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

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Tue, Oct 06, 2020

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I'M BACK HOME!:
Autumn Vacation 2020 in South East Ohio

Well my eight days of vacation came to an end when I got back to my apartment about 1:00 Sunday. It was a great time and I was really bummed Sunday morning as I was packing my car to come home.

I have started working on my accounting of the trip, which I'll post as soon as I can -- hopefully sooner rather than later, but you know how that goes?

In the meantime, as a teaser, here are a few pictures, spanning the range of the week.

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My tent pitched at Burr Oak State Park.
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Sitting at one of my Burr Oak fire pits.
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My Wolf's Den cabin at Thunder Ridge Cabins.
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Some laptop work on the Wolf's Den deck.
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At Rock House.
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At Cantwell Cliffs
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At Clear Creek Metro Park.
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A dashcam photo I took at some point on the trip.
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My most excellent veggie pizza at Pizza Crossing in Logan.
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The Mockingbird cabin -- though I'd really call it a cottage -- at Best Nest Cabins.
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By a pond on the Best Nest property.
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Doing the hot tub on the Mockingbird deck.

38 Years Sober
A week ago today, I achieved thirty-eight years of sobriety. I have scribbled out some words that I've posted, though after-the-fact, on the actual date of the anniversary. The post didn't appear until the same time as this post. Click here to read it, if you're interested, that is.



MUSIC ON VACATION:
My Music
Autumn Vacation 2020 in South East Ohio
Song number 7 in progress
Song number 6 in progress

K.L. on Bass
If you've been here before you may know that I took both the Embassy Pro bass and the Giannini acoustic bass with me on Autumn Vacation 2020. I'm happy to say I utilized them both. I started a new song on the acoustic and I worked out the synthesized bass line for "Identity" on the Embassy.

I sat on the porch of the Wolf's Den cabin at Thunder Ridge Cabins to start the new song, which has the workship title of "Chilled October Morning." I stuck the capo on the fifth fret of the Giannini and created the chord structure, which is not finalized yet. I started the lyrics Thursday morning, on the deck of the cabin, which happened to be a chilled October morning.

A big goal was to at least get a big chunk of the synthesized bass line for "Identity" worked out, and I accomplished that. It's not perfected, there are still some things to finess before I'm ready to record. But a lot of progress was made.

I'll write more on these in the official account ot the vacation. Meanwhile here are some pictures from those moments:

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On the Wolf's Den porch composing the new "Chilled October Morning."
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More work on "Chilled October Morning" at the fire pit at Best Nest Cabins.
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Working on the synth bass line for "Identity" in the Mockingbird cabin at Best Nest.



Wed, Oct 07, 2020

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MORE ON THAT MUSIC I WORKED ON DURING MY VACATION:
My Music
Autumn Vacation 2020 in South East Ohio
Song number 7 in progress
Song number 6 in progress
VIDEO PRODUCTION STUFF ICON

Since returning home from Autumn vacation 2020 I haven't worked on music, at least not directly. What I have done is edit together a DV movie that I shot last Saturday while I was at Mockingbird Cabin at Best Nest Cabins. I'd shot myself playing a little sampler of the new song (Song #7; workshop title: "Chilled October Morning"), and I shot myself playing a bit of the synthesized bass line that I worked out for "Identity" while on the same vacation. I performed that bass line for the camera -- (iPhone, actually) -- accompanied by playback of the tracks already laid for the song. Well, honestly, it's sans the vocal track, which as I have expressed before, I really don't want anyone to hear; it's only value is as a guide track. Monday night and last night I sat down at Final Cut Pro X with the footage, along with a collection of relevant still photography shots, and edited together the following video. It probably has too much auxiliary business included, but, here it is, anyway:

July 15, 2021 addendum: the video was embedded here until today, when I removed it in anticipation of the release of the album in what is hoped is the not-too-distant future. The YouTube video has been made private at the moment but may be made public again at a later date.



TWENTY-THREE YEARS AGO:
On a Personal Note icon

It's very odd to think that today is the twenty-third anniversary of the passing of my mother. Just like one day you turn around and some kid you've known is a full-blown adult, whether they are your child, another relative, or a friend's little one. It's the same with our loved ones who have died. The next thing you know the decades have multiplied. And in both these scenarios, how often do we catch ourselves saying, "It seems like just yesterday."



Fri, Oct 09, 2020

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John Lennon -- Born 80 Years Ago, Tiday


Mon, Oct 12, 2020

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I VOTED TODAY!







Thu, Oct 15, 2020

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WORKIN' ON "IDENTITY":
My Music
K.L. on Bass
Song number 6 in progress

Since I've been back from Autumn vacation 2020, until last night I had not done any music stuff, except to edit together the DV movie I recently posted. I keep getting down to close to the end of the evening and I don;t feel like unpacking everything and setting it up. So I kept saying to myself, "Tomorrow. I'll do something tomorrow."

Yesterday I decided to short-circuit that bullshit. Before I "went to the office" (you know, set my work stuff up out on my apartment patio), I set everything up in the little "music corner" of my bedroom to work on music in the evening.

So, last night, after an eleven-day break, I finally sat back down with the Embassy Pro and the SY-1 Guitar Synthesizer Pedal and further rehearsed the synthesized bass line for Song #6/"Identity." I still don't have it worked out to the point that it's ready to record, but I have come much closer. I made some further little tweaks to the arrangement of the part last night. There are still some places where I'd like to, I don't know, I guess "liven it up" might be the right term.

When I was done last night, I left pretty much everything set up to work on it some more, so that it's readily available and setting there as a strong taunt for me when I'm home tonight. It would be more than grand if I was able to have a finished, locked take of this part recorded before the end of the weekend. Actually, before the weekend would be good, too.

Yeah, before the weekend would definitely be better. Then maybe I could start working on that troublesome vocal melody.

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The little "corner of the bedroom" recording studio set-up, all set up, early in the day for later in the night.
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It's time to rehearse!
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So: rehearse!



DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN:
WORKING FROM HOME icon
COVID-19

Just because I haven't recently posted any photos of me at my home office in no way meant that I was finished doing so. As I wrote before, I will be working out there until the weather no longer permits it. So, there I was yesterday. Might have been dressed a little warmer, but, no problem.
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TAKIN' THE OPPORTUNITY FOR SOME THEATRE MAKE0VER:
Dayton Theatre Guild
COVID-19
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New DTG board member Michael Welly

While we have been on this unfortunate, extended intermission from productions we have been taking advantage of the down time to do a lot of different sort of work at the theatre. There's been some clean up and clean out, some organizing, and lately, a lot of painting.

I missed a bit of the painting, once because I felt sick, and then I missed several sessions that took place while I was on Autumn vacation 2020.

But, this past Saturday, I was able to be there to pitch in. I actually had been scheduled to be a reader for the current Ohio Playwrights Circle play writing class, which is meeting on-line, but I canceled my participation in that in order to be free to do work at The Guild during the same times.

There was a good turnout Saturday, in these COVID-19 days, anyway. You kind of don't want too many people, but too few isn't great, either. Some of the stalwart regulars were there and two of our new members for 2020/2021 were there. Michael Welly and Edward Hill.

We only were there for a few hours, but a lot was done. A lot has been done prior, and I'm kind of jealous that I didn't play a part on a lot of it.

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The new look for the lobby wall.
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DTG board members Kathy Mola (bending over) & Sarah Saunders (on ladder) paint the board room.
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Me (K.L.) touching up some spots outside the men's restroom.
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Board members Jeff Sams & Edward Hill (new)
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Edward, again, doing to fine-touch work.
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Veteran board members Barbara Jorgensen (back) & Carol Finley (foreground)
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PIZZA!!!!!!
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Kathy, again, in the board room
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The hallway behind the main stage.



Sun, Oct 18, 2020

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My Civic Duty, My VOTE

Image of Ohio Board of Eelctions web page that states the status of my (K.L.Storer's)absentee ballot for the 2020 General U.S. election: "Date arrpoved for counting: 10/12/2020. You ballot has been received and is being in the elction results"

YaY!




STILL WORKIN' ON "IDENTITY":
My Music
K.L. on Bass
Song number 6 in progress

Yep, lately, all of my instrumental practice has been on the Embassy Pro, running through the SY-1 Guitar Synthesizer Pedal, trying to perfect (or some approximation of "perfecting") that synth bass line for Song #6/"Identity."

The synth bass is taking the solos during both the bridges between verses. It's simple stuff, but, really, ought to be. I like what I've worked out, but it's not singling me out as the new Jaco Pastorius, or anything. But, again, the lead work in those spots really feels like it should be simple stuff -- which is a good thing.

There is a lead guitar section later in the song, which I hope whoever the guitarist is does not keep simple. I do have someone I've approached about laying the electric guitar for this. At some point I'll pursue that. I'd like to get the rest of the tracks laid first, get that vocal line and performance where I want it, especially. Also, I plan to add "horns," which will be on one or both of my Yamaha keyboards. I'm not sure if I'll add the organ voice from my Williams piano or not. I'm also not sure yet whether background vocals are necessary. After I have this other stuff laid I make those decisions.

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Rehearsing, once again, the synthesized bass line for "Identity," last night/early this morning.



WELL, IT IS MID-OCTOBER IN OHIO:
WORKING FROM HOME icon
COVID-19
So, damn, it was just a little too nippy out Friday for the usual home-office set-up. I had to work from my actual office set-up inside my apartment.

By the way, you can't tell but on the screen in that first photo is the Biden/Harris election website, where I was just about to make a donation.

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BOWING TO THE INEVITABLE:
Dayton Theatre Guild
COVID-19
POSTPONED
Dayton Theatre Guild -- "See you in AUGUST 2021"
ANNOUNCEMENT
PRODUCTIONS POSTPONED

We regret that due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic we are postponing our live performances until August of 2021, when we plan to kick off our 2021/2022 season.

Your health and safety, and that of our volunteers, casts, and production crews is of the utmost concern. We have come to this difficult decision as so many of our fellow arts organizations, both local and around the world, have done.

We look forward to offering you a robust season when we open. Please stay tuned for information on upcoming productions and ticket information.

During the pandemic, and as we approach the end of the year, the Dayton Theatre Guild would appreciate any monetary donation, in any amount you are able to make. All donations will be used to help keep the Guild viable until we are able to reopen to the public.

We have been fortunate to have your loyal patronage for all these years, and we are impatient to get back to the business of "Giving You Good Theatre, Done Well!"

Be well and stay safe!

At our DTG board meeting yesterday morning we made the painful decision to cancel the truncated season we were going to launch this February. The coronavirus pandemic is simply not calmed down enough for it to be a safe and sane proposition to open our doors then.

Plus, in practical terms, the current Ohio mandates on inside theatres does not allow us to have a "full house" of a size that would have a ticket gross that would even cover the royalty fee for that performance.

There's just not a pro side to the February opening, and there are many cons -- of course, risk to health and safety being the biggest con. That would be the risk to health and safety of our audience members, to the cast members and production staff of the shows, and to the boardmembers and other volunteers.

All the board members were in agreement. It was not difficult for us to realize that postponement was the only action to take. I think we've all known for a while now, as we have been watching the news of new cases of COVID-19 surging in our state. In fact, our region of the state has been one of those seeing bigger surges.

It was a difficult decision to make, however, in that it certainly is not at all how we want it to be. But, this is how it is, and we have to act in accordance with the reality of the situation.

But, in a nut shell: it sucks!



Tue, Oct 20, 2020

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AND STILL WORKIN' ON "IDENTITY":
My Music
K.L. on Bass
Song number 6 in progress

fb post -- "'Hey! Try playing like a goddamn musician!' Loving words of encouragement I give myself as I try to perfect a part for a song."

Still spending all my music time on the Embassy Pro and the SY-1 Guitar Synthesizer Pedal, working on the synth bass line for "Identity." I spent time on it last night and I was getting a little irritated with myself. As I commented to a friend, who commented on the facebook post above: "I'm both J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller in Whiplash -- that's what having a perfectionist's mentality does for me. Or is that 'to' me?"

Self-castigation aside, at least I can point to the fact that I am at the point of finetuning, and it's the missing the mark of a perfomance of a instrumental part that is challenging, at least for a musician of my ilk. And I can look to the point that when I am playing the part to my satisfaction I will have improved as a musician.

I've also pretty much honed down the arrangement of the part to what I want. So the arranger/composer part of the synth bass line is essentially done. There may be some minor adjustments, but ultimately I know what I want to play. Now it's just a question of executing the performance.

When I was rehearsing last night I didn't use the headphones for most of time, instead running the mix through monitor speakers. I usually don't do that at the apartment for a couple reasons. First, the obvious reason that I don't wish to disturb my neighbors. Also, however, I'm not keen to draw too much attention to the fact that music equipment lives in the apartment. But I wasn't exactly blasting the music last night, and as it got later, I did switch to monitoring with my headphones.

The rehearsal started with the TV on. I gave it a try, watching TV while rehearsing. Had I been just doing exercises it would have worked. I've done that before. But I was working on a specific part, so it did not work. I was either concentrating too much on the part to be at all paying attention to the TV, or, frankly, the music out of the monitors drawned the TV out. I don't even know why I imagined it would work. By the way, that's My Boys on the screen, one of my personal favorite sit-coms, starring one of my major celebrity crushes, Jordana Spiro.

Ultimately, TV aside, regardless of my critical verbal assaults on myself as I was working to perfect the arrangement and the performance of this synth bass line, there was progress. Whether that was because of, or in spite of, my harsh attitude toward myself, I can't answer. That wish I expressed in the Oct 15 post to have the synth bass line laid by the end of this past weekend, clearly was not realized. I've also just figured out that I've been actively working on "Identity" for over three months, and it's been two months since I first laid official tracks on the multi-track master.

Yeah, this project isn't going to be on the home stretch any time soon.

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Watching TV while I worked on the part didn't really work out.
And, of course, the standard second and third photos from the session.



PLAYWRIGHT WORK:
The Writer icon
Final Draft 11 icon

Of late I am seriously considering hosting an on-line, virtual private reading, probably via Zoom of the play manuscript. All three of my original readers are on board, contigent, of course, on their schedules. A cursory look at things makes it seem like the early November period is a good candidate range for a date.

I have a new revision of draft #5 that I polished off Sunday. Only one of the actors has seen any rendition of draft 5. For her, the changes will be subtle. The other two will see a significantly different starting and ending of the play. We know, naturally, that there's no guarantee that there won't be more revision before any reading takes place. It would all be minor, I think, but certainly not off the table.

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




Thu, Oct 22, 2020

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THAT |)@|\/||\| "IDENTITY" SYTHN BASS LINE!:
My Music
K.L. on Bass
Song number 6 in progress
Last night I continued rehearsing the bass synth line for "Identity." on my Embassy Pro and my SY-1 Guitar Synthesizer Pedal. I'm getting closer to the performance I want, but I still ain't there! I've yet to exactly perfect the arrangement of that instrument during the chorus section, though I came to several decisions last night. And I have some performance finesses to master. There are a few places where I need to hit the execution consistently with the dynamics I want in those spots. There's also still a little run during the bridge between verses three and four that I am not playing to my satisfaction. It needs to be cleaner and it needs to be faster.


