Latest Audio Release - Hold Your Head Up

Forrest and Dawn Playing Music 2017

This last weekend, two recording sessions produced two new covers to release. Video won’t be available for awhile, because, honestly, with one of me, I can’t keep up with the processing. Tuesday last, I posted he audio of Nothing Else Matters, a very special piece to Forrest and me, but, while I uploaded the audio of Hold Your Head Up, I didn’t have enough time allotted to get it linked in and properly labelled. I did manage to get it up on SoundCloud, but barely. There’s no cover art, yet, so I’m using one of our defaults. Again, just not enough of me to go around. Enjoy.


An Epic Session Despite Residual Effects

Nothing Else Matters

Residual effects from recording our video tribute to Chris Cornell still plaguing me, namely an ear-worm that’s been playing itself over and over in my head for a solid week, we set up for recording again, this time to record Forrest’s arrangement of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters.

Nothing Else Matters has special significance for Forrest and I. It’s our love song, describing in music and words, how we feel about one another and, truly, about life with each other …and life in general, too. The music evokes the kindled essence of who and what we are to each other, to life, and to ourselves. The lyrics express our attitude, feelings, and perspective about life, others, society, and, yes, even the core of our love to and for one another. It’s our song in a lot of ways, far beyond normal significance.

Enough of all that stuff, though. Back to the session.

Because it’s rock, we keep it strictly in time to its intended tempo, recording under headphones to a click track …which makes it a bit of a trick, because intonation (staying on pitch) on the flute requires subtle adjustments, note by note on the fly …which requires both ears listening. To complicate things, the flute has delay (sometimes called echo) on it in places, and, later, both the guitar and the flute are under heavy distortion, the guitar chunky, the flute gritty and reedy. For me, this makes performing it a careful thing, because I must compensate accordingly for the signal lag that happens to the flute under distortion patches.

Add to that, in this session, my red light fright made my back and neck rigid with tension. Halfway through, it felt like I had knives or, maybe, ice picks, stuck, both, in the back of my neck and in my lumbar region — nasty, piercing, metallic sensations that worsened with the most subtle movement. By the end of the session, I was greedily, needily eyeing a bottle of pain killers, something I rarely ever take, no matter what. I managed to finish the session without resorting to chemical numbing, but just.

A few stretches, bends, and deep breathing techniques cleared the problem within minutes once I fled the studio, escaping outside into the night, there to assuage my taut nerves with gentle darkness and kind evening breezes. Then came the sound.

Session done, Forrest had opened up the studio windows and was playing the recording. It filtered out into the night and, listening, I felt awed. That was us!  From a distance, It sounded epic, and that’s saying something for a flute and guitar duo of a song that brings me, a woman who doesn’t cry, to the brink of tears.

“Nothing Else Matters”

So close no matter how far
Couldn’t be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
And nothing else matters

Never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words I don’t just say
And nothing else matters

Trust I seek and I find in you
Every day for us something new
Open mind for a different view
And nothing else matters

Never cared for what they do
Never cared for what they know
But I know

So close no matter how far
Couldn’t be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
And nothing else matters

Never cared for what they do
Never cared for what they know
But I know

I never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words I don’t just say
And nothing else matters

Trust I seek and I find in you
Every day for us something new
Open mind for a different view
And nothing else matters

Never cared for what they say
Never cared for games they play
Never cared for what they do
Never cared for what they know
And I know

So close no matter how far
Couldn’t be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
No nothing else matters

 


A Monday Spent in Recovery

A whirlwind weekend — rehearsal, recording, videography — the resulting video a tribute to a rock star recently passed.  Long hours, long days, longer nights, then Monday.

After getting Forrest to the truck, I desperately needed ‘down time’ and quiet to grab a little sleep. And, of course, as soon as I fell comatose into bed, Mom said that a friend showed up. I guess they stayed quite awhile, glancing every so often toward the door to my bedroom that sits at one end of a balcony span overlooking the great room. But I was far gone into oblivion, literally banked by a protective passel of cats, Laddie, the dog, snoozing away, guard-of-the-door.

