ArtsWeek: Where can you go for free e-books?

CATEGORY: ArtsWeekA question arose in a comment thread on an earlier post. To wit: I love reading, and Kindle is cool, but books are expensive. (Okay, that’s really more of a statement than a question. You get my point.)

It’s true. Now granted, the average e-book is a lot cheaper than even a paperback, but still, if you read a lot you can run up a hefty tab in a hurry. Amazon is thriving for a reason.

The good news is that there are a lot of sources for free Kindle and e-book content. Here are a few:

You can also get Kindle books on loan. There are e-book lending libraries. Here are some more. Apparently, the whole e-book loan idea is a hit, at least with some folks.

Another thing to note: if you find e-books that aren’t in Kindle format and you’d like to convert them, Calibre is straightforward and easy (and free).

So there you go. Get to reading, and happy ArtsWeek.

CATEGORY: Music

ArtsWeek: The Rest is Noise (5)—Ravel, Vaughan Williams, Bartok, Janacek, Satie and Stravinsky

The first two decades of the 20th century saw a remarkable rise in nationalism in music. As we indicated in our last post, this wasn’t unusual in and of itself—composers such as Dvorak and Brahms had been doing this already in the second half of the 19th century. But what emerged in the early part of the 20th century was qualitatively different—there was a deliberate search for national identity in many cases, and music was being used to help provide that identity, as opposed to providing a pretty melody to construct a movement around. And all of this was taking place during a period of artistic ferment and political disintegration. As Patrick Wright pointed out in one of discussion sessions, this was all taking place at the end of a period of unbroken peace in Europe. Between 1870 and 1914, there were no land wars in Europe. Which made the next four years all the more catastrophic and traumatic—to say nothing of the decades that followed.

Historian Christopher Clark set the stage for all of this with his talk comparing the pre-war idyll with what followed, pointing out, among other things, that everyone was literally on holiday when the war broke out—one of the reasons why no one took it seriously to begin with. And the idealization of nationalism that followed—of poets like Rupert Brooke in England, but such idealization was hardly confined to England—masked the fact that four empires were destroyed by the war. This was one of the factors raising nationalist hopes—in eastern Europe, for example, both the Austrian-Hungarian empire and the Ottoman empire were finished. No wonder Bartok started wandering the hills of Romania, recording the songs and dances of what he hoped would inspire a new nation.

And all of this was taking place at a time when technology was being felt. The introduction of the recording cylinder made it possible for composers and folklorists to wander the hills of England (Vaughan Williams) or Romania (Bartok) and actually record what the folk songs were. Clark also discussed the technological imperative that emerged here—not just the technological developments mentioned above, but the acceleration of everything. There was a sense of heightened speed, especially in the cities, where everyone was moving. The Italian futurists thought this was exciting, even sublime. The machine became the icon of the era, especially the automobile, which became the embodiment of speed—but it didn’t take much for this to spill over into tanks and military aircraft and battleships. Advances in manufacturing technology meant that dreadnoughts, the newer, considerably more efficient battleships, could be produced in a six month period—unheard of twenty years earlier. No wonder everyone knocked them out so fast. Others weren’t so sure, because with speed came a loss of control, and this led many, including composers, to embrace ancient past—Stravinsky, who loved technology but felt deeply ambivalent about it as well, for example. This is one of the drivers for the search for folk tunes—the search for some sort of historical authenticity at a time when everything, including the rules of musical composition, was changing.

So there is a certain schizoid quality to what was going on in music at this time. Ralph Vaughan Williams was wandering the English countryside, just like Cecil Sharpe, taking down folk songs. Unlike Sharpe, however, he was incorporating them into his symphonic and choral works, and his operas as well. But he wasn’t just idealizing rural England. His London Symphony, ably presented by the London Philharmonic, is a cacophony of urban sounds, a celebration of the urban experience, complete with Big Ben. And inspired by William Blake’s poetry—you can’t get much more English than that.

But Vaughan Williams was nothing if not an overachiever. Because in the midst of all this he found the time to reorganize the English church Hymnal into the English Hymnal, published in 1906. This was meant to replace Hymns Ancient and Modern, which first emerged in 1861, and had gone through several revisions since then. The New English Hymnal was an ambitious attempt to replace HAAM, and bring the Church of England Hymnal into a more progressive light, which it largely did (although Hymns Ancient and Modern remains in print even today.) Vaughan Williams’ efforts here mirrored those of a number of composers—a relentless search for the folkloric roots of national identity, but coupled with a significant international cosmopolitanism. Because The English Hymnal, under Vaughan Williams’ stewardship, contained not only English songs, some going back hundreds of years, some of which became associated with hymns for the first time—but it also contained hymns with melodies based on songs from France, Germany, Russia and the Nordic countries—even Wagner.