Tools of the Trade icon
Meanwhile, I'm not getting the sustain for a note (high B) that I want on the string I'd rather play it on (D). I've had to adjust for at least the early part of the song and play that B on the A string. The reason is simple: my strings need to be cleaned. There are several ways to clean them. In the past I've boiled them, but I don't want to take them off. That's also why I don't plan to soak them in either rubbing alchohol or white vinegar, both which are options. So, Tuesday I went to Sweetwater and ordered several guitar cleaning items:
Beyond cleaning fluid for the strings, there are also two microfiber brushes of different widths for cleaning the strings and other parts of the guitar. There's guitar polish and fretboard conditioner. For good measure, I bought some extra microfiber cloths, though one comes with the Lizard kit. The stuff arrived today, so one of my first orders of business when I get home is to clean all three basses.

I'm also in the process of looking for a good pickup for my Giannini acoustic bass. It has a built-in electric pickup, but the signal is weak on the E string. It's been recommended by one guitar tech that it's more cost-efficient and practical to add a soundhole pickup rather than to replace the built-in pickup. However, the sales rep at Sweetwater thinks I might be better off with what is called a piezo pickup.

The difference between the two is essentially that a soundhole pickup is a standard guitar pickup that is fixed, literally, in the acoustic guitar's soundhole, right under the strings. It picks up the sound vibrations from the strings. A piezo is usually installed under the guitar bridge and it picks up and translates the vibration from the body. There are pros and cons to both. This blog article, "Acoustic Piezo vs. Soundhole Pickups -- What's the Difference?," touches on most of them.

By the time I get to the point of recording Song #7/(workshop title: "Chilled October Morning"), I want a new pickup on my Giannini. I don't want to have to mic it. That is, whenever I get to the point of recording it. I'm not done writing it yet, and I haven't done anything with it since I got back from Autumn Vacation 2020.

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Continuing to "Perfect"(?) the synthesized bass on "Identity," last night.



WORKING ON SITE icon
COVID-19
As I write this post, I'm at lunch, sitting outside, on-site, under the overhang, at the rent-payer.

I'll probably go on to do a little bit of HTML work on the "soon"-to-come post about Autumn Vacation 2020. That's what I did at lunch, on-site, Tuesday, only at my desk.

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Lunch time Tuesday at work, working on the eventual Autumn Vacation 2020 recounting that will be posted here.



On TV icon
THE WEST WING "Hatsfield Landing" When We All Vote banner - picture of Martin Sheen as President Bartlet wth the text already stated here.

If you have HBO Max or would be inclined to get it, even temporarily, and if you are a fan of the TV show, The West Wing, I highly recommend the special reunion re-staging of one of the show's episodes, "Hartsfield's Landing," (S3:E15). The re-staging was shot quite recently and is a beautiful marriage of theatre staging and television production. It was done in partnership with When We All Vote a bipartisan movement to get out the vote for this upcoming U.S. general election.


Paul McCartney logo -- Extreme close-up of his eyes behind his autpgraph signature
The name "McCartney" on a mostly black background with a die standing oin its corner and the three-dot side facing

In late 1969 and early 1970, Paul McCartney recorded his first solo album, McCartney, playing all the instruments himself. It was made during a bad period for Paul. The Beatles were in the downward spiral that was going to soon result in their disbanding.

Ten years later, Paul again recorded an album all on his own -- McCartney II. Again, crap had hit the fan. He'd been busted in Japan for possession of marijuana and had to spend, two weeks, I believe, in jail -- yeah, it absolutely could have been worse. His new band, Wings, had been scheduled to tour Japan, but the bust ended that. And the band split at that point.

Forty years after that, Paul was sequestered on his farm in Sussex, due to this COVID-19 insanity, and he has created McCartney III, which will release this coming December 11. Again, all Paul and only Paul.

If you know me at all, you know my rection is:

YaY!



Mon, Oct 26, 2020

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"IDENTITY," CLEANING STUFF, AND A NEW ELECTRIC KEYBOARD:
My Music

K.L. on Bass
Song number 6 in progress
I am still rehearsing the synthesized bass part for "Identity." There are still spots where I am absolutely not happy yet with what I'm doing. I have the arrangement finalized now, but I am not executing some things to my satisfaction.

There some spots that need a pretty precise finess to the attack of the notes, and I am not hitting them consistently. I am also still working to perfect that run, I have written of, for the bridge section after verse three. I've actually devised a new fingering for it, using the G and the D string, as opposed to just the G string. I haven't perfected it, but, once I have woodshedded this new fretting, I think I will get the performance both cleaner and faster, both which are needed. I spent a bit of time last night just rehearsing this new approach to the run.

There will be no moving on in the song until I have a performance of this synth bass line I can record and that I have recorded. Next rehearsal may focus on that bridge run. Plus, I need to clean up the execution of the runs during the chorus sections. That arrangement, too, is finished, but sometimes the performance just doesen't cut it.

I don't know if this helped or hurt my resolve, but I watched a documentary about Rush, Saturday night. You know, that Geddy Lee, he's, um, well, pretty damn good on that bass of his.


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My Lizard Spit and MusicNomad guitar cleaning supplies.
Tools of the Trade icon
K.L. on Bass
Thursday, when I got home from the rent-payer, I has all my new guitar cleaning gear in hand and I pulled out all three basses, the Embassy Pro, the viola, and the Giannini acoustic and cleaned all the strings and bodies. I used the Lizard Spit string conditioner fluid on the strings then further scrubbed them with the MusicNomad microfiber cleaning tools. I used those tools to clean off other spots on the guitars, and I wiped the guitars down, in general, with the microfiber cleaning cloths.

I've always made a habit of wiping down the strings and the body with a cloth after each time I play. Now the ritual will be with the cleaning tool on the strings and other nooks and crannies, and the wipe down with the microfiber cloth.

I haven't used the Lizard Spit fretboard conditioner, nor their guitar polish yet. That'll come soon. The big thing is to keep the body oils and dead skin from my hands and fingers off the strings, as well as dust, etc. Cleaner strings: better sound and more note sustain. I already heard a difference when rehearsing "Identity."


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Yamaha Portable Grand DGX-230
Tools of the Trade icon
K.L. on Keys
I hadn't planned on this, but, later today I will be going to look at a almost brand-new Yamaha Portable Grand DGX-230 being sold at about a 60% discount from the list price, by a private seller. I almost bought one of these the day I instead bought the Williams Legato III, just because of price range. When I saw this Yamaha DGX-230 at such a steal of a price....

Last year, I played the showroom model at Guitar Center and the grand piano sound is pretty impressive. It has several hundred voices, as well. As I said, the only reason I did not leave with one back a year ago was the price. So this one, allegedly barely out of the box, is most attractive to me.

I'm going to go look at it before committing, but, I am thinking it's very likely I'll be loading it in my car. The real bitch is that now I'll have to buy a case for it, and that is going to cost about as much money as I'll probably shell out today.

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Using the tools from my new guitar cleaning kit to clean the strings, etc., on all three of my basses, Thursday evening.
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Back to the grind, Friday night, once again rehearsing the synth bass line for "Identity."
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Grinding on, last night, still rehearsing that synth bass line.
I certainly do post an awful lot of photographs that are similar, don't I? Not just in this music section, but certainly here.



WORKING FROM ONE OF THEM "SATELLITE" OFFICES:
WORKING FROM HOME icon
COVID-19
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Young equestrian at George Rogers Clark Park

Last Friday was a nice day with a pleasant temperature, in the 60s, partly sunny, with a bit of wind on occasion. Clearly I could be on the clock for the rent-payer, outdoors. I decided to head over to George Rogers Clark Park and use the hotspot function on my iPhone to telecommute. I ended up parking myself at a picnic table facing Hosterman Lake, there in the park. I get good enough cell service at this park that I could easily access the library catalogue and other databases I needed to do the project I have been focused on the last few work days.

My plan had been to hike the park after I was done with the work day, but as the afternoon progressed some grayer clouds started rolling in, the sun disappeared, the wind picked up a bit, and the temperature dropped. All the signs of an incoming rain, if not a storm, were manifesting. So, I packed up and went back to the apartment to finish my day. When I got back home, however, the sun was out, most of the sky was clear; it seemed the threat was thwarted. I decided to still work outside, in my usual outside home office on the patio at my apartment. Just about the time I was ready to quit work for the day, it was suddenly darker again, the wind picked up, and there was thunder in the distance. The rain did come, just a bit later, but it clearly would have still hit at hiking time.

But hey, I spent a good portion of the day by a lake. Can't really complain, now can I?

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Six photos of me, last Friday, on the clock in my satellite office space, close to the banks of Hosterman Lake at George Rogers Clark Park.
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Later in the day, after I relocated back to my usual home office due to what had looked like a serious threat of rain.



BEAUTIFICATION OF THE THEATRE CONTINUES
Dayton Theatre Guild
COVID-19

Saturday was another work day at the theatre. A few of us boardmembers again gathered together for some more painting and other tasks.Of course, the deadline for needing to be finished is now extended by a half of a year, at least. But, still, getting the spruce up out of the way can't be a bad thing. And getting this stuff done will leave room for other refurbishing.

The big hope is, of course, that August of 2021 will actually be a good time for us to reopen to the public. There's nothing unique about that from us. The other live theatre venues in the area are in the same boat as us. Other arts organizations are, too: museums, art galleries, night clubs, concert halls. Of course, it's not just us in the Dayton area, or just Ohio, it's the nation, it's a lot of the world.

It would be good if our nation had taken a different approach to this pandemic. We would very likely be on the other side of it by now. That February open date we had hoped for might have come to be. But here we are. We do what we can do and wait for when we can do more.

Some pics of the work done this past Saturday at the theatre. In the crew, in order of appearance, below, were Michael Welly, Brian Buttrey, Carol Finley, Kathy Mola, and myself.
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BACK TO GEORGE ROGERS CLARK PARK ON SATURDAY:
HIKING ICON

After we wrapped the work day at The Guild, I headed back to George Rogers Clark Park to get that hike in I couldn't take the day before. I like hiking in the autumn. I like spring and summer hikes better, but I like autumn hikes. The multicolored fallen leaves are pretty. They do cause a situation from time to time, those red, tan, brown, leaves covering the floor of the forestry: sometimes it's difficult, sometimes it's impossible, to discern where the hiking trail is. I am certain that there were a few times on Saturday I was not following the "stay on the trail" rules of the park.

What-a-ya-gonna-do?

It was a good hiking day. One thing happen that was a little funny, even at the time -- okay, after a few moments it was funny. Toward the end of the hike I was now on a trail right by the banks of Hosterman Lake. At one point I saw a particular photo op. I stepped in a little closer to the lake only to end up in a swampy area where my feet sunk a good foot, or more, into the mud. It was startling at first. And for that first instant I was absolutely not amused. But, then you know, after the visceral, lizard-brain reaction was tempered down, after I realized that, no, in fact, I was not going to die, it was not quicksand, well. than, I had to laugh. I also have to be thankful that when I go hiking I am smart enough, at least, to actually wear hiking boots. I am going to need some new tennis shoes soon, but, they still have some life left in, especially since I switched them out for the boots when I got to the park.

Some of the photos from the day's hike. Note the pic of my muddy boots, and pant legs, after my near brush with death.
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The battle scarred boots!
The photo I was trying to get, only it would have been closer to the water.
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Is this a postcard?
These certainly are postcards!



Tue, Oct 27, 2020

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"IDENTITY" FRUSTRATION & PASSING ON A PIANO:
My Music
K.L. on Bass
Song number 6 in progress
AAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Man am I unhappy with my level of musicianship. There may be a time when I am pretty good, maybe a time when I reach, or at least approach, excellence. Right now, I am barely adequate, in my judgement. As I may have written before, I think I'm a pretty good "music maker." I think I create some pleasant tracks. But no one with credible judgement is anywhere close to amazed with my skill on bass or keyboards.

As I work on this synthesized bass line for "Identity," I do recognize that there is improvement, that I am edging closer to well executing what really isn't all that exceptional of a part. Yet, it's frustrating that I have yet to master what ultimately should be fairly easy to conquer.


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Tools of the Trade icon
K.L. on Keys
NOPE ICON
Yesterday I went to check out that Yamaha Portable Grand DGX-230 that was for sale, at the steal-of-a-price of $200. However, as sure as I was that I would purchase it, I did not do so. I'd even dropped by the bank first to withdraw cash from my savings to pay for it, because the seller preferred cash over a cheque.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, I clearly mistook this for another electric grand piano, perhaps not even a Yamaha, but with a similar look. I know I looked at something similar last year at Guitar Center, but with a couple important differences. First, and most importantly, what I looked at had touch-sensitive keys, i.e.: the action of an acoustic piano. I also remember much better additional voices. The voices I played yesterday on the DGX-230 were either not terribly impressive, or were much the same as voices I already have on my other two Yamaha keyboards.

So, I didn't buy. On my way home I stopped back at the bank to re-deposit the $200.

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The music corner, prepped for another rehearsal.
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I'm workin' on the damn part!!!
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But, am I ever going to get it right!?!?
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Well, I have a clean bass, even if getting to a clean bass line is taking longer than I have the patience to accept easily.



Thu, Oct 29, 2020

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SONGS #6 & #7:
My Music
K.L. on Bass

Song number 6 in progress
I worked for a short period last night on that synth bass line for "Identity," concentrating on that problem run in the bridge between verses three and four. I tried a slightly different fretting, which may work better. It's still a less precise execution than what I want. I also feel a bit like I'm backing down from the fretting I'd worked out the other day. There was a bit of finger coordination that I had not yet mastered that I really ought to master, just to progress my musicianship. What I really ought to do is dead-heat all three frettings of this run so that I am proficient in all of them.

It was a pretty short rehearsal last night and I only went through the whole song a few times. I'm still screwing up several spots in the song. The rule is, until I have made it all the way through with no errors enough times to prove I have mastered the part, recording does not happen.

You will note that there are no pics this time. How many version of that same photo can I post? I'm sure I will take more, but last night I wasn't in the mood.


Song number 7 in progress
I haven't pulled out the Giannini acoustic bass to work on "Chilled October Morning" since I've been back from Autumn Vacation 2020. Either I need to start extending rehearsals to include both current songs on the docket, or I ought to take a break from "Identity" every now and then.


PLAYWRIGHT WORK:
The Writer icon
Final Draft 11 icon

I did some more tweaking to the manuscript, and I have now what I am calling draft 5b. Again, it was just some minor clean up and making a very few lines a little more concise.

In terms of the virtual reading, I am mulling over the idea that rather than a live Zoom performance, it could be a DV movie that the invited viewers could watch at their own convenience, during a set window of time. For one thing, there are some specific pace and timing issues that are easily sabotaged by technical problems in Zoom -- stalls and lags, based on connection problems, being the big things. I have some idea about a safe way to bring the readers together to shoot it. I just have plot it all out then propose the idea to them. I also need to get reader number 4, the narrator.

