I'm needing a break from the constant fuckery. So for just a moment, let's put rampant stupidity, political bullshit, and creationist nonsense aside. Grab yourself a drink, pull a chair up to the table, and weigh in:
1. What's the best concert you've ever been to?
2. If you could travel the world with nary a care, where would you go?
3. Do you have a piece of jewelry, item of clothing, etc. that defines you?
4. What's your favorite branch of science, and why?
5. What book completely changed your view of a person, place or culture?
Being the host, I get to go first. Woot!
1. Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Circus Mexicus 2003. A bunch of friends hustled me to Puerto Penasco, Mexico (Rocky Point, for all you Americanos), against my better judgement. That concert converted me into a rabid Peacemakers fan. We had the sea at our backs, the stars overhead, thousands of us packed into a dirt lot outside the Sunset Cantina, stuffed with Mexican food and tequila and singing ourselves hoarse with fireworks bursting overhead. I've never felt so in love with life. I've never been so unified with so many people before. That night, the Peacemakers became my all-time favorite band, I fell head-over-heels in love with Mexico, and found a new story. It was my Woodstock. Circus Mexicus happens twice a year, so you still have a chance!
2. The Mediterranean. I love the Sea of Cortez; I can only imagine how enthralled I'd be by the Med. I want to sail those wine-dark seas end to end. I want, in fact, to spend an entire year being nothing but a total tourista. The only problem is, the Peacemakers don't play Europe. I'd have to spend my first six months converting the locals, and then we'd have to fly the Peacemakers in for a concert on the beach. Perfecto!
3. I've got two. Being a writer, there's a story for both. I have a replica of the One Ring that hangs from a chain I got from Mexico (where else?). I've worn it for seven years now, because I made a promise that I would wear it for the rest of my life. Who did I promise and why are writer things that I'll save for another day. It was joined in May 2004 by a grain of rice with my pen name that I acquired in Mexico. The grain of rice is in honor of a Peacemakers song, of course. The pen name is a reminder to myself that the daily bullshit ultimately doesn't matter: the writing is all. It's a useful thing to clutch when I want to strangle someone in the corporate world.
4. Physics, with an emphasis on quantum mechanics and astrophysics. Yes, I do yammer on about biology sometimes, but my adoration of science started with a book called Space, Time, Infinity by James S. Trefil. I think I was all of six when I read it. From astronomy, I stepped off into astrophysics, and also started dancing with the Dancing Wu Li Masters (you serious scientists can stop sneering, it's a great little book on both philosophy and quantum physics). I'm one of the only people I know who considers curling up with Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time a relaxing and entertaining experience.
5. The Walking Drum by Louis L'Amour. Yes, that Louis L'Amour. The guy who wrote Westerns, indeed. I'd had no idea before I read that book that we had the Islamic world to thank for our culture, our science, and baths. While Christian Europe languished, culture and learning thrived in Moorish Spain and other areas under Muslim rule. 11th century Cordoba enthralled me. It opened my eyes to the fact that Islam had at one time been progressive, its civilization cutting-edge, glittering and beautiful and a lot less smelly than soap-averse Europe. I find it a tragedy that the fundamentalist bastards destroyed that civilization. I find it an outrage that most Americans have no idea that we owe so much to Islamic civilization.
There you have it. Your turn, now. Enjoy!