K.L.'s Bog: A Diary of Artful Things

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Wed, Apr 1, 2020

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Just like last year, actually even more than last year, I see no reason to even bother with any sort of faux event or faux news, some "April Fools's Day" gag. There's enough faux bullshit being fostered in real life. April Fool's is already being reigned down upon us all in a cynically macabre manner, isn't it?



ALL THE TRACKS ARE LAID!:
My Music
Song number 3 in progress
It's About Damn Time! -- with frowning eyes graphic


Okay, so, the vocal tracks weren't laid Saturday night as I planned. Nor were the last of the instruments recorded. Thus, the song was not mixed and mastered before the weekend was over.

Instead, the lead vocal and three of the four back vocals were recorded Monday night. Actually, I laid four back vocal tracks down Monday night, but, somehow, and I am not sure exactly how, one of the tracks got erased. So I relaid that track yesterday morning, right before I "went to work."

Last night, I laid the "horn chart," (a quartet), which finishes off the recording. Now it's mixing and mastering. So I guess "it's about |)@/\/\|\| time!" is not absolutely correct, since the mix is not done, yet. But, it does speak to how long it took to finally get the tracks all finished.



Thu, Apr 2, 2020

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ALMOST THERE....:
My Music
Song number 3 in progress
The mixed master of the short rocker, now known as "Into the Blue Dawn," is almost finished. I mixed it last night but when I rendered the mp4 version I found that the overall volume is too loud. I need to go back and drop all the sound levels on all the tracks so it renders without being distorted. I may find myself adjusting some of the overall balancing while I'm at it. I might go in and add some filters to a few things, as well. So, we are close to a final mix, but, not quite there yet.


Fri, Apr 3, 2020

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ALMOST "INTO THE BLUE DAWN":
My Music
Song number 3 in progress

I've remixed "Into the Blue Dawn," attending to the overall volume levels -- bring everything down. It sound much better, but there are still some sonic problems, a little bit of distortion on the back vocals during the chorus, but I'd like to keep them at the current volume balance in those sections. I am going to try compressing the back vocals in those part of the song. I want to see if the compression works before I go back in and readjust volumes again.

Overall, I am quite happy with the song. It's turned out much better than I expected. I like the song more than I had liked it. It was just kind of a nice little song but I've come to like it more and more. I even am starting to like the lyrics a bit more, too. Of course, this could just be the honeymoon period, that which comes when you are finishing up, or have just finished a piece of art, when it's fresh and new to you. But, I don't know; I think maybe I really have come to like this one quite a bit.


HOME - OFFICE - HIKING:
WORKING FROM HOME icon
COVID-19

Yesterday afternoon, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine extended the stay-at-home order for Ohio until May 1. With Dr. Acton projecting that the epidemic will peak in Ohio perhaps as late as mid-May, I suspect we will see another extension as we approach May 1, in line with what I've already been thinking.

The May 1 extension, of course, puts me working from home for at least another four weeks. Along those lines, probably starting next week, I'm going to be going into the office, the actual office, to do some materials handling, at least once a week during the closure. This is a good thing, because otherwise I will have a Pike's-Peak-worth of material waiting for me when the place finally opens to full operations.


HEALTHWISE ICON
Not In The Gym
Of course, when the campus was closed down, so too was the gym, that being where I have my gym membership; actually the campus gym was closed down the week before. My cardiologist wants me exercising at least two times a week, and he would prefer it be four. Those who know me know that I was already a gym attendee, with some periods of slacking off. My doctor actually doesn't care whether my exercise is in the gym or otherwise. And, as those who know me also know, I like a good hike in the woods. At one time I rode a bike quite a bit, but my bike died a few years ago and I haven't replaced it.

As of right now, the Ohio state parks and, I think, most of the municipal parks, are still open, though any playground areas are closed. Gov. DeWine does not want to close the parks, but there have been reports of fools who are congregating and otherwise not maintaining the six-foot social distancing the Ohio coronavirus health guidlines dictate. I am worried that if these jackasses don't stop with that crap, DeWine is going to ask Dr. Acton, who is our state Department of Health director, to issue an order to close the parks. At a briefing earlier in the week, I got the distinct vibe that he was subtly hinting that, though he did not want to that, he would if he thought it was necessary.

After almost two weeks of no exercise, whatsoever, I decided yesterday to shift my work-from-home hours down and finally get to a park for a hike. Interestingly, there were quite a few cars in one of the lots at the park, yet I hardly ran into anyone; and we few who encountered each other were sane enough to respect the physical distance. I hope to all hell that this keeps up or else we're going to see park closings. That being another reason I made sure to go yesterday morning -- I'm a little worried the idiots will spoil it for the rest of us, and I wanted to log at least some time hiking before the potential closed signs are posted.

  My "out of the office" morning:
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It has also occurred to me that I have a lot of work from the office that I can do without being on-line. There are quite a few documents I can edit locally (mostly, updating) then copy over to the library servor when they are done. A nice picnic table at this or another park can be my office for such work, and I'm pretty sure that'll happen. I'm more than sure: it's going to happen.



Sat, Apr 4, 2020

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WE ARE "INTO THE BLUE DAWN":
My Music
Song number 3 finished
It's About Damn Time! -- with frowning eyes graphic
I did a bit of remixing and remastering of "Into the Blue Dawn" last night. Actually, I finished in the wee hours this morning. And I think I'm finished with the recording. At least I'm confident enough to declare it "finished." But, I reserve the right to revisit the mix if the desire arises.

I was worried that I might need to add a noise gate to some of the tracks at the end of the song. I had already compressed a few things earlier in the day yesterday. Then I rendered that mix and sent it off to a compatriot who gave me some nice, positive feedback. But I couldn't escape the sense that I needed to go back and do more mastering. The song does get a little busy at about the second chorus section, where I push the sound levels on the back vocals and some of the instrumentation. Yet, I do like the sonic blast that results. I like the excitement that sonic overload invokes. But I decided I needed to try and find a middle ground, to dampen the pegging effect I was getting (that distortion you get when a sound is pushed too loud). But I wanted to also preserve that bigness that the pushed volume levels are giving the ending of the song.

I went in and tweaked the EQ levels on the compression for each track of the four backing vocals. I dropped the low bands just a smidge and I upped the high bands the exact opposite smidge. I also slightly adjusted the volume levels on those, pushing them up slightly to compensate for a small level drop cause by the compression adjustments. I also slightly lowered the levels on the two higher pitched parts of the "horn chart." The horn sounds play a vital musical role in the second chorus section, which is the ending of the song, but they were overwhelming the back vocals in this new master, and a small drop in level fixed that.

So now, I believe I have a final mix on this one.              Probably.....

Regardless, it's time to move on to a new song. Honestly, it's not a new song. I have plans to next revive an old song I wrote with my old music partner, Rich Hisey. We wrote it over forty years ago. I will also revive a short instrumental that I composed to go on the front end of that longer, extravagant ballad, titled, "Memories of the Times Before." The little, short, instrumental introduction is titled, "The Death of the...."

A little trivia tidbit: I used part of the chord progression and melody from "Memories of the Times Before" for, "Frank's Theme Music," which was used for our Dayton Theatre Guild production of Frank's Life, by Mark Dunn, back in the fall of 2010.

There are quite a few other songs from "way back when" that I want to raise from the dead, as well. The problem is remembering the |=@#$%#@! chords and such! I should have at least written them down as "A minor, D," or whatever, etc., etc., even though I couldn't put them on a staff. But some sort of written record of the chords and such would be most helpful now. It's pretty much the case for virtually everything from back then.

I also have some ideas for some new songs. Plus I need to sit down and actually figure out the chords for a song I wrote in my head last year. I hear the chords; I have since I composed it. I just never sat down to find them on an instrument, which will probably be the piano, though this will be a guitar song, both acoustic and electric. As I record more songs, I do need to start bringing in guitarists, and other musicians. This last song, the one I wrote in my head, is one that absolutely will need such. "The Death of the..."/"Memories of the Times Before," however, I can pull off on my own.



Sun, Apr 5, 2020

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BACK "INTO THE BLUE DAWN":
My Music
Song number 3 in progress
AGAIN!

I would imagine that none of you phantom five regular readers will be at all shocked that I did, indeed, find something to tweak in the so-called final mix-master of "Into the Blue Dawn." It was less than an hour after I had uploaded yesterday's blog post, in fact, before I went to bed from friday night -- I'd pulled close to an all-nighter.

The culpret, the offending factor, was that as I had upped some levels at the end of the song, I had not done so with the drum tracks, and they got too buried for my liking. So, I brought them up to balance with everything else going on. The song is a rocker, so the drum presence is pretty important.

But, then yesterday afternoon, while I was hiking, I listened to it on my iPhone, and the distortions at the end of the song were present. It became clear to me that I have to go back and retool the mixing and mastering on the second half of the song. I'll be dong that shortly here today. I had wanted to get started on Song #4, that being "The Death of the..."/"Memories of the Times Before," (which I am counting as one unit), but that will have to wait until, I hope, later this week.


PLAYWRIGHT WORK:
The Writer icon
Final Draft 11 icon
Boo Face in blue and "BOO!"
COVID-19

Today would have been the closed table reading of draft 4B of my play manuscript, but alas, the COVID-19 dilemma dropkicked this as it has virtually every other event in the U.S. states that have their wits about them.

Over the last week or so I have been ignoring the draft quite a bit more. I did re-write one line last night, just for a little clarity, but other than that, and correcting a typo that I finally saw, I have left it alone. I really am itching to hear the play out loud again, but, what-a-ya-gonna-do?

click here to go to the index of the "Playwright Work" blog entries



Sun, Apr 12, 2020

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Easter Egg



My Music
Song number 3 finished ? ?
Last blog entry, a week back, I said I was going to remix "Into the Blue Dawn" that evening. Yeah, that didn't happen. I actually didn't get back to it until this morning. But I THINK, I think, that I have a mix that works much better. I did what I'd planned; I adjusted the volumes on the second half of the song, where more instruments come in. I had pulled the vocals and rhythm instruments up, originally. For this new mix, I dropped them back down, then also dropped the added instrumentation. It took a little experimentation, and, I admit, a slight pump up of the vocals and rhythm tracks, but I believe I have the mix. I guess we'll see.

NEXT icon
Song number 4 in progress
Now I move onto the medley, "The Death of the..."/"Memories of the Times Before." The former is an instrumental that I composed, the latter is a collaboration between my music partner of my youth, Rich Hisey, and myself. I wrote the music; he wrote the lyrics. Depending on how the rest of my day today goes, I might get a start on this tonight, though I'm betting I start it tomorrow.



AUDITION ICON
PROFESSIONAL GIG ICON
VIDEO PRODUCTION STUFF ICON

Of course, the General Auditions for the Human Race Theatre Company were going to have to be changed up. In-person auditions in May were clearly not going to be tenable. This week the company finally sent out the revised plan. They will be accepting video auditions between April 15 and 29. In all practicality, these will mostly be DIY auditions, to some high degree. Mine will be. Hey, my last pro gig was booked off a DIY video audition, so, I have some history of success.


COVID-19
fb post -- " Apr 8, 2020, 10:59 PM -- I just experienced what I think was quite probably my first panic attack ever.It was not fun!"
So, Wednesday evening I was listening to an incoming storm, a particularly evil sounding storm with a rumbling that might have been a tornado. There was also a continuing, rapid flash of lightening in the sky; the last time, the only other time, I had seen such a cacophony of lighting flashes was when I was watching similar lightning flashes from the tornado last May that past through a part of Dayton I was only about a mile or so away from. And I was hearing the same rapid clapping of thunder and the same rumbling roar as last year. There apparently was no tornado this time, but, it seemed the same to me.

Suddenly, this last Wednesday, as I listened to that in-coming storm, which, by-the-way, mostly bypassed my home, I had the fear of a little kid wash into me. Part of me told me it was a little irrational, that I was probably over-reacting, but I could not control it. That, too, was scary. I felt as if I was about three or four years old and terrified. I've never felt that before as an adult, or even as an adolescent.

