2 October, 2004

I mentioned in my September 27th journal entry that Microsoft Excel 98 for Macintosh was my favorite version of Excel. Well, it turns out I got my numbering all mixed up, which can happen when a company uses a really slipshod method for tracking version numbers of their software. The version of Microsoft Excel with the really cool features was Excel 2001 for Macintosh. I got that wrong. I kept meaning to correct the journal entry, but I couldn't decide how. I didn't want to just go back in and change the text. I thought about placing an editorial comment [kind of like this] at the end of the paragraph or maybe at the end of the entry. I finally just commented on the version number in the forum, but I still felt that something needed to be said here in the journal. After all, I've got the forum set to auto delete old posts so in six months time the correction would be gone. Something needed to go in the journal. Well, I dithered about where to put it and then just plain forgot about it. Now, I've remembered, but it has been long enough that I just figured I would make it part of a new journal entry

I probably didn't want to admit how much I liked Excel 2001 for Macintosh because the rest of Microsoft Office 2001 for Mac just really sucks. No, seriously, it is terrible. Microsoft Word and Powerpoint 2001 screw up old files. It causes instability in the operating system. Every computer I have seen upgraded from Office 98 to Office 2001 has become more propone to crashes and problems and shit. When I had a chance, I actually regressed my Macintosh back to Office 98. This caused some interesting problems as Microsoft Office hadn't bothered to tell me about some random files it had added that only worked with Office 2001. It was a real mess hunting down those files so that Office 98 would run properly.

Now that I have finished writing The Etymology of Fire, work on String Finger Theatre has been going pretty good. The Revenge of the Third Dimension storyline is closing on The Search for Zed's New Grove for the title of longest episode ever. I just hope that Revenge of the Third Dimension hasn't been too slow. I've worried about that a bit. Things would be running along and suddenly they would have this digression that would carry-on for about a week and a half. Oh, well, I'm trying to let the story roam wherever it may choose.

Actually, I figured Revenge of the Third Dimension was going to be a lot shorter because I really have reigned it in. I've dragged things back on track and kind-of worried that things were moving too swiftly. Whereas the first three episodes really just wandered and meandered wherever the hell they felt like it, this episode has been much more plot driven. I've been worried that this would hurt things, but I think it has still worked out okay.

I'm closing in on the end, but I'm not entirely certain how it is going to get there. I mean I do know how it is going to end, but the characters have been standing there. I've been thinking that I know what is supposed to happen next, but I've realized that there is still a slight disconnect between where they are standing and the ending. This has had me worried. I haven't been overly worried. I have faith that things will work out. They do tend to have this way of finding the exit. I just mean that I am nervous. I think I've got it, but I'm not sure.

I think I've also been worried about what was going to happen next. I don't really have a grand plan or design for another episode. Revenge of the Third Dimension really marks the end of the plans I kicked into gear with the first episode. Okay, episode three wasn't really part of the plan. I just knew that I wanted a distraction before getting back to the third dimension. I'm also a little worried about what is going to happen next because episode three was really touch and go for a while. I didn't know what was going to happen, and I kept trying to second-guess myself. The problem was probably that I made a conscious decision to make the plot as convoluted as I possibly could make it, and that probably wasn't a good idea. I'm just impressed that I was able to make it all work.

So, I've got an idea or two for another episode, but I don't really think they are full-fledge episode length ideas. They may be good for a laugh or two. They may even make for a good vignette, but they won't stand-up to the others. This may be a good thing as Revenge of the Third Dimension has carried-on for something like five months now. I'm just in shock that people have stuck with it and followed for so long.

Oh, which reminds me, I stumbled across a website that voiced some healthy criticism of String Finger Theatre. No, really, it was cool. Every once in a very great while, I will go to Google and do a search for String Finger Theatre. Well, this last time I got two hits. The first hit was for something called The Webcomic List. It's cool. It's got stats and junk about my web comic. I am currently number 517 out of 755 listings, which just makes me all happy inside. I'm not number 755. Yippie, I am not number 755.

The other website was this long list of web comics, and String Finger Theatre is somewhere near the bottom listed as experimental, which is really cool. I love being called experimental. The website went on to mention that String Finger Theatre tends to be slow but interesting.

