Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

I hope this year is YOUR year, whether it's to get your novel published, get an agent, write that screenplay, or get that symphony off to the publishers. I hope you spend lots of time with the people who adore you. I hope you get to experience new adventures, if that's your thing, or that you'll finally get the quiet hours to yourself you've earned. I hope your year is prosperous and merry - and if it's up and down at all, that it's mostly up.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Goodbye, Corner

I got a really nice journal for Christmas from my sister, one of those leather ones. It's far too nice for my transient musings, so I've re-started a novel in it - an idea that's been hounding me for a couple of years now. I'm only a little bit into it, but I've learned that writing things out by hand is something that really works for me. On the computer, it's too tempting to edit as I go, and I'm not one of those writers who can do that. I end up writing myself into a corner every time.

It's true of my composing, too. Despite the problems from last semester, I got a better grasp on my process. I know now I need to work it all out by hand before putting it on the computer. Otherwise, it's "Hello, Corner. Nice to see you again."

Lots of composing and writing over the course of break. There's lots of stuff I've been doing that I can't post because they're exercises set to already existing movies and there's that copyright thing. I'd like to share a Dropbox folder with all of you (that's an online file-sharing and storing service). It occurred to me recently that for the past year and a half I've been composing for other composers, and while that certainly has its merits and has been a great learning experience, I'm not getting much feedback from filmgoers who see movies for entertainment.

So if you're up for giving me feedback, let me know. Dropbox is free for up to 2GB. I pay $9.99 a month for 50GB, and it's been a lifesaver.

And please, no comments about how you're not an expert. Your lack of expertise is just what I need. : )

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I probably won't have time to wish everyone a Merry Christmas tomorrow, what with all the festivities and meal-making. So Merry Christmas! I may sneak on over to the movie theatre to see Sherlock Holmes as a Christmas gift to myself, but other than that, it's all about helping Mom and making sure Niece #2 is satisfied with her gifts.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Oh Yeah

I forgot to mention I won a signed copy of Stuart Neville's Ghosts of Belfast. It arrived last week, and I plan to take it with me and read it over Christmas break. I wonder what "win but win" means? That was in the inscription. Well, I shall spend a few pleasant hours pondering that.

Unintended Hiatus

I've taken an unintended hiatus. School is almost over; I just have a couple of papers and a small project to re-do. Almost there.

Looking forward to the break, when I will write a piece for a competition, read, drink a lot of tea, and relax. And work a bit. I've learned a lot this semester—not just about music, but about my current limitations and what I can handle. Next semester I want to be able to solely focus on school without all the distractions of trying to survive. So I absolutely must work out the details of my financial aid. It's coming, but over break I've really gotta get a move on. My health kind of suffered this semester. I managed to keep from getting really sick, but just. More salad, more water, more exercise (up from none).

How are things going with you all?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Crazy Time

Last two weeks of semester now. CRAZY TIME.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy belated Thanksgiving!

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving. I did. I took the day off. The next day, Friday, I took my niece to a movie and then that afternoon it was back to work.

As for the movie, we saw Fantastic Mr. Fox, which was weird and . . . bad. Stop motion animation complete with actors' facial expressions digitally rendered into fox faces complete with the odd moral that it's okay to steal as long as you're a wild animal did not really do it for me. Granted, only one of my ears was working during the movie, so I could be wrong. But I won't watch it again just to see. Rarely do I have the reaction that I want to tear my hair out during a movie, but I certainly had that reaction during this one. Humor fell flat, music was in lots of wrong places - not to mention the wrong style of music was used in the right places, and I'm pretty sure I recognized a few Apple/Logic Pro loops in there. Not good. But Niece the Younger liked it (she LOVES animation in film), so that's all that matters.

Other than that, I've basically been gorging on food and working. Now that the Christmas season is officially here, I will soon be starting my yearly re-read of Dickens's Christmas stories.

What are YOU doing this weekend??

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pictures to Warm Even a Grinch's Heart

So this year, I'm not exactly been in the Christmas spirit. Feeling pretty Grinchy. I still plan to keep a few of my traditions: visiting my family, re-reading Dickens's Christmas stories, and eating enough for two people, but this year there doesn't feel like a whole lot of celebratin' to be had.

In fact, now that I have a cold, it's a fight just to keep my chin up. But tonight I saw something I've never seen in Chicago. It was corny as hell, but it made me smile, and I hope it makes you smile, too.









Friday, November 20, 2009

Spam

I've gotten a couple of spam comments on previous posts, so I've had to turn on comment verification. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Made the Cut

Hah - made the final cut in Stuart Neville's Ghost of Belfast contest. Voting has started and ends Saturday, November 21 at midnight. The instructions don't explicitly state you're to vote via twitter, but I'm interpreting that's the way you're gonna vote.

You're gonna vote, right??

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Anyone into Photography?

So I have this idea for a "coffee table" book (which I put in quotation marks because I'm not sure if that's exactly what I mean, but something like it).

Who's into photography? I don't have a camera, but with all the jobs (that hopefully won't fall through), I should have some money to purchase one soon. Anyone know of a good, professional-quality camera that's light and easy for a beginner to operate? Winter will be on us soon, and I want to start snapping pics when that hits. Thanks!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Woo Hoo

Seems I have an abundance of work - too much - if nothing falls through.

But too much is better than too little - or worse, none at all. So . . . happy and busy and ready for coffee.

In other news, I scored my first 10/10 in Lab. But the instructor is leaving at the end of the semester. He's applying to MIT, and I hope he gets it. (He's brilliant, and that's not a word I toss around lightly. Wouldn't surprise me a bit if he's a member of MENSA.)

Annnnd, I am indeed visiting my folks for Thanksgiving, which is nice. Looking forward to watching Coraline with my niece, if she hasn't seen it. I haven't seen it, actually, so I may have her watch it with me again, if she has. Also looking forward to hanging out with my parents and talking politics. And hanging out with friends, one of whom I've known since the eighth grade. I've also reconnected with quite a few old friends on Facebook, so maybe I'll get to see them, too.

Been having some trouble compositionally with my process, but I'm beginning to plan more, so it's not as messy. My composing process, I'm finding, can't be anywhere near as messy as my writing process. In my writing process, I just sort of dive in and write. In composing, I have to set up the instruments in Logic Pro, watch the scene, map out where the biggest dramatic hits are, and then write everything out by pencil and paper before entering anything into the computer. In my last couple of cues I didn't do that, and ran into all sorts of technical trouble. Tempo-wise (how fast they were), they were a mess. The tempo was all over the place. I'm not going to go into some long, drawn-out explanation here. Suffice it to say I went overboard with one of the features in Logic Pro and turned what could have been a decent cue into a mess. Sigh. Ah well - the prof is letting me re-do it as long as I hand it in Monday.

And here's the other thing: someone bought an article I wrote. Yes, it was an article on comparing RV insurance providers, but still. (If you need your RV insured, e-mail me. I know just who to call.) I feel more like a writer now.

So . . . back to work. Major project due Thursday and I'm late late late. Plus re-writes due Monday, and there's an extra job around which to schedule.

Also, I just want to thank those of you who stop by the blog and kindly share words of encouragement. Really helps when I get the blues. I know I don't visit your blogs nearly enough. I hope, once I'm done with all this work, I can catch up.

And to those of you doing NaNo this year - GOOD LUCK!!! Can't wait to hear/read some excerpts!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Working . . .

. . . for now.

That is all.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Did I Just Step Onto the Set of a Remake of Midnight Cowboy?

Tell you what. It was Freak Central tonight on the way home from school. I think I'm a little traumatized.

One guy was so drunk (or high) it took his girlfriend three stops to drag him out of his seat and to the door of the train. They finally stumbled off, and he was clutching her like a drowning man holding on to a life preserver. Hope they didn't fall off the platform.

