Archive for December, 2014

bone walker is more than an accessory

I’ve been talking a lot about Bone Walker as a soundtrack album for the Free Court of Seattle fantasy novel series, because, well, it is.

But I think that creates a misleading impression. People have been after me for a long time to do an instrumental and/or a trad album. This is also that album.

Leaving out the readings, and the tie-in factor, and this is a 10-track album of mostly traditional music. The arrangements aren’t real traditional, maybe – or, as one might say, “that’s all well and good, but it’s not very Irish, is it?” – but it’s still pretty heavily trad.

And that’s mostly just a long way of saying, “You don’t have to read the novels to like the album.” It’ll all make sense without that – well, okay, maybe the readings will be a little bit context-free. But the rest?

This was envisioned as a quick project, something that would take about six months and be a fun Kickstarter reward. But it grew way beyond that. Sure, part of the reason it took so long is because of unpleasant surprises like eye surgeries. But it also took longer because we put so much into it. We pushed ourselves hard. We brought in guests like Alexander James Adams and Sunnie Larsen and Sarah Kellington and Ellen Eades and Leannan Sidhe and Klopfenpop. We invented new process technologies and went way the hell over budget, something I’m not in the least sorry about.

So what I’m saying is: don’t hear “soundtrack album” and think “accessory to something else.” It’s not. It stands on its own. Give the samples a listen, and if you like what you hear, pre-order. Even with the Kickstarter money, we won’t be ahead of this curve on shipment. But I think when people hear it, they’ll know – it was worth it.

oh good, the horrible people have arrived

A science-fiction writer of some notice has taken rather severe exception to the Legend of Korra finale. It’s the sort of vicious vitroil that I would expect out of Concerned Women for America – it’s too crude for the relatively-erudite such as Focus on the Family, and a bit too literate for the cretins at the American Family Association. You don’t have to read it; it’s the usual eliminationist rant.

I found out about it via Jim Hines’s post to his blog, and mostly, I spent time talking about how Korra affected a lot of us. But then Mr. Writer’s minions started showing up with their all-queers-are-child-molesters savagery, and, well, I may have started to have some fun with them last night.

A week ago, I made a now rather popular commentary on poison. These are people who would do and are doing everything they can to keep that poison inside of us – any method, rhetorical or otherwise, apparently will suffice. One of them is currently actively attempting to conflate abuse victims with child molesters. It’s quite repulsive.

I can’t imagine how it must feel, to be that brutal a sadist. Even I’m not that sort of terrible person, and I’m a goddamn supervillain.

Ah, well. I’m just glad the Avatar is on our side. o/

eta: Hooo, I hadn’t noticed the comment section on the original post had grown so much – I’m not sure whether my favourite comment is the one about how the rules of drama require that a strong female character have a stronger male love interest, the complaint about how Katara never learned proper submission to Aang, or the assertion that all anime exists to train child molesters.

It is a very strange universe over there.

eta2: Anna has a post up about the last beehive of 2014, and the idea of exterminating ideas, in the way Mr. Writer demands.

running some numbers on 2014

It’s been a problematic year, in a lot of ways; started out with the third round of eye surgery and recovery from all three initial rounds, and ended on a fourth round which will hopefully be the last. In between, despite everything, we managed to produce a new album (which I certainly hope you will preorder) and even tour a little.

But in terms of public exposure, it’s mostly been… about the blog. And that’s really not how to do things as a musician. I haven’t even started booking much for 2015 yet, because I’ve been waiting for this last go-round with the eye, afraid it’d explode again making me cancel anything I set up.

Hopefully we can move past that now.

Still, most of the visible action has been at the blog! So here’re the 2014 Top Ten Posts. Four of them are actually posts from 2013, so I’ll also add on the four that would’ve made it without those holdovers.

