There Is No Try (Not!)

Today I’m thankful that I can take as many random academic courses as I wish.

I’ve been reading a book with what is probably one of my favorite titles (be warned, it is slightly rude).  The basic premise is that you won’t be good, or even mediocre, at everything you try, and that’s all right.  The point is to discover what you care enough about to become responsible for.  Each person has a limited amount of energy (or time, or concern, or anything) to give (referencing the book’s title) and sharing that resource according to your virtues is the way to live an examined life.  The short version is you need to pick your battles.  I admit that the concept is facile, but I appreciate that it’s grounded in practice rather than theory.  I will always prefer spending a day with an engineer to an artist.

In my life there are number of things I say I care about, but I’m not experienced enough at most of them to gauge the accuracy of my claims.  It’s more that I feel I should care about them, regardless of whether I actually do.  I’ve decided to put the book’s thesis into practice, because I only have so many fracks to give.  One of the perquisites of my work is reduced tuition and fees at a local university.  I’ve enquired about taking courses in several subjects.  The worst case is that I don’t enjoy the topic while still gaining knowledge.  I realise I should have figured out these issues long ago, but I’m thankful to have even a delayed opportunity.

Unrelated, but I sing and Aretha Franklin was the singer, and I’m very sad that she is gone.

This video is not mine.  I claim no rights.  All rights belong to the copyright holders.

No Room Here

This post will be unabashedly maudlin.  I apologise in advance.

The situation at work is challenging.  I love what I do, and I’ve genuinely enjoyed where I work.  Now I feel as if I’m on tenterhooks, wondering whether my boss’s boss’s boss really won’t meet my eye or if it’s simple paranoia.  Not everything is negative.  I’m pursuing several leads in the same city where my family is and I’m hopeful.  I’m looking at the situation as a chance to be proactive, and “git gone” before they have the chance to do it for me.  As an individual I’ve never dealt well with change.  Adaptability to change is the root of survival so I guess it’s forcing me to evolve, even if reluctantly so.

Here’s the maudlin.  I’ve taken my working motto from the chorus of this song as it’s succinct and unmistakable:  Fear, you will never be welcome here.

I do not own this song or video.  All rights to the copyright holders.

Raising My Voice Anew

Today I’m grateful for voice/singing lessons.

I had a voice teacher for several months about five years ago.  The lessons ended because she moved about 10 hours away.  I’m a singer.  I always have been.  I’m not a great technical musician – my sight reading skills are negligible and I know very little theory.  I’m a tolerable instinctual musician, if such a thing exists.  I’ve developed an excellent ear out of necessity so that I don’t fall behind, and I can harmonize almost instantly.  I’ve been a harmony part since my voice changed and I have more fun moving around the melody than I ever did singing a piece straight.

I restarted voice lessons two months ago.  It took a couple of sessions to get our footing.  I wasn’t sure specifically what I wanted and the teacher needed to suss out my abilities.  Parts of my range are rusty.  That’s slightly frustrating, but I’m elated to be learning something again.  I truly enjoy singing in the church choir, but I needed to sing for myself as well.  Now I am.

A Lot Can Happen In A Month

It’s been an uneventful week and I wasn’t entirely sure what topic would make for a good post.  Maybe this time I should celebrate the mundane.

The church I where I sing is undergoing extensive renovations.  The building will be magnificent when complete, but for the moment we’re celebrating the services in the parish hall.  The parish is known for its excellent music.  Singing there is the only real reason I’ve got for attending.  The sanctuary has pristine acoustics.  The parish hall can be euphemistically described as “comfy.”  There are no hard surfaces and any sound is swallowed.  Construction is delayed a bit and now we’re not likely to be back in the sanctuary until after Easter.

Our director has used this as an opportunity to be creative, selecting anthems that sound lovely sung with a piano or a cappella.  The organ isn’t an option so he doesn’t lament.  I admit that I’d be prone to griping in similar circumstances.  I’m not the director, I don’t have to worry about the music, and I’m fine with both things.  Credit it to my Lenten maturity.  Ha!

Smiles From Glasgow

Today I’m thankful for Scottish synth-pop.