I didn’t get more than the necessities done yesterday. I couldn’t. I was wobbling on my feet with exhaustion. But it was a happy, productive weekend, which is nice. We actually rehearsed, recorded, and successfully video recorded Forrest’s arrangement of Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell. Then I compiled the video.

It took five-and-a-half hours to put the video together, and, that, for me, is miracle fast, because I usually spend at least three days compiling them.  I wanted it done by the time Forrest woke, so pulled an all nighter after getting house and hold battened down for the night.  And I managed it — just. On render, there’s only one not-so-glaring mistake — quite a feat when you’re doing something on-the-fly.

The response to it has been lackluster, but that’s okay. We’re happy.

While yesterday was recovery, today I’m feeling like ‘the day after’. You know the feeling, I’m sure. Over-indulgence in anything carries an aftermath of echoed requite.

So, meanwhile, here’s our version of Black Hole Sun.

 


How to be a Hugely Successful Published Author

First off, you have to write a book …or get somebody to write it for you, but it has to be one that is going to strike the fancy of ‘the mob’. (Think 50 Shades….)  If you don’t have something that’s going to strike a chord with the masses, then you’re just one insignificant among the millions of others publishing in the U.S., never mind globally.

Now, before doing anything else, and I mean anything (no queries to literary agents, no submissions to publishers, or, if self-publishing, no announcements, no pre-publication notices or pre-release sales, no cover reveals…NOTHING), lets go down the checklist:

  • Are you an extrovert? Yes?  Good.  Continue.
  • Are you part of one or another ‘in’ crowd, hugely popular both in the real world and on social media, and do you have a frenzied bunch of followers who dote on your every word, video, and image share? Yes? Good. Continue.
  • Do you have a bunch of money to fling to the winds? Yes? Good. Continue.
  • Are you already famous? Yes? Excellent. If no, continue at your own risk.
  • If self-publishing, get a really good cover made for your book. If going the literary-agent-to-big-traditional-publisher route, start querying the big agents, but, after landing one who actually manages to shop your book to one of the big five, expect to wait about 1.5 years before going to the next step.
  • Whether self-publishing or going with one of the big trads, hire a top-of-the-line publicist, buy lots of advertising, and get on with it.

And, no, this is not tongue-in-cheek. And, yes, you’ll come out behind for the first book, but, if it’s a hit like 50 Shades…, no problem. You’ll make it back on books 2 and 3. If it’s not a hit, continue with books 2 and 3 at your own risk …and, yes, if it’s not a hit and traditionally published, your publisher may very well dump you; your agent probably will, too.

One more thing: If you do make it, hire a financial adviser and learn what NOT to do so you don’t wind up blowing your wad and end up in the poor house.

 


A Contemplative Space

I adore living in the forest, out in the country, away from the hurly-burly, hurry-up world. I like owning the option to choose when and whether to participate in something, and I usually choose to abstain. I’ve got better things to do than clutter up my life with extraneous, mind-numbing activities perpetuated by those seeking to make a buck off of another’s gullibility and boredom.

Boredom? How, I wonder, with so much to do and experience, can anyone be bored? The gullibility? Well, I suppose I could blame the public schools for that, but I won’t.

As I live in the real world, so do I prefer my Internet experience to reflect my life preferences — intelligent, interesting, pursuing beauty, knowledge, and flights of thought born of curiosity, dreams explored, and, yes, intelligent discourse, but lacking brazen busyness and clutter. Give me elbow room and choice, unsullied by mindless noise, purposefully invasive interruptions, blatant duns, auto-streaming, and requirements to attend what someone else deems I must with the aim of either lining their pockets or plumping their ego. I won’t and don’t build websites like that, and I won’t and don’t utilize websites or social media platforms that employ those tactics. Use them and you lose my any support and participation forever. And, no, I neither desire to know nor hold any interest in whether or not you ate a bagel for breakfast.

I think people who live immersed in hurly-burly hurry-up get inured to it, and, when it vanishes, they suddenly feel frightened by its cessation. I think people used to noise can’t enjoy its absence; used to bright, invasive, strobing light, are stunned and, maybe even terrified, by its lack; used to crowds shoving and pushing, feel suddenly abandoned once alone; used to being herded, lack ability to guide themselves. They fear the silence and the quiet. They cannot hear without cacophony. They cannot see without dazzle. They cannot feel without pummeling. They cannot find direction without coercion.

