Continuing to strike a balance

Vacation time has weird, magical properties. It begins slowly, passing like standard time. Suddenly, before you know it, the week’s over and it’s time to go back to work. I realize, of course, I’m getting ahead of myself. Tomorrow’s Thursday, which means I have three more days of this week. Possibly one next week, but I can’t remember my own schedule (This is somewhat embarrassing, I should note, as I make the schedule. Womp womp.) at the moment. I’ll be heading back to good ol’ Altoona in the morning, which means I’ll be getting to cleaning and unpacking and whatnot. Alternatively, I still have plenty of time to squeeze in a little more rest and relaxation.

Tonight’s title is a bit inaccurate, as I’m only gradually migrating back towards striking a balance in terms of how much fiction writing, blogging, and reading I do in a week. I’ve done more reading and writing this week than previous weeks, which isn’t saying much since my fiction writing has been lagging. So has my reading. Shit happens, really. The important part is that I’m making progress, so instead of belaboring the point I’m going to enjoy a bit more work on my novel-in-progress later, but not before enjoying the company of my mom and stepdad.

Meanwhile, enjoy this lovely song from Steven Universe:

Another artistic nobody’s thoughts on Tidal

Greetings from dreary Carnegie, Pennsylvania! I’m all sorts of excited for a chance to visit home, harass former coworkers, and get some down-time to relax with family and friends. It also gives me time to actually sit down, slow down, and catch up on things I’ve wanted to post about, like this newfangled thing called Tidal. I am admittedly not impressed with this business of “Tidal for All”, as it’s based in the mentality that people who enjoy high quality music also have the funds necessary to shell out $20 a month to enjoy said music. I’ll get back to that point.

I am by no means a subject matter expert on the topic of music sales and the best ways to enjoy your favorite tunes (although, to be fair, I have to suggest there is no proper or best way to enjoy music so long as there is enjoyment involved). My primary means of enjoying music are my 160GB iPod, my laptop (which features Beats by Dre speakers, a feature I wouldn’t have deliberately gotten as I think Beats are yet another overpriced novelty), and CDs played within the confines of my 2011 Toyota Corolla. None of these things are particularly complex sound systems, yet I find my music to be as enjoyable as ever. I would dare say that most human ears wouldn’t detect the differences in music quality unless there are serious issues, such as an artist constantly popping their p’s or something. Unlikely.

More to the point: most people don’t have dedicated time to sit down and listen to the finest quality of music. Music is, instead, the background anthem of long drives, housecleaning, winding down after a long day, and so on. It isn’t a matter of Joe Everyman and Jane Everywoman (I’m so sorry, that reads like such shlocky writing) and the set time they have every day to direct this premium ear-cocaine into their brains for the latest fix. The iTunes gift card my mother has sitting on the computer desk next to me only enforces my points. People buy music to enjoy it while doing other things, not to fixate and pick apart its every little detail. That’s not to say there aren’t audiophiles who won’t obsess over every tiny detail. They are, comparatively speaking, few and far between compared to the largely Tidal-alienated consumer.

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Happy Throat-Punch Day

Disclaimer: I have, in the past, been guilty of indulging in one or two April Fool’s Day pranks. My mother can confirm that I once called her, convincing her I’d dropped out of college and would need picked up from my apartment as I was being evicted for no longer being a student. My memory’s a little hazy, but I’m pretty confident the phrase “you’re an asshole” was involved in her response in some way or another. Deservedly so, I should add.

If you felt so inclined to prank someone today, I hope it was in good fun and nothing too harmful (preferably not harmful at all, really).

I promised myself I’d write more of a post, but I spent my morning cleaning and my evening at work, and 7a.m. will be here far too soon.

Given this laziness, I feel a preview is in order: I plan on writing about my thoughts on Tidal, adding to the thousands of other voices on this topic because why not?

PS: I’m actually a velociraptor who learned how to type words in a way that comes across as a convincing portrayal of a youngish writer who enjoys scotch. Hurr hurr hurr; April Fool’s. I’m actually just a jackass.

Artistic what-ifs

It’s really easy to ask someone what they do for a living, and the typical response to such inquiries usually revolves around their job. Sometimes, and I emphasize sometimes, the response will have to do with something a person is passionate about (IE: I consider my writing how I make my living, while my day job is the way I afford said living). As I’ve said a million times before, and will continue saying forever: there’s a certain magic when a person talks about what really makes them tick; the thing they’re most passionate about doing in the whole of all creation.

However, I would argue that everyone also has at least one other passion, but one they’ve never gotten to pursue (or, perhaps, one they’ve not gotten to pursue to the extent they’d have liked). It may be something they talk about openly, with a sense of longing, or something that is quietly yearned for in those moments before sleep. I’ve talked about wanting to act before, so I figured I could offer a little more insight into myself. And, of course, I’d love to hear what you folks all wish you could get around to learning, doing, and so on.

If possible, and I realize there’s the small matter that everything is possible with the right amount of time, money, and patience (and other things, but that money one is what really kills me), I’d love to learn how to play the cello. I’d be very happy to really sit down and learn any instrument, really, which is one regret I have from not staying with my piano lessons. There’s something about cello music, though. I’m having a hell of a time really describing the feelings cello music cause me, so instead I’ll just share this:

I think the first time I heard that was on House, M.D., and I was hooked. There’s something inherently soothing, I think, to cello music, and so learning to play it would be like a nice, musical form of meditation. That all said, cellos are really goddamn expensive and, quite frankly, I have a hard enough time finding…well, time to accomplish all of the things I need to in a day without adding learning an instrument into the mix. Or perhaps those are just excuses.

