Be the Geekoid Novelist's Guest on Martha's Vineyard

Over on on Kickstarter, I’m seeking backers for my new project, a biotech thriller called Creation Science.

I’ve just added a new “reward”: You and a friend can be my guest for a weekend next spring or summer at my house on Martha’s Vineyard. Join me and my wife for three days and two nights at our tiny but friendly house in Vineyard Haven. You’ll stay in our guest room & we’ll provide breakfast; we’ll give you a guided tour of the island, lend you one of our cars for up to five hours, let you borrow our bikes, and you’ll be the guest of honor at a dinner party for which Dear Wife Betty will prepare a meal of at least 5 courses.

See the Creation Science page on Kickstarter for details.

Waiting for the Operatic Hammer to Fall

Last week Dear Wife Betty & I were out in San Francisco where we took in, as they say, Dr. Atomic at the San Francisco Opera. It’s about the Manhattan Project on the eve of the test detonation of the first bomb in 1945; in particular it’s about the moral ambiguity of the bombmaking enterprise, layered on top of deep uncertainty about whether the thing would actually explode (and perhaps ignite the atmosphere and destroy the earth).

The composer is John Adams, and the musical style is modern quasi-minimalist. The director is Peter Sellars, and the staging is Sellarian, with giant stylized props representing the bomb-test tower, the remote dry mountains, the physics laboratories; even Mr. & Mrs. Oppenheimer’s marriage bed. During most of the opera, the characters Edward Teller, Robert Oppenheimer, Robert Wilson and Leslie Grove sing about bomb designs and yields, war strategy, sin, physics and whether lightning from a desert storm will accidentally set off the bomb before they can set if off on purpose. In the second act two women sing poetic nonsense over a crib; Kitty Oppenheimer the while holding a highball glass in one hand and a grasping the neck of a mostly empty bottle of rye with the other. Throughout both acts there is a large chorus dressed in Army fatigues frantically moving about hither and thither as Oppenheimer, dressed like David Bryne in an oversized zoot suit, broods metaphysically, spouting Baudelaire and John Donne.

Also there were dancers who appeared at random times and did balletic stuff like you used to see on shows like Solid Gold in the days before MTV. (Betty said that they looked like the Maoist dancers you used to see on the Ed Sullivan show, only without the long ribbons on sticks).

Despite many misgivings, I liked Dr. Atomic a lot.

After all, how often does one get to see a full dress, high, arch, 80-piece orchestra, operatic treatment of the heart-numbing dread that is the essence of technoparanoia?

More impressions (and some spoilers) below the fold.

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Sunday profundities

I went to a wedding last Saturday. The bride (a native of North Carolina) and the groom (a long-time resident of Massachusetts) met in an online discussion group. I had met & had become friends with the groom through a different online group. Before and after the wedding, Dear Wife Betty and I stayed at the home of another friend, whom I also had met through an online discussion group. And at the wedding reception were other friends that I knew from Kuro5hin (or the K5 spinoff site HuSi). As a technoskeptic with strong technoparanoidish tendencies I find it odd that so many of my best friends are people that I met online, and I also note with raised eyebrow that the bride and groom, who were married in an ultra-traditional High Spook Episcopalian mass, are both introverted people. One is a fifty year old astrophysicist and the other is a thirty year old (former) instructor of English. It’s hard to imagine they would have found each other had it not been for teh Intarweb.

Some other time I will write about the notion of community as it relates to “online community.” I used to think that this subject was played out enough that there was little new to say about it. I’ve changed my mind about that, so Stay Tuned, as Harold says.

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Wedding announcement musings

I live on the People’s Republic of Martha’s Vineyard, which is an island vaguely associated with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where gay marriage recently became the law of the land. Last Sunday the weather was particularly fine. I was on the back porch, setting up for a cookout, when my neighbor Andrew came crashing through the underbrush that separates our houses. He had just come from a meeting with the minister of the Unitarian-Universalist Society of Martha’s Vineyard, during the course of which he had discovered that my wife and I are members of that church.

“We’re getting married in your church,” Andrew said. “Now that it’s legal, you know. I’m Jewish and Ron is Methodist and we wanted some kind of religious thing, so we said, ‘Let’s see what the Unitarians say about it.’”

“Maybe the rainbow flag on the church flagpole gave a clue?” I said.

“Well yes. And we just met your minister, and she was great, and it’s all set up.”

My wife Betty joined the conversation and gave Andrew a hug when she got the news.

“What’s the date?” she asked.

“September 11,” he said. “We have decided to reclaim that date from the haters. It will be a day of joy.”

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