Rats in a maze; life as a herd-beast.

Not for me.

I have a friend who lives deep within one of the busiest cities in the nation. Yet, when you visit, his home is a quiet, contemplative space. You’d never realize that, outside his door, millions of people shove and push, shout and scream, rush and hurry. You’d never realize that strobing lights and a deluge of horns and sirens saturate the atmosphere. Inside, there is tranquility. He rarely ventures out. I don’t blame him, not at all.

 


Trump, Raul Labrador, & the USPS

I blame Trump …or Raul Labrador. I have no proof that it is Trump and his policies that caused this, but I can’t think of any other reason why, suddenly, my mother who has lived at the same address since the last third of the twentieth century and gotten her mail at a post office box in town for the same amount of time should suddenly have to prove to the USPS that she is, in fact, an Idaho resident who actually lives at a residence in the state of Idaho by providing such proof with, not just an official photo ID, but a rental receipt/lease contract/mortgage payment receipt/deed of trust/deed. Ah…really?!

And, yes, that’s what they were demanding! Got this form in the mail demanding this or they would shut down her P.O. Box.

Pissed me off.

I called the post mistress at 8:30 am when the place opened, and we’re such a small post office that it was the post mistress herself who answered the phone.

Quizzing her, she admitted that, yes, this was a demand for record updates for people who had applied and continued to use their post office boxes for decades. “At the time when the application was filled out, everybody knew everybody else and the forms didn’t have all the identification requirements they have now. It’s no fun for us, either,” she told me. “We’ve got over 200 of these to process, and a lot of them are people like your mom who are elderly and have lived here all their lives. Nobody’s pleased about this hardship, but we have to do it. We have to update our records.”

Why now? Why, after all these years of payment upon payment to the USPS by check for the post office box on a yearly basis? Why all of a sudden, with the threat of denying Mom access to her decades upon decades mailing address?

Trumpkin — that’s my guess. And what’s he trying to do? Maybe find out:

a. who owns what assets,

b, who is a transient, and/or,

c. who isn’t a legitimate U.S. citizen.

Now, the post office no longer has chairs or benches provided to sit upon…which they got rid of a while back. (They also got rid of garbage cans, and, on the weekend, when I go get the mail, they also take out the giant junk mail recycle bin, too! How effing thoughtful.)  Back to the lack of chairs, though.  If Mom were to go in, which they require, mind you–in person–she would have nowhere to sit. Mom, who can’t stand for very long, would be in dire straits unless I loaded her into her wheelchair, something she’s never keen on, preferring to walk with her cane.

Call me ticked off.

Well, I got the legal documentation required, not that supposedly required by the USPS form, but by LAW, after researching it and checking with a lawyer. A utility bill would function, along with her state ID card. I sent a utility bill and her ID with her and her friend Patrick off to the post office. I sent her with Patrick because he’s one of those people who keeps a cool head and always manages to say the politically correct thing, where I’m more apt to tell them all what I really think.  It worked. They didn’t even whimper. They did not require Mom to go into the post office, but allowed her to sit in the truck to sign the form after accepting the picture ID and the utility bill as proof of residency–not a whimper.

Whoever thinks that they have a right to look at our deeds, or any other private asset papers can go stuff their heads up their rectal orifice and suck hard. And whoever thinks that a U.S. citizen shouldn’t have the right to a mailing address, even if they’re homeless, ought to be gutted with a dull antler and left to suffer until dead.


Blunt Honesty from a zentaoist POV

Here’s some honesty:

In social circles, or, better said, by human judgement, your value is often measured by ‘successful’ achievements, by your name and heritage, by what you do for a living, by how lucky you are, by who likes and loves you and who doesn’t, by how much money you have in the bank and your status in relation to others. These are quantitative measurements.

And it’s all false.

In reality, your value, which can only be measured by you and no one else, is a qualitative, not quantitative one. It’s based on who you are as a Self, an entity, or, better said, as an entity consciousness. It’s not what you do for a living, how many assets you control, what you own, what kind of car you drive or the house(s) you own in which neighborhoods, who you’re friends with or related to, who values you and who doesn’t, your status amongst peers or any other nonsense. And it is nonsense.