  1. Gatekeeping and Recourse: something only men can do about sexism in geek culture. (A perennial favourite, from 2013)
  2. Music in the Post-Scarcity Environment, part 8: The Intrinsic Fraud of the Prestigious Internship. See above. Also 2013.
  3. An Embarrassing Stumble Towards Irrelevancy – comments on the SFWA petition flap and sexism.
  4. Mozilla and Firefox Careen Into a Ditch – comments on The Open Standard’s endorsement of Gamergate. This got me mentioned in The Daily Dot, so that was pretty cool.
  5. A Horrible Group of People – more on the SFWA petitioners, and specifically, on petition author Dave Truesdale’s “five furry pussies on the ballot” comment.
  6. What is Being Lost – the SFWA petitioners and failure to envision the present, much less the future. I sense a theme here; lots on sexism.
  7. Pushback and Misandry – sexism in geek culture and two case studies of sexist pushback against science. Another 2013 post in this year’s top 10.
  8. A Friday of Followups – Sarah Kellington of Pinniped comes in for recording, and more on the SFWA flap. Yay, something about music!
  9. Ribbon Mic Buildout – I built a ribbon microphone, and took pictures. The last of the 2013 posts in the top 10.
  10. Way Too Much to Dislike: my highly critical review of Doctor Who: The Caretaker. This was before “Kill the Moon” and my breakup of Moffat’s Who.

It reflects the controversies of 2014 geek culture pretty solidly, I’m afraid. But that’s not the whole story.

The difficult thing about this blog is that it’s echoed a lot of places. Some places, in entirety. Some comments come back here, and others are linked, but I’m not making any attempt to include views on those other sites in my numbers. I still have three-digits worth of views per post on Livejournal, and this year, Tumblr started mattering. In some cases, mattering a lot.

And by “a lot,” well – the biggest post in this list got over 17,000 views at the home site this year. That is a lot for me, and it’s totally awesome. Most of them aren’t nearly that popular, at least, not here.

Let’s take a look 2014’s 7, 8, 9, and 10th most popular posts, because one of them is a Tumblr example:

  1. Insects of the Writing World – on the contempt for the new shown by the SFWA old guard. Essentially tied are:
  1. A Quiet Night at the Lair: Korrasami is Canon and Nothing Hurts, and,
  1. GamerGate True Believes are the Anti-Vaxxers of the Online World, and finally:
  1. If One of the Bottles Should Happen to Fall – more SFWA sexism, specifically, Sean Fodera’s arguably questionable apology to Mary Robinette Kowal

Number eight there? A Quiet Night at the Lair: Korrasami is Canon and Nothing Hurts? Here, it has a couple of hundred views. Plus another couple of hundred at Livejournal, and a few other places. All combined, over 400 views, which actually isn’t all that far above average.

On Tumblr, though? It rocketshot. I can only get an estimate of the views, but the data I have puts it at around 35,000-45,000, mostly for the addendum commentary at the end. It nearly triples the number one post’s total count actually on

That’s not the only post I’ve had do that. Rock candy geode did that too. And a post I made of some of the Kitsune at War sheet music (a bass-clef transposition actually left labelled “flute”) is nearing six digits.

In the past, I’ve questioned my “echo everything everywhere” strategy, of letting people read whatever they want wherever they want. It didn’t seem to have been getting me much, and certainly, things like Facebook are a total bust. (And given how Facebook Destroys Everything, I’m kind of okay with that.)

But having had a year which has, by necessity, been mostly about being online… it may have started to catch. This strategy may vindicate itself after all. That would be nice.

An addendum: None of these lists include compilation posts, which are nexus posts for specific topics, like, the sexism and racism in geek culture collection, the studio buildout series on how to build your own recording space, and Music in the Post-Scarcity Environment. Those would all be in the top ten, but obviously shouldn’t count.