This was also the period in England when the notion of rural England became somewhat symbolic of Englishness, and when the National Trust—created to safeguard national treasures like ruined abbeys and grand old houses—came into existence. In fact, there was some effort put into this creation of the rural myth by many conservative thinkers of the period such as G.K. Chesterton—but, in fact, it wasn’t particularly partisan.  Chesterton, a conservative, was in this regard following directly in the tradition of William Morris, socialist, utopian and craftsman; John Ruskin; and William Cobbett before them. Imperialism and Empire were the enemies for both Morris and Chesterton. Little England emerged around this time, with its fear of the machine, and its retreat into agrarian ruralism. This was the England that Vaughan Williams collected folk songs from. Nor was it just England. There was a heady mix of nationalistic enthusiasms all over Europe, including eastern Europe, with consequences that would become all too clear, all too soon.

So the post-war environment was one where what had gone before was being eclipsed by nationalism. But as Stephen Johnson discussed in his elegant talk on the composers, nationalism, which started out as a left-wing progressive force in the early part of the 19th century, often had become a conservative, even reactionary, movement by the end of the war—even before. Vaughan Williams was perhaps the exception here—he remained an unrepentant leftie all his life. Janacek, on the other hand, was a pan-Slavicist, and believed that Russia was the natural leader of the Slavic peoples—and he was perfectly happy to help that along. His composition Taras Bulba, one of the pieces presented last week, was a paean to the Russian nationalism that he hoped would emerge. Instead, he got something else. Still, it was a lively thing, with a suitably Russian, ie depressing, story line—Taras kills one of his sons, watches another one die in battle, and then gets himself killed. Inspired by Gogol story, this is Janacek’s response to the war—a brutal result from a brutal war. But Janacek does something clever in the piece—something he often did. Janacek, like other composers from the period, spent time wandering around, but not just the countryside. Janacek would wander the streets of the cities noting the speech patterns of Czech speakers, and incorporating them into his music. Which is what he does in Taras Bulba.

Much of this is a search for an ideal musical landscape—the creation of an ideal land, and Johnson suggests. We find this again in Ravel, with his idealized images of Spain—more on this below. And, of course, all these people knew each other, and were active correspondents. We’re not talking huge distances here—the geographic range from London and Paris to, say, Moscow is only half that between Boston and San Francisco—and with the emergence of the wireless and the increased use of the telephone and telegraph, it suddenly became easier to be in touch with your composer friend in Paris, or Munich—or New York. Mobility was a factor as well—Bartok could roam the countryside in Romania, but he had to get to the countryside first—and newly built trains and roads made this a whole lot easier than when Dvorak was wandering around the hills of Bohemia in the 1870s. It also made it a whole lot easier for him to lug his equipment around too. Technology, as indicated earlier, was encroaching—setting up another tension. Some reacted negatively—Debussy, for all his modernistic tendencies in music, wasn’t particularly happy with the pace of technology. On the other hand, Cocteau, the spiritual leader of Les Six (of whom the most famous was Poulenc), loved it.

There are several things that strike me about many of these composers whose works characterized the first two decades of the 20th century, above and beyond their innovations. The first is that they loved to rewrite stuff. All composers steal, and some steal shamelessly—Handel comes to mind here. But this was different. This was re-composing a piece that had already been composed by someone else. So we have Schoenberg, that radical, but also a deep lover of Brahms and Mahler, re-composing a Brahms piano concerto into an orchestral piece because he thought the piano was too loud in Brahms’ version, at the expense of the orchestra. So he fixed it. Well, there you go. We have Mahler himself taking two Bach Orchestral Suites and combining them into a single work. Similarly, we see Webern deciding that Bach’s Musical Offering wasn’t Bach enough, and re-composing it. Or Stravinsky, who took some pieces by Pergolesi and re-composed them, Pulcinella being the result—or his later dabbling with Gesualdo, which resulted in a ballet Monumentum pro Gesualdo in which Stravinsky orchestrated a number of Gesualdo madrigals. This wasn’t completely new—Mendelssohn messed around with Bach, certainly. But it’s striking to me that there was this much interest in not just borrowing themes, which has always occurred, but actually rewriting someone else’s music to make it sound better.

