Friday, November 6, 2015

Two for the road

I'll be playing at the Open Mic Night at the upcoming Division of Planetary Sciences meeting.  I've kicked around what song I should do, with a few possibilities out there.  One that I considered but probably won't do is The Astronomers Song.  So I figured I'd record it and post it below.  While I was fumbling through trying to record it I also lapsed into another song of mine that it reminds me of, Girl Next Door.  That one took me several takes, I'm posting the only take that I actually finished.  Both were done live to glorious one-track mono, using the laptop's microphone and Audacity.  Both of these songs date back to the early '90s, and they've both been among my favorite originals.  Neither have been performed live by any of my bands, but both appeared on In-Jokes with Myself.

Enjoy or "Enjoy".

The Astronomers Song
Girl Next Door

While I'm at it, here are the Gedankenband versions:
The Astronomers Song
Girl Next Door

Friday, October 23, 2015

Red Album Anniversary

I've been recording myself playing music for a long time. As technology improved (along with my musical ability) I've moved from accompanying myself live on cassette to multi-track recordings with Garageband. Sometime in 1999 I got a music recording program for our Windows 95 machine. In the summer of 2000 as we got ready to move from Tucson to Boston, I decided I'd make an album as a keepsake for our friends, the first one I'd digitally recorded and the first one I distributed. The Red Album is the result.

The playlist was a combination of songs that I'd recorded early on while figuring out the new software, favorite songs of mine, and Science Diet's live set. I was able to include Jennifer, Barbara, and Joe, the other members of Science Diet, on a couple of songs (To All the Girls (NSFW) and Taking Matters (also NSFW)), and Jennifer sang backup on several others.  Chris Schaller had access to a CD burner, and made a bunch of copies. I started giving it out on October 24th, 15 years ago.  At the time I was thinking that it'd be the only album I ever recorded, even if DIY. 

It's hard for me to be terribly objective about it. Some of the songs hold up reasonably well, others are more embarrassing to listen to today.  The reaction received was pretty positive, and I believe it made it down to Antarctica one year.  The sound quality is pretty patchy in places, particularly since I had no idea what I was doing.

In commemoration of the anniversary, I'll link not only to its page on the Bandcamp site but put up a few alternate/live versions of some of the songs as played by the bands that...made them famous?

The Red Album (Bandcamp)
To All The Girls (NSFW) -- Science Diet (Live at The Barn, 2000)
Wrong Place, Wrong Time -- Dr. Lüst (Live at Bexley, 1991)
Here We Go Again -- Jury Rig (Live at The Jam Shack, 1993)
Postage Due -- Science Diet (Live, 1996)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Poem for #PlutoFlyby

Out of the Sun
from the sign of the Hunter she comes,
like the swing of a hammer
past one belt into another.

After billions of years
the king of the underworld
greets a new visitor to his court,
a brief nearest neighbor
though she will not tarry—
shining as bright in this
new world’s nitrogen sky
as this world does
at her home world.

We can look forward
to the honeymooner’s pictures
slowly uploaded to the web.
And may our latter-day
live long.


The usual suspects decided we'd write some poems to commemorate the New Horizons flyby of Pluto, happening now (basically).  I wrote one a few years ago for the 2012 National Poetry Writing Month, here's my new one! I've kept to the ethic of not spending too long on it, hopefully it doesn't show too badly...

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Those of you who follow my Twitter feed know that I spent a lot of time over the winter working on a proposal to NASA to fly a mission, named MANTIS. For a variety of reasons I won't get into too many details about what the mission does, but I'm happy to link to a short abstract we wrote about it.

I gave a short talk about MANTIS a few weeks ago, and am giving another one again today.  These are the first presentations of MANTIS to the community, and to celebrate I'm linking to a song I wrote for the mission.

This was written a few months ago to accompany a music video I made for an APL event.  It actually does a pretty good job of covering our science objectives for the mission. :)

So, here again:  The MANTIS Song

Thursday, April 30, 2015

2015 Poetry Post 30: A Farewell

We can all share the feeling,
can’t we?
It wasn’t as flashy
as other rides
at school or work,
but it was loaded
with extras
and it had so much power!
There was the sunshade
that might have looked dorky
but you used it
and never melted a cassette.

You didn’t take it
to the usual places
with the popular crowd.
Instead you explored
the shadiest nooks
and the steamiest hollows,
and found the last of the places
that the ancients
would have heard of
but never seen.
You’d take it out under the stars
and watch comets pass by.
You and your friends
felt like you’d used it
to see the whole damned planet
(though you’d admit
you perhaps saw some parts
better than others)
through days and nights
that seemed to last for months.

But mostly that workhorse
gave you uncounted miles
and let you earn your keep.
Eventually, you knew
its tank was emptying
for the final time.
You knew you’d never
see another vehicle like it.
So you got
the most out of it
you could
and drove it into the ground.
Did you forget to empty the tape deck?
No matter.
You have lots and lots of pictures
to remember it by
and smile.


This is a double commemoration, of the end of NaPoWriMo and the end of the MESSENGER mission, the first-ever Mercury orbiter. While I have no work connection with MESSENGER, I have many dear friends who have devoted years of their life to that project. While I have no right to share in the pride they feel, I do understand the bittersweetness of this day for them.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

2015 Poetry Post 29: The Shouting

All over but the shouting,
but there should be
more shouting.
Others have accomplished less
but done so more loudly.
The house lights may rise
too quickly for my taste,
but your curtain calls
from iron-core fans
are well deserved.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

2015 Poetry Post 28: Not Knowing

we romanticize not knowing
call it bliss
and innocence
the way we label people
who have committed
no crime.

what a happy, blameless
people we must be, then.
and how much more
we consider ourselves
when our cities are
struck by a bolide
we could have seen coming.