Kathleen Edwards is one of my favorite country/folkie performers. I love her song craft and the beautiful way she sings. And I’d love to see her live if she ever comes around. Although she explains during this Mountain Stage show that it was near the end of her tour and she sounds….tired. Or perhaps just mellow.
I love the five songs she plays “Asking for Flowers,” “Change the Sheets,” “House Full of Empty Rooms,” “Chameleon/Comedian,” and “Soft Place to Land,” but they all seem so…quiet. I think of Edwards as kind of a rowdy performer—she can wail with them all, but everything seems dialed back here somewhat. “Empty Rooms” is so quiet (and it is a mellow song, but even more so here). But even “Change the Sheets” which has a bridge and chorus that just blows me away the way it rocks and “Comedian” which ends with such wonderful anguish on the record, are both much more mellow here.
She has a very funny sequence talking about female singers and how she wants to create a Canadian ladies band called Modern Beaver (and she is apparently serious about it, and even has songs for them (as of summer 2013), but no time or energy to get it done. Maybe for Xmas?
Any Kathleen Edwards is good Kathleen Edwards, but I’m looking forward to the next rowdy set I get to hear from her.
[READ: August 28, 2013] “Meet the President”
This is a most unexpected story from Zadie Smith. It is set in the future and features a technology that allows the wearer to be fully absorbed into a virtual space.
It opens with a boy, Bill Peek, standing on a barren beach in England. While his family may have once come from this area, that was immaterial, he considers himself a global child, accompanying his father on inspections. But this part of England is a wasteland and only those who could not afford to leave England were still there.
Bill is pleased to have the beach to himself so he can plug in. But then he is approached by an old lady with a young girl. The girl, Agatha, is simple. And both of the women talk to Bill even though he is doing his best to ignore them while he interacts with his virtual goggles.
Bill is deep in his world, creating his avatar (which has breasts and a tail) and by arming himself with grenades and knives. He is trying to create the landscape. Other users wondered whether you should augment the area around you or use a more or less barren world as your basis. Bill has chosen the barren world and learns that it is three miles to the White House.
But the women are undeterred and the old woman in particular won’t stop talking. She explains how Agatha’s sister was recently killed and they are going to the viewing. Then she asks Bill to look after Agatha for a few minutes. He nods, but in the game, so the woman takes it as a real nod and leaves.
Soon after Agatha is crying because the old woman hasn’t come back yet . She is afraid of missing the viewing and of being tracked by the drones of the Program. Bill says she is innocent and has nothing to worry about from the Program. But he knows the Program isn’t foolproof and agrees to take her along on his mission.
While remaining in his virtual world, he begins talking to the girl. And he feels a human moment where he is compelled to touch the girl (and then immediately sends it out virtually as a human moment). And then he walks her to where her sister’s viewing is.
But then he has a choice If he goes all the way to the viewing and meets other people it will stop his mission of meeting The President–his will be the fastest mission ever is he doesn’t pause.
The end of the story was a little confusing to me. And that may be because there’s so little to the whole story. Everything is so vague. The setting and details are all well constructed, but the people all seem like they are virtual and a little hard to care about. We only really see Agatha through the lens of Bill and he is more focused don his video game–in which I honestly can’t tell if he is saving or killing the President.
Karen posted about this a while back and I resisted reading her post until I read the story. She was also unhappy with the story, and i tend to agree with her complaints, but I have a few more. If this is a sci-fi short story is inadequate when it comes to information. Of course, if it is part of something bigger then it’s an interestingly vague beginning to a story (and once again, i have to complain about the New Yorker not mentioning that it is an excerpt). I’m curious about her branching into sci-fi, and i wonder what impelled her to do so.