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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cynicism on a Saturday morning

I was doing my usual pointless clicking around on the internet after I woke up, waiting for my eyes to blink away all the make-up remover I used before collapsing into bed last night. One of the links I clicked was this: WWII: Women in the Fight.

This will probably sound horrible, but as I started going through the gallery, I wondered if they were going to show any women from Axis countries. And just as I suspected, they didn't. Because it would be weird to show German/Italian/Japanese women helping out in the war effort, since they lost.

I guess I feel sorry for those women, who were doing exactly the same things for their countries, but who will probably never be recognized in an unambiguously positive way. When we do hear about women in the Axis war effort, it's usually awful contexts like comfort women for the Japanese military. (Of course, Allied troops would never use rape in a war effort, right? We don't really need to discuss it.)

Then I wondered whether they would mention all the prostitutes who served troops on the front on both sides. Nope.

Aaaand now I'm depressed. Bottom line: war is hell. Yay for all these smiling women using the opportunity to break out of traditional gender roles, but spare a thought for the end result.

Monday, November 08, 2010

The problem with composing

If I'm blogging November, the busiest month of my life (I sincerely hope it doesn't get any busier than this, because I'm not getting any younger), I'm probably going to be whining a lot, so apologies in advance. To compensate, I'm going to try to find at least one good(ish) thing to say about every situation, as in my election post.

I often suffer from that crippling self-doubt which I understand is almost universal amongst creative artists. I assume it's the root of writers' block. The force that stands in opposition to my self-doubt is pressure, but the interplay between the two is a delicate balancing act governed by some kind of chaotic equation I have yet to solve.

Self-doubt, a giant obese and belching monster of a thing, sits on one end of a see-saw. As pressure builds (deadlines loom, performers ask for music, professors look disapprovingly at my output, I look disapprovingly at my output), it adds weight to the other side of the see-saw. The see saw needs to be at a slight angle, with the pressure outweighing the self-doubt just so, for me to compose successfully. If the pressure builds too high, however, the see-saw suddenly tips in that direction (the fulcrum is a bit faulty) and the flabby self-doubt is catapulted off its perch and lands on my head, crushing me with its FUPA.

Unfortunately, lately this relationship has operated in such a way that I feel the perfect amount of pressure to write something immediately before I'm scheduled to have a composition lesson. Then, of course, as soon as I get started, I have to stop in order to attend said lesson.

This is a really stupid way of doing business, Brain. I see you defeating yourself, and I'd like it to stop, please.

The silver lining is that I think I like the thing I'm writing this particular morning-before-lesson.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

My schedule is hell

My schedule is hell. That is all. This could have been a tweet.

Everything is so complicated that I want to stab myself in the face.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Silver linings

So, the election. Depressing result, right? The gloomy rain today was a decent reflection of my feelings toward my fellow Americans.

In 2004, Matt and I were given the infamous Green Card interview the day after the election in which George W. Bush was elected for a second term. Driving from Harrisburg to the INS office in Philadelphia while listening to the post-election analysis on NPR, I felt an intense and bitter disappointment, and it was hard to muster up much enthusiasm when the humorless G-Man from the Department of Homeland Security grilled us on our relationship so that I could live permanently in a country that had just voted to continue in a direction which left me, an alien spouse, feeling utterly alienated.

The 2008 election, despite all the misogyny, was a little better. I do remember predicting, however, when Obama won the primary, that he would be a less successful candidate than Hillary precisely because his campaign was less moderate - he would promise too much and not be able to deliver it, angering the base, or deliver on too many promises too quickly and anger opponents. It seems in some ways he's managed to do both. I wonder if the drubbing the Democratic party took on Tuesday would have been as bad if Hillary had been president - and I say this as someone whose political views are much further to the left than Obama's, but who believes in pragmatic change over change (or the appearance of change) which causes a backlash.

But, anyway, a depressing election. I can find two upsides, though one is selfish and the other hardly qualifies:
  1. I haven't written nearly as much music (especially good music) since Obama won. This may be a coincidental correlation -- orrrr maybe I compose better music when Republicans win elections because I have something awful to rail against and a motivation to create art that has something to say. I don't think I would be alone if I fell into that boat.

  2. America has a pathological fear of socialism, engendered by corporate interests which have been systematically and methodically working to demonize it since at least the 1950's because socialism is bad for their bottom line (and better for everyone else's). The only period in the last century when America has embraced many socialist ideas was during and immediately after the Great Depression. So maybe we need an economic disaster to remind us what life was like for the average Joe during the Industrial Revolution before we stop being idiots about policies which improve the quality of life in other first world nations.

    I'm just sorry I have to live through it.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Welcome to November

This past week was perhaps one of the busiest of my life. I say this as someone who has battled a lifelong pathological addiction to busy and knows what busy is: the variety and breadth of activities in the past few days has taken the cake.

The Krang costume which I blogged about last time turned out to be the most viral thing I've done since Epstein-Barr in 1999. I'm over 173,155 views (and counting) on YouTube and around 100,000 views on Flickr. It's been featured on a bunch of other sites, including: If you want more information on how exactly I made the costume, check out the Gawker link, where I posted my process.

As someone whose career is dependent upon people noticing the things that I do, it was thrilling to the point of mania to watch all the attention this costume garnered over the past few days, and realizing with some amused chagrin that this fun little thing which I put together over four nights received something in the order of 10 times as much attention in a few days than the Gonzales Cantata, even though the latter took months - nay, years - of conception, gestation, and rearing, and was plugged by Rachel Maddow. I guess that reinforces my conviction that TV is close to becoming dead tech. And I think it will probably pay to keep in touch with my geek roots in my art.

Speaking of hundreds of thousands of people, on Saturday I attended the Rally for Fear and/or Sanity in Washington DC. There's so much press about it that I don't feel like I have to say too much, except to point you to some pictures that Matt took while we were there. Also, I hope you voted today. And if you voted for Pat Toomey, I hope you'll be prepared for my delicious schadenfreude when he is eventually caught with his gay lover, because my gaydar goes completely nuts every time i see his picture or hear him speak, and this instinct is only confirmed when I see his gay rights voting record.

The downside to all this excitement is that I define myself as a student and a composer, and this past week I feel I have done very little studying or composing, which makes me feel very stressed and anxious. WHO AM I!?

Incidentally, for the rest of the month, I am participating in the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences "The Month of November: Blogged" project, so expect more frequent blogging for the next few weeks. In theory.