Monday, January 30, 2006

F&SF March issue in stores now! Posted by Picasa

Go Buy Your Copy Now

A big congratulations to good friend and Clarion bud Trent Hergenrader for his story "From the Mouths of Babes" in the March issue of F&SF. Also check out the John Joseph Adams interview with Trent here. Congrats, Trent! Keep up the good work.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

How Much Is Too Much? Posted by Picasa

Too Challenging? Posted by Picasa

David Lynch and Writing

I watched David Lynch's Mulholland Drive last night for the second time. The first time I saw it (in 2002), it blew my mind, but I thought it was a very good film. This time, I appreciated it even more, even though I certainly don't claim to have it all figured out (and probably never will).

It seems people either love Lynch's work or they hate it. I've never spoken to anyone who's indifferent to Mulholland Drive. Either they're intrigued by it or find it just too confusing.

Lynch makes you work, there's no doubting it. He's not going to spell anything out for you, but he is going to provide you with what you need to make sense of the film. After watching it (and after recently reading Hal Duncan's Vellum), I began to wonder how much is too much to ask of a viewer or a reader? Is there such a thing as too much? And as a writer, how do you know when you've crossed that line?

I love to encounter films/books/musical works that challenge me. Lynch certainly challenges. So does Hal Duncan. I think as writers we need to push ourselves to find ways to challenge audiences and still keep the wheels on. It's not always easy. But who said it would be?

Now Playing = Duke Ellington and His Orchestra at Newport
Listening To = The Handmaid's Tale – Margaret Atwood

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Here's Your Chance to Support Great Writing

Ed Bryant
Tobias S. Buckell
Octavia E. Butler
Ted Chiang
Robert Crais
Cory Doctorow
Scott Edelman
George Alec Effinger
Gregory Frost
Theodora Goss
Eileen Gunn
Nalo Hopkinson
James Patrick Kelly
Kathe Koja
Geoffrey A. Landis
Kelly Link
Vonda McIntyre
Pat Murphy
Jenn Reese
Madeleine Robins
Kim Stanley Robinson
Richard Paul Russo
Al Sarrantonio
Lucius Shepard
Martha Soukup
Bruce Sterling
Mary Turzillo
Lisa Tuttle
Leslie What

If you've ever read and enjoyed writing by any of the people listed above (or even if you haven't), I'd like for you to consider doing something.

The Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop has been shaping and developing writers of speculative fiction since 1968. The people above are just some of those who have benefited from the Clarion experience. I could write for pages about the great experience I had at Clarion (2004) and the wonderful people I met there. But I want to ask you to consider helping Clarion continue.

Clarion has recently suffered a tremendous removal of financial support, both from government and other institutions. The Clarion Foundation (all non-paid volunteers) is currently seeking financial support in order to keep the workshop alive. You can read the details and find out how you can help here.

I said that I could fill pages on what Clarion has meant (and continues to mean) to me. Contrary to what some would have you believe, Clarion is not some elitist club of writers being indoctrinated into "The Formula" of science fiction and fantasy writing. There is no "formula." Clarion is simply a highly intense, yet supportive place where for six weeks you can learn how to improve your writing.

Publishing is important to writers. Over one third of those who attend Clarion are eventually published. After just eighteen months, half of our Class of 2004 is now published. But to me, that's not the most important thing.

What's important is that Clarion teaches you and gives you the tools to become a better writer. Yes, it feels great to have published two stories on the Internet and one in print, but it feels better knowing that I've grown as a writer. I don't know – I might never publish anything else, but I know I'm developing as a writer. That's what it's all about. And Clarion was a big part of that.

Last weekend Clarion held a one-day workshop for young writers led by Charles Coleman Finlay and Holly Black. Forty young writers attended. That's exciting, seeing the future of fantastic fiction getting such a tremendous start.

If speculative fiction, fantastic fiction, science fiction, fantasy (use whatever labels you like) is important to you, I urge you to consider a donation to The Clarion Foundation. Thanks for reading.

