Thursday, September 27, 2007

"Suck It, Jesus"

So on September 8th, Kathy Griffin accepted an Emmy Award with the words, "Suck it, Jesus. This award is my God, now." (Newsweek Oct. 1, 2007) And that event has caused believers, free speech supporters and atheists alike to respond to each other's responses. At www.suckitjesus.com you can sign a petition in support of Griffin's right to free speech. But it doesn't seem like very much is really going on at this website, except a lot of crosstalk.

I appreciate Griffin's expression as well as her sentiment. I, too, say, "Suck it, Jesus," although I see the contradiction of being an atheist who's talking to the god she doesn't believe exists. Really it's just my expression of disgust for all religion. Religion causes just as much pain, violence and damage as it does good works and loving acts and I'm better off without it. The balance just doesn't tilt in the direction of religion, or any kind of spiritual practice, ultimately being a good thing for me. That's what I believe.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Scary Movies?

I believe it's never too early to start preparing for holidays, even Halloween. So, as I get ready, I wonder: what scary movies would anyone recommend this Halloween season? I'm asking about genuinely frightening movies that make it hard for you to go to bed later, not slasher stuff with just a bunch of people getting killed or just a bunch of torture. Since I'm not interested in movies that focus on people being physically tortured or killed, I think that rules out films like Saw and Tourist (or whatever it was called). I want to know what movies made you afraid to be alone, or afraid to go into your dark apartment or afraid to turn out the lights. I guess I'm going for movies that are more like The Ring, which was a re-made Japanese film. The Ring scared the hell out of me. I didn't sleep well for a month.

A friend sent me this. This is on the right track:

"J-Horror" is a term used to refer to Japanese contributions to horror fiction in popular culture. J-horror tends to focus on psychological horror and tension building (anticipation), particularly involving ghosts and poltergeists, while many contain themes of folk religion such as: possession, exorcism, shamanism, precognition, and yōkai.

Anybody?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Why Have Children?

I attended a wedding last June and today I received word of the bride's pregnancy. I stared at a jpeg of the ultrasound in shock. I was surprised at how soon she got pregnant, but I also just felt baffled at the universal, almost without exception, desire of people to have kids. Why do they? At the age of 41, I've had numerous friends, family and acquaintances who've had children and I've had conversations with them about their experiences. From what I hear, being a parent can be a thankless job. Doesn't having babies sap energy, destroy all sleep and maim the social and sex lives? Isn't parenthood expensive and draining and endless? Don't children take over your life and strain your marriage? Don't many parents look back, realize how completely they had no idea what having kids would be like, and feel some regret, at least over the timing? Why do people have children?

Or maybe what I should be baffled by is my failure to comply with one of the strongest instincts we have: the instinct to procreate. When almost the entire population of the planet willingly participates in yielding offspring, how have I managed to resist? Why do I find the desire to have children so incomprehensible?

I just don't get it. I mean, I guess I sort of understand people who inadvertantly end up having a baby. A mistake is a mistake. And I sort of understand, although much less, people who become parents just because that's what everyone else expects of them. But why do people actually make a conscious choice to have kids when life is so much easier without them?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Process

I guess there are more steps than I anticipated: I counted making the recording of these songs as one step, when really there are also the steps of listening to the mix, evaluating it, deciding what songs (or parts of songs) to re-do, rehearsing more, going back to the studio to re-record and repeating this process until I'm satisfied with the recordings. THEN I can turn my attention to copyrighting, updating my music website and working as many hours as possible to save up for the next round of recording.

Next week I'll go back into the studio and "touch up" five of the eight songs I did last week. They will be done by the end of the month as I'd planned, I just didn't know it would be so close to the end of the month. And then I can stop rehearsing these songs! That will be GREAT.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

How it went

I warmed up my voice at home and ran through each of the songs before I left for Handwritten Recordings on Monday afternoon. The recording session went very well (eight songs in two hours, Tom L). I still felt nervous, but I was able to avoid the "Don't blow it NOW!" thoughts while I was singing, which is an accomplishment for me. I was pleased with the takes we got, but also aware that I'm not Celine Dion or Selena. So I think it went well considering how little recording experience I have. Of course, I imagine that when I hear the takes again, I'll hate many of them, but then I'll just record the vocal tracks over again, which I can do at any time and as many times as I want as long as I have the money.

