- Copyright 2020 All rights reserved
- Words and Music by Robert Elessar
- Performed by Robert Elessar
- Produced by Robert Elessar
Hello, all. Good morning and welcome to Thursday again. It’s time for another of my weekly blog posts.
Of course, the major news in the human world—such as it is—is the ongoing international tour de force of the COVID-19 virus. I’ve expressed (elsewhere) my frustration with the irrationality with which people are responding to this pandemic*, including the hoarding of toilet paper, which makes little to no sense, and believing sub-moronic videos that say, for instance, that you can cure the virus or prevent its spread by aiming a hot blow-dryer into your nose and mouth. These are such things as make me wish—only semi-facetiously—that people needed a license to reproduce. Don’t even get me started on the various absurd prophecies and conspiracy theories many embrace and share about this and other global events. It’s bizarre that people can simultaneously think so highly and so poorly of human nature, in such unjustifiable ways.
Behaviors such as these tend to exacerbate my baseline melancholy, and have in the past led me to, among other things, write a song about depression. The song, in this case, was Breaking Me Down, of which I shared the “final release” earlier this week on Iterations of Zero and on YouTube. When I originally wrote it, I wasn’t thinking explicitly about depression, but I was going through a pretty bad exacerbation, so when I wrote a poem/song about my thoughts and feelings, that was what came out.
I have recorded and released earlier versions of the song, but they suffered partly from my inexperience with mixing and production, and from initially being too low (the final product is up two full steps from how I initially wrote it), and too slow. The original vocals were not so great, either, both in recording/mixing quality and in the singing. However, as with most things, practice makes better, though it’s unlikely that it ever makes “perfect”**. So, now, the song is in a higher key and at a quicker tempo, such that I playfully refer to it as a song about depression that you can dance to if you feel like it. I think that’s a pretty cool accomplishment, though you may or may not agree that I’ve succeeded.
After fixing this song up, I realized that if I remaster my first, sort of jokey song, Schrodinger’s Head, I’ll have enough for about half an album(!). That’s five original songs, running a total of roughly twenty-five minutes. Of course, being the lunatic that I am, that thought immediately led me to go back and start tweaking Schrodinger’s Head, including re-recording vocals and doing some harmony. That’s not so hard—the good thing about singing is, one always has one’s instrument. And the actual remixing/remastering process, though time-consuming, is weirdly entertaining and satisfying.
The real issue is that once this is done, I will no doubt feel the urge, or the drive, or the compulsion, to make more songs for the other side of an album***. I do have here and there the beginnings of other songs, and even have a longer portion of something I mean to write about a manga character, but I just know that this is going to consume a lot of time. Of course, if I were in one of those industries that’s been forced to take a hiatus in response to COVID-19, writing and recording songs might be a good use of my extra hours. Unfortunately—well, fortunately, really…let’s be fair and positive, if that’s possible for me—my job is going strong, and I continue to be in the office five to six days a week. Thus, this little musical hobby tends to eat into my real work, which is writing.
That being said, though, Unanimity is coming along well. I’m nearly done with the latest run-through, and it’s getting closer and closer to publishable form. It certainly is a long story, but at least I don’t find it boring. Whether anyone else will share my assessment only time can tell, but at least liking it myself is a good starting point.
That’s pretty nearly it for this week. I hope you all do your best to stay well…but don’t do crazy and stupid things, okay? For my part, I’ve always frequently washed my hands and coughed and sneezed into the hollow of my elbow, but then, I am an MD. As for social distancing, well, that’s something I haven’t ever had to think about much. It seems to be a task at which I’m particularly gifted, and I’ve only gotten better, if that’s the correct term, over the years. Remember what I said about practice?
Ironically enough, I—someone very far from being attached to existence—am relatively protected compared to all the many people who want so desperately to cling to their lives. I wouldn’t call it cosmic irony—that would probably have to involve quasars, galaxies, black holes, dark energy, and the like—but it is certainly irony at a high level.