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


Autumn Vacation 2020 in South East Ohio

Okay, here we go again with me explaining that, yes, this is a blog with the subtitle "a diary of artful things," and a longish -- okay, a long -- blog post about my vacation is strayed a bit from the intended topic. But, it's a part of the artist's life, and I do work on music on the trip. And once again I remind you, with this question: Whose blog is this? So, here's my online version of Uncle Ben and Aunt Sally's slide show of their trip to Busch Gardens.....:

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26:
Burr Oak State Park Camp Site banner
Camping

When I posted to the blog on this date, just before I walked out of the door of my apartment to begin this lovely Autumn Vacation 2020, I failed to mention that I was actually on schedule, a pretty much unprecedented phenomenon. I don't know what that was about but who's to complain?

Not only did I leave home on time, I arrived at Burr Oak State Park on time, early afternoon, about 1:00 or so. The Burr Oak campgrounds do not exactly offer remote camping, but maybe for my first camping excursion in more than twenty years, this is not a bad thing. Of course, as I was setting up camp, I started to realize the reasons for that "Aren't you forgetting something?" feeling I had as I was heading out of town on schedule. You know that voice? The one we all tell to simmer down as we head out, only to humbly apologize to later?

The crap you forget. Little things. The lighter fluid you bought too much of. A spatula. Bread. Trash bags. The bread and the trash bags actually dawned on me before I got to the park. I stopped into a grocery store in a little berg, for which I have forgotten the name, and picked those items up. But the lighter fluid didn't occur to me until I opened the trunk of my car and looked at the bag of charcoal bricks. The spatula came to mind when I was getting ready to cook my very first meal on an open fire pit -- more on that later -- I made due without the spatula.

When I got to Burr Oak I pulled into the wrong part of the park, where there the Burr Oak Lodge is. The lodge has nothing to do with checking people into the camp site and the young woman working the desk had absolutely no cluse about where I was to go to check in. Actually there were two young ladies working the desk, both as uninformed as the other. One would think that as often as this happens, and let's not pretend like it doesn't happen a lot, that the people working that desk would at least be able to direct someone to the right place. They gave me a map, but it was not a terribly helpful piece of literature. It did get me to the right part of the park but I had to discover where the office was. And the office was closed for the weekend. So, I was never officially checked in to my camp site lot.

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My tent as first pitched at Burr Oak. You can see that the chair rests on the beginning of the slope toward the lake.
I can't say that this camping leg was a bad experience, it wasn't. But I did have some other complaints. The side of the campsite road my lot was on slopes down to the lake (Burr Oak Lake), and the ground was a bit riddled with tree roots surfing the surface. Where I would have liked to have set up camp, closer to the fire pit, was lower, and on the root-infested slope. I first pitched my tent up close to where my car was parked, where the ground was higher, far more level, and had it rained, I wasn't in danger of having my tent flooded. There ground was also relatively smooth up there, too. I eventually moved it because I realized the next day that I'd pitched it on the wrong lot. The people next to me, whose lot I was on, were ok with it, but I still moved it though. This family was leaving on Sunday and new people might come in later that day. I wanted to be out of the new campers' way.

Two lots over there was a bigger family group, as well, which is not unexpected. They were a bit noisier so I didn't get that sense of solitude I was hoping for. My first thought was that I was going to be annoyed but I decided to embrace it as a part of the experience, let the people enjoy themselves and enjoy them enjoying themselves when I couldn't help be aware of them. It mostly worked.


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On my hike, Day 1 at Burr Oak.
HIKING ICON
At first, hiking looked like it would be a dude at Burr Oak, but, as I alluded to above, the map I received at the lodge was crappy, much less than comprehensive. It made it appear as if all the hiking trails were on the other side of the lake. Fortunately that was wrong.

After setting up camp and otherwise getting a bit settled in, I took a hike of around 90 minutes. I only walked the first arm of the trail as it fed into the woods from the camp site. I came to a cross-trail, and on this day I turned left and ended up running into an archery range where two men were shooting (pictures in the photo album). It was a nice hike through some lovely forestry. The plan was to take the right turn the next day, which is what I did.


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Cooking over an open campfire for the first time in my life
Camping
When I got back from that first hike it was time for dinner, and for the first time in my life, I cooked a meal over an open campfire. Actually, I cooked a meal over an open fire, period, for the first time in my life. I brought a couple strips of chicken breasts with me, just for this occasion. Now, I've eaten meals cooked over an open campfire before. My dad used to cook fish he'd caught, and also hamburger we brought, when the family went camping when I was kid -- usually at Lake St. Mary's up near Celina, Ohio, about 70 miles north of Dayton. This day, however, was the very first time I cooked that open campfire meal, myself. Also, as I was pulling out my camping cooking gear, it's when I realized about the spatula that I had forgotten to bring; and the kit I'd bought years ago, and never before utilized, did not have such apparatus. I did alright, by the way. I had myself a nice, well-cooked chicken sandwich, topped with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese and a thick slice of tomato, with some veggies on the side.

K.L. on Bass
After dinner was done, I contemplated pulling the Giannini bass out of the car and fiddling with it but then thought better of that. Both the basses I brought, the Giannini and the Embassy Pro, were reasonably well hidden in the back seat of the car and I decided that I did not want to call attention to having either one on me while at the camp site. I'd have plenty of time to play both later in the vacation when I was in the cabins and they were in a less vulnerable position.

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First fire pit of the trip, even if I was not able to maintain a Zen-like attitude about the surrounding chaos.
I decided to continue feeding the fire and sit around the fire pit, one of my definite favorite things to do while on such a vacation as this. This is when my decision to embrace the noisy family group, two lots over, was challenged. I must admit, I failed the challenge pretty much. As I was sitting there, attempting to zone into the fire pit, the chatter was bugging me a little, but I put on my best Zen hat and was dealing with it. Then someone turned on a music player. That got annoying quickly. As it got later, as the music continued, though admittedly turned down by then, as the talking, especially from one member of the group who was especially chatty, went on, I came to the opinion that it was past time for these folk to go to sleep. Seriously, it got to the point where I was more than sure it was not just me. The next day he father of the family in between me and the noise-nicks assured me he and his were as annoyed as me. The noisy neighbors had crossed over into thoughtless, rude, selfish, and self-involved.

Finally, I gave up and went to bed -- or, went to "sleeping bag," as it were. Chatty Kathy, especially, as still at it. So I grabbed my iPhone and my headphones and listened to an ambient playlist I have on the phone. It runs about 70 minutes. I did fall asleep listening to it, but when it was over I awoke, which happens a lot when I do this. Chatty Kathy was still at it. It was something like midnight. I listen to the thing again. When it was done, she was not. So, third time -- I did not wake up this time, so I don't know if she had shut up and gone to her tent by the end of the third play or not. But I do know she did neither of those things soon enough.


SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27:

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Resting during the Day-2 hike.
HIKING ICON
The next morning I awoke about 7:30-ish. It was overcast and looking seriously like rain. I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that I was going to have to head to Dick's Sporting Goods for a rain tarp to cover my tent. I did go to Dick's before the trip commenced to get a tarp, but they didn't have one, so I didn't have one with me at Burr Oak. So I was hoping furiously for no rain.

Holding off on a hike until I saw what the weather was going to turn out like seemed a good idea. I made a decision to drive into Glouster and buy a couple more bundles of fore wood. I used both that brought with me, the night before. When I got back from town, that's when I realized my error of pitching my tent on the lot next to mine and moved my tent.

In afternoon the sun was out at least half the time though it certainly was not the 80° out that had been forecasted. But I didn't look like it was assured to rain, so I took that hike. This was a much longer hike. I was gone a good five hours. My goal had been to hike around the lake, but about two hours in, I realized I wasn't even a quarter of the way around. I'd hiked something like five miles, maybe a little more.

After stopping to eat my BP&J lunch, I turned around and hiked back. I found out later that it's a 25-mile hike around the lake, from a fellow camper who'd done that hike the day before. It took him eight hours, one way. He was about my age, too, and clearly in better physical condition than I am. Because I can tell you this: I'm not in horrible shape, but I ain't making a 25-mile hike in one session without collapsing!



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The vision I saw as I returned from the Day-2 hike -- a virtually empty campgrounds. Those are my car and tent in the distance. Notice that every other lot in the frame is empty.
Camping
Before I left on my Sunday hike I chatted with an older couple who were strolling the campgrounds, it was as I was moving my tent onto the lot I had actually reserved. In our conversation I mentioned the noisy folk, who hid pulled up camp that morning. I also said why I was moving my tent: to nopt encroach on whomever might be setting up camp on that lot, later in the day. The couple said it was probably going to be pretty empty and quiet Sunday evening, that there wasn't likely to be many new campers, if any, and that most people were not staying past the weekend.

The couple was, of course, correct. When I got back from my hike, the camp site was virtually empty. There were a few camp sites set up, none close by. Some had been there the whole time I was there, but I think there was only one new camp site set up.

Ahh, fire pit serenity
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My second, ever, camp-fire-cooked meal.
On night-2 at the campgrounds, I got my quiet evening of solitude. I got to have that truly serene fire pit time that was so challenged the night before -- see the short DV movie to the right. I also cooked my second meal on an open camp fire, this time pasta in tomato sauce with spiced, ground turkey, which is a common staple of my diet. You can in the photo on the right that there's a pretty good helping in that pan. I did eat it all. That probably explains the flab you see in pics of me in the photo album. It probably explains why I'm still some 20+ lbs above my target weight! I brought a lot with me, and later in the week the pasta meals were heated in microwaves. But, Sunday night it was the open flame.

Again, the camping at Burr Oak was not some kind of awful experience, but it wasn't something that would have me highly recommending the park for camping. If I were asked to rate it on a scale of one to ten, I'd give it an overall 5.75. The campgrounds would get a firm 4, at best, for the reasons I stated above: little level ground for camping, at least for the lots closer to the lake, and all the tree roots skimming the surface. The hiking gets a 7.5, mostly due to no trails right by the water, at least on the side of the lake the camping is on.

The trails were nice though. South West Ohio is a pretty hilly terrain, so there are some steep inclines on the hike. I don't count the inclines against the trail's rating, myself. I hike, in part, for fitness, so the hills work for that. I do have to admit, though, that at the mid-point of my Sunday hike, when I was about to turn around, I was glad that I knew that I would be traveling down more steep inclines that I would traverse up.

I also would have loved to have been closer to the lake during the hike than I was most of the time. There were only a few times when I was able to get right to a bank. That, again, is mostly due to the terrain. The lake sits low and most of the banks are steep inclines into it, so it's not easy to blaze the trails very close to the water, save for in a few spots. That's at least the case on the part of the trails I was on. The next Morning, after I had struck camp and was departing, I drove by the Burr Oak beach and the marina on the way to next destination to at least check it out and grab a few photos -- (pictures in the photo album).

So, yeah, the camping leg of Autumn Vacation 2020 wasn't "Amazing!" but it was still enjoyable. At least I've stepped my foot back into such ventures. Next summer........

CLICK: Buur Oak State Park banner Autumn Vacation 2020 Photograph Album


MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28:
Wolf's Den at Thunder Ridge Cabins banner
Cabin Vacation

Next up was the hour's drive back westward way to the Wolf's Den cabin at the Thunder Ridge Cabins B&B in Hocking Hills. I gotta say that upon arrival I had a good first impression of the place, and that held up. The property was nice, the owners (Micah & Susan) were nice, the Wolf's Den cabin was a nice little one-room with a bath and shower, plus microwave, a mini-fridge, a porch, and a back deck with a hut tub.

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This time, the basses and music equipment were unpacked.
After I unpacked the car, including the basses and the music equipment, which this time were going to be used, I had a late lunch at the picnic table in yard behind the big house where the owners live. For the record, tuna salad on wheat bread, with another slice of sharp cheddar and another thick slice of tomato, and again with veggies on the side. Then I took a nap.

I woke from the nap at about 4:00 to rain. It had managed to hold off raining the whole time I was camping, which I am glad about, obviously. It waited until I was under a roof to rain, and it rained the rest of day, past midnight. I spent a lot of evening processing vacation pics I'd already taken. Plus I listened to all the songs already recorded for the project, and the mixed demo of "Identity." No other action was taken on music that day.

If you're wondering, nuked pasta was dinner that night.


TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29:

On this day, I celebrated 38 years of continuous sobriety. See my little essay about it here, then hit your back button on your browser to come back here. That is, if you're so inclined toward either action.

BTW: if you spy what appears to be a beer bottle in any of the photographs, it's rootbeer -- one of my new vises.

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Even the plaque on the wall told me there was breakfast at 8:30.
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On the back deck at Wolf's Den, updating the pages of my blog for the Oct-Dec blog period.
Tuesday morning, a bit of a mini-mystery began. Breakfast was supposed to be at 8:30 at the big house, but no one appeared to be stirring there, so apparently there was no second "B" in the "B&B" that day. I walked the property for about 30-45 minutes. There's a cool little meditation hut not far in the woods (see pictures in the photo album). I would have hung out there a little while but it was all wet from the rain the night before, so I continued walking the grounds. There weren't any real hiking trails but I followed deer trails when I spotted them.

Rather than head to any of the Hocking Hills attractions that day I elected to stay at the cabin, mostly to work on "Identity," the current song I'm working on for the music project, which I did later in the day. In the morning into the afternoon I did some blog work (including during lunch). Some of what you are reading and seeing now were part of that, at least notes and sketches of the final prose. Plus, I did some global page updates to reflect the addition of this Oct-Dec 2020 blog page.

I sat on the deck to do most of it. It was cool out but not cold, very Autumnal, and the view into the forestry was lovely. I did have my external drive, that holds my music library, plugged in, but I kept the music app off on the deck and opted for listening to the bird and tree frog songs. The road was a little too close for my liking, so there was the occasional automobile driving by, but it's not like it was a major thoroughfare. Thunder Ridge is on a rural road that was, I learned before I left, all gravel just a little over a year earlier. Despite how lovely the view and sounds were, after a while, I did get a little intolerant of the cooler/borderline cold temperature that was coming in so I took my laptop and external harddrive, and my hot chocolate, inside.

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Working on the synthesized bass part for "Identity" at Wolf's Den.
My Music
K.L. on Bass
It rain again in the afternoon, mostly while I took another nap -- Hey: I was on vacation! Ah, hell, even when I'm home, if I can get away with an afternoon nap, I go for it. After my nap I started working out the synthesized bass part of "identit.y" That was the first session for that so I certainly didn't get it polished but I did compose the bulk of the part of it. I worked on it for about four hours, using the Bose speaker to monitor what I was playing rather than wearing headphones. The Embassy Pro was plugged directly into the Tascam eight-track digital recorder. There was no way I was lugging my bass amp on vacation with me.

There were folk staying in the next cabin, about 50 yards away, and I was a little concerned that my playing might be disturbing them, especially since it was the same music, over and over again. But I went over during a break and was assured that they could hardly hear it, so they were cool with it. The owner Susan later told me they are musicians, too, so that may have helped temper things.


WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30:

Again, no "Breakfast" in the "B&B," thus the mini-mystery continued. Now, I have to include here that Susan was dropping fresh baked muffins off every day on my porch, that becomes and important fact later, when the mystery is solved -- otherwise known as another of my frequent, personal DOH! moments.

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Writing a new song on the Wolf's Den porch on my Giannini.
My Music
K.L. on Bass
I went back to the cabin, pulled out the Giannini acoustic bass, sat on the cabin porch in the cool morning and started a new composition. It was bass chords on the acoustic, with the capo on the fifth fret. I initially used a pick but then, at the time, decided I like the sound of the chords better when plucked with my fingers. I would switch back to using a pick later when I would change the attack on the chords, but, that morning, the finger plucks won out.

