Monday, December 27, 2010

Belated Christmas Wishes

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe holiday. I went back to the Fort to visit my folks and my brother and niece. My niece was happy with all the swag she got, which consisted of wanted things and needed things. I'm looking forward to buying her some books soon, too.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oracular Orb #6

Me: Will we make the deadline???

Oracular Orb: A Google showed the court case mentioned in this Bookseller article, and in this case summary.

Um, that doesn't sound very good. Sorry I asked.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My Hopes for Chicago

Really pulling for Rahm (yes, we're all on a first-name basis with him here in Chicago) to get on the ballot. In case you hadn't heard, his residency is being challenged because he rented out his house after he went to Washington to run the White House. I've been told it's "not a frivolous issue," but . . . it is, really. It's not like he tried to sell his home; he just rented it out. And since he pays Illinois taxes and has an Illinois driver's license (and votes in Illinois politics absentee), I'd say he pretty much meets the standards for residency. A person who does all those things and sublets an apartment to take a semi-permanent job in a different city would still qualify as a resident. Why is the residency requirement suddenly at a higher bar? It's like we're saying the candidate has to meet a higher standard of residency than a voter would. That doesn't make any sense.

Granted, I'm no lawyer—just a Chicago voter who wants the candidate who is by far the most qualified. To be honest, if he doesn't get on the ballot, I'd say we're pretty much screwed. No one else has the administrative experience he does (and he's proven to be an excellent administrator), and after 20+ years of Daley, the last thing I want is to turn Chicago over to some newbie. Also, this whole thing about him "not being Chicago enough" is more nonsense. In a way, I think it's great that he left for a couple of years and ran a clean administration. Because, no matter whether you agree or disagree with President Obama, he's not had the scandals we've seen from previous presidents. I think it would be great to have someone who's not quite so "inside" to be the mayor of Chicago. Might just get us out of the rabbit hole for a while.

OracularOrb #5

Me: Is there really a Santa Claus?

OracularOrb: If you were wondering what kind of a day it was it was a this kind of day.

I think that means the elves have been up to no good.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


It may seem strange to you that I have already, after only four, run of out of questions to ask the Oracular Orb. If you have a question for the Oracular Orb, I will gladly trek into the dark, magical land of the Orb and bring you back your answer. Or, I suppose you could do it yourself, but that would lose all the fun of pondering together what the answers mean.

Oracular Orb #4

Me: Will Rahm Emanuel be successful in his Chicago mayoral bid?

OracularOrb: There was no food, for example.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Oracular Orb #3

For further amusement:

Me: Oracular Orb, will I get everything done I need to get done today?

Oracular Orb: Yours Pat Fox Since 'somewhere' is currently wrong a hundred percent of the time, I'd stop listening to it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Which E-Reader?

Like Fairyhedgehog a few months back, I'm considering getting an e-reader. I need something that reads PDF files—not just PDF books, but PDF files. So far the Kindle seems to fit that requirement, and with all the free books I've downloaded from Amazon on my Kindle app on my Blackberry, I wouldn't be surprised if the Kindle has already paid for itself. I know, now that I'm editing, that an iPad would be a better product for my needs, but there's no way I can afford that at the moment.


Oracular Orb #2

Me: How many inches of snow will Chicago get today, O Wise One?

OracularOrb: And what she's saying isn't...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The OracularOrb

So I've been asking questions of Neil Gaiman's Oracular Orb through Twitter (@OracularOrb). I think I may post the answers whenever I ask it questions. This thing is better than the iChing—it's amusing and accurate.

Stacy: Why oh why do I have to go out into the freezing snow today???

OracularOrb: Let's see . . .

Let's see, indeed. I have to work (deadline Monday) and I have to go to the grocery. Not really the way I wanted to spend my day, as I'd planned to spend it writing, editing, and helping D make cookies.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Helpful Reminder

Somehow I missed this (on Fairyhedgehog's blog, no less!) at clock-changing time. You can bet your ass I'm never going to forget which way to turn my clocks ever again.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sale at Wild Child Publishing

Hey Folks - There's a sale going on at Wild Child Publishing and its partner site, FreyasBower (if you're into the romance and erotica thing). If you spend a measly $8 and use the coupon code "Happy Holidays" during checkout, you get 25% off. Happy book hunting!

Monday, December 6, 2010

I'm a Wild Child

I'm excited to say that I'm now a content editor at Wild Child Publishing.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The River of Life

I don't even know why I bother posting about new projects, etc. Everything gets washed away in the river of Life. I think I've proven I have the attention span of a moth with a severe case of ADHD.

New job, new home (back in Chicago). The apartment is lovely and HUGE. Big kitchen. Job is going well, I'm doing a couple of embarrassingly low-paying side jobs (for experience and samples), but life is good. Bombed on NaNoWriMo. Just don't think this was my month to write a novel. Oh well. Better luck next year, right?

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Day 1

Today I got up and immediately wrote 1674 words on my novel. It's a haunted house/ghost story.

So far, so good!

Monday, October 25, 2010

5 Free E-books

I've had a glut of luck in finding cheap or free books lately. Not that I'm actively looking, but it's nice since work has been slow in coming in the last couple of months. Here are, according to Hope Clark of Funds for Writers, the top 5 free e-books for fiction writers.

