Well, it's been forever and a day, but I've finally updated the website with the current word count for Merriweather's Guide. There's not a lot else to say. It's the curse of getting old—well, older anyway. I simply don't have the time or energy to update the site more.
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Well, it certainly took longer than I ever thought it would, but I've finally finished updating the website. We've upgraded to version six, people, and I'm still not entirely sure how I arrived at that number. I can't trace the version history back past number four, so I've only got my own file naming conventions to rely on for how we got to where we are today, but we're here at last. Version six has arrived.
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I loved the last scene of the last episode of the third season of Fargo, and yes, I’m going to talk about that final scene. I don’t give a damn about spoilers. This has been your warning.
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Well, it's taken me long enough to get around to posting a blurb about it, but the complete String Finger Theatre is finally available again in dead-tree format. The last episode went up back in April, but I just couldn't find the time to post a blurb.
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Stormtroopers are crack shots in Star Wars just like Obi-Wan Kenobi said. They wade through the rebels at the beginning of the movie, taking few losses. Obi-Wan points out specific shots to Luke at the Jawa massacre to prove it wasn’t Sand People. The Stormtroopers want to take everyone alive in Mos Eisley. Even the Star-destroyers could have easily blasted the Millennium Falcon out of the sky, but they don’t. They want those droids. They want to know who’s got those droids and if the data has already been lifted.
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Tourist Hunter has finally been unleashed on an uncaring and wholly unsuspecting public. You can find copies at Amazon.com, and theoretically, anywhere else fine dead-tree books can be sold. Of course, first you have to locate a bookstore. Good luck with that. The one-line summary of Tourist Hunter that doesn't actually tell you anything about the novel goes as follows: Humorous near-future Science Fiction working-glass day-in-the-life novel. I'll give one example of the type of humor we're dealing with. The smartphones everybody uses in the book are so sophisticated and advanced and have had so much functionality crammed into them that they can do everything except make phone calls. This is never directly pointed out. Once or twice, characters do talk about how weird it would be if their phones could handle simultaneous real-time audio communiciations, but that's as close as anybody gets to acknowledging why everybody just sends text messages.
Okay, yeah, it's been a really long time since I posted an update. Just haven't had the motivation. Other things to worry about. I could either work on Tourist Hunter or I could post crap on my website. That's what's known as an easy choice. Speaking of Tourist Hunter, it's done. Believe it or not, I'm just waiting on the cover image, which is taking a lot longer than I thought, but since other people are involved, there's really not much I can do beyond pull at my hair and hope I don't rip it all out.
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So, yeah, the Tourist Hunter moratorium goes slowly with something resembling two months plus where I have to continue to pretend it doesn't exist, and as shouldn't be too hard to guess, this has left me at something of a loss as to what to do with myself. The plan to fill the interim was to dive headfirst back into music, and it was only after I took that leap into the musical deep end that I realized that the swimming pool was still filling with water. Just goes to show how much mental energy had gone into the writing of words. You reach the end, think okay, relax time, and the mind just goes cool, break time, done. And, you discover just how exhausted you were. Even just trying to think about music, sit at the piano, anything, is more taxing than you can possibly imagine.
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Okay, I've finished the first draft of Tourist Hunter, and it is a hell of a lot longer than I thought it would be. Seriously, when I first started, I figured I would be lucky to get fifty thousand words out of this turkey. Maybe, just maybe, it would be as long as Pyrrhic Kingdom, and that was if I was trying really hard. So, I don't know where the hundred thousand and change came from. I even spent the last couple of chapters asking myself why it wasn't over yet. Tourist Hunter had no business being so long even if it was just the first draft.
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So I finally realized that people put a lot of music on Youtube as if it was a music website like Soundcloud, and it occurred to me there's no reason I couldn't do the same thing. You don't need a music video. You just need something for people to look at like cover art or any old thing. You could even do what my old college friend, Dennis Amen, did and use the score. Since it's a video, you could even turn score pages to match. Well, hell, I could do that.
Yeah, I really wish I had something interesting or exciting to put here. I look back at the archive, and there were journal entries all over the place. They carried on for miles, too. I mean, looking back, how the hell did that happen?