The website then went on to mention some stuff that they would have done differently if they had created the comic. I'm kind-of on two minds about whether or not I should link to the web page because I'm worried I'll come across as antagonistic or something. You dare to criticize my genius? Well, you're just not as smart as a smart person, and your mother is older than you, too. So, I figured that I wouldn't link to the page, and I wouldn't address their comments point by point because it just makes me feel like I'm going oh, yeah? Oh, yeah? And, I don't want to do that.

However, I do think it is worth going over the general stuff that the page commented on. No, really, there really were some decisions that were made in the early going of the comic, and I can't remember if I've ever talked about that stuff in the journal. So, this is as good a time as any.

I can't draw. I've established that quite early. The characters make fun of my lack of drawing ability on a regular basis. I've only ever been able to do stick figures, and my stick figures have never had any distinguishing features. Okay, that is not entirely true. When I was a little kid drawing giant kung-fu robot stories, one of the stick figures might have triangles on their hands or a pyramid on the top of their head, but that was about it. So, when it came time to start drawing my industrious little web comic, it never even occurred to me to give the gang distinguishing marks. There would be no hats or glasses or capes or shoes or whatnot. Besides, this would really complicate the creation process and quite possibly triple the amount of work that went into each comic. It was much easier just to leave the simplistic stick figure drawings that I had done my whole childhood life. I did worry that they all looked alike, but I realized I could get some really good gags out of it. This includes one of my all time favorite comics, which is number twenty-six if you should care to look it up in the archive. It is the one with the indiscriminate extra who vowed revenge because Zed yelled at him.

I thought about giving them nametags, which is why it got mentioned more than once in the story. I thought it would be a good gag if one day they were suddenly all labeled with their name. The names would appear under the figures so as not to be confused too badly with dialog, but I never really liked the idea. I also realized that it would unduly increase the size of the comic, which was already scrolling off the screen.

The fact that the comic scrolled off the screen worried me but not enough to make it an issue. Besides, I have to scroll the screen to read Megatokyo, Real Life, and the Sunday edition of Sluggy Freelance so I figured the scrolling requirement wasn't that big a deal. It also worked with the idea that I would eventually compile the comic as a mini-comic book in which case the comic book panel format would work really to my advantage. It also just really shows off the comic book roots of String Finger Theatre.

I don't know if it makes a difference to anyone, but I really am going to do a mini-comic reprint version of String Finger Theatre. I just don't know when this will happen. I need time that I simply am not interested in dragging away from anything else I am doing. I also want to keep the mini-comic cheap. I would love it if I could sell them for something like three bucks each. Eighty pages for three bucks just strikes me as really cool. Of course, I have absolute no idea if I'll be able to do that. Kinko's wanted to charge me seven-fifty per book so I don't know what I'm going to do. I may be stupid for essentially wanting to loose money on every book just so I can keep the retail price down, but I'm not that suicidally stupid.

Oh, and just as a complete and total aside, I loose money every time somebody buys a copy of The Magic Flute from Of course, I still tell people they should get it through Amazon because I figure it is easier on people than writing and mailing me a check. I figure people are used to dealing with Amazon. The fact that I loose money every time it happens is really rather unimportant. Actually, this isn't even a big deal since I sell about one book a year.

Did I talk about the fact that String Finger Theatre is really slow? Yeah, I think I did. Yeah, I know the pace is really slow, and I actually happen to like the idea that the comic happens in its own time. Of course, I have also been known to really worry about the occasionally non-existent pace of the story. I thought I made a good joke out of keeping things moving in episode three. It just amused me no end to have a comic start with Mike doing a summation that just cut through a whole laundry list of things that could have kept the comic at a crawl.

Oh, yeah, and just in case you haven't noticed, String Finger Theatre exists to amuse me. It isn't done with the idea of providing flat-out belly laughs every single time, but it is done to be amusing. If the comic can continue to amuse me on a regular basis, then I am happy. If anybody out there also happens to be amused by something I have done to amuse myself, then that is all for the good. However, if you don't think String Finger Theatre happens to be funny, then go start your own damn comic and amuse yourself with it, okay?