To get the last book, The Marshall Plan Fiction Makeover, you have to sign up, confirm your e-mail, and then the site sends you a link for the book. A little more work than the other four books, and I'm a little suspicious of it because it aggressively touts the Makeover Software. And the site is confusing; I wasn't sure what link to click on at first. Just don't click on any link on the site, and you should be fine.

In other news, I just got hired to write some articles through a Funds For Writers e-mail. I will report back on how everything pans out.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Those of you dropping by who might have missed my post on Stephen Pressfield's THE WAR OF ART should know this book is on sale on his site for $1.99. Today's the last day to get it for this price, so don't miss out! It's a kick-ass book.

Six Books Everyone's Gotten Wrong

Great article about the misinterpretation of six classics here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The War of Art - Special Deal

Hey folks - Stephen Pressfield wrote a terrific book titled THE WAR OF ART, which I have and have read, but the book is now in storage. If you've outgrown the gentleness of Julia Cameron's wonderful THE ARTIST'S WAY and need something a little more kick ass, this is your book. The e-book is available tomorrow and Thursday (October 20 and 21) for $1.99. You cannot beat that price unless you steal it. (Don't steal it!) Here's the link.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Kindle App

Though I've had the Kindle app on my Blackberry for a while, I just downloaded the Kindle app for my Mac desktop. I lucked into finding some free Kindle books on myths ( a big interest of mine), and I just checked my recommendations on Amazon. I think I've downloaded thirty free books.

My head may explode.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Hey folks - I'm signed up for NaNoWriMo. You can get my screen name by e-mailing me at

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Free History Lessons

In a tiny surge of inspiration this morning, I googled free online history courses. I wasn't able to find the courses I want actually being taught right now, but I did stumble across a plethora of free courses taught in the past at MIT. I don't see that the lectures are available on iTunes, but there's plenty of reading material, copies of tests, and syllabi to go through if you're dying, as I am, to read more of the Greek and Roman classics and learn more about American history. Or pretty much any subject, really. Great resource for writers, I think.

Link here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


I'm watching the first season of MAD MEN, courtesy of my local library. I'm surprised at how much of an indictment of misogyny it is. The '60s were a time when a man could get drunk, hit on his employee's wife, and somehow everyone wound up thinking it was her fault. As I recall, things hadn't changed much by the '80s. I think things have improved, but as long as we ask the question "Was she asking for it?" I won't be satisfied.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Review of INTO THE WILD/Jon Krakauer

When I read Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, as I have twice now, I find myself criticizing the subject rather than the writer. The book is the story of Chris McCandless, a twenty-four year old man from a well-to-do family who hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the bush. He died there, leaving behind a family he hadn't spoken to in more than two years and bewildered friends and acquaintances he met along his travels.

The book chronicles his approximately two-year hike across the United States. He hitchhiked, tented, slept in the desert, and somehow settled on the idea that a summer in the Alaska bush would—if not change it—give his life a deeper meaning. In his mind, he was following the path of the writers he loved, most notably Jack London. But he also emulated Tolstoy in his lofty ideals: McCandless was one who seemed to believe, as his father put it, “that you should own nothing but what you can carry on your back at a dead run.” Chris reveled in scrounging for the next meal.

To me, as someone who has been poor and will be poor for the foreseeable future, McCandless's endless romanticization of the hobo lifestyle smacked of unbelievable self-absorption and hypocrisy. Here was the son of a man who had top-secret security clearance and a mother who worked alongside her husband to create a successful business. He had excelled academically all through school and could have the job of his choice or create his own business fairly easily. Only someone as well-to-do with such an easy path paved before him could believe he was a better person than the “plastic people” with whom he was forced to share breathing space (such as the people with whom he briefly worked at McDonald's—many who were not financially much above poverty) by hoboing around the country.

But perhaps I am being harsh; McCandless was young and no less hypocritical than I was at his age. And Krakauer, by telling his own story of his relationship with his father, which led to his harrowing climb of Alaska's Devil's Thumb, brings the reader to a more compassionate view of McCandless: he was young and brash and ill-prepared and perhaps even foolish, but he was not stupid, and his death was the result not of his dramatically heeding a “call of the wild,” but of two small errors that turned out to be pivotal and irreversible.

At any rate, Krakauer is a fine, fine writer, and he tells McCandless's story as only a young man who had a similar relationship with his father as Chris did to his can. Yet in the book he is gentle with Chris's parents, writing about them as non-judgmentally as he does about Chris. It's clear that the wisdom he came to in his own life somewhere along the line parallels that of Chris's, only there's a point where Chris's line stops and Krakauer's keeps going. Krakauer was lucky to have survived his own brush with death and not only live to tell the tale, but forgive his father—something McCandless will now never have the opportunity to do.

Also found at The Book Book.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Linked Post

Natasha Fondren wrote a great post on the Glenn Beck/Sarah Palin rally. Not only that, but she's handled the critics very politely, which I admire.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ghost Story Recs

I've been dying for some good old-fashioned European and/or New England ghost stories. Any recs???

ETA: I lucked across a cheap anthology of Victorian ghost stories at Half Price Books. Unfortunately, I have not had time to start it. Sigh.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

So I've Joined . . .

