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Wednesday, February 27th, 2019 03:54 pm
I've been listening to the Dune books (the original 6, that is, fuck the rest of that noise), which has been quite pleasing. I've reread Dune itself several times, but only did the entire series once, roughly 20 years ago. I liked them then, and I think I actually like them more now.

As part of this process, I decided it would only be appropriate to push my playback speed. I've been plateaued at 2X for the last year, often dropping lower for dense material, occasionally slightly higher for a particularly slow narrator. So on a long drive down to Oregon and back to deliver Murmuration to an art show, I started pushing playback speed up. I'm now at 2.5X, where I think I will stay for now. At least with these productions, it's still entirely legible, though freeway road noise starts to be a problem. Even crystal clear with headphones, though, it takes noticeably more concentration to follow. Fine when walking or driving, but certainly nothing more distracting than that. In effect, I'm removing much of the redundancy that makes spoken communication so resilient to signal degradation.

It makes me wonder if this will be the real upper limit -- it feels like I could go considerably faster still, certainly past 3X, but at what point will it demand so much attention that I can't be doing anything else while listening? Where does the total data transfer curve start to drop back down because I'm pausing all the time when the smallest thing distracts me? I'm not sure how to measure that, as my audio consumption already varies wildly depending on what I happen to be doing that week. (If I'm deep in a shop project with a lot of mindless repetitive steps, I'll burn through 20 hours a week realtime easy.) Wherever it is, I certainly don't want to go past that peak. I could probably get up to 4 or 5X floating in a sensory deprivation tank, but that doesn't sound like a particularly great use of time compared to just, you know, reading visually.

Anyway, that's the state of my mentat training.
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Monday, February 18th, 2019 01:16 pm
Early next month I'll be joining the crew of the Lady Washington for a two week training course. I'll go onboard in Ventura, then the next day we sail 240 nautical miles north to Monterey. The rest of the time will mostly be spent in port, giving tours and short cruises. (Apparently we might have to anchor out in the harbor for a night or two to make room for a cruise ship!) I'll be a deckhand, doing whatever needs doing: scrubbing decks, polishing brass, cleaning the head, etc. But it's a working tallship, and the program is designed to train tallship sailors, so I'll also be helping with the operation of the ship, including going aloft to release/secure sails as needed. I'll also be standing watch, at least during the trip up the coast. I know the reality will be cold and boring, but, damn.

This is something I've meant to do for at least 13 years, going by the evidence I could find in my archives. The last few years have made me realize on a deeper and personal level that, while by no means imminent, there is a very finite horizon on my ability to partake in activities involving heavy physical labor. I need to make sure to do these kinds of things sooner rather than later.

I've spent the last week practicing knots. (By itself that's a great benefit. I've never been particularly good at knots, and have always been a bit jealous of the skill. Nothing like being forced to finally learn a skill you wanted.) The gear has started to arrive -- I have a marlinspike now! This morning I made travel reservation down and back up. Since I have the weekend before free, I decided to take the train down and save a bit of carbon. (Plus, I've never taken the train past Eugene!) The last leg from Bakersfield to Ventura will be by Amtrak bus, so not only will the trip be by land, by sea and by air, it will also include planes, trains and automobiles.

Basically, I'm super excited and can't stop thinking about it. Watching hours of tallship videos has been a side effect. Most aren't very useful in terms of learning how things are done, but they sure are pretty. The following two are exceptions, being kind of terrible in terms of quality, but really great for technical details.



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Thursday, February 7th, 2019 11:51 am
I read Solaris, followed by rewatching the 1972 Tarkovsky adaptation and watching for the first time the 2002 George Cloony version.

I really enjoyed the book. The analog Soviet future vibe was really fun, and the descriptions of "Solaristics" perfectly nailed the feeling of a moribund field that, failing to become a real science, has fallen back on exhaustive stamp collecting. The creepiness of the situation was conveyed perfectly.

I watched the Tarkovsky version in the summer of 2001, yes, literally in the before times. Almost before I started keeping records properly, even! My comments at the time were: "Tarkovsky is dull, dull, dull! Pretty. but dull." I've gained some skill points in slow media since then, leaving me happy to say I enjoyed it a lot more this time. (I rewatched Stalker a few months ago when the Grand Illusion held a screening locally, with a similar change of heart.) I didn't find it as tense as the book -- Kris' deep horror at the appearance of his "guest" isn't conveyed as well as I would have liked, nor the feeling of being trapped by a dangerous impossibility. But the sets were great, the analog effects for the Ocean were perfect, and all around the subject matter perfectly fit Tarkovsky's aesthetic.