You can still pre-order Bone Walker and maybe get a bonus

The soundtrack album is still at the mastering engineer – these things take a while, particularly since we’re having the same people do the replication. We’re using the same people that SJ Tucker uses for her CDs (thanks for the rec, Sooj) and I know their work, it’s quality. We’ll be getting it back in time for the release show at Conflikt, and there’s still time to pre-order it and help us pay for all these things.

Here’s the disc label graphic, as sent to the printer. It’s Kiri Moth’s art. Pretty, no?

All these pre-orders will be signed, and one of them will get a small special present included. Remember that test CD I was carrying around for a while? I posted about it back in October, and talked about carrying it around to places here.

One pre-orderer will also get that test actual CD. There are differences, too – we made mix changes on three tracks. I’ll sign that, too, and include a little note certifying that yep: it’s the one in the picture. It’s unique, a one-off, and if you find those sorts of things interesting, well, this is how you can get a legit shot at one. It’s not super-fancy or anything – it’s a CD-R with sharpie writing on it, I mean, go look at the picture. But it’s the only copy of that exists, and there won’t be another.

You can pre-order here. The pre-order ends when the CDs get here, and I don’t know exactly when that’ll be. So if you want a shot at the bonus stuff, now is the time. Clickie!

a quiet night at the lair

Not much going on at the Lair tonight; we’ve been binge-watching Book 1 of Legend of Korra, now that the Korrasami Is Canon after-parties are in full swing.

And, y’know, even as a very happy Korrasami shipper, I really gotta say two things. One: Bolin and Korra were kind of adorable together. They really were. I’d kind of forgot that, and it’s a lot of fun watching that all happen again. Sure, they’re better as drinking buddies, but that’s still adorable.

And two: I’m sorry, but Korra and Mako were terrible for each other. They just were. I thought that at the time, and I think it again in rewatch. They bring out the worst in each other – and the people around them, except for Asami – all the damn time. And I’m not even blaming Mako. The dynamic is just kind of toxic. They spark off each other, sure, but seriously, these sparks set the wrong kind of fire.

Also, I don’t care whether they said they weren’t writing it in book one, you add a little blush tone on Korra when Asami is all over her after the tournament semifinals in “The Spirit of Competition,” and that would be our first hint. Not Book 3. Book one.

Korra shys from spiritual and emotional issues and wants to charge in with everything. Korra’s and Tenzin’s frustrations they haven’t yet dealt with. Mako and Korra making a bad kind of fire. Korra and Asami’s then-crackship being not such a reach. Benders and non-benders being so out of balance – with our Avatar quite atypically later falling in love with a non-bending technologist.

Which all comes back to the theory that I had that Book 1 would be better in retrospect. Specifically, as Books 3 and 4 have progressed, I’ve had the thought that the characters in Book 1 and how they work with (and against) each other would make more sense in the complete context.

Knowing the destination, all of these mixed emotional signals came over time to form a prelude, carrying a set of themes which came to be addressed in both general, and specifics, over time. Again and again, this whole series has been about dealing with the scars of the past – revisiting political scars of our world, and personal psychological scars of characters.

I like Book 1 much better after having read The Promise, which tells us more about how Aang’s life progressed in certain key emotional ways after the end of The Last Airbender. Korra is dealing with Aang’s issues, too. I like Book 1 much better after finding out more about the Gaang’s kids in general, and how the traumatising dangers and adventures of their childhood affected their parenting and children, and how their issues were addressed in Books 2-4, where we learned about all that history. I like Book 1 better knowing better that each year’s Big Problem was an interpretation of one or another political extremism of the last century, instead of just skimming an idea for cheap drama.

I like Book 1 better knowing that the bad-dynamics relationship did fail, and that the failure was handled maturely and well by those involved. And I like Book 1 better knowing that the accidental relationship everybody joked about but which just seemed to flow given even a hint of a chance came true.

JMS on Babylon 5 used to call this “holographic storytelling.” This is where episodes of the past would become more relevant and revealing later, in the future. Ivanova gave Talia her water during a Series 1 interrogation. Korra thanked Asami – rather tenderly – for the chance to keep playing. Both were seeds.