. . . the 2010 McKoala Challenge. Looking forward to it, though I've been warned those claws are razor sharp.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Who Designs These Things?!

Why is it that women's dress shoes only become tortuous instruments of pain after purchase? They can be totally comfortable in the store, but as soon as you buy them, you walk two blocks and the damn things are cutting into your heels and making your pants all bloody. WTF?!

I drove to Chicago yesterday for an interview and decided on a pair of flats that seemed comfortable for walking. Wrong. After a block or so they rubbed against my heels and took off a bunch of skin. The right one actually cut into my heel. It's a good thing I'm familiar with downtown Chicago and didn't get too lost. I managed to find a Starbucks across the street from where I was to interview and stopped and sat down. At that point it wasn't too bad.

But here's what I learned: When your feet hurt, it's actually worse after you rest. After my 45-minute soiree, I stood up and managed to make it across the street, although by then I was starting to limp. I got to the agency, filled out my paperwork, took a survey, all the while getting up and down. I managed, through pride, to keep everything to a minor limp. Those that saw me for the first time might have thought I once suffered a minor bout of polio. No biggie.

But by the time I got back to my car, I knew I was gonna have to either find a different pair of shoes or drive barefoot. At first I drove with the shoes on, since I drive a stick. I was afraid if I drove barefoot I might miss the clutch or something. But even driving with the shoes on was painful. I managed to find a Walgreens about halfway home. By that time I'd already stopped for gas and went to the bathroom, and was literally hobbling. Alas, Walgreens has moved its merchandise to its Fall season, and had backpacks instead of flip flops. Screw it, I thought, cursing the person who designed my shoes. I'm driving barefoot. Whoever designed these things should be made to walk two miles down Michigan Avenue in a pair of these things. Preferably a pair two sizes too small.

So I drove barefoot. It was pretty comfortable, actually, besides the bleeding heels.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Home for a week now. Feeling lost in a sea of possibilities. L.A. is beginning to feel like a mirage. I miss the desert.

On the other hand I've developed a new appreciation for the cheap housing prices in Indiana, and I'm seriously considering buying a house once I land a job. The job will have to be an offsite position, unless I make some good contacts here and find something that isn't advertised. But the idea of an offsite position appeals to me. So we'll see how that works out.

Otherwise I'm just still tired. Haven't wanted to do much but read and take baths. Yet, I must carry on.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Well, school is all over, and I'm no longer in L.A. I wanted to stay, but no apartment buildings or complexes had anything open for at least two weeks at a price I could afford - except for one in a bad part of town that was literally the size of a closet. I couldn't see staying and wasting a bunch of money on hotels, and I didn't feel comfortable asking anyone if I could sleep on their couch for two weeks or more. There was one place that was a room in a woman's house, but . . . I just really wanted to get my own place. I may take up Sarah on her suggestion that I buy a little house in the mountains when I go back. So . . .

I'm back in Indiana. I am utterly wiped out and need some time to rest and regroup. Sarah, I'm sorry we didn't get a chance to meet, but it will happen! I loved L.A. and got a great vibe there. It wasn't at all like the horror stories I've heard. A guy even offered me a tire gauge at a gas station while we were respectively filling up our tires and vacuuming our cars. Never experienced that in a big city before.

AND I got hit on pretty much wherever I went. So naturally I want to go back.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I really miss you guys . . .

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I Climbed A Mountain

This morning I woke up at 4:30 a.m. even though I've not had much sleep the past couple of nights. At 6 a.m. two of my classmates knocked on our door. After finding out that none of the guys we're rooming with wanted to "go for a walk," as they put it, one of them asked me.

"Sure!" I said, a little surprised, as The Guys and I don't really hang out all that much.

I didn't know what I was getting into. And I have to preface this by saying I really should have known better because one of them is pretty much the Gandalf in our group: when he's on board, you literally never know what will happen.

The "walk" turned out to be a climb up two-thirds of a mountain. Not a foothill. A mountain. We reached an electricity tower far, far away. I felt like Bilbo in The Hobbit. The last third (which looked more like half) contains the HOLLYWOOD sign, which I think is around on the other side. But you gotta get up to the very top.

I had to stop and take breaks because I'm so out of shape, but they were both really patient. At one point, I stopped and asked if maybe they were coming down the same way they could just pick me up on the way back down?

"Naw, there's a lift. It'll take us down," said one of them.

A few minutes later, as we climbed closer to the tower, I said, "There's no lift, is there?"

He laughed and shook his head.

I would have killed him, and could have gotten away with it, if it weren't for the stitch in my side. I mean, no one would have found him for days. But he knew that would keep me going, and it did.

I bitched and moaned the whole way, but you know, I was so glad I made it to our goal. The whole day has been infused with a feeling of real accomplishment. Afterwards, I could have fought Jason Statham and won. It was awesome and I can't wait to do it again. Although next time I'll have my hair in a ponytail and maybe better shoes. And jeans.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Road Trip: Petrified Forest, Volume 1

Below are a few shots I got from the Petrified Forest in Arizona.

More pics coming as I get them downloaded!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Miniscule, Not Very Detailed Update

Made it into L.A. on Saturday. Drive was fun and went well. Pics coming soon!