Second, it struck me that much of what was supposed to be “radical,” especially in Schoenberg, sounded vaguely familiar. In fact, there were moments in some of the orchestral pieces that reminded me of the background music to a car chase in an episode of Mannix. Well, of course it did. Schoenberg lived in Los Angeles when he moved to the US, and had a powerful influence on any number of musicians and composers there, including a number who scored films and television. We’ve been listening to Schoenberg-like music for decades, we just don’t realize it. But we’re surrounded by it, every time we see a film or a television show. I’m not sure that Schoenberg would admit to this as one of his achievements, but there it is. Schoenberg’s music, in a strange kind of way, has indeed become something approaching the music of the people. This is probably not what he intended—this is more Vaughan Williams or Janacek territory—but it’s there as one of his legacies.

Third, even after the “revolutionary” works of the first two decades had been performed—Schoenberg’s String Quartets and Orchestral Suites, Stravinsky’s Firebird and Rite of Spring (although the controversy over the latter is more mythical than real), Debussy and Satie’s piano pieces—most composers, even some of these composers, continued to compose music in a tonal, harmonic style—Sibelius was perhaps the most radical of these, but other composers as well. In a way, this was particularly true of composers who were borrowing heavily from the nationalistic folk tradition—Vaughan Williams, Bartok, Ravel, Janacek. These composers were experimental as well, but still produced symphonies, smaller orchestral pieces and tone poems that were melodic, and had something of a narrative.

This past weekend’s concerts offered such a contrast. On Saturday we were treated to the LPO doing several “nationalistic” pieces, by Respighi, de Falla and, particularly, by Ravel. Ravel’s mother was Basque by birth, and spent her childhood in Madrid, so Ravel carried these influences around with him. All of these works were deeply melodic, with Ravel in particular seeking to capture the colors of Spain through the textures or orchestral sound. Much like Debussy, Ravel was most interested in the shades of sound he could produce from an orchestra, or even a single piano. And these are, at least in contrast to Schoenberg’s String Quartet, what one would have to call “easy on the ear.” All these pieces have remained in the concert repertoire throughout the past century.

The contrast to Sunday’s concert couldn’t have been more striking—Satie’s Socrate, about the death of Socrates, with various dialogs set to music and for soprano voice; several short (six minutes or so) pieces by Stravinsky, ending with Stravinsky’s romp, Renard—about the life and death of a greedy fox. It’s hard to imagine where most of these pieces could even be performed these days. The Satie piece was sung by the multi-talented and vocally-gifted Barbara Hannigan (she conducted the Stravinsky Renard as well) about as well, I imagine, as it could possibly be sung. This is a highly emotive piece, with the lone soprano voice, accompanied by a discreet single piano, managing to capture the pathos of Socrates’s death as it approaches. It’s stunning piece, about 30 minutes in length, with the lyric derived from three separate dialogs. Where would one go to hear this if one wanted to hear this live? It’s not likely to be included in any concert program by any symphony orchestra—it’s a small work, for a smaller venue. Do these venues even exist these days outside of conservatories? Granted, the concert itself was structured as a concert in the salon of the Princesse de Polignac, who commissioned any number of significant pieces, including the Satie.

When much of this music was composed, recitals still took place in private homes. There were patrons, not state funding agencies. And this naturally led to the creation of “smaller” works—I assume partly because you couldn’t fit a full orchestra into someone’s drawing room, but a soprano with a piano, or a chamber orchestra, would fit nicely, along with a smaller audience. So much of the music I’ve heard over the past month has been of this sort—even the Stravinsky Renard, which has a pretty full orchestra and four male soloists, is only 18 minutes long. I don’t imagine I’ll hear a live performance of this again, more’s the pity. We’ve lost something here.

