I Sit Beside the Fire and Think (Tolkien)

“I sit beside the fire and think
Of all that I have seen
Of meadow flowers and butterflies
In summers that have been

Book Reviews

Songmaster * Orson Scott Card Book Review

I have finally found a book from Orson Scott Card that I could not finish. He has written some amazing stories so far. I loved each and every one of them – either the fairytales or the space exploration. Even the biblical stories and I don’t do religion. Here are some of my favourites to date:

But this book did not sing well in my ears.

Book Reviews

The Annihilation Score * Charles Stross

I love starting a book which confuses me from the onset! I started reading and I was thinking that maybe I fell into an alternate universe where this would make sense.

Read this and tell me what you think:

Bob and I are operatives working for an obscure department of the British civil service, known to its inmates—of whom you are now one—as the Laundry. We’re based in London. To family and friends, we’re civil servants; Bob works in IT, while I have a part-time consultancy post and also teach theory and philosophy of music at Birkbeck College.

In actual fact, Bob is a computational demonologist turned necromancer, and I am a combat epistemologist. (It’s my job to study hostile philosophies, and disrupt them. Don’t ask; it’ll all become clear later.) I also play the violin.

A brief recap: magic is the name given to the practice of manipulating the ultrastructure of reality by carrying out mathematical operations. We live in a multiverse, and certain operators trigger echoes in the Platonic realm of mathematical truth, echoes which can be amplified and fed back into our (and other) realities. Computers, being machines for executing mathematical operations at very high speed, are useful to us as occult engines. Likewise, some of us have the ability to carry out magical operations in our own heads , albeit at terrible cost.

Yep, I was confused. I did a quick search to see what I was getting myself into and it appears I picked a book that’s book 6 in a series about the Laundry – the British secret agency that fights supernatural threats. 

Dean Koontz

The City * Dean Koontz Book Review

merb8wnnfwhh54qu6vfgmlwIf you are looking for a musical and enchanting book filled with a young boy and his mother (not Stephen King’s Talisman) and with a few baddie characters and a lot of Jive and music playing, look no further than Dean Koontz’ The City.

As everyone knows, you can find a lot of colourful characters in a city and in the same way, you find a wide arrray in Dean Koontz’s book. My favourite ones were the male father-figures to the young boy, replacing the scumbag who calls himself as his natural dad, Grandpa Teddy and Mr. Yoshioka. They both offer valuable lessons of how to be a proper man and my heart warmed up every time one of the friends jumped in to help out.

Grandpa Teddy
The Bledsoes didn’t tolerate street talk or jive talk, or trash talk. Grandpa Teddy often said, “In the beginning was the word. Before all else, the word. So we speak as if words matter, because they do.” Anyway, my mom stood there, frowning down at me, but then her expression changed and all the hard edges sort of melted from her face. She dropped to her knees and put her arms around me and held me tight.


Music Quotes

Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter, and articulation), dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. The word derives from Greek μ (mousike; “art of the Muses”).

Growing Up

Entertainment Ideas for Your Next Thanksgiving Party

Have you recently made the decision to host a Thanksgiving party in your home? If so, there is a good chance that you may have already started the planning process. If so, have you decided on a form on party entertainment yet? Even if you have started planning your Thanksgiving party, there is a good chance that you have yet to get to the entertainment. This is because entertainment is often one of the last things that a party host plans. Well, if it is time for you to start thinking about your Thanksgiving party entertainment, you will find that you, literally, have an unlimited number of options.

Book Reviews

The Dressmaker – Rosalie Ham

‘The sense of being well-dressed gives a feeling of inward tranquility which religion is powerless to bestow.’ Miss C.F. Forbes quoted by Ralph Waldo Emerson in Social Aims

The Dressmaker is a clever satire about village life. Though the novel is set in 1950s rural Australia, it reminds readers of hypocritical, mean-spirited microcosms everywhere.

A review of the dressmaker by


It all started when Tilly decided she would go back to Dungatar.

Myrtle, now known as Tilly, has returned to her small hometown in Australia to care for her ailing mother Molly. She left some years ago in a cloud of suspicion in her part played in the death of a young boy, and now she’s come home to roost. A talented seamstress, Tilly is soon noticed by the towns-women who contract her to make their dresses. In a time when one of the only way women were able to express themselves freely – through their clothes and hairdos – Tilly takes advantage of the women’s attraction to her craftsmanship.