Now Playing = I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning – Bright Eyes
Listening To = The Handmaid's Tale – Margaret Atwood

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Can you hear me now? Posted by Picasa

Cell by Stephen King (Some Spoilers)

Many, many Stephen King fans have been waiting a long time for this novel. Sure, in the past few years he's released the final three books in The Dark Tower series and surprised just about everyone (positively or negatively) with last year's paperback original The Colorado Kid. And now (actually Tuesday) he's released Cell, his first real "horror" novel in nearly four years (since From a Buick 8).

Quick synopsis: Comic/graphic novel artist Clayton Riddell has just landed a big book deal in Boston and is eager to return home to Maine. Before he can get out of town, Clay witnesses complete mayhem as cell phone users are turned into crazed zombies, destroying everyone (including themselves) in their path. As he seeks to escape the city, Clay can't be sure if what he believes to be cell-phone terrorism is happening on a world-wide basis or is confined to the immediate area. All he knows is that his son Johnny has a cell phone.

I really wanted to like Cell and at several points along the way, I did. Cell begins well, but for me the novel deteriorates as it quickly becomes clear that:

1 - The story is going to turn into a quest-like saga far too similar to The Stand (or more accurately, The Stand meets Night of the Living Dead).
2 - Fear for his son's safety will motivate Clay to find him, no matter what.
3 - The strengths of the story at the beginning will only weaken as the plot unfolds.

Don't get me wrong, the novel is entertaining. It's not a bad novel. I just felt like I'd been there before. Sure, there are a few shocks (This is King we're talking about, ya know.), but no real surprises. I'd really hoped King would have more to say about our cell-phone crazed culture, but the technology just seemed to be a jumping off point to launch the story.

After finishing the book, I looked at a few reviews and saw that I'm swimming upstream by giving it a marginal recommendation. You can disagree if you like - I just think there's better King out there. His next book, Lisey's Story is due in October. I guess we'll see then.

Now Playing = Secret Story – Pat Metheny
Listening To = To Say Nothing of the Dog – Connie Willis

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Colorado Kid by Stephen King (Some Spoilers)

After finishing Stephen King's noir paperback original The Colorado Kid, I really wasn't at all surprised to read all the negative reviews. For the first quarter of the book, I was pretty bored with it myself, but something changed. I don't think the book changed, but maybe my perception of it did. (More about that in a sec.)

I think these were the biggest problems readers had with the book:

1 – It's by Stephen King. Fair or not, we've come to expect King to deliver some type of horror, mayhem or other weird goings-on. And in this one, we don't really get that, at least not in the way we're used to from King. At its simplest, the book chronicles two veteran newspapermen relating the story of an unsolved mystery to a young female journalist.

2 – The Colorado Kid is labeled as a "hard-case crime novel." It is a crime novel (or is it?), but there's not much there to justify the noir/hard-boiled implications that tend to accompany such books.

3 – The cover. It has absolutely nothing to do with the story. The book only includes two women, neither of which comes close to the babe on the cover.

After that first quarter of the book had passed, I realized I wasn't going to get what I expected, which was action, guns, tough-guy talk, femme fatales, darkened alleys, rain-soaked city streets after midnight – you know, noir stuff. Die-hard King fans looking for violence/blood/gore/etc. probably reached a level of disappointment much sooner than I did. In fact, I can imagine that several fans either gave up early on or grudgingly kept reading, turning the pages in a rage-filled fury. They felt their expectations had been betrayed. (Just read a few of the customer reviews on Amazon.)

I didn't give up, though, mainly because the two newspapermen are such good characters. Stereotypes, yes, but portrayed well as they try, in their own charming way, to show the rookie journalist the ropes. The Colorado Kid story in the novel is really immaterial. What's important is the power of storytelling and how the storytelling torch, if you will, is being passed from one generation to another. If I had to compare The Colorado Kid to a movie, it would be My Dinner with Andre. If you hated that movie, you'll probably hate The Colorado Kid. But if you think about it, the two are very similar. Both elevate the power of conversation, ideas, , speculation, the beauty of telling a story and the pleasure it gives us. With that in mind, I enjoyed The Colorado Kid very much. I admire King for writing it. It will probably never be mentioned in any discussions of his best work, but I'm sure he knew that going in. It's a quiet little story that deserves to be read. Only readers need to know what they're getting themselves into.