Obviously, I had reached a breaking point about our current dilemma and all of the insanity surrounding it and that incoming storm was the vehicle that triggered it, that overwhelmed me. I must admit, that after I had managed calm myself down, to get back to a reasonable emotional place, or, at least, not be in full-scale panic, I then felt a weight of sadness overtake me. And I wept. I wept a lot, deep, pain-ridden, sorrowful sobs. I felt so alone and mournfully craved to be hugged, and hug back, for about an hour or two.

Eventually I started thinking about how, of course, there was nothing unique about what I was feeling, experiencing. How many of us have or are about to hit an overload point? Then I started thinking about those people on the front lines of this, and their families. I thought about the healthcare professionals, who are at such a high risk of contracting this virus and of giving it to their spouses and children. I thought about the other people out there coming into contact all day long with others as they report to work in grocery stores and pharmacies and other essential retail outlets -- even with precautions, they may not have the stress, the risk factors of the health professionals, but their stress level has got to be high; they have built-in higher risk factor than those of use who get to open up our laptop in our homes or back yards and "go to work."

I think that sadness that I was acknowledging in myself was for all of us. The sick, the dying, the dead, and all their loved ones, all of us stuck at home, many of us currently with no income, the front-liners in various degrees of risk, the grave disruptions, the many wonderful things cancelled or put on indefinite hold, and I think maybe the ignorance and malevolence that is hanging out of the wounds, raw and unapologetic. I think I also may be sad that some acutely valuable lessons will not be recognized or heeded by the very ones who most need to absorb them and change.


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My absentee ballot envelope for the Ohio presidential primary.
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Two eggs, sunny-side up -- a new achievement in my life!
There has been more positive stuff going on during this stay-at-home period. For one, my absentee ballot has arrived. I have, several tine in the past voted early, but for this presidential primary I was going to vote on the primary election day wich was scheduled for March 17. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine wanted to move the election date to June 2, in light of the pandemic so that voters would not have to congregate at the poles on March 17. According to the Governor, this was for the safety of everyone, especially the pole workers, who would be exposed to a mass influx of people all day. Many, if not most, pole workers are older with medical conditions, of course, an at-risk group. But, Judge Richard A. Frye of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas rejected the state's request, the day before the election was scheduled.

So, DeWine closed down the poles that same night, and the next morning, the Ohio Supreme Court backed the decision to shut down the polls. About two weeks later, the Ohio legislature passed a bill to extend the date of the Ohio primary until April 28 and further directed that all remaining voting be conducted via absentee ballot via mail.

There for a while, my constitutional right to vote was in jeopardy, and it was a real concern to me because, as great as our Governor has been in dealing with this pandemic, he has a spotty record in terms of voter rights and our Lieutenant Governor John Husted was, as Ohio Secretary of State, behind an aggressive voter purge that threatened to disenfranchise legal voters, mostly, you guessed it, of the other party. So, I stand firmly behind the stance that my concern was well-founded. The good key point here was that there were voters from all parties that had yet to vote in this primary and there are down-ticket races and other issues that need deciding.

But, now I have my absentee ballot, which is likely to be filled out and posted later today.

And then there's another little personal success. Sometimes, it's the little things! Friday, I fried two eggs sunny-side up successfully for the first time in my life. Every other time I have ever attempted this, there's always been a mishap. Usually, I break the yoke while they cook; sometimes I overcook and either have a brown border or hard yokes, often both. But Friday, you would have thought a seasoned fry cook made them! I even managed to transfer them from the pan to the plate without a mishap!

Ya gotta take the wins ya get!!


WORKING FROM HOME icon
On TV icon
Another work-from-home week on the books for me, as well as most of my colleagues from the rent-payer, and several million others here in the U.S. (plus whatever the global count is). I've been mostly doing the sort of work that makes it possible to have the TV on and not screw productivity. So, I've been mostly on Netflix catching up on the seasons of NCIS that I've never seen. I also started Madame Secretary over, which is the show I've been watching more of, to eventually get to the seasons I've never seen. Occasionally I go back to my current cycling through the series run of The West Wing -- and this has got to be at least my tenth time through, and it's more likely close to, or over, the twentieth time. I'm also on occasion throwing a blue ray™ disk from my complete collection of Friends into the machine. And I'm also watching other titles, old and new.

One other thing I've been watching, usually on facebook, has been the daily briefings on the pandemic held by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton. I have not been subjecting myself to the bad propaganda briefings from the White Housem but rather opting for real, sound, leadership, giving mostly straight-forward realistic answers, wise counsel, reliance and confidence in science and other truly expert information, and showing true concern for the population, putting the needs and safety of the general public first. But, let me get off my soapbox.

Often, really most of the week, I watched these shows on my iPhone because early this past week, my on-site work-from-home office manager made me move my work space onto the patio at my apartment. It's been a hard burden to bear but I've somehow been able to cope:

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Fri, Apr 17, 2020

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I Just Voted By Mail -- 2020 Ohio Primary

Yesterday I mailed in my absentee ballot for the 2020 primary. I went to the Post Office to do it. While I was there, I bought three sheets of stamps. I'll probably buy more.





My Music
Song number 4 in progress
Last night I finally started recording the next piece for the music project, the medley: "The Death of the..."/"Memories of the Times Before." I am doing the two as seperate recordings then editing them together. Last night I programmed then recorded the drums for the instrumental "The Death of the..." and also laid down two piano parts. The plan for tonight is to compose and lay the bass line, and perhaps at least one other instrument. "The Death of the...," for those who don't know, is a solo composition by myself. "Memories of the Times Before" is a collaboration between Rich Hisey (music partner of my younger years) and myself -- Rich wrote the lyrics; I composed the music. I'll have more about that particular collaboration later.



Sat, Apr 18, 2020

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My Music
Song number 4 in progress
Last night I laid the bass track for the "The Death of the...," my instrumental that is the first part of the medley, which will also include "Memories of the Times Before," a collaborative composition between my old music partner, Rich Hisey, and myself.

For "The Death of the...," I had planned to put a bass solo line in one of the sections for instrumental melody work, but I pulled back and kept the bass line pretty simple and fundamental. It just felt correct to keep it simple and basic, based on the musical theme of the piece.

I didn't get around to any other instrumentation last night. That will probably happen later today, or tomorrow, or both. I'll throw some solo work in on one or two of those additions -- a keyboard voice or two. Don't have a strong idea but that'll come.

I do intend to do a bass solo on "Memories of the Times Before." I've heard one in my head, on that one, for years.



Dayton Theatre Guild
On a Personal Note icon
Just about to attend a virtual, on-line meeting of The Guild board of directors. I know that prepping for our upcoming 2020/2021 season in lieu of COVID-19 is on the agenda to be discussed today and I would assume that there will be discussion of contingency plans. We will likely talk about such questions as what sort of safeguards may we need to think about for the new season, currently slated to open in late August? Will some safeguards be mandatory? How will rehearsals work this summer for our first show of 2020/2021, Hedda Gabler, if it turns out that can happen? Auditions are still slated for June 22 & 23; will it be practical -- and safe -- to conduct rehearsals this summer? It's all up in the air at the moment, but we probably should at least start to have a game plan. This is all my own personal thoughts, but I would guess these things, and perhaps other related topics, will be talked about today.

On a more personal note, one of the things I'll miss today is lunch, or brunch, after the meeting. It's quite common for at least a handful of us to head to The Oregon District, or right across the street to Wheat Penny Oven & Bar, for a little commensality. It's a particular social event surrounding theatre in general that I love. I love it after meetings, after rehearsals, after performances. It won't happen today and that bums me out.


WORKING FROM HOME icon
Another week of working from (mostly) home has passed. However, this past Wednesday, I was on-site at the library doing a pretty significant amount of materials handling, doing a lot of catch-up on incoming mail. Mail has not halted despite the campus being closed, so there's been a build up. I didn't get absolutely everything caught up, but I got much of it taken care of. I go back in this coming Wednesday to work on what wasn't dealt with, plus, there will be new mail.

Right now, the state of Ohio will be phasing back into "opening back up" on May 1. There is no word yet about whether the Wright State campus will be opening up. The classes are not. But offices may be opening back up at some point in May. I am expecting it a real possibility that I, because of my age and my health issues, may be still spending some significant portion of the week working at home, for a while.



Sun, Apr 19, 2020

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My Music
Song number 4 in progress
I laid several more tracks last night for the instrumental "The Death of the...": a couple harmonic string tracks and the first of what I now plan to be three solos parts. I'll probably finish the recording today, but I'm not sure if I'll get to any mixing today. But I will probably finish the mixing and the mastering of "The Death of the..." before I start on the second part of this medley, the longer "Memories of the Times Before." I have planned out how I'm going to connect the two songs. I've also made the decision to keep them as one unit in any collection, downloadable or on a physical CD. In other words, they will not be separate files.


So, What's Happening With This Music I'm Recording? -- Now is as good a time as any to admit something, that I made a particular decision a little while ago. It was shortly after I had recorded, "The Night Before the Night Before Christmas." Somebody asked me, "So, are you making an album?" I thought about it for a moment, then answered, "You know, it really hadn't occurred to me, but I think maybe I am!" In that moment, with that response, I knew that, yes, I'm recording an album.

I'm not making any plans to go shopping for a tux for The Grammys, or The Billboard Music Awards, but I may investigate marketing the collection on iTunes. My understanding from a cursory exploration is that it's feasible. I'm also not planning to start shopping for a Bugatti or a house in The Hamptons. Neither am I expecting to even supplement my income or, for that matter, actually make any money off the finished work.

I sure as hell would not be planning anything even resembling a tour, or even playing out live at all -- regardless of the COVID -19 situation. I suppose "never say 'never'" isn't inappropriate, in terms of live performance, but at the moment I am not in that position. I actually would have to go back and figure out some of what I've done on the songs thus far, and that is highly likely to be the case as I move onward. There is little embedding in my memory of what I work out for the songs. I work out the parts, rehearse them a few times, record them, and then move on. I have written down at least chords and some musical movements, not on musical staff sheets, mind you; my knowledge of music theory is terribly slight, and that may be a generous assessment. But there is some record of what I did, beyond, of course, the audio recordings, but the exact perfomances as heard on the finished recordings could not, in any way be called "well-rehearsed." There's also the practicality of putting a band together. I don't have the facility, and being in a band that's playing out is not an itch I feel any sort of need, desperate or otherwise, to scratch. It's also important to point out that I haven't played a live gig as a musician in more than three decades.

The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.
-- Kurt Vonnegut

No designs on becoming a sexagenarian pop star are cascading around in my head. I would be more interested in earning a decent income as an actor or a playwright. Hell, let's cut the bullshit, the idea of actually being a full-blown professional actor -- instead of an actor who, once every now and then, books a professional gig -- or actually noting the regular direct deposit of royalty checks for my play (plays) in my bank account, these are notions that I more directly aspire to. But even then, I'm not delusional enough to look for the day that my name is mentioned in the same breaths as say, Phillip Seymour Hoffman or the likes of Edward Albee. I'm still not shopping for that tux, this time for the Tonys or Ocars, ad infinitum. But I guess I wouldn't mind becoming a lesser-know Tracy Letts -- yeah yeah, an "unknown" Tracy Letts is more likely.

Going back now to the aspiration for this musical album I am recording, and going back to the Vonnegut quote: I fully embace my fundamental need to be artistic, to be creative. I would prefer that I make brilliant art, because, why not? Why not strive for doing something excellent? But, as Kurt says, "Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow." Even making bad art is worth the time and effort.

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once [they grow] up
-- Pablo Picasso

The sharing of the creatures that come from me, in this case, the songs, the album, that is vital. Making a piece of art then keeping it in a box, I once heard that described as selfish. I don't think that's the right word. I think "unnatural" fits better. The cynic might suggest that small kids share their crayon drawings with their parents, or whomever, out of raw, id-driven ego. I believe that instinct to share what we've created comes from the depths of our social nature. We have a deep-seated need to express ourselves to our fellows, and art, however shallow or magnificently brilliant it is, is part of that aspect of our human makeup.

