6 November, 2004

There are a couple of different ideas rattling around in my head, and I'm really kind of curious to find out which one will percolate to the surface and become the subject of this journal entry. I figure I'll start with the bits of news updates of which there really isn't that much to talk about.

Editing The Etymology of Fire continues to go anywhere between slow and stop. At least this past week, anyway. I had posted in the forum when I had finished editing chapters four and five. I still want to print a fresh copy of chapter six before I start editing it. The copy of chapter six that I do have printed still thinks that it is chapter five; however, halfway through the print out, it realizes that it is indeed chapter six. All of which just means that I'm concerned that I do not have a coherent version of chapter six printed and that I really should do a fresh print before I start trying to edit it.

The other reason I really haven't gotten anywhere with editing The Etymology of Fire this week is because I have been dabbling with String Finger Theatre. While it is true that things are not flying on that front. Things are at least moving along there. I really think that I am somewhere close to the end of the Revenge of the Third Dimension storyline. It really has kind of dragged on for a bit, and I am slightly worried that the whole story has gone on for so long that people have completely lost interest in it. I was also wrong about something. Revenge of the Third Dimension is not the longest episode, yet. The Search for Zed's New Groove is still the champ, but I think Revenge of the Third Dimension is all but there. In fact, it may have finally passed. The Search for Zed's New Groove is something like ninety-three comics long. Revenge of the Third Dimension is currently hovering around ninety comics. It won't take much to push it over the edge. At this point, I am quite confident that Revenge of the Third Dimension will pass the one hundred comic mark, which sometimes impresses me and other times just scares me. The episode is just so damn long. At least more action and whatnot is happening than in The Search for Zed's New Groove, which I understand really started to get on people's nerves. Revenge of the Third Dimension is much more plot driven than The Search for Zed's New Groove so I'm hoping that people are continuing to find it interesting.

The only other thing that worries me about Revenge of the Third Dimension is that Cube and Spherecone really have not been in it at all. Sure, it is true that Spherecone has spoken through a demented sewing machine, but he has not been seen. Then, there is Cube who has been talked about but has not actually put in an appearance. He is about to show up, trust me, but it is basically going to be at the end. Oh, I'm sure I could keep things rattling along for a while once he does finally put in an appearance, but things have dragged on long enough. Besides, Cube is the mastermind behind most of what is happening in this episode so his presence is really being felt—I hope—even though you cannot see him.

The good news for String Finger Theatre is that I currently have three ideas for future episodes bouncing around in the back of my head. What helps make this good news is that these ideas are not really long-winded ideas. I kind of figure that they'll average about the same length as The Lizzie McGuffin Incident. That is if they are not shorter, which they very well might be. Of course, they could turn out to be monstrously long-winded ideas, but I'm kind of hoping that this is not the case.

I'm actually vaguely surprised that I've got three future plot ideas spinning around. I kind of figured that once I finished the Revenge of the Third Dimension storyline that I would be done. I didn't think I had any more stories to tell about the String Finger Theatre gang. I figured I might just let the comic go back on vacation like it did at the end of Attack of the Third Dimension. Of course, part of the reason I let the comic languish after that was because nobody was reading it, and I saw no reason to put myself through the hassle of creating it if nobody was looking. See, back when I was working on the first episode, I still had my old P2-266 computer, and Adobe Illustrator was just really sluggish. It was just a chore getting those comics ready for display on the website.

Actually, there is a fourth String Finger Theatre story idea, but I don't really want to think about that one. It is the last thread left over from the first episode. Maybe because I am covering much of the same ground with the Revenge of the Third Dimension story, I really don't want to pursue that dangling thread at this time. I bet nobody can guess what it is anyway so there's no reason not to let it linger. I'll get around to it some day, anyway.

I haven't really gotten anywhere with the audio version of The Etymology of Fire, and that is mostly because I've wanted to concentrate on editing the text first. It does seem like a silly thing to get caught-up on since I'm still working on the first scene in the first chapter, and it will be quite a while before I catch-up to the point where I'm editing. I just feel it is slightly more important to get the edit done.

I've also been spending a lot of time just thinking, and that is because I really want to get some music done. I know I cannot support three activities on top of work, and it is actually four activities if you include the audio version of The Etymology of Fire. Now that I think about it, it is five activities when you throw writing the occasional journal entry on top of everything else. So, anyway, this is all just a couple of activities too many, and I know that something has got to give way. I also know that I really want to get some music done, and that is going to take a lot of time and effort. I still have to dust off the old music muscles. This is something I work on occasionally, but it has never actually gotten anywhere before. I did get one stupid little exercise type piece done, and I started on a second; however, I never got anywhere with it. Well, just last night, I start futzing around with it again, and I really want to get somewhere.

I've been thinking, and I really think that it is time for a dynamic change. For the past bunch of years, I've been focusing on the novel writing and stuff. I made a conscious decision to put the music aside while I finally finished up the books that had been languishing in my head for the better part of ten years. Well, the music has now languished for eight years, and I really think it is time to do something about that.

