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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2010, begin again...

I've just spent another afternoon and evening working on music and man, does it feel good to be working. I've got this piece up to about 7 or 8 minutes, 36 pages and I'm now starting to run up against the typical issues you get with a piece this size. Namely, transitions from one section to another, dynamics of the whole ensemble and second guesses on orchestration choices.

I was about to post another blog a few days ago about how I can hardly believe that I'm still here. But I just decided that's not what I want to talk about tonight. I've said quite enough about that lately and though my thoughts on the matter feel new each time, I really think it's just an impulse that I have to define things every time I pass a milestone.

But what would New Year's Day be without a recounting of my accomplishments and some good old-fashioned resolutions?

My biggest and most obvious (obvious because it's one of the main subjects of this blog) accomplishment this year was moving here. The scope of that, from my perspective, evidently still hasn't hit me because I'm still blathering on about it. Second only to moving here was finding not one, not two, but three jobs and several freelance film gigs in the months that followed. I also made new friends easily, landed a full time job out of one of those freelance gigs, managed to pay rent, managed to score a few composing gigs, managed to start up a few pieces and revamp a few old ones, managed to keep my sanity despite the pressures of it all, and still managed to keep this blog up.

All of this writing in the past few weeks has really pepped me up and given me the feeling that if I just get going on a few things I could totally start the year with the kind of momentum I had back in 2007, three years ago. I wrote prolifically that semester in school and managed, at the end of it, to get my first paid commission. So, with that having been said, being a composer and being in the place where I have wanted to be for so long for the express purpose of putting energy into my career, it only seems appropriate, and it almost goes without saying, that my first resolution has to be to write prolifically again and maybe even surpass myself.

Beyond that, with the prospect of working overnight shifts, losing some sleep, being tired a lot and everything that comes with that, I think the next one would have to be the tried and true favorite of people seeking to better themselves: to work out more. But I'm going to approach this in a way I never have before. I'm actually going to join the YMCA, and take some yoga classes. I have a friend here who goes to classes and has agreed to take me to one or more of the places she goes to. The YMCA is something that will get me actually lifting weights and doing cardio on a regular basis instead of when the mood strikes. I have to first find out if my bum knee is really too bum to be jogging on before I consider any cardio routine but that shouldn't take long. I have a doctor's appointment next Wednesday and I think we'll go over the results from my MRI.

I don't think there's many other resolutions that I have other than career and general well being. I suppose those are the two biggest categories than anyone could lump their resolutions into, other than social life and personal life. I feel like I'm doing pretty well in those areas. Dating in this city is a subject that could fill an entire other blog and thankfully for you guys, I don't have the time to get into it but I will say that I've been lucky enough to make a lot of friends here in the past few months and haven't had much trouble getting dates. I still miss everyone in NC but you guys know that and I'll always be in touch.

By the way, I'm coming to Raleigh to visit with my parents post Christmas in February. Dates TBA.

For now, though, I think I shall go and veg out. I didn't sleep much this morning, only about 5 and a half hours, and I had been up for 22 yesterday. Tends to drain one's energy. I'll be blogging all my efforts with this piece and as soon as it's ready I'll try and post a bit of it. It'll hopefully get submitted to several competitions. So long for now.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

New piece

Day after Christmas. Since I last blogged we did get our wallop of snow, right after I did the overnight shift Friday night. I woke up out of my 7 hour afternoon nap around 3:30 and looked out to see it had started. It didn't let up all day or night and it was quite a sight. By nighttime it had become a beautiful, fluffy and sparkly kind of snow that blew into artful looking snow drifts up and down the streets. I went to two separate parties, one in Astoria with friends of Karishma and then another back in the adjacent neighborhood of Park Slope with a friend from church. Trains were running slower and trudging was the watchword street level.

Both parties were great fun and I got to meet some new people at both. The second one entailed playing rock band with people I had just met...which is usually fun. That night was no exception.

The next morning, no one had mentioned to me that the choir would not be singing in church and would be using their rehearsal time to work on music for the Christmas Eve service, the service I could not sing in due to my inability to attend rehearsals. Maybe next year. Either way, I was really wishing I could have slept in after all of that gallivanting around Saturday night. But it happens and it was still a good service despite not singing with the choir. Four of us, in fact, sat together in the pews and sang in parts to the startlement of those around us who weren't expecting us to be wedged into the congregation as such.

I'm still poking at the piece of music that I'm composing for the ensemble. It's all for lack of inspiration at the moment. I decided to compose something like an Alleluia and I have an opening motive and some rhythmic motives and a basic structure in mind...but it's always the same. You hear it in your head when you're in one place, far away from instruments or paper and the only thing that remains of it when you finally do get paper or an instrument is the basic rhythmic idea. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes you just have to accept that certain ideas never make it out of your head entirely before their corrupted or altered by time and the infinity of variation that abounds in the trials of writing but that corruption and alteration can often lead to something far more inspiring than what came before. This is all, of course, relative and opinionated. Like, how do I know it's more inspiring than my original idea? All I'm really trying to say is that your first idea, the purest idea that's in your head and the onset of musical inspiration, almost never comes out like you thought it would in that moment. I suppose it's more important that something does come out at all.

It's not as though I have complete and total writer's block though. I'm happy to report, in fact, that I spent the better part of the past few days diving back into a minimalist piece that I started months ago in Astoria. I set a teapot down on my cousin's stove top and the water splashing around inside made the most amazing rhythm...or at least the start of the most amazing rhythm and I finished out the rest of it in my head and while patting it out on my thighs and chest (this is something I do, probably to the complete vexation of those who spend a great deal of time around me). After letting some melodies and rhythmic ideas bounce around my head for a part of that afternoon, I did the most rudimentary of pre compositional planning and even composed some of it but left it sitting for the entire summer. Now I've extended it, come up with new ideas and even revamped my original idea for orchestration to include electric guitar and some electronics (samples and a drum track). This should be fun. I think I'm going to shoot for a healthy length and submit it to the Bang on a Can festival...the deadline is January 15th. That's close but hey, I'm pretty inspired now.

At any rate, the snow, which was actually mostly gray slush and desultory piles of crunch by mid week this week, is all melting now with the rain coming in now. I got loads of work next week at both jobs and I'm spending New Year's Eve working the overnight shift. Hopefully, I'll find some way to get it all of my work done on this piece.

With that, I'm going to go and probably do a little more work on it. Good night.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Blurb #16

Waiting for the sky to open up. It's supposed to snow a handful tonight and tomorrow, lucky us. This may not be that first "wallop" I predicted but it'll be substantial I think. At any rate, I work my first overnight tonight but not before I go into the city for dinner with a friend. Last night was a fun time. I was invited to the Technicolor Christmas party and brought a friend. There was free food and booze, gambling, Karaoke and a raffle...from which I won a nice portable DVD player. Good time was had by all. This is actually 2 out of 4 Christmas parties that I am planning on attending. Two in one night tomorrow night. Should be a blast. As always.

Just wanted to drop a blurb on you guys since I've only got a few minutes. Here's a pic that represents the extent of my getting into the Christmas spirit:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On why I moved to New York...again.