I am always hunting for new music.  My taste is eclectic and I’ll happily listen to most things once.  YouTube suggested a Chvrches video based on what I’d previously viewed.  I’ve tended to either highly enjoy or immediately need to skip their songs.  There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground.

They have a clean sound.  I prefer that to distortion, except in some punk and sludge metal.  Their production is crisp and the layering is precise.  I appreciate the intricate beats, and the fact that each song is a complete item.  They don’t meander to some strange musical future.  This particular track has helped get me through a long work week.  I was amused by the writer’s description of it as a “middle finger mic-drop.”  That probably says more about how I handle stress than I actually care to admit.  Listen and enjoy, I hope.

All rights belong to the artists.  I do not own this video.

Pot De What?

Today I’m thankful for fancy French desserts.

After choir rehearsal most weeks a group goes to a local French restaurant.  I can’t often go as I wake ludicrously early for work, and I just get home too late if I go with them.  This week I was finally able to join them.  The restaurant has an extensive selection of alcohol so most of my fellow singers ask for lager or wine.  I don’t consume alcohol but I don’t want to sit and appear bored.  I’ve learned that desserts are a workable option.  They’re small, relatively inexpensive and can be nursed for as long it takes the rest of our party to finish their wine.

This week the option was chocolate pot de crème.  It was wonderful.  The custardy bit (I’m not fluent in culinary French so am probably not using the correct terms) was dense and just a little bitter to balance out the cream.  It was deliciously rich so the small portion was more than enough.  I enjoyed making my mouth happy while spending time with people I like.  It was a pleasant evening.

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Source

Metal-er Than Thou

Today I’m thankful for the Angry Metal Guy.

I’ve mentioned being a bit of a metal head.  I lean more toward older stuff (RIP, Ronnie D.).  I’m a power/prog metal weenie and like some doom and math metal.  The NWOTHM is absolutely my thing.  I prefer clean vocals.  I’m not a fan of black metal.  I’m not offended by the antireligious aspect.  It’s mostly that the world is already so screwy that I don’t need to be any more nihilistic.  I enjoy learning about emerging artists and ludicrously specific subgenres (technical death slam, really?).  I’ve listened to this nonstop for the past several days.

The site manages to be informative and occasionally hysterically funny – see the comments on any Jorn Lande post.  This beauty is a good example.  Sourced via the Angry Metal Guy.  I do not own the video or song, and material on the Angry Metal Guy website is protected by copyright.

I think Monster Magnet may be my new favorite band name.

 

Sassy Sings

Today I’m thankful for Sarah Vaughan.

I don’t remember how I first heard Sarah Vaughan sing.  I was transfixed.  Her voice is like silk.  On occasion she would forget the lyrics, or be in disagreement with her band, and she never let it get to her.  Recordings that include such incidents showcase her fairly wry sense of humor.

She started with Chick Webb’s band.  Her broad range and warm voice are what made her stand out from her peers.  She performed almost continually for almost 40 years.

I have no rights to the song or video.

 

Whoosh!

Today I’m thankful for gongs.

They have a fascinating history and appear in cultures around the world.  Mostly I like them because they produce such a great clashing sound.  I’ve always been more partial to brass and percussion instruments.  It’s reflected in some of the pet names my family gives me (like “Lights and Noise).  Gongs are both percussion and metallic so they’re the best combination of both.  My mother made me laugh uproariously when she gifted me a tiny version for my desk.  It produces more of a “tink” than a full size one but it still makes me smile.

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Groovin’

Today I’m thankful for dancing.

Growing up I was fortunate to be able to try many different sports.  I was bad at most of them.  My parents encouraged to find one I enjoyed.  They hoped skill might follow with enthusiasm.  It didn’t.

I am very reserved in public situations.  I’ve gotten quieter with age.  With that reserve came a reluctance to do any sort of “dancing” where others could see, as I was likely to not be very good at it, and I would feel self conscious.  It wasn’t until I was cast in a musical several years ago, in a part that required a great deal of dancing, that I finally stopping giving heed to what others thought.  I learned the routines and performed for the sheer joy of the movement.  I will never be a born dancer, but I didn’t stand out as incompetent.  I was satisfied.