Tag Archives: music

New Piano, Day 10

Day 10 with the new piano, and I’m still working on Beethoven’s Für Elise.  Here’s today’s practice video:

After I recorded this, the Siren pointed out a place about 2/3 of the way through where I was hitting D-natural instead of D-sharp, and explained that when a note is sharp at the beginning of a measure, it’s sharp all the way through unless there’s a “natural” symbol at some point. Who knew? I’ll get that right the next time.

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New Piano! Day 2.

It’s been a busy few weeks at the Unfocused Family compound, with a new taekwondo instructor, a trip to the emergency room, travel, surprises, and all kinds of chaos. I don’t have time to discuss any of it right now, but I will soon. Right now, I’m really excited about our new (to us) piano, a rebuilt 1971 Mason & Hamlin upright that was delivered yesterday.  I took piano lessons from age 8 through 10, so it’s been 30 years since I played anything more complicated than the first few notes of the Star Wars theme.  My mother said at the time that if I quit I’d regret it when I was older, and she was right, although my lessons were really, really dull.  My piano teacher was kind of a young hipster, but you wouldn’t know it from the way he taught.

For now, I’m just screwing around with it.  I’ve ordered some fake books off of Amazon, and I found a simplified version of Beethoven’s Für Elise on pianonanny.com, which I’ve started practicing.  I’d like to get good enough to play it on Halloween as creepy incidental music, so I’m going to practice it every day for a month.  Here’s a recording from my Flip video recorder of me playing it — slowly, badly — tonight. It’s a little long because I play so slowly, but I’ll keep at it and post more recordings as I get better, sort of like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

Fall Sunday Stats (on Monday!) #4: John McCain, You’re No TR

Before I get into the usual Sunday Stats, I’d like to say, Happy 150th Birthday, Theodore Roosevelt! I’ve been a fan of TR’s for years, and I’d like to say to John McCain that I’ve read a lot about Theodore Roosevelt,

and I feel qualified to say, Senator McCain, you’re no Theodore Roosevelt.  And if you don’t believe me, ask him yourself.

In other news, Mrs. Unfocused has made an herculean effort and gotten all of the kids’ baby and toddler clothes out of the study (and out of the house), and rearranged the furniture remaining so that the study is a place I can work at home, and write, without piles of stuff teetering over my head.  That would have been enough for me to feel like it’s Christmas in October, but on top of all that, she found me the perfect desk chair on Craigslist at a ridiculously cheap price:

Sure, it’s used and a little scratched, but some failed start-up’s loss is my tuchus’s gain, which is about the only good thing anyone can say about the economy these days.  I’m still listening to Planet Money every day; I keep waiting for Adam Davidson or Laura Conoway to annouce the very special “Everything’s Okay!” episode, but instead, we have today’s topic, on how things are even worse in poorer countries.  This does not help my mental state.

Miles run today: 10.16 miles in 1:21:54, an average pace of 8:04 minutes/mile, which is great.  It was a beautiful fall day, and my various joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles, which have been very aware of the implacable approach of my fortieth birthday, were relatively uncomplaining.  I beat the Mrs. and kids home, which is always a bonus because I don’t have to feel guilty about holding up the day while I stretch.  And I need a lot more stretching than I used to have to do.

What was I listening to on my iPod during my run: Pheddipidations # 158 (“Running the Bay State Marathon”) and Escapepod # 178 (“Unlikely”).  Escapepod, if you’re unfamiliar with it, is a free science fiction podcast, which audio-publishes new and previously published short stories.  In episode 178, the host, Steve Eley, introduced me to the music of Jonathan Coulton.  After listening to a few songs on Coulton’s website, I bought one of his albums (Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow), which I would classify as geek rock (Cory Doctorow used a line from one of the songs as the title of a recent short story, and if that isn’t geek cred, I don’t know what is).  Coulton’s a heck of a songwriter, and he makes plenty of his music available for free on his website so you know what you’re buying.

Words written last week: 2,493 words of a new short story.  I’m maybe 2/3 done with the first draft, and when that one’s done, I’ve got one more teed up in the Idea folder before I go back to Meet the Larssons, refreshed and ready to rewrite.

In another news, TTB was rejected for the fifth time this week.  The rejection was short but personal and somewhat encouraging, which was a nice change, but still a rejection.  At this point, I think I’m going to leave it alone for a few months, then take another look at it with an eye to revise it to make it, y’know, better; if I could cut it down to under ten thousand words, that would open up additional markets as well.  In any event, I’m going to let it age for a while, and hope that it’s more like wine than an overripe cheese.

Final political note: I took Unfocused Girl and Junior out for a walk the other night to look at the Halloween decorations on the next block.  As we got to the corner of our block, Junior looked at the house there and asked his older sister, “Is that where John McCain lives?”

Because, you see, I had told him that John McCain reminded me of the cranky old man who lived on the corner of my block when I was a boy.  Last week, Junior had gotten confused and thought that McCain himself had lived on my block.  Now he’s taken that one step further, and decided McCain lives on the corner of his block.

There goes the neighborhood.

Sitting in the author chair after a long absence

Between 11:30pm on Wednesday night and this evening, the draft of Meet the Larssons grew by precisely zero words. I had day job obligations, and my mother came out for a long-awaited visit over the weekend, and then I had more work to do and packing for a business trip. This evening, though, I’m stuck in a hotel room in the middle of nowhere. I had dinner with a colleague, then I puttered around in the room for a while, but finally I couldn’t avoid it any more and sat down in front of my office (Windows, bleah) laptop, opened up the file containing Chapter 10 which I exported from Scrivener before I left, and started typing.

I typed a paragraph.

God, hotel rooms make me nuts. They’re so confining. There’s nowhere to pace. I can never sleep in hotel rooms. Apparently, I can’t concentrate worth a damn, either.

I needed music. My iPod is running low on juice, and I have no good music on my office computer, so I clicked on one of Yahoo! Music’s free Internet radio stations.

I checked my email. I got up to use the bathroom. I typed another paragraph. I went down to the lobby, got change, and bought a Diet Pepsi from the vending machine. I hate Diet Pepsi. I went back to my room.

I decided that I hated the music on the Internet radio station. I opened up iTunes. No good music.

I went to the iTunes store and bought an album I once listened to on permanent replay 18 hours a day for 10 days straight in my room while studying for Winter Quarter law school exams my second year, scaring the hell out of my roommates, so much so that they had a talk with Mrs. Unfocused (then known as the Unfocused Fiancee), which has to be a violation of the Code of Guys. She didn’t say anything until exams were over, for which I was profoundly grateful, but it was clear that I would be watched for signs of imminent psychotic breakdown until I got rid of the CD. Since I had actually borrowed it from a friend, I simply returned it after exams, and haven’t listened to it since.

Without a moment’s hesitation, I started playing the album. I felt less restless. I typed another three pages. Much better. I may have appeared a little deranged that exam period, but I was very, very productive.

All told, this evening I packed in another 1,037 words. For a few minutes there, though, I was a little concerned that coming back to the book after a few days off was going to be a problem. Apparently, a little familiar music — linked to a period when I sat in a small room for hours on end without leaving my chair — was all I needed.

If you’re in room 411 or room 415 and you can hear my music, though, I apologize. I’ll try to write without it tomorrow.