Still looking for work. Things keep falling through, and I'm really at a point where I just don't think I'm going to make it. I'm trying, I really am. I guess we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Project Fill-in-the-Gaps fiction - update

This is an update of my Project Fill in the Gaps, on which I'm doing abysmally. But I've managed to get a few books in:

1. Underworld - Don DeLillo
2. Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
3. The Mountains of Madness - HP Lovecraft
4. The Jungle - Upton Sinclair
5. The Jungle Books - Rudyard Kipling
6. Peace - Gene Wolfe
7. The Bloody Chamber - Angela Carter
8. Emma - Jane Austen
9. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
10. Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen
11. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
12. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
13. The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula LeGuin
14. The Dispossessed - Ursula LeGuin
15. The Odyssey - Homer
16. Iliad - Homer
17. The Complete Plays - Christopher Marlowe
18. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
19. Farewell to Arms - Ernest Hemingway
20. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
21. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
22. A Swiftly Tilting Planet - Madeleine L'Engle
23. A Wind in the Door - Madeleine L'Engle
24. Many Waters - Madeleine L'Engle
25. Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy
26. All the Pretty Horses - Cormac McCarthy
27. The Crossing - Cormac McCarthy
28. Cities of the Plain - Cormac McCarthy
29. The Essential Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe - Edgar Allen Poe
30. The Golden Ass - Apulieus
31. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
32. The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay - Michael Chabon
33. The Yiddish Policeman's Union - Michael Chabon
34. Dandelion Wine - Ray Bradbury
35. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
36. The Marathon Man - William Goldberg
37. Friends of Pancho Villa - James Carlos Blake
38. Master and Commander - Patrick O'Doyle
39. The Stranger - Max Frei
40. The Greek Myths Vol. 1 - Robert Graves
41. The Greek Myths Vol 2 - Robert Graves
42. Watchmen - Alan Moore
43. Little Big - John Crowley
44. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell - Susanna Clarke
45. The Sheltering Sky - Paul Bowles
46. The Female Man - Joanna Russ
47. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
48. Grendel - John Gardner
49. Lush Life - Richard Price
50. American Tabloid - James Ellroy
51. The Maltese Falcon _ Dashiell Hammet
52. The Wolfman - Nicholas Pekearo
53. Perfect Circle - Sean Stewart
54. Daughter of Hounds - Caitlin Kiernen
55. Low Red Moon - Caitlin Kiernen
56. Paradise Lost- John Milton
57. Dante's Inferno - Dante
58. Lud-in-the-Mist - Hope Mirrlees
59. Daemonmania - John Crowley
60. The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales - Brothers Grimm
61. The Wizard of Oz -L. Frank Baum
62. The Turn of the Screw - Henry James
63. Beowulf
64. The Aeneid - Virgil
65. Portrait of a Lady - Henry James
66. The Mutual Friend - Frederick Busch
67. One Thousand and One Arabian Nights - Various
68. Glass Soup - Jonathan Carroll
69. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
70. The Fantasy Writer's Assistant and Other Stories - Jeffrey Ford
71. Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones
72. Perdido Street Station - China Mieville
73. The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol. 1 - Arthur Conan Doyle
74. The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol 2. - Arthur Conan Doyle
75. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
76. House of Mirth - Edith Wharton
77. Persuasion - Jane Austen
78. The Golden Notebook - Doris Lessing
79. The Good Terrorist - Doris Lessing
80. Summerland - Michael Chabon
81. Werewolves in Their Youth - Michael Chabon
82. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
83. Rebecca - Daphne De Maurier
84. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
85. The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
86. The Somnambulist - Jonathan Barnes
87. The Mystery of Edwin Drood - Charles Dickens
88. Drood - Dan Simmons
89. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne
90. The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood
91. Anno Dracula - Kim Newman
92. House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski
93. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
94. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
95. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
96. 1984 - George Orwell
97. Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
98. 2001: A Space Odyssey - Arthur C. Clarke
99. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
100. Breakfast of Champions - Kurt Vonnegut
101. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold* - John Le Carre

Added because it's a classic and I can't find anything I want to take off the list.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Odd Jobs

It's amazing to me how the days slip by so quickly now. I've been in near total neglect of this blog. Ah, well. There are only so many hours in the day.

I'm still searching for work. A little has come my way, but I need more, so I'm still spending a lot of time applying. What has come my way are people who would love to work with me and are excited about collaboration, but don't have the money to pay me. And I'd love to work with them, too, but unfortunately some of those things will either fall to Low Priority or fall by the wayside altogether. The reality is I just need more paid work. I don't really care what it is at this point.

When I say I've applied for some odd jobs, I do mean odd. I've even applied to write a college student's term paper.

Shut up! I need the money! : )

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Hope you'll all be celebrating in style!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Scramble

I've stepped up my job search this week and have one lead for a semi-regular job. Need more than that, though. I owe $600 to Columbia, and if I don't get that paid before we start the Spring semester, I can kiss my Master's degree goodbye.

Really hoping to land a second job or some new clients before the holidays. New clients would be easiest to schedule and probably the most profitable, but advertising hasn't turned up any new ones in a couple of months. I do pretty well by word of mouth, but those have been few and far between lately, too. I've applied for retail holiday work at Macy's (as a bartender), tons of writing and editing gigs, and a few others I'd rather not mention (no online cams, if you were wondering). If I get hired and have to work through Thanksgiving and Christmas, so be it. It sucks because I usually visit my parents around those times, but I'm at a point where I must work more NOW. I still have some stones to unturn and I'm unturning them.

Monday, October 26, 2009

How Do "They" Know These Things???

There's a hilarious quiz over on The Rejectionist's blog. In the comments section, an editor referred to a spam query about an abused woman composer.

But I didn't send it. I swear.

This gives me the same feeling I got when my gmail account advertised that I could make "lovely tinfoil hats" from used aluminum foil. I mean, how did it know?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

More Coffee, Please

Today I got up early, ready to take on whatever replies that came in from all the applications, resumes, and cover letters I sent out on Friday.

And you know what? There was nothing. Nada. In fact, my recent culling of newsletter e-mails has made me realize just how little e-mail from actual people I get.

Then I remembered. It's Sunday.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"And now I'm going to play you a beautiful ballad . . . "

So we did the concert with Terence Blanchard Friday night. It was phenomenal. Can't wait to share the piece with you guys.

Terence was also great to work with all week. He's got a great sense of humor, and he's really kind. I feel really lucky to have met him.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Go Toward the LIght!

There's a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm not saying that after this week I'll be home free, but I'll at least have more time to concentrate on school work.

I'm still looking for a second job. If anyone knows of any offsite editing or proofreading jobs (part-time), send them my way. Yes, I know "offsite" and "part-time" can be oxymorons for that kind of work. : )

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Uptempo '80s Tunes with Law-Related Themes

Okay, for this play I'm doing, an updated version of Twelve Angry Men, we need uptempo, fun tunes from the '80s with law themes. Yes, you read that sentence correctly.

The only one I've been able to come up with so far is "Billie Jean." Any ideas?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Creepy Limerick

I've posted a few entries to Stuart Neville's Twitfic contest for a copy of Ghosts of Belfast. Really need to learn to edit what I post, because an entry I made turned into a pretty creepy limerick:

He jilted her at the alter, so she hung herself from a rafter. Till death do us part my ass, she said, and haunted him thereafter.

It's a little too long for the rules he set, damn it. And too bad, because I think he'd really dig it since he's Irish. Irish, limerick . . . yes, bit of a stereotype. First thing I've written in months, though.

Great! and OMG!

Terence Blanchard is coming to school next week to record our jazz pieces. Excited and nervous.

Monday, September 28, 2009

If I'm Talking with My Mouth Full, It's Because I've Bitten Off More Than I Can Chew

Two rehearsals yesterday. Managed to get two cues done for one play, but have to rewrite or add a bunch of stuff to one of them. Found out last night I have a rehearsal tonight, which fucks up my plans for the week. Means I have to practice all day instead of half the day, and time I had reserved to work on cues for the other play is gone. AND the other pianist/composer gave me two more songs to practice, and if I did them note for note (which I won't), they'd be hard. Actually, they'll be hard at any rate. I have to work on them and it's time I didn't have anyway. Oh, and schoolwork? Totally taken a backseat to my gigs. I'm considering writing one of my professors and telling him I won't have our assignment ready Wednesday.

Trip downtown to get stuff off the server for school, missed the folder, wrote classmates saying Where is the fucking folder??? and only once the building was closed and I was on the train going back up to Lincoln Park did I get the answer that they were there. I mean, I knew they were there—I'd seen them—but I couldn't remember which folder sequence to look under. Sigh. (And by the way, how did the "w" make it into the word "answer"?) So now I have to make another trip, and also stop by Radio Shack to get one of those headphone jack thingies.

All this, and my financial aid is still a mess, only today I just don't have time to take care of it.

And I need a thermos, something that won't spill food all over my textbooks.

Maybe by the end of the week, things will be less stressed, but . . . we'll see. Amazed at how quickly I've turned to coffee and comfort food for support. Need to get in yoga today, too, so I don't rip anyone's head off accidentally at rehearsal.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Well, s$#!

Turns out my online account was just screwing with me. Financial aid was denied, so if I continue with school I'll be destitute.

And it turns out I suck at music editing.

Why am I doing this again?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Music Editing

So we're editing music in one of my classes. We get a clip of a scene from a film and then find existing music to create a temp score.

So far it's really really fun.

Also, yay for not being destitute. I was approved for the rest of my financial aid, so I'm just waiting for it to be disbursed to my account.

