juggleI think one reason I don’t post more often is that I have a sort of essay mentality when it comes to blogging. I tend to want to have a topic or a theme, and sometimes I’m either stuck for one or just too damned busy to put together something coherent or even god forbid artful.

I contrast this with the more confessional, open-diary variety of blogging, which I seem to avoid (present entry excepted). Part of that is a concern for maintaining some separation between my professional and private life. Part of it is a conviction that no one is interested in the trivial and quotidian events of my life (which is one reason I simply don’t understand either end of the Twitter transaction).

In any case, I’m stepping outside the usual thematic bounds of my blog to talk in my oh-so-meta way about what sorts of things are going on that have kept me from being a Good and Faithful Blogger.

After getting back from Seattle with the more-or-less-finished ELEGY BEACH Google Earth maps I spent the next three days really finishing them up — adding relevant novel text and pictures to the popups, adjusting locations to conform more closely with the text, etc. The map is online now, and it’s friggin unbelievable. The ARIEL and ELEGY BEACH maps also work on the latest version of the Google Earth app for iPhone, too. Friggin unbelievable redux.

At my agent’s request I am revising my latest novel before submitting it. I’m pissed off at having to do it, mostly because my agent is right. I’ve worked on this novel for a long time, and part of me dreads diving back into it while another part of me relishes the chance. I love this book a lot, which is great in terms of passion, but not so good in terms of being able to maintain a necessary cold distance. I had that distance on ELEGY BEACH, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it was also the best publication experience I’ve ever had.

I have also started another Change novel. I admit I am a little surprised by this. You will be, too, as it isn’t the book that anyone is expecting would follow on the heels of ELEGY BEACH. I’ve learned to shut up and let the thing that wants to write have its say, since arguing with it only makes the inevitable a much more rocky ride anyhow.

I’ve been asked for stories in two collections and have gotten underway on those. I’m excited about this, because short stories are my first love, and I miss writing them terribly. (Though maybe I have always written them terribly, yukkity yuk.) Believe it or not I used to only write short stories and swore I’d never write a novel. Since I have literally made two careers out of things I swore I’d never do, I think perhaps I should swear never to be a hugely popular, NY Times-bestselling author with a DJ career involving stadium gigs. There, I’ve said it, and by golly I intend to stick to it.

I am talking to a Very Large Corporation about sponsorship for my Podrunner podcast. If it goes, it’ll be a perfect match.

My wife and I are finally doing something about moving out of Los Angeles and hope to be in new digs around February. My love affair with this city ended some years back, I’m afraid. We just grew apart, is all. It happens. L.A. will be fine without me. And vice versa. I’ve been househunting out of town a few weekends in the last month.

There’s a ton more going on, of course — there always is — so I’m getting back to it right now. I hope everyone is having a good holiday season.

Why We Move to Grooves

I have seen the future, and it moves fast
I have seen the future, and it moves fast

Throughout history (and probably before that) human beings have created types of music that are intended to focus awareness and, somewhat paradoxically, induce trancelike states, and they rarely take the form of three-minute pop songs. It’s not about melody, which I think is antithetical to such states, and which is the primary reference for most popular music. It’s about groove. Rhythm. We’re pattern-recognition creatures; it’s in our hard-wiring. When you remove, or at least de-emphasize, the melodic component of music, boil it down to its essence and concentrate on rhythmic pattern — on groove — you open up a primal, tribal, tacitly shared experience. To me there’s nothing more primal in the human experience than being part of a big room full of people who are peaking to music. It defies easy description because it’s older than language. I’d venture that language itself is a precursor to the advent of melody in music.

As the majority of exercise involves moving in rhythm, it seems only natural that the movement involve music, and by extension that the musical rhythm and movement be complementary. (This sounds suspiciously like what scientists refer to as “dancing.”) Matching movement to rhythm is the fundamental reason music is a great workout partner.

Go a step further and make the music nonstop, fixed-BPM, hour-long mixes of groove-oriented music (which is pretty much what my Podrunner podcast offers), and you add a psychological — or possibly neurological — component by basically inducing a trancelike state. There’s nothing mystical about this; if your attention is involved in relatively repetitious music, you aren’t as concerned with fatigue or resource depletion. Naturally you don’t want to ignore these things, but neither do you want awareness of them to be at the forefront of your experience.

Yoga does something similar by making you focus on breathing. If you’re thinking about only that, you aren’t thinking how much this damned pose hurts or how much better it would be to sit down to a terrific dinner right now. You’re working with your breathing so that it’s as much a part of the workout as the movements themselves. Groove-oriented music plays a similar role: the steady tempo and pattern-heavygroove give your mind a focus point and give your body something to work with (no pun intended). These aren’t a distraction, they’re incorporated into the workout.

A lot of people look for distractions when they work out – reading or tv on the treadmill, audiobooks or news when they’re running, etc. But I think these things distract you from your body. They keep you from paying attention to the energy you need to expend (or not expend!), and from being aware of areas your body wants to emphasize right now. Here’s your body pushing itself, and you aren’t involved in the process. The point with these running mixes of mine is to give you a partner, an asset for your workout, that helps you literally pace yourself. Podrunner functions as a mediator between mind and body — something you run with, not from. The whole point is to “be here now.” Or, to get all slogan-y:  Be. Hear. Now.

