Friday, November 27, 2015

Band Review: Buffy Sainte-Marie

My introduction to Buffy Sainte-Marie came through Sesame Street, like it did for a lot of people in my generation.

My primary memory is of a fascination with the mouth bow that she played, and it is only one of many instruments that she plays, but it was one that I had never seen before, or since really. (I believe my love for the steel drum comes from Sesame Street too.)

Listening to her again after all these years, the first thing that struck me was the unique timbre of Buffy's voice. It was familiar, but something I had forgotten. Then, as I continued to listen, it was the overwhelming variety of the music.

Many of the songs have a folk music/protest song feeling, and that makes sense for someone who has always been an activist. There are also songs that sound country, and songs that sound rock, and an amazing amount of variety. Some songs seem to reference the Middle Ages. The variety should make sense given the longevity of her career, but the variety was already there at a time when the career had been much shorter.

I have to go back to Sesame Street, because that's where I started. I looked up some old clips, and there were some of regular performances, which is more what I remember, but there are also clips of her with her son Cody, and of Buffy turning bath time and swimming into songs. Even the most basic activities can be set to music that incorporates the activity, because the music is so much a part of her.

Everything else comes from having the music be so strongly a part of her that it flows through everything around her, or from her recognizing the music around her so well that it goes inside.

That's what I will remember now.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Band Review: Eion Willoughby

I often do something a little offbeat on Thanksgiving because I am concerned that with the holiday not many people will read it, and that seems unfair to the artist.

This year it was a relief, because I really hated this music, and I feel bad posting about it.

I do admit that listening to Soundcloud instead of watching the videos was a lot less annoying. That is not a reflection on Willoughby's appearance, because many of the videos don't even focus on him that much. The issue was more the apparent carelessness in the making and the utter lack of craft, giving the impression that everyone involved was so sure that they were wonderful that there was no need for effort.

Merely having it playing in the background did not have as bad an effect, though I did have the volume a bit lower than usual.

The songs done with Kendra are a little less annoying, so collaboration can have a positive effect, but I just don't care anymore. I will still post one of the videos as a song of the day next month, because this review did happen. He did follow me on Twitter. But then it's over.

Mainly it feels like a reminder that electronica has similar accessibility to hip hop, where a lot of people can do it, and so many people who aren't really that good at it still produce a lot of material.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

So wrong

Not that long ago a politician was sounding absolutely ridiculous in his efforts to not admit to actually being wrong, as opposed to having merely misspoken or been fooled with a trick question, or anything other than legitimately having said something stupid and terrible.

(Doesn't really narrow it down much, does it?)

I remember thinking how important it is to be able to admit being wrong. It allows so much stupidity to be avoided, and that's not just by eliminating the absurd attempts at saving face. When you own mistakes you are able to learn from them better. You become less careless about future mistakes because you remember having to correct.

I was never a big liar before, but it was having to confess a lie that really set me against it. It just wasn't worth it.

(Though learning that you don't have to tell someone something that is none of their business can also make honesty easier.)

Anyway, I was thinking that maybe I should set an example and have a blog post admitting something I was wrong about, but I couldn't come up with anything good. Many things where I have been wrong or stupid about things have already been blogged about extensively.

Some things that I still have trouble with relate to a lack of patience with annoying people. It is possible to write really interesting and humorous things about how some people test my patience, but that seems more likely to get mean-spirited than make a good case. And I can just say sometimes I have really mean thoughts about people - in fact, I just did - but I don't think it helps anything.

However, I have been thinking about poverty issues a lot, along with my own financial issues. Some of the experiences that I have affect a lot of people, and maybe there are things to say. There are some taboos on talking about money openly, and also, I get really defensive about it. I certainly have made some financial mistakes. In that way it could accomplish similar purposes.

I had been thinking about writing about that this week, but it seemed like a bad lead-in to Thanksgiving. So, I believe I will be doing that next week.

If something else comes up, that may not work out, but still, be willing to admit when you are wrong. It takes a heavy weight off. Yes, try to understand things and make good choices so that you are not wrong all the time, but when it happens, embrace it.

Even if you're a politician? ESPECIALLY if you're a politician.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The stuff that is not writing

An amazing and horrible thing happened today.

Yesterday I wrote that I had submitted a new version of the Family Blood screenplay. While I had updated some information, one of my goals for today was to look at other submitted projects and see what I can do better with my own descriptions and information.

That may still be a good idea, but the urgency has been deflated a bit because the screenplay has already been rejected.

I'm not going to lie; my first reaction was to just sob for a few minutes. I really thought I had a shot, and that this particular shot would be my last chance of finishing the year in a fiscally sound place. In that way it was a big blow, and it coming within 24 hours felt really harsh.