Friday, September 18, 2009

In the Thick of It

Okay. In some ways the last couple of weeks have been hell. Worries about money crowd my thoughts nearly every moment I'm awake. Actually, I guess I should say those worries would if I let them. But I've been through this sort of thing before, and I've found the best way to handle it is to cross each bridge as I come to it. Some of the bridges seem pretty fucking flimsy, if you ask me, but if they're there I know I can cross them. Otherwise I will have to build one. Which, even though we're speaking metaphorically here, is a real pain in the ass. But I'm trying to put a positive spin on this by reminding myself that even if I don't get the extra "aid" (loan), it's extra debt I'm not taking on. In the long run, that's sure to be a good thing.

My unsubsidized stafford loan was disbursed, so now all I have to come up with is rent, utilities, food, and the balance of my tuition (that is, if I don't get the rest of the aid for which I applied).

As for everything else, I have too much on my plate. I've bitten off more than I can chew for sure, but I'm in the thick of it now and it's too late to back out of any of it. Sigh. I just realized how many cliches I used in this post.

EDIT: I've calculated. I'll need one more client to pay for the balance of my tuition (that is, if it's a family of 3 taking lessons - which seems quite common for me. Otherwise I'll need 3 individual clients). To pay for upgrades in software, I'll need 3 additional clients (families). I'm advertising, and over the last couple of weeks I've added 2 clients (one family, one individual), so I'm hopeful. OTOH, I'll need more for the credit cards. Onward and upward!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hmmm

Still no sign of more financial aid. In fact, the aid I've been awarded has yet to be fully dispersed. I've got a couple of new clients, though, so not all is lost.

Really busy already. We've got a great new instructor, Hummie Mann, who has done a lot of films (most notably Robin Hood: Men in Tights), and he has us writing weekly assignments - which I love, but so far I'm slow.

I have one playing gig that I can't believe I've said yes to, but it's too late to back out now. Just trying to tread water now . . .

Monday, September 7, 2009

"F" for Accuracy

So my financial aid award does not cover my tuition. Not sure how I'm going to survive, but I'll have plenty of fiber in my diet, what with all those cardboard boxes in the corner.

Oh wait. Those will be for my house when I become homeless.

Wow, your country is WEIRD!

Here I did these incredibly concise, well-said paragraphs on Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords admonishing the people of our country to just get along, something to the effect of . . .

Look, if you're conservative and you disagree with President Obama's policies, fine. But he's still the PRESIDENT. You don't have to revere him like you do Reagan, but you still must treat him with the same respect you would any other president. If he wants to address your children, as the president he has every right to do so. You don't agree with what he says? Fine. Discuss it with your children.

No other president in our history as a nation has been treated with the same vitriol and disrespect President Obama has. No, not even President Bush. Bush may have been ridiculed by the left, but that is not the same thing we're seeing with respect to President Obama. People are showing up with guns to rallies now. You do know that, right?

Furthermore, the idea that President Obama is revered among the left is bullshit. His approval ratings have dropped considerably, and most of that is from lefties who want him to shove their policies through. I go back and forth on this myself; sometimes I just want him to pass the policies he promised he would, and stop trying to find common ground where there is none. Other times I can't help but admire that he's only doing the one thing so many of us feel is lost in this country: trying to keep the level of political discourse sane by being civil and compromising.


And one of the final remarks was, "Wow, your country is WEIRD."

Which for some reason made me laugh in the best way. We have become pretty weird, haven't we?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Health Care Reform

Probably I'm going to regret posting this, but as I'm getting tired of posting on the trivialities of my life, I'll risk losing my 12 readers. I'm going to assume that everyone who strays by this blog is intelligent and polite enough to keep the rhetoric to a dull roar. Perhaps that's a fallacy, given the Internet, but I'll just take my chances.

The health care reform debate has been on my mind quite a bit lately. So much that I'm sitting here blogging about it when I should be practicing. I'm going to say it right out: I support reform, complete with a public option. I once said that I felt reform was meaningless without the public option. I don't quite feel that way after reading more and more of H.R. 3200, but I still think it's essential.

The kinds of misconceptions I've seen, mostly on Facebook, have been astounding. Most conservatives I've had the opportunity to chat with seem to believe the entire proposed bill is a description of a federal plan. No, page 16 does not say you cannot get health care, and no, page 59 does not say the government will have access to your bank account. Page 16 actually describes grandfathered care for individuals, then goes on to say that after a certain date, insurers will no longer be able to enroll new customers in grandfathered plans. This is significant because grandfathered individual insurance plans presumably won't be subjected to the minimum standards set in the bill.

But that doesn't mean we'll have individuals walking around who are suddenly unable to get insurance (which, actually, if you think about it, we have right now). It means that any plans offered to new individual customers (i.e. the self-employed with no employees . . . like me) will meet the standards set in the bill. Currently members of Congress pick their health plans from an Exchange of something like 269 insurance companies. New individual plans will also have to be part of an Exchange, but it's still private insurance companies competing for your money.

Page 59 is actually part of a section that outlines basic things insurance companies will have to do, which mostly are things they're already doing. You know, things like offering electronic debit and handling your claims in a timely manner.

We're not even going to talk about the crazies, the ones who believe Obama is going to start a death panel or wants to kill old people. I understand that many conservatives simply like the ideas of smaller government and personal responsibility and are opposed to health care reform for those reasons. We can all come up with anecdotal evidence to argue for and against, but for me it comes down to whether we're going to try to build a just society in which everyone gets to play the game or not. I've read and heard too many heartbreaking stories of people who are just eking by because a loved one is sick and can't get proper care or they can't get care at all because of a pre-existing condition. My best friend's mother, a 62-year-old woman, lost her company-sponsored health insurance in January because of raised rates and ever since has been shelling out $400 a month for insurance that, in her words, "might give me a bandaid if I severed an artery."

So I'm sorry, but if you're the kind of person who doesn't want reform because you're afraid you're going to end up paying for some faceless guy's deep-fried Snickers bar habit, you're not paying attention to the real problem—and you're behind on what the actual reform will be. I've paid taxes into a public school system that I don't use and paid taxes to the fire department and the police department—which, hold on to your hat, Chicagoans, I haven't yet used, either. I gladly paid taxes into them because I knew they were important and they were part of what our modern society needs to function. If I ever get back into a tax-paying income bracket (grad student), I'll gladly do so again. Besides, not all the reform is going to be government care. Hell, at this point we'll be lucky if any of it is government care. Much of it is going to be regulations the insurance industry will have to meet.

Thoughts? (Not that my regular fellow bloggers have been anything but, but please keep your arguments reasoned and polite, please; reason I say that is this debate seems to be a real trigger.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

So . . .

I'm all moved. I'm settling in and getting unpacked. My room is much bigger than my old room, and we have a huge kitchen and living area. The shower leaves something to be desired in the way of water pressure, and it's easy to scald your hands under the faucet in the bathroom sink if you're not careful about turning on the cold, but otherwise I'm very happy.

Also, I have two closets. I feel like a very cheap version of Carrie Bradshaw.

Nervous about school starting, but excited, too. Ready for the refund to be deposited into my account, that's for sure.

The odd thing is I've not been reading much of anything lately, either. I feel like I'm in a holding pattern. Must be because school is starting soon. But I have the new script for one of the plays I'm working on, so I'd better get started on that.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Meanderings

So tomorrow is moving day. I'm not guaranteed a truck, despite a reservation, so I'm going over early tomorrow morning to see if I can score one. Hah. We shall see, no?

D's roommate fell through. Turned out she was a bit psycho, but he has some leads on new places and a roommate he likes. He's also considering buying, something I think, given his steady job and income, he could easily do, especially if he takes in a roommate. That way he's a landlord, too, and not stuck in the rental trap. But we'll see. He's been "thinking" about buying a place, but that's as far as he's gotten with this. I really think, given the market right now, he could find a place he loves and can afford. Chicago is still expensive, but I think it's better than it was a few years ago during the Bubble Boom.

As for me, school starts in a week and a half. I've been trying to get one of my pieces into Logic Pro to enter a composition competition, but the fee is $21, and even if I finish it, it's not likely I'll finish the score in time. I also don't have the $21 fee. (It's common for composition societies and so forth to charge a fee for competitions.)

A part of me feels not ready to move, like I haven't planned everything enough. I still have a few things to pack, and I never went through my financial records and organized those. Hopefully I'll get enough gumption to do that, and not shove that box to a shady corner of my closet and let it collect dust.

The cats know something is up. Orson slept with me, as usual, and Gatsby has been following me around as well as sitting in empty boxes, as if he wants to go with me. I don't think he does; I think he just likes the boxes.

I submitted a few songs to a music library. Music libraries work similar to photo libraries. Some are royalty-free, while others offer royalties as part of their package. (I submitted to one that has royalties as part of its package.) I'm hoping my tracks for libraries will create an additional income stream in the future. We shall see.

Man, so much of my life is in a "we shall see" status at the moment.