Meanwhile, we've hit the ground running with our classes and our internships.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

ooh ooh ooh - almost forgot

I don't really believe books should be free, but I found this AWESOME site with FREE audiobooks. Mostly it's classics and nonfiction, but I found things I've been wanting to read that I just haven't had time for. (Yes, I really do want to read all six volumes of THE HISTORY OF THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE.) All of the books appear to be in the public domain.

Because it's all done on a volunteer basis, some of the books are not as successful as others. (RAT CATCHER sounds like it's read in an electronic voice, with the reader joining sentences together and putting inflections in all the wrong places.) Pay attention to the starred books - those are usually keepers. I've downloaded more than I should, really.

The best thing about the site, though, is how easy it is to download the mp3 files. All you have to do is click on the book of your choice and then the link for the zip file and voila! you have your audiobook. (Hint: Dickens's OUR MUTUAL FRIEND is read by a wonderful reader.) For someone who can't afford audiobooks and has a ton of classics to read, this is a godsend.

This makes my trip that much more exciting!

Me and My Big Move and Even Bigger Opinions

OMG I have spent SO much money preparing for this move. But I needed pretty much everything: a car, new business-y clothes, a new GPS for those "L.A. is one big suburb or a state of mind" directions, a Blackberry so I can read captions during phone calls especially in noisy environments, software updates, and luggage. I've scrimped as much as possible, but I'm still running low enough on funds that I'm getting a little worried that I'll cut into my reserves set aside for the apartment, which I may have to furnish.

The thesis is coming along, but slooooower than I'd like. But I think I'm getting the right tone and sentiment for it. So that's good.

Meanwhile I'm pretty pissed off about this oil spill thing. I have to tell myself BP has gotta be doing everything it can to stop the leak and contain the damage, but the news gets worse every day. Not to mention, one of the execs will say something unbelievably clueless like, "I want my life back." ???? Or President Obama will saying he's not spoken to Tony Hayward. What? Why??? You gotta do that, sir. Just MHO.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Update II

Bevie's family contacted Fairyhedgehog and confirmed they received the money, so that's a weight off my shoulders. Thanks again to everyone who donated.

Am mostly moved in to my folks for the next three weeks. Going to be busy with my thesis. I've bought a car from a friend for cheap, alleviating some worry about buying a new car and keeping up the payments. I also have a new office chair, which is proving to be much better for my back and less fatiguing than the wooden chair I used for two years in school.

Okay. Thesis time.

Friday, May 28, 2010


I managed to get the money order off to Bevie's family . . . Monday. Probably should have taken Lisa up on that extension, but I tried to get it out Friday. On my way to the Post Office I received an e-mail from my professor about some last-minute deadlines, so I had to turn around and go home (skipping a lesson to boot) and finish those up.

I went ahead and made the money order for an even $500, and sent it via Priority Mail along with insurance and delivery notification. According to the tracking site, the package was delivered to its destination, but we've not yet received a confirmation from Bevie's family whether they received the money.

In other news, I'm in the last few stages of moving. Or I should be, anyway. Too much to do and too little time. Also feeling really nostalgic and lamenting the lack of time I have to visit old haunts and check out new places in Chicago I've not had a chance to visit. Like the Lyric Opera, for example.

Sigh. There's never enough time.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Together . . .

. . . we raised just shy of $500 ($498.08) to help Bevie's family. The button is now down. To all who donated, THANK YOU - especially those who donated and didn't comment. You didn't get a thank you yet - until now. : )

I'm off to get the money order!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Help Bevie's Family Deadline

Hey folks! If you've not yet made a donation, you have roughly 48 hours to make it. I'll be closing down the donation button at 2:00 p.m. U.S.A. Central Time ("Chicago time"). I need to do that in order to have enough time to get the money order and mail it out to Bevie's family. Thanks!

EDIT:If you stray over here after the deadline and still want to make a donation, Fairyhedgehog or I would be happy to send your e-mail address along to Bevie's family. Thanks for thinking of that, Fairy!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Help Bevie's Family

Bevie often spoke at length about his financial woes, which were no doubt a result of his health issues. It can't be any easier for his family now. With their permission, Fairyhedgehog and I have set up a Paypal donation button. We had to wait a couple of days to work out the details*, but it's up now (see left). We'll have the button up for a week, then whatever's there I will send to Bevie's wife. Please help if you can. I'm matching the first $35 in donations.

*The money will deposited into my bank account, and I will issue a money order to Bevie's wife, as it was agreed that this is what would be most helpful to them.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

To Infinity . . . And Beyond

We're almost at the end. We're in the last week of school. I'm overcome with nostalgia and excitement. Still have a lot to do, but once I get these assignments knocked out of the way, it will be packing, finding a car (that's going to be the toughest part), and all the other stuff that goes with ending school. We're getting info on our internships, and it's exciting.

I've been checking out apartments in the L.A. area, and they're about what you would pay in Chicago. Only I like Chicago's apartments much better, what with all the dark wood and Greek-style architecture. I'm finding L.A. has its charms—just not in the apartments for the price I can pay. They look like carpeted prison cells. You get the one window with the venetian blinds. In some cases the stove and refrigerator are listed as amenities. As in optional.