As for lyrics, I had no idea about any for the song except that it was not going to be about staying in a cabin; that was just going to be a little too cliché and way too obvious. That would, in some sense, in some loose sense, change later, as well. That morning, however, that was the idea, but beyond that, the muse had whispered nothing in my ears about a subject matter for lyrics.


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The entrance to The Rock House
Rock House sign
HIKING ICON
Wednesday I was hoping the weather would break a little so I could head into Hocking Hills proper and do some hiking and site seeing. It was cool out but sunny out as the morning progressed, so I went to Rock House, which I had missed on my last trip to Hocking Hills in 2018. It was a nice place to hike and the Rock House itself is awesome. As the official webpage says:

Nature has hewn out of [the] cliff the Rock House complete with seven Gothic-arched windows and great sandstone columns which bear its massive roof. As one might imagine, Rock house was used for shelter by past visitors. Hominy holes, small recesses in the rear wall of Rock House, served as baking ovens for Native Americans using the cave. By building a fire in the small recesses, the rock became heated on all sides, and food could be bakes in this crude manner. Further evidence of past use is the presence of chiseled out troughs or holding tanks found in the stone floor. When rainfall is abundant, springs of water permeate through the porous sandstone and flow into these troughs fashioned by man and, when full, continue across the floor and out of the windows. In this way, residents were able to maintain a small water supply in Rock House. According to local folklore, other not so welcome visitors frequented Rock House. Robbers, horse thieves, murderers and even bootleggers earned Rock House its reputation as Robbers Roost.

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Looking out from one of the rock enclosures at Cantwell Caves.
Cantwell Cliffs sign
HIKING ICON
Next I went to Cantwell Cliffs, which is only a little over seven miles from Rock House. I suspect that a lot of visitors take both in consecutively on the same day since they are in such close proximity to each other. I spoke to several people that day who had done just that, like I did.

This was another fascinating place and another nice hike for the day. About the cliffs, the web page says:

Its remote location discourages visitation, but those who travel the extra distance will not be disappointed. Many visitors proclaim the Cantwell area as the most picturesque in Hocking County. The erosion caused by Buck Run accounts for the deep valley, steep cliffs and rock shelter under the cliff. Approaching the rock shelter, the trail winds its way through narrow passageways caused by large slump blocks that have fallen away from the main cliff. The most narrow passage has been sarcastically named Fat Woman's Squeeze. Unique to the Cantwell region is the limited amount of cross-bedding in the middle zone of the Blackhand. Usually the middle zone is extremely cross-bedded but only slightly in the Cantwell area. Another feature is the number of concretions that occur on the cliff face.

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Rehearsing the "Identity" synthesized bass line.
My Music
K.L. on Bass
And because by God it's my right, I took a nap again when I got back to the cabin -- I mean, I had just hiked at two different locations, ya know. It rained again in the late afternoon/early evening, not too long after I got home, and before I drifted off into my nap.

When I got up from my nap, I fixed dinner, then rehearsed/worked on the synthesized bass line for "Identity." I took most of the lines up an octave to the their current, and I'm confident, permanent position on the neck.

I finished the night sweetening more of my vacation photos.


THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1:

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More work on the new song, now with the workshop title, "Chilled October Morning," on the Wolf's Den back deck.
My Music
K.L. on Bass
On my last morning at Wolf's Den I played around with the new song on the Giannini on the back deck. During this session the song got the workshop title "Chilled October Morning," based pretty much on the fact that it was such a morning in all respects. I also moved into the new approach to playing the chords, where the pick is back in. I added more chord progressions to the song, i.e.: more sections. I wrote only a couple lines of lyric. More would follow at the next cabin.

In my mind this song reminds me of something that the great Richard Thompson, whom I would guess hardly anyone reading this will have any idea who he is. He is this brilliant, unfortunately obscure, and greatly under-rated British recording artist with his very own unique and quite interesting sound. David Letterman once introduced him, in one of Richard's rare appearances on American TV, as "one of rock-&-roll;s best kept secrets."

Most of his music is very dark and even the humor, when there is humor, is dark. But I think he's brilliant, and I like that I can now point to some music by me and say that it's influenced by him -- at least I hear it, of no one else will.

Here's a link to the music video for my favorite Richard Thompson song, "I Misunderstood."


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The muffins that awaited me when I checked into Wolf's Den.
DOH!
It was checkout day at Thunder Ridge. Again, there was no "Breakfast" in the "B&B" and I finally had the mystery solved for me. It's because of Covid-19. Due to the pandemic, breakfast was suspended and the daily muffins were instituted as a substitute. In fact, apparently it says such at the web site and I didn't notice it. But, to be honest, it would have been a novelty to have the breakfast, and I was sort of looking forward to it, but, ultimately, I didn't really miss the second B in B&B. I really didn't even notice that it was a B&B until after I booked the cabin. And the muffins were delicious! I took what was left with me and ate them over the course of the rest of my vacation.


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Me at Clear Creek Metro Park, on the silt bank of a clearly meandering stream.
Clear Creek Metro Park icon
HIKING ICON
After leaving Wolf's Den I stopped at the nearby Clear Creek Metro Park, literally just down the road from Thunder Ridge Cabins, for a little hike. It's a decent park. However, the first trail I took did not excite me at all. I wanted one that took me to the creek. I always want the hiking trail that is by the body of water. That first trail seemed pointless to me. It was just a wide swath of mowed down foliage. But then I hit a trail more to my liking and where I was able to get to the flowing waterway. That was worth the stop.

There also is a trail there called the Cemetery Ridge Trail that promised to be a good one, but the sign said it was over an hour to hike the whole thing and I had an agenda for the afternoon from which I did not want to get waylaid. I knew that if I hit that trail and liked it, I would be compelled to hike the whole thing, for which I didn't want to allow time. Maybe some time in the future I'll hike the Cemetery Ridge Trail.

CLICK: Wolfs Den at Thunder Ridge Cabins banner.png Autumn Vacation 2020 Photograph Album


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My delicious, loaded veggie pizza at Pizza crossing. As one of my friends asked when I posted this pic to facebook: "Is there crust under there?"'
You'll note in the photo above of the plaque on the wall in Wolf's Den that my checkout time from Thunder Ridge Cabins was 11:00. My check-in time for the next cabin, at Best Nest Cabins, was not until 4:00. I had a few hours in between. My agenda, that I mentioned above, was to go into Logan and have lunch at the Pizza Crossing. This was the first place I made plans to come to on my Hocking Hills part of this vacation. I made this plan before I left my apartment. Hell, I made it the moment I knew I was coming to the region. I had the time and the ambition. I had eaton at Pizza Crossing the last time I was in Hocking Hills, back in 2018. This time I got to speak with the propriety and compliment him on his restaurant.

Here's my comment to you out there, however many or few of you there are, about this restaurant:

When one is in the Hocking Hills area, one must go into Logan and have some Pizza Crossing. You have slightly mis-spent your trip if you haven't done this!

My brief encounter with a Great Blue Heron at Lake Logon.
While at Pizza Crossing I spoke on the phone with the wife half of the young married couple (Aisha* and David) who manage Best Nest Cabins and we confirmed the 4:00 check-in time. So, after pizza I killed some time at Lake Logan . There I had a brief encounter with a Logan local -- a Great Blue Heron. I stumbled upon it as I was taking photos of the lake. I got a nice little DV movie of the bird. The movie is embedded on the right. The bird let me get pretty close before it got skittish and finally took flight.

*For the record, I'm not sure I've spelled her name correctly. I saw it once, spelled on something, but cannot find whatever document it was and I'm going by memory. I only point this out because I HATE getting anything about a person's name wrong -- spelling, pronunciation, whatever.


Mockingbird Cabin at Best Nest Cabins banner
Cabin Vacation

After pizza, and Lake Logan, and the Great Blue Heron, and sitting in a parking lot in Logan, where I had strong cell reception so could post a few pics, as well as the heron DV movie to social media, I arrived at Best Nest just a little after 4:00. David met me at the Mockingbird cabin -- if you want to call it a "cabin," I'd call it a "cottage"; that's really what it is. In fact, there are two other "cabins" on the property, and they both look to be the same as Mockingbird, they look to really be what can be called "cottages."

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The Mockingbird "cabin."
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The transformer is positioned right next to the fire pit area.
I could live in this place! The property, I would discover the next day, is spacious and strikingly beautiful. Mockingbird has a nice deck with a big hot tub. Inside there's a nice kitchen with a full-size stove and full size refrigerator, a dining area, a nice living room and a cozy bedroom. The bathroom is good, though I must say, one minor drawback, and it is minor, is that the shower is pretty tight. But, you know, that's a minor complaint. My only other complaint, again, minor, is that the power transformer is right by where the grill and the fire pit are, so there is the small intrusion of the transformer's humming. But, on the other hand, there's excellent power for the "cabin."

One might be able to guess that after I settled in, I took a nap. Then I nuked some pasta. Then I sweetened some more vacation photos. There was not much done with music that first night at Mockingbird. I did some fiddling around on "Chilled October Morning," which has officially become Song #7 in the music project. I really only messed around for a little while and can't say anything productive was done.

I tried to start a fire pit but the wood bundles I bought at a gas station in Glouster just did not want to burn. I believe they were too green and full of sap. So no fire pit on night-1 at the Mockingbird cabin. While I was fighting with an ever-reluctant fire, there were some Coyotes calling out there. I, being from an ara where they are much rarer, was thrilled, as thrilled as I was last time I did a cabin in Hocking Hills, two years back, and had some that were pretty damned close to me. But, I was a tourist there, and not a farmer with chickens or other small live stock, or other residents with small dogs to worry about.

I eventually went in and, again, worked on sweetening vacation photos. At some point, late night, about 1:30, I thought I heard a noise outside. I opened the kitchen door and saw an animal in the dark. I couldn't tell what it was because the inside lights were on. I just saw a vague, shadowy figure. It was probably twenty yards away. It ran a little to my right, stopped, then took off. It was probably a deer, but who knows? it might have been a coyote.


FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2:

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At one of the two absolutely beautiful ponds on the Best Nest grounds.
HIKING ICON
My first full day there, I didn't leave the Best Nest property all day. It was a mostly-sunny day, and pretty warm out, so I took David's advice when he checked me in, and I hiked the property.

I hate to again invoke the word "awesome" but it's the right word to use. The Best Nest property is beautiful, spacious, open. It has a couple lovely, picturesque ponds and a nice hiking trail through its wooded area.

I came across one of the alluring ponds first, then I found a trail into forestry. It is a nice little trail. I kept hearing deer hoof clumps as the animals retreated from my approach, but I never actually saw the deer. Occasionally there were gun shots in the distance, not from hunters but from a nearby firing range. I eventually came across the second pond, which is as gorgeous as the first. There's also a lot of august open, rolling-hill space on the property. Did I mention that I could live there, easily?

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A little afternoon hot tub action
It was good, real hike. I was probably gone about two hours, give or take. When I was done I decided to get in the hot tub -- that would be the first time in a long time, and the first time ever sone my heart attack. In fact, I have to be very cautious about hot tubs due to my heart condition. Being a hot tub too long or in one with too high a temperature to the water can cause dangerously low blood pressure. Conversely, it can actually induce a heart attack. But, if one is careful, one can benefit. I stayed in for about 20-30 minutes, until I started to feel my face flush and a got a little light-headed. That seemed a clear indication it was time to get out.

I closely monitor my blood pressure, at least once a day, only occasionally skipping such. Usually if I hike or do any other physical activities, I take it again, afterward. I also monitor my pulse and my blood-oxygen level, as well as a daily weigh-in and one reading of my body temperature. I expected, after the hit tub for my BP to either be exceptionally high or low, but it was only 100/85, just up from 94/55 when I was done with the hike. Believe it or not, those are both within the norm for me on physically active days. I asked my cardiologist about the readings like 94/55. His response was that as long as I wasn't dizzy or light-headed, that was not a dangerous reading. My regular doctor said the same thing.

My heart rate, however, was up to 79 from 66 -- still not really high, but clearly an increase from the earlier reading. Yet, quite common for right after I've done something physical. The hot tub event clearly had not endangered me, so, I did it again the next day.

The next thing I did was take a nap.

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Working on "Chilled October Morning" at the fire pit.
My Music
K.L. on Bass
While I was wrapping up my hike, earlier, I texted david and ordered fire wood. He was going to give me ten pieces free because of the length of my stay. I replied that if he doubled that to twenty pieces they could charge it to my card. After my nap and dinner I built another fire pit, this time one that actually burned and I incorporated some of my crap wood into the fire after it was going.

At the evening fire pit I sat with the acoustic bass and played around some more with "Chilled October morning" I had to use my fluorescent lantern because I needed enough light to see the neck and the frets. I worked on the chord progression. Then, after putting the bass away, I sat around the fire and worked on more lyrics beyond the couple original lines.


SATURDAY, OCTOBER 3:

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With the Giannini on the Mockingbird deck, about to shoot a DV movie of "Chilled October Morning," in its early stage.
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Rehearsing the synthesized bass line for "Identity," at Mockingbird, before shooting a DV movie playing it.
My Music
K.L. on Bass
VIDEO PRODUCTION STUFF ICON
Friday night, late -- Saturday morning, really -- I fell asleep on the Mockingbird couch while backing files on the laptop . I'd also bbeen working more on the on the "Chilled October Morning" lyrics. I woke up just before 7:00, but drifted back to sleep for about an hour. Later in the morning I shot an iPhone DV movie of me doing a demo-sample of "Chilled October Morning"

After that I went into Logan and ate lunch at Millstone BBQ. I had the pulled chicken BBQ sandwich, though I gave up trying to eat it as a sandwich, surrendered and used the knife and fork to finish it. It was go-o-o-o-d! Back at the cabin (cottage) I did another 30 minutes or so in the hot tub.

Then I took a nap.

Later, I set up the eight-track, pulled out the Embassy Pro and the guitar synthesizer Pedal and rehearsed the synthesized bass for "Identity." Again, I shot iPhone DV movie footage of a demo-sample of that. During that demo, I might add, I killed the vocal track. As I've written before, that particular vocal performance is lousy. Plus, the lyrics have changed and the melody is not what the song will end up with, at least not completely. Going back to the vocal: I simply don;t want to subject other's ears to that travesty.

When I got home from the illustrious Autumn Vacation 2020, I edited together the footage of both songs, adding in a few relevant still photography shots -- which are part of this post, as well. I've already included as part of an earlier post, on October 7. As I wrote then, it's probably a little too long, with too much auxiliary business included. To elaborate: yes, really, it is. As a friend whom I've already shared it with pointed out, most people will find that "busniess," such as tuning, and some of the background information talk to be "utterly boring."

I can't really argue with my friend's observation. Honestly, I actually already knew that, mostly, this DV movie is for almost no one else but myself and few others, like him -- he, by the way, found the whole video intersting, but he's not the average audience member. I actually kept the business and such in because I was happy with the DV movie editing. It's not at all as spontaneous as it appears. I planned all that out to get smooth cuts. As one of my production professors said in college: "All TV is manufactured." This DV movie isn't TV, but it's close enough.