With this background, I went into the 2002 adaptation with high hopes. They were all dashed. Somehow, astonishingly, I can't think of a single way in which it was an improvement over Tarkovsky. Not one! There was even less sense of danger from the guests, the station looked generically new and clean instead a dingy, half-abandoned bunker, the CGI was boring, the script even MORE focused on the romantic elements, the happy ending unwanted. The reveal with Snaut/Snow was kind of cool, I guess.

And neither movie used the "the time of cruel wonders was not yet over" line, which is a damned shame. That's like cutting out the "If any young men come for Mary or Kitty, send them in, for I am quite at leisure." line from the end of Pride and Prejudice! *stares at the BBC version crossly*
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Thursday, January 10th, 2019 09:05 am
I knew nothing about this book other than the title and a vague sense that it was commonly assigned reading for teenagers. Turns out it is heart-breakingly good. Partly that was the tragic situation of the family, but mostly it was how delicately it captured coming of age. That's a rare thing, despite the popularity of the bildungsroman. Few manage to convey the phenomenology of those ages, the real feeling of becoming a person and bootstrapping a full personality. This book did.

This is one that I wish I had read as a teenager. I think I would have appreciated it then? Maybe I would have been too much of an ass, though. I had a lot more class biases back then than I would have cared to admit. I hope I would have at least identified with Frances being bullied by a self-righteous teacher.

The relatively open way sex was addressed surprised me. I'm even more surprised the book isn't prominent on banned book lists! No doubt it has happened, but it certainly isn't linked with moral panics in my mind. I don't tend to do research on books before I start them, preferring to experience them raw. As I read them, I play a game of trying to guess details like date of publication based on the content and style. I started with a guess of 20s or 30s for this one. By the end, particularly after Frances' mom tells her that maybe sleeping with a guy would have been a great experience, I was thinking more like mid-60s at the earliest. Nope, 1943! Pretty astonishing.
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Monday, January 7th, 2019 09:20 am
As part of my ongoing book research, I've been reading a lot of mathematical philosophy. Often that ends up being related to logicism, the search for a way to phrase all of math in terms of pure logic. It's not directly relevant to the book, but it's important background so I usually wade through it anyway.

One important detail is the attempt to remove the act of counting from the concept of numbers. It's not enough to say that the set of all sets with three members is itself the number three, as that's circular. The solution is to work with one-to-one relations: for all X there exists a Y in this relation to X, and for all Z in this relation to X, Z=Y. That is, X and Y are in this relation, and they are only in this relation with each other. Russell's example is, if you ignore polygamy and polyandry (yes, he explicitly excludes these, which makes more sense if you've read his autobiography), then you know that the number of wives and the number of husbands are equal, even though you have no way of knowing what the actual count is. Thus you can ask if every member of a set can be matched with a member of a three set with none left over. If so then it is also a three.

That's all well and good, and struck me as quite clever when I first saw it. But I'm increasingly convinced it's faulty. Distinguishing between zero and not zero is still counting. That gets hidden with the use of first order logic, but both the universal quantifier ∀ and the existential quantifier ∃ require counting. To say ∀x f(x) means that you have counted the number of x's for which f(x) is false and found that number to be zero. To say ∃x f(x) is to say that you've counted the number of x's for which f(x) is true and found that number not to be zero.

Of course, logicism is long since dead and doesn't need more nails in its coffin. But as someone who can't help but look for a touch of platonism to explain the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics, I can't help but wonder if something important was missed here. Like the "between" concept which grounds Hilbert's axiomatization of geometry, could this unavoidable "is/is not" distinction hint at a fundamental feature of the "deep logic" of the universe?
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Friday, January 4th, 2019 03:53 pm
123 books this year )
I'm up to 2x playback speed for almost everything audio. 2.25x if it's particularly slow-but-easy. Frankly, it's a bit hard to find enough material. I'm getting kind of thoughtless about following the established canon. That worries me some.
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Friday, November 30th, 2018 02:19 pm
I haven't been keeping up with my book reviews here, so I'm going to quickly do a bunch to catch up.

Brideshead Revisited: Lovely writing, ruined by the characters. The problem with spelunking in literary canons is that most books (famous or otherwise) were written by, about and for the aristocracy until quite recently. And aristocrats are kind of terrible people, for the most part?