In the 90s, I had several short stories and a few poems I'd written published. None made it to The New Yorker or The Paris Review, but, by god, they're out there. I just have to believe that there are at least a few people out there, people I'll never meet, who don't know me as I don't know them, people who liked what I wrote. Anyway, I know that I have shared my art in the wild. Some of my fiction and poetry, including at least some the pieces that made it into print, are at the literary website that currently hosts this blog, The WriteGallery Creative Writing Website. (See the index of my work at the site). Same deal there, people I'll never meet have consumed, and at least some of them have liked, what I have written.

I've been in a few movies, all indies, most shorts. And I've been the auteur of a few shorts, (not including the DTG promocasts). Of course, I've also been on stage in dozens and dozens of theatre productions at some fine non-professional theatres, especially the prestigious Dayton Theatre Guild stage. Then, I've managed to occasionally take the bridge over onto the professional stage, all at the Human Race Theatre Company. Of course, I am also a frequent sound designer, again, especially at DTG. In most of these cases, I have some opportunities for direct feedback for my work, acting, or otherwise. Often, though, even at The Guild, where there are just a little more than one-hundred seats filled in a sold-out house, people have liked my work and I will never know.

The direct feedback, more so the positive direct feedback, is important, is good, but it's still not the ultimate point. The ultimate point is making the art and putting it out there. That's the primary point of this album I am making, to create something that pleases me, that I feel pride in having accomplished, and then putting it out there, even if it never makes it onto the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart, much less the Top Ten. And, let's get real, even if the collection makes it to availability on iTunes, it ain't makin' it to Billboard. But it will be in the wild, even if mostly overlooked. Yet, I have to believe a stranger or two will stumble upon it and say, "Hey, this ain't too bad."

When will this album be finished? you ask. It's going to be a while. I recorded the first piece, the instrumental, "Icebergs," last November. I'm maybe 25% through song #4 now, five months later. I'd say we're looking at somewhere around ten songs. I don't really expect the pace to pick up, though, you never know. I would not expect there will be a mixed/mastered album in 2020. One may also note that, though the first two songs, "Icebergs" and "The Night Before the Night Before Christmas," both have videos up on my YouTube channel, song #3, "Into the Blue Dawn," does not. I am deferring the public sharing of the rest of this project until it's in the bag. Though, I must admit, I have shared song #3 with some friends. They've all liked it, or have been compassionate enough to pretend so.



Mon, Apr 20, 2020

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My Music
Song number 4 in progress

All the tracks for the first part of Song #4, the instrumental, "The Death of the...," are recorded. I finished it off by laying three solo instrument parts, two last night, one the night before. They are all played on my Yamaha PSR-180 keyboard: a French horn, a flute, and what I'm calling a piccolo pan flute -- I don't really think one exists, but the register where I played that part is pretty high, I think at least an octave higher than a pan flute reaches. But, I may be wrong, too. There may be pan flutes that play in that octave. Theoretically, at least, there is one that reaches that octave in this piece of music.

At any rate I have ten separate tracks for the instrumental:

  • two tracks of the drum kit (playing brushes), for a stereo mix
  • two separate piano parts on two separate tracks, but mostly doubling up on unison notes
  • the bass
  • the two separate harmonic string parts, each on their own track (again, played on the Yamaha PSR-180)
  • the three solo parts mentioned above
  • I'll probably start mixing the instrumental tonight, though I doubt I'll get to a finished mixed-master tonight. I do plan to have the finished mix by no later than the end of next weekend. I'd love to believe that I'll be moving full-steam into the second part of the medley, "Memories of the Times Before," but, I have to switch my creative energies coming up, so it may have to be done piecemeal. See the following items.


    IT'S ONLY A PLAY logo.
    THE ACTOR PREPARES ICON
    At the moment, we still have our rehearsals for this starting back up on May 4. Theoretically, the state of Ohio is starting to open up on May 1. Whether or not that applies to theatres is presently not known. Beyond that, the city of Beavercreek may not allow the senior center, which BCT is adjacent to, to open up just yet. So, it's up in the air. I still think there's a reasonable possibility that the show will not happen this summer. I think it's plausible that the show gets moved to a later date, perhaps even as far out as the 2021/2022 season.

    In the meantime, I do need to start getting back to line work. I must admit, I have slacked off the last couple weeks. It's time to get back in there, just in case.


    AUDITION ICON
    PROFESSIONAL GIG ICON
    VIDEO PRODUCTION STUFF ICON

    Also on the agenda is shooting and submitting my DIY video audition for the Human Race Theatre Company's 2020/2021 General Auditions. The video needs to be submitted before April 30.



    Mon, Apr 27, 2020

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    My Music
    Song number 4 in progress
    I will declare that "The Death of the..." is mixed. The mastering has been somewhat of a problem. I first thought the problem was the two flute voices played on the Yamaha PSR-180. In the rendered sound files, I've been getting a high end distortion, even with the sound level of these parts mixed down. I'm not getting it in the multi-track recording, but am so in the rendered files. I tried rendering to a different file format. I first rendered it, as has been my practice as M4a files. I decided to try rendering as WAV files, and that seems to have worked.

    I also went ahead and rendered the first three songs, "Icebergs," "The Night Before the Night Before Christmas," and "Into the Blue Dawn," as WAV files, and it seems there is a little bit more clarity. I have set up my iTunes* to convert to M4a (or AAC) at a higher quality (320 kbps - stereo); my habit has been 196 kbps.

    As far as the distortion I was betting, I played around with it a bit more. I dropped the volume level of all the tracks in the instrumental, and I pulled some treble out of both, then some bass. I still was getting just a little bit of distortion, not from the the originally rendered WAV file I was making, but sime did show up in the iTunes conversion to the 360 bps M4a. I went back into the recording project and dropped all the instruments down a little bit more. That seemed to work.

    Now I'm moving on to the second part of the medley, my collaboration with Rich Hisey, "Memories of the Times Before." Friday night I put together the drum kit part in GarageBand. I was supposed to put this one off for a little while to deal with other things, but, no surprise top me, I recorded a good portion of the song over the weekend. The drums are again laid in stereo tracks, as with "The Death of the...." I also recorded the piano in stereo, which means that I have the Legato 3 piano voice set to chorus, which when recorded and played on two channels gives an expanded, robust, sound and feel to the piano. Again, I recorded two harmonic string parts, ech on their own track, one using the string voice on the Legato, and one using a string voice on the Yamaha PSR-180.

    I then worked out and laid the bass line, and on a sperate track, I laid the bass solo, which is in the middle of the song. I did the bass solo separately because I wanted the low bass line still grounding the music during that solo. I contemplated having the third solo instrument take over the low bass line during the bass solo, but I was already contemplating using an instrument voice that wouldn't do the job well.

    As for the solo sections: the first one intros the song, before the first verse. That one is a duet between the harmonic string parts. the second one, the bass solo, comes between the first middle eight and the second verse. The third one, an echoed marimba voice, sets between the second middle eight and what has, for years been the musical denouement that has closed the song. I'm considering turning that change in musical theme into a third part of this medley, a separate instrumental that I have yet to titled. So, technically, the marimba solo may now end "Memories if the Times Before."

    Next up is probably going to be one more rhythm instrument, which will be my Giannini hollow body bass. I'll capo the neck relatively high up, then play some chords. For the vocal tracks I'm thinking one lead vocal and two harmony backing vocals -- you know: oohs or ahhs (or both).


    I've done a little more looking at how to market on iTunes. If I send the high quality WAV file At 2304 kbps, those will far more than meet the needed standard. They're not compressed at all, so they'll be big, probably averaging around 80 to 100 mgbs in size. So, a whole album will pushing toward a gig in size. Again, as I wrote in another post, a finished album available in any format will be a ways off. Again, too, I'm not planning my trip to The Grammys. Not planning to shop for that private island in the Bahamas, either.


    xxxx
    My new Polytune 3 foot pedal tuner
    TOYS ICON
    Tuning my bass by ear is not something I usually have a difficult time with, but for some reason I did when I was tuning up to lay the bass track for "The Death of the..." I've been thinking about getting a tuning device for a while, anyway, so this week I went on-line to Sweetwater Sound, where I've bought quite a bit of my recent music equipment, including the hard case for my new-version, cherry-red Epiphone Embassy Pro bass.

    I ordered a Polytune 3 foot pedal tuner, by TC Electronics. It arrived yesterday at the homestead. Of course, usually when I order things on=line and the merchandise is sent via FedEx, UPS, etc., I had such come to work, because there's usually no one home to receive it. Right now, though, obviously, it's the other way a round: there's no one on campus and I am, with very rare exceptions, home. Had to go out and flag the FedEx driver down, though, as he was having a hard time seeing the number on my apartment building -- not a new problem. I also am not really sure there's no one on the dock on campus to receive shipments, but, I'm mostly not there to receive them so having things sent to my apartment during this ordeal is the way to go.

    Not too shocking to me, and as is usually the case these days, the "manual" that comes in the box is nothing but a sheet that gives the barest of information. Believe it or not, it took me a little while to master the thing and get the strings tuned when I did my trial run. I think there is a lot of functionality that isn't covered very well by that skimpy-assed instruction sheet, but I found a video on-line that I think will give me more information. I bookmarked the site but haven't watched it yet.

    I did get the bass tuned -- well, as far as the LEDs on the pedal indicated, anyway. On that first trial run, I didn't amplify the bass so I was trusting the pedal indicator, but, I was sure within .00000001% of 100 that it was tuned. When I started working with the bass for the song, that was verified. It works.

    And a great thing is that the pedal fits into the storage cubby in the guitar case.

    I also am feeling this sharp, burning itch to buy an Epiphone Viola electric bass. I want a bass with round-wound strings, what I have now, and one with flat-wound strings. There is a distinct difference in the sounds. Put simply, there's more of an attack to round-wound strings; flat-wounds have a mellower sound to them. I want both for different types of music. And the bass player from that one 60s band from Liverpool has usually opted for the mellower sound. So, if I get the Viola bass -- which it's not likely that I will not -- I'll put the flat-wounds on that one, in honer of Sir Paul. I don't want to put flat-wounds on the Giannini; I want that one to keep round-wounds. Plus, it needs some sort of pick-up work, as I am getting shorts and hums when I plug it in. So when I've been using it for recording, I've been using a microphone.

    See "Flatwound vs. Roundwound Bass Strings" at the Sweetwater Sound website.



    Wed, Apr 29, 2020

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    My Music
    Song number 4 in progress

    There's been no new recording for "Memories of the Times Before," but I've done some mixing of what's been recorded, though I have to redo some of that. With the advent of my immediate theatrical future -- *see below -- I'm probably going to lay that rhythm guitar bass part and the vocals this week. It's not unreasonable to anticipate the whole medley of "The Death of the..."/"Memories of the Times Before" will be in its final mixed-master version by the end of this coming weekend. I haven't decided about renaming the end of "Memories...."


    IT'S ONLY A PLAY logo.
    COVID-19
    ACTING ICON
    SOUND DESIGNING ICON
    NOPE ICON

    As of the writing of this entry, Beavercreek Community Theatre has not come to a final decision about the fate of the scheduled forthcoming production of Terrence McNally's It's Only a Play. Despite that Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is allowing the beginnings of the state opening back up, this Friday. When entertainment venues such as theatres will be able to open is still in the air. The last I heard, there was no word yet on when the City of Beavercreek will allow the Lafino Senior Center, where the theatre is housed, to open. At our last rehearsal, we targeted this coming Monday, May 4 as the next rehearsal date. That doesn't look at all like it will be a reality.