I have no expectations that the DV movie will get any sort of serious hits, and I am skeptical that more than a few people will ever watch through to the actual performance of the synthesized bass. It's kind of actually just a movie for me, and a few other people, that happens to sit on a public server.

If I were ever to become a known recording artist -- which, let's be honest, is not at all likely to happen (and that's probably a gross understatement) -- then this would be a great gem for someone to eventually discover. But that's all highly likely to pretty much be fantasy-land material. Regardless of these harsh realities, here is the DV movie again, anyway:

July 15, 2021 addendum: the video was embedded here until today, when I removed it in anticipation of the release of the album in what is hoped is the not-too-distant future. The YouTube video has been made private at the moment but may be made public again at a later date.


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During my "glorious, peaceful, relaxing, serene," final, five-hour fire pit.
Cabin Vacation
That last evening at Best Nest was closed out by burning the rest of my fire wood in a glorious, peaceful, relaxing, serene final fire pit. It was about five hours of such fire pit serenity and I am not at all ashamed about that. It was not time wasted.

I did a little bit more work on the developing lyrics for "Chilled October Morning," but mostly I sat sat there, watching the fire, studying the serendipity of how the fire consumed the pieces of wood -- contemplating whether the pattern of the burning was arbitrary or following some systematic rule of physics. I meditated a bit. Again, the coyotes called. An owl hooted a few times. And crickets chirped.

The night before, Mars and the moon had moved across the sky together. I looked for that again but there were clouds in the way, so Saturday night I didn't see that. I actually think the two celestial objects moving in tandem was only the night before, and I did see that. In fact, that event makes it into the lyrics for "Chilled October Morning." I can't remember if I write that part Friday night or Saturday night.


SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4:

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The sad sight of my trunk packed to leave Autumn Vacation 2020.
You always hear it said that all good things must come to an end. Must they? Yeah, I guess they must. Packing my car up that Sunday morning was not filled with the joy, anticipation, and excitement that packing the car for the trip, eight days earlier, had been.

This definitely was the case of me not at all wanting to come back home. Could I have afforded it, I'd have spent a month over there. I think it is pretty much guaranteed that this was not my last visit to Hocking Hills and its environs. But, I think discovering other similar places is will be good, too.

Just need to wait out this current health-risk insanity. Let's hope that the pandemic climate has somehow changed for the good at some point by next summer -- spring is probably too hopeful of a goal.

I guess the hopeful but realistic goal will be Summer Vacation 2021.

CLICK: Mockingbird Cabin at Best Nest cabins banner.png Autumn Vacation 2020 Photograph Album


OR CLICK TO
SEE THE
WHOLE ALBUM
from the start:
Autumn Vacation 2020 in South East Ohio Autumn Vacation 2020 Photograph Album


Wed, Nov 4, 2020

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PROGRESS? WELL IT SURE AIN'T PERFECTION:
My Music
K.L. on Bass
Song number 6 in progress
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Last night's rehearsal set up, in the "livingroom."

AAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Too many loves! I have too many loves. The big problem with this undesirable level of musicianship I am at is that I don't dedicate enough time to practice on my instruments. I give more time to the bass than the keyboard, but I don't give the bass enough time. At one point I'd told myself I was going to give each at least a little time each day, but then other projects are up and the next thing you know, I look up from whatever I'm doing, usually on the computer, and it's way passed time for me to get some sleep.

This, all a way of leading into how I practiced the bass guitar synthesizer part for "Identity" last night for a couple hours, I think maybe for three hours, and I still ended the rehearsal with an unsatisfactory performance. It's most frustrating because what I'm trying to play should not be that difficult. That I haven't mastered certain sections is humbling, and more than a little infuriating. I think I need to be ruthlessly disciplined about working on this damn part until it's mastered. Playing the whole once or twice ain't enough, either; it's n ot mastered until I can play it repeatedly.

Yeah, okay, I need to be ruthlessly disciplined about practicing on the instruments, period. Since we're on a related topic, I ought to be doing vocal exercises every day, as well: at least five minutes. I'm pretty sure I've written shit like this before on this blog, more than once.

As you can see from the photos, I changed up my rehearsal space. I moved to my livingroom which I haven't yet, as you see, completely rejuvenated from the storage facility it was for a few years. It's not really fully a living room just yet. I need to get rid of the crap furniture and get some new stuff -- that doesn't include the office chair I'm sitting in, which I bought earlier this year. But, right now, the room s a pretty good rehearsal space, and a recoding space, too. It's where I worked out, rehearsed and recorded the piano track for "Identity." That seems like a year ago, which isn't true, but it was months ago.

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Here I am last night, humbling myself by still not mastering that damned synthesized bass part for "Identity." At some point I will be able to record this @#$%$#@ part and move on. Let's see how long that will take!



PLAYWRIGHT WORK -- PLANS IN MOTION:
The Writer icon
The Director icon
Final Draft 11 icon
I have slated either the first or the second week of December to shoot the dramatic reading of the latest draft of the manuscript. This year might be different than most, but keeping it away from the Christmas holiday seems better. I've presented the participants with a proposal of three rehearsals: one for each act then a full run rehearsal. Then the shoot is currently scheduled for the day after the full run.

Of course, in both rehearsal and the shoot, everyone will be a safe distance from each other. I really want masks off for the shoot but if anyone feels better wearing them during rehearsal that is their call. Of course, all the safety protocols that are in place in businesses should be adhered to.
  • anyone who is symptomatic or is aware of any contact exposure should bow out
  • everyone will bring their own beverages and/or snacks
  • I'll be in there ahead of everyone, cleaning and sanitizing
I've had someone come on board as the narrator, but the male actor who read last time can't do it this time. I am currently looking for an actor for that role.

I've posted a casting call and I've had a few actors express interest, but I haven't yet set up any sort of audition. This is a reading but I still would rather have an actor that meets type, a male who can reasonably sell being a 24 year-old, and can give me a version of the character that satisfies my vision. Also, in this case I don't want to be race-blind, though as a director I'd like such ├čto be the general rule save for when the script dictates otherwise. In this case the script does so. I hope to have the part cast soon.

Clearly I am going to direct this time. Last time it was simply a raw table reading. This will be a sort of hybrid directing. It will mostly be directing a stage reading, but, since it will be shot, it'll be a bit of a movie shoot, too. It's been a long while since I've done any directing focused on the actors' performances. When I direct the DTG promocasts I don't overstep and deal with actors' performances. The only thing I might do is have them bring a performance down for the camera, but I have never done that. This time, performance, interpretation, etc., will be a part of my focus. For the first time in over a decade.

You know, over a decade is kind of way too long!

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


WORKING FROM HOME icon
COVID-19
When I was ready to "go to work" today it was 53° in my neck of the woods, and the sun was out. It was easy to make the decision to be outside for the rent-payer hours today. And it warmed up bit as time went on, though in the shade it was a few degrees nippier. But, hell, I had a sweater and my maroon hoodie, and both hot cider and hot chocolate, so I was good. I do admit that I ended the office hours after sundown inside, but, still, most of the day was out in a pleasant autumnal day.
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Brisk but nice out with some sun and hot apple cider, and the first time I have ever managed to get the right amount of cinnamon powder into the mug of cider -- actually the first few times, since I had a few cups, along with a few cups of hot chocolate.
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The view from the home office this lovely autumn day.



Sat, Nov 7, 2020

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YaY!

JOE & KAMALA







SOMETIME SOON (?):
My Music
K.L. on Bass
Song number 6 in progress

I've been rehearsing the synth bass line and I am getting closer to mastering it -- closer, but that's a relative term. Doesn't mean that I'm terribly close. Here's a hint: I'm not.

My plan is to work the hell out of it today. If I can record the damned track tonight, or at least before the weekend is up, I'll be happy. If I could get at least a good start on redoing that vocal melody and the performance of the vocal before the weekend is over, that'd be just fine.

But first, today, I go hiking!


PLAYWRIGHT WORK:
The Director icon
The Writer icon
Final Draft 11 icon

The male role in the play has been cast. The production of the reading shoot will be the first week of December. Due to some actor scheduling conflicts I've had to adjust my rehearsal and shoot plan a little. Rather than three rehearsals, Wednesday through Friday, and the shoot on Saturday, it's going to be two rehearsals, Wednesday and Thursday, and the shooting on Friday. That means I'll be nixing my idea of a dedicated rehearsal night for each act, then a full run rehearsal. Thursday will definitely be a full run rehearsal. I'm not sure about Wednesday. My next step is to prep some dramaturgy for the actors, a task I have already begun.

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


WORKING FROM HOME icon
COVID-19

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Well, so, Yesterday was one of those repeatedly restart the modem kind of work-from-home days. But, then, since I was again on the patio, it's hard to bitch too much.
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Trying to mixup the photos of me outside working from home with some kind of different perspective.
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A little lunch break on the patio. A sodium-free recipe for chile that, by the way, I got from the relative of a celebrity, for whom I'm going to not reveal the name (of either the celebrity or the relative).



VETERAN'S DAY

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Thank you Veterans of the Armed Forces, this Veteran's Day 2015


Fri, Nov 13, 2020

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YES, BUT THE MOLASSIS IS MOVING!:
My Music
K.L. on Bass
Song number 6 in progress
fb post text

Sunday, I decided it was time to get off the fence and record that damned synthesized bass part for "Identity." I recorded, but as you might be able to discern from the capture of my Sunday night facebook post, I was not successful. After twenty-one crap attempts I gave up for the evening. I was, perhaps, a little upset.

My nephew, a musician himself, commented on the post you see to the left with this: "I lost my mind one night, years ago, for this reason. Had to stop, and nailed it first time a couple nights later." A couple others basically told me to stop beating myself up. I really wasn't beating myself up; I was expressing my frustration.

It seems that often you're kind of not allowed to express your frustrations with your work without some well-meaning person chiming in with well-intentioned but invariably irrelevent, missing-the-target comments about "thinking positive" or "not being too self-critical." The worst are those who assert that if I share how I am upset with my performance, if I express that I'm frustrated with or or angry about it, that I am making myself miserable -- somehow I guess that if I get upset that must mean I'm going to stay that way and wear that negative feeling like an albatros around my neck.

Apparently, it's not possible that I can feel my feelings of frustration, claim those feelings, then regroup and move on. Seemingly that concept is beyond these people. They are often the same people who talk about how others -- especially men -- need to feel and express their feelings. The irony of them denying that with their "helpfulness" is beyond them. I used to push back directly when confronted with such "helpfulness." Now I simply shift my attention to those who have something of actual constructive value to share. But, as you can see, I am still annoyed somewhat by the first group of responders, despite their truly good intentions.

Oh well. Back to the actual topic.

Buoyed by my nephew's comment, which was the direction I was already heading, I did not go back the next night, Monday, to give takes 22+ a shot. I waited until Tuesday. It was another nineteen takes for a total of forty by the end of that session. But, I had almost the take. At the end of the evening there were a couple spots that were troublesome. I decided to attack them the next night with the Tascam foot switch and some punching in/out. I'd already pulled the switch out and used it Tuesday evening, so the track at the end of the night was patchwork of several takes -- three, if I remember correctly.

Wednesday. I punched in & out of two spots. One, part of that damn run in the bridge before verse four that has been especially problematic for me, and a run during one of the chorus sections. I will say that there is still a slight imperfection in that bridge run, but, I am willing to accept it and move on.


TASCAM DP-03 8 TRACK DIGITAL PORTASTUDIO RECORDER ICON
AUDIO RECORDING - ENGINEERING ICON
An important thing I have learned, concerning my Tascam eight-track digital portable recorder, is that importing the WAV files for each individual track of a song on the eight-track onto my MacBook Pro makes for easier mixing and mastering. It stood to reason that it would but I had not done it, until this week, so I did not have definitive evidence.

My practice has been to run sound from the recorder to my laptop and re-record that tracks into GarageBand on the Mac. But there is an slight issue of EQ fidelity as well the challenge of the synchronization of each individual track bassed on virtually impossible task of started the garageband recording of each track in precisely the same spot for every track. Thus each track is a little off in synchronization, or is highly likely to be. So I have to then synch them up in the mixing process.

After I had a the synth bass track in acceptable shape I exported each of the tracks I have thus far for the song: drums left, drums right, piano, bass guitar, chorded bass guitar, synth bass guitar, and guide vocal. Then I dropped all the tracks into Final Cut Pro X, because that's currently where I know what the heck I'm doing as far as sound mixing is concerned -- I really do need to get some Logic Pro X training! Regardless of that last fact, what I found when I worked with the tracks in FCPX is that, since they were all imported in, in prestine, whole condition -- everything is perfectly synchronized (as I was sure it would be) and the tone and EQ is exactly what was recorded. This is good news for the rest of the project. It also means that there is going to be some lack of audio continuity across the cannon of the project, but, to be honest, I actually like that idea.


NEXT icon
K.L. on Vocals
The next step for "Identity" is to revisit the vocal melody and performance. You five regulars may remember that the vocal track currently laid, the guide vocal, is nowhere near satisfactory. The melody is not what it can be and the performance has a lot of flaws. Some of the flaws are vocal phrasing, others are simply some weak spots in the singing, running out of breath, voice cracking, not hitting the note fully, that sort of thing. So, next is fixing the melodic composition and crafting a vocal that is worthy.

I began a bit of this Wednesday, at least, addressing the revamping of the melody, but nothing was really accomplished. It was more of a starting of the process. Last night, I left it alone only because my throat is on the borderline of sore and I did not want to exasperate the condition. I'll probably do some work tonight.

also
Songwriter icon
Song number 7 in progress
It's time to revisit the song I started on my Autumn Vacation 2020, Song #7, "Brisk October Morning." Whether that is pulling out the Giannini acoustic bass and the capo, or just working on finishing the lyrics, or both, is up in the air.

I also keep hearing different songs, bu different artists, in all sorts of different styles that are beckoning me to be inspired to compose a song influenced by them. There are a lot of different ways to go that all intrigue me. I guess it will depend on where I am at when get with whichever instrument to begin Song #?.

I put "Song #?" because I can't say that whatever the next song I start writing is, that it will be attended to in the project after I work on "Brisk October Morning." There are still some songs from the olden days that I want to resurrect, a particular pop ballad that is the front runner. There are a couple others from way back when, some rockers, that I want to do, but, I really need to have a live drummer for them, just because of the percussion attacks in a couple spots. The performance really needs to have at least two living musicians (the drummer and the bassist), in the same room, playing off each other, something that it seems won't be practical for a while. When it is practical, I have a strong suspicion the drummer will be my old music partner, Rich Hisey.

And now, some photos:
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More photos of me rehearsing that damned synthesized bass line, these from last Saturday
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My Epiphone Embassy Pro Bass, patiently waiting for the recording session to begin, Sunday evening.
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You can tune a bass guitar but you can't.....
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The Tascam DP-03, ready for action.
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Scrutinizing during playback.
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The Tascam RC-3F 3-pedal foot switch, for punch in/out.
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Keeping count of the 40 takes I'd done by the end of the Tuesday session.