King Rat: Barely felt like a China Mieville book at all. I never would have guessed he had written a magical destiny/lost princling book, though the ending brought it back around in an extremely satisfying way. Not a success, but not bad either.

The Scarlet Pimpernel: Barf, aristocrats saving other aristocrats (and ONLY other aristocrats) from the French Revolution. The least sympathetic victims of The Terror! But other than that it was a ripping yarn, with a surprisingly strong heroine.

So You Want to Talk About Race: Lots of good material, put together in a good way, but it's more of a refresher course than anything new.

To Kill a Mockingbird: Changing schools in my teen years meant I had never actually read this before. It wasn't what I was expecting -- the trial and events around it were much more in the background. Interesting choice. With this done, I'm not sure what significant gaps remain in what I've read. I guess I should do more Shakespeare?

The Perfectionists -- How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World: Several people mentioned this after my American Precision Museum visit last month. It's a good read, but the material it covers is a bit basic. (And it isn't without factual points I would dispute.)

Waverly: Such a weird book, compared to Ivanhoe. The protagonist is so wishy-washy and mercurial that it made it quite hard to worry too much about the idiotic situation he finds himself in. You don't casually join an armed rebellion without there being consequences! I get that part of the story is the bildungsroman aspect of watching him become an adult, but it just didn't work for me.
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Wednesday, November 7th, 2018 03:10 pm
I spent two weeks in October driving around the eastern seaboard with my mother. 5187.7 kilometers in total. We visited Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia (very barely), Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia (barely), Maryland. Delaware and Virginia.



I took some pictures, obvs. )
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Tuesday, November 6th, 2018 02:56 pm
I had read Three Musketeers as a kid and enjoyed it, but I figured I should give it another go. I found that the "heroes" in it are considerably less heroic when seen as an adult. They're a bunch of bullies who treat their servants and the women unfortunate to love them absolutely abominably. The swashbuckling bits were still fun, of course.

We read some of Count of Monte Cristo in French in high school French class, but I had forgotten how little of it we actually read. The bits in prison are great, and there are some great moments of the Count showing deep moral understanding at the end of the book when he forgoes completing some of his terrible vengeance when he realizes it would only hurt the innocent. But in the middle? Oof. Dumas never managed to make me actually care about the circle of French nobility caught up in his machinations. They were boring twits, for the most part. While I'm glad the Count was able to see the futility of vengeance, it was hard to shake the feeling that I should care about everyone else just because they were rich.

But of all of these, it turns out I knew the plot of The Man in the Iron Mask least of all. I felt like maybe Dumas was trolling people with this one? Burning everything down in the least heroic or laudable way possible, so no one would ever ask him to return to these characters? It's nothing more than a series of terrible decisions and pointless deaths by characters who have far too much power to even begin to feel sympathetic.
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Monday, November 5th, 2018 01:35 pm
So, my Halloween costume kind of went viral. It's roughly 20 times more popular than anything else I've ever posted. Some observations:

Blue checks (verified accounts) largely disappeared from the notification stream after the first few hours. Do people with serious followings not want to be seen as jumping on a bandwagon? Not sure how to test that hypothesis. Still, it was neat seeing Tony Robinson like it.

Not surprisingly, the love was mostly from history/philosophy/political science Twitter. But even as it spread into multiple language communities over the next few days, it was also always strongly leftist. Given the content of the actual book, I'm a bit surprised. I kept waiting for authoritarian asshats to arrive, and they never did.

I've gained something like 220 followers from this. I've had things go mildly viral before, usually when retweeted by Adam Savage or Seanan McGuire, and I've never gained a follower before. I realize that virality will always be some undefinable magic sauce, but I can't help but wonder what the difference was this time.
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Tuesday, September 18th, 2018 10:52 am
I spent the last week+ Kipling. I've now Kipled. I had read some of his poetry -- my dad quotes "They do not preach that their god will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose" enough that I couldn't avoid that. I read "If...." after learning it was the source of the title of my favorite movie. Never his prose, though. And what a pleasant surprise! These were all pretty fun reads.

First, the cons: these works are 100% colonialist in perspective, nor are they lacking in casual racism. It wasn't the overwhelming focus in the way that I had feared, though. For his time, he seems like he was actually genuinely interested in other cultures, and could even show respect for them under the right conditions. The understanding of Buddhism he demonstrates in Kim, for instance, goes well beyond what a thoughtless bigot would ever have bothered with. But these definitely shouldn't be read without the willingness to interrogate Kipling's biases.