String Finger Theatre exists to boost my spirits in an otherwise depressing and scary world. Shit, did you hear that some people in some parts of the world have actually endorsed Bush because it is easier to rile-up the masses against him than against Kerry? No, seriously, I heard on NPR this morning that one of those websites that gets mentioned on the news occasionally as a haven for naughty people said that they have no intention of disrupting our presidential election because they want Bush to win. So, don't worry. Go to the polls. Vote Bush. No boom Election Day. We want to hate your country, and we're worried that Kerry would make it hard to hate you. Vote Bush. Now, I happen to think that this attitude is just really fucked-up. It goes right up there on my list next to international drug cartels or whatever they are called pushing for strict anti-drug laws because it keeps the retail price of their product really high. So, do you understand why String Finger Theatre exists? Real life is just fucked. I need something amusing to make it through the day.

So now that The Etymology of Fire is done, I've been thinking about book two of The Faire Folk of Gideon, and I've got a bit of a dilemma. I want to work on it. I want to get started. I'm just chomping at the bit, but I don't want to just run off with my hands. I want to be sure I've got more than just the opening scene worked out, and I think I've got the basic idea going. So, I've been thinking about this, and I realized that I was putting too much thought into it. The Faire Folk of Gideon is supposed to be spontaneous. It is supposed to be unplanned. It is supposed to be wild and chaotic. I basically don't want to know what is going to happen from chapter to chapter before I write it, but I don't want to be stupid about it.

So, maybe you see my dilemma? How much do I plan? How much do I leave to chance? I know I can make it work. I'm still in awe over how well the first book came together. So, things are going to happen. Book two is going to get done. I'm just going back and forth in my head over how much should be planned before I get started.

I've also started reading back through The Etymology of Fire a bit. I really need to edit the monkey. I was going through it today, and I was crossing out whole sentences. I just have to balance this with also reading back through the first book of The Faire Folk of Gideon. I also want to get more done on the audio book for The Etymology of Fire, and I also want to get started on the audio book for The Faire Folk of Gideon. I was reading the first couple of paragraphs of The Faire Folk of Gideon out loud to myself, trying to find the voice, and I think I'm on to something. We shall see. We shall see.

9 October, 2004

Playing with Wordperfect again. No real reason for it. Just kind of felt like it. It is continuing to nag at me that I should do something about the old version of Microsoft Office that I continue to use. Microsoft Office 97 is not a bad program. In fact, it is rather good. It is simply the fact that nobody supports it anymore, and it is only a matter of time before whatever new version of Microsoft Windows that comes out simply will not allow my old version of Office to run. I am quite sure that Microsoft is really rather annoyed that I haven't given them money for the upgrade. I just do not want to do it. Every version of Microsoft Office to come out since Office 97 has simply struck me as bloated and unwieldy.

Okay, chances are that Microsoft neither knows nor cares that I am continuing to use an old version of their Office Suite. I mean I am sure if somebody brought it to their attention that they would say something along the lines of how I really should upgrade. It would be for my own good. There is no way I could get technical support for my ancient version of Office. It does not include any of the latest security holes that have been incorporated into the newer versions. Oh, wait, did I say holes? I meant to say security fixes. Yes, I really did mean to say security fixes. After all, this old version of the program was designed for a completely different version of the Windows operating system. My old version of Microsoft Office probably only continues to run because of some built-in emulation thing like is always switching on and off if you run a Macintosh computer with OS 10.

I have no idea if this is true. I mean this whole Windows XP thing may simply be clobbered on top of Quick-and-dirty OS just like Windows 3, 95, 98 and ME. I don't know what Windows NT was based on. It was probably based on UNIX; although, Microsoft will never in a million years admit that possibility. Oh, wait, before I get too carried away here, didn't you know that the original name of MS DOS was in fact QDOS? It is my understanding that QDOS stood for Quick and Dirty Operating System. I read that somewhere. Douglas Adams even wrote an essay about it.

So, I'm playing with Wordperfect again because I really don't want to get Microsoft Office 2003 or whatever they are calling it this year. I mean I'm not going to get it for the simple fact that I don't have the money. If I did have the money or needed to upgrade because of incompatibility issues, then I would really kind of like to get something other than the latest and greatest version of Microsoft Office.

Actually, I haven't really been playing that much with Wordperfect today. In fact, the first time I touched it today was to start writing this journal entry. I have spent the time today mucking around with Quattro Pro. Yeah, the program I just bitched up a storm about the last time I was experimenting with these here programs. I need a spreadsheet program. What can I say? I need a spreadsheet, and there is simply no purpose in ditching Microsoft Word for Wordperfect if I'm then stuck without one.