I attended a birthday party in a high rise with roof access in Lower Manhattan Saturday night. I'm getting...I guess tired is the wrong word to use. I guess I'm starting to see a trend in conversations with veteran New Yorkers. I've probably mentioned this before, but every time I mention my having just moved here, my only having spent ten months here or my not growing up in a huge city in the context of my general positive sentiments about the city, I always tend to get the same response from these veterans. One of those, every one grins and nods their head knowingly and says something to the effect of, "you'll see what we mean in a few years" kinds of things. Are people that determined that no newbie should go on feeling enamored of this place or is it just that fun to hate this place?

I haven't gotten there yet. I still love this place and I'm rather unashamed of it. And on top of that, after months of loving it but hating my situation in relation to it (i.e. wanting to do more, meet more people, grab at every aspect of the city while feeling hopelessly confined to my apartment and the daily grind), I'm finally feeling a part of this place. I have friends that I've met here that are starting to really feel like my friends, I'm going out more and dating, my job is full time (which has been for a few months but it's really starting to set in with regard to all the benefits and the feeling of inclusion with my fellow full time co workers...e.g. NY 1 holiday party), not to mention the feeling of accomplishment that goes with all of this. I can't help look back to last year and relish in the boost it gives me to remember the helpless feeling of wondering how I was going to make it here without a job or an apartment lined up and simultaneously wanting to try and encapsulate everything that led up to where I am now. But it's so massive.

And no one can take all that away from me. Not in the course of some party conversation about how weathered and jaded they are by this place and how suburbia seems like a cozy option to them. Bollocks to that, I say! And Bollocks to suburbia.

Anyway, just saying it's not for me is all. One of the many reasons I moved here was to get away from the small town atmosphere. Another was the draw of the excitement of this particular city...which is why I'm still a tourist to a degree.

It's cold here now. I just came back from Williamsburg, having a drink with a friend after work. To get home from there, it's a bit of a hike, mainly because of the weird train connections one has to make. It's either back into Manhattan on the L to Union Square and then the N back to Brooklyn...or taking the L one stop to the G at Lorimer/Metroplitan and then getting off the G at Fulton and walking a few blocks to Atlantic Avenue for the D train. I decided I'd take whichever train came first and the winner was the Canarsie-bound L train, which meant the G train and that walk between stops that was so cold this evening. But I had major train luck and made the trip in only 45 minutes. Almost unheard of for a Williamsburg-Sunset Park commute.

Back at home, I'm thinking, in between all this new excitement, about Christmas and how this is my first alone. I mean, family far away, working Christmas, mailing all of my gifts and cards, etc. I've spent Christmases working before but family time (Christmas cookies and ornaments) was always a short drive away and never put off for more than a week if I couldn't make it day of. I needed to do something the other night to make it feel like Christmas so I wouldn't forget or let it pass by unmarked...so I put ornaments on a succulent plant that a friend gave me and downloaded James Galway's Christmas Carols (an album that I loved as a child) off of Amazon.com. It's working for now. Christmas lights might be in order as well.

Meantime, I keep trying to remember that there are supposed to be a lot of beautiful things about this city at Christmas time and that I'd better enjoy them. I'm occasionally stumbling upon the more subtle and tasteful street decorations and seeing people selling Christmas trees, always stopping to bristle the needles between my fingers to get that wonderful pine scent.

It'll be a different Christmas this year though and I was always prepared for that moving to a new city hundreds of miles away from anything familiar. Luckily, I have friends here, I have family here (a family member) but also I have all of these keepsakes; the ornaments that my siblings have copies of hanging from a plant sitting on my kitchen table.

I was up early this morning to get an MRI on my bum knee (long story there but I'm at least taking advantage of my new insurance plan), so I'm tired and delirious but I have to adjust to staying up late because Friday, I'm doing my first overnight shift at NY 1. It can't be all good all the time, I guess. I'm probably going to adjust to doing the shift and find that I like it. News 14 had me on an overnight and I remember slightly dreading that before it started but it turned out to be a gift to my music because I could work all afternoon on my music without necessarily worrying about losing track of the time. So we'll see.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ideally...

I've realized that I really don't like my options at the local supermarket. Maybe it's because I'm a bit spoiled by the good quality cheap stuff at Trader Joe's but on days like today, rainy disgusting cold and windy days that is, days when I'm forced to shop in my neighborhood because my lack of interest in schlepping groceries on the train, I really feel sort of limited in what I feel comfortable buying at the local C-Town. It's all either bad quality for the price (I'm generally talking produce here) or just bad quality in general and then the variety is also slim, plus the store brand (historically cheaper than any name brand) is not great quality either.

Ho hum. Ho hum indeed. One of many inspirations to move to a much nicer neighborhood. If I lived in Cobble Hill or Boerum Hill I could walk to the Brooklyn Trader Joe's. If I lived in Manhattan, I could stop by the Trader Joe's on 14th Street on the way home from work.

In all honesty, I could have done much worse choosing the neighborhood I was to live in my first year in New York. In truth, my main criterion for a new place is going to be the price range. Hence my motivation to live with a roommate.

I was bound to make a few mistakes my first time around anyway. And that's half the reason I often write about these things. Perhaps someone else wanting to move to New York will see these musings and it may help them or it may just add to the cacophony of advice regarding the subject of moving to New York City. Either way.

Tonight, is the first snow of the season. And it's not even really that much of a snowstorm. It was raining most of the day and I hung out over at the Brooklyn UU's rummage sale and got coffee with friends afterward. Walked through it all day, toes soaking wet and chilled to the bone. Happened to be outside, having just mentioned the snow to my friends, when it actually started to switch over. It's not even properly snowing now. But I guess that's fine by me. It'll be sunnier tomorrow and then we'll probably get our first wallop of snowfall in the coming weeks.

And with that another test of my resolve to live in this fine city. Can I handle the winters? I grew up regarding snowfall as an occasional pleasantry. Something that came every few years and, if we were lucky, got us out of school. Here, the general attitude towards it ranges from moaning and groaning to all out dread of the event and it's ensuing inconveniences. Most people are hardened enough that, even when the temperature wanders back above 50 degrees F, they still wear their scarves and bundle up against the cold. As though, they'd rather be prepared for anything than risk leaving a potentially necessary article of clothing at home just because it's slightly warmer out.

I contrast this often with the mostly collegiate mentality of defiantly wearing flip flops in the winter time, not wearing jackets, or wearing them open, or just never really properly dressing for the weather. That always amused me. It's a curious thing to me but I think the fact that most can get away with things like that in the south is due to the fact that it's much more common to drive everywhere and, as a result, no one really spends that much time outside.

Here, I think I'm outside for at least an hour every day if not more. I often forget what it's like to own a car or don't really think about what it would be like to own one here until something happens like my parents' car getting broken into or my brother getting a parking ticket. I often do think about the expenses I save by solely riding the mass transit system and rarely even taking cabs. It's massive. My transportation expense adds up to about $90 monthly. To some that would only cover car insurance and certainly would not cover gasoline. Reason #234 for living in a place like New York City.

But I digress, and in this case, I ramble. I think I'm going to watch a movie I've seen a hundred times because I'm tired and feel like doing something mindless. Can you grant me that?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Apartment hunting...a little early...

