writing music, the spring 2012 playlist.

I’ve mentioned before that I often put on movie soundtracks when I write. Soundtracks usually have no lyrics to distract me, and they’re designed to invoke moods without tearing the audience away from the story, which makes them well suited for scrivener white noise.

I thought I’d recommend a few of the albums whose sections are starting to wear thin on my hard drive from excessive “Repeat All” play:

Music for the Body in the Bathtub – Kerry Muzzey

I like pretty much everything that Kerry Muzzey puts out, but this one is my favorite of his albums. It’s a bunch of dark, emotional tracks whose titles form a narrative arc. Great for writing noir.

Medal of Honor (EA Game Soundtrack) – Ramin Djawadi

Ramin Djawadi’s soundtrack for the EA game of the same name is loaded with Middle Eastern-themed dynamic and dramatic action tracks. Great for writing action scenes.

True Grit – Carter Burwell

The soundtrack to True Grit is basically the church hymn “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” interpreted in a  dozen different ways, but it works. I don’t write Western, but if I did, this would be perfect background noise for it.

How To Train Your Dragon – John Powell

I love this soundtrack. It’s a really well done blend of Gaelic and Norse influences—pipes and woodwinds and percussion and whatnot. It’s very dynamic and vital, with some very soaring and majestic tracks. Great for “good mood” kind of writing.

Hole In The Paper Sky – Kerry Muzzey

This is my second-favorite Kerry Muzzey album. It’s the soundtrack from a short film of the same name. The tracks are all very low-key and tender, the kind of stuff you’d find over an introspective montage in a movie. Lovely, lovely work.

L.A. Noire – Andrew & Simon Hale

Pretty much the perfect noire writing music, as the title suggests. This is the second game soundtrack on this list—game OSTs have advanced in quality to the point where the best ones can give the very best movie soundtracks a run for the money.

Game of Thrones – Ramin Djawadi

This is the soundtrack for the first season of the HBO adaptation of Game of Thrones. PERFECT for writing grimy, moody fantasy where everyone dies horribly. And it was composed by the same guy who did the Medal of Honor soundtrack. Write his name down—he’s going to be a big name in movie scores.

And there you have some recommendations for writing music, in case you suffer from Playlist Fatigue and need some new material in the queue. I linked to the Amazon MP3 versions, where you can preview all the tracks on each album, but most of them are available on iTunes and all the other online music stores too.

a pop quiz on campus health insurance.

You attend a Catholic university.

Your university offers a health plan that covers everything but contraceptives and abortions.

The current administration pushes legislation through Congress that requires all health plans to cover contraceptives.

Your school decides that rather than making their health plan compliant with the law, they’ll drop it altogether.

Has the legislation in question improved your access to health care, or hurt it?

(Disclaimer: I am not a Catholic—or a Christian of any flavor—and I have my problems with the Church’s hostility to contraceptives. But I knew that stance ahead of time, and that’s one of the reasons why I chose not to attend a Catholic university.)

(Via Popehat.)

earthlings! your regent turns 5 today!

Southern Trip May 2012 068

51% brains, 25% cutonium, 24% stubbornium.

Loves butterflies, Hello Kitty, dogs, her stuffed bear, milk, spinning on swings, drawing, and a million other things.

Hates peanut butter, bedtime, and getting her hair brushed.

Will not accept anyone telling her “you can’t do that”.

Accepts only two possible ways of doing things: her way and the wrong way.

Is one of my two greatest accomplishments in this life.

Turns five years old today.

Happy birthday, little girl. It’s your world out there, and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

I wanted a drawbridge, but it wasn’t in the budget.

This was Castle Frostbite’s portcullis just before we left for our trip:

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The state of things last week:

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And today:

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I could show you a graph of our bank account balance correlating to the picture series above, and you’d see a rather significant downward curve. The corner of the porch and entry area had rotted to the point that the floor had developed a four-degree tilt, so it was high time to Get Shit Fixed. As always, once the handyman started ripping out stuff, he found more rot, so he ripped out more stuff, and so on. At some point there was a cement truck involved, but now there’s a solid foundation underneath that spot, not just logs dropped into dirt.

The job isn’t finished yet—the outside needs a new wooden stair set, and the inside of the new entry area still has two interior walls to be finished—but it’s coming along. And now I can actually get bulky things into the house via the front door instead of having to cart them around the house to the sliding glass door of the living room.

Got too much money and/or free time? You too can experience the joys of owning a fixer-upper!

turn that sight to “2”.

I served in the German military when the standard issue rifle was the Heckler & Koch G3. I was a light infantry grunt and (later) a drill instructor at boot camp, which is why I feel qualified to make the comments that follow.

Every single G3 pattern rifle with H&K diopter-style sights I see at American gun shops and gun shows has its sights set to the 100-meter “v-notch” setting. THIS IS WRONG. The 100-meter v-notch sight has only three purposes:

  1. Anti-aircraft fire on the full-auto setting
  2. “Sturmschiessen” (suppressive full-auto fire)
  3. Low-light shooting where the diopter sight is useless.

Note that two out of those three purposes require a full-auto sear, which makes them inapplicable to semi-auto HK91s and -93s.

Outside of those rare circumstances, the drum sight of a G3-pattern rifle is to be set to the 200-meter diopter setting as the default. Failure to do so will earn you the disapproval of any former Bundeswehr drill sergeants present, who will at the very least turn your sight setting to the proper one.