Sure, I really want to work on The Faire Folk of Gideon. I simply do not want to let that go, and I am concerned that if I let too much time pass that I will simply loose too much of the thread of the story and will never be able to pick it up again; however, I really feel that it is past time to get some music done.

I have even felt it. There is a kind of rumbling going on in the back of my brain. Thoughts are being though about music. Things are swimming around, and I'm really hoping that maybe just maybe I can dust off the music. Sure, it will be frustrating for a while. Sure, I've got this horrible problem with music in which I always want the piece to be finished right now. I can't wait. It should be done. Why isn't it done? It should be finished. Oh, man, it just drives me nuts, but I need to work on it. I need to get past all of this crap and get some music done. The first part will be the hardest. It'll be the worst. This first part where I'm simply trying to get the music roaring around in my head and under my fingers. I'll dabble around with this stupid little piece or other trying to remember how this all fits together. I'll be trying to do these exercises that they really should have been having us do in school but never did.

It's not enough to simply study music in theory. We need to do it. We need to write it, and I don't mean to slavishly try to imitate some dumb piece or other by Mozart or Beethoven or Bartok, which we didn't do either but this is hardly my point. I mean to take the ideas and try some of them on for size. I don't mean to point out crap about how the exercise doesn't perfectly capture the spirit of the time or any dumb-ass shit like that. I mean just to work with the crap.

For example, I've got my book of Schubert dances set up on my piano. I've been playing through them. I haven't been playing through them very well since my piano skills are so rusty that it is not even funny, but I have been working on it. I play through a piece. I spend a minute examine the construction. I look at the chord progression, and then I think about that chord progression for myself. I tell myself to do an eight bar phrase in an om-pah-pah style. I tell myself to slap a melody on top of it. I tell myself to stay away from fancy chords and just do a basic one-five-one progression. I can throw in a supertonic or a sub-dominant if I think it can fit, but I really want to stay with the basics. This is just a test. Remember that. It is just an exercise. It is supposed to suck. It is supposed to sound just plain awful. Do not worry about it. The import thing is just to get the feel of it back in your fingers. You need to hear it. You need to feel it so that you do not need to think about it. If you can get the damn shit flowing, then you do not need to think about the mechanics. It'll just flow. It'll just be.

Anyway, this is the kind of crap I've been thinking about lately. This is what I was doing last night. I stitched a second eight bar phrase on top of the first eight bars that I had written months ago. I want to stick with a simple binary form at this point, which means I still need to write an eight bar phrase in another key and then a final phrase back in the tonic key. I'm thinking about using the dominant key for the top of the B section. I had used the relative minor in the first crap piece so I figure I should use something else here. Of course, I'm still thinking that I could use a minor or something else if that is what the music wants, but I'm trying not to get too caught up in what the music wants because the piece itself is so basic. I don't want to get bogged down at this point.

Get the exercise done. That is the point. Get things moving. Get to the point where the music is telling me exactly what it wants and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it, which reminds of something that always used to drive one of my professors at San Francisco State nuts. He would ask me why I had done this phrase or used that note, and I would tell him it was because it was what had needed to go there. I couldn't give him a logical or analytical reason. It was. It simply was. There was no other answer. Oh, he just hated that. The music needing to be the way it is simply because that is the way is what I am striving to get back. I just know it'll take time.

Okay, this is too long. I could carry on for a much longer time, but I just need to stop now. I'll try to write more about this later.

But, time for one more note. People may or may not have noticed that I have removed the book and movie review index from the journal archive page. It simply was not filling any good purpose these days. I hadn't written anything about a book or movie in months. It has been months since I've been to the movies, and even then I didn't want to write about it simply to have something new to add to the index. So, I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do in its place. I figure I'll put in a subject index. I just don't know when I'll get around to it. We shall call it item number six on my list of things I do when I'm not dealing with my crappy day job.

7 November, 2004

So, you may have noticed that I have updated the String Finger Theatre archive page with a little bit of PHP code that I am actually quite proud of. It may not be as snazzy as the function code I added a while back, but this is still pretty cool. This is in fact something I had been thinking about doing for quite some time, and I had even tested it out. At the time, there were only three episodes so the code changed had resulted in so little being displayed on the screen that I thought it looked rather stupid.

What is the change? Oh, yeah, the String Finger Theatre archive page has been updated so that only the individual comics for the selected episode are visible. I like to think of it as a kind of accordion scrunch and unscrunch thing. The default of course is the current episode so when you first go to the page you see the names for all the old episodes but none of the individual comics. When you get down to the current episode, you see all the numbers laid out in little boxes indicating each comic of that episode. Click on a number and you are taken to that specific comic. Click on an episode's title and that episode pops open.

I think it is rather cool. I even spent a good five minutes or so just clicking on the various titles of the episodes and watching that episode pop open while all the other episodes scrunch back down. I know. It is really a rather silly thing to be proud of, but I am. I did all the PHP coding myself. Nobody helped me. I haven't purchased any software like a bunch of other web comics have done. This is all my work.