Right now I'm halfway through King's new novel The Cell, which is an entirely different can of worms. I'll blab about it next time.

Now Playing = Brain Salad Surgery – Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Just Finished = "Planet of Mystery" – Terry Bisson (F&SF Jan. and Feb.)
"The Smile on Happy Chang's Face" – Tom Perrotta (The Best American Short Stories 2005)

Looks can be deceiving... Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 20, 2006

Where Are the Special Edition DVDs???

Compared to most avid film buffs, I don't own that many DVDs, maybe 50 or so. But there are at least seven that I would buy today if collector/special editions became available. It really burns me up that completely forgettable movies seem to have collector editions galore, but so many films that have stood the test of time are ignored. Here are a few films that, as far as I know, are not on the horizon for special editions.

The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Currently has just a few features, and those are more about Bogart than the film itself. No audio commentary. This is #1 on my wish list, Warner Bros. If you can do Casablanca, you can do this one. Both deserve great editions.

Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
This is the first film I ever saw that rocked my world. (I think I was in the third grade at the time.) Currently no commentary, no extras. That's the biggest crime associated with this picture.

The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
Currently includes one short featurette, no commentary. John Huston had to wait decades to film this story. Looks like we'll have to wait an equal amount of time for a decent edition.

Chinatown (1974)
Currently contains interviews with Roman Polanski, screenwriter Robert Towne and producer Robert Evans, but with the impact this film had, it should contain much more. I can't remember if this has a commentary or not.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
A "deluxe" edition is available, but the "extras" include the soundtrack on CD, a 70MM limited edition film frame (big whoop) and a booklet. I own a regular Bb version (the only movie on this list that I own) that includes a lecture by Arthur C. Clarke.

Two Women (1961)
The only version currently available on DVD is of such inferior quality somebody should be arrested. What a lousy transfer for such a great film (with a wonderful performance by Sofia Loren). Anything would be an improvement over the current print.

The Searchers (1956)
Another film of far-reaching influence deserving of special treatment. Currently contains four documentary shorts (which I have not seen).

DVD Talk is a pretty good site that keeps an eye on future releases. I'm anxiously awaiting news on any of the above. I'm sure you've got a few titles you'd like to see treated with a little TLC as well. Cross your fingers.

Now Playing = Kiss My Axe – Al Di Meola
Now Reading = House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski
Cell – Stephen King

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Had a nice quiet birthday at Dave and Cheryl's last night. Got a sweater, a nice gig case for my trumpet (with lots of room for my stand and mutes), a Jamey Abersold book/CD and Geoff Ryman's Air, which I can't wait to read. And cake. Lots of cake.

Just finished listening to Diary by Chuck Palahniuk. It's the first Palahniuk I've read/listened to and I liked a lot of it. I really wanted to like more of it, but the ending felt very rushed. I'll definitely read some of his other works. Maybe Diary was not the best choice for my first taste of Palahniuk's writing.

So far, Stephen King's The Colorado Kid is also not a great choice. About one-fourth of the way thorough this short book (which so far moves at a snail's pace), I'm pretty much bored. (And I consider myself a pretty patient reader.)

On the writing side, I've got a short story that's about two-thirds finished, but just can't seem to get that last third ironed out. So what did I do? Start a new story, of course. The funny thing is when I got back to the first story, I had a pretty good idea where it needed to go.

Now Playing = Night Train – Oscar Peterson
Now Reading = House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski (in print)
The Colorado Kid – Stephen King (on CD in the car)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Another Birthday

For some reason I tend to reflect on the previous year on my birthday rather than the New Year. (I guess I need those extra 2.5 weeks to stew things over.) I turn 44 today, but here are a few areas of my life and the ages I actually feel in them:

I'm writing more aggressively as I get older. I'm certainly writing more and with more energy, sending stuff out more than I did a year ago. I'm also reading more, reading more widely and reading with a more critical eye. I can see growth in all areas, but I still have a lot to learn.
Actual writing age: early 20's.