As for writing, I have one flash fiction story out. I'm trying to come up with more stories, but to be honest, writing has kind of fallen off my radar lately. As much as I enjoy writing, I'm not sure I'm a writer. I guess I am in some ways, as I feel the urge to tell a story once in a while. Right now all my creative energy is going toward composing and playing. I have two shows going on at the moment, which will soon be on top of school and a possible part-time job (another "we shall see.")

Sunday, August 23, 2009

When It Turns

So D STILL hasn't found a roommate, and the landlord is ready to sign another renter, and D is in a panic. My excitement has turned to sheer guilt. : (

If anyone knows anyone in Chicago who's looking for a place, contact me. Please!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Little Announcement

Well. Seems a friend of mine is considering a run for Congress. She's been in Texas for years, and has been very active in Democratic politics. Personally, I think she's single-handedly responsible for the over-40% vote Obama got in the general election in Texas, but she dismisses that with a laugh. She's also become accustomed to dismissing suggestions she run for office. But now she's considering it, and I couldn't be prouder. People, meet Jennifer Giles, possible Democratic candidate for Congress.

http://whosplayin.podOmatic.com

Had trouble embedding the video, so I'm providing a link. Enjoy!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Being Human

Hah. I bet you read the title and thought this would be a long, philosophical post on the trials and joys of being human. No such luck. Just a quickie post wondering why . . .

Being Human is on BBC America, but not available on DVD in America. Hmmm . . .

Yes, the only TV I watch anymore is BBC America. I'm that geeky. So sue me, my British friends. I gotta say, you guys really know how to fucking tell a story.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Reflections

Today I turn thirty-seven.

Truthfully, I think I'm happy to move further away from my twenties, a time of utter confusion and insecurity. On the other hand, I'm fatter now. So I guess there's a trade-off? Ah well, I can always lose the weight, right? Let's hope I don't shed whatever wisdom I've gained with it.

I move in twelve days. I'm nowhere near packed, but then I don't have a lot of stuff to pack. There are so many things I'm looking forward to, but also many things I'm sad to leave behind.

Things I'm Looking Forward To:

1. An herb garden
2. Chicken on the bone
3. Fish
4. Zucchini, squash, and eggplant
5. The possibility of buying a car

Things I'm Sad To Leave Behind:

1. D
2. The cats

I mean, truthfully, I'm not exactly leaving D behind, as surely we'll keep in touch. (Right??) But I'll miss the trips from Chicago to Indiana and the long conversations. Maybe we can still have those from time to time. But life has a way of wrenching those away.

The other night D came into the TV room and said, "P to E."

"What?"

"P to E. That's how long you've been living here." Ah, now I understood. D owns more than 10,000 CDs. It's probably closer to 12,000 these days. About ten years ago, he started a project where he's listening to every CD he owns, going in backwards order through the alphabet. (Hey, if you own that many CDs, you might as well make use of them.) So he and I have lived together from when he was in the P's. He's now somewhere around Melissa Etheridge, or something. Five and a half years.

I'm sad in some ways to close this quirky chapter of my life. That's inevitable, I think. But it's time.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Better

Been getting a lot more calls for jobs and gigs. Most of the jobs haven't worked out for one reason or another, but just getting the calls and e-mails makes me feel better. Hopefully something steady will work out soon, but I'm already working two shows and once school starts I don't know how much time I'll have to work a part-time job. We shall see. Now I'm too busy.

I swear this is all the result of re-committing myself to composing daily for my own pleasure, even if it's just a line or two. It seems to bring me luck, so I'll keep doing it. It's happened before, many times. So I've worked it into my morning schedule, and it's made all the difference in how my days go. I'm more focused. I really hope I can keep this up while I'm in school.




Friday, August 7, 2009

Offline

Probably won't be blogging for a while. Between all the no-pay/pay-linked-to-exposure offers on Craigslist and no other viable job prospects turning up, I'm maybe not in the best of places right now.

Hope you're all here when I get back.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

3 Things About Me

Okay, more than. But they're grouped in threes. That counts, right?

Three names I go by:
1. Stacy
2. Spacey Stacy
3. Freddie

Three jobs I've had in my life:
1. Music instructor
2. Editor
3. Freelance writer

Three places I've lived:
1. Fort Wayne, Indiana
2. Dallas, Texas
3. Chicago, Illinois

Three favorite drinks:
1. Coffee
2. Tea
3. Modelo Amber beer

Three TV shows I watch:
1. Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares
2. Gordon Ramsay's The F Word
3. Lost (I actually don't watch anything but the above two shows right now, but I really want to start watching Torchwood and Dr. Who. But haven't yet, so those don't count.)

Places I've been:
1. New Orleans, Louisiana
2. Lebanon, Missouri (don't ask)
3. Indianapolis, Indiana

Three people who text me regularly:
1. Classmates
2. Clients
3. Friends

Three of my favorite foods:
1. Chicken and rice creamy soup
2. Halibut
3. Hamburgers

Three friends I (maybe) think will respond:
1. No idea, as I'm not tagging anyone

Three things I'm looking forward to:
1. School
2. Composing
3. Graduating

Three things that I value:
1. Creativity
2. Humor
3. Paying clients

Three things I am:
1. Happy on a semi-regular basis
2. Talented and eager
3. Conscious of my possibilities

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Move

I can't tell you how excited I am about my impending move. With the cheaper rent, I'll be able to afford to eat more healthily, and a lot. I'm looking forward to zucchini and squash again—two foods D hates. (No fun cooking for one, you know.) Also looking forward to possibly having a small herb garden, something I haven't been able to do with the cats around. And chicken on the bone. And fish, which I don't even think I know how to make anymore.

But there are many things I will miss about living with D. He's remarkably laid back about my 3 a.m. bubble baths, and I will probably never have another person I live with say, "Compose as late as you want. It won't keep me up." Still, change is good, and I'm excited about this change. It feels like the exact move I need to make before moving out to L.A.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Still Watching

Still a little obsessed with Kitchen Nightmares on the BBC. I used to think, back in my restaurant days, that I was a terrible bartender, waitress, and cook (I did all at one time or another). Now I look at these people who make soup in mop buckets and leave rat droppings in their pantries and serve spoiled food and think maybe I wasn't so bad. I was immature, but I was conscientious and, to my knowledge, I never made anyone sick. I never had any real talent for that business, but I at least had common sense.

Ramsay fascinates me. He's this curious mixture of insults, kindness, and hyperactivity. And because of his excessive cursing I can't help but feel affectionate toward him. He . . . reminds me of my mother as I was growing up. She had high standards, and her language could be appalling when I, my brother, and my sister didn't meet them. But that made her no less kind, and now you would never know that, language-wise, she could put Ramsay to shame. I kind of miss that edge to her, but she's getting on in years, and if she's happy not cursing, I'm happy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Grammatical Errors

We all make grammatical errors, especially when we're dashing off a blog post or some other update online. But there are a few that get under my skin, like the proverbial nails on a chalkboard.

There's the obvious, "you're" vs. "your." I've caught myself on occasion using "their" when I mean "they're." There are lots of grammatical errors and mispellings I can forgive. I don't even mind "irregardless."

But the one that really gets to me is when someone uses the word "loose" when they mean "lose." "Lose" is a verb. "Loose" is an adjective. I suppose I can just tell myself the "o" button sticks, but when I see this error it literally makes my heart rate go up. I don't know why.

Which ones bug you?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Time to Work, People

Late last week I found a twitter announcement for a meet-up at Chicago Filmmakers. I'm trying to add some video samples to my website and get some more and better samples for my demo disc.

I have two days to put this all together. LOTS of work left to do. Wish me luck!

Friday, July 24, 2009

So Far I'd Give This Summer 3 out of 5 stars

It's been a semi-productive summer so far. I managed to get my website up, get registered for classes, and get a few samples out on Twitter and Facebook. (Although I woke up this morning and discovered I'd lost 10 followers (hate that term) and 3 people I was following. Hope it's just a glitch.) My latest sample (below) is a tone poem, a melancholy yet pretty piano piece I intend to put into my playing repertoire. 

No bites as far as jobs, but I am working on an updated version of Twelve Angry Men with a director at Columbia. She's young, feisty, seems to have it together, and the reading I did with her actors on Monday was great. Really intelligent, thoughtful group who seemed enthusiastic about the play and what it says. Apparently there were not enough people, as I had to read a couple of parts. I managed to do it competently until I had a beer. I just can't seem to build any tolerance when it comes to beer. *shakes head* 

As I was re-reading the play yesterday, marking transitional areas and places where I think music would heighten the drama, I thought of an adaptation: someday I want to do Twelve Angry Men as an alien vs. human play. Yes, you read that right. 