Of course, the other little bit of code that I think is ultra cool is actually over on the comic viewer page. It is a rather small and simple addition of code, but the effect—when you think about it—is really cool. Okay, I'll stop being so grandiose about all of this. I think it is cool, and I have to find my little victories wherever I may. The snippet of code I added to the comic viewer page allows that page to track what episode you are on based on the specific comic you are reading. For example, if you are reading comic number seventy-three, then the page knows that this is part of episode one. This only becomes important if you were to then click on the comic archive button because if you were to click that button you wouldn't simply be sent to the default comic archive set-up with the current episode displayed in all of its long-winded glory. It would know to display the episode of the comic you were reading.

Okay, I'll try to explain that again and hopefully I'll even make it clear this time. If you are reading comic number ninety-six, the web page knows that you are reading a comic from episode two. If you click on the comic archive link while viewing comic number ninety-six, then the archive page will display with episode two open, which I just think is the coolest thing imaginable.

I know. I know. I'm the only person in the universe who cares, but I don't care. I think it is cool. I spent another five whole minutes just cruising through comics on the comic viewer page, crossing between episodes, and clicking the archive link just so I could see that comic's episode pop open.

Oh, sure, I should be working on converting comics from the pencil and paper stage to the computer stage. I should be writing new comics so that I can finally get to the end of the Revenge of the Third Dimension storyline. I should even be sitting with my music paper at my electric piano—it's better than an electric keyboard—and working on getting those music juices flowing.

What am I doing instead? I'm getting some quick gratification. That is what I'm doing. Something I've been thinking about for a while and knew I could do in a relatively short span of time. I could update the comic archive code and have a blast clicking links for a couple of minutes. Oh, yeah, fun.

Now, back to work.

Of course, I feel really silly about posting a new journal entry the day after posting a journal entry. I bet most people don't even notice. Well, they don't notice anyway, but I mean that people upon bothering to notice that there is a new journal entry will not notice that there were two in a row. I seriously doubt they will bother to go to the journal archive page and click the link. They might—I suppose—which is why I'm mentioning it here. Hey, you. Yeah, you. There were two journal entries posted in a row.

Okay, back to work. I've got comics to convert, novels to edit, audio books to record and music to compose. Oh, yeah, right, and don't forget work. I've got to go to my boring, depressing, day job in the morning.

14 November, 2004

So, naturally I've made the most progress on the least important project. I think this is because it is the easiest to deal with and can be tackled in fits and stops. Either that or I am just seriously avoiding any real work that needs to get done. And what is this frivolous little project? I have begun experimenting with a subject index of my old journal entries. Oh, yeah, wow, the world was just waiting for that to come along. But, it is true. I have wanted something better than simply listing the date for each entry. Well, the month, anyway. I satisfied this need for a long time by creating a book and movie review index, but this started to bother me simply because I hadn't written about any books or movies in a long time.

I wanted something, and I knew at some point I was going to do a topic index. I had been putting this off at least a little bit because it is a daft idea. And besides that, it is a very egotistic idea. I mean I can only wonder how many people are really dying to find what I have written on some topic or other on my website. Oh, yeah, the masses are just clamoring for that.

Well, it is something that I have been considering, and for whatever strange and terrible reason, now is the time to consider it. I am sort of doing it hand-in-hand with another project, which is going back over the old journal entries and finding what errors and spelling mistakes I can find. You would think I would be done with this, but of course I am not. The job of editing my own work is a never-ending one since I really am that bad at spotting the mistakes in my own writings.

So, I have begun the process, and it really is kind of entertaining to read over these old entries and try to figure out what topics have been covered. I'm not trying to find one overriding topic for each journal entry. I'm reading each one over and thinking to myself that I sort of talked about this thing here and then I meandered over to that topic there. There is a lot of overlap, and I think that I really am kind of going overboard here with all the various choices I am including. I figure I can go wild now and then go back through them to trim the list down and whatnot.

It really is a little on the longwinded side, which is not helped by the amount of overlap in what I am bothering to include on the list. For example, in every journal entry that I talk about the writing of The Etymology of Fire, I am actually making two entries in the list because depending on when I wrote the entry I referred to the novel as either The Etymology of Fire or simply as "the prequel." At first, I was just going to list The Etymology of Fire in the index, but unfortunately, I got to thinking. And, I reached the inescapably dumb conclusion that what I really needed to do was list both, which means you will find any journal entry that talks about The Etymology of Fire receiving two listings in the index. I list the journal entries under The Etymology of Fire, and I also list the very same entries under "the prequel."

So, yeah, the list is a little on the pompous side. Oh, well, at least it is entertaining me for the moment, and it might as well entertain me since I figure that nobody else in the universe actually cares about whether or not I add a subject index to my journal archive page.