Next on the roster is the impending doom and/or excitement of apartment hunting in New York City. Again. It's hard to believe we're approaching that. Can I just take a second to gush about my accomplishments? Can I? Can you all grant me that?

I can't believe how far I've come. Sometimes, it just doesn't cross my mind but then sometimes, I do feel like I need to just take in a deep breath, forget whatever is bothering me at that particular moment and take it all in. It's been almost a year in New York City. Random song for the moment:


Only Living Boy in New York

Anyway, I can't help but think back to what I was doing a year ago: Sitting in front of the computer looking at craigslist.org apartment ads, corresponding with potential roommates, eating-sleeping-reading-breathing New York City and actually starting to despair a little bit. Doing something like this (this being setting a goal, however modest, and accomplishing it) really does something for your self esteem. And it sort of insulates you against any negative thoughts or pessimism about future goals that I may or may not have even set yet. And that's a brilliant thing to have. It's a forward momentum. It's motivation to the highest extreme that anything I think up, dream up, I can go and, at least try to do.

All right, I'm done. It's a bit exciting, to be honest, to not only be slightly more seasoned and street smart but to also have a virtual veteran of New York City on my side in the hunt for apartments. As I said before, we've little more than thrown out some ideas about neighborhoods and talked roommate rules and the like. But it's starting to feel closer. What else can I say but wish us luck?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An update...for lack of a better title...

Another semi productive day. After I decided to start publishing my scores on Sibelius.com, I realized that it'd be a great idea to compose teaching pieces for younger piano students. I've started to go through some old piano pieces and edit them a little and tweak them just to get a few out into the mix. Ran a few by my old piano teacher and she likes the idea so, on we go. This gives me a goal to work toward.

Also, on the plate is the idea of composing some choral music for the Unitarian Church in Brooklyn. I borrowed a hymnal to get some ideas for texts that I could set to music and picked it up today for the first time since I got it home. I also happened to open right up to the one hymn whose lyrics I remember liking when I was reading through the hymnal in the choir loft a few Sundays ago. Might be a sign.

In other news, I'm now trying to wrap my brain around some changes to my work schedule that are forthcoming. Mainly that I'll have to be working the overnight shift twice a week. Luckily, it's the last two shifts of my week and I've already started planning around it.

I've decided to look at this as a benefit to my musical endeavors. The steadiness of the schedule will allow me to actually devise my own schedule, especially the days I work the overnight shift. I may be more inclined to stay around the house those days and structure my day around composing. Sundays will be tricky though. I get up early to sing at the UU church (7:30am) and then I may have to nap in the afternoon to be able to stay up all night Sunday night when I'll work 11pm to 7am. Yikes! Then Monday morning I'll get home at 8am and sleep until 3pm or so, get up and work around the house, maybe do laundry, and then at 11pm I go in for my last overnight shift of the week.

Anyway, that having been said, I think it's time for me to start applying to postings on this site. It's a site where people can post freelance gigs and freelancers can bid on them. I've already been getting the emails and some of them have been within my reach and capability but I haven't had the time. Now that my job is full time and my other gigs are drying up, I think it's time to bid on a few jobs and see what kind of success I have. I'll keep you up to date on that.

Beyond music endeavors, lately, the big news was Thanksgiving weekend. Got out of the city again to see relatives in upstate NY. The folks drove up a day early (well a day and a few hours, arriving at almost 2am Wednesday due to some traffic in Wilmington, DE) and saw a show. Thursday morning we found the car had been broken into (rather stealthily, no damage to the car, thankfully). After counting our blessings we drove up to Queens to pick up my cousin and then drove on up the thruway to Coxsackie. The weather was cold and my family was fun. I ate a lot, as you do, and generally enjoyed myself despite another NYC head cold. Sooner or later, I'll toughen up and develop that immunity.

Came back and worked all weekend and week and now I'm off after tomorrow's shift and the NY1 Christmas party tomorrow night. Should be fun. I'll post about any happenings this weekend later on.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Subway...

Some nights the MTA really gets me angry. But still, even when the D train wasn't running at Grand Street, in the end, it wasn't that big of a deal. I never stroll around Chinatown and I found myself right in the middle of a Billy Joel song (Big Man on Mulberry Street)

Mulberry Street...
...trying to remember the lyrics, which are a veritable map of Chinatown in themselves, in an attempt to find my way to the Canal Street Subway station to catch the N...which, by some bizarre stroke of luck was running on the D track and I was able to take it all the way home...only after grabbing the first Q train at Canal Street to Atlantic Pacific. This in no way compares with my train escapades last weekend though. Attempting merely to get to Fort Greene by using only two trains, the D and the G, and not having to walk a block to transfer, I wound up still having to walk that block plus on the way home, I ended up walking about a mile to avoid the G train altogether. Because let's face it, the G is the worst train in the whole MTA system, and it never runs on time even when it is running normally. They had it running both ways on the same track and only going to Hoyt-Schermerhorn. Which led me to believe that maybe it was just the one train running back and forth between Hoyt-Schermerhorn and the other end of the line in Queens. This is why, when I missed the train, I assumed it would be a half hour or more before it came back around again and just left the station in favor of trying to catch a bus to Atlantic Avenue...a bus which didn't even stop when I tried to wave it down while running frantically in the direction of the nearest stop.

These late night weekend subway adventures, as inconvenient and harrying as they may be, do teach me things about the city. One lesson is never to despair. There is always a way to get home. In last weekend's case and this weekend's, the nearest subway stop was not that far and both cases afforded me a walk, albeit not so leisurely last weekend, through a neighborhood I scarcely get to enjoy.

Which is good because now, less than four months before my lease runs out, I'm looking for a new one to call home. And luckily, my cousin and I will be looking together. We met the other day and discussed everything from what we need from a roommate to our respective budgets and target neighborhoods. Clinton Hill was nice, I noted, while beating the pavement and dragging my guitar around last weekend. Lots of older apartment buildings and brownstones, bars and restaurants (I saw a couple of French ones) all lined DeKalb Avenue. The subway stops wouldn't be that far off either and I feel certain we could find a decent place there for a reasonable price. But we are not limiting ourselves to Brooklyn neighborhoods alone.

No. The possibility of being a Manhattanite entices both of us. But we're being realistic about it. I'm aware of how ambitious it is but you all know me. I have to try. It won't be until January that we really start aggressively looking so that gives me a month or so to drool over Manhattan neighborhoods and weigh the pros and cons of them. It's also good to have a veteran New Yorker agreeing to room with me because there are so many factors involved in choosing a place to live, some which I may not have thought about yet. Not so much whether or not I want to live with rodents or insects, but more whether I want space or location more. Tough calls both, no doubt.

At any rate, we'll have to certainly consider things like subway access and what floor we're on, doorman or no, elevator or walk-up, pre-war or new building, etc.

But there's still time for all that. With that, I must go to sleep. I've had a nice relaxing and also productive two days off. My scores are almost ready to be unleashed on the world. Plus, I've come up with a fantastic idea that I'll say more about as it unfolds. Good night.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's going on...

