Musings from the basement...

That time I wasted my life editing together a ‘new’ J.R.R. Tolkien book, then lost it

The recent announcement of a ‘new’ book by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fall of Gondolin, which will compile previously published material about one of the great tragic epics of Middle Earth’s early days, brought to mind a few weeks of wasted life circa 2002 or so. It’s a waste that still frustrates me to this day. Years ago, I got this idiotic idea in my head to edit together a load of Tolkien stuff into a standalone book. There was a wealth of material about a character called Turin, a cursed man who goes through some truly awful stuff, up to and including accidental incest and the death of just about everyone and everything he comes in contact with. Yes, it’s a real joy! Turin’s story…
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The final stages of writing a book are always the most nerve-wracking

The last few hundred yards of a marathon are always the toughest. Well, okay, I’ve never run a marathon and doubt I could run more than a block and a half even if being chased by knife-wielding ducks, but you get my point*. I’m currently under contract with Rowman & Littlefield, and have been neck deep in writing a manuscript since last August, due to be delivered by May 1. (I’d love to be able to announce what it is, but have to wait until they release the information first.) I’m almost there. Being immersed in a big project is generally a must for me. Keeps me focused. Keeps me sane. And it’s gratifying seeing something come together piece by piece. The act of creation,…
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Annihilation is a sleeper science fiction gem with GOD-AWFUL marketing and heady themes

You may have seen the name “Annihilation” in passing. Natalie Portman, a shimmering force field, monsters? That’s the one. It’s in theaters in the U.S., Canada, and China right now, where it’s getting stomped by Black Panther and others, and is on Netflix everywhere else. Watch the trailers and it looks like a movie we’ve seen before. A concerned lover (Portman) takes on a dangerous task to rescue their loved one (husband) from a strange place (inside a huge force field, or “shimmer”), but there are monsters there, so it becomes a fight for survival. This is the picture every trailer and commercial paints of the movie. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The trailers are absolute garbage and do a TERRIBLE job of…
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How Ursula K. Le Guin helped inspire me to see people in a different way

As I write this, the news is breaking that Ursula Le Guin, one of the 20th Century’s great novelists, has passed away at 88. She was a giant, known for her work in science fiction yet crafting works that transcended the genre. Whenever I’ve thought of the authors who have inspired me, awed me, impressed me, humbled me, shaped my tastes, molded my views, and made me see the power of the genre, she was always on the short list. It wasn’t the awards that made Le Guin great, though she got gobs of them. It wasn’t even that her stories were entertaining, though they were. It’s that she reinterpreted the world, showing us both how it truly is (even when we didn’t acknowledge it)…
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Unplugged 3: Insanely excited about the next two m2 projects, so that’s great

Sat down for my first purposeful recording session in a long while a few weeks ago. Recorded for four or five hours straight, just a mic in a room (an attic, actually) a few feet in front of my amp. Really cold up there. My fingers were numb. Laid down ten tracks of material, lots of layered guitar work weaving in and out of one another rather than the dense sound assault I’ve done in recent years. Tried a new approach to playing and just attempted various iterations on it. The interplay of the guitars excited me. Had about an hour and a half of material when it was wrapped up. Got super focused on working that material over the other day and started mixing….
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