Kim was a really delightful story, a proper ripping yarn, with a cast of brightly realized characters in a brightly realized world. It somehow managed to combine a bildungsroman with a spy novel with an exploration of Buddhist spirituality in a way I certainly wasn't expecting. Of all these, this one will stick with me the longest, I think.

Jungle Book was fun, I guess? One of those weird things were modern mythology has completely overwhelmed the source material.

Captains Courageous was an easy sell, as I'm always a sucker for a nautical story with far too much technical detail. I didn't entirely buy how quickly the main character, the spoiled brat of a railroad tycoon, adapts to his new situation as a working hand on cod fishing boat. The moral message of the sanctity of work was a bit heavy handed as well. It didn't shy away from some of the horrors of life at sea, at least, which seemed refreshingly honest.

I had seen the movie of The Man Who Would Be King, and it turns out it was a pretty direct adaptation of a fairly short story. I should watch it again, now.
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Thursday, September 13th, 2018 01:10 pm
From September 4, 2017 to September 4, 2018 I...
...read a whole lot of primary mathematical and scientific sources.
...wrote most (97K words) of a nonfiction book relating to the above.
...attended a surprising number of concerts.
...anchored an art show, making a custom kinetic sculpture for it.
...visited London and the Grand Cayman.
...did most of the construction for a very ambitious public art project.
...made a faithful replica of Galileo's telescope, and used it to recreate his most famous observations.

This year was better for getting things done, but most of that was for long-term projects without a lot to say here. Anxiety management has been going well, depression management somewhat less well. But both are pretty rational responses to the world, so I guess that's probably okay? The urge to do some ridiculous endurance challenge like the Mackenzie trip has continued to grow in me. Hard to imagine actually doing it, though. What a terrible period of history in which to drop out of contact with the world for weeks and weeks on end!
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Thursday, August 30th, 2018 12:26 pm
The last two weeks have been Gabriel García Márquez weeks for me.

One Hundred Years of Solitude:
This follows seven generations of a family, from the founding of a remote village through civil war and capitalist exploitation through to its final destruction. Solitude is definitely a theme, but not as major of one as I had expected. I found the fairy-tale-esque presentation made it a bit hard to engage with. The content was fun and interesting, but most of it was only the barest of outlines. That allowed a lot more stuff could happen, certainly, and no doubt that sense of floating untethered over history was intentional. I just didn't entirely enjoy the experience. That said, though, if I ever found a town, I might have to call it Macondo.

Love in the Time of Cholera:
This was very different in style, with far fewer characters, allowing them to be explored in depth. The underlying plot of someone nursing a hopeless love for half a century is kind of meh. (And as seen while doing my normal post-read Wikipedia research, of course this was Ted from How I Met Your Mother's favorite book. Of fucking course it was.) Luckily the characters and setting are interesting enough to make up for that. It even managed to stick the landing, which is impressive given the premise.

Cholera was not actually a very prominent aspect of the book, for the record.
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Tuesday, August 28th, 2018 11:13 am
Last night I had an urge so I wrote a story. As will become obvious, should you chose to read it, it was inspired by some of my recent reading material. I mostly wrote it straight through, which is very unusual for me, and I've only done one real editing pass on it. Enjoy!

Initial Investigation Report Regarding the Qualia Disruption Event of 14.8.12.16.14 )
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Monday, August 20th, 2018 01:31 pm
I started this one on a whim, deciding to follow the French revolutionary theme from Les Mis a bit farther. I'm glad I did! The only other Dickens I've read is Oliver Twist, which I really didn't like much at all. This was much more nuanced and interesting. It was also a lot more sympathetic to the motivation behind the revolution of 1789 than I expected coming from an 19th century British author.

No deep introspective analysis on this one, I'm afraid. I cried at the end, that was enough.
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Wednesday, August 8th, 2018 02:22 pm
Not sure why I choose to listen to this, so soon after disliking Hunchback so much. But I'm glad I did -- it's really good! I cried a lot!

It's still definitely Hugo, who will cut away from the action of Valjean dragging an unconscious Marius away from the slaughter of the barricade to go into a 90 minute tangent about the history of the Parisian sewer system. But the tangents annoyed me less this time, probably because I actually cared about the characters.