I've also grown in knowledge of the genre(s). I really feel embarrassed about how little I knew of the genre going into Clarion. When I went to Clarion, I was 42. My knowledge of genre was probably around age 7. Leading up to Clarion, I'd never even heard of Kelly Link, Jeffrey Ford, Lucius Shepard, Andy Duncan, or Jeff VanderMeer. Now they're some of my favorite writers. I didn't know what had been done before, what types of stories were worn-out or cliched. I know a bit more now. I'm up to an actual reading age of 19, maybe. (Hey, it's good to feel 19 in ANY capacity.)

I've realized that I don't have to make a lot of money (because I certainly don't) at my job. I enjoy finding and selling books and never get tired of it. Every day is different with different challenges. Plus it's fun. I know millions of people who dread thinking about their jobs. I don't and I treasure that. I probably won't always be a bookseller, but I like it, it pays some bills, and it gives me time to write. What's not to like?
Actual work age: 26

Physical Activity
Exercising more, enjoying it more...most of the time. But if I have to watch another movie like The Notebook at Gold's Gym's Cardio Theatre, I'll scream.
Actual exercise age: mid-30's

Somebody zooms past me driving 80 or faster - Actual driving age: 65
I have to pass somebody driving 50 or slower - Actual driving age: 15
First beer - Actual drinking age: 18 (in some states)
Third beer or more - Actual drinking age: at least 60 (increasing in increments of 5 years with each successive beer)
Waking up at 5:30AM – Actual waking age (as far as being alert, active): 18
Staying up past 11:00PM – Actual barely-awake age: 72

Now Playing/Reading = same as yesterday

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Breaking the Rules for Fun and Profit

Kate Wilhelm writes in Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers' Workshop:

"The first named character is the one the story is about."

I noticed that Robert Reed breaks that rule in his story "Less Than Nothing," the lead story in the January issue of F&SF. I also realized that I'm breaking the same rule in the story I'm working on right now. (The difference? Reed knows what he's doing; I'm doing it by accident. I think.)

I understand why Wilhelm says what she says. Reed's first paragraph consists of nine sentences. The character the story is about isn't named until the ninth sentence. I did have to go back and re-read that opening paragraph to make sure I had everything straight. Considering what follows, Reed made the right choice in breaking the rule and beginning the story the way he did. Sure, I had to go back and read that paragraph again, but so what? It was worth the extra effort. Would it confuse most readers of genre? Maybe. Maybe not. The point is, in this case, what seems to make the story weak actually makes it stronger. (For what it's worth, my main character is named in the fourth of five sentences of the first paragraph.)

Now can a neophyte writer like me get away with breaking that (or any other established) rule? Don't know. Probably not at this point in my writing. I'll go back and look at my story and see if what I've written is confusing.

Of course Wilhelm also writes that professional writers know how to break the rules. Reed obviously does.

Now Playing = The Sidewinder – Lee Morgan
Now Reading = House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski (Yeah, still. It's 700 pages, okay?)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Take Note

When I was a band director, I used to carry around a little notebook (Actually it was one of those little fat notebooks that you can't find anymore.) and write down anything I learned or observed that I thought would make me a better teacher. I probably looked like a big geek, but I kept at it. In three years I filled up six notebooks and felt like I learned enough for two degrees.

Sometimes I heard another teacher say something that just clicked, something I could immediately use/borrow/steal. Other times I observed a technique, jotted it down and poured over it later, trying to figure out why it worked.

I've just started taking notes on the short stories I'm reading, writing down things I learn from other writers' work. It helps me to be able to point to something in a story and say, "Here's what this sentence is doing," or "This description of the story's setting is really telling me about the protagonist." Most of the time, though, I'm just asking questions. "Why is this sentence here? Why this word choice? Why this setting?" I'm finding all of it helps.

Since Clarion, I've read a few books on writing, but I honestly believe most of them are worthless. I think it's more important to read (in and out of your genre) like a demon. And write like one too. But it's also necessary to examine stories that work (and those that don't) and understand why they work (or don't). So far, it's paying off. Writer geeks with notebooks unite!

Now Playing = "My Favorite Things" – John Coltrane
Now Reading = About to read the first story in Use Once, Then Destroy – Conrad Williams

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Things You Find in Books

As a used book dealer, I find all kinds of interesting and not-so interesting items between the pages. Here are a few I recently discovered:

An original copy of The Mason Williams Reader with a completely flat (It almost looked like it had been ironed.) Twizzlers wrapper inside.