I can't decide when to post the index. I'm tempted to wait until I have gotten through everything, but that could actually take quite some time depending on how much effort I actually devote to the list. This means that I'm also tempted to post the list as soon as I get through the first year. I'm thinking about doing this on the horribly egocentric and mistaken belief that people might actually be interested in looking at the list. I'm suffering from the delusion that people might actually comment on the list and offer suggestions. These suggestions would, of course, be posted by the various and sundry people in the forum, and there would be much lively debate as to what was actually appropriate to fit here and there and everywhere.

Oh, yeah, I am really cooking with gas, now.

I've also been pounding on the piano, trying to deal with the current piece of shit exercise piece. In spite of the fact that I appear to be experiencing a total lack of progress, I think I am actually doing quite well. See, I'm getting hung up on the melody. I spent half an evening working out the next little cord progression and figuring it would be easy enough to just slap a melody on top of it; unfortunately, the melody is bothering me. In short, it sucks and is not going anywhere, which is actually a good thing.

Yeah, it is a good thing that I hate the melody and do not want to use it because it means I'm already thinking of this as more than a simple exercise to be gotten through. I'm thinking about the shape and the feel of it, or to be more precise, I'm getting tangled-up in the feeling of it, which is exactly where I want to be. Sure, it would make me feel good in a purely short-term sense if I could just slather something on top of the chord progression and press on, but it would be even better if I could do something that sounds good. The melody should fit. It should belong. It most definitely should not be some random series of notes that exist for the sole purpose of allowing me to claim that I have finished the exercise.

After all, what is the purpose of the exercise? It is to remind me of what the fuck I am doing. It is to help me reach the point where I can hear the music. It is to allow me to feel the music coursing through my fingers. I've got to get the rust off, and I think I'm very sluggishly and slowly on my way.

There is another reason this concerns me very much. I can't remember if I talked before about my experiences in theory class back in my good old junior college days. I'm pretty sure I did, but I'm just going to repeat the story anyway.

Back in my junior college days in the advanced music theory class—well, all the theory classes back then—I was obsessed with following all the guidelines of good music theory construction. We were working in four-part harmony so we weren't supposed to do stuff like have the poor person singing outside of their vocal range. We were supposed to watch out for such horrible sacrilege as parallel fifths and octaves. The problem was that I was way too obsessed with these minutiae of four-part music theory, which meant that my theory exercises sucked.

In advanced theory, I would get the same comment from the instructor every single time. My melody was static. I didn't understand. I was doing the exercise. My answers never violated any of the theory guidelines we were being taught. There were no parallel fifths or octaves or any of that crap. I didn't understand what the instructor meant by my melody being static, which I figure really drove the poor guy crazy.

Well, for some crazy reason known only to my diseased and addled brain at the time, I kept every single one of those old theory assignments. I stuffed them in a box, and I kept them. I shlept them all over creation. I took them with me to San Francisco State University. I never showed them to anybody, but I had them. So, one day, I pulled them out of their box, and I started playing through them. And, the first thing I noticed—the very first thing—was that the melodies were static. In fact, all of the voices were static. They were static as hell. They were beyond static. They were crap. I had created an obnoxious number of truly horrific theory exercises. It is a wonder that the poor professor hadn't beaten me upside the head with the piano.

So, I suppose this has become something of a bug-a-boo with me. It is a good bug-a-boo but a bug-a-boo none the less. I do not want to compose a lousy exercise with a static melody. I do not even want to do it just so I can finish the stupid exercise and move on to the next one. All of which means that it appears I have made very little progress with my music work because I have almost absolutely nothing to show for it; however, I am making wonderful if invisible progress on the rhythm and emotion of the work.

None of this will be obvious to anybody outside of the fact that I am spending more time just pounding the shit out of the piano. This is what I do when I get worked-up about whatever music I am dealing with. I just hammer on the piano keys as if I am trying to break them. I've even been known to cuss-out the poor defenseless piano in a rather loud voice, which is all for the good. It just means I'm getting back into the groove of things. In another six months to a year, I might just have something worth posting on my website.

These crappy exercise type pieces I'm working on right now will never make their way onto the music page of the my website, and I know that one should never say never about this crap because you never know when you might change your mind. The plan is that they shall never put in an appearance.

Just to change the subject here and drag this journal entry out a little longer, I'm kind of dithering about what to do with my audio book idea. I really haven't gotten anywhere with the audio version of The Etymology of Fire, and I'm really starting to wonder if I want to continuing pursuing it right now. I don't really know if I have the time, and more importantly, I don't actually know if anybody is interested in listening to it. So, I haven't decided what I am going to do.

I am thinking about changing gears. I'm thinking that I have too many concerns and reservations about posting the audio version of The Etymology of Fire even when it is done. So, I'm wondering if there really is a point in working on it right now. So, what I am thinking about doing instead is working on the audio version of The Faire Folk of Gideon. I wouldn't have any reservations about posting this on the website because the text version is already up. I also think that The Faire Folk of Gideon would work really rather well in an audio format. I think it would be great.