In zentao, we say that we are what we do, but that ‘saying’ — those words — can mislead the uninformed. It’s not whether you dig a ditch or perform successful brain surgery. It’s not whether you build rockets, lead an organization, or raise children. It’s not ‘what’ you do, as in some job label, that defines you, but, rather, the ‘what’ of yourself with which you do anything. It’s the quality that matters. It’s the intent that matters. It’s the essence of the very doing that matters.

If you cut wood for a living, it says nothing about you, the self. If you clean septic tanks, likewise. Or write legal briefs. Or build cars. Or run a multi-national conglomerate. Or a country. Rather, it’s the nature of your intent and intensity — what you pour into the doing of yourself into that project, that job, that ‘doing’, that is the measure of yourSelf. And the judge of that doing isn’t others — it doesn’t matter whether they deem it of value. Rather, it’s what you yourself KNOW — that you did your utmost with pure heart and clean intent.

Labels mean nothing. At all. I tire of friends who brag upon the supposed accomplishments of themselves and of others whom they claim as friends, the very fact of that friendship some supposed measure of their own value as a person.  Bunk.

I tire of the long lists of Fortune 500 names they drop. I tire of the relations they claim as uncle, aunt, grandfather, or great grandmom. It means nothing — nothing at all.

What matters is who they are, not who they know, not who they are related to by blood, nor the mammon they have managed to hoard. What matters is how they do anything, even breathe — how they live their lives, in their hearts and with their minds.  Do they, when they set out to do something, whether they fail or succeed in that task, do it fully and completely to their utmost? …Because what matters is what of themselves they commit to any and EVERY moment of being and doing. And that’s the blunt truth of the matter.

It’s not ‘what’ you do, as in job, but how you do it, not measured by false standards of success or failure, but, rather a ‘how’ of pure intent and pure self-immersion in expression.

When we say ‘we are what we do’, what we mean is: Every doing we undertake, we do with our utmost, pouring ourselves into it to the fullest perfection, willingly and thoroughly, with complete commitment of ourselves in that doing. If you don’t commit yourself to that level of doing regardless of what it is — washing dishes, taking the garbage out, raising a child to majority — anything — then you’re doing injustice to your Self and insulting, even, yes, vulgarly desecrating the very resources utilized to perform that any action, activity, or project, including the resources utilized to maintain your life  — the very air you breathe and foodstuffs that sustain you.

In short, if the quality of your every moment of being isn’t committed to the utmost expression of being and doing YOU, then you defame your Self.


Playing Tull's Living in the Past

Living In The Past Strip

 

For me, playing Tull’s Living in the Past requires a lot of air. In fact, most Tull pieces require it. To be even modestly effective it trying to mimic the Tull flute characteristic sound, I have to push the brink of where the tone breaks to the harmonic and do so while purposely angling the air column so that it cuts across the outer edge of the blowhole just a certain way. I also have to adjust the delivery and shape of each note as well as my tonguing and how I depress the keys. Here are the details:

Overblowing the sound for this piece I accomplish by, both, pressurizing the air column and increasing the amount of air I’m pushing. This increases and intensifies the speed of the airstream as it cuts across the blowhole. Simultaneously, I also angle that airstream just so, getting the far edge of the blowhole to, quite literally, sharply slice that airstream. It’s what makes that ‘edgy’ sound — a subliminal whistling of wind that’s partly due to the speed with which the air is crossing the blowhole and rushing into and through the body of the flute, and partly due to the angle. This gives the resulting sound its intensity and razed effect. I’m using twice as much air as usual and the embouchure control has to be meticulous to control it. Of course, sometimes the sound does break, and that’s okay. That happens when I stop being so careful and drive the sound too hard. But I find I like the sound, even when it does break.

I also had to adjust my tonguing technique, going back to ‘the wrong way’ of doing it, using the harsher ‘t’ consonant taught by band teachers, instead of ‘du’ and ‘da’ flutists actually use for hard tonguing.