So, I decided what I needed to do was ignore the fact that the Perfect Expert help system is all screwed to hell in Quattro Pro and that I should just take a swing at the actual spreadsheet part. Well, after spending an hour or two with Quattro Pro, I've really started to like it. I know that an hour or two really isn't enough time to get to know a program, and I suppose I will continue to experiment with it when I find the time. Having said that, Quattro Pro is working well enough. I don't need any of the fancy features of a spreadsheet program. I just need to be able to track a list of incomes and expenses and have that work into a summary sheet.

So, I sat down with my Microsoft Excel files, and I started kind of rebuilding them in Quattro Pro. Yeah, I know, I could have just imported the files into Quattro Pro, but that wasn't the point. I wanted to see what I could do. I wanted to see how easy it was to set up an income ledger and an expense ledger. I wanted to see how easy it was to assemble four different pages of information into a single summary page, and the verdict is that it did a kick-ass job. It was easy. In fact, I found Quattro Pro much easier to use than Microsoft Excel, which really kind of surprised me. The interface is really different, which I think is what intimidated me so much the first time; however, it is really easy to use. I do not know how well it handles anything more complicated than adding two numbers together, but I really don't need a spreadsheet to do anything more complicated than that.

So, that is all for the good. I can work with Quattro Pro. I can work with Wordperfect. I can make this work. Of course, I don't think I'm actually going to do anything here. I think I would much rather stick with Office 97. I know that Word 97 and Excel 97 work. I don't care about Powerpoint or Access. I have never liked Powerpoint, and if I need a simple database program, which I don't, then I'll probably get Filemaker Pro. It is just so much more user friendly than Access.

I had made an Access database for tracking books sold and whatnot, but I quickly discovered that I did not need it. I have also had some time to work with Filemaker Pro and discovered that it is a lot more fun to work with than Access.

So, what I am thinking about doing as a way to continue experimenting with Wordperfect is to use it for book two of The Faire Folk of Gideon whenever I get around to working on it. I'm still considering the idea. On the one hand, it is a great way to put Wordperfect through its paces and really see how it compares to Microsoft Word. On the other hand, the move away from a familiar word processor might throw me off balance. I'm not overly worried about this since I started out with Wordperfect and only made the switch when Wordperfect's upgrade sucked. The verdict is still out on whether or not they have fixed Wordperfect, but I do rather like the built-in dictionary. With Microsoft Word, I have to use the thesaurus to try and figure out if the word really means what I think it does.

So, why haven't I started work on book two of The Faire Folk of Gideon, yet? Well, I've mostly been splitting my evenings and weekends working on String Finger Theatre and also editing The Etymology of Fire. Yeah, I wasn't certain if I was going to get to the editing right away. I kind of figured I needed some time away from that monkey, but it appears to be working out. I haven't tried to make any major changes, which is good. Everything I have done has been at the level of deleting a sentence here or changing a word there. Nothing dramatic has happen.

I've also worked a little bit with the audio version of the first scene of The Etymology of Fire. I got it into my head that I should spend at least an hour a week going through the file and taking out all the heavy breathing. Yeah, that was really starting to bother me. I figure it is almost okay to leave me breathing in the short stuff, but it would really start to get annoying with the long stuff. I think I'm on to something with the audio file editing. At least, it seems to be working. Only time will tell.

Okay, this journal entry hasn't gone the way I was thinking at all. I really didn't mean to go on and on about Wordperfect and Microsoft Word again. I just meant to mention that I was writing the entry in Wordperfect. I was going to mention that I had been playing around with Quattro Pro, and then I was going to tell an amusing anecdote or two. Oh, well. It is probably better this way. The anecdotes would have just been narcissistic and self-serving, anyway.

11 October, 2004

Okay, that last journal entry really stank. It was just dry as dust and generally lousy. It had no energy. There was no life to it. I want it to disappear as quickly as possible, which is why I'm writing a new entry now. This is what I get for having written an entry really late on a Saturday night with a cold brewing. I could feel the sniffles growing, and I even caught myself blowing my nose more than once that night. Of course, I had a full-on stuffed-up nose on Sunday, and it sure wasn't much fun today. I had even thought about taking today off from work, but there was some stuff I needed to make sure had gotten taken care of. There was this fax from Friday that I really needed to make sure had gotten to France. I also knew I couldn't call in sick because I had called in sick on a Monday only two weeks ago for a completely different cold. They weren't going to believe I had two colds in two weeks unless I actually showed up at the office displaying symptoms.