I think it was more of a strength in B5 than here, truth be told. But I am very happy that Book 1 is made better by Books 2-4 – not “fixed,” not “retconned,” but explained and in a way that mades a whole. I just wish it had been a little more palatable before all that. Sure, it’s great that it came together and became wonderful. But it would’ve been even more lovely had – to paraphrase Tenzin – the ride not been quite so bumpy. Not for the characters, but for us.

Even so – goddamn I am glad I stayed along for the whole ride.

This was supposed to go out earlier, but for some reason did not. But if you have celebrate a holiday today, I hope you enjoy it. If you celebrated one last week, I hope it went well; if you will be celebrating one in a few days, or one in a couple of weeks, well, I hope it goes wonderfully. Me, I got my present. Korrasami is canon, and, at least for now, nothing hurts. 😀

brian and mike take a giant sharpie to that erasure

Korra and Asami as a canon romantic couple is CONFIRMED. The completely obvious is categorically and unequivocally confirmed; Korrasami is canon on every level.

The Korra page on Wikipedia – where I had been fighting the erasure battle – has been unlocked, and the edit has already been made. I’d won the argument to at least the point of being in Significant Other with a section talking about the evidence – now we can just skip ahead because 100% creator-confirmed yes that is exactly what we meant and you gotta deal with it.


I am dealing with it by crying my remaining good eye out. I had no idea how much this mattered to me. It mattered to me because of how much I couldn’t let myself believe it was possible, no matter how heavily they were hinting at it all the last couple of series. I just couldn’t let myself buy in, I wanted to, but I couldn’t believe it was possible I was just praying we’d get an ambiguous no-endgame ending, and I was prepared to respect that.

I feel like a huge, missing piece of my emotional childhood has just been filled in. I feel like something very old and very hurt just got healed. I never believed we would actually get this one. I have never been happier to be so wrong.

KORRASAMI IS CANON AND YOU GOTTA DEAL WITH IT! And, at least today, everything is beautiful and nothing – not even Wikipedia – hurts.

today there will be lasers in my eyes

Today there will be more lasers in my eyeball! Sadly they will not stay there so I will not be able to laser my enemies with my eyes. However, I should have my UV vision back once all is said and done, which will be nice for tracking my enemies with my eyes.

I was also hoping for telephoto but that hasn’t entirely worked out. It’s okay. Upgrades later.

We had a really productive rehearsal yesterday for the release concert. Learned a lot. There’s lots to do but it was nice to have all the guest villains there, and I think everybody has a good idea of where they are and need to be.

More when I’m back out from the lab, I hope. Until then, go read Anna’s post about Legend of Korra and Korrasami, and if you missed it, my post on queer erasure at Wikipedia as applied to fiction in general and this in particular. I have a lot of Korrasami feels. I really do.

eta: it didn’t go super-well. It didn’t go disastrously, but it didn’t go super-well either. Damage from the previous eye surgeries was the cause. I will definitely not be getting normal vision back in this eye – fully normal was a bit of a long shot, but now it’s really ruled out. 🙁

Surprise power loss

I really need to get that antimatter generator up and running. We’ve lost power again. Going down; back up when we… can be back up. No ETA yet. will continue to work.

Regarding Legend of Korra and queer erasure

There is a big debate – following a edit war – on Wikipedia’s Korra page. A couple of editors are bound and determined that the Korra-Asami ending is not true, and are demanding a statement from the writing team as the only evidence they’ll accept – which isn’t even how Wikipedia works, but let’s put that aside.

I’ve been fighting this particular bit of queer erasure today, because we finally got one. And now we need to defend it.

They are leaning heavily at this point on “room for interpretation,” how the ending is “ambiguous” in their eyes. And to that, I wrote this response.

I want to talk about “room for interpretation” for a minute.