There’s a strong case to be made for fixed-tempo, groove-centric music as a training tool even if you’re a hardcore competitive runner who wouldn’t dream of competing while listening to music, simply because it conditions your body to work at a consistent, even pace, which is vital to a winning strategy for any distance runner. A steady pace is even more important from a fitness standpoint. You don’t want to burn out too quickly, and you don’t want to slow up without realizing it because you’re tiring. So the music serves as a metronome for your body. (Note that I am not talking about listening to music during competitions, which is a separate issue involving safety.)

The overwhelming majority of my listener email consists of people telling me they’ve worked out longer, gone farther, reduced run time, lost weight, achieved personal bests, with no change in their routine other than adding Podrunner to the mix. Some of it is that trance-state thing, and some of it is just that they’ve got a metronome for their stride, which makes their workout more efficient.

And besides, da mewzik’s wikked kewl.

iTunes Names Podrunner in Best of 2009

itunes_best_2009My Podrunner podcast has been named as one of iTunes’ Top 100 Podcasts of the Year for the fourth year in a row. Woo-hoo!

Podrunner is a series of nonstop, fixed-BPM electronic dance music mixes for runners, joggers, power walkers, treadmill, aerobics, and just about any other exercise that can benefit from a fixed tempo. We’ve been written up in magazines and newspapers, and have been one of the most popular podcasts in the world since Podrunner launched in February 2006.

Its success was entirely unexpected, and it has led me on an adventure (sometimes rocky, I admit) that I simply would never have imagined having.

Thank you again, iTunes, and thank you again, listeners!

Map Quest

steve_drin01I’m in Seattle till Thursday, working with my friend Adrian Smith (polymath IT genius whiz who has also been a guest DJ on my Podrunner podcast) to finalize the Google Earth maps depicting the locales and route for the primary events of ELEGY BEACH.

Since no one else seems to have realized what an amazingly cool thing this is, I’m gonna shuck any pretense of modesty and tell you what an amazingly cool thing this is.

One of the unexpected fringe benefits of my oddly obsessive-compulsive need to work for real-world accuracy in my own odd brand of reality-based fantasy is that you are able to use the free Google Earth application to follow the locations events of ARIEL and ELEGY BEACH in real time using satellite imagery to see exactly where these events take place.

drin01You’re even more able to use it because we have worked very hard to provide you with custom downloadable Google Earth maps that delineate locations, tour them, link to online pictures of landmarks, and include relevant text from the novels. You really can tour the Del Mar racetrack that dominates the first section of ELEGY BEACH. You really can fly the hang-gliding route in ARIEL. You really can go on the Goodyear blimp ride at appropriate altitude between Carson, California, and the Tejon Pass. The accuracy and detail astonish me. Maybe you’re young enough to take this stuff for granted. I’m old enough to be amazed by it.

In any case, while there are Google street maps of book locations, I don’t know of anything like what we’re doing here. As of about a month ago you can even use these maps on Google Earth for iPhone. If no one takes advantage of it, it’s still so unbelievably cool someone should hand me some kind of special Hugo award for it. So nonny nonny pooh pooh.

I’ll finalize the ELEGY BEACH maps after I’m back from Seattle. I will tell you unabashedly that I love these. I love the technology that helps make it possible not only to render these impossible visions with even more clarity, but to make them available for readers.


The End of the Apocalypse

photo by waldemar
photo by waldemar

Monday marks the final entry in my two-week gig as a guest blogger on Borders’ Babel Clash page. The theme has been “apocalypse,” and I’ve surveyed books and movies in the field and talked about why I think many of us are attracted to end-of-the-world (or at least of civilization) scenarios, why some are more popular than others, and how the notion of likely apocalypse itself has changed over a generation.

Babel Clash is usually a back-and-forth debate and/or discussion between several writers, but I was the only guest for the topic (everybody else probably had a life and a desire to experience some sort of holiday, to which I say humbug), and I used the platform to explore the subject in more depth than I might otherwise have been able to. It took some time away from being able to post to my own Write Now blog, but if postapocalyptic scenarios are interesting to you, take a look at my Babel Clash entries. (I’m especially fond of “Apocalypse Now & Then.”)

“The Fuzzy Edge of Authorship”

Podcamp AZ photo by sheiladeeisme

The Fuzzy Edge of Authorship – “An entire reconceptualization of copyright and ideas of authorship is beginning to fill the vaccum left by current intellectual property law that is being rendered archaic by technology. This explores some of the implications for authorship inherent in the ability to freely reproduce, remix, and transmit digital media. What should creators hold on to, and what should they let go of? How is current law hampering creativity, and how is it struggling to help provide for creators?”

This was my final talk at Podcamp Arizona, and the first of the lectures that I’m putting online because it’s a version of a song I’ve been singing for over a year now, on a topic I believe is going to have an increasing impact on creators, consumers, and third-party providers over the next decade.  It finally occurred to me to start recording some of this stuff. Mister Cutting-Edge Communications Technology, that’s me.

(In case you were wondering, no, a “podcamp” isn’t a geek sleepover with footy pajamas and sleeping bags. It evolved out of the barcamp anti-conference concept of nonhierarchical conferences featuring ad hoc, user-generated content. Podcamp AZ isn’t run that way, but they call it a podcamp and run it much more loosely than a traditional multitrack, scheduled conference event.)



Download: Steve Boyett – The Fuzzy Edge of Authorship