How to Tune a Banjo

In which I alienate readers by talking about music… .

I’ve posted a brief video on a new channel, with a few tips on how to tune a 5-string banjo. If you’ve come here via search, enjoy the video and check out my other posts on books, movies, storytelling, and the writing process.

The take-away from the video is that if your banjo is too difficult to tune to itself then it needs to see a professional luthier experienced with banjos.


Let’s Get Serious!

In which I alienate Phish fans

What is it that makes readers connect? Sincerity and honesty. The kind of sincerity I’m talking about might be called being “serious” but as Alan Watts pointed out, the word “serious” has a sort of dry unfunniness about it, and that isn’t what I’m getting at. Fantasy literature in particular has this problem, much less than it used to, that it’s hard to take seriously a book about wizards and dragons. Ursula LeGuin seems to have eventually convinced everyone to take such books seriously, but not without plenty of books getting written to convince people otherwise. Wizards and dragons sound like childish topics, until you read Gene Wolfe, Stephen R. Donaldson, or dare I say Robert Jordan?

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A man, not a god, wrote “Stairway to Heaven”

“Good artists copy, great artists take something anybody could have thought of and transform it into something no one has ever dreamed of.”

Jimmy Page early
Jimmy Page in the early seventies (Wikimedia Commons)

On Thursday a jury of eight of the rarest sort of people—those who’ve never heard the Led Zeppelin song “Stairway to Heaven”—cleared Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of the charge of stealing the intro to the song from Spirit, a band that many more people have never heard of. The executor of the estate for the author of “Taurus” sued Page and Plant after a bunch of online comparisons showed up (look for them on Youtube). The plaintiffs did a lot of research and put a lot of effort into establishing that Page and Plant had heard the song before writing “Stairway to Heaven.”  I would love to see the transcripts, as both sides called expert witnesses to testify about the creative process.  They may have even proven that Page and Plant used the material from “Taurus” but that doesn’t mean they didn’t write “Stairway to Heaven.”



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