Inside a book called Adapting to Abundance by Andrew R. Heinze - A card with a blonde girl in overalls on the front saying "A day without you is like a belly full of broccoli." Inside - "Happy Valentine's Day - Kate."

Inside The Structure of Biological Science by Rosenberg - A movie ticket stub to Muppet Treasure Island.

And people say my fiction's weird.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Aunt Cindy and Uncle Andy

I'm very pleased to announce that Cindy's sister Cheryl gave birth Wednesday to Sarah Elizabeth Ani, 7 pounds, 13 ounces, 21 inches long. Sarah, Cheryl and Dave are all doing fine. (I'm already making a list of speculative tales to read to Sarah when we babysit.)

I'm an Uncle! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 12, 2006

F&SF December Issue Posted by Picasa

F&SF December Issue

I'm a little behind on my F&SF issues. The February issue came in the mail just a few days ago and I'm just finishing up December. So if you're as far behind as I am, I can recommend most of December's stories, strongly recommending "The Cure" by Robert Reed and what I consider one of the issue's best stories of 2005, "The Last Ten Years in the Life of Hero Kai" by Geoff Ryman. Here's how I'd rank the stories in the December issue:

1. "The Last Ten Years in the Life of Hero Kai" - Geoff Ryman
2. "The Cure" - Robert Reed
3. "The Last Akialoa" - Alan Dean Foster
4. "When the Great Days Came" - Gardner Dozois
5. "Walpurgis Afternoon" - Delia Sherman
6. "An Incident at the Luncheon of the Boating Party" - Allen M. Steele
7. "Poppies by Moonlight" - Sydney J. Van Scyoc
8. "Cannibal Farm" - Ron Goulart

Now Playing = Maiden Voyage - Herbie Hancock
Just Checked Out from the Library = Dogs in the Moonlight - Jay Lake

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men

I'd never read anything by Cormac McCarthy until just a few days ago when I picked up his latest novel No Country for Old Men (2005). I'd had his most famous (and most lauded) work Blood Meridian in my "January To-Read" stack (Yes, I actually do have such a stack set aside.) for a couple of weeks, but decided to read No Country first.

From the little I know about Blood Meridian, it's a brutally violent, yet brilliant work dealing with life, death, injustice, judgment, American culture, God, and much more. (I also know that I wish I had a First Edition instead of my ex-library Modern Library copy. If you've got a true first, you're looking at $300 or more if you want to sell it.)

No Country addresses some of the same issues as Blood Meridian, but according to what I've read about this new book, it's much more accessible than McCarthy's other works. I found the writing to be very bare-bones with few wasted words, which I greatly appreciate (and wish I could incorporate in my own writing), but rich with meaning and depth. What amazes me is how much McCarthy shows you about these characters while telling you so little. The setting/landscape (1980's West Texas and Mexico) is vital to the story, almost a character in itself. (You can read about the plot on Amazon, but it's better if you just jump into the book. If you don't like it after the first 20 pages, you're not going to like the rest of it.)

Although the novel is not perfect (There's too much symbolism at times, some of which doesn't work.), it is gripping. The way each of these characters faces death and change (Are they related?) is spellbinding. It's a fascinating book, my favorite read (out of three) of 2006 so far.

Now Playing = Why Should the Fire Die? – Nickel Creek
Now Reading = House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski

Cormac McCarthy's new novel set in the 1980's West Texas and Mexico. Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 09, 2006

Your Story in Print

First, congrats to Clarion partners-in-crime Amelia and Trent for recent story sales and a big congrats to Charles and his wife for the newest addition to their family.

I received my copy of Southern Comfort on Friday. Of course, I immediately turned to my story just to make sure I/it really was in there. I/it was.

I guess all writers go through the feelings I had seeing my story in print: excitement at first, thinking, "Hey, that's really my story! In print! The words I wrote!" That means that somebody besides myself, Cindy, and the editors is (potentially) going to read this story!

Then: Oh God. People are going to read this story.