Finally getting around to update you in the midst of working day jobs and socializing with my new friends and paying bills and finding out bills were paid late and finding out that I put the wrong zip code on my rent payment and finding out that the leasing office is not really that far away and that I can save a stamp and just walk it over there no problem and cleaning my apartment and messing it up again and occasionally playing music.

Yes, Saturday night, despite the G train and the D train trying to thwart my plans to make it up to Fort Greene to collaborate with a composer I met through Karishma, I finally got my jam session on. It was fun. Will invited over a few of his string player friends as well and he and I plugged up to his loop station and improvised for about two hours on some of my impromptu ideas as well as his original material. It was a great sound. A guitar, two violins and a viola, and the occasional mandolin played by one of the other violin players.

We'll probably all go at it again next Saturday night if I'm not too exhausted after work. I hope I can go because it's going to be good for me to start playing again, plus there's some definite opportunity for collaboration down the line. I won't say much else yet, so as not to jinx anything that we have going on.

Meanwhile, I started to post my scores on Sibelius music but it's looking like it's going to be a bit more involved of a project. It's not .pdf files I'm having to upload, but .sib files so everything with playback and the separate parts has to be in order along with notational details etc. I'm also in the process of registering all those songs that are not registered with ASCAP. And then, I need to update my website again soon. Thinking of totally revamping it.

Once all this is in place, the next big "makeover," I'm going to try and get in contact with a composer whose contact info I gleaned from a conversation with a co worker at NY 1.

So those are the plans and the goings on, at present. And if I can manage to get a few weekends to myself, without extra freelance hours, than, I promise you, I will post some of the electronic music I've been working on. Stay tuned. Must drink beer, watch netflix and unwind.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Day off...

I have a day off and it's glorious. Do you want to know what I did this morning? I slept in. I mean the kind of sleeping in where you don't set the alarm, roll back over and fall asleep at least three times and then you jump out of bed when you realize it's 11am but then sit back down because you realize you don't really have much to do today. It's great. I'm not even dressed yet. But I did take care of some bills and phone calls and made breakfast. Currently, I'm listening to Mike Doughty's new album, Sad Man Happy Man.

I need to get up and do laundry in a minute or two and then I figure I'll head over to the Brooklyn Public Library and pick up a book or two, wander to a coffee shop in Park Slope and read and work on music. I started to look at my string quartet that I've needed to dust off for ages yesterday at work. It was performed at my recital, as a rather lackluster closer, and I've known for a long time that I needed to do something to it to save it from the graveyard of pieces that will never be performed again for whatever reason. It's not a bad piece, it's just got some kinks in it. Mainly playability and a general lack of connectivity between the parts. What I plan on doing with that is, of course, rechecking all of my articulations and notational quirks and then chopping it up a little in an attempt to make a three movement work. This is going to entail a lot of new composition though which excites me.

And speaking of dusting off old works, it's time I got some of my scores out there in the ether. Sibelius Music allows you to post your scores for sale or just general distribution. So I'm beginning the process now of selecting the scores that I want to post for people, considering how to advertise to interested parties that they're out there, and double checking their copyright registration status.

So, I've got my work cut out for me and if I manage to get this string quartet finished eventually, I'm going to submit it like crazy. But for now, I'd better get on that laundry before the laundromat fills up with screaming kids. God save me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Whirlwind...

It's about time I posted these. I haven't been taking very many pictures but I have taken some. These cover the changing leaves, my brother's visit in October and my friend Katie's visit last weekend. There's more of this weekend but they're on my cell phone at the moment and it's tricky getting them off of there.

Autumn in New York


A few things I did this weekend that are of note:

Thursday, Katie and I took a cab from the airport, ate dinner here at my place, then went to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to see An Education. Pretty good film, plus I love going to BAM because the theaters are so cool.

Friday morning, I had to work at 8am so I set Katie up to roam around on her own, purse full of maps of NYC etc. I got off at 5 and came and met her where she was circulating midtown. From Rockerfeller center, where I haven't been since around March (yeah, I tend to avoid Midtown), we walked to Fifth Avenue and then up to 59th and Lex, stopping at a few of the expensive clothing stores that line the route. Then we grabbed the 6 to Union Square and walked down through Washington Square to Caffe Reggio on MacDougal where we had a quick dinner. Caffe Reggio is famous for its owner who popularized the cappuccino in America back in the early 1900s. The decor in this place was amazing and none of my pics came out. They had all manner of old paintings and an early espresso machine on display that was designed to run on a coal or wood fire. The Manicotti was great as well as the pastries. I had something called Sfogliatella while Katie went with the chocolate cannoli. Satisfied, we went to the Hookah bar across the street and smoked some honey berry hookah and chatted with a few New Yorkers that were seated next to us, talking about how early they got up for the Yankee parade (in case you're living under a rock, which there's nothing wrong with, the Yankees won the world series). Passing by a Picasso sculpture on NYU campus, we headed to Broadway Lafayette and went home to sleep off exhausting day #1.

Saturday morning we got up and had breakfast, sort of taking our time getting out. Katie had a meeting at one of the art schools she's checking out up here at 2. So, even though the Manhattan D trains were running over the N line, adding a bus ride to our trip into the city, we had time to get out at 8 St. NYU and walk to Astor Place to get coffee. We were going to walk all the way to 9 st. and 3rd av, where my favorite coffee shop in the East Village is but we didn't have to. The Mud truck was parked in Astor Place. Imagine my glee. We grabbed a few lattes and then took our time getting up to Union Square and subsequently Madison Square Park via Broadway, snapping pics along the way. In Madison Square, in front of the Flatiron building, we met a few guys who happened to have a Holga almost like Katie's so we chatted with them a bit. I was planning on having Shake Shack while waiting for Katie to get done with her meeting down on 21st street. So after we looped through Chelsea, checking out a gallery and a furniture store, I dropped Katie off and headed back to Madison Square to stand in line at Shake Shack. The wait was only about 50 minutes from the time I first stepped into the line until the moment I grabbed my food. Not terrible, because these burgers are worth it. So tasty.

So, having two hours to kill and an interest in locating a French restaurant for dinner that night that I had eaten at before, I set off through Murray Hill on what would be a mostly fruitless search. I had my cousin, who would meet us for dinner later, on the phone since she knew the neighborhood, asking her if she could scour the internet for the place that I could neither remember the exact location of nor even the name of (I later learned from Karishma that it's called L'Express and is actually on 20th street and Park Ave. I was way off). We settled on a place called Serge on Madison and 33rd for after the MET. At 4, Katie came and met me in Bryant Park where I sat with my feet up attempting to give them some reprieve from the relentless pavement pounding that I had been doing. We strolled around the corner to the Kati Roll company on 39th street so she could partake of some of the best Indian Street Food I know of in NYC. After that we took the 4 train up to 86th street and finally hit up the MET. I think we gave ourselves about two and a half hours and managed to sort of scratch the surface of the museum and see some of the exhibits I hadn't seen before. There was an exhibit of photography by Robert Franck from his book, The Americans, then the Modern Art, The European Sculpture, the Medieval art and, one of my favorites, the medieval weapons!