The cold from two weeks ago was totally different from the stuffed nose I've got now. The previous cold had been a real weak and achy number. Oh, man, that had been downright scary. I barely had the strength to move. My whole body ached. Okay, yeah, I know. You really want to hear about this, I'm sure. Anyway, it is just so annoying that I should catch another cold so soon after the last one. Samantha gave me this one since she had been suffering from it all last week. Nobody at work would have believed me if I hadn't gone into the office.

Which isn't even what I had considered writing about in this journal entry. Oh, yeah, I'm sure the whole wide world and everybody in it is just dying to know that I've been blowing my nose a lot the last couple of days. People really want to know about my headache, too, I am sure. You cannot have a stuffed-up nose without a headache to go with it. Yeah, the people really want to know about that. I am, of course, making fun of the fact that writing this journal kind of assumes that somebody is reading it. Not that anybody is reading this but who cares, right? It amuses me.

Okay, just to get off that topic and to hopefully drive the final nail into the whole Wordperfect nonsense, which is another topic that I'm sure the whole wide world is just dying to hear more about. I'm sick of Quattro Pro. I'm done with it. I'm finished with Quattro Pro, which also means I'm through with Wordperfect. I need a spreadsheet program, and I'm not going go shell out the money for both the Microsoft Office Suite and the Wordperfect Suite.

You want to know what is wrong with Quattro Pro? I did spend an awful lot of time on Saturday night talking about how much I liked the program. Well, that all died a quick death Sunday morning. Yeah, Sunday morning, I figured I would spend a few more minutes experimenting with Quattro Pro when the strangest thing happened. The program crashed, and then it did it again. It took me a minute to figure out what was going on. As near as I can tell, the program crashed whenever I attempted to open any of the files I had saved the night before, which means it cannot open its own files.

It cannot open its own files? Quattro Pro cannot open its own files? That is crazy! That is nonsense! That is just the stupidest thing! I'm sure it has got something to do with the way Quattro Pro came pre-installed on my computer. It's probably some little thing or other that Microsoft has done to ensure that the distinguished competition never actually works on any computer running Microsoft's own operating system. Yeah, that wouldn't surprise me one bit. But, you know what? I don't care. I'm done. Say goodbye to Quattro Pro. Say goodnight to Wordperfect. They are leaving town.

Of course, the real joke is that I'm sitting here writing this journal entry with Wordperfect. Well, it is just the fact that I can configure Wordperfect to automatically place the HTML paragraph tags at the beginning and end of every paragraph I'm writing. So, I figured, why not? I would go ahead and use Wordperfect this one last time for a journal entry. Hell, if I really feel like it, I might just keep using Wordperfect to write journal entries. There is no reason why I cannot do that. If I'm really feeling crazy, then I just might go ahead and start work on book two of The Faire Folk of Gideon in Wordperfect. There is absolutely no reason why I shouldn't except for the fact that I might be screwed should I ever upgrade my system. There is the possibility I would upgrade to a system that couldn't run whatever version of Wordperfect came pre-installed here. This is what got my started on this Wordperfect experimentation project in the first place. I need to be able to deal with the possibility that I might need to upgrade Microsoft Office, and I'm really not looking forward to doing that.

Anyway, none of which is what I wanted to write about here. Remember from Saturday's entry how there was in fact some stuff I had wanted to write about and I had simply been distracted by the whole Quattro Pro situation. Well, I thought I might have another go at writing about what I had intended to write about. It's not going very well. I've already got a page and a half here on the same crap as last Saturday, but I'm going to get to something more interesting any moment now.

I think it is official. I haven't bothered to try and count the comics, yet, but I do believe that the Revenge of the Third Dimension storyline is now the longest String Finger Theatre story. It has clocked The Search for Zed's New Groove, and it is still going strong. I'm hoping I'm near the end. Really, I am. I don't want this storyline to carry on forever. Things need to wrap up. Things need to stop. Other stories need to take place. The few people who actually bother to read my poor little excuse for a comic will get tired of the glacial pace and leave. This is assuming that they haven't left already. It's almost funny that I complain that Megatokyo isn't going anywhere but just look at what I do. My guys aren't going anywhere either. So, I've got to wrap things up and soon. I've got to get going on the next idea while I can still remember it.