Oh yeah, and then I have to find work. Checking out the want ads and the temp agencies.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Lucky is a cat whose paw and tail were cut off by some cruel individual who shall remain nameless . . . mostly because Lucky can't name the person who did this to him.

He was found by Bin, and yesterday she took him to the vet to be examined and treated. She posted pics, but I'm only going to link the post to pics of him after he was treated. If you want the other pics you'll have to find them on the blog yourself.

He's now (it's a he, I think!) resting semi-comfortably, and I'm posting this because Bin is accepting donations for his vet care (she didn't ask me to repost; I'm just doing it.) He's probably going to need a lot of it over the coming months. You can donate here.

Stop by Old Kitty's blog and thank her for posting. Her post instigated the donations.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Grammar Nerd

I cribbed this from Janet Reid's blog. It's hilarious.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

It's Official

Well, it's official. I'm definitely "on" for L.A. I was finally approved for the rest of my financial aid, which means I'll now have the money to complete the internship, which in turn means I'll be graduating.

No excitement yet. Just relief and a touch of pride that I managed to pull this off.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Feminista Files

A month or so ago, I found this great blog by Ericka K. It's called "The Feminista Files," and I think it was originally launched to support her novel of the same name. But she does all these great posts on pop culture that make me think more deeply about the images and messages we're bombarded with every day. Check it out. She's funny as hell*.

*Be forewarned that she's not exactly work safe. Woman has a potty mouth - something I appreciate.

Wish I could do a longer post, but I'm really behind now from being sick.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Occasionally I check out my profile to see how many views I have. Last time I checked it was 1200. Today it says "0." Anyone else having this problem? Just curious . . .

Monday, March 29, 2010

Favorite Movie Quotes!

My favorite movie quote: "I guess I have a lot of borderline health disorders that limit me politically when it comes to eating." — Joyce, American Splendor

Tell me yours!

Also, found out Ricky Martin is gay. Just a wee bit disappointed. Is that wrong?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Day Whatever

Well, the no-cream in coffee is a bit of a habit now, I'd say. Yay for me.

Losing tiny bits of weight. Can get certain jeans up over my ass (a good goal in Operation Ass Reduction), but can't yet get the jeans closed. Maybe that will happen next week.

Here's a fun link to tide yourselves over for the next couple of days.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Site

Okay - new site where you can listen AND download my music. For videos posted in the blog section, leave a comment to request an mp3 or a copy of the video. FREE (for now).

There are only three samples right now, but more will come. Links will be added, etc. etc.

I have another website,, but currently it's not possible to download anything.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Comment Moderation is ON

I keep receiving these weird comments that I assume are spam comments, despite the word verification. So I'm going to turn on comment moderation and see if that helps.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Not Much Difference

This is so true.

And if you writer folk ever wonder if my job as a composer is different: it's not. I sit in my chair and I stare at a piece of paper and then write something down. Some days I write something, anything, to get the juices flowing. There are days when I'm amazed at how much this job has in common with sweeping the floor or digging a ditch. It's work, and it's hard.

But I like that it's hard. It beats anything else in the world that I've done. Except writing stories, but I never seem to finish those. Still, writing prose has made a difference in my composing, because I can talk to people in terms of the story and drama.

Also, I'm really happy the health care bill passed. There's a "tunnel at the end of the tunnel" in the words of Paul Krugman, but we're on our way.

Day 6

The coffee doesn't taste so bad now. And I'm crowing about the $2.50 (plus the 10.25% SALES TAX our illustrious Illinois government has on Chicago merchandise) I'm saving by not running to the nearest 7-11 to get creamer. Not to mention, I'm noticing some weight loss. And it's just from making this one simple change.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day 4

Solution for today: soy milk. Not as good as cream, but a hell of a lot better than that swill with the whatever floating on top.

And I am seeing a tiny bit of difference.

On the professional front, I'm getting things done, but s . . . l . . . o . . . w . . . l . . . y. I feel like the slowest composer in the world.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day 3

I'm afraid I've fallen off the wagon already. Just couldn't deal with the black swill after only four hours of sleep. Back on the wagon tomorrow, though. Scout's honor.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 2

Day 2 of the "no cream in my coffee" regimen. Not enjoying my morning coffee nearly as much, but I feel a tiny sense of accomplishment from staying away from the cream yesterday. Also managed to get in my yoga for three days in a row. Muscles are a little sore, but I feel better overall.

Bad news is I'm really behind on one of my assignments. Deadlines are looming. Not sure I'll be able to keep up the routine all week.

EDIT: I've decided to give this little adventure a name. Operation Ass Reduction is in full effect.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Starting my "no cream in my coffee" regimen. Not enjoying it so far. I really need better coffee.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Panicked Call

Mother's Day in England produced this panicked call to my mother:

Me: Dad?

Mom: No, it's Mom.

Me: You must think I'm the biggest a#$hole ever!

Mom: Why would I think that??

Me: I missed Mother's Day!!

Mom: That's in May, hon. It's still March.