*I know the root words are different, but I can’t help imagining that the word “pandemic” should somehow mean “bread for the people,” or maybe “bread made out of people,” such as Jack and the Beanstalk’s giant might enjoy.
**In most cases, the term “perfect” isn’t defined, and is probably undefinable. Unless one has a clearly delineated set of criteria by which to judge something, declaring perfection is mere wordplay. I’m a fan of wordplay, of course, but in this case, people seem to think they mean something, formally, when they use the term. It leads to much confusion. It also leads many people to drive themselves to distraction, often to despair, and occasionally to destruction in the dreadful pursuit of “perfection”, a hallucinatory goal that never comes nearer than the horizon. By all means, strive always to improve yourself. But sincerely trying to achieve perfection can lead to a life of frustration and self-loathing.
***Don’t ask me what I mean to do with such a collection once I make it, assuming that I do. It’s not as though I have any experience in making or releasing albums. I would, however, almost certainly call it “Iterations of Zero”. Consistency is good.
This isn’t MINE, obviously, but it IS me performing. Though the drums are electronic, since I don’t have a set to use.
I’d love to know what you think.
Okay, so…hello and good morning. It’s Thursday again, and I’m not flagrantly ill*, so that must mean that it’s time for another blog post. Huzzah!
It’s hard to think of much that’s new with me since last Thursday. I did get one very nice comment on this blog about my song, Like and Share, and of course, family and friends on Facebook and elsewhere had some very kind words about it. Since then, regarding music: I’ve been practicing regularly, and I’m working on two projects, neither of which is as “serious” as Like and Share was. First, I’m working on recording a “bad cover” of the Beatles song, Something, which I’ve been practicing/learning for the guitar for a while now**. I’m hoping to make something that’s not too embarrassing to have other people hear.
I’ve also been finally arranging a tune I made up a loooong time ago for the Joker’s song from the graphic novel The Killing Joke, written by the justly legendary Alan Moore and illustrated by the absolutely brilliant Brian Bolland. The melody just came to me when I read the story from early on, but I never wrote it down or anything; like so many of these things, it’s just been bouncing around in my head ever since. Well, now I have written it, and I’ve worked out the chord structure and everything—for the piano mainly. If I get to the point where I can play my own frigging composition at speed without missing notes all over the place, I may record it.
I know they made an animated film version of the story in recent years, and apparently someone must have written their own version of the tune for the Joker’s song, but I’ve neither seen nor listened to it, nor will I before I finish putting my own together. I don’t want to taint my own thoughts, nor get too depressed about the movie version being either better or worse than my version.
Those are just frivolous little playthings, though… “fairy toys”, as Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream might say. Not that everything isn’t frivolous from the right perspective, but these are frivolous even from my own point of view***. My most important work, to me, is my writing, and most particularly my fiction, but for some time now, and still for a bit of time to go, that work has been and will be comprised solely of the editing/tweaking of Unanimity, since it’s such a long story (I still like it a lot, though; don’t get me wrong).
Quite some time ago—but not nearly long ago enough—I decided that I wouldn’t begin any new story until I finished the previous one. This is because one of the main things that derailed me from finishing many (or any) books earlier in life was my tendency to become distracted and start some new project before ever having finished previous ones. And so, many things were begun but few were finished…and enterprises of great pith and moment with this disrespect their courses turned awry and lost the name of action.
It’s a common enough lament, I suppose, but it’s terribly annoying for me to look back and realize how many balls I dropped because I kept trying to juggle instead of giving just one of them at a time a good, solid fling into the distance. Such is the metaphorical nature of regret.
On a lighter note, I just realized that it’s 02/20/2020 today, or in the European form, 20/02/2020. That’s not as cool as 02/02/2020 was, but it’s still fun for numberphiles like me. Of course, all dates and dating systems are arbitrary (though the length of a day and of a year do refer to real, physical cycles). Even most serious Christian scholars (including former pope Benedict, aka Darth Ratzinger) estimate that Jesus was probably born sometime between what we would call 6 B.C. and 4 B.C. None put his birth at year zero…for there is no year zero in that dating system! (And almost no one really believes that Jesus was born three or four days after the winter solstice in whatever year.) The counts of years and of months and of days are just arbitrary. But the numbers can still be fun.