So you read it, looking for glaring mistakes, even though you know the editors have already been through it. And you let out a long breath of relief.

Now don't get me wrong, I really like my story. And I think it's a good story. But I see things that I would do differently now. Better word choices, better pacing, better description, lots of stuff. I think that's a good thing - I can see growth, can see how I'm a better writer now. Again, I think probably most writers go through this. It's part of the process.

One of my instructors emailed her congrats and said, "Savor this, your first sale." I think I'll always savor the first one. But I'll keep looking toward the next one.

Now Playing = Chaos and Creation in the Backyard - Paul McCartney
Now Reading = House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Word Count and Texas Football

Yesterday was pretty busy. I only got a little over 300 words in, but made up for it this morning by putting down 1700. It was great to have 1700 words spill out (somewhat easily), but I don't want to have to play catch-up too many times.

I didn't watch the game, but was glad to see Texas beat USC (University of Spoiled Children) on the news this morning. I'm glad because I think the Longhorns finally deserve the recognition they've unjustly received for years. We lived in Austin for a year and I got so sick of all the UT fans, local sports radio guys, and the alumni. (Excuse me, not the alumni, but the "Texas-Ex" people, as they call themselves. Listen, if you graduated, you're an alumnus. If you dropped out, you're an ex-student. Get your terminology and your window stickers right.) Anyway, I'm all for giving a team their due when they deserve it and finally Texas does. Congrats, Horns. At least ONE Texas team experienced success this season. Right, Tuna?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Watched this last night. What a great film! Paramount sure needs to release a collector's edition, though. Posted by Picasa

2006 So Far

2006 is off to a good start in many ways. Here's a few of them:

1. New writing schedule. I've found that mornings are the best times for me to write. I normally get up between 5:30 and 6:00 and write for an hour – sometimes more, rarely less. Of course, I'll also try to squeeze in some time later in the day. The key is not letting anything (even sleep) interfere with that sacred morning time. No email or Internet until I've done my writing.

2. For the past ten days, I've averaged a little over 900 words a day.

3. I joined a gym. Yeah, I got tired of not being able to find a pair of pants that fit, so I joined Gold's Gym. It's great – I can drop off my book orders at the post office and swing by the gym. (It's only about two miles from the house.) Gold's has a darkened room with about 30 treadmills and ellipticals where they show movies on DVD. Cardio Theatre, it's called. It sure makes the time go faster, unless the movie is a real dud. Of course, you're only in there for 20-30 minutes, but you get a good idea whether or not you'd like to rent the whole movie. So far I've seen parts of The Bad News Bears, Coach, Total Recall, and Another 48 Hours. None of them I'd rent, but it's a good way to workout. I think you can even bring in your own DVDs and have them played. I doubt anyone would like to workout to Citizen Kane or The Third Man, but you never know.

Now Playing = Maiden Voyage – Herbie Hancock
Just Read = "More Tomorrow" (from More Tomorrow and Other Stories) – Michael Marshall Smith
Just Watched = Chinatown (1974)

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Writing to Music

I've talked to some writers who can't write anything with music playing and others who insist on it. I like to have something playing, but not everything works. Vocals, for instance. Maybe it's a case of conflicting words, but usually (with exceptions noted below) I can't focus with somebody else's words floating in the air. For the most part, instrumental jazz works best. Some art music (classical, if you want to call it that) really works well too. So here's my preferred list of music to write to:

Going for the One – Yes
It has lyrics, but they're out there and the music is so other-worldly, it works.
Monster – R.E.M.
I don't even like this band, but for some reason this disc gets the creative juices flowing. Go figure.
Maiden Voyage – Herbie Hancock
Blue Train – John Coltrane
Bitches Brew – Miles Davis
Just about anything by Pat Metheny (The Way Up and Imaginary Day are both good)
Symphony No. 2 – Howard Hanson/Saint Louis/Slatkin
Most of the Beethoven symphonies (I have this set.)
Mozart "Haydn" String quartets (I have this set.)
Deja Vu – North Texas Wind Symphony/Eugene Corporon
There's some real high energy music here. (Plus I never get tired of hearing Cindy's solo on "Blue Shades.")

Today's word count: 300 so far. Break's over; back to it.