Me: oh.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Weird Dreams

For years I never remembered my dreams. When people talked about theirs, I would listen with some measure of jealousy, since the last dream I remembered having was the night before an audition for a jazz group, which was horrible (the dream was horrible, although I didn't really enjoy the audition, either). I dreamt I was in a warehouse with a group of people and a priest with the weirdest eyes showed up, and everyone had to bow down to him. I won't say what happened, but it was bad. And Michael Stipe from REM was in the dream, too—although he didn't take part in the mayhem. In the dream, anyway.

I think after that I was scared to dream.

But lately I've been having lots of dreams, and, if I interpret them correctly, they're mostly dreams questioning my competence. A few weeks ago I dreamt I had moved to a new city and was really lonely, and Chris Eldin entered my dream and offered to be my pet turtle. So she turned herself into a turtle, only in my dream I knew NOTHING about caring for turtles, and had to start my research from scratch. Naturally I was under a deadline, since even turtles in captivity will eventually die without care, so I spent the dream racing around trying to keep her warm. I put her under blankets, wrapped her in towels and kept asking her if she was cold. Being a turtle and not being able to talk, she kept nodding. Eventually I found a heat lamp and put her under that in her aquarium. I don't think she'd mind my recounting the dream, as she said it should be a story. Perhaps someday it will be.

My last two dreams have been just as weird, as dreams are wont to do. In one, I dreamt I was waiting tables again, and the restaurant filled up and I felt woefully out of practice (not that I was ever a good waitress to begin with), and things kept going wrong. In the second dream I was an actress who forgot to study the lines for her play until the night before the performance.

I think it may just be graduation freak out time. But in a way, I'm glad I'm remembering my dreams. Makes life more interesting.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Steak and Beer and Other Things

I just had a big steak and a beer, and it wasn't as much fun as I thought it would be. I don't know why I got a hankering, but I did. I didn't even like the steak much. And the chicken I fixed last week is now slowly turning to gelatin in the fridge. The truth is, I don't think I like meat much anymore. Yet I don't like veggies much, either. If I stop liking fruit, I am definitely screwed.

Going to start the new yoga DVD tomorrow. The fruit smoothies I've been drinking are great; I feel so much better! But I've not lost any weight, despite the copious amounts of yogurt I put into my smoothies. Maybe a little bit, but . . . see above. I've not really changed any of my other habits. I keep thinking once I get to L.A., I'll suddenly leap into this ultra-healthy lifestyle (counting on you, Sarah - heh). We shall see. It's hard to stay healthy in the city of the Deep Dish Pizza. Right now I'm getting on the treadmill for a half an hour about once every week and a half. That's not good.

But I've been doing a hell of a lot more composing, and that IS good. I just have to clean up my room and stop screwing around in the morning when I get up. Yeah, yeah, I "need" that extra cup of coffee. (Some mornings I do, but . . . )

And honestly, I think that's the biggest problem right there: caffeine. I don't know whether it can make you gain weight, but all the freaking cream I drink can't be helping matters any. I've thought about cutting it out, but I don't like black coffee, and the thought of going without coffee kind of scares me. (I guess that means I'm an addict? Caffeineaholics Anonymous, anyone?) I'm trying to either drink the soy or fat-free creamer, but more often than not, I find myself in 7-11 picking up the sugared, fatty sweet creamer just because it's conveniently available. What I might do is just drink the coffee black throughout the week and then on the weekends have the cream too, as a treat. Hmmm. Have I bored you enough???

I've been a little better about turning off my light at night when I sleep, but I'm still going to bed to take "naps." I'm looking into one of those alarms hard of hearing people have, where it zaps a finger or something. We shall see. And one of the contacts in my last set ripped, so now I'm wearing the glasses that have unremovable spots on them. Sexy.

Getting a few more samples here and there. I have one nearly mixed and it will go up on the website and in the libraries of which I'm a part. Some exciting things are happening, and when I know more I'll be sure to keep you posted. Just one of those "in the works" things.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's Coming Along

So. Private composition lessons are going very well. I'm definitely experiencing some real growth as a composer, and I know that's due to Hummie's methods and his insistence that I make a sketch of my pieces by hand. "Make the sketch clear," he keeps telling me whenever put my chicken scratches in front of him.

I knew the first day he started teaching us that THIS was the stuff I had been looking for as a composer. He's uber-organized, and I'm taking a cue (no pun intended) from his song book about that. I still have a long way to go both organizationally and compositionally, but for the first time in a while now I'm making progress. I feel a lot more confident when I sit down to score a scene. It's like we're pushing that boulder of doubt out of the way. The only bummer is that I only have a couple of months left under his and Andy Hill's tutelage. I'm trying to make the most of it.

My biggest problem right now is my sleeping. I've gotten into the bad habit of sleeping with my light on. I go to bed with work unfinished, intending to "take a nap." Usually the nap last 6 - 8 hours, but I never really feel rested because I left my contacts in, my jeans (and sometimes shoes) on, and my light on. Hence I'm writing this post at 3:30 in the morning. Undoubtedly I'll be tired tomorrow, too.

post removal

I went ahead and took down my "Toxic People" post because my said cousin and I got things worked out, at least to an extent.

Family stuff. Gotta love it.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Recording went well last night. It was neat to see Hummie Mann conduct. I hope to have it on my soon-to-be launched website soon. (Technically the website is already up, but there's not much to view or listen to on it right now.)