That’s about that, I guess. Not much more to talk about. Or, to put it another way, there’s way too much stuff to talk about (or, rather, “about which to talk”) to get started on it here in my weekly blog post. Perhaps I’ll try, yet again, to touch upon it in audio posts or to write about it, either on Iterations of Zero, or here. More likely, I’ll just keep having the conversation with myself in my head—and sometimes out loud—until I can finally shut the stupid soliloquy up for good.
*Physically, anyway. By which I mean outside the brain…though that’s certainly a physical organ. But I’ll try not to split hairs.
**Not as long as I’ve been working on mastering the lead guitar part from Knives Out, by Radiohead, but that’s difficult mainly because it’s just got a lot going on and has no real slow spots. It reminds me of some of Bach’s Two-part Inventions, which is part of why I like it.
***Actually, to be fair, pretty much everything is frivolous from my point of view, since I’m fairly unconvinced even of the possibility of any external, intrinsic meaning to anything at all.
Hello and good morning! Welcome to another Thursday and—almost, but not quite, by definition—another episode of my (usually) weekly blog post.
First, let me apologize for missing last week without a word. I ate something that really didn’t agree with me* early in the week, and for most of the rest of the week I was quite ill. I considered getting online last Thursday to jot out a quick message to the effect of, “Hey, I’m sick, so I’m not making a formal blog post this week,” but I didn’t even have the gumption for that.
Again, I apologize.
I haven’t been completely idle over the last few weeks, however. In fact, I’ve been rather absorbed with creating/producing/performing my latest—and probably best so far, at least in production quality—song. It’s called “Like and Share”, and I’ve posted it here on this blog, and as a video** on Iterations of Zero, and on YouTube here. As the name no doubt suggests, it’s a song that deals with social media, and as my nature no doubt suggests, it deals with the dark side of such media.
Sorry; I am who I am.
Though I always say words to this effect, this time I really, really, REALLY would like to know what you think about the song, so if you have a moment, please take a listen. It doesn’t sound dark or anything, in case you’re worried. Apparently, it’s got something of a sixties feel. My sister—to whom I owe a tremendous debt for listening to various drafts and letting me know about balance issues and clarity issues and whatnot—said that if George Harrison and Pink Floyd had made a song together, this would be it.
Now…she’s my doting older sister, so she’s going to tend to be generous; I don’t want you to get your hopes up unreasonably based on her statement***. Still, I do think it’s pretty good as far as it goes. But I am needy, in my own weird little way, so if any (or all?) of you could take four minutes and thirty-seven seconds’ to listen, and then a moment or two more to make a comment either on my blog(s) or on YouTube or on Facebook (it’s also posted there), I’d be deeply grateful.
Seriously. I’m begging.
As is usual when I’m in the final throes of making one of my songs, I’ve missed about two or three days’ worth of editing on Unanimity, but I’m back to it now with a vengeance. It’s coming along and tightening up nicely. I’m not yet getting bored of it, and most importantly (to me) I still like my main characters a lot.
It’s very hard to enjoy a story, even a good one, if one dislikes the characters, especially the protagonist(s). I think the closest thing I know to an exception to that rule is The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. Though I find Thomas Covenant at least somewhat sympathetic (some of the time) and almost always interesting, I am by no means surprised when some people say they absolutely loathe him. However, essentially all the other characters in the books are so moving and inspiring—especially Mhoram**** and Foamfollower—that even if you passionately hate Thomas Covenant, you can still really enjoy the books. Also, the villain of the series, Lord Foul, is probably my single favorite bad guy of all time. It doesn’t hurt that he speaks so eloquently that you might think him to be channeling Shakespeare himself.