Serge, our choice for dinner was a bit pricey but nice. I had escargots. Planning to be up at 8am Sunday, we headed back home to my place, watched an episode of the British Office and crashed.

Sunday, we kind of decided to blow off a lot of our plans in favor of having a more relaxing time doing the things we did end up doing. So, we went with my contingency plan of touring Brooklyn mainly. I took Katie to a ton of clothing stores in Park Slope, and then we finally went to Gorilla Coffee on 5th ave. Gorilla coffee, as I've been hearing, is pretty fantastic. The espresso is great and the baristas know their stuff, but, bonus, they have a maple latte on the menu, made with real Vermont syrup. Katie got one and it was pretty damn good. After Gorilla, we hit a few more boutiques and a thrift shop and then headed up Union Street to Grand Army Plaza and Prospect Park where we rested for a bit before taking the 3 to Clark Street.

There we grabbed falafel at Heights Falafel, took it to the Brooklyn Heights promenade (one of the best views of lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn side) and ate it there. The Brooklyn Flea Market was not far off and I had almost forgotten about it being Sunday. So we just stumbled across it on our way to the Bridge, spent some time there checking things out, then walked up to and over the Bridge.

That night we had tickets to Avenue Q, so we went home to get ready and had some dumplings in my neighborhood from Prosperity dumpling on 44th and 8th. Avenue Q was moved off Broadway a few weeks ago and is now showing at the New World Stages on West 50th Street, a newer theater built on the site of the old Madison Square Garden. Pretty cool, I must say. And the show, we laughed our asses off at. Racist puppets. Afterward, we strolled up to 59th street Colombus Circle, so I could show Katie where I worked and so we could investigate the cost of a carriage ride around Central Park. Pricey. But we weren't tired, no! So we went in search of cupcakes. A search that led us up to 72nd Street, past Strawberry Fields, over to Amsterdam Avenue where the first shop was closed, on the 1 train down to the West Village where we detoured to Two Boots Pizza on 7th and Greenwich Avenues, and then finally down the street to Bleecker Street where cut northwest to hit up Magnolia, which was thankfully open. We sat and devoured our cupcakes and then moseyed over to the Riverside walk at Bank Street and sat on a pier out there for a bit until we were thoroughly chilled and headed home.

Did I say whirlwind in the title of this blog? Yeah, I still enjoy being a tourist here. Especially when I'm showing someone around. I love seeing reactions to things, although I probably was getting a bit annoying with the amount of times I pointed out the Empire State building from various vantage points throughout the city.

Anyway, I'm back from my second shift of work since the weekend and am again exhausted but strangely energized. I'm working 10 hour shifts this week to make up 40 hours because of difficulty in scheduling. Long story. Luckily, I have one more shift this week and then a lot of bill paying to do on pay day, which I will have off. Saturday night, I'm finally getting to jam with my new composer friend. I'll have more to say Thursday on some things that have been on my mind, more related to more troubling aspects of my life here. So long for now.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Blurb #15

It seems like my blogs of late are always beginning with the fact that I've been working a lot. I'll skip ahead and assume that you've already divined as much since I haven't blogged in a bit. It's late so I'll make this short though. I have a friend coming into town this weekend, one who is considering moving to NYC in the near future, so you can imagine this is going to be fun for me. I've already been having these moments where I start thinking about where I was and in what mindset, etc. this time last year. There was a great deal of scouring craigslist and job search sites going on, daydreaming and internet research. But now I get to watch another friend go through it. From a different perspective. It is a great feeling though to look back on your own journey and see how far you've come, especially if you can distinctly remember bouts of hopelessness, where you thought you'd never make it and how you trudged on through them and how now you can say, I did it!

Anyway, other news, I may have a roommate for next year, tentatively speaking. Won't say too much because I don't want to jinx it. My apartment is clean and enjoy living alone but it's time for a transition in my lifestyle to something more cost effective.

And as for music? I've played my piano the past few days...and thought about some pieces. Really, I've been that busy. Sometimes the most creative I get is during my down time at work when I find myself drumming on various surfaces, which prompted an idea. Instead of buying a drum pad or an electronic drum set to perform drum lines for my recordings, it might be a cool idea to build a few drum pads into my computer desk and have them swivel out, have a kick pedal under my desk and have it all wired in via MIDI cables so that, when I get bored sitting at my computer, and I catch myself drumming some awesome beat, instead of having to map it all out manually or get up and walk across the room to a drum set, I could just play it by drumming on my pads and using the kick pedal under the desk. Sound crazy and like a lot of work to achieve something creative? So?

That having been said, I should go to bed...this wasn't really a blurb was it?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Work work work work work....

I did it again. I looked up and I realized I was in the middle of a 16 day stretch of work. This time the places I did said work were a little less diverse, however. No film shoots. Ever since I got back from Raleigh, 9 days ago, the bulk of the work has been at NY 1. And today I would have been off from work but Technicolor called me to come in and cover for the full time projectionist because he had a death in the family. Tomorrow and Friday I'll be working both jobs.

I've been busy like this for so long, especially since the last film score was finished, that I've been wondering when I'm going to get a nice full day to just dive into some of my own music projects. Over the past few days I have been tinkering with my new software synths and coming up with melodies here and there but I feel an itching to really get something done in the way of coming up with a compositional plan for at least one or two new pieces, either chamber or electroacoustic. I've said before that I don't mind (in fact, that I see the benefit of) working in spurts, an hour here an hour there. But it would be nice to really have some time to finish something. Or at least finish starting something.
It's going to be all about balance though, over the next couple of months to year. I need to work obviously so I can eat but sometimes it feels like it's taking away from my music time.

I'm increasingly aware that the next big musical step for me is to really start writing again. I've made a ton of contacts in my first few months here but I feel like I need to shift back to creating so that I can have fresh stuff to show these contacts and so that my musical output doesn't stagnate. That would be horrible. I find myself trying not envy people who just seem to have it going at this age so they don't have to work full time jobs for the man. But I also have to keep reminding myself that J.K. Rowling was a depressed single mother living in poverty when she was writing the first Harry Potter. Not that I think I'm writing the next Harry Potter or anything here. I'm just trying to find some like minded people to create music with, either for the cinema or television or for the concert stage and/or people's mp3 players.

And speaking of that kind of music, I had an opportunity to get together and jam with a fellow composer this evening but Technicolor blew that out of the water. I ended up working from 830 this morning until 715 this evening so by the time I would have gotten out to Fort Greene the first game of the world series would have been on and we probably would have ended up going to the bar to watch that. And I have to be up for the 8am shift at NY 1 tomorrow.

Soon, I'll iron all this out, my work schedule and whatnot. Then, I'll be able to more easily work my freelance jobs plus my musical endeavors into the picture.

I'll try not to get frustrated meantime.

And I had thought about, since this blog is a blog about being a composer, not bothering to write an entry again until I got started writing music and maybe even had an mp3 or two to post up here. But since this is also a blog about moving to a new city, namely New York City, I figured I shouldn't leave out parts of the journey that are happening now. Like the adjustments, the pitfalls, the mistakes etc.

So now I work for the next 7 days and then I have a friend visiting and then, I promise you, I will get to work on the many musical ideas floating around in my head.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Home?