I think I'm afraid to get started on book two of The Faire Folk of Gideon. I'm worried I won't have time to work on it. I fear that other things will just get in the way and that the story will just lie there without anything happening. It also probably stems from the fear that nobody is actually interested in reading it so why should I bother. Oh, well, this stuff never used to bother me in the past. It's probably got as much to do with the fact that I've got the very sad and depressing day job sucking all the life out of me. This makes it hard to come home in the evening and find the energy and the will to work on something new.

I'm also worried about how I'm going to balance work on The Faire Folk of Gideon with trying to get some music composed. Now that The Etymology of Fire is done with, I really want to try and get something done there. I have absolutely no idea where I'm going to find the time or energy to work on this, but I really want to do it. I just have this deep-set need to get something done, and everything is just piling one thing on top of the other. I can't find the space. I need sleep. I need rest. Oh, you know all that nonsense. I should stop whining.

Oh, yeah, and I'm also trying to work on the audio version of The Etymology of Fire. It would really be nice to get that done. Unfortunately, I'm not at all sure what I'm going to do there. I need the time to work on that as well, and one thing I am quickly discovering is that I am just too embarrassed to record with Samantha around the apartment. Strangest thing that. Here I am trying to do something to post on my website so that everybody and their grandmother can listen to it but I've got a problem with somebody being there while the actual recording is done.

This isn't as big a surprise as it sounds. Recording The Soldier and the Demon was quiet an amusing process. Did I write about this before? It was quite a scene. I had convinced my good friends Kat and Jason to help me with the actual recording. They had the basic set-up at their apartment. It was nothing fancy. Jason had a microphone and a really simple mixing board. This connected to his computer, which had Soundforge or whatever that fancy audio program is called.

So, anyway, I had been rehearsing The Soldier and the Demon for a good week or two at my place, and I finally go over to their place in Union City to make the recording. The computer is in the bed room. Jason is sitting at the computer. Kat is lounging on the bed. I'm standing there with this microphone hooked into the mixing board. I say ready. Jason pushes a button. I start talking, and Kat bursts out laughing. We all break down. Stop the recording. Kat calms down. We're all ready. I say ready. Jason pushes the button. I start into the story, and Kat starts laughing. This happens two or three times. She just cannot keep a straight face what with me standing there going to tell this story about a soldier and a demon to a microphone. So, we finally work out what we have to do is get an extension cord for the microphone. I go out into the living room. They shut the bedroom door. I can't see them cracking up, and I'm able to tell the story.

So, I'm just kind of worried that the same thing is going to happen. If Samantha is around, I'll just be paranoid that she is going to crack up any time I'm trying to do some recording. Oh, well, I guess it is just a phobia that I've got to get over. It ranks right up there with my phobia about not being taken seriously as an artist if I post the complete text of The Etymology of Fire on my website before there is a dead-tree version of it. It's not as if I'm being taken seriously now, but it is just that. I suppose if I bothered to do anything that a serious minded writer is supposed to do if he wants to be taken seriously by the medium then I might be taken seriously. Unfortunately, there is just too much of the stuff you're supposed to do that I simply will not put up with. It comes from being willfully self-destructive, I guess. Oh, well.

It has been absolutely forever since I have added anything to the Book and Movie Review Index. I'm actually tempted to take it done. I've gone so far as to think about replacing it with a subject index. I know. It seems more than just a little silly, but I just might do it at that. I've been meaning to go back through all the old journal entries and spot check their spelling and grammar. That would be a great opportunity to work on an index. Yeah, I know. There is no point to it. Oh, well.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, I wanted to tell an anecdote. I'm a fan of that old television show Babylon-5, and I knew that the show's creator would post messages to usenet. I would even go to usenet once in a while to check out what was being said about the show and what J. Michael Straczynski was saying about his show. Well, anyway, I've recently come across a website that has kept a record of all of Straczynski's old posts. Okay, I don't know if the website has all of his old usenet posts, but there is an awful lot of information there. Well, I had never read any of the really old messages so I started with the first one and started reading through them.