I actually really liked getting the lengthy backstory on literally ever character. Les Mis was the first musical I ever saw, and it has been a lifelong favorite. (Bold choice, I know.) Learning about the bishop and Fantine and all the hidden connections between Gavroche and Marius and the Thénardiers was really cool. It opened whole new vistas onto a plot that I know so well. I really liked the book Gavroche a lot better than the play Gavroche. Gavroche on stage really doesn't much going for him beyond "geewhiz, aren't I cute and plucky?", but Gavroche on the page is a very interesting and fully fleshed out character, almost fey in how he bridges youth and adulthood. Marius is a bit more of a twerp, but we saw so much more of him, and so much more of the courtship between him and Cosette, that I didn't mind. Real people are twerpish. Cosette was still an abstract portrait of a silhouette of an empty ideal, sadly. Javert was about the only character who wasn't improved by the extra material. He's so much more thuggish in the book, just a mindless brute. He is devoted to the law not because of any deeply held philosophical beliefs, but just because he is constitutionally incapable of doing anything else. It made him a lot less compelling, for me.

So, yeah. If you're going to read Hugo, I strongly recommend Les Mis over Hunchback.
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Monday, July 30th, 2018 10:55 am
Sometime around third grade, I was first introduced to pi and the basic circle equations for circumference, area and volume. I could see how the circumference could be measured, to check the equation, but area left me stumped. I wondered about filling a cylinder to a specific depth with water or clay, and using the volume divided by the known height to calculate the area. This seemed like a terribly sloppy method to me even then, but it was the best I could think of. I asked a teacher how we knew the area of a circle, and I was more or less brushed off with a non-answer. The teacher didn't know! So that question joined the throng at the back of my mind, waiting for more information.

(I'm not sure why I didn't ask my dad, who certainly would have known. Kids are weird.)

The answer finally came almost a decade later when I got to calculus in senior year. Integration over an area! It was a beautiful revelation. So clean and elegant, and always a bit of a wonder to see the depth of the abstraction being used, from limits to derivatives to definite integrals, yet in the end my old friend π * r2 pops out. Glorious... yet I was disappointed that my teacher hadn't known, back in third grade. Not that I expected them to be able or willing to walk a 9 year old through calculus, but they should have at least been able to say, "It can be shown using this thing called calculus, which you'll learn about in high school." That's not too much to ask.

Now, two decades after that, I'm reading a lot of pre-modern mathematics for the book I'm working on. As I noted in a post here awhile back, I found it very interesting that Euclid didn't include any equations for the quantitative area or volume of circles, cylinders and spheres, just ratios between them. A cone is 1/3 the volume of a cylinder that just contains it, etc. Which made perfect sense, as calculus was still a long way in the future. Except when I was reading Leonardo of Pisa (better known as the son of Bonacci, AKA filius Bonacci, AKA Fibonacci), something caught my eye. In a problem he plainly states that the area of a circle is 1/2 * radius * circumference. Which, if you convert c to being 2 * pi * r, comes out as π * r2! How could he have known that, so long before Leibniz and Newton?

It turns out, for some problems anyway, the ancient Greeks beat calculus by 2,000 years. And somehow I had gone 40 years without knowing this! Archimedes had solved the area of a circle, using the method of exhaustion. This looks an awful lot like an epsilon-delta limit proof, but done using geometry instead of algebra. He postulates that the area of the circle is equal to that of a triangle with a base the length of the circle's circumference, and a height equal to the circle's radius. He is them able to show, through a series of contradictions, that the circle's area cannot be either greater or less than the area of this triangle. The error of a polygon fit inside/outside the circle can get arbitrarily small, and thus can always get smaller than the error of the triangle if it isn't actually the correct size. Yet those polygons can't actually be bigger/smaller than the triangle, if you do the math. The only option left if for them to be equal to each other, and thus the triangle is the correct area! It's a lovely proof, particularly for how clever it is at avoiding the explicit use of any mention of infinity.

So it turns out my high school annoyance at my grade school teacher was still incomplete. Calculus can give the answer, and it's definitely a superior tool, but it turns out the area of a circle is knowable using nothing more than geometry. I wonder how my uneasy-at-times relationship to mathematics would have changed, had I been shown Archimedes' proof back in 1986.
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Monday, July 23rd, 2018 12:45 pm
Pocketknife
Angle grinder (cut off disk)
Angle grinder (sparks)
Lathe gear teeth
Welding slag
Oven
Screwdriver
Pencil tip
Suturing needle
Soldering iron
Brother's fingernail
Hacksaw
Tree branch
Bicycle handlebar
Weed-wacker engine
Garden hose fastener
Gravel
Scalpel
Pavement
Glass
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Friday, July 6th, 2018 05:12 pm
Two main takeaways here: This is a fabulous book, and it is not what you think it is.