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The complete String Finger Theatre is now available in Kindle format. Next on the ridicously time-consuming agenda is to put the works into dead-tree format. Havene't started on that little project yet because I want to time to do something vaguely useful. After all, why in the world would anyone want to pay for a Kindle or dead-tree copy of something they can read for free online?
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There's not a lot I want to say about the season finale of Doctor Who. It's a children's show, I understand that. It's like my one big guilty-pleasure show. I remember loving the hell out of Doctor Who when I was a kid, but trying to watch some of those old episodes now can be downright painful. I do try to check it out occasionally and have discovered that the best way to watch old Doctor Who is in very small doses of no more than one episode per day on non-consecutive days. So, sometimes it surprises me that I still follow the modern Doctor Who. I think it is as much nostalgia as anything else. Also, it can be entertaining. It can be amusing, and the modern show has done a good job of picking actors for the role.
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The Rhapsody for clarinet, viola & piano has been uploaded to the music page. I'm not even going to get into the mixed feelings I have about this one. A good example of my ambivalence is the fact it's been months since the previous rhapsody was posted. These vignettes and rhapsodies are all starting to sound the same to me, and that's a fact that worries me greatly. I did keep busy while ignoring the new rhapsody. It was just with stuff I'm not interested in discussing at this time.
The Rhapsody for violin, oboe & piano has been uploaded to the music page. Once again I've got very mixed feelings about this pieces. It's a good experiment. The entire piece was composed at the computer. I didn't work at the piano once on it. In fact, the whole thing was unplanned. It was supposed to be a simple experiment to test the instrument combination, and I just kept going. The final rhapsody feels very rampling and episodic to me, and there doesn't seem much depth. All of which I figure is pretty much a by-product of how I went about writing it. So, I don't know. Bits I like. Bits I don't like. Good experiment all around.
Violin Vignette, No. 1, has been uploaded to the music page, and I have very mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, I've been meaning to do something a little more experimental, and these vignettes are meant to be experiments. I've been meaning to do something more dissonant and atonal, and those voices have been nagging. They just nag and nag that I haven't been doing enough modern atonally dissonant stuff. On the other hand, bleep and blurb just aren't doing it for me right now. They have their place, and atonal dissonance certainly conveys specific moods, which seems to me something that a lot of modern stuff just doesn't get. Dissonant atonality influences emotion and mood just like anything else in music. So, there's no reason to use atonality for absolutely everything. It has its place just like tonality has its place. I hear the term post-tonal thrown around a lot, and while working on this vignette, being annoyed at it most of the time, I've been teasing myself with the term post-atonal. Yeah, post-atonal just tickles me. I like it.
The Rhapsody for Flute & Cello, No. 1, has been posted to the music page. Finally something just a little longer than the vignettes, which I still love dearly, but there is a time and a place to try different things. This one went through a lot of false starts and ideas that simply sounded terrible, leaving me rather depressed after each failure, before finally hitting upon just the right combination. The second hardest part was coming up with the name. Well, I didn't want to use vignette for something more than two minutes long. So, I needed something, and I went through rather a long list of possibilities before finally settling upon rhapsody. Well, I didn't want to use outgrabe because that has gotten tangled up in a bunch of stylistic requirements. Much more dissonant blah blah. Rhapsody leaves itself open for more possibilities in my head for some reason.
Oboe Vignette, No. 2, has been posted on the music page. This one took a little longer to finish and felt a little more like pulling teeth, but I really like how it turned out. Still debating what to do next.
I'm fond of stories that basically take the world around us and twist it in some way. There's just something really cool about it or maybe it just feeds into the whole notion of more things in heaven and earth than dreamed of in philosophy. Sure, we've got a pretty good idea of the shape of things what with science and all of that. Yay, science. But, wouldn't it just be cool if. So, yeah, there's something very escapist and exciting about imagining things being other than what they are in some way or other. Just to pick at one example, the X-Files was a hit for more than one reason, and it's really hard to escape from vampire shows, superhero movies and assorted whatnot these days.