The Stravinsky pieces were great. He’s got rhythm, all right—someone (I forget whom) suggested that Stravinsky was the first composer to raise rhythm to a level comparable to melody, and that sounds about right. Even in his very short pieces, of which we heard several, there’s a pronounced rhythmic element. And in Renard, it’s constant—there are times when the singers are nearly drowned out by the rhythm of the strings and percussion. This is another piece commissioned by the Princesse. The London Sinfonietta did a bang-up job here, pun absolutely intended. Because the other thing that constantly strikes me about Stravinsky, who was apparently a deeply serious person, is the sense of humour that comes through—not just in Renard, which one would have to call a comic opera (albeit a very loud but short one)—but also in his shorter pieces. There were a couple of occasions in the 3 pieces for string quarter when I almost laughed out loud. And Renard is a romp. The libretto, written in Russian by Stravinsky, is based on a folk tale collected by Alexander Afanasyev. The orchestra beats a solid, pulsing rhythm, and the four men sing what sounds like nonsense—each is an animal, a fox, chicken, goat or cat. It’s non-stop—it doesn’t let up for a second. And it’s very Russian sounding, appropriate given the source material. He even uses a dulcimer to make the music sound more Russian. Stravinsky called it a burlesque for singers, and that’s about right. As well as being an absolute delight. Nijinsky did the original choreography, as he often did for Stravinsky.

So we continue to trundle along here. Next weekend—more Ravel and more Stravinsky!

The stamp above is a really boring stamp that I imagine is supposed to honor Stravinsky, and really, since it’s the US, with some of the ugliest stamps in the world, they may feel that this stamp really does this. There were more attractive ones, but I couldn’t resist.

CATEGORY: ArtsWeek

ArtsWeek: Dr. Sammy’s desert island list

You’ve probably heard the old challenge:

You’re stranded on a desert island and you can only have X albums to listen to for the rest of your life. What would you choose?

I’ve probably heard this one a hundred times and have thought about it informally for maybe 30 years. But I’ve never actually sat down and tried to tackle it head on. Until today. And let me tell you, damn, this question is an absolute bitch. My friends know just what a wide range of music I listen to, and the idea that I’d never again get to explore new releases and emerging bands and interesting evolutions in style and genre is painful to think about.

But hey, it’s just an intellectual and aesthetic exercise, right? So here goes: if I’m going to be stranded on a desert island, here are the 25 CDs I want to have with me. (A note: some of you are saying “hey, it’s 10 albums, not 25!” Shut up. I tried getting the list down to 10 and nearly gave myself an aneurysm. Besides, if this hypothetical desert island has electricity or enough batteries to keep my iPod spinning, it has enough room for 15 more CDs.)

1: Jeffrey Dean Foster - Million Star Hotel
I’ve been saying for years that JDF’s 2005 masterpiece is one of the greatest albums I have ever heard and I mean it. It’s intelligent, soulful, beautifully crafted, and the songwriting is timeless. I cannot honestly tell you how many times I have listened to MSH in the last several years, but it’s easily in the hundreds. I simply never tire of it, and when we’re talking about 25 albums to last you the rest of your life, this is an extremely important criterion.

2: Space Team Electra – The Vortex Flower
STE is probably the best band I ever heard that never “made it.” That this CD didn’t go octuple platinum and get played to death on radio is as pointed an indictment as I have against the American music industry. Lyrically and sonically The Vortex Flower is as rich and complex as any CD I own. There is a depth here that never stops rewarding repeated listens. (If you let me take 50 records STE’s Intergalactic Torch Song is probably coming along, too.

3: Peter Gabriel - 3
I can only use words like “rich,” “layered,” and “complex” so many times in a piece like this without sounding like I only know three words, but if you have 25 albums to last you the rest of your life, they need to be, they must be, albums that have a “thickness” about them. They need a depth that, as I say about STE above, keeps you coming back. If you ears and your mind gets it all in one take, you’re going to get bored in a hurry. This is why I have always loved PG’s third solo release. “Games Without Frontiers” is as bottomless a song as I have ever heard and the rest of the disc isn’t far behind.

4: The Police – Zenyatta Mondatta
One of my three favorite bands of all time – the only question here is which CD to bring? Love the first one. Love Synchroncity. Love Regatta de Blanc and almost picked it. But there’s a vibe, a darkness and texture about ZM that I think carries the day. One of my favorite moments from all the live shows I ever saw was The Police doing “Shadows in the Rain,” and I’d like to have a reminder of that on the island.

