Category Archives: Reviews

New Music I found on NPR – Big Harp

I like listening to the NPR Weekend Edition shows. They’re a good mix of news and arts and I often end up being exposed to things I usually wouldn’t hear about.  One of the quirks of the shows is that I can often spot the final segment even without looking at the clock because they’ll be devoting it to a struggling artist or music group I’ve never heard of and I can tell by the tone of the interview that the artist is really new.

This morning’s segment was a group called Big Harp, a husband and wife team traveling the country with their toddlers and trying to make a go of the music scene on the Saddle Creek Records independent label.  Their laid-back mix of Folk, Rock and Blues is not usually my first choice but something about their story grabbed my attention and I decided to check out their record. I just listened to it during my workout and actually liked it.  Despite its mostly laid back sound, it also has a certain intensity to the lyrics and a polished sound that made me think of music that would go well in the soundtrack to a movie.

So if you’re looking for new music, especially from an independent artist, this one’s worth checking out.  You can also read and listen to the NPR interview and watch one of their videos at this link.

In my off hours …

I’ve been re-reading Robert A. Heinlein’s Expanded Universe, a collection of his short stories and articles from throughout his writing career. I first read this book as a teenager and skimmed over some of the parts that just didn’t hold my attention at the time but, as I’ve found before, some books will say different things to you at different times in your life.

Heinlein was acknowledged as the American master of science fiction but this collection also contains other material that he wrote as he was trying to break away from the sci-fi pulp magazines in the 40s. In the process, he dabbled in mystery stories and political writing, finally returning to science fiction with a more developed style that often incorporated his own personal philosophy.

In addition to a fine selection of reading material from one of America’s most respected authors, Expanded Universe is valuable for its historical perspective. The earliest pieces date back to before World War II and Heinlein’s political writing provides details on post-war life and the thoughts and fears that many experienced at the dawn of the Cold War.

PDFCreator

PDFCreator is an free tool from PDFForge.org for creating PDF files from Windows applications. The installation adds a printer to windows which accepts the output from Word and other programs and outputs PDF files. It has a great autosave feature which will automatically save the files to the folder of your choice with a datestamp filename so you don’t have to name every one if you’re doing a lot of printing.

You can find the program and more details at http://www.pdfforge.org/products/pdfcreator.