Archive for February, 2014

proof of work: kitsune at war

Another in-progress instrumental piece from the Bone Walker book series soundtrack; I’m calling this one “Kitsune at War,” at least for now. Three kinds of drums, mandolin, Irish bouzouki, fiddle; still missing are flute and a second fiddle:

It’s quite a scene I’m trying to paint here, with kitsune, a water dragon, representatives of faerie, and a member of the unseelie court hanging out around the fringes. It starts simple enough – and this is the first quarter of the scene – but mashing up Scottish (Douce Dame Jolie) and Japanese traditional music (Oedo Nihonbashi/お江戸日本橋) was not easy! I ended up treating it more orchestrally, and brought in and modified Kendis’s tune as glue, turning that into less “Road to Lisdoonvarna” and more “Forced March to Lisdoonvarna.” Or that’s what I’ve been calling it in the studio. XD

Most instruments (drums – even the electrics are played live – mandolin, irish bouzouki) are me; Sarah Kellington of Pinniped is on fiddle. We have another fiddler working on this (whose name will be familiar to many of you, but all that in good time…) to be added in, and a flautist (same notation). (MYSTERIOUS IS IT NOT? Yeeeeeeeees.)

Anyway, a 50 second excerpt for you. Enjoy.

if one of the bottles should happen to fall

The skiffy net is all abuzz with Sean Fodera’s apology to Mary Robinette Kowal. He also seems to have caught up enough to know that you cannot sue the Internet, tho’ he still seems to think he as a good libel case against… people… who quote him… accurately. Well, baby steps.

Ms. Kowal has, in turn, issued her acceptance of his apology:

He’s also posted about women in SF, in a way that seems to me to be muchly ignoring the point of this entire petition adventure. Screencaps of both are at Radish Reviews, because keeps buckling under the traffic rush.

Me? I’m less than convinced, not really by the apology itself – which seems fine – but by the context of the “I don’t hate women, I have a daughter! And women co-workers!” second post. Commenters at James Nicoll’s Livejournal blog are thinking similarly. But I’m in the enviable position of having superpowers, not the least of which is my innate and tremendous ability not to have to give a fuck. If Mary is happy, well, what else is needed?

Oh, I know. Some sort of settlement of this whole petition flap. Hopefully, Mr. Fodera is sincere, and – tokenism of his women-in-SF post aside – let’s also say well-intentioned. That leaves a whole lot of petition authors and signers who are not so far along.

This isn’t about one person. This is about a systemic problem.

Some people have been calling this apology a resolution to the entire affair; I find that overly optimistic, myself. But we’ll see.

Previous posts on this topic are collected here.

a bit lost in all the kerfluffle

Amongst the news that got somewhat overlooked during the petition-to-SFWA flap of the last two weeks:

  • The two-CD-long Destiny came out, with my first voice acting role, and,

Along the way, I fixed another guitar – I keep repairing instruments I don’t even know how to play XD – and a cool toy appeared! If you have a new enough browser, go play with it, it’s fun.

Finally, this is legitimately hilarious (h/t to Ben Deschamps):

[Video deleted – sorry!]

The Boosting the Signal Project

Anna’s new “Boosting the Signal” project features authors’ characters delivering confessionals about their goals in upcoming novels which feature them.

That’s pretty high concept and very meta. I like it.

It’s also partly a response to all the various repeated flaps around SFWA last year, and the petition-to-SFWA this year. That whole thing about starting your own amusement park? Yep.

Anyway, she’s just published the first list of guest appearances. It starts February 28th, with Anna Kashina. She mentioned being already booked through April; should be interesting to follow that as it unfolds.

On a not at all unrelated note, I floated something similar with musicians last year. Maybe I should try that again – I just need a snappy organising concept. Got any ideas?

a theremin that is not a theremin

Didn’t get as much done in studio yesterday as I wanted (it was also Cleaning Day) but made some good progress nonetheless. Here, the last week and a half has included too much annoyance: have a toy. (Clicking will take you to another site.)

If you have a browser that supports it (Safari on the iPad does), this is a fun and silly webpage-based synth. It calls itself a theremin, but it’s not, and is very little like one. But it totally is a cool little faux FM analogue synth with which you can make crazy noises of awesome. Go play. 😀

fixing a guitar

I may not be able to play guitar, but I can fix ’em. If they aren’t too broken, anyway. This is the nwcMUSIC loaner guitar – the one we have to loan to people if they need one – and is the second third! one I’ve repaired. (Spazzkat on Tumblr reminds me I helped fix one of his electrics.)

There’s not a lot of how-to involved, just get a block of that material – I don’t even know what it is – from somewhere like Dusty Strings, cut it down a bit with a hacksaw so it’s the right length and roughly the right height, then sand it with 100 grit until it’s the right shape. Add grooves with a sharp knife and use old strings to sand them into the right shape, and you’re done.

I had a guitar player check it out and he thought it played fine, like from the factory.

So, yeah, there. Now you can replace a broken nut on a guitar. Easy!

Collection: The SFWA, Sexism, and Racism Posts

This collection covers posts made in reaction to various sexism and racism explosions in geek culture. Topics include the Hugo Award, SFWA, and PAX controversies, as well as commentary on queer erasure with particular regard to Legend of Korra and Wikipedia, but also in other areas.

If you’re a guy, particularly, and still don’t think sexism and outright misogyny are a problems in geekdom, I hope you’ll read Power and Supervillainy, and then Gatekeeping and Recourse: what only men can do against sexism in geek culture.