However, once the sobs died down, I have to admit that's the first time I have gotten any response other than a notification that the 40-day review period has expired, indicating that this submission has at least been taken more seriously. I don't know if they automatically take a deeper look at second versions, or if it was because I added the image, or because I mentioned it being tied to a book series but then they saw that it is not a heavy-selling book series. It's just one more step, I guess.

Amazon has been helpful and frustrating lately. I added reviews to all five of my books on Goodreads. I followed the prompt to add a review to Cara on Amazon, and it allowed me to fill in some parts then rejected it because I might be biased.

However, when I was looking at adding excerpts on Goodreads, I see that previews are available via Amazon, which can be helpful. I still think adding a few paragraphs to the page itself that don't require any clicking or windows opening is a good idea, and will be getting those added tonight.

I guess there's always next year.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Apologies to G T Denny

Some time ago I was mystified by a television commercial for a book that appeared to be self-published.

In addition, I noticed that the author seemed to have posted four out of the five reviews that were there at the time, one of them being remarkably incoherent for an author.

I suppose I was a little judgmental, but now I have to back off, because tonight I am going to be posting reviews on Goodreads and Amazon for all five of my books. (Still no plans for a TV commercial.)

I will only post one review each, as myself, and I will specify that I am the author. I may even write that this feels weird because I am the author, though if I put that in each review it will get a little repetitive. It does feel weird. It just also feels necessary.

I would see the prompt to post a review on both sites frequently, but it didn't feel right. Writing a book is not the same as reading it, though you do get very familiar with the content.

I do like them. I feel they are good, but then if I give a good review is it arrogant?

Also, I hardly ever give five stars, I don't think I should give myself five stars, but then does that look like I don't have confidence in my work? Because four stars from me is pretty good. I think four stars is about right.

(It's just that they are fiction, and not trying to be anything other than a good story, so that's not "It was amazing"; that's "I really liked it".)

It's also weird to put a date on when I read them, though I am going with the publication date for the books published this year, and when I was looking over the proofs for the books I published last year. This will at least up my book count for the year, which is nice.

Or maybe I should just put the publication date for all of them so it doesn't look like I read the sequel before the original. I wrote them in the order they happened, to the extent that they did happen.

I'll try and get excerpts up for each book too, but that may not happen tonight.

What I can tell you happened today is that now that there is a Family Blood novel trilogy, I revised the Family Blood screenplay and reloaded it:

I write better now than I did in 2013. (I should. I've been doing it a lot.)

So now it's like the movie is based on the book, but the book was based on the movie first. See. It's all weird!

And please, please, please, if you have read any of my books, please post reviews for them. It makes a difference. Thank you!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Band Review: Frank Waln

Frank Waln is a Hip Hop artist from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.

Waln has a degree in Audio Arts and Acoustics, and I suspect that greater understanding of sound has been helpful to him in creating the powerful and memorable tracks. "AbOriginal", "Born on the Rez", and "2 Live & Die on the Plains" work especially well, making an impression while playing and then lingering in the memory.

I will say that on the Soundcloud page there is a lot more experimentation with distortion and screeches, and I don't like that as much. The officially released songs have been chosen and polished.

Often when I am reviewing Hip Hop I feel I need to give a caveat that Hip Hop isn't my favorite, because other people will probably like it more than I do. Then there are other groups that make me think maybe I do like Hip Hop.

Frank Waln is one of the latter, and the youngest I have come across in that group.

These are worth checking out. Music can be purchased on Bandcamp, iTunes, and Amazon.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Band Review: The Tiger Club

I liked The Tiger Club quite a bit.

It was started by Baxter Robertson, a professional musician who nonetheless wasn't getting chances to play live. Getting together with other musicians who rotate in and out, Robertson was able to solve that issue. They play around Los Angeles and San Francisco, with several upcoming dates in San Jose.

Their 2014 release, Mephisto Island, has a light jazzy sound that makes moving your body irresistible. That seems like it could be a great show in an actual club.

Instead the web site indicates that the live show consists of a lot more covers, going among various genres.

That it interesting, because as interesting and dynamic they make it sound, there are no video of live performances on the Youtube channel. Instead that has five collage art videos that include one cover ("Purple Snowflakes") and one illustration video, none of which really do justice to the music.

So I do think the band could definitely do things to be more effective. If all of the members are professionals with busy careers, then there may not be time to develop and promote the fun side project, but it feels like some lost potential there.

Regardless, I do recommend listing to Mephisto Island, which is a lot of fun.