I'd heard of The Jungle plenty. Hell, I think it was covered in my AP US history class in high school. About unsanitary conditions in the meatpacking industry, right? Some guy falls in a vat of hot grease, only his skeleton is found but they still ship out the batch of lard for human consumption, right? That stuff is all in there, sure, but it's completely incidental. The Jungle is about the immigrant experience, socialism and class consciousness.

The story follows Jurgis Rudkus as he immigrates from Lithuania, finds a job in the meatpacking industry, gets married, and generally tries to get by. The abysmal working conditions and exploitative systems they live in prevent them from ever having more than a tenuous existence, however. Disease and accidents slowly winnow down the family while all he can do is try to work harder, always harder, but never enough. It is a classic depiction of capital only paying the bare replacement value for the labor it is consuming, not to get all Marxist about it. Broken by these defeats, Jurgis skips town, rides the rails, and through some halfway lucky breaks ends up a smooth, hard-living criminal working for the political bosses of Chicago. It is only after he falls out of this position as well that his eyes open to the promise of socialism, and the wave that is poised to sweep the country clean.

So, yeah, that is not what I was expecting. I see this confusion goes way back. Upton Sinclair himself said, "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach." That was a fun surprise, but the real treat was the writing style. For once, listening at 2x speed was a positive boon, as every single sentence should be heard as spoken by a fast-talking reporter holding a notebook with a PRESS tag in his fedora. The language is smooth, clever, and gut-wrenching. It would make an excellent pairing with Grapes of Wrath.
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Friday, June 22nd, 2018 11:55 am
Last night I attended my fifth concert in the span of a month. That is about five more than a normal month for me, and possibly 4 more than my previous record.

Weird Al: I hadn't seen him since the late 90s, I don't think. He always gives a great show, but this was the Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour where he only did his original songs. It seemed like something I should go see, and I wasn't disappointed. I had been eager to see what song he selected just for Seattle, as he had been covering a different straight rock song at every show. For us he did Foxy Laaaahdy by the Jerry Hendrix experience. (Foxy Lady but lady is said in a Jerry Lewis style every time. We were one of the few times he didn't do a straight cover.) There is a collection on YouTube of all the 77 different songs he did which is worth exploring. It's quite the range of material!

Bare Naked Ladies: First time seeing them. Also first time seeing Better Than Ezra, who opened for them, and are complete douches. Also, it rained and the show had to be paused because of lightning for a bit. (Outdoor show, btw.) But BNL were great, and it was clear they have a great relationship with their fans. It would be easy to wonder why they're still around, but they obviously have a very comfortable niche worked out.

Janelle Monae: Stunningly great, and the audience atmosphere was just electric. It was the beginning of her tour, with her new explicitly bisexual material, during Pride month, in the Seattle area. The crowd was suuuuuuper queer, and it was awesome.

Special bonus baseball game: I finally went to a Mariner's game. My first MLB game and my first baseball game at all in like 25 years. It was fun enough, but we were in the direct sun for 2+ hours, and that kind of sucked.

Violent Femmes: My third time seeing them, once being just last year. But I'd never done one of the Woodland Park Zoo concerts, and it sounded fun. And it was! Despite being a family-heavy event, they didn't adjust their set list any to accommodate that. Kind of weird seeing families dancing with little kids to some of the songs. One of those weird moments where my internal image of myself is still mid-20s, being confused that all these middle aged people are into the Femmes. They did a lot of material from Hallowed Ground, so that was cool. And even something from New Times!

Decemberists: My third time seeing them, though one of those was a joint show with Death Cab, fundraising for Planned Parenthood. This show was mostly material off their new album, which worked really well live. They've been playing with some trippy 80s synth stylings which are a lot of fun. The encore completely blew me away. First it was the super profane Ben Frankling song that Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote for Hamilton, intending it to have a Decemberists vibe, but ended up cutting. And then an extended Mariner's Revenge Song, with the audience first practicing how to scream like we were being eaten by a whale. (I couldn't help adding "OH NO IT SMELLS OF KRILL" and "THAT UVULA IS COMICALLY LARGE" to my screams, but it was too loud for even the people next to me to hear.) Then as the song progressed, the band got more and more goofy, ending with the wonderful wall of noise for the whale attack, ending with them all rolling on the stage playing their instruments as best as possible, with more trippy synth backing. And then A GIANT INFLATABLE FLOATING WHALE came out of backstage and was passed to the audience like a lost Thanksgivings day parade balloon. I was laughing too hard to keep screaming. Just wonderful all around.