The 2016 Hugo Capture – how a political slate played the same game, with a new goal, and how this can be the final year of this nonsense:

The 2015 Hugo Capture – how a political slate captured nearly all literary nominations:

Legend of Korra, Korrasami, and Queer Erasure (attempted):

General geek culture; also GamerGate, and PAX related posts:

SFWA and petition-to-SFWA related:

insects of the writing world

John Scalzi, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Ursula Vernon have teamed up to form the Insect Army, in response to one pro-petition writer, who said:

“The problem is that the ‘vocal minority’ of insects who make up the new generation of writers don’t scramble for the shadows when outside lights shines on them – they bare their pincers and go for the jugular. Maybe it is a good thing that SFWA keeps them locked up. The newer members who Scalzi et al. brought in are an embarrassment to the genre.”

God, all those people who Aren’t Us and Don’t Know Their Goddamn Place. Anyway, go read John’s post, Ursula has some hilarious art.

I’ve got actual work to do so need not to be writing about this today. But if I see any other good links, I’ll add them here.


Recent related posts:
     What is being lost
     A Friday of Followups
     A Horrible Group of People
     An Embarrassing Stumble Towards Irrelevancy
     Collection: The SFWA, Sexism, and Racism Posts

and the winner is

Last week, I posted a work-in-progress roughmix of an instrumental track from the upcoming Free Court of Seattle book series soundtrack album.

I also posted the bass instrument, in excerpt form, as a solo track. It sounds like a a double bass (a.k.a. standup base) but, as I told everyone, it wasn’t that; I made something else into a double-bass, with studio tricks. And I challenged people to figure out what it was originally.

I’m afraid nobody got there. A couple of people got into the right category (“tonal percussion instruments”), then wandered back out again, because they kept being sure it had to be bowed, even after I said it wasn’t.

Because nobody guessed correctly, I’m assigning numbers and doing a random winner drawing from everyone who tried, across all reposts I know about! A d20 will work, which is convenient, so dice roll please…

THE WINNER IS DAVID, FROM THE ORIGINAL POST! Email me, David! Also I’ll send email if you left a valid one associated with your username.

As to the actual answer…

A Hammer Dulcimer

YES, REALLY. I thought I was tipping my hand, talking about the mysterious “bass instrument” at the same time that I was talking about Ellen’s hammer dulcimer, but I guess not!

The discovery was entirely accidental – particularly the bow sounds. That’s not hard work; that’s a processing artefact, I guess. I honestly don’t know.

Basically, I needed something to fill in down there, frequency-wise, to give the track some body. Usefully but separately, I had put four microphones on Ellen’s dulcimer, recording four tracks off it, with one in particular set up to pick up as much low end as her instrument could give me. But it didn’t pick up any more low-end than the bass bar microphone, and it also picked up a really “thunk”-heavy sound – every hammerblow got exaggerated. It didn’t add anything positive, so I was going to leave it out.

So I had a recording I wasn’t going to use anyway, and a need for something bassy. Using the built-in Ardour octave shifter, I dropped it two octaves to see how that sounded. The answer was “still terrible, and if possible, even worse.” I poked around with it, trying various things, and the answer kept being “terrible.” Less so, but still.

Then, on a whim, I dropped it another octave, and a miracle occurred.

I don’t know how, but suddenly I could hear bow noises – probably what happened to the thunk sounds – in a recording of an instrument that just plain sounded like a double-bass. Filter out the subsonics, and it became clearer. Filter out the high-end harmonics and again, clearer. After that, it was just treating it like a standup bass.

And I have no idea why. But damn, I am using this trick forever. 😀

all the rage – a link collection for today

Now that Popehat has weighted in, I think it’s time for a links collection – these are all just today:

Getting right to it: the law blog Popehat weighs in on Mr. Fodera’s libel threat, calling it buffoonish and describing it as legally without merit. Internet Lawyers never win.

Ann Aguirre takes it to the whole petition crowd:

I dropped from SFWA years ago, mostly because I found the secret forums to be awful to read. So many authors I had admired proved to have feet of clay, saying heinous things with apparent lack of remorse and complete equanimity. Given the way my own work was consistently marginalized, I decided the organization had little to offer other than dated attitudes and offensive remarks. I haven’t regretted letting my membership lapse. I haven’t missed finding barbs from people whose work I used to enjoy.

She has further commentary about self-marginalisation on the part of the petitioners and attackers that echo my commentary in last night’s post about these people making themselves irrelevant.

Mary Robinette Kowal posts on being picked out for special abuse by these guys, again. She got a lot of abuse from these folks when she was VP of SFWA, so she’s frankly kind of used to it. Directly related, John Scalzi wants to know exactly how books she has to publish, how many awards she has to win, and how many years of unpaid service she has to put in before Mary Robinette Kowal becomes “someone you should have heard of.”

Apparently some of the SFF.NET attackers say they wouldn’t be targeting her except for the Twelve Rabid Weasels comment, except that comment wasn’t actually about them, but it’s still her fault, so carry on. Or something like that, I didn’t dig through.

Over on Livejournal, novelist Katharine Kerr says why she’s staying in SFWA: because “we’re winning.” Not the petitioners; us.

Novelist Angela Highland has her own extensive comments on Mary Robinette Kowal, and follows it up with a big linkpost here, with additional commentary.

Mark Tiedemann posts a long personal comment about how he didn’t “get” it, until he eventually did, and is kind of appalled about the whole thing now.

I’ll be updating this as more relevant links come to my attention.

And to think I thought this was dying down on Friday. Alas, no.

Recent related posts:
     Insects of the Writing World
     What is being lost
     A Friday of Followups
     A Horrible Group of People
     An Embarrassing Stumble Towards Irrelevancy

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