It doesn’t hurt that he actually speaks, come to think of it. The one serious dissatisfaction I’ve always had with The Lord of the Rings is that Sauron isn’t really a character. I know, I know, that makes him all the more menacing—like a force of nature, rather like Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones. Just imagine if we were able to read a conversation with Cthulhu! Probably his voice alone would drive an interlocutor mad.
And indeed, in LotR, when Pippin interacts with Sauron via the palantír, we’re told that his laughter is like daggers, and I don’t think it’s meant metaphorically. Still, Lord Foul achieves the unquestionable status of absolute worst guy in his universe, and a definite force of pure evil, even though we meet him as a character—a person—very early in the books. Just take this, one of my favorite quotes from the end of his initial interaction with Thomas Covenant:
“Do not forget whom to fear at the last. I have had to be content with killing and torment, but now my plans are laid, and I have begun. I shall not rest until I have eradicated hope from the earth. Think on that and be dismayed.”
Yes, a character can use the proper objective form of a commonly misused pronoun and still be fundamentally evil. Actually, there are probably those who think that anyone who uses that form is evil, but who would entertain such nonsense?
Anyway, before I go off on too many tangents, I think I’ll wrap things up for today. Thank you for reading, apologies for last week, and I do hope that you’ll take a bit of time to listen to and comment on my new song…and even, if you’re so inclined, to “Like” and “Share” it. This is not straightforwardly ironic, perhaps, but given the rather negative attitude the song conveys toward some aspects of social media, perhaps it really would be ironic to do so.
I think that if you can achieve real irony in any given day, then surely that day hasn’t been wasted.
*It thought, for instance, that Shakespeare was a mediocre writer and that mathematics and science are boring.
**As usual, the “video” portion is just a static image of the IoZ logo (see below), so don’t get your hopes up…or, alternatively, don’t be afraid; you won’t have to watch me singing.
***I personally get a sort of Simon and Garfunkel vibe from it, but that’s mostly because of the harmonization.
****I quote Thomas Covenant himself here: “You’re making a big mistake if you ever assume that Mhoram is helpless.”
© 2020 by Robert Elessar All rights reserved
Words and music by Robert Elessar
Performed by Robert Elessar
Produced by Robert Elessar
Can you be what I can be?
Could you be as cool as me?
Commonness is misery.
Like and Share if you agree.
Do you think you’re special, too?
Am I as unique as you?
Every other point of view
Seems to be the same. Could that be true?
Look at all my pretty pictures.
Don’t you wish that you were me?
You don’t know the half of it.
You don’t know what you can’t see.
Do you believe what you can see?
Pictures of a life so free,
Edited for quality,
Empty of reality.
You can’t feel what you don’t know;
You see only what I show.
Just that superficial glow,
Not the darkness that lies below.
Look how perfect my world must seem.
Don’t you wish that this was you?
Don’t you wish your life was so fine?
God know, God knows, God knows
I do too.
You can’t like what you can’t see.
You can’t see the actual me.
This is all illusory,
Even if you don’t agree.
Do I see what you can see?
Are you dead inside like me?
Every flaw is agony.
Like and Share
Like and Share
Like and Share
If you agree.
Words and Music by Robert Elessar
(c) copyright 2019. All rights reserved.
Performed by Robert Elessar
Produced by Robert Elessar
Dark and stormy night
Only meeting strangers
Always losing friends
Every new beginning
And if your travels bring you to a place
Where you’re afraid to show your face
All you’ll be is all you’ve been,
So turn around, come back again.
Walking down the street
I saw a car go by with no one driving
I watched it pass and wondered what the hell was going on.
There’s something not quite right, I thought
and hopped a bus that was just arriving
I got it and I sat down fine, but suddenly
I was gone.
Creeping slowly forward
Nothing ever stops
But nothing really goes
Is there any reason?
No one knows.
But I’d stay by you until the end
In times of darkness I’m your friend
If you need
A helping hand
Just turn around
Come back again.
Come back again.
Come back again.
Come back again.