It was really cool reading these old messages where this guy was talking about this television show he had been trying to get into production for years was finally happening. That Straczynski was happy. That he was excited. It really came through in these old posts. There was one post where he had written about sitting on the set in the days before they started shooting and he had just been numb. It was hard to believe, and I liked that. I liked that this thing that he had been trying to get done was happening. I liked that his excitement was coming through in the messages, and it just reminded me of a story.

I'm not trying to say that this really compares in any way to what Straczynski went through in trying to get a television show into production. In fact, it doesn't track at all, but it just reminded me of something from my own life. It was one of those moments where you think everything is falling about.

I'm the worst judge of my own music, and I had spent almost a year in comp. workshop on the Outgrabe for clarinet and piano. Yeah, I know. Professional composers just need to churn this stuff out at times, but I was still in school and not composing professionally. I doubt I could compose anything that fast even now. I did write the Outgrabe for solo flute in three weeks, but that was kind of an exception.

Anyway, I had been working on the Outgrabe for clarinet and piano for the longest time. It was a real bastard of a piece. It was really thick and heavy. The pianist was playing cluster chords, which the professor was refusing to let me mark as cluster chords. I actually had to choose individual notes, which drove me nuts since the basic idea was for the pianist to just smash the piano keyboard with his hand.

So, it was finally done, and we had never really heard it. I'm a lousy performer, and nobody else in workshop had been able to help with banging it out so we could all have an idea of what it really sounded like. I was going on faith and luck. I didn't know how it sounded in the real world, and there were just so many notes. They were hard, too. When it was ready for performance, there was only one clarinet student in the whole university who was able to tackle the clarinet part. He only got through it because he went to his clarinet instructor, and they got through it together. I couldn't find a single piano student who could tackle the piano part. It was so hard we actually had to get one of the staff accompaniments to do it. This wasn't student labor anymore. Someone was actually going to get paid to perform my work.

This was serious. It was a hard piece. There were notes all over the place, and I really didn't know what it was going to sound like. I'm mean I had my notions, but I had really been beginning to think that it was going to suck. As I had come up to finish the piece, I had really started to hate it. I knew that it was no good. It sucked. It was going to stink. As the date of the concert approached, I just got more and more desperate and depressed because I had put almost a year into hammering this foul monstrosity out. People were finally going to hear it, and they were going to know that it was terrible.

So, we were coming up on the day of the big concert. It may have even have been that morning, and I was walking down the hall. I was just thinking about how horrible things were going to go. I knew the piece was hard. I knew the clarinetist was having trouble with it, and we had needed to rope the best staff accompanist into doing the piano part. It was going to stink. I hated the piece, and it was going to die a horrible screaming fiery death in front of an audience. Like I said, I had been walking down the hall. The clarinetist and the pianist were in a practice room, working on the piece, and they had forgotten to close the door.

So, suddenly, I'm walking down the hall, and I hear the Outgrabe for clarinet and piano roaring out of the practice room. I realize that they are playing it. Holy shit! Did I compose that? It was incredible. I couldn't believe it. The music didn't suck. It didn't stink. It rocked. The recording I've got on the website is a piece of shit. You have to hear this piece live. It rocked.

It was just so amazing. It was so exciting to have this thing that I had grown to think was horrible, and it was great. Now, this is what music should sound like.

Okay, I know. This pathetic little story of mine can't even begin to compare with getting a television show, but that is hardly the point. It was just the whole thing. It was realizing that this was going to happen and that it was good.

Sigh, I've really got to get some new music done. I've figured out how to make MP3 recordings on my computer, which means I know it'll be performed. After a fashion. I've really got to get some done. Nobody can stop me. Nobody can tell me to just change this note or that. They can't say that it isn't in the proper style. I just need to do it. Time and strength and energy would really help, but there is nothing I can do about that.

Oh, well, this entry is much too long. I'll go away now.

18 October, 2004

Well, I need to completely change my approach to editing the audio version of The Etymology of Fire. I was taken by surprise. Yes, totally by surprise. There is a glitch in one of the sound files. I'm so mad. I can't believe I missed it when I did the recording. It is so obvious. You get right down to the end of a two-minute segment, and there is a crack right on the last word. There should not have been a problem. The whole reason I broke the recording down into such small segments was because I couldn't get through an entire long segment without a problem. I didn't want to break the recording up into such small pieces. It ruins the whole flow of the recording, but I couldn't find a way around it. Now, I've still got a problem, and it's leaving me with no choice but to change how I go about this.