So, I am thinking about doing that instead of The Etymology of Fire. At least for now anyway. It isn't exactly as if I really have time to work on it right now so I suppose it really doesn't matter, and I am slightly concerned because it isn't exactly as if I have any plans to begin work on book two of The Faire Folk of Gideon right now. I want to work on the music instead. So, I'm thinking about this and trying to decide what I want to do. It's kind of easy to put off the decision because I've got enough else going on that it is really easy to simply not think about it.

Oh, well, I'm trying to put my emphasis on limbering up the old music muscles and continuing to work on String Finger Theatre, and I'm also trying to finish editing The Etymology of Fire. I think I've got enough to worry about right now without spending gobs of time on an audio book, too.

20 November, 2004

I was talking not that long ago to one of the guys I went to school with at San Francisco State University, and I mentioned how hard I could be on the music program. I figure there are some people at the university who would be really rather disappointed and unhappy with me if they read what I had written here. More likely they would just think that I was some failed blob that couldn't get beyond the past and never think of me again. Or they would just get really mad. Who knows? I don't really want to know.

Anyway, the friend indicating that he had kind of gotten past all the crap that we had dealt with back at San Francisco State, and it made me feel a little bad that I was still holding out needles and daggers on the subject of the university. Today, I was reminded a little bit of why I remain so unhappy with them. Some of the music faculty at San Francisco State broke a promise to me, and they did it in a very cruel and mean way.

My entire thesis composition has never been performed, and I have never been provided with a recording of the only part of it that was performed. It wasn't just that they had promised me that it would be performed. They had promised that it would be performed if I was done by a certain deadline, and I was finished a full week before that deadline.

I should have known that something was wrong. In that last semester in which I had to work a day job while finishing up the composition in the late afternoon and evening, the faculty never bothered to ask me how it was going. They wouldn't return phone calls. They were never available for office hours. They all but dodged me in the halls, and in all that time, they never asked me how it was going.

So imagine how it felt when I was done a full week before the deadline. And, I wasn't just done the writing of it. I was done transferring my handwritten score into the music notation program Finale, and I had even begun printing the parts for the performers. With the printer running at my apartment, I sprinted over to school in hopes of running into some of the faculty as they came out of the Friday afternoon concert. I found them. I ran up to them, and I told them that they didn't have to worry. They didn't have to wonder if I was going to make the deadline because I was done. I had kept my promise, and they proceeded to break my heart.

Imagine all of this work. Imagine fitting things in around a day job. Imagine getting all of this done without the faculty making themselves available for consultations or advice. Imagine standing there happy and excited because I had done it anyway. Imagine the looks on their faces. And finally one of them speaks somewhat haltingly and sheepishly. There was no room in the concert. They hadn't bothered to leave space in rehearsal or anything. They had just assumed I would fail. They had assumed that I would not be ready.

Fucking bastards! Heartless fucking bastards! I hate them! I hate them! I hate them!

Oh, if only that had been the end of it. My thesis still had to be reviewed. It still had to be approved, and they continued to dodge me. I remember having to get away from work one day to make an appointment with one of them. I remember getting to his office and waiting. And waiting. And waiting. I finally went to the office to try and find him. Never did. Turned out he had completely forgotten the appointment. Forgotten? Bastard!

I was finally able to corral everybody and get all the appropriate signatures on the day the applications for graduation were due. One of the other grad students and I finally got our packages turned into the graduate division office with one hour to spare. They really were a bunch of fucking bastards.

Oh, and don't talk to me about the oral exam requirement. I could tell you things about that which would make your ears bleed. They waited a week before bothering to tell us the results. Well, let me tell you something, the typical wait for somebody to know if they passed their doctoral thesis defense is one hour. I've learned that at the University of California, San Francisco, the typical wait to find out if you've passed your oral defense is five minutes, and they made us wait one whole week at state. And, that isn't even the deep dark secret dirt I could dredge up about the oral exam at San Francisco State. Nope, if anybody tries to give me a hard time about this, I lower the boom. I bet they don't even remember what I'm talking about.

If only that had been the end of it. I should have seen it all coming from the day I first went to visit San Francisco State. I knew I was going to be an odd fit if for no other reason than I had gotten into music late. Most everybody else I had met in school had gotten into music around the age of five. I had started at seventeen. I knew there were going to be problems and hiccups.

At San Francisco State, you had to attend an advising day and take a whole barrage of tests so they could figure out what to do with you, which was biased as hell anyway. See there was a theory exam that covered all levels from easy to hard. The first part of the exam had the easy stuff and the late part of the exam had the hard stuff. So, what have they always taught us to do on a timed test? Start with the hard stuff because it is worth the most points. In music theory, you cannot even do the hard stuff if you don't know the easy stuff backwards and forwards. So, guess what would happen if you finished all the hard stuff but ran out of time before answering question number one? They would stick you in the bonehead class because obviously you didn't know shit since you hadn't answered question number one. I didn't get stuck in this mess, but I know several people who did. They had to go argue with people. They had to remind these people that the hard questions couldn't be answered unless you knew the answer to question one so putting them in the bonehead class in spite of the fact they had gotten all the hard stuff right was incredibly stupid. They had to prove they could answer the easy stuff in spite of the fact they had already done so when they had answered the hard questions.

