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-Bearded Creative Pioneer of the World of Tomorrow-

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Goals for this week

So, this week I'm setting a lot of goals for myself. We'll see how many I complete. But outlining them out may help get more done than if I didn't.

The first is not the hardest goal, but still, it deserves to be mentioned. For tomorrow, I will try not to quit UPS with the undoubtedly ridiculous amount of work that will happen in a short amount of time. I've tried quitting before, but somehow got talked into staying, and it seems my statements were heard, for the most part. But I still need to set that goal, don't quit until I have another job AND know that it won't suck AND is stable. Lesson learned.

The second goal is to go to my pseudo-interview tomorrow and give it the old "college try." I don't want to disclose too much information, as it may lead to nothing, but just know that it is in a field I'm not totally excited, but holds potential. Either way, a new friend is giving me a bit of a chance.We shall see.

Goal the third. I need to go to the Sauk County job center to register so I can apply for additional deferment on my student loans. That first deferment period expired last Monday and the first payment would be due at the end of December. No thank you.

An absolutely necessary goal is to finish ALL of Kristen's Christmas tunes, including the changing of existing projects and tailoring them to her needs. Not the hardest, but it really does need to be done.

Finally, my two personal goals for the week, and all subsequent weeks. I WILL write something every day. I WILL find some prompts if nothing strikes me a write-worthy, and I WILL write a complete piece.
I WILL read every day. I WILL finish "Fear and Loathing..." by the end of this upcoming weekend. I WILL think about what I read and learn from it. I WILL also keep tabs on the Baraboo News Republic, finding something to write about for them.

All of these goals are doable, but it takes some determination to finish everything and do it right. I'm working on getting the word "try" out of my personal vocabulary (even though I use it in my first and second goals, but one thing at a time). I know it's kind of cliche, but on those last two goals, it does make a difference using the word "WILL" in place of "try." I never thought it would, but Lo' and behold. This will be a successful week.

Moving on...

The long weekend has been very relaxing, for the most part. Aside from some mediating and hearing some not so great opinions about me, it was nice. I also got my butt in gear and finished making all Kristen's Christmas program material, or at least the stuff that I had to do from scratch. Now all I have to do is make good mixes, get the correct tempo, and rearrange 2 of them for different numbers of verses/choruses, but it is all MIDI, so it should be no problem. I realized today as well, if I were an actual professional, I could charge around $500.00 for all the work I've done for Kristen. Not that I mind, but it does throw it in to perspective, that this is something I could get paid for, which is fun to think about.

Other than that, I've been reading a lot more lately. I finally have gotten around to reading "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." I've had the book less than a year, but I hate having seen the movie without reading it, especially for such a "cult" book like this. What a dumb term. I hate when things are proclaimed as cult classics, like Rocky Horror and the like. It's a term that tries to make those special followers feel more unique or something. Lame.

Whilst compiling my Christmas list for this year, I found some really cool books that I want. One is the newest by one of my favorite authors, Chuck Klosterman. I really love his books, they inspire me, and they are such quick reads. Truly fantastic, and I can't wait to read his newest. Another is from an author who seems similar in writing style to Klosterman, Steve Almond. I've read some excerpts online and it seems to keep in line with the informal, funny, witty style that I really enjoy. I actually just remembered another book I saw come out when I was still at Barnes and Noble from another great author, A.J. Jacobs. He wrote the "Year of Living Biblically ( as Literally as Possible.) I plan on rereading that one soon as well. But he just came out with another book called "The Guinea Pig Diaries (My life as an experiment.) Looks good. He wrote "The Know-It-All" first, a book about reading the encyclopedias from cover to cover, which I also wish to read.

The other two I really want are a pair of books called "The Daily Reader" and
'The Daily Writer." They're supposed to be tools to help a writer, and write, everyday. And lately, I have been trying to write daily, but I'm only successful about 1/3 of the time. I've been trying to write under the same idea as I compose, that I need to finish everything before moving on, even if it sucks. That way the bad ideas are out and you can only get better. Also, completing a story/article leaves me with a sense of accomplishment. I think these books will be a good way to keep me motivated. If not, it's not the end of the world, but even in failure, I learn.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Response to Prompt- Fun Shtuff (and true)

So here's a prompt I recently responded to on Writer's Digest, good stuff.