With that ground work employed, then the actual notes have to be formed with the breath using diaphragm control combined with the mouth shape and tongue so that the shape of each punctuated note, whether soft or hard, is shaped like a mushroom, not like the usual ‘O’ pinched at both ends, the soft, big pillow, or a wedge, these latter three being examples too classical in style to get the right effect for Tull rock.

I find myself shortening the duration of the notes, which I shouldn’t, but, with using the ‘mushroom’, I find I want to start ‘bouncing’ the notes — again, another classical technique — instead of what I’m supposed to be doing, namely, ‘punching’ them and then letting them (p)lay out.

Lastly, I have to use a lot of mouth effects in certain passages, but, in Living in the Past, the use is subtle, not overt, so I’ll talk about that when we release one of the pieces where the use of mouth effects is very distinct and noticeable.

It’s very typical of ‘rock’ flute to combine techniques not usually utilized together and do it in a way that produces a distinct and unique energy and grit to the sound. I’m not yet very proficient at it, but I’ve got a start, anyway.

Living In The Past, Video Size


What's Important? Not That, For Sure.

Animals and people, both, are starving, in pain, suffering needlessly. Wild places, native habitat, even whole countries (Syria, for instance) are being consumed by varied disruptive forces, be it climate change, greed-driven destruction, or war, leaving nowhere for those displaced–animals, plant, and human–to survive. And what do I come across this morning? An article decrying the ‘bra tax’. Really?! And I countered, what about pharmaceuticals? That’s more critical, for sure, isn’t it? What about food, clean water, clean air, health care, safety from warring factions?

I am constantly faced with just how ludicrous is the furor and foment over non-critical issues. Reminds me of the airhead decrying her broken acrylic nail and another whose favorite salon girl was sick and couldn’t lavish skilled hands on her tresses. Then there’s the upset over, of all things, Oscar night or who won the Stupid Bowl. Really?!

Oh, my. How very insulated and trite.

“Omigod. I don’t have any cell phone signal.” I know, I know–the sky is falling, the sky is falling, you can’t text your bff, is that it? Gee. Really tough, ain’t it! Meanwhile, your grandmother can’t afford the medications that keep her alive. But you don’t care. You’ve got to TEXT. You’ll just DIE if you can’t!

You know, there are certain times when I just want that Big Daddy in the Sky you all so fervently believe in to wipe the slate clean, and, no, I’d say to him, please don’t try again. It’s hopeless, a bad model, a worse idea. Intelligent design, my ass.


Resolve to be Kind

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I have an aversion to cruelty. I especially have an aversion to cruelty perpetuated by humans. I think it, not just unnecessary, but the true evil, the only real evil–sentient-made and sentient-perpetuated.

We humans don’t need to perpetuate cruelty/evil. We don’t need to embrace and accept it, much less applaud it.  Yet, we do. And, while I very much understand the underlying factors which contribute to the behavior, I refuse to give credence to any permissive-minded excusing of it.

No.

As sentient beings, we humans have choice–a choice to refuse to act out our fear-based hatreds and craving-based greeds. We have a choice to be kind or cruel in any circumstance. And we have an obligation to be kind, not cruel. To ourselves and to all other entities, sentient and insentient. To do otherwise, to choose cruelty over kindness, condemns us in our own self, by our own memories–etched in our brains, our cells, even our DNA, to self-condemnation.

You can scoff. You can cry out that your personal savior, be that Jesus or some other, will wash away your every sin and you are forgiven. But the fact of your deeds is indelibly scribed, and while your personal savior might forgive you, you remember and, by your every cruelty, will self-condemn.

Now, psychologists will argue that self-condemnation requires conscience, and conscience is determined by cultural conditioning and neurology. They will point out that cultural norms define what is and what is not identified as cruel, as bad or good. They will point out that the sociopath has no conscience.

Right and wrong, according to psychology, is relative, yet science identifies a moral generator that develops in primates and in human children, the latter beginning at the age of four, despite culture and upbringing–a sense of fairness, scientists call it. It’s genetically ingrained, probably rooted in evolution of the species. Regardless, it exists and can be measured. It’s very much past time that we employ it for our own peace of mind and for the betterment of ours and every other living thing’s existence. To do less, even if conscience must be learned, as in the case of the sociopath, is to condemn yourself and the human species as truly, remorselessly evil.

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