I just went home to Raleigh for the weekend to visit the family. A great weekend all around. I can't believe my nephews and nieces are growing up so fast. They were loads of fun. All of them. And it was great having everyone in one place for a little bit to reconnect. I wish I'd had more time.

I felt a little different coming back this time. Moving to a new place is strange. Going back is sometimes the only way to realize how acclimated you've become. As I flew back in, I realized several things. One, this city looks awesome from a plane at dusk. Two, we almost always fly over my apartment (I can see it and recognize the street from the plane) and I half wonder if it would be easier to just parachute down, instead of having to take the M60 bus and then two train connections to get home from the airport (adding almost twice the time that the flight takes). Three, I'm comfortable here, at least more than I was. I had a blast in Raleigh but then I came back here to a fairly active social life and a full time job that will be starting soon. Right back into the swing of things.

It's nice. I'm still sitting here wondering if being full time is going to allow me to be as focused on composing as I want to be. I had all these big goals when I was freelance and I had the time to think (between worrying about bills). I guess I'll be able to finish them but I'll have to take a radically different approach. Perhaps just taking a week to set a pace and see how much I can get done on a project, a simple one, without thinking about a deadline. Then, with that in mind, I can get a better picture of what a realistic goal for how much work I can get done is for the next year.

I'm hoping to be able to post some music up here soon. Just some ideas. I should get back into the "Jams." I was composing, earlier in the year, short pieces of music that were, at least initially, composed on the spot. And then a week or so to really finish rounding them out and then spend the rest of the month tweaking and producing it. So, a song a month. I think I could knock that down to a song every two weeks. And maybe could eventually come up with longer versions of them.

I'm also planning on jamming with a composer friend pretty soon. He plays the violin among other things and we're both of the mind to create something innovative. So we'll see how that goes.

Meanwhile, my mind wanders to the question of what is home. I'm fairly grounded here but going "home" to Raleigh always gets me wondering what it really is to say, "home" when referring to a place. So many cliches have been borne of this topic so I will leave it at that without any attempt to add to the clutter of thought there.

It's good night for now. The new Avett Brothers album is pretty good.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sick, and an update...

It's been a while since I've posted anything so I thought I would check in today and just update you a little. I have my first New York City head cold (don't worry mom and Josee, I'm quite certain it's not the swine flu) and I'm working a ton of overtime this week. I've been meeting new people though, through church and through internet sites which I won't name, and so have been getting out and socializing, feeling a little more like I live here.

I remember my mother telling me, when I was a little down about my seeming lack of social opportunty here and missing home, how she remembered feeling the same way a little when we moved down to NC some 25 years ago (wow). She had to leave behind a ton of friends and stability and, though we, as a family, did make plenty of new friends, she still felt like it would never be quite like it was back in good old Stanfordville, NY. For a time, I felt quite certain that I would never feel as comfortable here in NYC as I did when I was living in Raleigh with the friends I had grown up with or gone to college with. But now, I realize that it doesn't matter anyway. Of course, I can't replace my friends and the times I had in Raleigh. This is meant to be a totally different experience and in some ways it might even be better than those times but I prefer to just say different.

When I look back at the college years it's easy to see why everyone was so comfortable and friends were made so fast and why those friendships lasted. You were surrounded by people your age, everyone was excited and everything was new. Without something like college or high school to bring people together, it gets harder and harder to find people that you have things in common with. Hence the popularity of things like Meetups and social networking sites, speed dating even. Ha! I'm not quite there yet though (though I'd look upon something like that as an adventure and would probably only try it as such and never out of necessity).

Anyway, I'm sitting home tonight, having left early from work (for the second night in a row), and trying to recuperate. Paul and Rosalie are in town and off having fun, watching Avenue Q. I received a cryptic text message from my brother around 7 saying that "The Rock Rocks!" which I assume means that he and Rosalie went to the top of the Rockefeller center before the musical. I was feeling a little down because, in my zombie-like state this morning, I wasn't able to show them everything I had planned on before having to go to work (not to mention also feeling bad because they got a parking ticket last night because some cop saw their out of state license plate and decided that they were within five feet of the nearest hydrant). So, I'm glad they're enjoying themselves despite my work schedule and my cold (There'll likely be pictures as soon as the dust clears. I've not been taking any with my own but Paul and Rosalie will probably give me some of theirs).

But anyway, this weekend I shall come home for a bit to see the rest of the family (Jackie and Tim and the kids are back from Japan for a bit). That's something that really hit me this week as well, how much I've missed my family. We've all been talking on the phone but this has to be the longest I've gone without seeing most of them. Yet another side effect of moving out of state. Seems life lately is full of these realizations.

At any rate, the adjustments to life here are still outnumbering the moments I feel morose or out of place. I'm often noticing how certain things have leveled off, seemingly while I wasn't paying attention to them so much. Beyond social graces and such, I've finally got some terrific news in the employment department. I think it's okay to say this now. I mean, I applied to the job this afternoon at work, even if I don't officially have it, it's safe to say that, since they created this position for me, that I have it! A full time job. So, I'm elated about that. This'll make things loads easier.

I guess I don't have too much else to say except that I'm tired but I don't think this city has caught up to me yet. I'm still surviving and not burning out anytime soon. If I can make it here...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Shorter than a blurb...

I have good news but I'm not going to post it until it's official. Most of you will know anyway before it's official but I just wanted to say that I'm quite happy right now.

Blurb #14

Somehow my weekend activities tired me out more than a week of work. ?

This weekend was a blast though. Managed to do something just about every night, from sending Karishma off in style (and helping her pack), to hitting a co workers house warming party (in a high rise in Long Island City on the 28th floor with stellar views of midtown Manhattan). Sunday, I sang at the UU with the choir, had pancake breakfast, and made some more new friends, one with whom I went to lunch and walked all over Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO. After she and I split even, I walked the entire length of the Atlantic Antic festival and eventually, after stopping at Target walked all the way to Crown Heights to help Karishma with some more packing while we watched Darjeeling Limited for the 1,000th time. Mid movie we strolled to a West African restaurant on Franklin Avenue and manged a little bit there. Exciting stuff, they had a sort of sold-by-weight buffet with all manner of charred meats and couscous.

So there's definitely a reason behind my exhaustion last night. I'm quite sure I walked more yesterday than I had all week to and from work and running on only five hours of sleep. I am a little bummed that I didn't have my camera because I caught a lot of sights on the way but I did map the walk for my own curiosity. Turns out it was 8.34 miles from the where I started at the Brooklyn UU to Crown Heights, including all the twists and turns in between and the walk to dinner and then back to the subway at Franklin Avenue.

But it's back to the grind today. Luckily I'm not going in until 1:30 so I could at least sleep in this morning. (Not like that actually happened though, I was up at 8:30).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Falling in place...with my expectations...

I would just like to say that this is the first month where I have successfully paid all of my bills, including student loans, put money away and still covered rent at the end of the month without having to transfer out of savings. Feels good.

I just feel like this is another huge step towards my goals at this point. Now, as soon as the last cues are approved for the film score I've been working on, I can start to really work on my own stuff again in earnest. So things again feel like they're falling into place...I guess that does sound a little trite when, if you look at it right, things are always falling into place, just not always with our expectations. I suppose then I should qualify that. Things are finally falling into place with my expectations.

