But over the broad spectrum, that self-proclaimed generational hyper-self-identification has led them to hearing no one else. Which is why they’ve been having the same damn arguments since Vietnam, and why it’s Team D vs. Team R in politics and why it can be so fierce on so many levels while still being so utterly disconnected from reality on the ground.

As I’ve said many times, when I was more commonly posting about politics: this will go on until it can’t.

But now we’re on the leading edge of a change: where they’re going to have to deal outside their own. Just a little, just on the fringes. The world is changing out from underneath them, right as they’re starting to think a good bit more about mortality, and they’ve spent the last 30 years being determinedly unaware and dismissive of the either possibility.

And they don’t like it.

This isn’t unique to them. A lot of the War Generation sat out the 60s, then got slapped upside the head by the 70s, tried to get reconnected, and found themselves totally, and I do mean totally, lost. We’ve been seeing these erupt more often, lately – see also this bad-even-for-Fox sexist explosion a few days ago – as reality starts to close in.

It’s going to be kind of awful. And in some ways, if you’re a bad person – like, say, a supervillain – kind of hilarious. But no matter how you choose to react, it’s going to be common.

Because Reality – who is one of the Supervillains of Crime and the Forces of Evil, she’s in the back on the Sketchy Characters cover – she may not be the fastest of us. But she is cold, and hard, and she will take you down.

And there is nothing you can do to stop that.
eta: Since most people don’t check comments, Mary Robinette Kowal has good commentary on how this kind of thing undoes so much of what SFWA is supposed to be about, and Ann Aguirre talks about how this feeds back into conventions and career – that second one is pretty hard reading at times, so be warned.

This post is part of a series of articles on sexism and racism in geek culture.

the mandolin case build-out series

These are links to the mandolin hard case build-out series, wherein I documented making a hard travel case for my mandolin. This does not include all the details of woodworking, and assumes you have some basic cabinetry skills. I didn’t start out writing it as DIY, but people started asking questions, so my posts became much more detailed as the series ran. Enjoy!

If you’re interested in home recording or small studio construction, check out the Studio Buildout Series. If you’re you’re into DIY in general, click on the blog’s DIY tag for the fire hose of All The Things We Make Ourselves.

amalgamating links


I’ve amalgamated links to all the posts in the Studio Buildout article series in one place, here. That’s now also linked off the DIY section of the Videos page.

Most of the questions that I’d like to refer to blog posts involve studio buildout, but are there any other post series you’d like to see have amalgamation pages like this? They’re easy to make.

The Geekmusic Podcast has had its own page for a while, but it’s also finally linked to somewhere – specifically, off the Videos page, in the Podcasts section. It won’t get its own top-level menu entry any time soon, but it’s connected.

And finally, the contact page now also links to a contact form, hosted on the blog, so anybody who is weird about email can use a form that … sends mail to the same place. I’m not sure why that’s important, but apparently it can be, so I added one.

As always, bug reports are appreciated!

the studio buildout series

These are links to the complete studio buildout series, as well as some others highlights from our DIY category of posts. It’s by no means exhaustive – we post about DIY on a fairly regular basis – but these tend to be the topics asked about most often. Enjoy!

We also have posts on making other things, like instruments, pickups, and sound-effects boxes:

And there are the other DIY collections, too:

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