But, I digress. After taking all the tests myself, I had gotten into the most advanced theory class but a much simpler ear training class because my ear training sucks ass. So, my adviser had taken one look at my test results and announced that I would fail. Son of a bitch! He spent a good five or ten minutes telling me all about how I would fail and how he didn't want me to come crying to him when I was failing. I just starred him down. I told him the discrepancy in my ear training versus theory was because of how late in life—seventeen—I had gotten into music. I showed him that I had passed the piano proficiency test and would receive private lessons. When he persisted in telling me that I didn't stand a chance and that he refused to sign the paper because he didn't want me to come crying to his office when I dropped out of school, I just told him to sign the paper and he would never have to see me again.

The faculty at West Valley Community College were so fucking mad when they found out how I had been treated. The head of the music department at West Valley just started cussing up a storm. He tried like hell to lodge a complaint at San Francisco State, but nobody cared.

So, yeah, the adviser had finally relented to my determination and signed the damn form. Oh, but he had signed it wrong. When I went back to the piano advisers, the way the dick-head had signed it almost prevented me from getting lessons, but I got their straitened out.

The piano teacher for my private lessons turned out to be a clueless fucking dick-head, but that is another story for another time altogether.

So, I should have known from day one what a pile of shit San Francisco State University would turn out to be. I graduated with a Master's Degree in Music Composition despite the faculty's best efforts to screw me over.

As for my competence with music, why not go over to the music section of my website and listen to some of the stuff I have composed? Decide for yourself how badly I suck.

Which is actually what gotten me thinking again about the shit-heads at San Francisco State. I noticed the other day that the number of downloads of my music had increased, and I had wondered if that had anything to do with me talking about trying to compose some more music. It had also got me thinking about how those were all student pieces. They were all short. They were all single movement things. Not a full multi-movement work among them. Kind of embarrassing, really.

Which got me thinking that it really would be nice to have a recording of my thesis composition on the website. It was a full and complete piece. It was a kick-ass multi-movement work for Pierrot ensemble, but I didn't have a recording. In fact, I've never even heard the whole thing myself. I mean I had heard my computer try to perform it, but it was simply not the same thing. But, I had recently gotten an updated version of Finale because my cousin and her new husband had expressed an interest in having me compose some piano and oboe music for them. I discovered that this new version of Finale had much better instrument sounds and could make audio recordings.

So, I've been trying to figure out if I could make an acceptable audio recording of my thesis composition, and I don't know if I can. I really don't. There are two main problems. The first of which is that Finale's violin and violoncello sounds just suck. They are really bad. The flute and clarinet are okay, and the piano sound is really rather good. I have begun to wonder if maybe I could adapt the piece. Maybe rescore it for a wind ensemble? I don't know. The other problem is that I had used some non-standard techniques in the second movement, and Finale just does not come with a finger click sound.

My use of non-standard techniques in my these piece is actually one of the many things about it that I am proud of. See, one of my pet peeves is the over use of non-standard techniques in modern music. I don't have a problem with non-standard stuff. I've just got a problem with people who throw them in willy-nilly. It doesn't serve a purpose other than to sound all modern and weird. It certainly doesn't serve the music or the meaning or the mood unless the only mood you are trying to evoke is to get people to think that oh, yes, that was a non-standard technique.

I personally think it serves a much greater purpose if those non-standard techniques actually serve a purpose other than to stand out as different. They should be part of the work. So, what I did for my thesis piece was to choose one or two non-standard things and really make them an integral part of the proceedings. They weren't just thrown in. They were part of the whole. They fit. They belonged, which is something that absolutely nobody in the whole wide world cares about except for me, but I don't care.

The only problem being that I have absolutely no idea how to integrate them into Finale's performance and leaving them out simply destroys the music. They are that much a part of the proceedings. So, I don't know if I can create an electronic recording of my thesis pieces, which is what brought me around to remembering what soul-crushing fools and heartless bastards work at San Francisco State University.

None of which is what I actually intended to write about here this evening.

So, where was I? Oh, right, I've finished editing chapter six of The Etymology of Fire. It's getting kind of tricky trying to juggle everything, but I'm doing okay so far. I've only got two chapters to go, and they are both a little on the short side. The last chapter is short anyway as it really only is wrapping everything up.

And, I've begun to rethink my position on not posting anything to my website before I can publish a paperback edition. Since I have absolutely no idea when I'll have the money to publish a paperback, I don't know when I'll post to the website, which is really rather depressing, and I got to thinking. All this time and nothing to show. Been posting updates on my website and then nothing. Well, what if I didn't post the whole thing? After all, the first three chapters of prequel had been up before. Should I really be so pig-headed as to refuse to post anything?