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Finished Oboe Vignette, No. 1, a couple of days ago. Finally have a few minutes to upload it to my website. I can feel the two forces waring in my head. More so for the new vignette I'm working on than this one I just finished. On the one hand, I want to keep experimenting, and I want the music to take the shape it needs. On the other hand, I've got the outrageous forces of acceptable contemporary composition screaming in my head that there simply isn't enough dissonance in these vignettes. Well, I'm not going to add sour notes just for the sake of making it more acceptable, am I? If the texture doesn't fit chromaticism for chromaticism's sake, then I'm simply not going to do it. Simple as that. Still, the voices rage. Oh, well.
Finally broke down and signed up for Sound Cloud, which appears to be a social networking website for sharing music and sounds and noise and stuff. The current plan is to upload the musical vignettes. We shall see if I get around to adding anything else.
These piano vignettes seem to do a really good job of just touching upon the idea. Nothing much to it. Hit the idea and get out. This second piano vignette is also really simple, and I hope I haven't subconsciously just copied something I heard somewhere or other. Anyway, I think this vignette is really cool.
The third vignette for clarinet and viola has actually been done for a few days, but I've been tied up with really stressful stuff at my day job so I just hadn't gotten around to uploading until today. This third vignette is probably the most conventional one that I've done, which nags at me just a tad since I really wanted more of a touch of the experimental, but then I just try to tell myself that experimenting with conventional is perfectly okay. Things are going to stay hyper-stressful at work for at least the next two weeks so I don't expect to make any progress on another vignette for awhile. I'm also trying to psych myself up to do something longer than a vignette, but recent time consuming events have me backing away from that notion. We shall see how things unfold.
The Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary show, The Day of the Doctor, was good. Entertaining. Oh, spoilers, d'uh. And, I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before how the term spoilers just grates against my skin, but that is neither here nor there so I'll get on with it already.
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Okay, this is downright spooky. It was only about two weeks ago that I finished the last vignette. I'm going to burn out or something, I'm sure. If nothing else, it's only a matter of time before I become overly self-conscious about how traditional these vignettes are. I mean, they are practically in major and minor keys and everything. Oh, well.
I always remember being told the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as being about split personalities to the point that Dr. Jekyll wouldn't even know what Mr. Hyde had been up to. Even if there was a certain amount of awareness, it always still involved losing control. Mr. Hyde would take over, and there was nothing Dr. Jekyll could do about it. Even when he liked it, he had no control. Kind-of like a drug induced rush, I guess. Dr. Jekyll had to have his fix and damn the consequences. Now, I suppose a lot of these slight differences simply come out of the fact that lots of different people have played with the story and the idea. There have lots of different essays and adaptations and whatnot. The consistently important detail was that Dr Jekyll gave up control to this other person living in his head called Mr. Hyde.
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My most ambitious vignette yet—ambitious in the sense that it actually involves three whole musical instruments—has been uploaded to the music page of my website. It also rivals all previous vignettes in the sense that it is very nearly two minutes long, which to my way of thinking almost but not quite takes it out of vignette territory. I also happen to be feeling particularly pleased and smug about this one so I'm going to let any knocks against it slide.
Piano Vignette, No. 1, has been uploaded. More than the flute vignettes, I think this piano vignette is a better demonstration of the concept of touching upon the idea. This vignette really feels like it could have been longer. In fact, it could have been a lot longer or at least feels like it could have been longer. It just doesn't feel like it could have been longer without being a lot more complicated and involved, which is not what I was going for. It's complicated enough. The first draft was actually a lot more boring and ordinary. There was a serious danger of a boring and repetative accompaniment. I think I managed to avoid that.
I've uploaded a second Flute Vignette to my website. This one took a little longer. I think the first flute vignette was completed in about three days, which either means its not very good or I was just on fire when I composed it. Regardless, it set a bad precedent since the notion stuck in my head that these vignettes are easy. Wrong. This second flute vignette took somewhere between two and three weeks, including one evening where I just stared at the score for about two hours absolutely convinced that it was crap. Not doing anything with it. Just staring. And, occasionally burying my face in my hands. Oh, and groaning. Lots of grumbling and groaning. Anyway, I think it all worked out, and I'm currently rather pleased with myself about the final product.
