Archive for the ‘Light Phases’ Category

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I’ve been meaning to write.

I’ve been meaning to write about pain and loss and grief and the importance of finding small joys.  I’ve been meaning to write about uncertainty and inevitability, the uncomfortable position of navigating a friend’s mourning process in hopes of offering solace and support, and the even more difficult conversations you have with people for whom hope is not an option, but neither is defeat.

I’ve been meaning to write about my own anxiety and the endless one-note symphony of my creative failure.   I’ve been meaning to write about the hard, dull thud in one’s soul when, just for a moment, you catch of glimpse of your place in the universe.   I’ve been meaning to write about fear – fear of having traveled the wrong path for too long, the fear of aging and the unspoken powers of youth.    I’ve been meaning to write about the inequities of physical beauty, and raw, tangible talent versus much-practiced, lesser abilities.

But when I sit down to arrange any of this in a reasonable, logical fashion I get stuck on how unreasonable and illogical it all is.  And I feel helpless.  I cannot give myself the attributes I do not possess and I cannot change the circumstances of those I see around me.   And really, they aren’t in the same realm are they?  Absolute loss and misguided expectations are two different aspects of the hard parts of life.

And so I haven’t written at all because I don’t know what to say.

I tell myself to keep seeking out the small joys – dancing in the living room with my kids, singing in the car, enjoying that first cup of coffee in the morning.  I tell myself that as long as I’m alive and healthy with a roof over my head I can still work out the feelings of inadequacy and failure.  I tell myself that the time to save face and hold back is over.  There’s nothing to save; let people look and laugh or look and admire or ignore it all.  But there really is nothing to be saved for later.

Give it all now.  Give it all you’ve got.

small joys

March-2014-Shows

I do not have a direct line to the  music god(dess), but I am lucky enough to be acquainted with some who do.  Karina Denike and Lily Taylor are two exceptionally talented people who create amazing music and perform it effortlessly.  While they are both strong solo performers, together they create something absolutely magical.

 

 

  My personal footnote – Karina Denike is an excellent vocal teacher who coached me through all the recording sessions of my solo CD.  Lily Taylor does amazing things with a keyboard, a loop pedal and effects pedals and inspired me to experiment with a similar set up that eventually lead to my own solo performance set.  Guitarist, James Frazier, is also an audio engineer and helped me out a great deal on the final production of my solo CD.  

 

Love-will-terrace

For my fellow aging Goth/post-punk friends.

Happy New Year!I have a New Year’s resolution.    It is somewhat daunting yet completely within my capability and will give me a sense of accomplishment and enrichment should I complete it.

 I plan to learn a poem by heart.

I decided this on the day before New Year’s eve.  My in-laws had left a day earlier and even though I had lots of work to do before the neighborhood New Year’s Eve partyI gave myself the morning off. I let the kids play video games in the family room, something they hadn’t done for over a week while their grandparents occupied the space, while I stayed in my pj’s and took to my bedroom like a moody teenager.  Lounging in bed I listened to old cassettes of a music project of mine from the late 80’s and read poems out of college text books.  It was self-indulgent time travel, yet it felt rejuvenating and necessary.  It reminded me how good poetry is for my soul.   That’s when I decided I was done with all the usual self-improvement resolutions.

Obviously the desire to eat better, exercise more, work smarter not harder, all while learning to love yourself for who you truly are, doesn’t work out for most people. If it did, the internet wouldn’t explode each January 1st with articles on how to make this year the year to keep your New Year’s Resolutions,  not to mention the crazy lists about the  7 Surprising Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Diet And Self-Esteem By Reading All These Lists About How You’re Doing Everything Wrong.   I don’t have the energy to think about all the things I’m doing wrong while trying to become a better person who accepts herself.  I think I’ll just live with my foibles, learn a poem and move on.