On a more personal, less productive note, thanks to EE I've become obsessed with Gordon Ramsay reality shows—especially those on the BBC. I work out to them, and I was surprised they capture my attention for a longer period of time than shows like 24. Have you seen Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares? In this one, he goes around trying to save failing restaurants. So far, in the eps I've seen, I think he's 1 for 4 because no matter how much he curses and no matter how straight he is, he can't always get past the owners' egos. 

The drill starts off with Mr. Ramsay being served in the failing restaurant. In one, where he helped a 26-year-old restauranteur, the young man in question had a quirky, too-clever menu. I'm still laughing over Ramsay's facial expression when a steak kabob was served to him hanging from some kind of metal contraption, swinging like a donkey's schlong in front of his face.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Edelweiss

This is "Edelweiss," a tone poem featured in Columbia College's rendition of Summerfolk. It accompanies Kaleria's (a character in the play) recitation of her poem of the same title. Once I get the DVD I have edited, I can post here. On my list of tasks!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Yer Facebook, Matey. Ahoy!

Yar. I just changed my "English (US)" setting to "English (Pirate)" on my Facebook page. Now my friends are mates and when I comment I "be weighin' in on so-and-so's recent tales." Fun.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Books vs. Movies

You know, I hear a lot of laments from readers and writers that books are in mortal peril because they're in competition with movies, video games, etc. for the public's time.

But when the publishing, movie, and video game industries work together, don't they help each other? Hollywood helps the publishing industry by making movies about books, and the publishing industry helps Hollywood by providing ideas. (I'm being a bit facetious here, but in a way, it's true.)

Admittedly, I've not thought very deeply on this this morning. One cup of coffee is not enough for me to expound deeply on any subject. Really I just want to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Goodbye Frank

I just found out Frank McCourt died. While I didn't expect him to live as long as Methuselah, I didn't expect him to die anytime soon. I expected to meet him someday and have a pint with him. Now I never will.

I've read Angela's Ashes I think it's 20 times. That's not an exaggeration. His book got me through my Dallas days, and there are passages I could probably quote from memory. 

Raising my pint to you, Frank. You wrote one of my two favorite books in the whole wide world. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Intermission Music from Summerfolk - sample

Sylvia asked when y'all were going to have samples to listen to, and it just so happens I posted a sample to my twitter account yesterday. Twaud.io is a nifty feature to twitter, allowing you to simply upload mp3's of your audio. No podcasting, embedding players, converting files, etc. Neat.

Below is a podcast of the sample I posted to twitter yesterday. I'm stacy_chambers on twitter, so if you twitter, tweet me! : )

Monday, July 13, 2009

Back to the Grind

Had an exceedingly pleasant weekend at my parents'. The Three Rivers Festival was just starting, so I took my niece to see the parade, and then we and a couple of friends walked through Food Alley (a.k.a. by us old-timers as "Junk Food Alley"). It was very hot, and we didn't enjoy the food as much as we would have liked. Then we went back to M's apartment, where I napped a bit while my niece and M's nephew played video games. I really felt like I was fighting something off, because even in strong heat, I never sleep during the day. I'm like a reverse vampire in that way. 

Yesterday I saw Drag Me to Hell, which has gotten pretty good reviews—especially for a horror movie. It had a nice arc to the story line; everything that happened made sense in terms of the story. There were stock horror moments (some hilarious, some genuinely creepy), and of course a couple of why-didn't-you-tell-me-this moments. But overall, good fun. The score wasn't bad, either. I'll probably pick it up when it comes out on DVD. 

Today it's back to the grindstone. Meeting today and possible work on the horizon. I don't know whether it's paid work yet. I guess I'll find that out at the meeting. Still, it's a well-known play (and film) and I'm excited about it. After the meeting I'll know more details and and hopefully we'll finalize whether I'm on board. The director for this play seemed to like my work in Summerfolk, and the audio guy for that play (well, the Columbia theater department in general) recommended her to me for this. Word of mouth—you can't beat it.


Friday, July 10, 2009

It's Done

Okay - it's done. Re-done blog list to come . . . 

It looks like I have a new project. It may not pay, but it will provide more music for my reel/website. Meeting with the director on Monday. 


Thursday, July 2, 2009

In Which Freddie Gets Whacked, Possibly

When I came up with the name Freddie as a writing name, I intended for Freddie to be my shiftless, jobless, sarcastic, pot-smoking alter-ego. (Aside from the pot smoking, this turned out not to be too far from the truth.) In fact, Freddie was short for the name my father wanted to give me when I was born: Winnefred. My mother vetoed this, and they mutually agreed on a different name. For a long time I debated about "coming out of the closet." Not as a Michael Jackson fan - hah, already did that, : ), but using my real name. I decided to not do that until the day I had a reason to, something I wanted people to see.

Well, the day has come, ladies and gents. I have a website. Some of you already know my real name from dealing with me behind the scenes. I'm sure those of you that don't are on the edge of your seats right now. Are you ready for the pure awesomeness to follow? 

Here's the website address: http://www.stacychambers.com

You should be able to figure out my name from that. For now it features my music. As I do more stuff artwise, I'll add to it. I have a few samples up, one of which you've heard, and more will come. Any feedback you can give is welcome. 

I will attempt to change the address of this blog to http://stacyscafe.blogspot.com/, along with my online name, but I need to find out if it's available. If it is, Freddie gets whacked. Update to come soon!

UPDATE: You know what's stupid? Changing the blog address before anyone has had a chance to see your warning. *smacks forehead, hard*

I'm going to leave this up under the freddiescafe.blogspot address for the time being, until y'all have had a chance to read the update. Please comment to let me know you have. Once I've heard from everyone I keep in a reasonable amount of contact with, I'll change it. Thanks!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Prosecution and the Media

Robin has posted a couple of posts that got me thinking. Hers were more about celebrities and people who are overly affected by the celebrity culture. Or something like that. And as I wrote my response, I thought of Jackson's cases where he was accused of child molestation, which in turn led to thoughts on prosecution and the media.

When he was accused of child molestation for the second time, I wrote him off. I held my judgement the first time—after all, he was my biggest childhood crush, and despite his eccentricities he seemed like an extremely kind human being, something I really admired as a constantly teased kid—but a second time? Come on. There's only so many times you get to play the I'm a Targeted Celebrity card (that is, once). I do still sometimes wonder why someone so savvy in business matters (at least, during his Thriller days and several years after) would be so incredibly naive (to say the least) to put himself in a position to be questioned after what he went through the first time. But who knows? He was on pain medication and possibly drinking a lot. Maybe he just made a bad judgement call.

The thing is, I've since learned only too well what a determined prosecutor can do with little or no evidence. It's not always like on Law & Order, where Jack McCoy realizes he's wrong and shifts gears in mid-stream, and winds up nabbing the real killer. You'll notice, of course, McCoy never had political ambitions. But many prosecutors do, and they're the ones who just blunder right on, no matter what. The so-called Good Guys aren't always good, and they're not always right, either. In fact, I'm astounded at how often they get it wrong. (But kudos to the Jack McCoys and McCoyettes.) When the media is on their side (as they often are), watch out. I can think of two cases off the top of my head where the prosecution and the media got it wrong. One was that Senator whose girlfriend went missing and was found dead. Everyone I knew was sure he offed her, myself included. It just seemed so obvious. But he didn't. It was just some random attack. The other was the rape case involving Duke students. I was only too willing to believe the media reports of stereotypical racist frat boys out of control. But that turned out not to be true, either. Sometimes the truth is wrapped inside an enigma and then placed inside a lie. Sometimes the truth is anything BUT obvious. 

These days I'm not so quick to judge. I don't know whether MJ did what he was accused of doing. I do know, from personal experience, that people don't trust a person who is too helpful and too kind. I now wonder whether it was his kindness that eventually did him in. 

And that is the only post I will make on the matter. I promise. 

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How to Win Friends and Influence People

On Chapter 3. So far it's a great book. Expectations wildly exceeded. Will report back. 

So far the advice is pretty simple: be kind. 




Oh, Thriller

I can remember when Thriller came out when I was eleven or twelve. I babysat for a family in the neighborhood, and the dad had The Making of Thriller, and I must've watched it 150 times. This was back when I wanted to be a video dancer. Or a pop star. But even then I knew I couldn't sing.

I'm more bummed about Michael Jackson than I thought I would be. I'm listening to some songs from the album. I gotta say it was an innovative album for its time, and that's no small part to Jackson's talent. I also gotta say the recording and production is stellar. And that is no small part to Quincy Jones.

When I was a kid, I wanted nothing more than Michael Jackson to sing Lady in My Life, one of the few songs on the album that wasn't a single, and I think its sole ballad. Hah. What a crush. But this was back when he was hot. And you know, PYT was kind of a sexy song. 

Oh well. There's still Quincy Jones. 