    The question now has become how practical and safe will it be for rehearsal to start in May, even later in the month? And how viable is a mid-June production? I have been in turmoil for a couple weeks about this. Not only in general, but because I fit several of the categories of high risk: I'm over 60, I have heart disease, and I have high blood pressure. Further, regardless of how Ohio opens up, COVID-19 is going to be around in May, and later.

    Even if we could go into rehearsals shortly, social distancing is still going to be necessary, as are masks. Rehearsing with social distancing is not at all practical. A performance on stage with social distancing, not to mention face masks, won't do the show the justice it deserves, either. And both are going still be the name of the game in June, I have no doubt. My opinion is that this show would be much better served if it is postponed to some later time, which would probably have to be the 21/22 season, but that's a BCT board discussion.

    More personally, I've been very leery about my own participation in early/mid May, and June. So I came to a hard decision. As much I hated the idea of doing it, I have walked away from doing the show this summer. I am not personally confident that the show going to be able to happen this summer, anyway. But, I needed to bow out. My hope is that I can walk back into Ira's skin at a later time and do this thing up right with this fabulous cast and crew.

    You five regulars might remember that I also was (or possibly am) on board as the sound designer for the production. I suppose that I could still do that. It would be easier to maintain distance from people, but it still would be dicey. I still have no confidence that the show is actually going up this June.


    AUDITION ICON
    PROFESSIONAL GIG ICON
    VIDEO PRODUCTION STUFF ICON
    COVID-19
    I have submitted my DIY video audition for the Human Race Theatre Company General Auditions for the 2020/2021 season. I shot it at my apartment, using DIY stuff for the lighting -- which mostly means, white sheets, either as deflection or as filters.

    I did two monologues in the video. The first was from my new play, despite that I'm actually almost forty years older than the characer in the play, though that's not evident in the text I spoke. The play takes place almost forty years ago, so he and I are actually the same age -- I'm just not, now, as opposed to him, then. The second one is an old standby, one of my favorite funny monologues to do: the cockroach monologue from Neil Simon's Jake's Women. I've probably done that one several times at HRTC auditions, and sure that at least Kevin Moore has seen it before.

    The video auditions are the only way to do the HRTC generals this year, of course, because of the pandemic. The one thing is that the role that I am probably best typed for is in the first show of the season, Now and Then, by Sean Grennan. Rehearsals for that are scheduled to start in late July. That is a bit of a dilemma. What's the landscape going to be, the third week of July? There's another role, later in the season that I could be considered for, but it's a multiple character role and there are couple HRTC resident artists whom I'm willing to bet are the first choices for that one. But I did list in on the audition form.

    DIY video audition for the Human Race Theatre Company Generals for the 2020/2021 season:
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    The video title panel
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    Original monologue from my play manuscript
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    Neil Simon's Jakes Women
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    Reflected light off a white sheet
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    25 watt bulb light reflected off the off-white ceiling
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    Light softened through a white sheet



    Fri, May 1, 2020

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    NEW MEMORIES:
    My Music
    Song number 4 in progress
    NOPE ICON

    In the last blog post, I predicted that I would have a finished mixed-master version of the "The Death of the..."/"Memories of the Times Before" medley by the end of this coming weekend. That's not going to happen.

    There's been a little bit of a self-imposed set back on this one. I was leaning heavily toward redoing the bass solo in the middle of "Memories of the Times Before," so I listened to the tracks so far recorded for the song to be sure I would really find it necessary. What I found, was that, with a little distance, I am not happy with the arrangement of the song, whatsoever. As I listened to what's been recorded thus far, with a little distance from laying the tracks, I'm hearing elevator music, une assiette de muzak*.

    How I didn't hear this as I was laying these tracks is beyond me. But when I listened early this morning, it was blatant. It was in my face. The only action to take is to start over. It needs to be slower. The drum part I programed in GarageBand needs to be different, if only a little different. Since the song needs to be slower, I have to rerecord the piano, which, by itself, was not an offender in this current version, save that it's at this quicker tempo. I have to drastically overhaul both the string parts. The bass line needs to be different -- actually, simpler, or, less bouncy. And yes, the bass solo, which will again be recorded separately, needs to be different. The song is supposed to have a majestic feel to the arrangement and performance. The version I'm scraping does not have a sense of majesty to it, at all. I probably will do a mix of this current version. I may even add a little to it, make it an instrumental -- an alternate version. I would come back to work on that version at a later time. Right now I want to get the official version right. That is the priority.

    *) I admit I used the Google translator, so this may not be a perfect translation of "a plate of muzak" into French.



    IT'S UNFORTUNATELY A WRAP:
    IT'S ONLY A PLAY logo.
    CANCELED

    The Beavercreek Community Theatre has officially cancelled It's Only a Play. I, of course, had already bowed out for health reasons. A couple other actors had to because they are in the at-risk groups, as well. And a couple more bowed out because they work in healthcare settings and were concerned about being asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers.

    But beyond the significant loss of cast members, I think the show was not going to go on, regardless. I don't think the Lafino Senior Center is going to be open in time for rehearsals, and maybe not in time for the production run. So, as I've written before, the cancellation was pretty inevitable.

    The BCT board is looking to mount the show sometime later. Whether that would be with the same cast and crew, I don't know. But I'd hope we'd all have the opportunity unless we have conflicts.


    WORKING IN THE OFFICE:
    WORKING ON SITE icon

    Yesterday I was again on site at the library to catch up on materials handling. It's weird to be working in an empty building. There were actually three other people there, but we were in different areas and only ran into each other a small handful of times. For, me it was almost completely working in the place alone, and it was odd, as it had been the two times before.

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    At my desk
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    In the stacks
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    Again, in the stacks
    The loneliness of an empty library. These photos were taken in ether mid-morning or mid-afternoon. Usually there would be students at least at half the tables and study carrels shown in these photos, if not as much as 75-90%, if it were close to midterms or finals. It is strange to walk an empty building. By the way, the forth picture, below, shows how every other computer station had been closed before the campus shut down, to accommodate social distancing. The signs read: "Computer Unavailable, per Ohio Department of Health guidelines for social distancing."
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    Mon, May 4, 2020

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    THE REDUX HAS BEGUN:
    My Music
    Song number 4 in progress
    Last night I programmed the new drum kit part for "Memories of the Times Before" in GarageBand, then recorded that stereo track into tracks one and two on my Tascam eight-track digital recorder. Then I dumped each of those tracks back into a new Garageband project that I will use to create individual tracks for each instrument -- or stereo channel of an instrument -- rendered into WAV files. Then the WAV files will go into a Final Cut Pro X event whre I'll create a FCPX project, which is where I'll do the actual mixing and mastering.

    xxxx
    Putting the right channel for the drum kit into the collective GarageBand project, from the Tascam eight-track, the GB project from which the individual track WAV files will be rendered for use in the Final Cut Pro X mixing and mastering.
    The plan is to rerecord the piano, in stereo just as last time, on tracks three and four on the Tascam. The rest of the process, will, of course, be as with the drum kit part. The piano part will be the same as it was on the first version, albeit just a little slower in meter, the same as it has been for decades. You five regulars may recall that I wrote this music in the late 70s. The only stumbling block to doing the recording tonight is that a slept poorly last night, barely at all, really, and I just might be too tired tonight to pull it off. I'd try to catch sleep during the day today but I do have to do the work-from-home stuff during the day. On that subject I'm going to have to pick some work that demands less intellectual acumen, because I'm not feeling at my sharpest right now.

    Back to the recording, the rest of the instrumentation will be simplified from what I recorded in the first version. The bass line will be simpler, far less busy. I'll also do an entirely different bass solo, which I was going to do anyway. The harmonic string parts will be simplified, as well. Again, what I had in the original version was too busy. All that business was the big contributor to why that version sounded like easy-listening elevator music, which, obviously was not the goal.

    What I now am unsure of is the solo work in the intro section and then in the outro section. The middle solo will still be the bass. I'm now considering the bass for at least the outro solo also. If I still use the strings for the intro solo, they will have to be radically different from what they were in the first version. Probably again, that intro solo would be simplified.

    The instrumental endbit, which I am still contemplating as titling as a separate musical piece since it's a different musical theme, will be much the same as it was the last time, save for a probable significant change. The change is that I got the idea, during that not sleeping last night, to reprise at least a portion of "The Death of the..." after the endbit. If I do it, which is most probable, I'll do the reprise in C-major, the key that "Memories of the Times Before" is in; at the start of the medley, "The Death of the..." is in C♯ and then it modulates down to C when "Memories..." begins.

    Also for the endbit, which too is in C-Major, I may reassign the melody instrument. In the last version it was the strings, in harmony. This time I may do it on the bass. Originally, back in the old days, it was a vocal, with me doing the melody with "oohs," and who knows, that may make its own reprise in this new version, either accompanying an instrument or not.


    A NEW HIKING SPOT:
    COVID-19
    HEALTHWISE ICON
    HIKING ICON
    It's the same old song I've sang before that I have to sing again. Since the gym has been closed, I've not at all been attending to my doctor-prescribed physical fitness work like I am supposed to. Saturday was my first hike in two weeks. That hike two weeks ago was at Clifton Gorge, so this past Saturday I was going to hit the trails at John Bryan State Park.

    I'd done JB about two weeks earlier. In between, I'd hit Oakes Quarry Park. This past Saturday, I was feeling like mixing it up and going to a park I hadn't been to for a while, or some part of a park I hadn't been to for a while. It's been more than a year since I've been to Beaver Creek Wetlands Reserve, but I wanted something more forestry than that park. I decided to just go to JB and hike a trail I haven't hit for a while, which was going to mean I'd have to do a trail away from the Mad River. I prefer to hike close to bodies of water, especially rivers; for some reason it soothes my soul.

    It was sunny out and pushing 80° on Saturday, so for that reason, and also because I haven't driven my car much lately and I need to keep the my ethanol-infused gasoline from going bad, I decided to hit the rural roads around my home and take an indirect and scenic drive to the park.

    I drove some rural routes that I've never driven before and I ended up a little north-east of my place where I stumbled upon the Mad River Gorge & Nature Preserve, which, if I've heard of before, I don't recall. So, because of a little bit of impromptu exploration cruising I found a fresh place to hike. It isn't as great a hike as John Bryan or Glen Helen, mostly because even the trail that is "closer" to the river isn't all that close. I like trails that are right on the banks. It's still a decent hike. There's another trail there that moves away from the river, but I did not hike that one -- you know: me and the water.

    There's sanctioned rock climbing there, too. I did not and will never participate in such. I have acute acrophobia. But it was cool to see some people scaling. It wasn't quite as cool to see the complete ignoring of social distancing some of those idiots were involved in, because, apparently, my life and life of other vulnerable people are of no importance to them.

    Despite another example of careless indifference by some of the park goers, it's a decent place for a hike and I'm sure I'll return. On the way home I also past another park, Rebert Pike Nature Park, that I'll be checking out soon. It just might be my next hike.

    A few photos from my first excursion at Mad River Gorge & Nature Preserve., starting off with some COVID-19 induced signage, clearly being ignored by some of the park patrons, especially some of the twenty-somethings, at least the thoughtless members of the twenty-something crowd. To be fair, there were a few hikers much older who were ignoring social distancing, as well. No photos of people save for a few climbers actually on the sides of the gorge cliffs.
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    Thu, May 7, 2020

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    THE REDUX IS MOVING FORWARD:
    My Music
    Song number 4 in progress

    I've begun to lay tracks for "Memories of the Times Before" on my Tascam eight-track digital recorder, beyond the GarageBand drum kit track. Remember that I laid those stereo drums on channels 1 & 2 on the Tascam. I then, as I did in the other version, laid the piano, in stereo, on 3 & 4. Did that last night.

    I also, laid the first of the two harmonic string parts last night, too. It's simpler than it was last time, as I had decided it should be. It also does not run through the whole song. It runs through the intro section then drops out and returns during the middle section solo.

    The other harmonic string part will, of course, be in the same places. I rehearsed that last night but have not recorded it yet. That probably will be recorded tonight. The main bass line will be next.