5: Fiction 8 – Forever, Neverafter
I was really torn here. I like pretty much everything my buddy Michael Smith has done (and am anxiously waiting to hear the new one, which I hope will be out this year). I especially like Chaotica. I wound up going with Forever, Neverafter for what may seem an odd reason. I’ve been lucky enough to co-write tracks on it and Project Phoenix, the two most recent releases. And if I choose a disc that I’m represented on, then I’m periodically reminded in a tangible fashion of the friendship and the joy of collaboration. I picked this one instead of Project Phoenix because I have two songs on it instead of the one (“Hegemony”) on PP. Two reminders instead of one.

6: Queen – A Night at the Opera
The idea of being trapped anywhere for the rest of my life without something by my first great favorite band is unthinkable. I could have gone with pretty much any of their first eight studio discs and been fine, but ANatO was the one that caused me to fall in love with the band, so let’s go with it.

7: U2 – The Unforgettable Fire
My favorite band of all time. I’d be happy with anything up through Achtung, Baby, honestly, but this is the one I have always regarded as their finest moment. Being able to hit play and hear “A Sort of Homecoming” or “Pride” or “Bad” would make being stranded a little more tolerable.

8: The Birthday Massacre – Violet
If I’m trapped on an island alone, I’m occasionally going to need to bang my head a little. TBM has been one of my favorite bands in recent years, and Violet is perhaps where they’re at their best in stacking the power on top of the pretty on top of the atmosphere.

9: Don Dixon – Romeo at Julliard or Most of the Girls Like to Dance…
Okay, I’m hedging here. I’m definitely taking something from Dixon, who in addition to being one of my favorite artists ever is also a good friend, and I’d like to be reminded of what a great guy he is when I’m sitting around on the island. For right now, I’m going with Romeo, which has my first favorite

DD song, “Your Sister Told Me.” But I reserve the right to change my mind as I’m dashing out the door to catch my doomed flight (or boat? – not really sure how I landed on this damned island, to be honest).

10: Van Morrison – Hymns to the Silence
This isn’t Van’s best CD, although it is perhaps his most underrated. And it has always been my favorite. There is history here, lots of history, and yes, there’s a woman involved. Perhaps the woman I should have been with all along. I know myself well enough to know that if I’m faced with an eternity alone I’m going to think a lot about my life, and I’m going to spend a lot of time playing “what if?” games with myself. What else are you going to do on a freakin’ desert island? Given this certainty, I’d like to have the soundtrack for one of the most important moments of my life handy. (Disc 2, Track 6 – my heart breaks every time….)

11: Sam Cooke – The Man and His Music
Really, any good greatest hits collection works here. Not only is Sam simply remarkable period, but when I hear his music I hear echoes of the world my parents grew up in, I think. It’s like there’s a connection in the songs to the young father and mother that honestly, I never really knew.

12: Roxy Music – Avalon
The greatest seduction record ever made. It would be nice to remember times when I was with a woman.

13: The Samples – The Last Drag
When I moved to Colorado in 1993 to get my PhD, there were three big bands in Boulder: The Reejers, Big Head Todd & the Monsters, and The Samples. I loved them all, but resonated most strongly with The Samples. They were archetypally Boulder in so many ways, and the 1990s cultural gestalt of the place for a grad student making his way through the greatest challenge of his life is just about impossible to explain. The bottom line is that my mind was the sharpest it has ever been, and even though there were plenty of down moments – the kind that seem to attend our lives when we’re blasting through the curves in the dark with the throttle wide open – I was as alive as I have ever been. I was working toward something. There was a future. When I hear The Last Drag I’m back there, and it’s wonderful being reminded of how vibrant and full of possibility life can be. (One caveat, though. Can I replace “Playground”? For some reason, they decided to let their junkie keyboardist write a song, and it’s kind of their version of the time The Police let Andy Summers put “Mother” on Synchronicity. Either I need to burn a copy of the disc without this track or, if it’s okay, can I substitute the wonderful cover of “Amazing Grace” from Sean Kelly’s solo disc?)

14: The Lost Patrol - Dark Matter or Lonesome Sky
Another one of those can’t make up my damned mind moments. The whole TLP sound is so lush and textured, so haunting and beautiful, that I know I’m taking something. Lonesome Sky is my favorite moment from the Danielle Stauss years and as much as I seem to love everything the band does, I think 2010′s Dark Matter is my favorite from the contemporary Mollie Israel era. I’m going to put them both on the table by the door and let my gut instinct pick one at the last second as I rush out to meet my doom.