Blade Runner is one of those movies I liked when I was younger. I mean I used to watch it all the time when it was on cable, and it seemed to be on all the time. Don't know how that happened. It was just on, and I would watch it. Found it fascinating or something. And, it was the old voice-over narration version. It was pan-and-scan, too, but everything was pan-and-scan back in those days. Didn't matter. It was on, and I would watch it. Alternate versions didn't exist yet. In fact, the first time I ever saw Blade Runner in a movie theater was when the first alternate version did the rounds. I used to love this movie. Can't stand it now. Blade Runner is long and boring and pretentious as hell. Don't know what I used to see in it. Don't understand what happened. Age makes fools of us all or something.
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The first new music composition in almost two years has been uploaded to the website. Sure, it's only a new vignette for flute and piano, but I've got to do something. Also, there is just something really appealing about the format. Short little bits of fluff that don't necessarily have to be anything more than what they are. Musical snippets. Musical ideas. Musical flotsam in the wild world.
I noticed something while working on my silly little adaptation of Macbeth. Something kind-of fundamental to the story. Well, the first thing I learned by looking at Wikipedia of all things was that Macbeth was not an original story to Shakespeare. The play itself was an adaptation. Quite possibly based on historical events. At the very least, it was based on well known stories about guys killing other guys for the purpose of becoming king or whatever. What fascinated me the most was that it wasn't always a secret. The guy killing the other guy said he did it because the other guy was crap as leader or something. I'm being vague on details for no good reason. Not the point of this little writing jag.
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Yeah, I'm more than a little surprised that I haven't posted a news blurb or anything about the publication of my new novel Pyrrhic Kingdom. Officially published June 27, 2013; although, I think the Amazon Kindle version is convinced it was published on June 26th, but I think I've got that fixed. I've been slow with the annoucements because the day-job has been busy, and then my computer decided to die a slow and agonizing death. It's still in the middle of its death spiral, and I just hope it holds out until I can purchase a new one next weekend. Didn't really want to do so suddenly, and it's not exactly as if I can afford a new one. But, I must have a computer. Anyway, if you had to describe Pyrrhic Kingdom in two words or less, you could describe it as Cthulhu Macbeth with the understanding that the plot will really kind-of sort-of remind you of Macbeth and with conspiracies, secret societies and ancient horrors from beyond time and space instead of ghosts and a rebellion. Macbeth starts out with a rebellion, remember?
It's been about three months, more-or-less, since I finished the first-draft of my Shakespeare adaption, and I suppose I really should get around to actually calling it by its new name in this here journal. All part of the service, right? If I don't actually refer to it by name, then it's less real, which doesn't entirely make sense unless I do a little more to explain.
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The new website design is finally live. I'm sure there are lots of little bugs and things that still need to be worked out, but there you are. The biggest change and the reason I wanted to redesign the website in the first place is the page is now centered on the screen. I know. I know. Very silly reason for a redesign. I also wanted the text to scale so that you could actually read it on a portable device, but I couldn't quite get that part to work the way I wanted. Or happpy with. Or whatever. Whole process took much longer than planned because this is only one of about six things I try to do with my very precious and limited free time. But, it is done. Yay!
Long ago and far away, the plan was to work on a simple adaptation and on musical vignettes. The day-job was proving to be a serious pain in the ass, devouring far more time and energy than it had any right to be consuming. Needs of the world and all of that bullshit. Keep a roof over your head. Don't starve. Yeah, yeah. Bullshit, like I said.
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Okay, the heavy lifting is done. The first draft of my adaptation of a Shakespeare play is complete. Next stage is tricky, waiting three to six months before starting to edit. Don't think I'll manage six months. I'll be lucky if I can wait three. The thing is it's important to wait. I can't spot my own typos and mistakes if I don't take a break from the text. I'll just edit in my head. The break is important. Also, I'm more likely to notice poorly written bits with a break. Just look at The Etymology of Fire, for example. I think I deleted about a third of the text in the editing stage. Probably an exaggeration. Just felt like a third of the text because I was the one doing serious damage to my own writing. Murdering lots of babies and little darlings and all of that. It was worth it, my opinion. I think Etymology of Fire really flows. Best written of the three. I know. I know. Biased. What can I say?
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