    I'm not sure what will be the solo in the intro. Maybe there won't be one there. I am going to put a bass solo in the middle section, and possibly in the ending section, perhaps paired there with the counter part of another instrument, one that may be the intro solo, but I haven't decided, just yet.


    IN THE OFFICE ONCE MORE:
    WORKING ON SITE icon
    COVID-19

    Yesterday, once again I worked at the Paul Laurence Dunbar Library rather than at home. Most of the day, I was the only library staff member in the building, and save for a few brief visits by other WSU staff on various physical plant missions, I was alone until close to when I left, when a co-worker from my department came in to hunt down a document she needed.

    There is no official word on exactly how much longer the university will be closed from general on-site operations, but some are speculating it may be the rest of this fiscal year, which ends June 30. So, I, and all my colleagues may be in the mostly working-from-home mode for another two months.

    There's also a budgetary dilemma we are all watching closely. The University, and thus, the library, were already taking some budget hits, Then, earlier this week, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced over $700 million of state cuts for the rest of the fiscal year (up to June 30, I believe). Almost $77 million of that is to higher ed. Wright State is getting hit with a $3.2 million cut as part of this, so we'll be seeing more reduction in our library budget than we already were going to see.

    Before DeWine's announcement, there had already been an ask for volunteers to reduce their work week hours. I'm not really in a place to do that, though I don't suppose anyone feels that they are. There was also an ask about anyone who would consider taking retirement. I definitely am not in a good position for that. I am eligible to retire but not at full benefits. I gotta tell ya, if I could, I most certainly would.

    Now, I'm worried that one of several things is going to happen:

    • my hours are going to be involuntarily reduced
    • there is some scuttlebutt that many employees will see a pay reduction (though I personally have neither heard nor seen any official indication of wage reduction)
    • I get furloughed
    • my position is eliminated and I am permanently laid off

    At the moment, I acutely feel the anxiety of the concept of being only a few paychecks away from homelessness.



    Mon, May 11, 2020

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    "THE 'BASSES' ARE LOADED" (OR MAYBE NOT) -- MORE TRACKS LAID:
    My Music
    Song number 4 in progress
    xxxx
    My bass in its case.

    Over the weekend I laid the second harmonic string part for "Memories of the Times Before" as well as the basic bass, the bass solo, and a vibraphone voice on my Yamaha PSR-180 keyboard, the latter which trades off solo work with the solo bass part.

    After I laid the string part, there were only two free tracks left on the Tascam eight-track, so I reduced (or bounced) the six tracks down to two stereo tracks, thusly:

      Trk 1: drums left
      Trk 3: piano left
      Trk 5: strings left
      Trk 8: beat count track    
            Track one
      Trk 2: drums right
      Trk 4: piano right
      Trk 6: strings right
      Trk 8: beat count track    
            Track two
    One note: "drums left" was already on track 1 and "drums right" was already on track 2. On electronic multitrack recorders it is possible to overlay onto a track without erasing what was already there. On an analogue tape recorder, that could not be done. Had I bounced things from another track on an analogue machine, it would have overwritten and erased what was already on said destination track. I was able to escape that fate. After having bounced down, I had six free channels, three of which I used for the main bass line, the bass solo work, and the vibraphone, again, the latter which also includes solo work.

    It might also be noted that there is a beat count track on both reduction tracks. That is so the beat count will be in the middle of the stereo pan. The beat count (which was on track eight) is simply me, counting the 4/4 time signature through the whole song: "one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four," etc. The reason I did this is that there's almost a rhythmic syncopation going on with the programmed drum kit. There's also a lightness to much of that drum work that gives the feel the the drummer is following along. There are a few places in the song where I was losing the down beat. It doesn't help that I have a crappy sense of rhythm. Yes, yes: a so-called musician with a crappy sense of rhythm. After laying the three new tracks, I now have the following on the Tascam, along with what's planned for the tracks six through eight:

      Track one drums left, piano left, strings left, beat count track
      Track two drums right, piano right, strings right, beat count track
      Track three first bass guitar (main)
      Track four second bass guitar (solo - counter)
      Track five vibraphone
      Track six Lead vocal/French horn -- not yet recorded
      Track seven back vocal 1/flute -- not yet recorded
      Track eight back vocal 2/piccolo pan flute -- not yet recorded
    The reductions on the Tascam are solely for me when I am laying new tracks. I have already migrated each of the original tracks, with their individual items, onto my computer for the mixing and mastering in Final Cut Pro X, (including the separate left & right channels for the drums and piano). I did the bounce so I can hear all the instrumentation as I lay more tracks. And, of course, that beat count track is not migrated, since it's only use is during the recording of performances. Honestly, at this point there's so much instrumentation laid that I probably no longer need the beat count track, but I bounced it to the reductions, just in case.

    Next comes the lead vocal and two backing vocals. There will be space left on all the vocal tracks during the end of the medley, when the reprise of "The Death of the..." enters. I am going to play the three solo instruments from the orignal at this point on these three tracks, since the vocals will be done. Once that's done, I'll give it a listen and see if I think it needs something else. That something else is 99.9% likely to be a chorded bass track, using my hollow body acoustic/electric Giannini bass -- with a microphone, because there is, as at least one person reading this might know, both a short and a ground problem in the pick-up system.

    I suspect that I will end up adding the Giannini. I think there will be texturing that will fill out the sound most successfully. I did the same thing with the Giannini in the instrumental "Icebergs," that which unsuspectedly started this whole project, and I was pleased with that result.

    You may have noted that there will be no free track on the Tascam for me to add the chorded acoustic bass. I'm likely not going to bother to bounce anything for that. Rather, I'll probably clear out one of the backing vocal tracks, track eight most likely. I might bounce that vocal, but probably not.

    I'm not sure if I'm recording tonight. I might, I might not. But I am pretty sure I will have at least all the vocals laid in the next several days. It would be lovely to have a finished product by the end of next weekend. We shall see, I suppose.

    By the way, I have come to a decision about titling that instrumental endbit of "Memories of the Times Before." It is now named "Memory's Endbit." So the medley will be presented, thus:

      Medley:
    1. The Death of the...
    2. Memories of the Times Before
    3. Memory's Endbit
    4. The Death of the... (reprise)

    Here are a few pics from the weekend recording sessions:
    xxxx
    Another shot of my "music corner."
    xxxx
    Tuning my bass.
    xxxx
    Tuning the E string.
    xxxx
    Tuning the G string.
    xxxx
    Tuning the A string.
    xxxx
    Tuning the D string.
    xxxx
    Rehearsing (working out) the main bass line.
    xxxx
    Laying the vibraphone part with my Yamaha PSR-180 keyboard.
    xxxx
    Giving a listen to what was just laid.



    Tue, May 12, 2020

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    THE SINGER HAS SUNG:
    My Music
    Song number 4 in progress
    xxxx
    Laying the lead vocal.
    xxxx
    Singers, actors, and public speakers will know this scenario.

    In the wee hours this morning, I laid the vocal tracks for "Memories of the Times Before." I had not slept well Sunday; I actually was up most of the night, and then was consequently pretty sluggish yesterday and ended up sleeping pretty early in the evening. Then I woke a little before 2:00 this morning and was shortly wide awake. It was the perfect time to record the vocal tracks, and that is what I did.

    There was a little bit of vocal maintenance to tend to first. I had just the hint of a sore throat. I took my time drinking a couple cups of Throat Coat tea, with lemon juice and honey, easing myself in, while watching an episode of How the Universe Works.

    The vocals I laid please me. The lead vocal, which was worked out when I was 19 years old, had a couple of rough spots. Once again I have to mention how I am not regularly exercising my vocal skills, and certainly not keeping my voice warmed up on a regular basis. The song is a ballad but there are a couple spots that call for a bit of wailing. My vocals just ain't in the same shape they were when I was 19 and singing a couple hours every day. (That can be said about my bass playing, too). The first little wailing bit I nailed. On the second one, my voice cracked, twice. I took a break to let my voice rest, then gargled with lemon juice and imitation salt (sodium free) in warm water. That did the trick. For future reference if it's ever applicable to anyone who might read this, it's the vocal hype up on the line, "Of all you are to me," in the fourth verse stanza, that gave me problems.

    In the May 4 blog post, for the entry "The Redux Has Begun," I wrote that I was thinking of reassigning the melody instrument during the endbit, changing it from harmony strings, from the abandoned first version of the song, to perhaps the bass. I had also wrote that when I first composed the song in the late 70s, the melody there was a vocal of "oohs." I decided to go with the vocal, with two harmony vocals accompanying the melodic vocal.

    The finished product is getting closer. I have the three counter solo parts left to record for the reprise of "The Death of the...," again, using the three voices from the Yamaha PSR-180 keyboard: French horn, flute, and piccolo pan flute. Those were the solo instrumentation on the first version of "The Death of the..." I'm probably going to closely reprise each of the respective solo lines, too, except that they will now be in C major rather than C♯ major. It's also still highly likely that I'll add a rhythm chording to "Memories of the Times Before" on my hollow body acoustic Giannini bass guitar. I'm not sure if I'll add the Giannini to the endbit, and I doubt that I will for the "The Death of the..." reprise.

    I am anticipating getting this mixed and mastered, and then married to the first version of "The Death of the...," which was a separate performance and recording, so that I can get the final master recording of the full medley completed.

    As for what the next song, Song #5, will be, there are a few choices. I could sit down and figure out the chords I hear in my head for a song I wrote in my head last year -- except I kind of actually need some real six-string guitar players for that one. It needs two acoustic guitar parts and at least one electric guitar part. I have a couple ideas for new songs floating around in my psyche. There are also a few songs from way back when that I am considering for this project. Guess we have to see what wind blows....



    Fri, May 15, 2020

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    GOING MORE SOCIAL MEDIA



    K.L. on Social Media
    It had to happen eventually. It was inevitable that I'd get sucked further into the social media abyss. I put if off as long as I could, but because of some Guild business, I had to jump into the crevice. I've joined both Instagram and twitter. So, now I'm on three social media platforms:
    Now my goal is to not spend all my time focused on this stuff.


    DTG Social Media icon
    DTG Social Media icon
    I've been the administrator for the DTG facebook page for something like a decade. A little while ago we had a volunteer who took on an Instagram account for us, but he had to give it up. I have now taken on that Instagram account. We also have a twitter account that was created a good while ago but has not been maintained for years. I've taken that on, too.

    So, now I suppose I am officially the DTG social media person. Here's our presence on social media:



    Memorial Day
    2020

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    Memorial Day 2020 -- In memory of the fallen


    Thu, May 28, 2020

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    THE MEDLEY MAY BE DONE:
    My Music
    Song number 4 finished ?

    Recording is done for the "Memories Medley," and I have an initial final mixed-master. I'm gong to wait a little while before I decide the mixed-master I have right now is locked in. There may be some tweaking still to perform.

    I decided to not add the chorded bass work with my hollow body acoustic Giannini. I am satisfied that the sound is full enough, on the main song, "Memories of the Times Before," and the other sections of the medley, without the chorded acoustic bass work. However, the French horn, flute, and piccolo pan flute were added, as planned, to the reprise of "The Death of the..." at the end of the medley, all voiced with my Yamaha PSR-180 keyboard. The line-up of the medley remains the same:

      Medley:
    1. The Death of the...
    2. Memories of the Times Before
    3. Memory's Endbit
    4. The Death of the... (reprise)

    The whole thing runs almost exactly ten minutes in length, which was what I always anticipated.

    Because of "Memories of the Times Before" and "Memory's Endbit," the medley has a heavy adult contemporary vibe, still border-lining on the muzak I was concerned about in the first version of "Memories of the Times Before" I had recorded. But this new version is far enough away from the threshold. Still, I'd say that this one will be either a love it or hate it bit of music -- especially the main song. One could certainly draw a comparison to McCartney's occasionally unapologetic schmaltz, but I think it's less direct to Sir Paul and comes closer to Harry Nilsson's brand of quirky schmaltz, about which he, too, was unapologetic. But I'd say it was more Nilsson-esque in approach than sound -- except for the use of the vibraphone keyboard voice, which there is no doubt I was influenced to use because of Nilsson's use of such sort of melodic percussion on his recordings.

