My Morning Funny

Dawn's Azumi flute

So, husband texts, asking which pieces I’d like to rehearse when he gets home. I give him a rather extensive list of well over a dozen difficult pieces. An hour-and-a-half later, when I’m working through number four on the list, he texts to tell me that he’s hit all of them, so we’re good to go, and he’s heading out …which means he’s starting his assigned heavy-haul KW semi- and heading toward customs to get back into the U.S.

I sit there staring at that text, thinking, ‘You hit that entire list? In an hour-and-a-half? Wow!’ Then comes my sigh of frustration.

Music is so totally in his hand, and so is his instrument. What I have to work weeks at, he manages in a few minutes, or, at most, a few run-throughs during his practice sessions.

Laughter strikes me. It’s only fitting, I think, that me, who spent decades in formal study, grilled and drilled, has to work very hard to come up to speed, while he, who had no formal education in music or his instrument, can toss off really, really intricate, difficult riffs like it’s nothing and hit them every time.

I used to be that good, but with a qualifier: only after years and years of determined practice and only by continuing daily practice, practicing every day, at least four hours a day, could I be that adept and agile, my sight-reading top-notch, my ability to toss off brand new pieces superb, and my repertoire flawless — four hours of practice a day. And that, my friends, is the difference between a virtuoso musician (him) and somebody who’s just talented.

Azumi flute


When the POG2 and the Digitech Throw Tantrums

DigitechRP1000, POG2, and Dawn, Strip

Like I mentioned previously, there’s a lag between playing a note and it sounding through the PA. It’s not much. It’s usually not that noticeable …unless I’m playing under heavy distortion or using the stomp loop to bring up the POG2’s multiple voicing to go along with some of the Digitech RP1000’s distortion or flanger or …whatever makes the sound ‘happen’. Then, it can be noticeable milliseconds of lag, requiring me to really lead the beat. Occasionally, though, the units actually throw tantrums.

I was practicing some difficult foot switching between patches on a piece where I’m playing some fast, upper register lines. As I switch between patches, I’m hearing wobbles the moment I bring the parts up to speed …which, admittedly, really gallop along. I slow the tempo down, and the wobbling disappears. Bring the tempo back up, and there are the wobbles, again.

I’m one of those people who looks, first, to themselves as creating or causing the problem. A check with effects off, though, showed that, I was playing the part accurately. Bringing the effects units back online, I tried again, only to find that, sure enough, at speed, the wobbles happened. Now, I knew that neither the Digitech nor the POG2 like the flute’s third register’s upper high notes played at speed, but this particular glitch hadn’t ever exposed itself to my hearing before …maybe because, stressed out about just getting the switches hit when I should, I wasn’t listening — all too possible. Now I was listening, though.

Trying the line without the POG2 didn’t improve things. Trying the line with only the POG2 on and bypassing the Digitech, also didn’t make things go smoother.  I began trying various other patches on the Digitech with the POG2 off. Okay. That worked. I tried other voicing on the POG2.  Okay, too.  It was both the Digitech’s patch and the voicing being asked of the POG2 that were throwing problems, and isolating one, the other, or having them both working together didn’t make any difference. They did not, either of them, like that line played at speed and were vehemently voicing their objections through the PA.

It made me laugh out loud to hear the machines in their grumbles. They were both having a devil’s time hitting the pitches that swiftly. Slow it down just a tad, and everything stabilized. Turn it up to burn speed, though, and both of them threw fits.

The funny things you have to deal with playing power-driven flute!

Digitech RP1000, the POG2 and Dawn


Author Community All Aflutter and Cluck. OMG!

So, a bunch of “legitimate, hard-working ‘authors'” are in an outrage. Feathers are kerfuffled, bent, even broken. Tsks, clucks, cries, and screams of outrage (text-style) flood the cyberlanes. SJW-style calls-to-action abound. Hands grab virtual pitchforks, clubs, hoes, and hatchets.

It might not make your local news, but, in the online author circles, the ripples are palpable, the temblors quaking their virtual landscapes. The headline reads: “Scammers Break The Kindle Store”. (If you’re interested, DuckDuckGo it, because, no, I won’t link to it or any of its reblogs.) What that headline should read is: “System-Gaming ‘Authors’ Beaten at Their Own Game,” because that’s what’s happened.

Authors ‘serious’ about getting their ‘eBooks’ noticed in the hopes of making both money and a name for themselves as ‘successful indie authors’ collect and then mine their followers, email list subscribers, author pals and cooperatives, friends, relatives, and anybody else they can to try to get their books highly ranked on Amazon and other online book selling venues. Calls-to-action abound with

  • Urges to read a provided eARC (eBook version of an Advanced Review Copy) then post reviews of the book on its release date or very soon thereafter. (Of course, four and five star reviews are expected.)
  • Coordination of blog posts among genre-similar associate authors promoting the book are pre-scheduled, as are blog tours.
  • Subscribers and followers are urged to buy within x days of release or an older release’s new promotion, with specific dates sometimes assigned.
  • Social media pals are sent copy to post pre-release, on release day, and the few days following that release.
  • Seeking permafree status on Amazon of an author’s first book or, better, of the first of a series, is something pursued with vengeance and artful manipulation.
  • BookBub campaigns, Book Gorilla campaigns, eliciting votes for best cover contests and best book contests….
  • et al. ad infinitum.

Here’s the reality: Legitimately good books written by legitimately good authors don’t usually make it to the top of any rankings, because most legitimately good authors don’t have the crowd charisma and marketing gumption (and, yes, I said ‘gumption’, defined as ‘boldness of enterprise; aggressiveness’, because that’s what it is) necessary to hold sway.  Success in eBooks, especially on Amazon, regardless of actually how good the book is (and most of them are, in fact, schlock) is based on how well the author of that top-ranked book has gamed the system, which is dependent upon ‘likeability’, luck, skill at manipulating the various ranking algorithms and, more so, skill at convincing others to raise you and your book’s popularity and sales/download/pages-read numbers.

So, indie authors are in an uproar …because outsourced clickfarms have stolen their tactics of inner circle clickfarming and are ruining their game-plan. Truth is, all the outsourced clickfarms are doing is exactly what the authors were doing, only much more effectively, it seems.

Me? I don’t find the outsourced clickfarming any less ethical than author-run efforts. In fact, I think I find them less offensive. Of course, my opinion is that of a tiny minority, and, I guess, it’s extremely offensive to people like Stuart Whitmore over on G+ who decided to resort to insults and trolling me over it. That’s okay. I expect that. I’m not and never have been willing to just go along to get along, embracing the most popular opinion just because it’s socially advantageous.


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

 


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.

 


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.


Resolve to be Kind

Earth-2-23-2016B2strip

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.

Earth-2-23-2016B2



Scroll Up