Mike Duncan’s New Project Lives Up

It might be early to make this post’s titular claim, but given that he got through 179 episodes on The History of Rome, I think it’s safe to say five episodes in that Mike Duncan’s follow-up project is poised to be really-super-beneficial-to-all-whom-it-encounters good.

Check it out here.

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“Mongoose” by Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear

Caught this on the Clarkesworld podcast recently. I liked it. First link is to the page with audio (story read in its entirety by podcast host Kate Baker).

http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/audio_06_13c/

Second link is to the full text of the story.

http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/bear_monette_06_13_reprint/

Cool. Hope you enjoy it. Let the Clarkesworld people know, if it’s not too much trouble. Rock on.

Kid Millions’ Insights on Indie Music, Managing Expectations and Hanging Around

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I came across an interview with John Colpitts, most famously the drummer for the band Oneida and frequently of the stage name “Kid Millions,” from a podcast produced by the n+1 team. N+1 is a print magazine that releases issues every four months. I highly recommend checking out their website, where you can decide if their magazine is something worth subscribing to. If I know anything about you people, you’ll dig n+1 (easy now, being a reader of this site is exactly the kind of “you people” that us people should aspire to).

I found Colpitts’ recollection of his own expectations for musical success as a newbie to be refreshingly realistic. His theme seemed to include something to the effect of, “Look, I wanted to do this thing with all my free time. I knew it was unlikely to amount to either financial success or an impact on a critical mass for a very long time, if ever, but I preferred doing it to not doing it.”

A link to the podcast is here and also at the bottom of the page. The interview with Colpitts is the final piece of the podcast, and starts around the 34:25 mark.

Among my favorite quotes was Colpitts’ recounting of listening to Oneida’s first album, “Yeah, I describe feeling just, you know, horrified. When I heard, when I truly heard the album, I just was like, ‘This is so horrible. It’s the worst sounding piece of shit I’ve ever heard. I can’t even believe that, like, I’m involved with this, and there’s money.’ The guys paid money to have it [mastered]. I just, I was so embarrassed. I was so mortified. Fred Kevorkian had mastered U2’s shit. He wasn’t like some fuckin’ clown. He was like a real dude, like, mastering guy. So the whole thing felt crazy.”

John Colpitts (a.k.a. Kid Millions), drummer & founding member of Oneida

He then gives some great clarifications on the differences between being from Brooklyn in the 1990s and being from, of or living in Brooklyn now.

The best part of the interview was Colpitts recounting those very low expectations that he and his bandmates had from the outset of their first tour: “Well I was excited. I was psyched. I knew what it was going to be like, because of my time at The Knitting Factory. I knew it wasn’t gonna be… no one cares. Nobody gives a shit about you. I knew that was gonna be the way it was, so I wasn’t particularly, I didn’t have very many illusions… If there was like five people in the audience, we were psyched. We were excited. It wasn’t like illusions were shattered, which was lucky because I think that stops a lot of people like pretty early on. Maybe, I don’t know, maybe by now people know what it’s like.” Maybe by now they do, John, but I have to think to a large degree they don’t. That’s why people who turn out to be successful in creative endeavors always cite how long it takes to hone their crafts and build followings that won’t exist throughout much of the legwork – I think the assumption is that a lot of people get discouraged when they feel like their work isn’t reaching anyone, and they make the next logical leap, which is that it never will. So they quit.

Whatever you take from the interview, I found Colpitts to be a steady, mindful guy who sort of made a career out of (or is it because of) being honest with himself. He gauged reality well and set or adjusted expectations accordingly. Fair play, my man.

Another link to the n+1 podcast, episode 8. Skip to the 34:25 mark if you only want to hear the interview with Kid Millions.

Check Out My Revised Podcast Recommendations Page

Hey all, no new post this weekend, which leaves Friday’s self-indulgant, narcissistic post about not eating meat for six months and whining about my foot hurting as the last piece of actual content I’ve written for this blog. But it hasn’t been for naught: I’ve spent some hours today updating my podcast recommendations page, and it’s up for your viewing, and hopefully listening/enjoying/growing, delight. Click the link in the previous sentence to see the list.

Please feel encouraged to comment with any criticisms or suggestions.

Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” is Great Fictional Dialogue

I came across Ernest Hemingway’s very short story Hills Like White Elephants thanks to Brad Reed’s podcast. The topic was how to improve at writing dialogue in fiction, and one of the sections addressed Hemingway’s look inside a couple’s veiled debate over what Jonah Hill might refer to as a smushmortion as an example of two characters having very different agendas within the same conversation.

Link to Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants.”

The degree to which the man’s and woman’s agendas are opposed is comical. Here’s this dude, acting like the decision is ultimately the woman’s, but refusing to put the topic to rest until she agrees to have the procedure and terminate the pregnancy. I mean, “it’s awfully simple, Jig.” He pretends as if nothing is wrong in the world – indeed, as if nothing between them had changed since their good old days. It’s not even his refusal to let the pregnancy be a catalyst of change between them; he seems to be trying to deny the passage of time itself.

Meanwhile, we have this pregnant woman who wants nothing more out of this conversation than for it to be over. Ideally she wants him to relate to her, to get what she’s saying, to acknowledge the huge fucking white elephant in the room, but once it is clear that he is only willing to throw glancing jabs that never satiate her desire to be an evolved adult, she shifts her desire to the singular relief that can only come from his shutting the fuck up.

I really like this piece of short fiction. There are many other things to look at in this 1,459-word story relating to Hemingway’s style, but I’ll leave those analyses to the people who have already done them. The kick I got out of “Hills Like White Elephants” was the humanity in seeing two people seemingly having two very distinct conversations with each other, over beers, and waiting for a train.

Good Taste > Poor Taste > Pretension

Poor Taste > Pretension”>Good Taste > Poor Taste > Pretension

The guys at The Partially Examined Life recently gave their take on George Santayana’s The Sense of Beauty (1896). It’s one of the easiest listens of the 77 episodes that they’ve released over the last three years.

The episode has a lot of good nuggets. Among my favorites was the fact that Santayana didn’t really care about this entire project; he was merely under pressure to publish so that he could extend his gig at Harvard. Also of interest were the author’s arguments that we probably can judge a person’s taste against another’s. To each his own, sure, but each preference should not be treated equally. Score one for smart people. Additionally, Santayana seemed to be much more accepting of poor taste than of feigned taste. Posers are the worst. Better to admit to liking Ke$ha than to lie about liking Radiohead.