What kind of other adventures do you folks dream of embarking on? Are they things you really can’t achieve, or are you, too, just making excuses?

Music Mondays – Nightwish

It certainly has been another Monday, in the sense that it was the start of a new work week and full of all sorts of god-awful stress! Boo. Hiss. However, that’s all the more reason to sit back, curl up under some covers perhaps, and listen to some good music. It is indeed time again for Music Mondays! As the title might have indicated, tonight’s post is about Nightwish.

This is one of those situations where I don’t remember exactly who got me listening to an artist, but I know that it was immediate love of the music. There’s an overwhelming air of theatricality present in every song, making it feel less like listening to one track or another than it is like listening to a story. A story with amazing musical accompaniment that makes for great listening on, say, extended road trips when Red Bull isn’t an option. Continue reading

Music Monday – The All About Halsey Edition

I completely forgot what day it was, which made me all sorts of stressed out about tonight’s post. Mostly because I feel totally uninspired after a day filled with meetings and conference calls and so on. Partially because it’s Monday, which means The Bachelor is gracing my television. Oh dear god.

Right.

Let me preface this by saying I’m glad I didn’t set specific rules and parameters upon which Music Monday artist selections would be judged (or excluded).

Thanks to the magic of the internet, iTunes, and recommendations from complete strangers who apparently know my taste in music better than I do, I bought Halsey’s five-song EP, Room 93, on iTunes. The previews proved to be a compelling argument in favor of this purchase, and I have to say it was well worth what little money it cost. It was $4-something. I’m drawing a blank, but I’m not sorry.

Room 93 consists of “Is There Somewhere”, “Ghost”, “Hurricane”, “Empty Gold”, and “Trouble (Stripped)”. Catchy lyrics with fantastic vocals pervade all five songs, leaving me want so much more. I mean five or more albums, at least. To give a better frame of reference as I can’t quite describe things well tonight (this is not a proud moment), Halsey has a similar sound to The Sounds’ Weekend as well as…well, a fair bit of Metric’s music, actually.

I am willing to say, without exaggeration or hyperbole, that Halsey’s music is some of the best stuff you can feed into your ear-holes right now. As in right now. Honestly, it’s five songs for a little over $4. All five songs bring something fantastic to the table; each one has its own unique character.

As someone who really has no business writing serious music reviews, I admit that I just really love how Halsey’s music sounds. It’s fantastic stuff. One EP and I’m already willing to say it’s on-par with the likes of Metric (gasp, shock, and so on).

Four out of five arbitrary ratings whatchamacallits, if only because I want more music before I’m willing to change my rating to a five.

Music Mondays: The Cast In Bronze Edition

Today was the quintessential shitty Monday. Everything that could have gone wrong…well, the rest is pretty obvious, I think. That’s why I picked a musician for today I’m extremely fond of, that I haven’t listened to nearly enough of in recent months.

Cast In Bronze is all about the musician’s instrument of choice: the carillon. I had never heard of Cast In Bronze, nor did I have any idea of what a carillon was, until I met one of the only people on this planet who might be as evil as me. For those of you not sprinting to Google, a carillon is an instrument made up of twenty-three bells connected to a large keyboard of sorts that is operated by the hands and feet. They are typically built into structures, as they are understandably both massive and quite heavy (an understatement, as I believe these instruments often weight upwards of one ton).

Cast In Bronze is the world’s only traveling carillon. You read that right. It’s a several-ton instrument that goes on tour. I actually had the distinct pleasure of seeing Cast In Bronze perform at a Renaissance festival, and I loved every second of it. Hearing the music in person–actually feeling every note fill the air around me–was probably one of the most fantastic experiences of my adult life. No hyperbole or irony there, folks.

Before I dive into what I love about the music of Cast In Bronze, it’s worth noting that the actual musician is pretty amazing. Frank Della Penna acts as the spirit of the bells, wearing a mask and making the performance all about the carillon and the beautiful music made possible by this instrument. Without his dream, however, this wouldn’t be a reality, and so spirit of the bells or not Frank Della Penna has done something amazing.

Onto the actual music. Cast In Bronze has music with accompaniment from other instruments as well as tracks that are just the bells (hardly a “just” there, as those are some of the best tracks). CD-wise, I would recommend Bells Only and Spirit of the Bells as an introduction to the carillon’s music. “Leaving St Amand” may be one of my favorite tracks of all. It has a certain frenzied energy to it that makes for excellent driving music. “Drunken Sailor” is a delight (another carillon-only track), and I imagine it would be great fun to enjoy with a round or two of drinks. Naturally, I couldn’t talk about music that predominantly features bells without mentioning how Cast In Bronze’s take on “Carol of the Bells” is really beautiful stuff.

I would go so far as to say my words aren’t sufficient to convey how amazing Cast In Bronze’s music is, and so I’ve managed to find “Leaving St Amand”, a song that has inspired some of the best fight scenes I’ve ever written (and some I’ve only mapped out), on YouTube.

If you enjoyed that, I’d strongly recommend heading over to the Cast In Bronze store and picking up a CD or two. 

To risk sounding overly fanboy-ish, I refuse to assign an arbitrary rating to Cast In Bronze’s music. I am not worthy (I’m only joking a little there).