    NEXT icon
    After I have decided there's a locked mixed-master of this, I think, just for the sake of balance, I will attack a pretty heavy rocker I wrote in the mid 80's. Plotting how to record this one is going to be tricky. It's programming the drum kit part that will prove a major challenge. If this COVID shit wasn't going on, I would get with that often-mentioned music partner from the past, Rich Hisey, and have him lay the drum kit. This one probably also needs at least one real bone fide six-string electric guitar, if not two, with an actual guitar player laying the lead solo. I have some ideas about that, which are tentative at the moment, but I think may be quite plausible.


          
    also
          

    K.L. on Bass
    VOCAL WORK ICON
    K.L. on Keys
    Craft Notes icon
    Once again I have to rail against myself and my laziness, or lack of discipline, whichever it is, if not both. I simply do not woodshed enough as a musician nor as a vocalist. I've written about this in the past and I have never progressed much further than whining about it, here, and otherwise to myself.

    I need to have that damned bass out of its case and strapped around me every day, if only for a half-hour. I need to practice fingering exercises, and run scales, and start working to conquer techniques I've never mastered -- not to mention recapture techniques that have waned from the old days when I was very much in practice. I need to be doing vocal exercises and warm-ups every day to get back so much of the control and range that has been lost over the years. Don't know if I'll ever get back to the vocal abilities I had in my twenties and thirties, but I can surely get much closer to that state than I am right now. I have no great ambition to be a great keyboardist, but I could be better on the keys than I am. Honestly, beyond it being a tool to compose, I can barely play a keyboard.

    I can be far better at it all. The keyword is practice.


    LATEST ON MY CORONAVIRUS LIFE:
    COVID-19

    WORKING FROM HOME icon
    WORKING ON SITE icon

    The Paul Laurence Dunbar Library is still closed for operations, as is the whole Wright State campus, and I am still working at home most of the week, then coming in to the office a couple times a week for on-site work.

    Starting next week, my hours are reduced and will stay that way until the end of July. It was, as I wrote in the May 7 blog post, voluntary and due to major budgetary shortfalls.

    Of course, I had been worried that I could get furloughed for some period or even have my job eliminated. Whereas I'm feeling much less anxiety about these prospects, I am not 100% confident that either is completely off the table. But, I might just be being paranoid.

    xxxx
    The library is still closed.
    xxxx
    Apparently, a patron got locked in the library when we closed from the public. I saw him (her?) in the group study area, today.
    xxxx
    Our current service hours at the Paul Laurence Dunbar Library.

    K.L. on Social Media on Silent
    Despite that I am now on all of facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, I have not been attending much to social media, mostly because some developments concerning the COVID-19 pandemic have been upsetting me. Some actions being taken by various government officials, both at the Ohio state and absolutely at the federal level (which is an international embarrassment), have been angering me. And there are a whole lot of protesters out there that are an embarrassment to humanity, especially the domestic terrorists who are acting like infants with firearms. If I were exposing myself to reports of all this foolishness too often, I would not have the relatively decent blood pressure readings that I usually have. So, I'm popping on occasionally but mostly staying off all social media.

    HIKING ICON
    HEALTHWISE ICON
    I'm still not getting the amount of physical exercise I should be, but I'm not being Mr. Sedentary either. Of course, I can't get to the gym right now, since they're closed, and I'm not planning to hit the gyms right when they open back up -- I think they are opening too soon and I have no plans to go to a gym until this pandemic is under control at a level we are not going to be at for a while.

    I am, of course, hiking. I had previously mentioned that I spied a park I had never heard of before, Rebert Pike Nature Park. Last Sunday I hiked it. It's a nice little park. I got there about 11 am and there were only two cars already in the lot. One was leaving. I did not run across one other person the whole hour or so I was there hiking. And when I got back to my car, it was alone on the lot. I expected to see at least some folks on a warm, sunny day.

    Some photos from my hike at Rebert Pike Nature Park:
    xxxx
    xxxx
    xxxx
    xxxx
    xxxx
    xxxx
    xxxx
    xxxx
    xxxx



    A HOLD ON HEDDA:
    Dayton Theatre Guild
    POSTPONED

    The Dayton Theatre Guild production of Hedda Gabler is postponed until a later date to be determined. June 2020 auditions will be rescheduled to when appropriate. Stay tuned for more scheduling announcements.


    In Memorium

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    Jeanine O'Grady
    September 2, 1936 - May 14, 2020
    A week ago today, last Thursday, I was one of the pallbearers who carried my eldest sister to her final resting place. It was both an honor and heartbreaking. She was Jeannine (Jean) O'Grady, and is survived by her husband, Tom, her son Tom Jr., daughter Kathy Young, a good handful of grandchildren and great-grandchild, nieces and nephews, and three siblings -- Dan Isbel, Patricia Bernard, and myself. Jean's youngest son, Patrick (Ricky), my nephew, lost his battle with cancer four years ago.

    My mother was married three times and I am from the last marriage. I am my mother's third child and my father's only child. Jeanine, the oldest of the siblings, was twenty-one when I was born, was already married and about to start her family. My other two siblings are much older than I, as well. The familial dynamic between myself and both Jeanine and my brother Dan is more like that of a nephew and aunt/uncle. My youngest sister, Pat, was still at home when I was born, at least for the first few years, so there's more of a traditional sibling bond there. And most of my nieces and nephews seem more like cousins, even Pat's kids, because we are so close in age. I don't think it was true with all of them when we were younger, but as we grew up and those two, three, four, six, years became less of a distance in age, I think that dynamic changed, too. I had a friend in Indianapolis who used to be a close friend, and I always felt like more of an "uncle" to his kids.

    During my childhood, up into my twenties, at least, the whole extended family unit was close. There were regular family gatherings, of course, at the holidays, but also picnics, the occasional swimming party, other family functions, and a lot of sleepovers for the kids. The grandkids, my nieces and nephews, would spend the weekend at our house, and I spent weekends at one of my siblings, with the nieces and nephews.

    Spending the weekend at Jean's several times a year was a big part of the fabric of my childhood. When I got into my teens, with my nephew Tom, Jr. close behind, Ricky not far behind him, and Kathy on the end, the sleepovers stopped. But the family gatherings still were on the calendar, and you could be guaranteed that in a given year either Thanksgiving or Christmas would be at the O'Gradys'. That was all definitely a big part of the family ties that I felt secure in, despite the inevitable ending of the sleepovers, and these were all things I didn't know I was taking for granted.

    Somewhere during the decade of the nineties, the bond of our extended family fell apart. My mother passed toward the end of the decade, and I think that might have hastened whatever disintegration was already happening, but the dissolution was already well underway. Jeannine's passing was not COVID-19 related, she had been in poor health for a while. I had not seen her for a while, either. In fact the last time I saw her in person was in late 2016, at her son, Ricky's, funeral.

    I kept telling myself I had to visit her. She was in her eighties and in poor health. I never followed through. I am sure a big part of that was because when our mother died, she too was in her eighties and in poor health and I was going to the nursing home where she was and watching her deterioration. I think I was afraid to see my sister in the same shape. Well, that's a reason. Not too sure it's a good excuse. But it's most certainly the main reason, maybe the only reason.

    As I helped pull her coffin from the hearse at the grave site then walk her to the grave, what was going though my mind was, I'm carrying my sister to her final rest. As I wrote above, it was heartbreaking. It was a quiet heartbreak. It had been a long time since I had thought about how she is my oldest sister and I loved her.

    The "missing" I feel is really been around for a long time. I have missed the closeness of the family that fell away a long time ago. I miss those days of my youth: the sleepovers, the Christmases, the Thanksgivings, the birthday parties, the picnics, the swim parties at NCR's Old River, the trick-or-treating, all that nostalgia from an old lifetime. In context of this writing, I miss the weekend sleepovers and the holidays at the O'Gradys. But, regardless of all that. There is no visiting my older sister, anymore.

    Goodbye Jeanine, from your "baby brother."



    Mon, June 08, 2020

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    Today my mother would have celebrated her 103rd birthday.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM
    My Mom, June Storer, at my college graduation, 1994
    June Storer
    1917-1997


    Wed, June 10, 2020

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    COVID-19
    Last week was my first week working reduced hours until the end of July at the rent-payer. I have applied for a specific sort of unemployment called SharedWork Ohio, where I will get compensation for the loss wages from my reduced hours. All of us at Wright State University who have reduced hours have filed for this.

    VACATION
    I further took most of last week off, using vacation time to deal with my apartment, which I elaborate on below.

    HIKING ICON
    Apparently, for me, one of the few upsides to this COVID-19 interlude we find ourselves in is that I am discovering new parks and forestry to hike in, all of it pretty close to home. I have lived less than ten miles from the George Rogers Clark Park for twenty-four years. Last week was the first time I set foot in the park.

    For years I would drive past the exit signs on State Route 4 on my way to or from Springfield, and I'd say to myself, I have to check that place out. I kept not doing it. Two weeks ago I had a doctor's appointment in Springfield and on the way home I took the exit just to check the park out to see if it was worth coming back for a visit when I had the time. It clearly was worth the return trip. So last Monday morning I went back and then Saturday back again.

    I found that I had likely cheated myself out of a quarter century of great hiking. "Likely cheated myself" because I have no idea how much the trails have changed, been enhanced, over the this period of time -- maybe a lot, maybe hardly at all. But, I can report that there is a nice system of trails in the park now.

    There are also some lovely examples of of various indigenous abodes and other structures featured in the park in an area named Woodland Indian Village. I believe they are all reproductions, but they are authentically constructed. There is also a small settler's fort -- I again don't know if this is restored or a recreation.

    The hiking trails are quite nice. hiked a good hour both times I was there and there are still areas I have not hit yet. There's also a nice small lake, Hosterman Lake, clearly popular for fishing. Fishing: there's something I haven't done in something like forty-five years. Were i to do it, which is not outside the realm of possible, I would be essentially a newcomer to the sport.

    You know something else I haven't done for a while? camping. It's certainly been more than fifteen years. I need to change that.

    But, I do do some hiking.

    Monday and Saturday of last week at George Rogers Clark Park, right outside Springfield, Ohio:
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    The cabin inside the small fort.
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    Me at the fort cabin door.
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    On the fort outlook post.
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    An archway from a trail into the Woodland Indian Village.
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    I'm pressed for time so I present the rest of these photos without comment.
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    WORKING ON SITE icon
    Though I did take most of last week off, (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), I did work on-site Tuesday and Wednesday to keep the materials handling up to date -- mostly making sure that newly arrived serials were checked into the system and shelved in the serials stacks. I also decided to a bit of housecleaning on Thursday, since the influx of incoming journals and newspapers was relatively light that day. I took the opportunity to clean the newspaper and browsing shelves with Windex. They were pretty grimy, especially the newspapers, because of the less-than-indelible ink.

    What did I do Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday? you ask.

    Answer: see the "On a Personal Note" entry, below.

    I'm heading in to work on-site today.

    Pics from last Thursday, including my mission to get the grime off the newspaper and browsing magazine shelves. I don't think these photos need further elaboration.
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    WORKING FROM HOME icon
    soma fm - Groove Salad
    Monday I reported to work at the "home" office again. It was as much of a cross to bear as it has been every other time I've been consigned there. I managed to make it through the work day unscathed, but the horrendous work conditions made it a challenge, I gotta tell ya!

    I was subjected to pleasant, soothing music streaming from Groove Salad at Soma FM. To add to that, I had to tolerate a sunny day, with a temperature of 80° but in the cool shade with a pleasant breeze wafting.

    It was Hell On Earth!