So then the question becomes – which poem do I learn? I do have a few poems in my repertoire – easy, short poems by W.B. Yeats and Emily Dickinson as well as the very first poem I ever committed to memory, a catchy verse from Kate Greenaway’s Under the Window .   I haven’t worked too hard at memorizing big chunks of words since my college days,  so there’s an inclination to keep it short and sweet, but I want it to be meaningful which brings me to a recent confluence of events:

Back in November, my friend, Nate, who was expecting his third son (born on December 31st 2013 – Congrats Nate and Rose!), told me he and his wife had decided to name the child Eliot after T.S. Eliot.  After learning this I felt the pull to re-read “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, and so headed down to the family room to find my old copy of The Wasteland and other Poems.  I was barely there for 5 minutes before my kids appeared and asked what I was doing.  My husband, worried he was missing out on a party, showed up soon after.  I explained I was reading poetry and then without offering anyone a chance to escape, opened the book and began, “Let us go then, you and I . . .”

Both boys listened to the entire poem without interruption which I found amazing because while my inner voice reads the poem with the proper measured tone and inflections, the reading my real voice gave left a lot to be desired.    When I finished, my youngest son asked to hear more poetry. My eldest son seemed lost in thought.wasteland

“If you memorize passages of this poem and quote the right parts at the right time,“ I told my oldest son, “There are  people who will be very impressed and think good things about you.”

“Really,” he asked.

“Yep, especially that part about the mermaids, “my husband chimed in, “Everyone loves that part about the mermaids.” (It’s true.   Many, many years ago, back in the 1990’s, a friend sent me a handmade postcard with mermaids on the front.  On the back she had written “Actually, I do think they are singing to you.”  It was so touching that I have kept it, even though she has long since gone out of my life.)

My husband then put a record on the turntable and we sat there listening to music and, at least in my case, thinking about poetry.  It was one of those rare picture-perfect moments when your kids behave exactly like you imagined your kids would behave, before you actually had kids.  It gave me yet another reason to appreciate “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

My younger self always appreciated the poem because by my humble interpretation, it touches on human frailty and failure, mortality and missed connections, all wrapped in the yearning for something greater that will never transpire.  It’s beautiful and timeless and I know small sections of it already, but it would be wonderful to have it all committed to memory.

And so, this year instead of resolving to take up the 7 habits of highly effective people, or eat only the 5 foods that will melt my belly fat, or try 10 tricks that will cut my workout time in half,  I resolve to learn “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”   It doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t try other things, it simply means I am to making poetry a priority for my mind, body and soul.  After all, learning poetry by heart is the number one purest and safest way to ingest art and make it part of you.  I think it’s a pretty good resolution.

As an aside – I’ve often wondered how many people have a poem or poems committed to memory and what those poems might be.  Let me know if you do.

 

We had a fun little show at 50 Mason Social House on Friday, Dec 20th.  Here’s a clip of “Say Anything”, written by Pauli Gray.

Shot in the DarkWe’ll be back there in March, so stay tuned!

 

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It will be loud.

Join us!

I was almost over it, I swear.  The onslaught of press for Thor:The Dark World had subsided and I’d all but forgotten the plot of War Horse (okay, that’s not  true because the title gives it away:  it’s about war and a horse!)  With the impending holidays providing motivation to get my house in shape for visiting relatives, I was back to reality and feeling confident that my Loki/Tom Hiddleston phase was quickly becoming a thing of the past. Soon it would be just an awkward memory of that time . . . that dark, dark time when I found myself simultaneously checking airfare to London, searching StubHub UK for jacked up Coriolanus tickets, all while calculating how much I could “borrow” from my children’s college fund.

“Sorry kids, I know I promised to fund a few semesters of community college, but mommy had a little bit of a  - Shakespeare problem a few years back . . .”   That was a reality check.

Also, there were no tickets available.

So I moved on.  I was doing really well until my poorly drawn husband, whom I left for Loki a few blog entries back, surprised me with an early Christmas gift.

christmas loki

Yes – it was a life size cardboard cutout of the Norse- God- turned-Marvel- Comics- villain, Loki.

Wow.

Why?!?!? Was this an act of love and support for my mania or a twisted payback for my ill-conceived, poorly rendered comic?   Was he trying to tell me something?  What was I supposed to do with this? More importantly, where would I hide it when the in-laws came to visit?