The film score has been well received as well, for the most part, by the director and producing team. I've really had fun working with these guys too. I'm actually looking forward to starting to focus on my own for a bit. I have a lot of electronic music I want to write, mainly inspired by the chance to really delve into some of the new software synths that I recently bought...and by the fact that I always have beats running through my head and electronic music is sometimes the best outlet for that.

On the other hand, I do have a renewed interest in completing a lot of contemporary chamber pieces that are floating around in various stages of completion, from sketches on a page to hideous earlier version that I seriously need to revamp (I'm talking about you string quartet).

And, this past Sunday at the UU church, I got a chance to talk to the choral director, a bit of a composer himself. I have been planning on singing with the choir there since I started attending but they don't regularly sing during the summer time. I spoke with Bill, the director, about it before the summer began and he'd said now was the better time to get involved. So, after speaking with him and singing a few notes for him, we talked a little about other opportunities. One of the anthems that was sung was his own composition. He took a hymn out of the UU hymnal and re-set it to his own music. I remember liking it so I told him but then he asked me if I ever wrote choral music. This is something that I've had a love hate relationship for many years, probably rooted in the fact that I never, or rather rarely ever, wrote vocals for any of the rock music I co-composed with Jeremy Shaner in high school and with Rory Scott in college (mainly because my own lyrics I felt were mediocre to downright crappy). In college, I sang a lot of bad (I guess I shouldn't say bad, maybe just uninspiring) choral music but there were a few that struck me as brilliant and haunting even, mostly the older stuff. So that's something I've always aspired to but with a cautious attitude so that anything I wrote didn't come off creamy or soupy. Hence, the one thing I wrote in college was, as a result, too difficult to be sung. It was rehearsed but never performed.

But now, I think it's time I revisited the opportunity, since it kind of just fell in my lap when Bill encouraged it after we had spoke about his piece, saying that there were plenty of opportunities and there would always be an audience. Which, to a composer is always thrilling. No one likes creating in a vacuum. You need feedback. Some of the best experiences I've had with my music were having it performed and having people walk up to me afterward and say they loved it/liked it or had questions about it. (Let's face it, it's not often that people walk up to you and say they thought it sucked, at least not in a concert hall after a recital or performance...they save that for later on when they're in the company of friends).

Anyhow, that having been said, I'm optimistic and excited. I'm also working a whole lot and thinking about how I'm going to miss my best friend when she goes back to India. So it's a huge mixed bag. I should eat something.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pounding pavement...

Every once in a while, despite lack of sleep and despite working a long day, I still get the energy to do crazy things. Like:

After work, I strolled down 15th Street from the Chelsea Market to Union Square where I was planning on meeting Karishma. We've been trying to hang out as much as possible because, out of some unfortunate circumstances she's had to drop out of school and, because of her visa, she has less than 15 days to leave the country for India. It makes me sad but I'm sure she's going to make it back at some point. It's all very complicated and I won't go into it. But anyway, she was running behind so I made a few phone calls to kill time, sat for a bit and then, on a whim, decided to walk up to Madison Square Park, on 23rd Street. Once I arrived, I realized I was in the perfect spot because Karishma had never eaten at Shake Shack, and since the name of the game has been doing things that Karishma has yet to do after living here for a year, I figured I would just wait there. So she came and met me and we stood in the mile long line for the Shake Shack which appears to never move because it's always the same length. But this is just a testament to the fact that Shake Shack is awesome. These are the best tasting fast food burgers I have had, (and you will ever have). They almost melt in your mouth.

While sitting and digesting our food we started brainstorming what to do with the remainder of a very young evening. Some of her friends from her brief period as an NYU student were out and about, one's band had a show but we ultimately opted to take a really long walk. Because that's what you do on a night like tonight in Manhattan when you don't want to spend too much money. (Who wants to pay $7 a beer at some random bar anyway?) So, the path we decided on was Broadway from Madison Square Park all the way to Chinatown.

We stopped in Union Square on the way to check out several different bands, one a budding pop star named Chloe Temtchine, who was interviewed recently by my TV station. She recently came up with a genius marketing idea, to play out of the back of a truck that would randomly show up in different parts of the city and to promote the events on her website. So she likes to come to Union Square and perform on the back of her truck with her other guitar player. I wasn't terribly impressed by the music until she started to beat box then sing in Spanish. Another group we saw a few feet away consisted of a drummer, bassist and two saxophonists jamming out (sounded like Morphine), and yet another a group of guys with acoustic guitars, an electric bass and a box drum singing strange ska influenced songs in German and subsequently covering a Beatles song, A Little Help From My Friends. The last guys were the best of all, they had a vigorous stage presence that manifested in frenetic dancing and walking around the space in which they were performing, all the while harmonizing their raspy vocals. They were pretty tight and really amusing.

Contented, we continued on down Broadway past NYU and into Soho, stopping briefly at UNIQLO, where I fell in love with an article of clothing for the first time (weird). $100 pea coat. It'll be getting cold soon. Walking further we watched the architecture and the demographic change and drank in the fall air which is quite intoxicating right now...or is that the urine smell wafting up out of the subway vents?

Either way, the smell in Chinatown itself was a force to be reckoned with but that didn't stop us from stumbling into another hole in the wall Chinese restaurant once we got there that served five fried dumplings for $1.00. I'm not even kidding. On the way we spotted my favorite building on Eldrige Street, which I see out the window of the train from the Manhattan bridge every day on the way into Manhattan.


View Larger Map

We decided not to eat in the dumpling restaurant, mainly because it was so small. So, we carried our snack to Sara D. Roosevelt Park on Chrystie Street, sat on a park bench and chowed down while watching some kids play football in the park and talking about how adventures like this can only be had in a big city like this. All total we walked about 5 miles. I went to www.mapmyrun.com and mapped out the walk. I'm that geeky.

But all that said, I love this city. And it breaks my heart that my best friend has to leave it, even if for a little bit. I know she'll be back though. We dreamers can't be held down. Good night everybody.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Composing in spurts instead of all at once...

I did manage to get a day off in the midst of all that work the past few weeks. Until yesterday, I hadn't had a real day off from every job including the film shoots since the day I got back from Boston. I guess that's what you gotta do sometimes. I knew I wouldn't burn out. So what's new since I last blogged in any sort of detail? Well, I've worked at all three of the paying jobs at least once, helped with the 16mm film shoot in Sunset Park (Saturday we were in Bay Ridge), drunk way more coffee and tea than I usually do, took one hellacious cab ride home from NY 1 the day of the primary election (I swear it took us an hour and fifteen minutes...stupid traffic), helped out with a rather ingenious workaround when our servers crashed at NY 1, helped out with the recovery from said crash, which entailed the staff of the media department re-digitizing all of the commercials and promos that had been corrupted, won my latest poker game, and tried my first bottle of the latest batch of homebrew, which was a surprising success. Good thing I have about 36 more bottles left. Time to brew more.

Oh, and I almost forgot. I've just about wrapped up the music for George's short now. I don't think anything remains but to give them audio files for each track so they can mix with the sound designer.