The piece was to score a non-existent scene from O. Henry's short story "Gift of the Magi." My aim was to write something that showed two struggling people in love, but was also something they might hear on the radio in those days.

Anyway, today I'm taking my external drive to school to download the recording (and others). Today I need to turn my attention to a student film, so I might be able to mix the recording from last night tomorrow or Sunday.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Word Verification

Are you guys getting word verification when you comment? Reason i ask is I seem to be getting spam comments from time to time, and while my account says word verification is "on," it's not showing when I comment on my own blog. Thanks.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Being Human Season Two

I've not seen any of it yet, despite my love for this great, quirky little show. I've wanted to. The BBC in the UK is being very stingy about letting us Americans view it. (Well, not really; it's just not on BBC America yet.) If any of my British friends watch it, tell me: is it good? The evil professor thing seems really interesting.

Don't spoil it. Just tell me if it's good.

Friday, February 19, 2010

New Routine?

Okay. I really love the yoga routine Baron Baptiste does, but the full routine is an hour and a half. I don't have that kind of time. I hear Jillian Michaels is coming out with a new yoga CD (three routines, 20 minutes each). Just how kick ass is she?

Also, any workout routines you guys love and want to share would be appreciated. I'm looking for something where I can get a lot of work done in a short amount of time. Michaels claims to do that. Thoughts?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Coming Soon

Progress on the new site, but I'd like to get a few more samples up before I post the link here.

I saw The Wolfman and a little European film called The White Ribbon. I'm hoping my tiny epiphany in listening to Elfman's score in The Wolfman will help. The Muse was nowhere to be found yesterday.

In my humble opinion, the editing in TW was odd. And TWR was rather disturbing, but thought-provoking.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Art of Having Fun

I feel a real pang of guilt if I'm not working on something for school or writing or just generally doing something creative when I'm not in class or working or teaching, but lately I've been feeling tapped out with pretty much everything.

Last night I was walking home from the train and it dawned on me that I honestly can't remember the last time I went to see a movie just for the hell of it, or sat in a coffee shop and read for pleasure, or went out for a drink with friends, or wandered around the Art Institute, or just ran down Michigan Avenue for no reason. In short, I can't remember the last time I had FUN. Lately I've felt almost literally chained to my computer.

What prompted this was that I ended up riding the train with my classmates, and it was real work to make conversation—while their conversation flowed as easily as water down a creek. And that sort of thing has been going on for so long I'm pretty sure I seem socially awkward. But you know, I think it's just I've forgotten the Art of Having Fun.

So this weekend I'm going to see The Wolfman for no reason at all. And maybe I'll wander around a few bookstores or something just for the hell of it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tweet Me

Got word on a couple of new projects, one related to school. Well, both related to school, as one might be my thesis project. And you know, one of my contacts was through Twitter. Just made almost 20 potential friends and contacts in the past couple of days. Don't tell me Twitter is useless!

Also, you may have noticed I added my Twitter feed. A new blogger site complete with music downloads will be up soon. Probably I'll just keep this blog as a personal "hey how ya doing" kind of thing. I'll still post a lot. Especially about books.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Extra Shipping

Hah - just a fun post here.

Other guys for whom I'd pay extra shipping:

And this guy seems so sweet I'd totally pay premium shipping charges for him:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Why Hello There

If the author came with this book, I would totally pay extra shipping.

Also: possibly turned down a sweet temporary copyediting position with the company owned by the famous-billionaire-Chicago-talk-show-host-who-shall-not-be-named-even-though-I've-never-signed-a-confidentiality-agreement-with-her. I offered myself part-time and forwarded my availability to my recruiter—who, incidentally, after a year and a half, may just be fed up with my turning down job offers because of school.

Manuscript Tracker

Manuscript Tracker is a free software application designed to help you track your queries and submissions. A cursory check into its features shows it gets the job done. You can list your titles, word counts, and "genre" (which is really/also your format list). In the notes you can supply dates submitted and whatnot.

I would love to see production suites such as Celtx add a feature like this (Celtx is now upgradeable to 2.7), or Manuscript Tracker to add a feature where you can upload the actual manuscript in question. But there are ways around that.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ars Memoriae

Ars Memoriae is a novella by Beth Bernobich, an alternative history of England. A tight read clocking in at 80 pages, it put me in mind of Jon LeCarré's The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. I felt I was missing references. Like fairyhedgehog, I wasn't sure how much I was actually missing and how much was due to the writer deliberately being opaque. If anything, I think I would have liked the book to be longer. I liked the ending, though, and the cover is stunning.

At any rate, this was sent to me by fairyhedgehog. If you would like to read it and review it, here are the rules:

1. You must be the first person to request the book in responding to this post.
2. You must have a blog to which you post regularly.
3. You'll take a photograph of the book somewhere in your home.
4. You'll post your review and photo on your blog.
5. You send the book along to the first person who replies and will photograph/review/pass it on.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Letter from a Birmingham Jail

This is a bit late, but I thought I'd post this letter by Martin Luther King, Jr. in commemoration not only of Martin Luther King day, but of the ongoing struggle for human rights.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Night Off

I passed my Logic Pro certification exam, which means I'm qualified to teach it, at least at a basic level. This way I can make decent money teaching and still work as a composer. Right now I'm squeaking by about as well as Haydn did during his eight years of teaching.