I mean, sure, nobody fucking cares. Nobody is going to read it if I post anything, but that is hardly the point. The point is that I should do it in spite of the fact that nobody cares.

So, I'm thinking about it. I may even post the first four or five chapters on the website. It still bugs me, I know. I can't get the memory out of my head. I had gone to my website to show a coworker that I was a published novelist, and she had been so disappointed when she thought it was only web published. Only web published. Still makes me sick.

So, I don't know. I'm thinking about posting the first couple of chapters. I'll even finish up my work with the first scene of the audio book. If I get inspired I may even do some more audio work. I won't do the whole thing now. Just as many chapters as I post of the book on my website. We shall see.

The Etymology of Fire is already covered by copyright. I've got the signed and stamped form from the United States Copyright Office to prove it.

So, we shall see what I do. What I have time to do. I can feel myself champing at the bit to get into The Faire Folk of Gideon, book two, but I really want to focus on trying to get some music done right now.

Oh, well, we shall see.

27 November, 2004

I am such a freak. I have such a narrow definition of what it means to accomplish something. Here, I have been busy, but because I didn't get anywhere with certain specific projects, I feel like I've been wasting my time. I haven't gotten anywhere with music. I haven't even as much as sat down at my piano once this week. I've only gotten a little done with String Finger Theatre. I finished the edit of The Etymology of Fire, but I think I finished that last week so I can't really take credit for it here. I did do a little layout and design work but hardly enough to count toward anything. I haven't touched the audio draft of The Etymology of Fire in a long time.

Since none of that junk saw any progress, I feel like I haven't accomplished anything. This is in spite of the fact that I did get some little stuff done here and there as mentioned above with String Finger Theatre. It doesn't matter, of course. I feel like I haven't done squat. Go figure. I don't try to understand it. I just try to deal with it. For example, I'm writing about it here in the hopes that I will realize what I have accomplished.

For example as stated above, I have gotten more comics written for String Finger Theatre, and I am just that much little bit closer to the end of the Revenge of the Third Dimension storyline. I did finish the edit of The Etymology of Fire, and far more importantly, I have convinced myself to post the first couple of chapters of that book on my website. I have even been reading back over a little of The Faire Folk of Gideon for no other reason than to sort of familiarize myself with the material again, and I was really surprised.

No, seriously, I still cannot believe that The Faire Folk of Gideon held together as well as it did. It almost reads as if I planned it all that way, and there I was quite intentionally trying not to think about what was going to happen next. Well, I tried not to think about it up until the point when I realized what was going to happen. In fact, I think I actually wrote down some notes on how the whole poetry hunter thing was going to turn out. Of course, it still spiraled wildly out of control to the point where Drake was actually complaining that nothing was going as planned.

But, I digress. I still feel like I really haven't accomplished anything. Stupid really. Especially since I did get a whole heaping butt-load of stuff done today beginning with repairing my bookcase. Yeah, I know. Nothing fancy or flashy like getting some work done on the comic or music but still disgustingly necessary. I've just got such a twisted sense of priorities.

So, let us start with the bookcase since that was actually kind of interesting except for the part where it took a whole hell of a lot longer than I thought. Not that I was watching the time or even cared how long it took. Not that I cared until it was getting on toward nine o'clock tonight and I started to feel that I was somewhat lacking in the accomplishment department for this past week.

So, anyway, I've got this ugly bookcase that I inherited from my old roommate basically because he didn't want to shlep the bastard down south. Not that I could blame him for leaving it. Not that I didn't appreciate a bookcase. It's still ugly. Samantha like it so that is good. Anyway, so I started filling it up with comic book anthologies like Calvin & Hobbes and Foxtrot and Get Fuzzy and Bloom County and Frumpy the Clown and Spiderman. And, I did notice that the shelves were starting to bend just a little bit, but I more-or-less just ignored that.

Well, Samantha noticed a problem with one of the shelves. See, they have this fancy looking front piece, and it really wasn't lining up with the shelf anymore. I realized that the little plastic doodad that was holding the pieces together had just plain snapped. I really wasn't certain if that actually had any affect on whether or not the shelf held together, but I still figured I should try to fix it. Well, this morning was the first chance I had to run out to the hardware store, and I had quite a time trying to find one little L-piece. They didn't have plastic ones. They didn't have simple metal ones that were small enough. I finally decided on slightly fancy metal pieces that were the right size. They were wider so they could support two screws instead of just one, which I figured I could ignore. I would get what I needed out of it. I only wanted one but couldn't get one. They came in containers for four, but it was just a hair over two bucks so I wasn't really complaining there. The joke was when I went to pay and automatically reached for my credit card. Two bucks cash is just so hard to come by, don't you know.