The most challenging song to get through was one I wrote in 2005, a couple of months before I started dating Bob. It's called "Hold This" and it describes the fantasy physical encounter I was longing for at that time. In order to sing it, I needed to summon that kind of energy and it took me a couple of takes to get it. I finally sang the whole thing with my eyes closed half the time, imagining being with Bob, oh yeah, really imagining him, oh I'm there, not here. And it finally worked! That's the take I'm using. I'd never had to do that before (and doubt I will again).

But it was a priority song because TAXI.com has a listing for a music library I want to submit to. A music library is basically a bunch of songs someone puts together (paying the songwriters for their contributions) and then makes available to people who are looking for songs. The music director of a weekly show might need a song that sounds just like Diana Ross and the Supremes, but they can't afford to pay those licensing fees, so they find a music library of songs that sound just like girl groups of the 60's. From that library they choose the song they want and that songwriter/artist/band gets lucky.

There's a listing for a music library of songs about sex (but no profanity, etc.) and the deadline is TODAY. So I and Handwritten Recordings are scrambling to get "Hold This" ready to submit this afternoon. This is only possible because I submit online. If I mailed my submissions in on CD, as many musicians do, I'd have already missed the deadline. I'm also submitting one other song I've written that's about sex, but that's more of an introspective explanation of how I've done relationships in the past. "Song for Valentine's Day" is about sex, but not in the same way as "Hold This."

Yes, this is me becoming a songwriting musician who earns her living with tv/film placements and selling her songs to be recorded by other artists. If anyone else finds this information useful, great.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

recording fright

Tomorrow I record the vocal tracks to eight of my original songs. I've been practicing these eight songs for six weeks now. I'm sick of them. I can sing them just fine, if I stay relaxed. Relaxing is what I do worst in the world. So the vocals are pretty much doomed. At least Neal's guitar will sound good.

Friday, September 07, 2007

We're gonna do it! (from the Laverne and Shirley song)

Yesterday Neal Alger and I recorded the bass and guitar tracks to eight of my original songs at Handwritten Recordings studio in two and a half hours. A couple of songs we did in one take. I understand this is startlingly uncommon and efficient of us, but Neal and I have been playing most of these songs for several years, so it wasn't surprising to me. We're also not perfectionists who keep saying, "Let me just do that one more time." If we liked the take, we called that song "done" and moved on.

On Monday I'll go back and record the vocal tracks to those songs, probably in just a couple of hours. My voice is what it is and I'm not going to waste time trying to sound like Kelly Clarkson or Bonnie Raitt. I'm trying to sell the songs, not get some A&R executive to go, "What a great voice! I want to take this singer to the next level!" Over the next several months I'll work on getting my voice more in shape and I can always re-record them later (when I sound more like Bonnie Raitt or Kelly Clarkson).

When these songs are done, I will have completed the first phase of my plan to earn money by selling my songs and/or getting tv and film placement deals. The next step (that I left out of my last post) is to get my music website back up so it's promoting me properly. In the meantime, I have already been submitting songs to TAXI.com and will keep doing so.

And for those interested, yes, I will make these recordings available to the public as soon as I get them legally copyrighted. It's time to stop giving this stuff away for free.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I hear music

Current goals:

1. Record the instrumental tracks to eight original songs this week with Neal Alger, my favorite guitarist to work with.

2. Record the vocal tracks to those songs (at Handwritten Recordings) next week.

3. Keep submitting songs to TAXI.com with the goal of selling my songs for TV/film placement or to be recorded by other artists (or other uses that earn me money).

4. Spend October, November and December focusing on waiting tables and earning as much as possible towards more recording and more submissions.

5. Cut back on waitressing shifts in January to write/rehearse/record more songs.

6. Repeat through -- oh, maybe 2009 -- at which point I'll evaluate if I want to keep doing it.

Focusing on music again, especially earning money with it, feels like the best thing I've done in a long time, occupation-wise. This is right.