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I'm a Crappy Aunt

So I was supposed to send out a letter to my niece at camp LAST Sunday, only I spaced it until Wednesday morning. She left camp Friday, only her letters from me and my brother (her dad) hadn't arrived. Damn. But I hope she was having such a fine time that she didn't care. I don't know, though, yet. 

This may seem like a small thing. If she'd had a normal upbringing until now, it would be. But it seems her life is fraught with disappointment. She has her dad, whom she adores, and she has her grandparents (my parents), and she has me. My mother is basically a second mother to her, and I'm the crazy aunt who comes into town once in a while to visit with her. But it seems we're always late on everything. (Except for my mother, who is the most anal retentive person on earth, and I mean that in a good way. I wish I inherited more of that. A lot more.)

I spend a lot of my time with her when I'm home, and I helped her set up an e-mail account, which I'm hoping will enable us to keep in more frequent contact. I vow to do better by that kid. She deserves it. 

So . . .

D is off to Australia today for a work-related trip. I'd be jealous, but I have two weeks with the apartment to myself. Nice.

Moving out soon, though. Signed a lease with a classmate where the rent is a heckuva lot cheaper. I don't know how we'll get along, but it's only ten months. I'm bummed to be leaving this great apartment and stellar neighborhood, but I suspect once I stop seeing the ungodly amount of cash leaving my bank account every month, things won't hurt so bad. I'll really miss the cats, though, who are staying here. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Schuyler's Monster Blog and other updates

In my blog roll there's a new blog I discovered recently. I forget how. But this blogger is a fellow writer who has written a great deal about his autistic (?) daughter. (Autism is what I've gathered from the admittedly few posts I've read. I hope to read a lot more soon.) Informative and educational. And Schuyler is adorable! Once I get my school funds or a job (whichever comes first) I hope to pick up his book, Schuyler's Monster. Given his blog posts, he seems like a very good writer. And hey - I remembered how to spell Schuyler's name twice without looking it up. 

EDIT: Oh yeah. It was Neil Gaiman's blog, which for me, is pretty much my Center for Finding New and Interesting Things on the Internet.

I've also downloaded XCode for Mac/iPhone to try my hand at developing an iPhone application or two. I started one of Facebook, but even a student submission is $175. NO. Just NO. I don't know if iPhone charges as well, but at least I know there's a chance of recouping my fee. And bonus - new mad computer skillz. 


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Wedding

So I play my first wedding tomorrow. A little nervous, but it should be fun. I'm being put up in a hotel for two days, which helps with the relaxation factor and will probably mean I'll get to work out in the hotel gym.

Happy for my friend, too, who insisted I play her wedding. I was reluctant, and financially it isn't helping at the moment, but it does give me a little repertoire for weddings. I'm hoping to play more. 


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Following Your Instincts

Over the course of my life I've learned how detrimental it can be for me not to follow my instinct - both personally and professionally. EVERY time I've gone against my instinct, I've paid dearly. I can't think of a single exception to this.

For a long, long time—years, in fact—I was so out of touch with my gut feelings, I was like a sheet in the wind, blowing whichever way the wind blew. School—composing, really—has been one long (and expensive) exercise in learning to follow my instincts again. I've not yet found the right gris-gris with my composing, but I am getting better about pinpointing what my gut feelings are. Progress, then. The same is true with writing. I'm getting better about honing that instinct, knowing what's wrong with a story before I send it out for critique. It seemed for a while there I was totally dependent on others' opinions. But now I'm beginning to see my opinions reflected in critiques on the stories I send out to beta readers. 

I hope I'm wise enough to know there will be situations where my instincts will be challenged, that there will be moments where I'm unsure—and most of all, that I'm not always right. But maybe a person's instinct is like a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. I think it is. I hope so, anyway.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ana - Legion of Online Superheroes Story

Hey all - this is the start of my series on the Legion of Online Superheroes. I know some of you have read this already, but I thought you wouldn't mind listening to the author read in her monotone voice. Ish.

Hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Heroes

So it seems I discover this stuff long after the excitement has died down. D owns the first season of Heroes. I started watching it while I worked out on the treadmill in the hopes it would make the time go by faster (it did).

Now I'm totally enamored with the series. It's a great story. The guy who plays Dr. Mohinder Suresh is, shall we say, extremely pleasing on the eyes, and that doesn't hurt. Damn. I didn't know they made men like him anymore. 

Watch it, people, even if it's just the first season. Great stuff.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Good Karma

Send some good karma my way, people. I've had no luck finding a summer job. Once again I'm eking by on my teaching, which is to say . . . I'm not even eking.

Ommmmmmmmmmm . . . . 

Quantum of Solace

It seems I can never see these things in the theater, but I'm glad to have watched Quantum of Solace at all. This one wasn't long enough. It could have gone on another hour and I would have been perfectly happy, though there were a few moments that felt ham fisted.

There are two bond women in this film. The main one, Camille, forms a bond with er, Bond, through their mutual vendettas. Her family was killed, and she's spent her life planning to make the man who killed them pay. Bond is still haunted by Vesper, though he affects not to care. Yet he avenges her death, in a way, by the end. Or at least makes some sort of peace with it. The second Bond woman, Strawberry Fields, exists chiefly to relieve Bond's sexual tension. This leads to one of the few amusing scenes in the film (the others are with Mathis). Through the rest of it, Bond is one efficient killing machine. There's an action scene about every five minutes in this. (Yesssss!)

The film also makes some reasoned, cynical social commentary. We're running out of oil, and instead of addressing that with real efforts at making sustainable fuel, we do the usual and fake it. The man personifying this is Dominic Greene. He's, in his way, worse than LeChiffre. 

I'm not sure I liked the score, but I will need to watch this a second time to pay more attention to it. I think action scenes, generally, need a lot of syncopation (chords and notes that are accented between beats) in order to be exciting. It sounded to me like many of the action scenes were played right on the beat, which made them less exciting to listen to (and predictable) and detracted from what was on screen. 

All in all, good, rousing fun. But smart. Very smart.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Dreams With Sharp Teeth

I saw Dreams With Sharp Teeth, the documentary about Harlan Ellison, two days ago and haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. I must warn you, if you haven't seen it, that Harlan Ellison is one foul-mouthed, cranky old man. If that's not your thing, don't watch. For me, I think I'm in love. 

First of all, I've heard of Harlan Ellison, but haven't yet read any of his work. He recited some of it in the film, and now I have to go out and spend my rent money on all of his writings. Plus—and I know Robin is going to identify with this straight off—I had NO IDEA how handsome this guy was in his youth. (Yeah, he brags about bedding more than 700 women . . . and unlike Charles Mingus's bragging, I sorta believe it, given how good-looking he was). He's aged pretty well, too. (This is not a new crush, however. If I were twenty years older, or he were twenty years younger, then yeah. But . . . out of my age bracket. But as a young man? Oh yeah.)

I can see how his personality might grate on people's nerves or even scare people. But the truth is, I'm attracted to people like him, like the proverbial moth to a flame. People larger than life. People who can't lie, no matter how much the truth hurts. Something Neil Gaiman said in the film fit, now that Mr. Ellison is older: One one hand, you're dealing with one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. (I'll make that judgement for myself once I've read some of his stuff, but given what I've heard so far, I believe it.) And yet, you're dealing with an impish, furious 11-year old boy. I could see some of that in Ellison's personality, but the truth is, I rather like it. I like people who say what they want, when they want. Because with people like that, you always know where you stand. Someone like that can be taken at face value; what you see is what you get. Although you have to know who you are when you're dealing with someone like that. You really do.

After watching the documentary, I became obsessed and had to watch every Harlan Ellison interview I could find online. The obsession is waning now, as it always does, but I can't wait to read his work. I can't remember the last time I was this excited about a writer I've never read. Except for maybe Stuart Neville and his The Ghosts of Belfast. I'm still pretty excited about reading that.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Rather Sad Cat Story

Chris Eldin's raccoon story reminds me of a story of a cat I once found. I had been on the rare double date, and we had all gone to see Pet Semetary. Now, I don't know if you've ever seen that movie, but there's a scene where the dad pulls a cat up off the pavement after it's been run over.

So after the movie I dropped everyone off at my friend's house and started to drive home. On the way out of my friend's neighborhood, I saw what looked like a white sheet blowing in the wind. Only it wasn't windy. And a few seconds later I realized it was a cat. 

I got out of the car. The poor thing had already been run over and it was trying to scramble out of my way, but it was stuck to the pavement. 

In retrospect, the most humane thing I could have done was get back in my car and run over it and put it out of its misery. But I panicked. I pulled the thing off the pavement as gently as I could, and although it didn't cry much, I know now that I really hurt it. I drove back to my friend's house in hysterics, crying and yelling on about how "it was just like in the movie." Finally my date figured out what had happened, and he graciously carried the cat on his lap (wrapped in my scarf) while I drove to my parents' house (I didn't have a number for an emergency vet or anything). The cat died on the way there. 