So, I got home with my box of four brackets or braces or whatever these things are called. I took all the big heavy Foxtrot and Calvin & Hobbes anthologies off the shelf. Pulled the shelf out, which required removing the shelf supports from the ends. Really kind of a weird reason why I had to pull those out. They were stuck. I had to use a wrench to get them out. The little suckers hurt. Anyway, the good news about this was discovering that the shelf was adjustable. It had never occurred to me to look. So, I decided that I would lower the shelves, making it easier to distribute the big heavy anthologies amongst the levels.

I sat down on the couch and laid the shelf on the coffee table. Yes, I had finally broken down and gotten a coffee table. I hate coffee tables. But, Samantha wanted one, and she is right. It is very useful to have around for holding stuff. So, I put the shelf down, took out all the screws, removed the broken plastic dingus, and screwed in my shiny new metal thing-gummies. Yeah, I took out the other good plastic dingus and stuck a metal one on the other end, too. I then took the good plastic pieces and fixed them all in the middle. I then decided it would be a good move to do the same thing to the other shelf. While working on the second shelf, I did start to wonder if I was loosing something in flexibility by replacing the plastic boogers with hard metal things, but I decided that I wasn't going to turn back. Oh, and I didn't leave the extra set of holes untouched. Since the new metal pieces were designed for two screws, I went through the hassle of applying screws to the spots, and if you've never tried to screw a screw into a piece of wood where there isn't a hole, it can be really annoying. I did consider the old trick my dad had once told me about hammering a nail part-way into the spot to get a hole going, but I worried what all that rattling and banging might do to the furniture so I skipped that step.

Well with all of that manual labor done, I set the new and improved shelves into their new positions in the bookcase and begun the haphazard process of redistributing the weight on the shelves. I have no idea if I did a good job or not, but the shelves do not appear to be bending as much as they were so I guess that is a good thing. It looks cool, too.

So that was today's first big time waster. The second was setting up my brand new flatbed scanner. See, Samantha had been dropping hints for a while that her parents' scanner was basically broken and there were a whole bunch of photographs and things that she wanted to get scanned. Well last night, I realized I could get a scanner pretty damn cheap. I had been under the mistaken impression that they cost somewhere in the neighborhood of five hundred dollars, but that really wasn't the reason.

Samantha finally let me glance at one of her sketchbooks the other day. And, wow. I was really blown away by her work. She had done some really beautiful pen and pencil silhouette drawings, and I started to tease her that she should put a bunch of her stuff up on my website. I told her I would make a special section called Samantha's Gallery or something like that. Now that I think about it, she doesn't even need to be part of my main website. She could have her own subdomain just like I have given both my father and my brother their own subdomains to do basically whatever the hell they feel like doing. I would still link to her subdomain through my main page or my pictures page or something, and she could do whatever. I would even volunteer to handle all of the HTML chores for her.

But, back to the silhouettes. I told her that the work she was doing was really similar to what I liked for the covers of my books, and I mentioned that if she were ever interested she should try her hand at it. So, she was politely interested enough to listen to what I wanted in a book cover, and we shall see if anything ever comes of it. But, it occurred to me last night that a scanner would really seriously come in handy if she ever did produce a book illustration or two for me. So, a flatbed scanner was suddenly starting to sound like a good business investment. Didn't take much web hopping last night to discover that a decent scanner was a lot cheaper than I had been thinking. I have even had some dealings with scanners because of my horrible day job, and I had an idea of one I liked. It was just a matter of getting up early enough this morning to go shopping for one.

Took me a couple of hours to get the scanner set up and tested out. I haven't really done much scanning with it yet, but I don't really have anything at the moment to scan. I figure I could go through all my old pictures and find some stuff but not yet. Oh, I know. I think I've got the only picture of my families old pet rabbit and our old poodle so I've definitely got to find those and scan them.

Oh, boy, but the best part of this morning was talking to the poor sales' people, and I am just so glad I didn't take it into my head to try and pick out a scanner yesterday. They said the jackels—I mean, customers—started to line-up in front of the store at about 3 AM. They opened the doors at 6 AM, and the lines were clear out the door and half-way across the parking lot basically all day.

And, there is one finally pointless thing I did today. I finished the journal subject index for 2001 so I have gone ahead and updated the main journal page with the entries. I can't decide if the index is cool or just really embarrassing. I have only gotten through the first six months of entries, and the index is really long. I must be out of my mind. This is definitely one of the more egotistical things I have done. I really fail to see how anybody outside of my own little head could be even vaguely interested in an index, but there it is.

I take that back. It really is truly embarrassing, but I think I will keep it. If anybody is interested they should check it out. See what they think of what I have done. Laugh. Offer suggestions. Tell me that I have absolutely no idea of how to go about organizing an index. So, I'll be continuing to update the index in that slow and haphazard fashion of mine. One of these days, it'll be done, and I'm really looking forward to the day when I stumble across the correct entry so I can add Evil Yoda Theory to the list. Nobody will have to wonder where it is anymore. It'll be right there.

And, am I really the only person in the universe who thinks that episode one and two drop all of these really subtle hints that Yoda just might not be such a nice little fellow after all?

Oh, well.

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