Hello and good morning. It’s the first Thursday of May in 2021, and so, of course, it’s time for another edition of my weekly blog post. I don’t have any particular topic to write about today, so I’ll just start with some comments about how work has been going on my latest story.
It’s going well.
I won’t leave it just at that, though you might prefer it. I’ve been writing at a decent clip, but not quite approaching my peak levels from recent weeks, because I had a flat tire, and earlier this week I had to get the repaired tire replaced, and I had to take the train to and from work while that was happening.
I’ve still been writing over a thousand new words—so to speak—a day, even on my worst day of the week, and on Monday I hit two thousand. Given that I do my writing in the space of roughly an hour in the morning, that’s pretty good. I’m enjoying being able to write new things instead of simply having to rewrite and edit works that have already been written. I feel a bit like a kid how is finally able to go outside and play after a long rainy spell; it just feels good to move, or to write as the case may be. I also tend to get caught up in writing new things more readily than in most other pursuits. Though it’s often a minor push to get going in the morning, by the time I need to stop, I often don’t really want to do so.
The new story I’m working on, In the Shade, is a horror story, and is rapidly turning towards the Lovecrafty side of things, which was my intent and expectation when I originally started writing it. Invoking Howard Phillips always seems to energize me. The story is getting a bit longish, but that is at least tolerable in a Lovecraft-style tale, since his stories were often pretty long. Still, I think I’m going to set my self a more draconian goal than usual in reducing the word count during the editing process. Then, of course, I must put together my collection.
In addition to writing (and working at my day job, of course), I’ve been doing some more videos. For two weeks in a row now I’ve released some as part of my Iterations of Zero blog; they appear on YouTube and in the blog proper. I also did a few little silly videos, mainly in order to play with video editing programs, to see what they can do and what I can do with them, in a half-hearted kind of way. I also did a video of a cover of the Beatles song, Blackbird. I’d posted on YouTube a video among others I’d made of me just practicing the song, but my singing wasn’t great, and the sound quality was also far from ideal. So, I did a more formal recording/mix of the song—in one morning, after writing, originally, but then I redid the vocals after that. The whole song is just one guitar and a singer (double-tracked in the middle), so the vocals are very much in your face. I was reasonably happy with the outcome, and I did a video proper—so to speak, again—with pictures of various blackbirds, with effects pasted onto them using a very basic video editor, in a rather silly fashion. I’ll embed the video here, just in case you want to watch/listen.
I feel foolishly proud of my guitar playing there, because it’s a rather complicated finger-picking song, and I’m really playing it, and at full speed. I remember reading about how, when the Beatles were hanging out with the maharishi, Donovan showed Paul and John that finger-picking style, and they each excitedly went on to write and record a finger-picked song for “The White Album”. Paul did Blackbird, and John did Julia. I’m also practicing the latter, but it has some additional challenges—the use of a capo, for instance, and more complex chord fingering—that mean it’s going to take a bit longer to get to where I want it to be. I did do a video of me playing it, on that same morning, and it’s on Iterations of Zero, here, with other videos, but I haven’t put it on YouTube. Eventually I’ll get it in shape and do a full recording, maybe with a real video of me (you are hereby warned). This song definitely has at least double-tracked vocals, because John overlaps himself singing it.
Anyway, that’s all really a side thing, though it’s enjoyable working on a new skill. As mentioned last week, I’m unnoticeably far into the beginning of the ten-thousand hours needed to master playing, but it’s fun. I have advantages in that I’ve played piano and especially cello since I was quite young and played in orchestras regularly right up until the end of medical school. I’ve never been a great cellist—my practicing habits were abysmal—but I always enjoyed it, and it definitely provides a leg up for playing the guitar.
That’s about all I have to write about today; it’s probably more than I actually have to write about, or at least more than is worth writing about. I hope you all have a lovely, lusty month of May, but that you stay safe and healthy in the process.
File under “Six Degrees of Separation” as well as “Brush with Greatness:” Your post caused me to flash back to the one and only time I met Donovan. It was in the late 1980s, and I was living in an apartment on Sheridan Road in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. My apartment was almost directly across the road from Biddy Mulligans, the famous nightclub. One afternoon I was walking home from the Howard Street L-stop, and as I turned the corner onto Sheridan road, I almost bumped into Donovan, who I recognized immediately, standing alone with some luggage and his guitar case in front of Biddy Mulligans, most likely waiting for a ride. I’m sure my jaws were agape at the surprise, we looked each other in the eye, and I think I mumbled something like, “Donovan! Thanks for the music!” I think he nodded and said “Sure, you’re welcome,” and I continued on my way home. It’s most likely he was coming from a rehearsal for an upcoming gig at Biddy’s, but, though I’ve seen several acts at Biddy’s, I didn’t go to see him.
That’s pretty cool! The closest I’ve ever come to such a thing was when I almost literally ran into Ted Danson as he was coming out of and I was going into the main floor restroom of a hotel in Manhattan where my wife and I were staying for a recruiting event. This was one of those NYC hotels with a name beginning with “The”…something like “The Castleberry” though that’s not it. It’s not one of the really famous ones. It roughly met Dave Barry’s description of being “more than spacious enough for a family of four to stand up in if they are slightly built and hold their arms over their heads.” But it was not as cheap as the one he described.
Danson and I said nothing to each other, but we both sort of nodded politely and got out of each other’s way. I’m sure I was slightly wide-eyed, because he really seemed immensely tall. I had never watched “Cheers” at that point, so I only knew of him vaguely, but it was impossible not to recognize him.