    Photo documentation of the horrible working environment I was forced to enjoy Monday as I Worked remotely from home. Neither do I think these photos need any further elaboration.
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    On a Personal Note icon
    So, what did I do with those three vacation days last week? Here's the deal:

    Eight years ago, in March of 2012 I had to move to another apartment in my complex because the one I had been in had a major repair needed that was gong to require major construction. My landlord moved me into an apartment on the other side of the complex. I took a week off from the rent-payer as well as from an acting class with the incomparable Kay Bosse to move myself, by myself. I had a LOT of packed boxes. I never got around to dealing with them. They had been sitting there since the move.... eight years ago. My "living room" and "dinning area" have been a storage facility full of stacked boxes. I have been occupying only the bedroom. It's been like I lived in a one room apt with bath & kitchen.

    I finally decided I ought to actually move in! In the evening of the Friday before last, on through that weekend, and into the vacation time I took last week, then beyond, I have been completing the move-in that was started in March of 2012. I would guess I am, at this writing, somewhere around 60%-75% finished -- but I may be over-estimating my progress, like film directors overestimate how much shooting they'll get done in a set amount of time.

    Though I am not intimately familiar with Marie Kondo's books or philosophy, I have enough of an understanding to be able to say that I embraced the basics tenants, did a hefty amount of triage, and purged a lot of stuff -- a lot of stuff.

    The purging is probably mostly done but I doubt it's completely done. I can't say when I'll be finished with overdue completion of my 2012 move, but I'd like for it to be soon. I need to get back to music and to my stage play manuscript. I'll be giving this a couple hours or so every evening during the week, and then as much time as I can next weekend. If I'm lucky, that'll wrap it up, so I can move on to the arts stuff (you know, the stuff this blog is professed to be about).

    Some photos taken along the way as I finally move all the way into the place I've been at for over eight years. I'm sure more pics will be forthcoming. I should have taken some "before" pictures, but did not think about it.
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    Actually, here is one "before" photo, taken back in 2012 when first relocated to the new apartment.
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    The finishing of the moving in begins.
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    The new home officer area.
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    The new home officer area.
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    The new home officer area.
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    Truly a photograph of progress -- most of those boxes are empty, just not broken down as of yet.
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    Dinner -- or, maybe lunch; can't remember now
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    The shelves are ready....
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    The shelf decor, covering my desk, in prep for their shelf spots.
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    Oh shit! That guy's got a hammer in his hand!
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    My Theatre shelves rise up like the Phoenix and reclaim their place in my life.
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    My three thespain awards from Wilbur Wright High School -- 1) Best Supporting Actor 1974/1975 (Hester's Scarlett Letter); 2) Best Supporting Actor 1975/1976 (Fiddler on the Roof); 3) Best Actor 1967/1977 (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum)
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    Some of my DTG Murphy Awards (all for sound design), plus the lancet with my pass to the 2008 Secret City Film Festival, and a few show gifts on the wall.
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    More Murphys and, on the wall, several of my Daytony awards.
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    The heart is a show gift from DTG's I Never Sang for My Father; The art work from HRTC's Caroline, or Change; and, though it's difficult to distinguish, a saddle and cowboy boot from two different DTG productions of Sordid Lives.
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    The big grey dude is the hand puppet, Hinkey Binkey, from DTG's Fuddy Meers; the black dog is a show gift (Tony the dog) from DTG's Marjorie Prime; the pink pig a gift from DTG's Fat Pig; then a styrofoam prop rock and a prop can of peas from DTG's The Cripple of Inishmaan; the white rock with the cross, a gift for DTG's 100 Saints You Should Know; the little pen-looking thing -- can't remember, but I know it was a show gift. See next pic for the plane.
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    A P-40 Warhawk model, my show gift from young Noah Rutkowski, who played the neighbor kid, Bert, in All My Sons. A talented lad, too!
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    Going with the World War Two theme, there are a couple shelves in honor of my father, a WW2 veteran.
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    Several medal my father was awarded, the foremost being the Bronze Medal (in the middle), which he never spoke about. Some of his dressing and a couple M-16 bullets.
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    Shelf decor.
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    Shelf decor.
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    The baseball was signed by baseball player & sports announcer Joe Nuxhall, in the parking lot of Orville Wright Elementary School in Dayton, Ohio, circa 1967. My dad asked him to sign it for me. I was about 9.
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    Shelf decor.
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    Shelf decor.
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    More dad stuff, some arrowheads he collected though out his life. I'm pretty sure it was mostly his younger years.
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    A gord that was a Christmas gift from a couple I used to know.
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    So, yes, I got around to breaking down those boxes.
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    Measuring for a new flat-screen TV, that which I have not yet purchased.
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    Watching me some NCIS while doing all this.
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    Laying out CDs and DVDs for their sorting and eventual placement.



    Sun, June 14, 2020

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    A photo of the American Flag on a flag pole, blowing in the wind, with "243" imposed on the sky above it
    Today, the American flag is 243 years old. During those 243 years there has been a higher ideal of a nation that the flag has stood for in the eyes, in the hearts and minds of some portion of the citizens living under it. As time has moved on, that ideal has progressed to a higher ideal, a better ideal, an increasingly more inclusive ideal. Such words as "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...." has taken on a much broader meaning in those eyes, hearts, and minds. We, as a nation, have been slowly, haltingly, painfully trudging toward the higher ideals for which we have always professed this flag stands. The lofty goal, the true exceptionalism, the real greatness has always been on our horizon, beckoning many of us, drawing many of us forward toward it, leading us through foreboding obstacles of untethered greed, selfishness, hate, racism, and an American brand of fascism that it seems has been threading its sinuous tentacles into the fabric of our country for quite a while. The true flag burning, the one that is important, the one that really matters, has nothing to do with a flame from a match igniting the corner of the flag; it is the desecration, the destruction of the sojourn toward that ideal goal on the horizon, and it is a movement to eradicate the democracy that this country forged and has fought to ever-so-gradually improve. We have perhaps one chance to extinguish that particular flag burning, or the American ideal will be ashes.


    Mon, June 15, 2020

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    "Happy Birthday Harry -- Harry Nilsson, June 15 1941 - January 15, 1994" over a photo of Harry, pointing at the camera with a serious look on his face.
    click here for one of the greatest vocals in pop history



    JEFFERSON AND ADAMS RIDE AGAIN:
    ACTING ICON
    On Stage icon

    JEFFERSON & ADAMS, by Howard Ginsberg -- at X*ACT: Xenia Area Community Theatre
    Mike Taint and I are reprising our roles as Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, respectively, in Jefferson & Adams, by Howard Ginsberg.

    As last year, Amy Taint directs and also plays Abigail Adams.

    This is, of course, an X*ACT: Xenia Area Community Theater production. This year there is only one performance, Friday June 26 at 7:00 p.m., at Caesar Creek Vineyards.

    COVID-19
    Appropriate precautions for everone's safety are being taken. This is an outside venue, to start. Of course, right now Ohio has not yet opened theatre performances in inside venues back up, but as of this coming Friday, outside performances, meeting safety guidlines, are allowed.


    DAYTON PLAYHOUSE NEWS:
    GENERAL THEATRE STUFF ICON
    COVID-19

    CANCELED
    Over the weekend DPH announced that the board of directors has decided to cancel the 2020/2021 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    According to an article by Russell Florence Jr., in the Dayton Daily News, last Saturday, "Citing careful deliberation and discussions with numerous experts ranging from the Center for Disease Control to professionals within the New York theater community, the Playhouse deemed it best to cancel its season out of safety precautions."

    Matt Lindsay, the DPH board chair, further said in that article, "This was a heart-wrenching decision for the board....We weighed options and discussed alternatives but in the end we all agreed canceling the season was the best and safest route to pursue."

    I believe, as of this date, this is the only local theatre to officially cancel its entire upcoming season. Let's not be surprised if more make this announcement.

    Here is the full DDN article: "Dayton theater group cancels upcoming season."

    SOUND DESIGNING ICON
    Of course, the Dayton Playhouse annual new play festival, FutureFest, was in serious question since that event is at the end of July every year. The festival has not been canceled, but, as is happening with theatres all over the world during this pandemic, the festival will not be held as an in-person event. This year, three of the six finalists will be streamed. I have come on board to design sound for one of them.

    The three that will be streamed are:

    • A Ghost of a Chance, by Kimberly Shimer
      Available from July 17 through July 23
      Talk-back with the the Author is planned for Sunday July 19 at 2 PM
    • The Good Deli, by Kevin Cirone
      Available from July 24 through July 30
      Talk-back with the author is planned for Sunday July 26 at 2 PM
            *this is the one I am designing sound for
    • Before Lesbians, by Elana Gartner
      Available from July 31 through August 6
      Talk-back with the author is planned for Sunday August 2 at 2 PM

    I don't speak with authority, but my guess is that these will be dramatic readings, not fully-staged performances. As for the technical aspects of how the sound I design for The Good Deli is being delivered, I am not sure, yet I have an idea. My initial guess is that since these performances are streaming over the course of several days, it's clear that the performances will be recorded as DV movies that will sit on a server. which means that someone is going to edit the movies and plug the sounds in during the editing. I have not been approached to do that -- so, as far as I can guess, I'll essentially be a Foley artist, except that I'm certain much of the sound will simply be from my sound library, thus not really Foley sound. I'm sure to find out soon exactly what is needed from me.



    Thu, June 18, 2020

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    THE TOM & JOHN SHOW:
    JEFFERSON & ADAMS, by Howard Ginsberg -- at X*ACT: Xenia Area Community Theatre
    In REHEARSAL icon
    COVID-19

    We have our limited rehearsal schedule set. We will meet for a full run on Sunday morning, then Final Dress -- actually our only tech rehearsal, and our only other rehearsal, period -- will be this coming Wednesday. Then, of course, the one performance is Friday, the 26th, 7 pm at Caesar Creek Vineyards.


    GOOD DELI STUFF:
    FutureFest 2020 at The Dayton PlayHouse.
    SOUND DESIGNING ICON
    COVID-19
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    Director Debra Kent gives notes during a Zoom rehearsal of The Good Deli.

    Tuesday evening I attended a virtual rehearsal of the FF2020 show I am designing sound for, Kevin Cirone's The Good Deli. We did it through the currently popular Zoom platform, which I believe is how each of the three FF2020 plays will be streamed.

    The soundwork for this is not going to be elaborate at all. We do need a song for the protagonist to sing along to in her car and I have asked and gained permission from the talented tripple threat and striking recording artist Brittany Campbell, she whom I met in the HRTC production of Caroline, or Change. Brittany was the Washing Machine.

    As for how the performance gets captured for the recording that will be streamed July 24-30, my assumption that a performance of all the actors in the same room would be shot was incorrect. It will be the recording (the capture) of a performance on Zoom. I am remotely acquainted with the man who is going to produce that -- really it's two-degrees of separation. I have initiated steps to get in contact with him so I can find out exactly what he needs from me.

    And here is an official announcement from DPH, as it appears on facebook:
      Presenting the cast of Kevin Cirone's The Good Deli,
      directed by Debra Kent:

      JULIA (JULES): Kayla Graham
      WILFORD: Saul Caplan
      DANA: Cheryl Mellen
      MAX: Jeff Sams
      PETER: Jared Mola
      LEILA: Kelli Locker
      NARRATOR: Cassandra Engber

      After visiting her estranged and ailing father in the hospital during serious health complications, a Boston comedian decides to take a road trip with her family to find the Italian deli of her father's youth.

      This streamed reading will be available starting July 24, 2020.
      $10 tickets will go on sale starting June 22.

    There is a Zoom rehearsal this evening; I am invited but I don't believe I will be attending.