Hiring a Band for a New Years Eve Party

If you are planning a New Years Eve party, you may also be considering hiring a live band to play at your party. Hiring a live band is an excellent entertainment option for a New Years Eve party because the guests will enjoy listening to and dancing to the music throughout the evening. The band can also help to keep the guest energized throughout the evening. However, when you are planning to hire a band for your party there are some important considerations which you should make. This article will take a look at some of these considerations and will help to simplify the process of hiring a band to entertain at your New Years Eve party.


What Happens When Music Meets Brain

Brain_WavesMusic is a window on the brain, scientists say. Few human activities exercise as many brain functions: Playing music demands motor skill, and listening to it stimulates both feelings and intellectual faculties. Scientists now use music to study sense perception, emotions, coordination, timing and the functions of each of the brain’s hemispheres.
The relationship between music and the brain is a fast-growing area of study. Last year, Frank Wilson, a Walnut Creek, Calif., neurologist, organized a conference on the subject, bringing together some 300 interested professionals.
Several books on the subject have been published in recent years, and a new psychology journal called Music Perception was founded in 1983.
Strokes and other brain disorders reveal much about brain functions, including music and language. In one recently reported case, a stroke knocked out only its victim’s ability to name fruits and vegetables, suggesting that categories of words are organized in the same area of the brain. Similarly, strokes have shown that key musical abilities are organized in the right half of the brain, which is associated with emotions and the integration of complex details into wholes.
Tedd Judd, a psychologist at the Pacific Medical Center in Seattle, tells of a composer who suffered a stroke on the right side of the brain and could still compose melodies. But he lost the ability to compose counterpoint, in which melodies are integrated according to complex rules.
Strokes on the right side sometimes erase the ability to sing, even though the memory of song lyrics may be intact. People afflicted that way may speak in a monotone because they can no longer put melody into their voices, says Elliott Ross, a neurologist at the University of Texas medical school.
But scientists now also realize that music isn’t totally a right-brain function. At the University of California at Los Angeles, John Mazziotta, a researcher, found that in most people listening to simple melodies, the right side of the brain was activated; but those who visualized what they heard as notes on a page mainly used the left side.
Music, long considered the language of emotions, is also an ideal stimulus for experiments on feelings. At Pennsylvania State University, a psychologist, Julian Thayer, plays different kinds of music from Bach to jazz while testing listeners for heart rates and other indicators of emotions. Among other things, his research suggests that just as a radio has separate controls for tone and volume, emotions involve independent levels of pleasantness and intensity.
Brain researchers have been trying for years to understand how the brain handles sensory input, and music is important to their study of sound perception. Scientists believe that some elements of music — like common pitch intervals — have been shaped to reflect the structure of the human auditory system. For example, most people, even in different cultures, perceive tones separated by an octave as closely related. This may result from the channeling of nerve impulses caused by such tones to the same nerve cell in the brain, says Diana Deutsch, a psychologist at the University of California at San Diego.
Tempo is another musical element that intrigues brain researchers. Most people can’t both walk and chew gum at different tempos because the brain can apparently monitor only one internal metronome at a time, says George P. Moore, a researcher at the University of Southern California.
Mr. Moore is also interested in the motor skills involved in playing a musical instrument, where muscle coordination and timing are crucial. Using sensors, including small needles inserted into musicians’ hands, he has learned that performers use unconscious tricks to improve their sound. For example, Mr. Moore found that when playing trills on a violin, some players lighten finger pressure. Then, to compensate for the pitch distortion the lighter pressure would cause, they adjust their hand positions. “Musicians don’t even know they do these things,” he says, which suggests that they subliminally refer to detailed brain “maps” of their instruments to create the desired sound.
Internal maps may guide listeners as well as players, which could explain the difficulty many people have learning to like unfamiliar music. There may even be music so alien that our brains aren’t equipped to make sense of it. “Some avant-garde composers who base their music on new arbitrary ystems are interesting,” says Roger Shepard, a Stanford University psychology professor. “But their music may never take hold with listeners because it doesn’t mesh effectively with the deep cognitive structures of the mind.”