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February 23, 2007

Inspired by one of Maht's entries in his blog ( here ), I've decided to try setting a music goal similar to his writing goal.

I think I normally have at least a couple of songs knocking around in the creative part of my head at any one time. I work in a bit of a "panning for gold' process. I figure that if I keep playing them and working on them, the ones that are just mud will wash away, and the more substantial ones will turn out to have staying power. I record the idea first on a little mini-recorder that has fairly low quality. It's intentional. I'm not working on production skills, but on songwriting skills. I still like to sometimes sit down a piece together a cool sounding recording that doesn't necessarily stand on its own when un-pieced, but this is a different pursuit. If there's a song idea in there, it will not be lost in the low quality. Also, it keeps me from getting attached to a nicer recording of the song, resulting in the possible directions the song can go in being limited.

I haven't quite figured out a tangible goal yet, but I'm working on it. Something to get the wheels turning more easily in my musical head. On the one hand, to keep the mechanics running well, so that when a couple of chords or lyrics rub together and create a spark, I can pull it together and keep it going.

Maybe an exercise where for a week a write and quickly record a song each day. Then a week to see if any of them are worth building on. Then another week of songs that all have to be about some new person I saw or met during the day. My mom is a painter, and she used to be a part of this painting group that did watercolor one week, oil the next, a landscape, self-portrait, etc. At least every week or two she ended up doing some type of painting that she was a beginner at. Something like that, maybe. We'll see.


February 17, 2007

It was cold. 5 or 10 degrees Fahrenheit. And the wind was blowing hard. I huddled near the small shelter at the bus stop, waiting for the next bus to come. After ten minutes or so, one came. It was crowded, and I looked down the street for a possible second bus. People never seem willing to wait for a second bus making them rarely as crowded as the first ones. There was another one at a light a block down, but it had it's lighted sign turned off. It also looked empty. It might be on its way back to the garage. Maybe not. I decided I'd rather stand in a warm, crowded bus than take a chance I might have to stand there for another 30 minutes. I got on and paid my fare.

I worked my way past the usual clump of people that always seem to gather in the front of buses and made my way to the back. Someone got up to leave, and I took their seat. Next to me, as far as I could tell, was a 20-something guy carefully rubbing a little piece of paper on specific parts of a coat that was lying across his lap. At some point, he spoke to his friend across the aisle in a language that sounded a little like Russian, but rougher and different. The friend, in turn, carefully pulled something out of his coat pocket, using the backpack in his lap to keep anyone from seeing what he was doing, and after a few moments of secretly working beneath the backpack, handed what looked like a few small pieces of paper to his friend. The friend next to me took the pieces of paper and continued rubbing them against spots on his coat.

There was an odd, familiar smell that I couldn't quite make out. After a few minutes I figured out what it was - rubbing alcohol. The friend next to me was trying to clean something off of the coat. I couldn't tell what it was specifically, but it looked like grease or oil spots. I thought for a moment that I could smell the combination of oil and rubbing alcohol. I looked at the two of them for a few moments. Their clothing and shoes were well worn. There were no holes, and the coats were thick, but they didn't quite look like they were headed home. They were just warming up.

My neighbor said something again to his friend across the aisle, who turned, rustled a bit uncomfortably, then returned to looking forward. The friend across the aisle was wearing those old, black plastic glasses that were popular 30 or 40 years ago. They were taped up with black tape so extensively that they looked like they were actually made of tape. I wondered for a moment just what could have broken them so many times that so much tape would be needed to hold them together. And the lenses were thick. Really thick.

At this point, on the other side of me, as if some light switch had been flipped to the 'on' position, a girl started talking to a boy near her. She asked him if this was his 'first shoot'. She then went on to talk about a movie, or perhaps it was more than one, that she was a part of. She went on and on. After a little more talk, it became clear that she was involved in the building of sets at various filming locations. Her voice eventually disappeared into the background noise, partly because her voice just droned on, and partly because I know that these types of 'artsy' jobs are often a lot more fun to talk about and brag about than to actually do.

My neighbor on the other side spoke to his friend again. The friend turned a little, rustled a bit again, looked out the window for a few moments as if looking for a street sign, then went back to how he was before. It was a little unclear whether he might have nodded to him, or maybe he just implied some kind of agreement. Not sure. I looked over at my neighbor cleaning his coat. He paused for a moment, looking at all the oil spots that were across the coat, and seemed to almost give a snort of exasperation. Then he went back to cleaning. And the movie girl continued to talk about the different locations they'd filmed in.

The bus came to a stop at the Blue line stop. I figured that I'd walk the rest of the way home. As I crossed the street, I looked back and saw the two friends, one tossing the oily coat down on the sidewalk next to the trash can. I wondered where they were going to sleep tonight.