When we got to my folks, I woke up my dad. Mr. Omaha Nebraska, I-want-a-protected-wildlife-scene-in-my-backyard-when-we-finally-move-to-the-country. "You brought home a dead cat?" he asked incredulously, managing to make out only half of what I was saying. I was still pretty hysterical. My mom got home a few minutes later. Mom was raised on a farm and has never liked animals, cats especially. But she did the sweetest thing. She put her fingers on the cat's neck and said, "Yeah, I think she's gone." Then she got up early with me the next morning (I stayed up all night, crying) and helped me bury the cat in our backyard. She even said a little prayer for it.

This was a rather sad cat story. But you can't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Damn

I was going to post two of my orchestrations here, but I forgot the sampling rate at which they were recorded doesn't transfer well over the Internet. Wellll, I'll figure something out. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Book Book

I've been meaning to post about this, but I sort of forgot with all the flurry of school.

A month or two ago the esteemed Moonrat invited me to review books on the blog The Book Book. So far I've done two reviews, one for Lush Life, and the other for Looking for Mr. Goodbar.

Peruse the site, check out books you think you might like, and feel free to take part by commenting. Lovely site, it is.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Eerie Text Messages From Beyond!

A few weeks ago, I took one of those silly IQ tests on Facebook. First, I had to give my cell phone number, which you may think is stupid. 

But consider this: Since then, I've been getting these seemingly random, eerie text messages that say things like, "Your word of the day is nocuuous. It means harmful, noxious. 4 help 1800 blah-blah-blah." I've received a total of three of these now, and they all are either definitions of awful words, or random info about how children are no longer learning the Latin language, thereby implying Armageddon is soon at hand.

There's a short story in here somewhere, I just know it. I shall save these and post as they come in. 

Nonfiction List

Somehow my 200th post (and 100th, for that matter) came and went without a celebration. Raise your glass to my 208th post, will ya? : )

When I wrote my Project Fill In the Gaps list, I said that I would make a nonfiction list. Many of these will be rather obscure music books, but there may be a few here of interest to the reader. At any rate, here it is:

1. A Distant Mirror - Barbara W. Tuchman
2. Ancient Egyptian Medicine - Cyril P. Byran
3. A Short History of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson
4. 1491 - Charles C. Mann
5. Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman - Dr. Richard Feynman
6. What Do You Care What Other People Think? - Dr. Richard Feynman
7. History of Western Music - Palisca and Grout
8. Film Music: A Neglected Art - Roy M. Prendergrast 
9. A Heart At Fire's Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann - Stephen C. Smith 
10. Film Music (Screencraft Series) - Mark Russell and James Young
11. Life in a Medieval City - Joseph and Frances Gies 
12. Music Notation - Gardner Read
13. Balkan Ghosts - Robert D. Kaplan
14. The Acoustical Foundations of Music - John Backus 
15. Beethoven's Letters - Ludwig Van Beethoven
16. Art of War - Sun Tzu
17. The Grammar of Conducting - Max Rudolph
18. Music Notation - Gardner Read
19. Elizabeth the Great - Elizabeth Jenkins
20. Buying the Wind - Richard M. Dorson
21. Infidel - Ayaan Hirsi Ali
22. Black Elk Speaks - John G. Neihardt
23. The Night Battles - Carlo Ginzburg
24. Sons of Sinbad - Allan Villiers
25. Faces of Degeneration: A European Disorder - Daniel Pick
26. Castle - David Macaulay
27. Cathedral - David Macaulay
28. Negara - Clifford Geertz
30. Memories of Silk and Straw: A Self-Portrait of Small-Town Japan - Junichi Saga
31. The Autumn of the Middle Ages - Johan Huizinga 
32. Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things - George Lakoff
33. The End of Faith - Sam Harris
34. Paul Bowles on Music - Paul Bowles
35. The Federalist Papers - Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
36. The Declaration of Independence - Various
37. The Constitution of the United States - Various
38. Death Valley in '49 - William L. Manly
39. Verdi: His Music, Life, and Times - George Martin
40. Johann Sebastian Bach - Russell H. Miles
41. The Brother - Sam Roberts
42. The Wolf: Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species - L. David Mech
43. Logic 8 and Logic Express 8 - David Nahmani
44. A History of Western Music - Palisca & Grout

More to come, I'm sure. Recommendations welcome!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Done

Everything's turned in. Passed Global Folk Traditions. Came home today and wandered between the porch, the kitchen, and the TV room. Still wandering and not thinking. Will report back. 

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Things I've Learned This Year

I'm a . . . l . . . m . . . o . . . s . . . t . . .

there.

Two mixes to turn in tomorrow to my lab instructor and two vids to turn into my orchestration prof, and I'm done with school. But but BUT. I have a wedding to prepare for, and boy do I need to practice. Plus, I get to figure out how to pay my rent for the summer (including June. Ech - two weeks!)

If you know anyone in the Chicago area who needs a pianist for a wedding, hit me up. I'm available. (This is going on Craigslist, yes, yessssss.)

This has been an amazing year so far. I know - "amazing" is so overused. But it's true. 

Things I've learned:

1. You're not going to make friends with everyone. Naturally, you don't want to go around making enemies, either. But just know that it's pretty rare to make friends in film composing, even though you're meeting a lot of people. Which leads me to . . . 

2. No one else has time for your personal shit. Deal with issues in your personal life and deal with them in your art, if it's appropriate. But not in your professional life. Leave all that at home. This means no sniping, no getting angry, no defensiveness. Even if someone is condescending to you. Try not to take it personally and always try to be better. 

3. Fake confidence even if you don't feel it. I used to believe that if you were honest about not feeling confident, it would dissipate. This was a fine belief for the tortured artist venue, where that feeling is cherished and protected and even worn as a badge, but there's no place for it in film composing. Besides, being honest doesn't help. It makes the lack of confidence only feed on itself, and if a manipulative person picks up on it, you're toast. Naturally, you want to try to cultivate some actual confidence somewhere along the way!

4. Have a personal life. This is imperative, I think. If you want to get married and have kids, do it. If you want to have a lot of friends, have them. Create a rich personal life for yourself, because if you give it up to be a slave to the art and the work, no one in Hollywood is going to care that you sacrificed that. Recipe for bitterness. 

5. Know the technology. Know everything you can about the equipment and software you use, especially if you're a female working in this profession. You can't give people a reason to question you. Not to mention, you're going to be working at a scary-fast pace. A director will ask for changes at 8 p.m. and you'll compose until 1 a.m. and the orchestrator will pick up the cues then and orchestrate them and send the scores off to the copyist at 6 a.m., and the copyist will have them on the sound stage by 8:30 a.m. for a 9 a.m. recording. You can't afford to . . . ah, miss a beat. 

6. Know you'll sacrifice sleep. A lot of it. All-nighters are routine. 

7. Demand perfection from yourself. Do the compositions you want, not what you think someone else wants. Better yet, learn how to put what someone else wants into what you want. 

8. Be a loving, open person. "How can I help you?" It's not just a line for retailers. The directors you work with are your clients. Make them happy and keep them happy. Your job is the only job in the process of making a movie that they have about 0% control over. You're like a Klingon to them: scary smart with a language they do not understand. Besides, the more loving and open you are, the better people you will attract. This doesn't mean you have to be a doormat. But don't ever be above helping the person beside you, in front of you, behind you, wherever.

I learned a bunch of other stuff, too, but I gotta get back to work. Hope you enjoy the post. 


EDIT: I love how didactic I was in this. You should see my beard and robe and the staff I carry around now.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Almost There!

Just a few things left on my plate.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Reality Hits Me. Hard.

Okay, NOW I'm nervous. Staring at my computer screen in a caffeine-induced stupor, hoping all this responsibility will just go away.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Final Push

So this week is going to be BUSY. Have the final composition project due, which smashes together music and music theory from about seven wildly different cultures, two orchestrations, which need a lot of work, a final paper, music for a student film (started, but A LOT OF WORK TO DO), and music for a wedding. And I have to clean this sty of an apartment for the woman who's coming in to hear the wedding music. Which isn't really ready. Sigh.

Oh, yeah, and preparation for a possible job. 

All the deadlines are this week and next. 

Strangely, I'm not nervous. So I'm nervous about not being nervous. 

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pop Song

How did I miss Macy Gray's "I Try" for so long? This is great!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Short Pondering on Rejection

So I've been thinking a lot the last couple of weeks about the whole writer/query/agent/editor/publishing-fail debate. Naturally I'm too narcissistic to think about it in terms of other people. (And . . . I'm just tired of the whole thing in terms of reading about it. I don't think we really need to keep rehashing it publicly.)

I've not queried to agents or editors regarding a novel yet. I've sent out two short stories, both of which have been rejected a few times. But should I feel a sense of accomplishment that I'm getting more personal, detailed rejection letters than form letters? Or is that the norm for small and online mags? What do you think? You tell me.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Books!

