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books

Mara and I have a fairly heavy book habit. I’ve been a science fiction and fantasy reader since my mother started reading The Hobbit to me in kindergarten, and enjoy learning about all manner of things about the world, often from the perspectives of the various sciences. Mara enjoys mysteries and cookbooks, and much of my science fiction. We track our collection on LibraryThing. I have far too many physical books and am looking forward to converting most of my library to electronic form; the big constraint is finding books published without digital-rights management code locking them down, as I believe that if you don’t have an unencrypted copy of the book, you’re only renting it. Good sources include Book View Café, WebScription.Net, and Smashwords (where I’m mithriltabby).

periodicals

In an era when so much is available on the Internet for free, the things for which we pay money stand out. On paper, I keep up with the news with San Francisco Chronicle, The Economist, The Nation, Scientific American, The American Prospect, Mother Jones, and the Fortean Times. On the Web, I support Salon.com and Talking Points Memo. If you follow the blogs on the Economist, I’m slothman there.

graphic literature

webcomics

I support a number of webcomics by purchasing their books as they come out, including Schlock Mercenary, Sinfest, Ozy and Millie, Girl Genius, and Two Lumps.

Some webcomics that have wrapped up their story but are well worth reading: A Miracle of Science, Concerned.

music

electronic

I got hooked on electronic music with classic performers like Tangerine Dream, and Jean-Michel Jarre, and enjoy more recent artists like Zero One as well.

trance

Electronic music has undergone some interesting transformations in dance clubs, leading to variants called Goa trance and psychedelic trance: Astral Projection, and Asura.

In the ambient house genre, Juno Reactor and The Orb have done some good stuff; with Juno Reactor, I’d recommend starting with Shango, and with The Orb, U.F.Orb.

Delerium and early Enigma produced some good “dark ethereal ambient” work in Semantic Spaces and MCMXC a.D. respectively; Delerium went on to create a number of excellent albums from there, and one of the duo (Rhys Fulber) has done some similar work under the name Conjure One.

A downtempo, “psychedelic ambient” (“psybient”) variant can be found in the work of Shpongle, Shulman, Enthogenic, and The Infinity Project.

ambient

Ambient is a somewhat overused term in music; I’m referring to the original sense coined by Brian Eno, music that exists on the cusp between melody and texture. Steve Roach is an excellent source for both his own work and that of kindred spirits. Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber (of Delerium fame) did some good ambient work under the name Synæsthesia.

fusion

There are some very pleasing creations coming from artists who take inspiration from multiple genres (like the classic Songs from the Victorious City), such as Banco de Gaia, Angel Tears, Kaya Project, Deep Forest (who are following up on ideas from Jean-Michel Jarre’s Zoolook), Trance Mission, and Dr. Didg. The Buddha-Bar collections are a good way to discover new performers.

In a rather different vein, Dead Can Dance created an amazing blend of sounds from different times and places. Mike Oldfield has done some good work in yet another blending.

classical

My favorite composer is Ralph Vaughan Williams; I also like Claude Debussy’s work.

jazz

I haven’t spent a lot of time exploring the world of jazz yet, but thus far I quite like the work of Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck.

video

Two of my favorite television shows, now wrapped up, were Babylon 5 and Farscape; those were worth picking up on DVD.

television

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report are two of my currently-running favorites. I enjoy Countdown with Keith Olbermann for the eloquence with which Olbermann calls out the incompetence in our political system (and fast-forward the celebrity and entertainment news), and the Rachel Maddow Show for her wonkish digging into the news. Bill Moyers’ Journal is the reason I contribute to PBS.

anime

I’m enough of an anime fan to enjoy the occasional marathon through a whole season with friends, but not so much that I skip BayCon for FanimeCon.

If you aren’t familiar with the genre, start with Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro if you like Disney, or Giant Robo if you enjoy superheroics and Art Deco. (If Giant Robo is your cup of tea, check out Big O, which does an amazing job of fitting an interesting plot into a format of half-hour episodes that have to work in a giant robot battle.)

zen

I practice Zen meditation at Bamboo in the Wind, in Sunnyvale. My favorite Zen authors are Brad Warner and James H. Austin. Like Susan Blackmore, I identify myself as a Zen practitioner rather than a Buddhist.

art

I’m a fan of Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Maurits Cornelis Escher, and Maxfield Parrish.

research

Wikipedia Affiliate Button I find Wikipedia sufficiently useful as a place to start looking things up that I support the Wikimedia Foundation. One should never take it as a primary source, of course, but it’s a great place for overviews and links to more authoritative references.