PLAYWRIGHT WORK:
The Writer icon
The Director icon
Final Draft 11 icon

COVID-19
We all know that there is another wave, another surge, of the coronavirus hitting everywhere across the country, as well as other parts of the world -- and why our country and these other hot spots can't heed the example of the countries who have the virus pretty much contained and under control, is beyond me.

Not to seem like a broken record from last spring, when I was planning a reading of my play manuscript that had to be cancelled, but the currently planned rehearsals and principal photography of the reading, the first week of December, are still on. Again, with such a small cast, I believe that we can safely do this with plenty of distancing and the other crucial safety measures. But I guess we need to see how the wind blows.

Meanwhile, I'm still in the process of preparing some focused dramaturgy for each actor who is playing a character. Trying to find a balance between inundating them with too much, but still give them a rich amount of material.


Meanwhile (part 2), I have the beginnings of an idea for the next play, this one not being in that universe I have created where the current play resides. In the new one I'll borrow a concept from a sci-fi short story I read years ago by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, in a collection I just rediscovered is called Cautionary Tales. Yarbro did something in that story, as part of the story-telling device, that intrigued and impressed the shit out of me. For reasons that I will discuss very far into the future, I am going to follow her lead. I suspect I may not be the firat to do so, though I have not seen another example of this particular element. I also intend to expand on this element a particular way. I still have my current play manuscript to deal with and focus on, but I'm going to give some attention to this new idea.

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


BEAUTIFICATION OF THE THEATRE STILL CONTINUES
Dayton Theatre Guild
COVID-19

The work on the theatre, mostly painting, but also some Marie-Kondo-type cleansing, has still been going on.

The crews have been small, but, really, right now, it's clear that a small crew is the wiser, safer way to go.

But progress is being made.

There's also some significant remodeling on the way, shortly. For anyone reading this who has been to the theatre: the bathrooms are getting serious overhauls!

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The lobby
The board room, also, known as "The Ralph Dennler Room."
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One of the dorkier board members, if not the top dork, painting the entrance hallway.
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The fruits of the dork's labors.
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Boardmember Sarah Saunders, at work.



HIKING ICON
Last Saturday I went hiking at one of my local, habitual hiking haunts: Glen Helen Nature Preserve/John Bryan State Park, (you know: two parks, one forest).

I'm not going to comment on each photo below except to say about that second-to-the-last one that, once again my thesis stays in tact, that one cannot hike John Bryan for any real distance without coming across at least one hammock strung up with a college student in repose -- unless it's really cold out.

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This time, three hammocks.
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Fri, Nov 20, 2020

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COVID-19

The specific video below targets Ohio, but the message is universal to the whole nation and other parts of the world, really. I wept when I first saw this. I wept because of the truth in it. I wept because there are those who will blow it off as nonsense. I wept because we didn't have to be where we are now.

But, find the hope in what is being said here, because there is hope in it.




My Music
K.L. on Vocals
Song number 6 in progress
Monday night I started the recording sessions for the "Identity" lead vocal. There were eleven takes that night, none were the good take, though there were some parts that were progress toward what I want.

Last night I was going to go back "into the studio" to give the lead vocal session a second try, but I had a bit of a sore throat so I put off singing. At the moment my throat feels good enough that I'll probably give it a try tonight. Last night I could have, I suppose, set up the one Yamaha keyboard and started working out the faux horn chart for the song -- because there is going to be one; I pretty much hear it in my head, already.

K.L. on Bass
Song number & in progress
Instead, I pulled out the Giannini acoustic bass to revisit the newest song, "Chilled October Morning," which I haven't touched since I've been back from Autumn Vacation 2020.

I added nothing to the song, music-wise or lyric-wise; I really didn't deal with lyrics at all, not even bothering to look at what I've written already to sing as I "rehearsed" the chords. What I really did was refresh myself with the chords and the chord progressions, because literally, the last time I think I played the song was when I shot the preview video during Autumn Vacation 2020.

Song number ? in progress
I also have an idea for a new song. Basically, at this point it's only that song title and some ideas about what it'll be about. Whether it's Song #8 or not remains to be seen, at least in terms of recording it for the project. The project, by-the-way, has a new working title, which I am not sharing here. It's highly likely it will be the name of the "album*," but, then, I thought the previous working title was a lock as the album title, before this one came to me.
*I feel so pretentious calling this project "an album," even though that is what it is. I need to get over that, start taking myself a little more seriously, here.
Hey! Where's his hat?:
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During the first attempts, Monday, to lay the lead vocal track for "Identity."
Listening to playback of take 11.
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Last night, just before bed, working on "Chilled October Morning."



PLAYWRIGHT WORK:
The Writer icon
Final Draft 11 icon
The Director icon

POSTPONED

COVID-19


Again, like last spring, I've had to decide it's best to postpone the reading, this time being the shoot of the reading, due to the current pandemic situation. It's postponed until after the new year has begun; whether that means January, February, or later, remains to be seen.

It's very frustrating that so many of our fellow Americans and local neighbors are being so idiotic that we have coronavirus surges accelerating when it's quite clear that we could have been on the other side of the final peak by now, not just locally but nationwide.

Even with all the safety measures we would have put in place for the rehearsals and the shoot, really, at this point, when there are now mounting accounts of people who are being careful who are testing positive, I'm worried about the risk to all of us involved and those in each of our bubbles, even if it would have been a small risk.

I'm gratified that everyone wants to read my words, and I can't wait for it to happen. When I had to cancel last spring I was really bummed about it. I am again. I still don't want to go the zoom route with this for the reasons I've already stated.

As I said, I think we could have done it quite safely but the risk at this point just seems to much of a gamble for us to gather together to do something that is not absolutely vital to do. I mean we are all cancelling our family Thanksgiving gatherings this year, so it seemed silly and a contradiction for the five of us to gather together for this venture when we were sacrificing our family gatherings.

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


WORKING FROM HOME icon
COVID-19
Well, the traditional mid-west late autumn weather is settling in. But last Friday it was warm enough that I could still work on the patio. Last Monday and Wednesday we were, I believe, in the 30s, so I was inside. Earlier today, however, it was edging toward warmer, just a little below 60°. But a cold front began sneaking in with its cold breeze and I ended up inside before my workday was finished, mostly because my damn hands were getting too cold.

But, as I've written before, I will persist in giving the patio, or the occasional picnic table in a park, a go as my home office until winter fully sets upon us.

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Working for the rent-payer at the patio home office, last Friday, with a bit of a chill.
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Earlier today before I buckled and came inside because the chill go a little too chill.



On a Personal Note icon COVID-19 Craft Notes icon
VACATION

THANKSGIVING 2020
CHRISTMAS 2020

Next week is a short workweek due to the Thanksgiving holiday, with only Monday through Wednesday being workdays. I have taken those as vacation days. Same with the Mon-Wed of Christmas week. In fact that one will have me off work for two whole workweeks (16 total days) since the offices are closed from December 24 until the first Monday of 2021.

These are windows for the creative stuff, the stuff that matters the most to me. Certainly, I will work on music -- "Identity" might get mostly done, save for the guitar, which will be farmed out. But, I could have the rest of it done. The composition of "Chilled October Morning" might be finished, as well, and perhaps the recording sessions begun. Maybe other music might be started as well, such as the new one I recently got the idea for.

Playwright work might be done, too. More tweaking of my current manuscript could likely be done and I might start work on that new idea for a play. There's some DV movie editing that needs to be done, too. For one thing, quite a while ago I gathered together material to make an actor's reel, and it's all been sitting in a folder, waiting for me to attend to it. It won't be the greatest reel ever -- I don't have a lot of stellar material for such -- but it would be a reel.

Just as importantly, maybe much more so, I don't get to spend the holidays with anyone this year. Christmas hasn't been decided yet by the family, but, let's be honest, it's not looking like a good idea to have a family gathering with a mixture of households. Thanksgiving is out for sure. If I haven't stated this already somewhere on here, this will be the first time in my life that I won't be with my family on Thanksgiving. I did not realize how important it was to me until this year. It's not about the nonsense propaganda of the holiday as it was founded. This was an annual traditional family gathering for me, a special day for familial commensality, as I think it really is for many others. Christmas, is, of course, much the same.

If I'm going to be alone for these holidays this year, then it's going to be on my terms, and I'm going to be removed from employee responsibilities, and give myself the opportunity to indulge in the arts. I'm halfway thinking about a cabin somewhere for Christmas -- maybe, maybe not.



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HAPPY THANKSGIVING

I abandoned the traditional celebration of Thanksgiving a long time ago. That purified, propaganda fairytale of the commensality between the settlers and the indigenous people, that denial of manifest destiny intent, of the genocide and attempted genocide: screw all that. Screw celebrating some of worst in the American legacy.

But I have kept hold of the "Thanks" part, the ideal of embracing gratitude. And more importantly, like, you know, almost everyone, it's one of those annual family gatherings full of camaraderie and of a commensality that I more than just tolerate, I welcome.

But, like millions of others, this year I will not be with my family today. This is the first time in my six-plus decades on the planet that I will not be sharing a Thanksgiving meal with my family. When the family made the difficult, but we believe wise and necessary, decision to cancel the dinner this year, I was suddenly aware of how much it means to me.

In my youth, the annual festivities bounced back and forth between my two sisters, I think at least once, my brother's, and I think when I was much younger, my mom hosted it on occasion. Disclosure here, I am much younger than my siblings -- my oldest sister and my brother were both married when I was born, my younger sister was fifteen when I was born and was married by the time I was six.

I have a lot of nieces and nephews that are quite close to my age, they're really more like cousins. And there were a lot more family gatherings: picnics, the occasional swimming party, kids spending the weekend at one of the other households. There was way more of an extended family feel to the clan.

As time moved on that all fell away. The feeling of unity of the whole family dissipated. For the last couple decades I have been at my youngest sister's every Thanksgiving, and every Christmas -- Easter, too, but, of course, not this last Easter, which was after the pandemic had descended on us. My oldest sister, who passed away earlier this year, stopped hosting anything a long time ago, back in the 90's before my parents passed (Christmas had been floating each year, too). The extended family gatherings ceased three decades ago.

But the coming together at the home of my younger sister and her family, on holidays, and especially this one, is a now the long-standing staple of holiday gatherings for me. It is a part of my annual traditions, a closely held part. But, like so many of you, in 2020 this staple has been thwarted by the coronavirus. I am sure that will include Christmas; that's only a month away and the COVID-19 numbers are not going to be getting any better between now and then. In fact, let's be realistic, because of the number of people who are ignoring the warnings about today's holiday, who are scorning the prudence of not intermingling separate households, about not sitting in airplanes with complete strangers, there's going to be a surge, that on top of the mammoth surge we already have going.

Well, a few minutes ago, I ordered a Thanksgiving turkey dinner from Bob Evans. Yesterday, I bought two pies, an apple pie and a cherry pie. I even had to actually bake the cherry pie -- granted, it was a frozen pie, and my only contribution to making it was pre-heating the oven to 400° then baking the pie for 55 minutes, but, as I posted a couple times on social media yesterday: for me, that's like being Julia Childs' long-lost son.

So, yes, I am unhappy and borderline sad that I won't be going to my sister's today, to see her and my brother-in-law (who's a really great guy), or my two nephews and my niece (all virtual cousins to me), or their spouses. But, I'm thankful that none of them have contracted COVID-19. I'm also thankful that I have something to miss being a part of today. This could be my every year, you know, how grateful am I that this is not the case!

Today, I'll watch Thanksgiving episodes of Friends, The West Wing, Gilmore Girl, among other TV shows. Oh, yes, we can't forget the infamous Thanksgiving episode of WKRP in Cincinnati! I'll probably try to land on at least one cheesy Lifetime/Hallmark-type Thanksgiving movie. I'll spend some time working on my current music project, too. And in a month, when I'm on my extended Christmas 2020 vacation, I'll pretty much do the same thing for that holiday.
In the meantime: Happy Thanksgiving!



Sun, Nov 29, 2020

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Nineteen years ago today, George Harrison (The Quiet Beatle) passed away, succumbing to cancer. The main guitarist for the band that is arguably the most influential in pop and rock history, George was not insignificant to that influence. Probably one of his biggest contributions to western pop music was introducing eastern instruments and musical modes into it. His post-Beatles All Things Must Pass, put out just after The Beatles disbanded, is widely considered his best solo effort. He also was one of the founding members and driving artistic forces behind The Traveling Wilburys which also consisted of Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty.

Harrison was often philosophical in the lyrics of his songs, and often infused his spiritual ideas and journey into his lyrics, starting as early as 1966 with the Beatles.

Just below is a newly mastered version of the title cut from his most celebrated solo album, which turned 50 years old this year.




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THANKSGIVING 2020
VACATION
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Here I am at my isolated Thanksgiving Day dinner. If I remember correctly, the Friends Thanksgiving episode, "The One with the Football," was on the livingroom TV durring dinner. *The pics below where I have a beard are earlier in the vacation days.

MY THANKSGIVING VACATION MUSIC WORK:
My Music
Song number 6 in progress

K.L. on Vocals
Friday night, November 20, the "Identity" lead vocal was locked, with take #18. It's my practice to number even a re-recording of a portion of a song as a new take, so I didn't actually perform the whole song eighteen times. I did several punch ins of sections that could be done better and that all added up to #18. The official take 18 works for me.

To be honest, I did not change the vocal melody as much I thought I was going to. I did change a couple key spots which improves it greatly. And the performance is much better.

As a side note, I slightly altered the lyrics as I was recording the vocal. I cut a couple words from the last verse.

K.L. on Keys
Really this should be called "K.L. on Virtual Horn Section." I started working on the arrangement for the horn trio on the Yamaha PSR-180, Sunday night. Tuesday night, November 24, I laid the track for the first horn part, the low harmonic part. I started composing the second part, the middle harmonic part. By the end of the holiday weekend I had arranged and recorded the entire horn trio: horn 1 is a trombone voice, and horns 2 & 3 are the trumpet voice. I am not sure that all of the "horn chart" will make it into the final mix. I'm contemplating pulling it from a large portion of the ending of the song. Of course, I can always not use what I have recorded, but I can't use what I have not recorded.

K.L. on Vocals
Though this was technically past the Thanksgiving Vacation period, last night I worked out and recorded the "Identity" backing vocals. There are, again, three parts: a harmony vocal of the chorus section (singing the lyrics), and two harmony parts for the chorus (singing "oohs"). Again, I am not 100% sure all of the recorded back vocals will end up in the final mix, but. I have them if I want them. I actually had not planned on a harmonic vocal with lyrics until last night as I was starting to work out what I would do. When the idea hit me, I tried a few harmony parts and came up with something that I liked quite a lot. It was originally going to be three-part harmony on those oohs.

NEXT icon
Song number 6 in progress
The next step for "Identity" is to do a mix I can send off to the guitarist, who happens to be my nephew, so he can lay a rhythm guitar track and a lead guitar track.


Song number 7 in progress
Song number ? in progress
NEXT icon
Songwriter icon
While "Identity" is farmed out for the six-string electric guitar work, I'll start concentrating more on finishing "Chilled October Morning," and getting to the arrangement and recording of the song.

There's also that new idea for a song I've been tossing around. I've done the very barest of starting some lyrics for it. At this point there are a few diverse ideas about the musical approach, none on which I have settled.