So I don't have a lot of time, but I just wanted to share with you a great book I snagged for a buck today at Columbia's library used book sale: Ancient Egyptian Medicine, by Cyril P. Bryan. I snagged some other good stuff, too - some on my reading list, some not. I also snagged a few pocket scores to take with me to concerts.

But the AEM book is the coolest of the bunch, and since I'm going to be on campus tomorrow, I'm going to take another look at what they have left. I hope no one snagged the huge book of Greek mythology (just didn't have room to carry that one). We shall see. 

I'm excited because this is the kind of book I've been looking for now for ages. It even has the spells and incantations the Egyptians used in treating disease. Granted, it's been translated from German, which was translated from Egyptian, but still. It has that scholarly, yet not-quite respectable air about it. Just really, really cool.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

One of Those Train Rides

So today on the way home from class on the train, a guy sat in a seat in front of me and made a point of turning and staring at my crotch. Literally.

This is the second time he's done this. The first time, I studiously ignored him and continued reading my book and only got up and left when it was my stop. This time, however, when I noticed him staring, I got up and moved. The problem was, the guy was black, and there were two other black people in close proximity who gave me the eye when I got up and moved. I know they think I didn't want to sit next to a black guy. Well, what was I supposed to say? The guy was staring at my crotch?

So of course I come home and blog about it to the world instead. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

This is Five Kinds of Awesome

One for each minion who got to meet up in England. And even though I didn't get to go, I think it's pretty cool that Evil Editor's blog has brought so many people together and spawned so many friendships. And that is cause for celebration. 

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I'd Frame This, But . . .

So I got my first check today as a composer. This feels like seven kinds of awesome. 

It was a little bigger than expected and came sooner than expected. Let's hope this trend continues!

Friday, April 17, 2009

How Long Has It Been?

Whoa. Nearly a week without posting. And not because I was too busy, but because I . . . just . . . had . . . nothing . . . to . . . say.

These past couple of weeks I've felt like my well of creativity is drier than the Sahara desert. Seriously, it feels like my insides have been scraped out and all I have left is an empty shell. That's not a bad thing (even though, reading that over now, it sounds horrific); it just means I need some time to charge my batteries. And I have taken some time over the past few days to do that. But we have four weeks left this semester, and we're in the final push, which means I'll be underwater until mid-May. 

For sure I'll get some downtime this summer. But I hope the trade-off doesn't mean that I'll have no income. Really hoping for a video-editing job as a day job through the summer months (in addition to a few lessons I'm teaching and some composing work). But most likely I'll be spending the summer seeking composing work and scraping by. But you know, if I'm going to be scraping by, there's really nothing else I'd rather be doing.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Legion of Online Superheroes

The Legion of Online Superheroes is the brain child of Bevie, and I was kindly invited to share stories. The first story went up yesterday, and in my procrastination not only did I fail to post an announcement, I haven't yet sent in a story. Oh, I am woefully remiss. 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Taking the Morning Off

So this weekend I have only one pressing assignment: two orchestrations due Sunday morning.

I need to revamp a couple of cues for my Global Folk Music class, start working on my final project, catch up with Film Aesthetics, and practice in earnest for an upcoming wedding.

But I have a breather, so I plan to take this morning to READ. 

Oh, yeah. And finish my flash fiction story. Ending pending.

Not One, But Two



SO sorry it's taken me a couple of days to acknowledge this!

Aerin gave me a lovely award:



This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this clever-written text into the body of their award.

I wish I were in closer proximity with these folks to whom I feel in spiritual, blog-nirvana proximity: Robin, Fairyhedgehog, Whirlochre, Sarah, laughingwolfWrittenwyrdd and Bevie.  (I left Robin's link off because last time I checked, it was private.)

So consider yourselves awarded, kind people. 


The other award is from Bevie:

Same people are awarded, as well as Aerin. Now you can't say I never gave you anything!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Another Recording Session

First time conducting. Nervous at first, but about halfway through I started to have fun. I chalk it up as another success. Two in one week. Whoa - record!

Now to relax a bit before my lesson.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Old Neighborhood

Hah. This post SO reminded me of the neighborhood I lived in until I was six.

We lived in a small, neat, brick house on Curdes Avenue in Fort Wayne. The neighborhood was a mix of blue- and white-collar workers, and many couples had kids the same age. We all played together, and got in trouble together, and ran into garage walls as we rollerskated together. My best friend was Chrissy, a shy brunette who I never fought with because she was so nice. (In a moment caught forever by the camera in our kindergarten class picture, I'm looking over at her while she smiles a HUGE smile for the camera. And she's wearing Fonzi socks.)

All the parents looked out for each other and each other's kids. If I was caught doing something bad by a parent in the neighborhood, I knew my parents would find out sooner rather than later. I still have vivid memories of Chrissy's parents and my parents getting together for dinner and drinks, and they would let me sit at the table while they gossiped about the crazy people in the neighborhood. (We had a few.)

My sister and I shared a room, one of those rooms with the slanted ceiling, and we had a television set that sat on a rolling tray. We'd roll the TV into our room to watch the Hardy Boys, and we'd fight over the line my sister always "drew" down the middle of the room because I was such a slob and she was such a neat freak. We had a black cat named Spooky, who ran away several times, the last time never coming home.

We moved to a bigger house in a (supposedly) better neighborhood when I was six. I was devastated we weren't moving to a house where I could get a horse, but that wasn't the worst part. I pretty much hated the new neighborhood, as did my brother and sister. The neighbors were standoff-ish and there was no one to play with. I never really realized it at the time, but I missed the old neighborhood a lot. The girls at my new school were cliquish and mean, and that carried into junior high until one girl's (the ring leader's) parents divorced and she had to move. I was "friends" with these girls, but it was an outside friendship - something they never let me forget. I wasn't aware of it at the time, but I missed Chrissy and all my friends from the old neighborhood. It was just an ache that never really went away, like an old injury you just get used to living with. There was a certain code in the old neighborhood: You looked out for others as well as your own. Moving to a place where that code didn't exist was like moving to a foreign, hostile country where you have to learn the rules without knowing the language.

Whenever I go back to visit my parents, I think about that old neighborhood, and our tiny brick house. Occasionally I drive by it to make sure it's still standing. It's always even smaller than I remember. In my mind, there's a short story lurking somewhere about the evils of "better" neighborhoods and the danger of breaking unspoken codes from childhood. Someday I'm going to write it.

EDIT: On the other hand, I met another girl, an "outsider" like me, with whom I am still close. So it wasn't a total wash.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Recording Session

I both love and hate the lifestyle of the composer.

I'm not sure I can describe the mind-numbing pressure of the past couple of weeks. Except for short breaks when I posted online, I was too busy to do anything but proofread, proofread, proofread, and write, write, write, rewrite and proofread some more. (Right now there are dishes piled up in the kitchen sink, and I haven't done laundry in maybe three weeks. I guess we can see where my priorities lie.)

Yesterday, the morning of the recording session, I had to print, copy, and tape all the musicians' parts, as well as print my scores. Naturally, I didn't have enough paper, so I had to rush out of the house to finish copying at school. Only when I got to school, I had about seven minutes to finish copying. And I needed a total of 22 scores. (I actually needed 24, but more on that below.)

I managed to make it, thanks to the lovely technology of new copiers. But when the recording schedule started, I found myself worrying over the conductor's score, of which, in my haste, I had forgotten to make second and third copies, wondering if I'd screwed up the page order when I taped it. So I couldn't enjoy half the recording. (I managed to take a peek at the conductor's score during break - pages were right).

All the worrying was for naught, as the musicians played through my pieces without incident. (Three or more mistakes in the score supposedly would have resulted in my score being rejected, although thankfully there apparently weren't enough mistakes in my score to find out! Or anyone else's, for that matter.)

It's amazing to me how dependent a composer (or writer, I suppose) can feel at the end, when the piece is done, on other people's opinions. Was it strong? I kept asking myself. Would it work for the scene? But a classmate raved about it, and our orchestration instructor also complimented the work. I was so tired, though, it didn't feel like a triumph. I just let out a sigh of relief and looked forward to the end, when I could go home and sleep.

Another classmate was pretty awesome in proofing my work. (He's the guy with MAJOR conducting credentials, and he's turning out to be a really good composer and an excellent, helpful classmate, too.) The really cool thing about school—the only thing that helps me through it, in fact—is how we all work together as a team under pressure and help each other as much as possible.

So tonight I came home and watched a little TV and took a guilt-free bubble bath and fell asleep at 7:30 p.m. on the sofa. Another classmate was having a shindig to celebrate, but I didn't feel like going. It worries me a bit that I can't seem to celebrate when all is said and done. But maybe I was just too tired.