15: The Blueflowers – In Line with the Broken Hearted
The Blueflowers have a sound that’s similar to The Lost Patrol – layered, twangy, moody, dark. It’s a sound you can come back to time and time again, and I know from experience that I can listen to it a dozen times in a row without it getting old.

16: Rick Springfield – Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet or Venus in Overdrive
More waffling, I know. When packing for the rest of your life, you have to think about the importance of a range of styles and sounds, and we all know that I’m a bad Power Pop junkie. Success is my favorite of the early Springfield records – lots of great, hooky, toe-tapping butt-dancing white-boy overbite music that I think might be good for my sanity if I’m trapped on a desert island. Venus is an equally catchy and engaging moment from Rick’s recent career. A little more miles on the tread, a little more world-wise and weary. Right now I’m leaning toward Success because I had fun in the ’80s and I’d like to maybe relive that a little, but I might change my mind at the last minute.

17: Catherine Wheel – Chrome
I can’t imagine this hypothetical island without something from the Shoegazer era – the gods know I love me some wall of dissonance noise pop and CW is one of my favorite bands ever. I thought about maybe Ferment (come on, “Black Metallic,” right?) and maybe even Adam & Eve, but in the end I feel like Chrome is the most solidly packed and consistently excellent from end to end.

18: Jets Overhead – Bridges
I keep arguing that JO may be one of the three or four best bands of this generation, and as much as I like their more recent output, nothing they’ve done has ever quite insinuated itself as deeply into my skin as Bridges, which is sort of a richly textured update on mid-’60s California psychedelia sifted through foggy modern-day PNW indie.

19: Adam Schmitt – World So Bright
More Power Pop, and this is a guy that most readers have almost certainly never heard of. Back in the ’90s he jacked out two of the best guitar pop CDs I’ve ever heard – this one (1991) and Illiterature (1993). Remarkable songcraft, a depth of sound that bears up under repeated listens, and a self-possessed intelligence that often came at you from unexpected directions. I could listen to this disc daily for the rest of my life.

20: Marillion – Misplaced Childhood
Not only was Marillion writing achingly beautiful tunes back in the 1980s, but Fish was penning lyrics that actually stood on their own as poetry. I don’t say that about many lyricists. The truth is I could take Clutching at Straws or any of several solo Fish records and be just fine.

21: Johnny Clegg – Shadow Man
You know how they say “dance like nobody’s looking”? Well, this is as great as dance like nobody’s looking albums get. I discovered it in a record store in Ames, Iowa back in the late ’80s. We were looking for new music for the club where I was a DJ, and as I riffled through the bins I realized I was sort of dancing in place. I stopped, listened, then walked to the front of the store to find out who they were playing. “Johnny Clegg & Savuka,” the guy said. “I’ll take two copies,” I replied. One for the club, one for me.

22: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – Born to Run
I could also make a case for The River, but if I’m stranded on a desert island, I’m probably going to occasionally have need of sheer grandeur.

23: Led Zeppelin – 4
There’s no real sentimental reason for this one. It’s just one of the greatest hard rock albums in history and my favorite Zep moment.

24: The Killers – Battle Born
I like The Killers for a lot of reasons, and if I’m off to a deserted island for the rest of my life, I’d like to take along my favorite CD from the last year that I got to hear new music.

25: Raison d’Etre - Enthralled by the Wind of Loneliness
I go to sleep with music playing. There have been a lot of artists that have serenaded me to sleep through the years – Andreas Vollenweider, Mike Oldfield, Lycia, The Lost Patrol, Love Spirals Downward, Delerium, Van Morrison, Enya and Enigma are a few that come to mind. My preferred genre these days is Dark Ambient, and this disc, which sounds like it was recorded by melancholy angels in a haunted medieval cathedral ruin, is the most wonderful of them all. I list this one last, because it’s the one that I’ll be playing at the end of the day. But it is perhaps the most important – if I could only take one album to my desert island, this would be the one.

A final note: You may notice that I have included a number of artists who I know personally – Jeff Foster, Don Dixon, Space Team, The Blueflowers, The Lost Patrol, Fiction 8 (plus I had dinner with Fish once) – and this is worth commenting on. I’m fortunate to know a lot of talented people, and I care a lot about these relationships. I care about all my relationships, and I don’t toss the word “friend” around casually. The conceit here is that I’m trapped on a desert island. I’m alone and one presumes it’s going to stay that way. If I can not only listen to music that I love, but in doing so be reminded of someone I know and respect, that counts for a lot.