Since I've learned that I can record and save more than one song at a time on my Tascam eight-track recorder, I could actually have at least some demos of both of these going sometime soon, even before I'm done with "Identity" on the Tascam.

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Let's do some singin'!
Doing some singin'. Yeah, I have to have the lyric sheet because this is pretty much a new song and I don't have the lyrics anywhere close to memorized -- and remember, I revised some of them.
Click on the far right photo for an enlarged version and let's play a game:
  1. How many theatre productions on magnets are in the shot?
  2. How many theatres are represented?
  3. Who's holding the kitten: -- a) Pagliacci, b) Puddles Pity Party, c) Bozo
  4. Can you spot the Lewis Black autograph?
  5. How many references to recording artists are visible? (not counting the dork at the mic)
  6. Do you see any evidence of the COVID-19 pandemic situation?
  7. Do you see evidence of my past heart attack?
  8. How many candles are clearly visible?
  9. Who got married?
*I will be profoundly surprised if anyone bothers with this, ever.
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Working out the first of the "horn" trio for "Identity."
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The "horn chart" recording session Tuesday evening. Horn #1 part down. With a clean-shaved musician on the job.
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Working on the horn #2 part for the "Identity" virtual horn chart.



DTG BOD:
Dayton Theatre Guild
COVID-19

Saturday, the 21st, for the ninth month in a row, we held our DTG board of directors meeting, on-line, via Zoom. Who knows how many more months of this there will be. I'm betting it will be at least the next four months, and maybe another six or more months.

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Me, attending the November Board of Directors meeting, from the comfort of my apartment.



NARROWS ON VACATION:
HIKING ICON
COVID-19

Sunday I spent a couple hours at The Narrows Reserve in Beavercreek. I hadn't hiked there in probably twenty-five or thirty years. I attempted a hike there a few months back but the parking lot was full and I have this self-preserving need to not be around a whole bunch of people right now, even in the open spaces of a park. There were people there Sunday but it wasn't packed. The fellow hikers I came across were all also quite sane and careful when we were close. Everyone kept their distance and most put their masks on if we were in really close proximity.

Some pics:

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Fri, Dec 4, 2020

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AN INTERMEDIATE MASTER IDENTITY:
My Music
AUDIO RECORDING - ENGINEERING ICON
Song number 6 in progress

Last night I did the major amount of mixing "Identity," (and partially mastering it), to send off to my nephew, one David Bernard, btw, so he can learn the song and then lay the six-string electric guitar tracks (one rhythm guitar track, one lead guitar track). I hope to finish that off tonight and get the mixed sound file to him. Once those tracks are laid and incorporated into the multitrack master, I can get the final mix and fully move on in the project.

Technically, I'll move on before that. While he's working with "Identity," I'll be working on "Chilled October Morning."


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

Tonight was the scheduled shoot of the small cast of actors, cautiously gathered in the same place, safely distanced from each other, to do the dramatic reading of the play manuscript. Theoretically it would have been a safe procedure, with distancing and other precautions taken. But, most, if not all of us, now know at least one person who has taken the COVID-19 pandemic seriously, has been mindfully careful in all their actions and activities, and still has been infected.

So, one more thing to be patient about.

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



Sat, Dec 5, 2020

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GUITARS, PICKUPS, RECORDINGS:
My Music

AUDIO RECORDING - ENGINEERING ICON
Song number 6 in progress
Last night, or, more accurately, very early this morning, I finished the intermediate mixed-master of "Identity," minus the electric guitar tracks. I'll get this mix into the possession of my nephew, David Bernard, who I've asked to add said electric guitar, both rhythm and lead tracks.

I am thinking I'll boost the reverb on a trumpet voice at the end of the song. But, other than that, this intermediate mix is ready.


DOH!
AUDIO RECORDING - ENGINEERING ICON
K.L. on Bass
Song number 7 in progress

I discussed in an earlier post about my plan to get either a soundhole or piezo pickup for my Giannini acoustic/electric bass. If you've read this blog before you may remember that the current pickup from the factory, clearly piezo, is weak at picking up my first string, or the E string, the low tone string. I haven't yet procured the pickup, whatever it may be, and I was hoping to have it before I started to record "Chilled October Morning," that on which I use the Giannini.

I really wanted to try plugging into a pickup to record the acoustic bass chords rather than using a mic. I used a mic to record the Giannini bass chord for the instrumental, "Icebergs," and it worked well enough. That was a supporting, background part, however, met to fill out the overall sound and not be noticed as an individual instrument. In "Chilled October Morning" it's the featured melodic instrument. My thought is that I can get a more solid sound with a pickup. Also, since I don't have an actual soundproof room, anytime I can avoid recording with a mic is good. I can't do it with the vocals, but, I want to at least hear what recording the Giannini with a pickup sounds like. I've been holding off until I get a substitute for the factory pickup.

DOH!: then it dawned on me -- I only use strings 3 and 4 for "Chilled October Morning," the D and the G string. Of course, with the capo affixed on the fifth fret, strings 3 and 4 are now tuned to G and C, respectively. The original pickup picks up the third and fourth string with no problems. In fact, that detail escaped me when I recorded "Icebergs." I was only using the third and fourth strings for that chorded bass part, too, so I could have used the pickup. I don't know why that escaped me then, or this time, as well. Regardless, this means that Song #7/"Chilled October Morning" is likely to be started on the Tascam as soon as tomorrow. At least a demo version will be started.



Mon, Dec 7, 2020

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79 YEARS AGO



ASSORTED GUITAR WORK:
My Music

AUDIO RECORDING - ENGINEERING ICON
Guest musician icon
Song number 6 in progress
The intermediate mixed-master of "Identity" is now with the guitarist, my nephew, David Bernard, who is now taking some time to get acquainted with the song -- there are a lot of moving parts.

I told him I was not expecting a quick turn around. His plan is to do some recording then send tracks back for me to accept or not. He's predicting a couple days. I'm betting it'll be longer, and that's not really a problem.


AUDIO RECORDING - ENGINEERING ICON
Songwriter icon
K.L. on Bass
Song number & in progress
Oh Yeah! Now I Remember! -- Yesterday evening I recorded an early demo of "Chilled October Morning" and found that the plan to plug into my Giannini acoustic bass to use the built-in pickup will not work. There is a ground hum that I'd forgotten about. In fact, I now have a vague memory of discovering this when I was prepping to add the Giannini to "Icebergs" a little over a year ago. Bottom line, I had to mic the acoustic bass for this "Chilled October Morning" demo.

I set up two mics, one for the bass and one to sing with. But I ran into problems with this set up, not technical problems, but execution problems. This is a really new song, the composition isn't even finished. I found myself mentally stumbling over what chords were next while trying to read and sing the lyrics. I also have not come anywhere close to solidifying the vocal phrasing. Trying to play the chords and sing the lyrics, neither anywhere close to engrained in me, was a train wreck. I ended up tracking each separately, laying the chords first then going back to add the vocal.

This was also another painful demonstration to me of how far I still have to go as a musician. Quite frequently I was getting fret buzz while changing chords. I think, to some extent, this might be attributed to the action of the fret board and strings needing adjustment. The problem with that theory is that the fret buzz wasn't consistent, which points to the player not fretting his chords well. My fingers are getting stronger, back a little closer to what they were in my younger days when I played a few hours almost every day. But, I'm not there yet, and I think that much of the problem here is that I'm not pressing down strongly enough all the time. Finger placement on the frets is probably a factor, too, still, it's probably time to pull out my D'Addario hand exerciser.

Yeah, yeah, okay! Maybe significantly more actual practice on the basses is in order, too!

I also added a little bit more to the still-incomplete lyrics. Based on length of the demo performance at the moment, just under three minutes, I can probably add perhaps two more verses without the song getting too long. My goal is 3:30, 4:00 tops. Whether it stays that short remains to be seen, but I definitely hope it doesn't top 4:30. This project currently has three songs close to, or more than, 8:00. I'd like a few shorter cuts.



Tue, Dec 8, 2020

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Black and white photo of John Lennon from 1968 with the text over it: "40 yers ago today - he's now been gone as long as he was here - John Lennon, Oct 9, 1940-Dec 8, 1980"'


Mon, Dec 14, 2020

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IT'S ALL ABOUT THE SKILL SET, AND TOOLS:
My Music

K.L. on Bass
It's not simply that I am rusty as a bass player and not playing at the proficiency I did in my younger days, back when I played at least an hour or two almost every day for quite a few years. Though that is true. I was more proficient at one time than I am now. But, I also have come face to face with this truth, as well: I never was really all that good, even at my peak. I was an adequate bass player, perhaps on the borderline of being good, but not really at the level of "good," at least not consistently.

Now that I'm back with basses in my hands, I want to become good. I want to become better than good. I want to get "good," then move on to "very good," and continue moving on until I get as close to "excellent" as I can, if not surpass it. Yes, I am past my sixtieth birthday, that is true, too. But I've never bought into this "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" bullshit, though it's likely usually more difficult than it is with a young dog.

Now, I'm not saying I don't think I've come up with some good bass lines, both in that distant past and more recently. I have been happy with a lot of my work, at least in that I think was I being musically creative. The bass line to "The Night Before the Night Before Christmas" is satisfying to me. What I can do, and thus, do, is make the best of my level of skill. But there's so much more out there, and if I had a higher level of skill, I'd be doing more with more. I need for that to be my goal, to apply my creativity with a better skill set.

Though I have not yet gone the route of formal, in-person lessons -- and, really, now would not be the time for that -- I have judiciously gathered together some decent YouTube videos of both lessons and exercises. There are couple good websites out there, too, Studybass.com being one that I have found useful.

I know I have a lot of bad habits that I ingrained back in the old days, when I was first a bass player. I had no sort of training, I just worked out my technique, or lack thereof, all on my own. I developed some habits that are obstacles to improvement. For one thing, I never practiced the habit of using both my index and middle finger to pluck the strings. My ingrained habit of only using my index finger now makes it difficult to use both fingers. My instinct is to only use the one. This really keeps me from a speed that sometimes is necessary. I am now working to break that habit, but it's like someone who taught themselves to use a typewriter (or keyboard for you youngin's), then after years, tries to learn the formal way. It can be damn near impossible to redirect that muscle memory. Also, I have never really mastered the art of mutting strings not being played, at least not as well as I should have. You want to mut the strings not being played to keep them from ringing, adding unwanted tones, So, I'm now working on that, too, to get better at it.

Tools of the Trade icon
There are a few practical things that are touched on at Studybass.com, such as how to position one's hands and how to better hold the bass in as comfortable of manners as possible to make playing both easier and safer. Some I had managed to intuitively do correctly, but other minor adjustments are now being implemented. Also, the bass guru at Studybass.com, Andrew Pouska, advises that a player not sit in a chair with arms when playing, something that I have done, and that I had already found uncomfortable and inhibiting, the two things he said the player would experience. So, Thursday, after leaving the rent-payer, I dropped by a discount furniture outlet store and picked up a bar stool with back support.

In the end, what has to happen is I need to get into the habit of living as a musician, meaning it has to always be at least some part of my day. That goes for being a vocalist, too. I should be at least warming up every day, and I'm not at in that habit.


Tools of the Trade icon
More "tools of the trade" were added in a late night, on-line shopping episode last night: two pedals I've contemplated getting for several months. I ordered a Boss OC-3 Dual Super Octave Pedal and a Boss OS-2 Overdrive/Distortion Pedal from Sweetwater. I also got two more AC Power supplies, one for each pedal. My hope is that, with this being the week before Christmas, I get the delivery before I'm off on the vacation discussed below, because I really want those pedals with me on that trip.


K.L. on Bass
Song number 7 in progress
I've been rehearsing the chords to "Chilled October Morning" simply to get smoother at the changes. Big in this is mastering placing my fingers in the right spot, which is right behind the fret bars, in order to get a clear ring from the note and not fret buzz, which I am getting frequently. This is something that needs to happen all the time, anyway. Honestly, I seem mostly to avoid fret buzz, especially on the two Epiphone electric basses, but not always. When I'm chording on this song on the Giannini I'm getting a lot of fret buzz. So I'm working on that, especially. Clearly it'll translate to my playing in general, to the habit of always fingering the right spot on the fret board.

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Working on "Chilled October Morning," sitting at my new music stool.



CHRISTMAS 2020
WINTER VACATION 2020
Cabin Vacation

You five regulars may remember that in my ThanksGiving Day blog entry I said it was pretty likely that the family would also not be gathering to celebrate Christmas, as we didn't this year for ThanksGiving, or Easter beforehand. I was right. I knew even then that the chances were not good, not with the pandemic running so rampant, thanks mostly to the unfathomably high number of careless, thoughtless, selfish assholes we folks with some measure of sense have to share this country with.

My Music
Weather icon
I debated back and forth about how I was going to spend this upcoming Christmas2020 Vacation, which I already had planned to take, knowing how probable it was I would not be with my family. There's no question that I will spend time focused on the music project, I hope, a lot of time. But, was I going to be in the homestead or elsewhere? That "elsewhere" was almost certainly going to be a cabin somewhere. I actually contemplate seriously trying to snag the Best Nest Mockingbird cottage I stayed in during the last portion of my Autumn Vacation 2020, or the Wolf's Den Cabin at Thunder Ridge Cabins B&B right before.

A concern is what the weather will be like that last week of December, especially concerning the Mockingbird cottage. If there's a bad snow, driving up those narrow, winding, gravel roads might not be much of a picnic. Wolf's Den would be a little easier, but I can't speak for the rural roads in the area. This sort of concern will be high for much of the cabins I could rent in the Hocking Hills region, or down closer to Lake Hope as well. Cabins or cottages were the only things I contemplated. Some friends just spent a few days staying in some train cars turned into hotel rooms in Indianapolis. I considered that, except that I don't want something quite so urban. I also thought beyond the concerns of possible inclement weather, that I also wouldn't mind a change from the Hocking Hills area. I love it there, but maybe a change of pace is in order. Especially since it will be December so there may or may not be a desire to do a lot of hiking -- depending on the weather.

I still wanted something more rural, less urban. So, the other night I googled and found a few choices. I opted for a cottage that sleeps four, up near Dover, Ohio, basically the other side of Columbus from me. Yeah, well, not exactly just the other side of Columbus. It's a good 90 minutes past Columbus, only about 65 miles from the Pennsylvania border. It's up and over near Ohio's Amish Country, where I might just indulge in some shoppes. I'm in the cottage for a week. I'm not sure my bank account appreciates the expenditure, but I'm doing it anyway.

By the way, I'll be taking much more music equipment with me this time than I did for Autumn Vacation 2020. I have every intention of recording during Winter Vacation 2020.

And as a side, I have discovered there is a Bob Evans less than ten minutes from where I am staying, so pickup from there will be my Christmas diner. More about that in a later blog post.



Sun, Dec 20, 2020

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AND I'M OFF!
WINTER VACATION 2020
Cabin Vacation

I'm off in just a little while, headin' to Winter Vacation 2020. The car is packed tight, with most of my musical equipment: all my basses, my Legato piano, my Yamaha PSR-180 keyboard, all the foot pedals, the Tascam eight-track recorder and its Tascam foot switch, my microphones, and all the assorted cables, etc., and, let's not forget the capo.