I put it downstairs in the family room/music studio where it freaked out my kids while they played video games.  My youngest thought he saw it move and both boys felt like they were being watched. The first evening I went downstairs to practice music I turned on the light, turned around and nearly screamed at the stranger lurking in the corner. Loki, you trickster, stop . . .  just standing there!

I had to find something else to do with Loki.  If he were real what would I want from a mischievous Norse god?

Dishes.  I’d want him to do my dishes and maybe even tidy up the kitchen a bit.  After all, there’s nothing sexier than a man working in the kitchen and his brother was easily domesticated.

Thor domesticated

Not only did he serve the breakfast, but you know he was going to clean up afterwards while Jane sipped coffee and worked more on her looney toons astrophysics thing.

Would it kill you to at least create the illusion that  my kitchen wasn't so cluttered?

Would it kill you to at least create the illusion that my kitchen wasn’t so cluttered?

Doesn’t really work.

Maybe some role play?

stormtrooper

“I’m Loki Skywalker. I’m here to rescue you, although I’m not feeling inclined to do so right at this moment.”

Nah.  It’s a little creepy and probably involves more copyright headaches than it’s worth.

Finally, here we are, alone at last in the boudoir.  Loki, quit smirking.  You know why we’re here.

bedroom 1

laundryThat’s right, I need to fold this laundry.

Bonus scene!

bathroom

I’ve faithfully recreated the Asgard prison set in my bathroom. Awesome!

While it’s true that I could have written out and addressed all of my holiday cards in the time it took  to complete this little photo-journal, I will say it did yield one good result. I finally figured out how I will hide Loki when the in-laws arrive.

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Happy Holidays!

Moog FXToday I dug through my all-things-old-and-forgotten cupboard of musical gear and pulled out my Digitech bass effects pedal.  Then I connected that bass effects pedal to my Moog Little Phatty and now I am in love!  Don’t get me wrong, I loved my Moog before.  Nothing else sounds quite like it and I have consciously decided to build my sound in Shot in the Dark, my electro-rock project, around the Moog.  This just gives it an extra dimension.

Previously I had a T.C.Electronics multi-effects unit attached to the Little Phatty for a bit of chorus and reverb or the occasional delay, but it’s a second hand unit and it’s outbound signal is dirty, so it’s not anything I would want to take to a show and put through a PA.   Plus it is a rack unit,and the foot-pedal bass effects just work so much better for me.  I’m pretty excited to integrate it into my current set up for my next show with Shot in the Dark which happens on Friday, December 20th.

This will be the first show we’ve had where we can turn up.  Our maiden voyage, when we weren’t yet a band, happened in the front room of El Rio in San Francisco and we were a little unprepared when it came to understanding how our live sound needed to be handled.  Then we played at Wild Side West and understood we needed keep it down.  Finally we’ll be able to crank up the bass and drum machine and guitar and play the way we (mostly) play in rehearsals.

This will also be my first time out running Ableton as part of the performance.  I feel I use about 5 percent of Ableton’s capabilities, so I’m a little self conscious about getting on stage with a laptop and the Akai controller.  However, I’m also playing keys and singing so it’s not like I have an additional 2 hands to tweak the Ableton tracks on the fly.  Ableton is replacing my Roland SP-555 sampler which I had in my set up for a few years.  I felt really sure of the sampler.  It’s been a bit of learning curve, getting the feel of the controller down, and then I’m left with the question – what constitutes live performance?  If I’m triggering the samples on the fly, but I have a chance of screwing it up, wouldn’t it be better to just sequence everything?  And if I’m just sequencing everything, then what is my added value on stage?  Before I go spiraling out of control on these questions, I’ve promised myself to just keep everything as it is right now and worry about making changes after the December show . . . except for adding in the bass effects pedal; and re-recording a keyboard track for the Ableton tracks; and replacing the high hat part on one of the songs; and re-editing the ending on another song. But after that, I’m on lock-down, practice mode only.  Really. I mean it.

Post script on the War Horse entry – I actually ended up talking about watching War Horse to my therapist.  Isn’t that weird?  Also, that wasn’t even rock bottom. I’ve discovered Suburban Shootout.  I need to get out more!