A Basket of Easter Potpourri

I understand that, as Heinlein said, one man’s theology is another man’s belly laugh. So while I know that not everyone shares my confidence in the Resurrection, I wish my cobelievers a happy Easter, and rejoice in the promise that like Lazarus, one day the grave will no longer hold us. For those who disagree with me, I wish you a happy, loving Sunday.

***

The first wave of Gradeapalooza has arrived as well, with my film class having submitted their research papers — I’ll have a go at those today. I meant to do it yesterday, but Mrs. M suggested a run to Real City instead, and who was I to disagree. I picked up a couple of Michael Connelly’s Bosch novels at the used bookstore, and then we went to the nearby Sam’s Club and picked up a few things. Since it was a Saturday afternoon, this meant the sample stations were in full swing — and that meant some righteous snacking was in order. As I said on Twitter, this was as close as I get to a progressive dinner.

I ran into former students at both the bookstore and Sam’s; it always pleases me to see them “in the wild” and cheerful. I asked one of them what he was up to these days — he said he was a fire fighter. He lit up when I told him my grandfather had been a fire fighter for 38 years. I noticed a box of dog treats in his cart and asked him if he had a dog named Katrina. His eyes got big: “No, it’s Hugo, but I can’t believe you remembered the hurricane name!” He went on about how cool it was that remembered. I just smiled, and later told Mrs. M that I was actually thinking of another former student’s dog that was named Katrina, but that I’d cheerfully take credit for the near miss. Maybe when I get tired of the professing thing, I’ll take up doing “psychic” cold readings.

***

Recently, I mentioned that I was reading Red Planet Blues, a science-fiction private-eye novel by Robert J. Sawyer. I finished it later that evening, and my reactions were a little mixed. The premise — a private eye in a Martian colony — is the sort of adventure I think Robert Heinlein would have done well. Sawyer isn’t Heinlein, but neither are the rest of us, so there’s no shame in that. The plot coheres, and there are some pretty nifty twists, but something about the book just didn’t reach me.

I don’t think it’s a flaw in Sawyer’s writing as much as it is something that has led me away from SF in general in recent years. Harlan Ellison said in the 60s that John Campbell “used to edit a magazine that ran science fiction, called Astounding, and […] now edits a magazine that runs a lot of schematic drawings, called Analog.” And I think this is the trap into which Red Planet Blues falls. The extrapolation of some science ideas is clever, and he rings the changes on them quite well. But having finished it, I can remember those ideas — and struggle to recall the names of the characters. The cover flap describes the book as an example of the “literature of ideas” that lots of SF fans of my acquaintance like to cite as a big selling point. But I’ve reached a point in my life when the ideas usually aren’t enough — they have to affect characters (preferably characters I care about), and for me, that never quite happened in this book. That’s likely why I prefer a Peter Beagle to a Larry Niven. I like them both, but I don’t seek Niven out as I do Beagle.

None of this reflects on Sawyer’s skill in any way, of course — he approaches his work with clean hands and composure, and has good reason to be proud of his craftsmanship. As I said above, to say “It isn’t Heinlein” is to praise with faint damns. And he certainly seems to be doing quite well — better than I ever will, in all likelihood. But like Ellison, I think the “literature of ideas” needs to be the literature of people, as well. As my dad used to say, that’s why they make chocolate and vanilla.

***

Also in the world of books, I’m pleased to note that my friend and former professor Patti White has a new collection of poems, Pink Motel, coming out quite soon from Anhinga Press. Keep your eyes peeled, huh?

***

On the music front, a friend of mine recently put me onto Progzilla, a site dealing with progressive rock in its various incarnations and eras. I’ve said before that prog and garage are the yin and yang of my musical tastes (sharing common DNA in psychedelia), and I’ve spent a lot of the last week listening to Progzilla’s musical stream. You might dig it as well.

***

The Berries will be hitting the familiar turf of Art Bar on Friday night, doing some of our newer stuff, as well as tunes folks will recognize, both ours and others. Also with us are our buddies in Pig Head Dog, Greenville’s Italo and the Passions, and our pals the New York Disco Villains. The show starts at about 8:45, and we’d love to see you there!

***

Well, I need to get to these papers, so I’ll wrap things up with a bit of music. Marillion is one of the bands that has continued to fly the colors for progressive rock for decades, and so it seems appropriate for me to pick a song from them to end today’s post. Happy Easter, all.

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About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
This entry was posted in Culture, Education, Faith, Family, Literature, Music. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Basket of Easter Potpourri

  1. Jeff S. says:

    Wishing you a happy Easter from the Maryland woods! (We had company all week, so our Easter dinner was a bit unorthodox: hot dogs on the grill. “Gaudeamus igitur” came literally with ashes this year.)

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