There's a fire pit at the cabin so yesterday I bought thirty pieces of firewood from a local farmer, 50¢ for each. It's right off the road at the end of his long gravel driveway, a whole trailer of it, with a sign. It's ripe for theft. But, I'm betting few people take wood without paying. Just a feeling I have. Of course, the trunk of my car is half loaded with firewood, meanwhile there is rain predicted where I'll be for most of the time that I'm there. If it were a little bit of snow, that'd be cool. Well, I've bought the wood, so it's going with me. Last time I looked there was only a 25% chance of rain on Tuesday, and it was down to 5% for Wednesday. Unfortunately, it was 75% for Christmas Eve, when I really wanted to doi the fire pit. Saturday night was 5% again, so maybe that will be the night -- my last night there.

I also bought myself a little Christmas tree to set up at the cabin. My confession is I haven't decorated for Christmas in decades, but this year.....

....This year.                        I don't get to be with my family. I always go to my sister's. There is always a tree -- a big fuckin' tree. I'm going to be spending Christmas without my family, alone....

....It ain't gonna be a big tree, but I'm gonna have a fucking tree!

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My little car, packed to the hilt for my week of Winter Vacation 2020. The back seat full of pretty much my entire inventory of music related equipment. The trunk taking some music overflow as well as those thirty pieces of firewood I may or not get to use this week.



ZEN AND THE ART OF NEW SOUND PEDALS:
My Music
Tools of the Trade icon
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The two latest members of the family.
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The daisy-chain setup for my explorations with these pedals.

My two new guitar pedals from Sweetwater, the Boss OC-3 Dual Super Octave Pedal and the Boss OS-2 Overdrive/Distortion Pedal, arrived Thursday. I was worried that they would not be delivered until after I was out of town, because the Overdrive/Distortion Pedal was out-of-stock, when I placed the order, though I didn't notice at the time. It apparently was back in inventory shortly since the shipment arrived, complete, Thursday.

To be honest, the Super Octave pedal does not do exactly what I had anticipated. I was wanting something that would throw the pitch up an octave, and that's not what it does. It throws octave undertones which can be blended subtly underneath or can be mixed prevalently. It doesn't do what I wanted, but it's still a tool I can use. Then, wait, it occurs to me as I write this that I ought to try the regular guitar input and see what that does. It might give me something interesting.

Thursday night and last night I played around with both pedals a bit, using both my Embassy Pro bass and my viola bass, experimenting independently with each pedal, then with both on, and sometimes also with the SY-1 Guitar Synthesizer Pedal running in the daisy chain. I've barely begun my excursions but have already come across a lot of really nice sounds, giving me a lot of ideas.

I pulled two songs out from way back there in the 1980's. One is a song that may make it into the project, or, "onto the album" -- I don't know why it seems so silly to me to say that, "on the album." That song is a little rocker, some would call it "power pop," but I hate that term. The song is called "Rock & Roll Fever." I wrote it somewhere between 1977 and 1980, probably 1978 or '79. Back then, I tuned the D string up to an A, which is pretty much stretching the hell out of the string. Now I stick the capo on the D string up at the A, a kinder method. Then I play the chords* on the "A" and the G string. I got a good setting on the Overdrive/Distortion pedal that works. I played this one first on the Embassy, but, actually, later when I did it on the Viola, I liked that sound better, so whenever this one gets recorded, I'll use that one. there's also another one from that same time period, titled "Rocket-Go_Round," also chorded on the D and G string (no capo), that I played around with combinations of both new pedal, individually and together.
*)Yes, yes, we've already discussed how, technically, there must be three notes played simultaneously for it to be a "chord," that when there are only two notes, it's technically "harmonic notes," but I call them chords for simplicity's sake.
Song number 7 in progress
In a more direct, producer/arranger aspect, I have come up with the sound for Viola bass rhythm chords for "Chilled October Morning": a paired use of both the Super Octave and the Overdrive/Distortion pedals. The other chorded rhythm bass will be the Embassy, also using one or both of those pedals, maybe with the SY-1 Synthesizer pedal thrown in, who knows. Of course, the Giannini will be there, too. Though this work didn't get me any closer to finishing the lyrics to the song, I did formulate a little more of the structure of the song.

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Experimenting, exploring the two new pedals with the Embassy Pro, and getting some settings for one of them songs from the past.
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Playing around some more and getting a setting and some ideas for "Chilled October Morning" on the Viola bass.



WORKING FROM HOME icon
COVID-19
Dayton Theatre Guild

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My remote office for Monday, not in a park, not by a lake, but in the lobby of a theatre.
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In the booth, getting ready to install the sound design software upgrade.
Last Monday, we were waiting for an important delivery at The Guild, new sinks for our bathrooms, and needed people there to receive the shipment. I took the late morning/early afternoon shift. It being a remote work day for me for the rent-payer, it was easy enough for me. So, I did record maintenance and other related library catalogue work from the DTG box office counter.

I needed to come in to add the "Season's Greetings" message panel to the marquée anyway. Plus, I had an upgrade to the Show Cue Systems sound design software that needed to be installed on the tech booth sound laptop.

The sinks did not show up during my shift, but, I got work done, both for a paycheck and for one of my personal passions.

Pardon the mess in the DTG lobby. We ARE in the midst of a remodel, you know.




Paul McCartney logo -- Extreme close-up of his eyes behind his autpgraph signature
The name "McCartney" on a mostly black background with a die standing oin its corner and the three-dot side facing

Friday, Paul's McCartney III officially released, and, naturally, I picked it up. I've given it quite a few listens, though I'm not ready with any sort of definitive response.

But I do like the album quite a lot. I like it much better than I did his previous release, last year's Egyptian Station, which I think would have been a strong EP, consisting of about half the song list from the album. I'm not in love with absolutely ever track on M3, but I don't dislike any thing. My biggest criticism, at least at this stage, is the lyrics to the cut "Pretty Boys," not being at the calibre of an "Eleanor Rigby," but I do like the music the song.

These last few years, Paul's singing voice has deteriorated a little bit, now infused with a hoarseness, a baritone-ish essence, a bit less of a range, and a little less control than before. But, as did the great Harry Nilsson, once one of the greatest voices in pop music, before he blew out his voice with excessive drinking, Paul is adapting to his new vocal condition, tailoring his vocal arrangements to this new reality.

The songs that I absolutely love:

  • "Long Tailed Winter Bird"
  • "Women And Wives"
  • "Deep Deep Feeling"
  • "Slidin'"
  • "Seize The Day"
  • "Deep Down"
I've read at least one review where the author's opinion is that "Deep Deep Feeling" is too long -- it comes in at 8:21. The writer found it a bit indulgent. I, on the other hand, love it when a track hits a groove and it goes on and on. If you are the rare bird who's familiar with this blog, you may know that one of the songs in the process of being finished for my project, "Identity," clocks in at more than eight minutes, as well, as does the first thing recorded for the project, my instrumental, "Icebergs." Then, "The Death of the..../Memories of the Times Before" is at 10:11. Thus, I and that reviewer come from a totally different perspective.

Yeah, I am happy with Paul's 18th solo album. And as I head off for a cabin vacation with most of my music equipment in tow, I am pumped and inspired for the week!

Listen to Paul on NPR's All Things Considered talking about the new album.



Tue, Dec 22, 2020

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VACATION IS UNDERWAY!:
WINTER VACATION 2020

Cabin Vacation
I arrived at my cottage, the "Cozy Little Red Cottage," mid-afternoon Sunday. It's most certainly a "cozy little red cottage" that I easily settled into. I looked for the fire pit and didn't see one anywhere. It turns out there is a gas fire pit on the front porch, which did not register for me, as I've never seen one before. However, the property owner brought over a fire ring for me to use with my wood. I was really looking forward to burning the wood I brought, watching the fire. And I really don't want to leave here with that wood still in my trunk; I have no place to store it. The only worry is: will there be a rainless night for me to do the fire pit? I'm hoping for Christmas Eve, for sure, except that right now the forecast is for 100% precipitation on the 24th -- sad icon.


CHRISTMAS 2020
You five regulars might recall that I bought a small Christmas tree to set up here in the cottage. It's up. It's only just 30.5 inches tall, but it's up. Only thing is, I forgot to bring one of my Christmas mugs. I looked for a one at a local Dollar General store, but they had none.


HIKING ICON
Went for a hike at Boone Hollow Wildlife Preserve. It actually turned out to be a little bit of a bust, not because of the preserve, itself, but just because of the nature of the preserve and the time of year. The bland sameness of the snow-covered terrain with no unique site to come upon, such as a waterfall as an example, even a frozen one, did not lend to a compelling hike. After I was about thirty or forty minutes in, having come across nothing enticing, I retraced my path back to my car. There are few other places close by to hike. I am likely to make more attempts.


My Music
Song number ? in progress
After getting back from the hike, or maybe before I left for it, (I can't recall), I pulled out and set up the Legato piano, the Epiphone Embassy Pro and Epiphone Viola basses, and the Giannini acoustic bass.

Last night, after a lo-o-o-o-ong nap, I sat at the piano and started fiddling around. I have come up with the beginnings of a new song, this one going quite the jazz route. I'm actually composing music that is a challenge for me to play on the keyboard. If I am less than as proficient on the bass as I would like to be, I am an absolute novice on the keyboard, as I believe I have related before.

It's good that I compose beyond my musicianship; but it can get frustrating and seduce me toward depression at times. Coming up with stuff that is difficult for me to execute can be a little maddening at first. Of course, at some point I will be able to play it, and will thus have gotten better. But the impatience for that can get tasking.

I started working on this new one, maybe about 7:00 last night. Then I fixed dinner, watched some TV on the cottage's satellite system and promptly fell asleep, again. A little before midnight last night I returned to the song. I worked until about 2:30 this morning. I got up about 1:30 today. To be honest, I'm hoping I can still get to bed before midnight, or not much later, so I have a lot of wide-awake time tomorrow during the daylight.

Shortly here today I'm going to program a GarageBand drummer to further work on this new one. I am thinking I'm going to go outside the comfort zone of a standard 4/4 or 3/4. I may start with 12/8 and see if that works for me. I also have some concepts for lyrics, already started. Whether any will fit this one remains to be seen. Also, today I've been listening to Steely Dan to get me into the proper groove. Not that I want this new song to reside on the Steely Dan property, but, I do want it in the same neighborhood.


I'm going to be stingy about posting pics from Winter Vacation 2020 in these little on-going posts. I'm going to save most of the photos for the recounting, and its photo album, those which will probably take a few weeks to get up -- right?

But here are a few pics:

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The "Cozy Little Red Cottage."
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MY Christmas tree!!
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The Winter Vacation 2020 instrument set up.



Christmas Day 2020

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Merry Christmas from K.L. to You!!
Not only do I wish those of us from the Christian tradition a Merry Christmas, also to my Jewish friends, Happy Hanukkah, and to my African American Friends, Happy Kwanzaa, also, to those who observe it, Happy Winter Solstice, and then Happy what-ever-else to whomever else.

Be well and stay safe. Go into 2021, gangbusters!!



Mon, Dec 28, 2020

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BACK FROM THE "COZY LITTLE RED COTTAGE":
WINTER VACATION 2020

Cabin Vacation
Got home early yesterday afternoon from Winter Vacation 2020. The plan is to later do a more detailed accounting of the week, especially the "things artistic" aspect of the week (i.E.: music stuff). For now, here's some brief notes and a few photos.

My Music
K.L. on Keys
Song number ? in progress
Ampersand - &
Song number ? in progress

My first musical work during the week was on the Legato III piano. I've started two songs on the piano with the workshop titles "Winter Vacation Ballad" and "Cozy Cottage Jazz." There are a few lyrics sitting around that might work with either of these. I have not pulled them out yet to see if any will fit, but, who knows.


My Music
K.L. on Bass
Song number 7 in progress
Ampersand - &
Song number ? in progress

I also programed the drums for "Chilled October Morning" into GarageBand. So now I have the chord progression structured for the whole song. It will come in at about 4:20, depending on the atrophy of the dying last chord. I rehearsed it a few times on the Giannini acoustic bass. I didn't record anything, mostly because I would have had to mic the bass and the cottage just had too much ambient noise for a clean recording -- though I suppose I could have just done a demo. I did demo it in an iPhone DV movie, which I am not sure what I'm going to do with.

I started a third new song, chorded on the Embassy Pro with the distortion pedal, the capo on the seventh fret. This one has the workshop title, "Winter Vacation Rocker." I started running some ideas for a bone fide bass line on the Viola bass, but I've noticed that the Viola's intonations is seriously off. I was not able to keep the axe in tune. It's the weather change. I'm going to need to spend some serious time adjusting it. Again, no set lyrics for this new one, either -- at least yet.


HIKING ICON
Well, I only got to hike twice during the vacation because of the weather. But I did get to hike. The first hike was at Boone Hollow Wildlife Preserve on Monday. The second was at Canal Lands Park on Wednesday. There was a bit more snow at Boone Hollow than in the surrounding area, which sort of made it a bit of a bust, mostly because of the nature of the land. Wednesday at Canal Lands the temperature was up. I left my winter coat in the car.


CHRISTMAS 2020
Weather icon
It was a white Christmas with something like three inches of snow on the ground Christmas morning. The snow began Thursday afternoon, not long before I headed to Bob Evans to pick up my Christmas Eve dinner: turkey dinner with two orders of mashed potatoes, with apple pie ala mode. During dinner I observed one of my annual Christmas traditions -- a watching of Love Actually. On Christmas day I cooked dinner: grilled chicken (spiced with garlic powder, onion powder, white pepper snd black pepper), a baked potato, and steamed veggies, with cherry pie ala mode. My traditional Christmas viewing of Scrooged was the dinner entertainment.


Fire Pit icon
So, I brought a trunk-full of firewood, which I purchased specifically for this trip, and I was able to use it all in two separate fire pits. The first was on an unseasonably warm night on Tuesday. The second was a snow-covered, 15° night, the night after Christmas. It took a little while to get the second fire going. There was ice in the bottom of the fire pit, plus the wood was pretty cold, coming from the trunk of my car. It took a bit of newpapers and lighter fluid, but eventually a good fire pit burned for my last night of my Winter Vacation 2020.

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Working on one of the new piano songs.
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Working on "Chilled October Morning."
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Is it breakfast if it's at 2 p.m.?
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At Bone Hollow Wildlife Preserve.
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At Canal Lands Park.
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First fire pit of the vacation.
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Christmas Eve dinner with Love Actually.
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A white Christmas out the cottage window.
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Christmas dinner with Scrooged.
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Working on "Winter Vacation Rocker" on the Embassy.
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Working on "Winter Vacation Rocker" on the Viola.
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The fire pit in the snow.



FIVE YEARS PAST MY HEART ATTACK!:
My Cardiac Update icon
HEALTHWISE ICON

Five years ago yesterday, I woke up to terrible cramps in my back, which I tried unsuccessfully to stretch out. When they began pulsating, then radiating to my shoulders then my left arm, it became clear I needed to call 911. Because I was having a heart attack. Five years ago today, I went under the amazing skilled scalpel of Dr. Surender R. Neravetla who performed quadruple bypass heart surgery on me.

This current year has, in many ways, sucked. But I've been here to make that assessment!




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