    DAY JOBBIN':
    WORKING ON SITE icon
    WORKING FROM HOME icon
    COVID-19

    Another week of being on the clock for the rent-payer both on campus and at home. However, I did take Monday as another vacation day, in honor of the fact that the previous day was Flag Day (and perhaps the birthday of my sister's youngest brother). I was able to bear the burdon of working remotely outside yesterday; as to whether that will be the case when I work from home tomorrow is up the the weather, I suppose.
    Some photos to illustrate just how much of a ghost town it is on campus at Wright State University, like, I am sure, most campuses around the country (world?). I've included a few shots of the underground tunnel system, and a few of the grounds. Note the two photos of parking lots. There are a few cars, but in normal times, there is never a parking lot on campus that is not full or nearly so.
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    Tuesday, I was once again consigned to work in that horrible office space outside my apartment. I was able to, as I have in the past, survive the ordeal. The working conditions, as you can see, are always pretty dire in that particular office area. I should call someone!
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    MONDAY IN A PARK:
    HIKING ICON
    COVID-19

    As I wrote above, I took Monday off as a vacation day. The goal was to work a lot more on that "finally-completing-the-move-into-my-apartment" project, but I didn't get a lot of that done, some, but not a lot. I did head out to get a little exercise via a nice hike. This one was at the Koogler Wetland/Prairie Reserve in Beavercreek, probably about fifteen minutes from my place. It's a nice little park I've been to before, but it's been a while. Here are just a few pics. Note the frog of which I managed to snap a photo -- two photos actually. Usually I hear the splash of the frogs into the water as I approach them; heard a couple this time too. But this one frog, it decided to take its chances and keep stone still while the big monster human was looming overhead.

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    STILL "MOVING IN":
    On a Personal Note icon
    There's been great progress in finishing the "moving into the apartment" that started eight years ago, though over the course of recent days, looking at the place might not immediately reveal it.

    My livingroom flat screen TV has been up and running for about a week now. I've had problems getting auxiliary audio to work. I have external speakers but the hook-up does not seem to be carrying the signal from the TV to the speakers. Something to troubleshoot.

    Meanwhile I ordered a media storage cabinet for my CDs, DVDs, etc. It arrived yesterday and now I have to assemble the thing. The components are laid out on the floor, ready for the build.

    Eventually this eight-years-in-the-works move-in will be complete.

    New pics, the first three starting with the new living room flat screen -- an episode of Gilmore Girls on while I did some of this "finally fully moving in" work. That's followed by me doing a relatively major purge of files no longer necessary to keep. The top row ends with my newly-culled collection of ties, currently taking up an entire laundry rack, waiting for me to figure how/where to properly and permanently hang them.
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    Last night I unpacked and prepped the components of my new CD/ DVD media storage cabinet. I have everything inventoried and laid out, ready for the assembly, which I imagine will at least begin tonight. Having read the instructions already, it is clear that this will not be quick build.
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    As I was prepping the cabinet for the build, I watched the DVD The Space Within US a documentary that chronologues Paul McCartney's 2005 US Tour. My viewing crossed over into this morning, meaning into the early morning of Sir Paul's 78th birthday.

    Seventy-Eight and still one of the Hottest concert tickets on the planet!



    Fri, June 19, 2020

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    \
    June 19, 1865, with a drawing of a thick chain with a broken link in the middle


    Sun, June 21, 2020

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    THOMAS AND JOHN MEET IN THE SAME ROOM:
    JEFFERSON & ADAMS, by Howard Ginsberg -- at X*ACT: Xenia Area Community Theatre
    In REHEARSAL icon
    COVID-19

    Just about to head out to the first of two rehearsals for the show. As I wrote last time, this one will just be a run-through. Wednesday we have our only tech/dress.

    Not sure what exactly the safety protocol will be for the rehearsals. That is the dilemma these days, isn't it? Also am not sure what exactly the measures will be at the performance this Friday. I do expect that some of the blocking will change. The close proximities from last year the we actors maintained in some spots are not a great idea this year.

    All of the coronavirus safety practices will be discussed today, I am sure.


    PLAYWRIGHT WORK:
    The Writer icon
    Final Draft 11 icon
    COVID-19

    The latest draft of my play manuscript never got its reading, but I have had one person give me some feedback on that draft. She made two big observations one that I reject and one that concerns me. She felt that a certain aspect of the script is gratuitous and I categorically reject her observation on that -- I don;lt even think it's a difference of opinion; as far as I am concern she is missing the point completely. I also believe that's on her not me. The other observation, however, does concern me greatly. During the whole process of writing this manuscript I have worried about obvious, awkward exposition.

    That draft is 4B. I have decided to move on into Draft 5 without a private table read, specifically to address issues of exposition. Two things I'll look at:

    • is there a better way to give this exposition without it being nothing but pure, awkward exposition?
    • is the information even necessary?

    As to if and when there'll be a reading of Draft 5 before any move on to a next , we will see.

    click here to go to the index of the "Playwright Work" blog entries


    GUILD NEWS:
    Dayton Theatre Guild
    COVID-19

    There are developments concerning the upcoming season at the Dayton Theatre Guild. At our board meeting yesterday we decided we will stay dark for the rest of 2020. More specific information will follow as soon as various details are finalized. Today this official statement has gone out on social media:

    THE EARLY 2021
    DAYTON THEATRE GUILD SEASON

    ANNOUNCEMENT:

    Our intermission will end in February of 2021.

    Details on season roster and ticket information will follow soon!

    Stay tuned and STAY SAFE!



    The Dayton Theatre Guild
    at the
    Caryl D. Philips TheatreScape
    430 Wayne Ave.
    Dayton, Ohio  45410
    937-278-5993

    www.daytontheatreguild.org

    Dayton Theatre Guild Social Media - facebook ("Dayton Theatre Guild") - Instagram ("thedaytontheatreguild") - twitter ("@DaytnTheatreGld")



    WELL, NOT EXACTLY "FROM HOME":
    WORKING FROM HOME icon ?
    COVID-19

    Friday I had to move my home office to another even more remote location, John Bryan State Park. It was equally as awful as my usual home office has been -- maybe worse. I once again muddled through.
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    AFTER WORK FRIDAY:
    HIKING ICON
    COVID-19

    After I finished my work day, I strolled around the park for a torturous couple hours.
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    South Gorge Bridge is finally open!
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    View of the Little Miami River.
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    The view from the other side.
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    I managed to spy a deer crossing in a shallow spot in the river, but I barely got my phone out in time to get this one photo.
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    I think probably every time I've gone to John Bryan in the last several years there's been at least one person in a hammock somewhere along the river.
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    Fri, June 26, 2020

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    TONIGHT:
    JEFFERSON & ADAMS, by Howard Ginsberg -- at X*ACT: Xenia Area Community Theatre


    Sun, June 28, 2020

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    FRIDAY'S SINGLE PERFORMANCE:
    JEFFERSON & ADAMS, by Howard Ginsberg -- at X*ACT: Xenia Area Community Theatre
    On Stage icon
    COVID-19

    With only two rehearsals, one a simple run-through, the other our only tech/dress, Mike and Amy Taint, and myself, presented the staged reading of Howard Ginsberg's Jefferson & Adams Friday evening at Caesar Creek Vineyards.

    The performance went pretty well. I tripped myself up a few times, misreading a couple lines and having to improvise a tad to correct some miscommunication of the lines. I also, in the passion of the moments, made a couple silly errors.

    At one point I was supposed to say:

    "And your Madison would lead this nation into war with England?"
    What I said was:
    "And your Madison would lead this nation into war without England?"
    Fortunately, the several lines immediately following cleared up the faux pas.

    Then, despite that I had made a point of practicing pronouncing "inaug-ur-ated" a lot that day, I still, during performance used my habitual mispronunciation: "inaug-rea-ated." I have no clue why that is entrenched in me. I must have learned it wrong, young, and it's been ingrained.

    Another little hitch we had was that the vineyard staff set up the chair for Amy (as Abigail Adams), stage right rather than Stage Left. Thus both she and I had to drastically alter some of our blocking. Really, because of the social distancing, both from each other and from the audience, we'd already limited the blocking this year. The biggest drawback was that it was supposed to be: Abigail (stage left), John (center stage), and Thomas (stage right). The Adamses were next to each other, which works better dramatically. But, we were able to adjust. And we decided to not correct the staging after intermission for Act 2.

    The weather was cooperative in a couple ways. First, the weather reports were threatening rain, maybe even heavy rain. There were showers a little earlier in the day but the skies were clear by show time. The temperature was also agreeable, hitting around 70° with a nice little breeze.

    There were probably about eighteen or so audience members, about what I expected there to be. We did have a couple theatre people from Virginia in the audience. They had just come for wine and didn't know about the show. They elected to buy a couple tickets; however, they left at intermission -- don't know if they had to hit the road or if they were unimpressed.

    Our Virginian guests' possible disapproval aside, the audience overall seemed to enjoy the performance, so, I'd say we had a successful evening. There were some pictures taken; I have a request out to get some of them.


    THAT DAMNED VOCAL IS AS FIXED AS IT CAN BE:
    My Music
    Song number 4 finished

    It took me a couple weeks, if not more, to finally get to it, but I have now sweetened the lead vocal track to get some distortion out of some of the vocal peaks -- playing with EQ and volume. There are still a couple spots that have a tad left, but I've decided to go with them; the imperfections kind of work for me. I have a couple complaints about the actual performance, but I can't conceive that I ever would not, under any circumstance.

    Like I've written before, this one is border-lining on "Muzak," since this is a more schmaltzy one, especially "Memories of the Times Before." But, heck, even Lennon did schmaltz. And I'd like to hope it's a sort of Harry-Nilsson-cool schmaltz, coupled with McCartney-masterful schmaltz -- but I'm probably over-reaching in that hope.

    Here, again, is the lineup of the medley that makes up Song #4:

      Medley:
    1. The Death of the...
    2. Memories of the Times Before
    3. Memory's Endbit
    4. The Death of the... (reprise)

    Now, to make up my mind about what's next: what will Song #5 be? As I've written before, there are a few songs from way back when that it might be; there's a song I wrote about a year ago -- the music, only in my head, so I have to sit down an figure out the chords; and, I have a few ideas for new songs. I'm just not yet sure which I will go with.



    Mon, June 29, 2020

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    My Music
    Song number 5 in progress
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    The SeazonWind banner -- design concept by me, painted by Debby Sweeney, Rich's sister.
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    Don't have a pic of this whole SeazonWind lineup, but here is my old music partner, Rich Hisey -- photo from around 1986.

    I came to a decision about Song #5. It will be a piece from the past, but I'm not going to need to record it. It's already been recorded. It was recorded on a stereo boombox, in 1983, in the upstairs bedroom of Rich Hisey, on North Harbine Avenue, in East dayton, Ohio, during a rehearsal of SeazonWind, the band that Rich Hisey and I founded. The piece is an instrumental that I wrote, "Astroterph."

    I plan to take the raw, flat recording and sweeten the recording to make it more dynamic and enhance the stereo effect that is already there. I actually did this about a decade ago, but I am going to start over and make a new master.
      SeazonWind band lineup for "Astroterph":
    • K.L.Storer -- bass guitar
    • Rich Hisey -- drum kit
    • Ron Lingus -- electric guitar (solo)
    • Ron Dunn -- electric guitar (solo)
    As to Song #6, we'll be back to either another one from that past, the one I wrote in my head last year, or one of the new ideas I have. With luck, I'll be able to get to that relatively soon.


    FutureFest 2020 at The Dayton PlayHouse.
    SOUND DESIGNING ICON
    COVID-19
    As far as I can tell, my soundwork for The Good Deli is done. I have gathered all the SFX, and even did one sound build. I've been in contact with Jason Sheldon, who is capturing and editing the the Zoom performance. He will drop the sound in as he is editing. I will shortly get all the sound files and accompanying documents to him. Jason, by the way, is the husband of Cincinnati actor Jennifer Joplin, whom I love on stage and have had the pleasure of being an acting student with for several class series at Human Race Theatre Company.


    WORKING FROM HOME icon
    COVID-19
    Same remote office space as usual today — but notice that my apartment’s exterior wall got a paint job; looks much better than that crappy blue/gray it was before. The temperature was borderline sweltering, but: birds and stuff.....
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