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.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Project Fill In the Gaps

Found this over on Moonrat's blog, and I thought it was a terrific idea.
I'm jumping on the bandwagon here and giving myself 5 years to read the following books. I've already started some of these books and never got around to finishing them, so I'm going to take myself up to 85. If I read 85 out of these hundred, I'll be happy. Next to come is a list of non-fiction books I want to finish within the next five years.

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 (read)
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

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Amazon Link

I've debated about doing this, but since I'm not asking anyone for money directly nor for you to spend any more than you would anyway, I figure it's not asking for a handout.

See the link to the left. If you can stop by here to order from Amazon, it would be much appreciated. Thank you!

Under the Influence

I tagged myself on Sarah Laurenson's latest post, Under the Influence. Here are the top 25 authors who have influenced me, and the books they wrote that influenced me most (listed in no particular order):

Stephen King (The Stand, The Shining, Green Mile)

Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Smoke & Mirrors, Fragile Things)

Madeleine L'Engle (A Wrinkle in Time)

C.S. Lewis (The Narnia Series, Till We Have Faces)

J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit, LOTR)

J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter series)

Katherine Anne Porter (The Collected Short Stories of Katherine Anne Porter)

Shirley Jackson (The Lottery and Other Short Stories, The Haunting of Hill House)

Richard Matheson (I Am Legend)

Joe Hill (20th Century Ghosts, Heart-Shaped Box)

Gene Wolfe (Book of the New Sun series)

Fredericke Busch (The Night Inspector)

Mark Twain (The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain)

Shakespeare (Macbeth)

Phillip Pullman (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife)

Angela Carter (Wise Children)

Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes, Farenheit 451)

Charles Dickens (Great Expectations, Bleak House, The Christmas Carol)

Marion Zimmer Bradley (The Mists of Avalon)

Judy Blume (Are You There God? It's Me Margaret, Blubber, Forever)

Beverly Cleary (The Ramona Collection)

Kathryn Kenny (the Trixie Belden series)

Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, Watchmen)

Frank Miller (The Sin City series)

Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men, The Road)

As a kid, I was sick quite often with kidney problems (I was constantly getting kidney infections) and strep throat, not to mention I had surgery to correct the problem that was causing the kidney infections. So I had plenty of time to read, and one of my favorite things to read was Kathryn Kenny's books about Trixie Belden and the mysteries Trixie solved. I probably read a lot of Nancy Drew, too, but I don't remember now. I think I liked the Trixie books because she rode horses, and even as a kid I loved horses.

Sadly, the only Madeleine L'Engle book I read growing up was A Wrinkle in Time, but I'm proud to say I have my 12-year-old niece reading the series, and I can't wait to borrow the books from her to read them myself. I think I also only read Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a kid, but I've read the entire series now. I read a lot as a kid, but most of it was forgettable drivel. There are many, many authors I wish I'd read as a kid: Daniel Pinkwater, Lewis Carroll, Ronald Doahl. Reading these authors now does bring out the kid in me, but I know I would have enjoyed Alice in Wonderland much more as a child.

As a teenager and in my early 20s, I loved Stephen King and his conversational style. I went through a period where all I wanted to read was Stephen King, a period I lament now, but I guess it was because my studies in music were so taxing, all I wanted was someone who knew how to talk to me in a book, and Stephen King fit that bill perfectly. All of the rest of these authors are people I discovered as an adult.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Here's another cool vid for you to check out - and it's half as long as the last one. Directed by Shane Acker, who also co-directs the film produced by Tim Burton, which is based on this short. (Trailer here.)

In other news, I'm catching up, slowly but surely.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


So I thought my planned bubble bath was ruined this morning, as our landlord has a guy coming to take out our the rotted ceiling where the rain and snow gathered all winter and re-plaster it after he patches it. (Actually, I think another guy is supposed to patch it. So it's like a three-step process, in case you were just dying to know.) But he's running late and won't be here until this afternoon, which is a really lucky break, since I'm feeling a little achy this morning. Feel like I always do at the start of a sinus infection, so water water water and a half hour on the treadmill. And veggies. Big salad.

