More than you wanted to know about Keith Martin

This part of any homepage is usually the most self-indulgent and ultimately boring. I'll try to keep things fairly terse (it's a relative thing), so you can get a general picture without wasting your whole day.


Overview

This page has four sections:


Stats

Height:
6 feet
Weight:
~174, just a little more than I'd like
Age:
Born August 22, 1971, you do the math
Hair:
Brown. Used to be shoulder length and pretty heinous, but I got a more conservative cut for my wedding and never bothered to grow it back out.
Eyes:
Green-grey, depending on what color shirt I'm wearing, with a brown spot in one of them. Vision: 20/20.
Birthplace:
Stoughton, MA, USA
Sexual orientation:
Straight, not narrow (trite but true!)
Marital status:
Married, to Lisa
Philosophy:
Secular humanism, scientific inquiry
Interests:
Music, guitar, books, outdoors
Favorite musicians:
Two Ton Shoe, Medeski Martin and Wood, T.J. Kirk, Miles Davis, Phish, The Beatles, XTC
Favorite writers:
Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon, Mark Helprin, Richard Powers, Nicholson Baker, Dan Simmons, David Foster Wallace
Strange but true:
I'm directly descended (i.e., Martin to Martin, father to son, modulo that first generation) from a victim of the 1692 Salem Witchcraft Trials. Among other things, my ancestor (Susannah North Martin, who was hanged that July) could fly and could psychically cause cows to drown (and puppies to die, I think). She was also spotted in the company of the cloven-hoofed one on at least one occasion, which is pretty amazing.


Biography

I was born in 1971, which means that Star Wars pretty much defined my youth. I grew up in Massachusetts, on the South Shore, about 3 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, where my family spent the summers (Mom and Dad are teachers). I still enjoy swimming, sand, salt-water, and shellfish.

I went to a pretty lousy regional public high-school, which was fortunately punctuated by a handful of good teachers. It was good enough to get me into a decent college, which is what counts, I guess. The best things about high-school were meeting and dating my future wife, Lisa, and playing bass in rock-n-roll bands.

While I was there, I also studied clarinet privately, doing the whole District/All-State competitive thing with a moderate degree of success. I should mention and thank David Cross, my private teacher at the South Shore Conservatory, for taking a chance and putting me in his Honors Woodwind Quintet as a freshman and keeping me in it for four years (it was the best musical experience I've ever had, with some of the best musicians I've ever played with).

I spent four years at Cornell University as an electrical engineering major, specializing in discrete-time signal processing. I managed to sneak in some good music classes and a pair of classes on the psychology of hearing and music. I began a love affair with wine and beer, continued a love affair with Lisa, spent nine months working in Indiana for Delco Electronics/General Motors, joined a fraternity (much to the surprise of everyone who knew me), and graduated on time.


Lisa, in 1994, at her graduation from Cornell University.
After Cornell, I started the seemingly neverending process of being a graduate student at MIT. In July of 1995, I married my best friend, Lisa. We used to live in Norwood, MA, a rather boring suburb of Boston, but in 1999 we had a new house built in Hopedale, MA. We're currently sharing the new house with our cats Minnie & Molly. We dated, on and off (more on than off), for 8 years before tying the knot. We've traveled a bit since our wedding, to San Francisco, Montreal, Bermuda, London, Paris, Honolulu, and Tuscany which has been wonderful. Thank goodness she makes a decent living!

Now that I have finished my Ph.D., I'm working at Bose (in the acoustics research group).

To repeat, yes, we met in high school, yes, we both went to Cornell, and yes, my hair was longer than hers for a while there.



Music

My first love is music. I studied clarinet for ten years before giving it up for the guitar, which I still don't play particularly well. In college, I wrote a lot of rather simple songs and greatly enjoyed putting them down on tape with a four-track recorder. The tunes are rather embarassing, which is why you don't see any links in this paragraph. I'm quite thankful for my music education, however, because it enables me to verbalize exactly what I like and dislike about particular forms and examples of music, and I like to think that it heightens my enjoyment while listening.

Update! I'm finally getting around to working hard on my guitar playing. I started studying with a teacher in January, 2000. Much progress is being made. I sold the cheesy Charvel guitar and bought a sunburst Fender standard Tele (woo hoo!). Guitarists I adore listening to and would love to someday emulate include: John Scofield, Bill Frisell, Mike Keneally, Adrian Belew, and Jeff Beck. I'm also a fan of Vernon Reid and Trey Anastasio, but other than these, I mostly don't care to listen to guitar players much.


This is me and my cheesy 80s
heavy-metal guitar
(a Charvel/Jackson strat,
since you asked),
while I still had a really bad haircut.


Part of an ink/watercolor portrait
of Stevie-Ray Vaughan that I painted
shortly after his tragic death.
In addition to playing a lot of music, I spend a lot of time listening to it. I'm a big fan of rock music when interesting compositions are played with technical competence. This criterion, of course, eliminates almost everything on Boston radio stations. If I had to name five favorite artists, I would want to at least include: T.J. Kirk, Medeski Martin & Wood, The Beatles, and XTC.

More recently, I've been really digging Beck (not Jeff, though he doesn't suck), Jason Falkner, Fiona Apple, Soul Coughing, Pavement, Me'shell Ndegeocello, Mike Keneally, Sparklehorse, Suzanne Vega, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Joni Mitchell, Radiohead, Self, and Stevie Wonder.


Books

(I've also created a full-blown suite of web pages based on books I've read since January 1, 1995, which you might like to take a look at if this section interests you at all.)

Modern literature (mostly 20th century writers) has become a consuming passion of mine, for awhile surpassing music in the amount of time I devoted to it. Around the start of 1995, I renounced my previous devotion to the likes of Clive Barker, Tom Clancy, Anne Rice, and Stephen King. While each of these authors has written at least one exceptional speculative fiction book, I have found that their stuff is pretty uninteresting after a while.
While they are useful to my work, these are not what I mean by "literature".

I've begun to appreciate writers who are concerned with more than just plot. Some of my current favorite writers include Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon, Mark Helprin, Richard Powers, and Nicholson Baker, and I'm looking forward to exploring writers like Dostoevsky, Kafka, Rushdie, and Tolstoy. In speculative fiction, I still enjoy the works of Harlan Ellison and Dan Simmons.

Since January, 1995, I've been keeping track of every book that I have read. I have found the progression to be interesting, and you are more than welcome to see for yourself, in my annotated list.

Here are the ten books I've read cover to cover most recently, with links to "mini-reviews":

Some of my utmost favorite books are:

and I'm just getting started. I love getting book recommendations, so if we've got something in common and you think you know of a writer I'd like, please tell me!

Pretty horizontal line...........

Keith Martin -- Back home