My copy of Lisa Mannetti's The Gentling Box finally came, but I shouldn't complain since it really came at the right time. Meaning I might not have passed the test had it come a couple of days ago, because . . . who can resist a horror story about Gypsies and the supernatural? I can't, that's for sure.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Clarity of Night contest

Below is my Clarity of Night contest entry. First time doing this.

As the Crow Flies

We're taking you to new land, they tell us. We need yours for our crops. So they force us to walk the thousand mile journey across the plains and through forests. We do not mind the lack of roads; the land gives us our nourishment and tells us all we need to know to find our way. We need no maps.

My brother stumbles along beside me, sick with the illness they brought. I hold onto a thin hope to find herbs to cure him, though in my heart I know the sickness is beyond the power of our medicine—our mother and sister died of this illness, their skin fevered and hot. My brother complains of the same aches, and I can feel the heat rolling off him like smoke from a well-lit fire. I know I will soon lose him, too.

Our father died as well, but in battle. I wish I could be brave like him, to rise up and fight, but I look at their weapons and know I never could. I have seen what those weapons can do.

I am very tired now. I want to lay down and sleep, but I know that is impossible. Instead I close my eyes for a moment, praying to the Creator that he'll bring the eagle, our symbol of victory.

I look up. A crow flies overhead. For a moment I despair. But then I realize that, like the crow and the wolf, we will survive our doom.

Now I am off to shower and study for my Logic Pro certification. Really behind.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Just had a great discussion about art over at Evil Editor's blog. It started out as a discussion about Charles Burns's graphic novel Black Hole, but morphed into a discussion about novels vs. graphic novels, and then about objectivity and subjectivity in art.

I'm of two minds about objectivity and subjectivity. I think, for the artist - for me, at least - there has to be objective criteria in order to make good art. There are just certain things composers and writers and artists need to know in order to produce anything at all, let alone something good.

Picasso knew just as much about painting as DaVinci. He deliberately took a different route when he saw that painters were making paintings as realistic as photographs. Where does realism go from there? So at first glance if his paintings look like they were drawn by a child, does that make him a bad painter? Or does a closer inspection reveal something more? Do viewers need a greater sensitivity when viewing Picasso versus DaVinci? What about that velvet Elvis?

But once the art reaches the viewer, all bets are off. You can't tell people what to like or what to appreciate. It's like granting permission to people to like certain things. You can't tell someone else what they should value. (Quoting Ril - which was a great way to put it.)

I see this in music all the time, especially classical. Classical musicians moan the death of their music, that no one truly appreciates the hours of arduous practice or the beauty of the music. People would rather watch Survivor than go to a symphony. And I agree that music education is something we're missing in schools nowadays. (El Sistema, I think, has the best chance of "saving" classical music - see this post.)

But I don't mourn the death of classical and jazz. I think there's a hunger that's still out there; many people seem to realize they're missing something. I'm always amazed in my teaching just how hungry my students are. I think many teachers (myself included) make the assumption that most people who take lessons don't really want to learn - or they want music taught in such a way that it's made easy.

But it's not easy. Even for prodigies, music is hard. That's its nature. And I'm always surprised at how many students accept that early on. Not all of them do, but most can sense if I'm going easy on them, and nine times out of ten they lose interest. The harder I am, the more they seem to like it (generally). So I think there's definitely a hunger out there.

But you know what? Different tastes is what makes the world go 'round. That, and whatever force keeps the Earth spinning on its axis.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Celtx 2.5

For those of you interested in writing movie scripts or comic books, I strayed across a great open source application when looking for something comparable to Final Draft (which I currently cannot afford) called Celtx. (Open source, as I'm sure you know, means it's free.)

You can download it here.

It presumably follows "industry standard" formatting for your film scripts since its inspiration was Final Draft. Celtx operates as a full pre-production suite, in which you can write your projects in different forms: comic book script, film script, novel, and storyboarding. (In the storyboarding feature you can scan and upload your sketches). It also includes a feature to keep track of your production schedule.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Mira's List

I'd like to call attention to a wonderful blog I stumbled on a few months ago. Mira is an artist who was hit by an eighteen wheeler and survived. Despite living with traumatic brain injury (TBI), she keeps this wonderfully organized and informative blog on arts funding - and not just for the visual arts, but for writing (ahem!), filmmaking, and performance artists (including musicians). Check it out here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


So I really only have one resolution for this year. Well, that's not entirely true, but it seems to me that this year I just didn't have much fun. So that's my goal for this year. More fun. If I find it through creative outlets, great—but if I find it in a bar filled with . . . I don't know . . . female impersonators getting me drunk and giving me makeup tips, that's okay, too.

Friday, January 1, 2010


Just a short post to say I may not make it to the festivities on EE's blog. (Is he even aware this is going to happen?) Will be preparing to travel and then traveling today. I will try, though. What time is this shindig going to happen, anyway?

Also. I don't know about you, but I plan to start the New Year by seeing Robert Downey, Jr. with his shirt off.

You should, too.