No place to go today, and that's something I'm ecstatic about. Still have to finish up the stuff for the play and get a good start on my new orchestrations for class, as well as make the old ones more interesting ("too conservative," said the conductor). Which reminds me, I have to practice conducting and order my baton today. (Not looking forward to that part of the recording.) If all goes well, I'll be able to take most of Saturday and all of Sunday off to relax.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Steampunk and The Mysterious Geographical Explorations of Jasper Morello

For the longest time, I never knew what steampunk was. It seemed to be one of those concepts everyone intuitively understood but me. But now I think I get it.

The attached video is rather long (just over 26 minutes), but worth it. If this is steampunk, I think I'm in love:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I Love It When This Happens

Just found Richard Price's Lush Life for $7 at a used bookstore. Total surprise. Keeping my eyes peeled for Goldberg's Marathon Man and James (or is it John?) Carlos Blake's Friends of Pancho Villa, but no luck so far. May have to order those online.

It's funny how I can go to a bookstore and drop (sometimes) inordinate amounts of money on a book, but cheap books online that add shipping charges somehow fail to "get" me. Must be the lack of instant gratification.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Great Site for Food Porn

You may wonder why I've added Peter Cherches's blog to my bloglist. Or you may not, but I'm telling you, anyway.

It's the food porn.

He's a good writer, too.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring Break

Technically I'm on spring break, but my schedule is altered by only about 25%, since I still have tons of work to do. But because I save time by not having to travel to and attend class, I'm guessing I'll be able to catch up.

The best part about spring break is that I get to attend/lead the book chat this month on Evil Editor's blog. We'll be discussing The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Awesome.

In other news, I've lost 8 pounds, our water is ice-cold this morning, and I have yet to have coffee. Also, must search for new musicians for my composing gig, at the suggestion of one of my professors. I'm getting excited (and nervous) about my orchestration class's upcoming recording with musicians from the Lyric and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Should be fun, if nothing embarrassing happens. Judging from my professor's and the conductor's comments, the possibilities and variations on that are endless.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

How to Finish

I start a lot of stories I don't finish. I need advice on how to finish things for which I don't have looming deadlines. Respond in the comments, please.

Catching up, slowly but surely. Put myself out on a dating website by accident. (Took a grammar quiz and they made me go through all these hoops to get the score (which I knew was perfect!) and then I didn't even get a score. But I put my damn photo up anyway. Which, come to think of it, is bad timing, since right now I have no time to date.) Hmmm. But this is the only way it could happen.

Insanely jealous of some minions' impending trip to England in April.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Almost to a Break

Been a busy little bee this week. Neck and shoulders are killing me from sitting in front of the computer so much.

Turns out my orchestration instructor has a damn good sense of humor. In response to those academic composers who feel the need to change meter (or anything else) unnecessarily: "You know what we call this? A.B.S. Academic Bullshit. I mean, what is that?"

Still on the fence about continuing, but leaning toward at least finishing the program. It'd be a shame to quit now. i'll have wasted a year.

Back to my pain and suffering. On tap tonight: Yoga and loooooonnnng bubble bath with a good book.

Tomorrow: paying for new hearing aids, after which I really, really must find a job. Or win the lottery.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Memories of Sesame Street

You probably saw this on Nathan Bransford's blog, but if you didn't, you may end up missing Sesame Street.

This totally made my day. : )

Thursday, March 5, 2009


They're creeping up on me like zombies ready to eat my brains. I am looking forward to this summer and the relatively straightforward activity of finding a job.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I have a strong dislike for overused words and phrases such as "inspirational" and "it changed my life," but this vid truly is inspirational and may just change your life. Be prepared to cry a little. I can't embed, but here's the link. You may have already seen it (especially those in Britain), but the rest of you: watch.

WARNING: The YouTube video plays upon opening. Yes, I know I said I hate these things. But this one is worth it.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Websites That Play Music . . .

as soon as the page comes up. I hates them.