PROMPT: Your boat rocks back and forth, and you peer over the edge, catching a glimpse of something you thought was gone forever.

Below is my response-

And the people all said “Sit down,” cause this boat is rocking, baby. Even to the eye of a child, you can tell I am not a seasoned sailor. I stumble…and bumble, and nearly plummet into the ridiculously calm water and BAM. I see it. My wolverine action figure from when I was eight lays waiting. That was one of the biggest mistakes of my young life. The item of my once ultimate fixation had retractable claws…RETRACTABLE!!! This was back in the day, before action figures could move every joint imaginable.

I remember that day so clearly. Playing in the waters of Lake Michigan, I was tossing my beloved figure as high as it could go, catching it just as it would fall to the water. But one toss didn’t go according to plan. Uncontrollable giggling caused me to falter. However, all hope was not lost. Concentrating to the fullest of my eight year old abilities, I located Weapon X with my feet. Being of the husky build, I was far from spry. All attempts failed miserably. I even tried hopping towards the shore with my prized possession betwixt my feet. And of course, I failed miserably.

Time ran out and I was forced to go home. My parents noticed I wasn’t playing with my week-old favorite toy. Not wanting to disappoint, after I fought so hard for them to buy me my toy, I lied. I described to them exactly what I did, except that I didn’t do it, Carlo did. Long story short, his family ended up moving to Thailand and nobody knows the truth.

Oh Wolverine action figure, we hardly knew ye.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Post 30

Why why why, what have we here, post number 30.

So, UPS didn't turn out to be what I was hoping for. Not a huge surprise at this point. Disappointment after disappointment, but I'm trying to give the learning curve a shot. It is, after all, a steady job. We'll see after this week I imagine. Let's pray this works out. But if it doesn't, I was able to state my case to a few more local friends of the older variety. The more people that know about my current state of being, the more people can help me.

I have also decided that writing is my true calling. There is no more variation or question. I strongly feel that I should be writing for a living, or at least a small part of my living where I can still call myself a working writer.

After I decide on what I'm going to do about UPS, I believe I'll be able to concentrate more fully on my writing. Currently, I'm reading and researching before I set out on another writing front, documenting all ideas. I also received word from an actual writer at the local newspaper that freelancing is the best bet I have at getting A) published and B) real experience.

Here's to a good and productive week of Thanksgiving. Been a hard six months, but let's hope there's more to be thankful for soon, not to say I'm not thankful for what has been going right, just the work aspect of life.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Far from Failure

Tomorrow I start my third job in my four months of living in Baraboo. Fourth since graduation. However, there are extenuating circumstances for each of these jobs and the departures that follow. First, I took a job at The Exclusive Company in Janesville because I needed a job whilst living in Whitewater before relocation. Then I moved to Baraboo, no more Exclusive Company. Barnes and Noble was an act of desperation after almost three weeks with no income and job after leaving Whitewater. Truth be told, I was really hoping that Barnes and Noble would be a place where I could stay and start a pseudo-career, or at least a decent job while I pursue my real interests. For the wages that I was being paid and the minimal hours I was receiving, the commute was not worth it and I was barely breaking even (if I even was, not totally sure.) For the purposes of this declaration, the terrible work atmosphere has nothing to do with my departure. Next on the docket, I accepted a job at Lands' End in Reedsburg (15 minutes away, rather than 45) for much more pay. The real zinger here is that it was only a seasonal position with no guarantee of employment after December. Essentially, I had no choice but to keep on the job search, regardless of how I probably could have stayed on, or my feelings toward the work I was doing. So last week I interviewed for another seasonal position at UPS. During said interview, I was offered a permanent position instead. Obviously, I took the job. I need steady income, steady hours, and UPS is literally five minutes away from my apartment.

So, what have we learned through the last six months? That I have advanced my position in the work world with each job I have taken. Since graduation, I have had minimal hours at every place of employment, pay increases at every job, and now have steady, permanent hours and employment. Can't argue with that. I definitely don't see these past months as job hopping either. The circumstances surrounding college graduates and the relocation after graduation create an atmosphere of uncertainty. As long as I keep advancing myself, I have no qualms with how I am going about things.