Okay, it was kind of stupid how I had been editing the scene, but this is mostly because I don't know what I'm doing. I'm making this all up as I go along, which seems to be my preferred operating procedure. I took all the little segments of recording, and I compiled them into the completely scene. I then decided I really needed to do something about the breathing, which I probably should have done before the assembly, but I hadn't thought that far ahead. So, I had the assembled scene, and I had been working my way through it, eliminating all my gasping and breathing and coughing noises. Okay, there weren't any coughing noises. I just felt like throwing that last one in. I got about five minutes into the sweep of the scene, which had taken me a couple of weeks by the way, and I hit a blip. There was a pop or a crack or something right at the end of a segment. I couldn't believe it. I didn't know what to do about it.

All I did know is that it meant I had to start over. Oh, sure, there is probably a way to fix the problem. There is probably a way to drop a word right on top of the booger, and I mean the same word but simply without the pop or crack or click or whatever is accompanying it. Goldwave does include some options for eliminating pops and clicks and unwanted noises, but none of those options are working. It's probably just because I don't know what I'm doing, and I'm sure if I just sat down with the manual or maybe actually knew something about wave-form sound design, I might be able to fix the glitch.

Oh, well, I can deal with this. I can change my tactics. I just have to abandon all the editing work I've done over the last couple of weeks. It's not like it is really wasted. After all, it is good experience, and I have noticed that this new sweep does seem to be rolling right along.

By going through all the individual segments first in-order to eliminate all the breathing and whatnot, I don't have to worry so much about wasting time. Oh, there is a problem with this segment? No, problem, all the other segments are fine. I won't have to redo them again.

Of course, now I just have to figure out how to fix the glitch. I'm not entirely sure I can recapture quite the mood of the original recording so I'm worried that if I simply redo the entire segment that it will just be jarring when it is implanted into the overall scene. So before I simply record the segment over again, I'm really tempted to experiment more with replacing the word. There must be lots of stuff I haven't tried. Oh, sure, there must simply be all kinds of things, and if all else fails, I'll just record the segment over again. I'll just have to hope it sounds enough like the other segments that nobody notices.

Oh, yeah, and I am also considering the option of simply ignoring the glitch. I could just finish assembling the recording and deny any and all knowledge of the click. Yeah, nobody will notice. Nobody will bring it to my attention. If they do, well, I'll just pretend I cannot hear it. Yeah, that'll work.

Of course, I'm also tempted to do something radical. I could just drop the whole project. Well, I don't mean forget about it all together. I just got to thinking about how conversational The Faire Folk of Gideon is, and I don't mean they talk a lot in the story. There is hardly any dialog in the whole damn thing. I mean that it is just this total stream of consciousness, and I think it would really go over well in audio version. Besides, I think that working on an audio version of the first book will really help with writing the second.

So, we shall see. I am still screwing around one way and another. Of course, there is always the possibility that I'm thinking about switching to an audio version of The Faire Folk of Gideon just because I'm mad at my attempts at an audio version of The Etymology of Fire. I'm not ignorant of that one.

Editing the text of The Etymology of Fire goes slowly. I haven't even finished chapter four yet. Well, it isn't exactly as if I'm right there with making the audio recording. I'm still on the first scene of the first chapter there.

I'm also trying to work in reading book one of The Faire Folk of Gideon because I think it would be a good idea to have gone back over the material before diving into the second book. There is just something about the tone of the narrative that I simply want to make sure I get right, which actually sounds a little silly since the voice of the narrator is pretty much the same as goes into these journal entries. It's not exactly the same. The narrative of The Faire Folk of Gideon is much more fragmented with lots and lots of sentence fragments. Periods just dropped right into the middle of sentences simply because I felt like it and other such stuff like that.

Well, I was going for a thing. If you've read any of that book, then you know the poor sap is really rather at wits end, and I felt that a really fragmented narrative style went with that. Of course, the overall grandioseness of my design would have the quality of the grammar slowly improve from book to book. We shall see how that goes.

I'm not convinced that grandioseness is a word, and I don't care.

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