What’s that mean? “Room for interpretation” is usually invoked to imply that there are reasonable grounds for differing conclusions based on evidence. In fiction, one fandom example is the original Battlestar Galactica (1978). We don’t see Pegasus destroyed; we see Pegasus destroy two base stars successfully and go in for the kill on a third. Then we do not see Pegasus again. Given that we had not seen Pegasus before, and that Pegasus had escaped similar situations in the past, it does not seem unreasonable to assert that Pegasus might have survived the battle – limping away needing months of work before getting back underway, who knows? Pegasus was most likely destroyed saving Galactica and the fleet, but it’s not unreasonable to consider the alternative. That’s “room for interpretation.”

I want also to talk about “deniability.”

Deniability comes in to play when you’re forbidden to talk about or do a certain thing, but you do it anyway, with just enough obscurity to it that if observers really, really, really want to, they can deny you are doing what you’re actually doing. An example is in the film Spartacus, and the “oysters and clams” discussion, which was cut from video for many years because it wasn’t quite deniable enough for television censors. But that was the attempt; a discussion about gay sexuality that wasn’t about gay sexuality, but was about seafood. It was deniable that it was about sexuality, at least for initial release.

Now, how does this apply to the Korra finale?

Nickelodeon has a known policy against showing clearly GBLT relationships. This has been discussed extensively in regards to work such as Adventure Time, so I won’t go into it here; it suffices to know that this policy is in place. It has to do, we are told, with overseas markets – but they don’t make special cuts for places like North America and Japan, either, so we all get to fall under those rules.

This leaves creators who want to go in that direction with the reality that they must include at very least deniability. They cannot explicitly state the presence of GBLT relationships. They can only hint or imply, and the only question is how hard in that direction one can go.

In a context of women in relationships in particular, this can be difficult, due to the blinding phenomenon often referred to as “lesbian invisibility,” or the cultural assumption in the west that two women involved in a relationship can’t really be in a relationship until – and often not even after – it is stated explicitly. This causes many people to ignore vast swaths of contextual (and real-life, for that matter) evidence.

You can also see this phenominon in reactions online to this episode. Personally, I was surprised when I started seeing evidence of Korra and Asami building a relationship in Book 2, and told myself I was just overreading it – until it became pretty obvious in Book 3. Even then I was thinking that there was no way the show would be allowed to go there – until Book 4, when it became so strongly stated, given the limits of their allowed range.

And despite all that, a small but meaningful percentage of online reaction calls the Korra/Asami relationship ending “completely out of the blue” and “unexpected.” This is lesbian and bisexual invisibility syndrome at work.

But at the same time, this reaction also indicates how far the authors went in this episode; even those people most likely to ignore and/or downplay same-sex relationships between women as “just friends” are reacting to the finale. It is that conclusive in their eyes; they can’t ignore it – however much they might want to.

What does this have to do with “room for interpretation” vs. “deniability?”

I assert this to be supporting evidence that we are well past “room for interpretation” and into “deniability.” When people who routinely ignore implications of same-sex female relationships are confronted with evidence so strong that they’re reacting against it, “lesbian invisibility” has been shattered. Yes, deniability has been maintained, as we see in discussions above. If one insists, one can ignore enough parts of the source material to conclude it didn’t happen. This allows the show to be aired in places like Russia – “see, it’s legal, we didn’t say romance. We didn’t say elopement. We didn’t say girlfriends.”

But you’re certainly out of the “room for interpretation” field. It’s not ambiguous. It’s just deniable. Which we already know is a Nickelodeon requirement. And I think all of this must be considered in any reasonable discussion of the topic. Context matters, and this is our context, and to ignore it is to do a disservice to everyone.

if you want me I'll be over here

…celebrating over in the korrasami tag on Tumblr. bbiab.

ps: preorders are still open

eta: I wrote up a thing, on Tumblr, about Korra and Asami. I guess even the band blog is a Legend of Korra blog today. Sorry not sorry about that.

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