Enough about that for now. In the rest of my spare time I have been working on accompaniments for Kristen's Christmas programs. Most of them are standard Christmas tunes of the secular variety, Jingle Bells and the like. I'm about half done with them and have had very little resistance whilst recording/arranging. The only things that are holding me back are my lack of piano skills and my lack of a decent microphone. Because of these limitations, I am recording everything with MIDI. This way I can play things at slower speeds and then speed them up or slow them down as needed. It would be rather handy to be able to make a good acoustic guitar recording as the base of these pieces though. I find it much harder to fill out the sound without the guitar or a real piano part. Basically I am plunking out chords and dressing it up with counter melodies, percussion, and some other background sounds. It is amazing how much a little synth can go a long way in these small productions, bring it to life and give people something else to listen for, if they wish. That's another that's nice. They bring some extra spice without being overbearing. The counter melodies/descants really allow me to bring something individual to these standard arrangements. It's a challenge, but it is well within my grasp and only requires deep concentration and time. In other words, this is something that I am greatly enjoying.

There we have it, I am still advancing myself in any way possible. I am, as we say in the business, far from failure.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Musicland is Still Exciting....WEEEE!!!!

Yesterday, I listened to Julian Casablancas' first solo effort, Phrazes for the Young. During the listening process, a giddiness that can be likened to that of a school girl came over me. The album clocked in at about forty minutes or so, but due to the average 5 minute song length, it came out even. From the start the album has a great sound and energy. Of course it still sounds like the Strokes got injected with a heavy dose of Moog and synth, but it somehow it stands alone. The production is pretty great and Casablancas' vocals are great to hear in a new context, especially because we haven't heard it since 2006. It was very exciting. This album is a fantastic new sound that shows artistic maturity.

With the recent release and success of the new Muse album, and the semi-recent release of Franz Ferdinand's Tonight, I still have great faith in the music business. Bands are still making great albums and advancing along. They also aren't fitting the "mold." The mentality seems to be more of "I'm going to do what I want, and don't care if you like it." And in the case of Chris Cornell, nobody liked it. From listening to 94.1 in and out of Madison for a few weeks, I got very put out with the current state of rock. Everything sounded the same, ultra-compressed, and not the least bit exciting, even the new Alice in Chains. But luckily, Muse and Julian have restored my love of new music.

Truth be told, the one musician that has been a real dud is Jack White. The man dips his hand into anything he smells. I was totally cool and excited with the Raconteurs/White Stripes deal, but the new James Bond theme with Alicia Keys, his own record label (Third Man Records) and the Dead Weather hit. James Bond theme= terrible, Third Man Records=whatever, Dead Weather=lack luster. The man is now some sort of musical genius and mogul. He needs to focus on something. When was the last time the White Stripes did anything, aside from a DVD released after being recorded years ago. White is a musician and should stick to doing just that...but not in every band he comes near. The material written in the Raconteurs is great, but they have no momentum because White keeps leaving for other shit. It's annoying.

Still, everyone else seems to be advancing, and that makes me happy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cough Cough Cough, HACK

Been a bit since my last post, but it's been pretty crazy lately, somehow. Last week I went and presented the "alternative" string family to 4th graders at Kristen's school. It was a lot of fun and I actually felt like I did something with my time. It also made me learn banjo and get a little better at mandolin and dulcimer. The dulcimer is the cat's pajamas. I wrote a tune on it which is very beautiful (one of Kristen's favorites) but there isn't much else I can do it on it so far. I should probably check out some online instructional videos.

Training is over for Lands' End and I can't say that the real thing is the greatest. Don't get me wrong, it is far from terrible, but it's not as fulfilling as it was before. It's much more repetitive and menial now. It feels like I'm a rat now, just doing dirty work for the larger power, and it doesn't do much for me, unfortunately. It all comes down to same thing as before, except now I don't work with terrible people. I honestly think that if I'm not doing something I love and have a passion for, I'd get more out of manual labor. I still need to finish up the educational assistant application, and that could be a nice compromise, but we'll see.

Anyways, I've been trying to compose handbell music lately, but to no avail. It is much harder than I thought, but I'll keep going. Came up with a good tune the other day, but I didn't come up with lyrics. Soon Kristen will have holiday tunes to keep me occupied, so I'll be busy soon enough.

Oh yeah, I'm sick too. Cough cough cough, hack.