Wednesday, November 24, 2010

O Christmas Tree

Okay, I think I have made a point before of stating how much it frustrates me that Christmas is horning in on other holidays....Thanksgiving in particular.
Seriously, having all-Christmas music stations popping up on my radio before we're even halfway through November is just annoying. How do I know they are out there? Because one of my co-workers had tuned in on one of these stations and I was subjected to an all-day Holly-Jolly music fest. She also admitted that she had completely decorated her house, had her tree out (with a few presents already tucked underneath). The exterior of her home is already covered in lights which she actually turns on at night!

I couldn't resist (well, I CHOSE not to resist) and told her of my theory that Christmas needs to stop being such a holiday hog. She then chose to ignore me and sing carols even louder.

Well she was entitled to her opinion, but I couldn't help feeling a bit Scrooge-ish as I stopped by the grocery store on my way home from work only to be accosted by a Salvation Army bell ringer! A BELL RINGER!!!! BEFORE THANKSGIVING!!!! I just shook my head in dismay and walked past, muttering under my breath about the nerve of some holidays.

I grabbed a shopping cart and slowly made my way past the storefront displays only to be brought up short. Sitting on a table, clad in green, was a little guy destined to catch my eye.
He was small, sweet, and completely cramped in the tiny pot they had packaged him in. How could I not take such a sweet little tree home with me? I tucked his little green form into my cart, promising a better pot when I got him home. Never mind that he came with a tacky styrofoam penguin and a spray of styrofoam "snowballs" to simulate decorations...or the red plaid bow tied to his crown.

I happily paid for my new darling and brought him home....and then it hit me....

I had just broken my own self-imposed rules. No matter how quickly I pulled off that penguin, snowballs and ribbon (which I actually have yet to do), I brought home a Christmas Thanksgiving feast had just barely been pulled from the freezer to thaw and there is a living evergreen tree in my home. No matter that its only about a foot tall....or that its being re-potted and going to be considered a houseplant until he gets too big for such nonsense.

Sorry Thanksgiving....I never meant to stomp all over you so thoughtlessly....

I hope in time you will forgive me......

.....I am such a hypocrite!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Price

What price can be put on art?

Apparently 150K

There is a local filmmaker (well, local for me....he lives just a few miles away, not that I know him personally or anything) who is interested in making a short film. A short film of a short story by Neil Gaiman called "The Price" (for those who haven't read it, trust me, its worth heading to your library and spending a few minutes reading) and Christopher Salmon's video looks great. I really would like to see this project finished... apparently there are over 1000 of us who agree (and have pledged already) including Neil himself!

Here is a look at the project:
(by the way that is Neil reading the story, and thats an artistic styling of Neil in the animatic)

So what's this Kickstarter thing I linked to? Good question!

Kickstarter is an online forum where you can see what artistic projects are requesting funding and you can pledge money to the project of your choice. There are a lot of good projects out there lacking funding, including this one. There is, however, a catch. Funds pledged are not collected until the end of the funding campaign, and that is only if the full donation requested has been realized. If the artist does not receive enough pledges then he receives nothing (and your funds remain safely in your bank account). You are not giving anyone your account information as pledges can be paid via your Amazon account (how cool is that?)

So where do you come in? Well, we have 8 days left to fund this project and still have $78,218 to go. Just go to Kickstarter if you would like to make a donation...or if you would just like to look around at all of the artistic projects out there....or if you would like to try getting funding for a project of your own.

Want to know even more? Kitty at the neverwhere blog (very cool blog if you are a NG fan) has done an interview with Christopher, and Neil has posted about it here on his blog.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Truly Effective Advertising

Okay, this is not a game I would probably ever play, but the commercial is just about the best marketing scheme I've ever seen. The tagline at the end says it all......

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Tomorrow promises to be an interesting day.

Many of you haven't heard that I have been called to be a pianist in the Relief Society (our church women's group).

I haven't played piano for over a decade, and stunk even then. Seriously, I never mastered reading sheet music, and have no idea what a lot of those swoops and swirls written on the page even mean....and after 3 years of lessons, its fairly obvious that music is not one of the talents that was handed to me on my way to Earth. If I desperately needed to play something, and had enough time, I could write down the name of each note, and then play one fingered tunes, as playing more than one note at a time was definitely beyond my ability.

Now, I have been fine with my lack of musicality; I have been given other talents that I enjoy and I do not feel like I am lacking in any way for not being able to rip through a Beethoven sonata on a moment's notice. Until now.....

Well, lets be honest, I was called to be a Primary pianist about 20 years ago and that was much, much worse. Because the children were allowed sometimes to pick what songs they wanted to sing, and, with my being unprepared, they often were stuck singing A Capella. Playing in the Relief Society wouldn't be so bad, as I will know a week in advance what songs we will be playing and they aren't expecting brilliance.

So tonight I went over to the church building, downloaded sheet music in hand that has the notes scribbled all over them. I practiced, and then practiced some more (we are singing 2 songs tomorrow) but I still am a bit worried. Its my first Sunday playing, but I was having a hard enough time today playing the right notes, without having to worry about following our music conductor's lead. If I try singing along, forget it, I lose my place entirely. I found out today what works is mentally singing the notes "A, B, A flat, D" as I was playing them....

Who knows, given a few weeks or months, maybe I can get to where I can play more than one finger--maybe all the upper hand notes at the same time? Perhaps, if I continue a bit longer than that I can even someday figure out the bottom hand, or is that just wishing for too much?

Regardless, I will stay the course and play as best as I can......

I'm still nervous about tomorrow's first "performance" though.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Year of the Cat by Al Stewart

One of the most beautiful songs ever. Seriously, I would be thrilled to pieces if I could play this piece on the piano. I love the imagery, the music....the way this song takes me back to being a child in the 70's (yes I am old). There is something so wonderful about a song that actually spins out a story to you, rather than the bubblegum catchy hooks but empty phrases of so much of today's music. Stewart had several other hits including "Song on the Radio" and "Time Passages".

On a morning from a Bogart movie
In a country where they turn back time
You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre
Contemplating a crime

She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running
Like a watercolor in the rain
Don't bother asking for explanations
She'll just tell you that she came

In the year of the cat

She doesn't give you time for questions
As she locks up your arm in hers
And you follow till your sense of which direction
Completely disappears

By the blue tiled walls near the market stalls
There's a hidden door she leads you to
These days, she says, "I feel my life
Just like a river running through"

The year of the cat

Why she looks at you so coolly?
And her eyes shine like the moon in the sea
She comes in incense and patchouli
So you take her, to find what's waiting inside

The year of the cat

Well morning comes and you're still with her
And the bus and the tourists are gone
And you've thrown away your choice and lost your ticket
So you have to stay on

But the drumbeat strains of the night remain
In the rhythm of the new-born day
You know sometime you're bound to leave her
But for now you're going to stay

In the year of the cat
Year of the cat

This isn't the same as the Death Cab song I shared earlier (which not only told a story, but felt like poetry), however, it does kick my imagination into high gear. Bonus points if you recognized that this song was inspired by the movie "Casablanca".

"Play it again, Sam".