Meanwhile, I have to be at work this afternoon at NY 1 so I'm just sitting around the house getting things ready for that. Tomorrow and Wednesday, I work at both Technicolor and NY 1, one right after the other. This time it's a morning screening at Technicolor and then I walk up a few blocks to Chelsea for a 1:30 shift at NY 1. Cool how that works out.

Pretty soon, I'm going to start thinking about what music gets worked on next. I may just not think about it and when I get that first day where I can work on my own music, I might just dive into whatever I feel like doing on that day, whatever it might be. Half of me wants to splurge on the upgrade to Sibelius 6 before I get started on anymore notated music but at the same time, I shouldn't let software dictate what I do. I have the tools right now to get to work on the seven or so minimalist pieces that are floating around in various stages of un-completion, and the string quartet as well. I've just been...I'll go ahead and say it: lazy.

Back on this topic again, of whether or not it's laziness to think that there's no point in starting to work on something if you only have an hour or so to devote to it. I'm beginning to think the way to go is really to just dive in, no matter how little time you have to work. In the past few weeks while working overtime at my day jobs, I was still able to wrap up the score to George's picture, with ease, in fact. Why? Because I actually took those tiny time slots and did something with them, without concern for finishing everything I had to do in one sitting. It's all about phases when composing. Because it's folly to think you can finish everything in one sitting, no matter how much time you have to devote...at some point you're going to have to at least get up and go to the bathroom or eat something.

Anyway, I find it helpful even to just jot down notes about what I think I can accomplish at the beginning of each session. That way, even if I accomplish very little, I can at least have a minor sense of accomplishment by ticking things off of a to do list, and hence grant myself the momentum to come back refreshed the next time I sit down to compose.

This is key info that I wish I had had earlier in my career. I always had this mental block in my head at the beginning (say, post undergrad) that having a full time job would make it near impossible for me to compose, or at least to compose for a living or even as a side career. This is a fallacy, as I have proved to myself over the past year or so since graduate school. It's too easy to get overwhelmed by the size of your ideas and to succumb to the line of thinking that composing the way you want to compose is going to take you so much time. Such thinking is exactly what can trap you into thinking that there's no point in sitting down to work unless you have a full day of uninterrupted composing.

Sometimes, the opportunities to get up and walk away occasionally and go do something else are the best thing that can happen to your composing. I quite frequently walk away from my work, humming what I've just written and before I know it, I come up with another part to whatever it is, and before I know it I'm scrawling in a notebook so I don't forget it. Something that might never have happened if I remained in front of the computer, or the piano even.

So, that having been said, here's to composing something, anything, of my own as soon as we've wrapped this score.

And beyond that I have another endeavor I'm working on that I won't say too much about just yet.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Blurb #13

I was going to blog this morning but, it's still very busy and I've run out of time. So, a quick one. Things are moving a long with the score for George's short, "Peeper: A sort of Love Story." I have basically gotten the okay on each different cue that I'm writing so now, it's on to polishing them, putting a shine on them, as it were. On top of that, I have the film shoot this weekend which has thankfully been reduced to just Saturday afternoon, so in the midst of my 17 day stretch that I was casually bragging about, I get a day off, thus breaking up the grind and making it only a 12 day stretch. I work a few more days next week as well but I have Thursday off, thank god. I don't want to say too much but, I've got a ton of hours in place for next month what with the launch of our new operating system, and my boss is even trying to pull some strings to either get me more hours or a full time slot. I'll take anything in between those two. I've gotta go get a haircut now. More later.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Trying no to burn out, but having a blast...

The NY 1 music, all the stings and bumps, jazzy underlays and poppy promos, are buzzing through my head as I walk home from an extremely hectic shift. One of several in a row due to a huge server crash that left us all sort of picking up the pieces in media. Granted, I broke up the days with work at CNN and work on a film shoot that, lucky for me, wound up being located in Sunset Park (This means I've worked all four of my freelance jobs, both paid and unpaid, this month). I had a fun time this weekend despite being exhausted and despite it slowly dawning on me that I'm smack dab in the middle of 17 straight days of work, not always at the same job. I have 9 days left now.

The weekend's film shoot was fun for a variety of reasons. I got to work slate so the bulk of my work meant just keeping track of which take we were on and giving a hand with continuity issues whenever I spotted them, occasionally wrangling the kids involved with the shoot and bringing breakfast food both days (at one point I even had to go looking for an open 99 cent store that sold gray socks because our principal actor had forgotten to wear the same socks on day 2). And yes, I said kids. That was half the amusement. There was a flock of kids who came with parents, some of them with release forms already signed, and then there was a bunch of the neighborhood kids who would have been there anyway playing softball that day. So it was kind of neat getting to see and sort of interact with a cross section of the demographic in this neighborhood because, up until now, no one has really ever spoken to me in the neighborhood.

The second day was much better for weather, in fact, it was a perfect day to be outdoors, such that I didn't mind being on my feet for most of the day. Our shoot the first day had consisted of standing in the occasional drizzle, filming the kids playing softball and grabbing a few lines for the narrative here and there. The second day, we were filming a scene with the main character, (a boy named Mustafa, who was playing an Muslim child who was struggling to fit in with boys his age while having to wear the traditional attire), where he meets a young girl playing hop scotch and she tries to teach him the game. We spent the better part of the day trying to get lines of them meeting and interacting on two different days. The principal female character had her mom and older sister hanging out with us most of the time helping out as well, saying lines from off camera or shading the camera lens when the sunlight changed direction. The older sister was neat to talk to because she had been in several films as an extra, one of which (a film called the Babysitters), she said a line and managed to get the director to make her a principal and pay her even more for the day. Funny, because that can always go one of two ways; either you get made a principal and get paid more if the director takes to your improvisation, or he/she could kick you off the set. The whole experience of seeing these kids, on both days, interact with the film crew and show an interest in what we were doing made me almost wish that I had heard ahead of time about the movie Patch Adams shooting in Chapel Hill, NC when I was in high school. I had friends then who got into that one. I might have tried out to be an extra had I realized how cool it would have been.

All this time getting to chat with cool people and watch the park visitors come and go all day, I got to stand out in the beautiful weather watching the sun on the bay and the sailboats going by, for eight hours, occasionally clapping the slate and then erasing and jotting the next take on the board. It would have been spectacular, admittedly, if I had been paid as well but, in a way, I was paid. These film shoots with Joel are a great opportunity for networking and each time, I meet more people that I can connect with, not only for potential composing jobs but for other potential film and TV work. The cinematographer yesterday works at another production house that often needs projectionists.

So I certainly didn't waste my weekend, even if I didn't get much sleep and I'm half worried about burning out from all this work. At least the bills will get paid and maybe I'll put some money away. Let's hope. For now, I'll spend all day tomorrow finishing writing and recording the music for George's film and trying to wrap that up. Tomorrow night I go in to NY 1 to help with the primary debate coverage. City politics, oh boy. Good night all.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More Boston...

Now, where did I leave off. Oh yeah, Saturday night, after watching a bunch of ridiculous you tube vides we started to look over guide books for Boston. My friends hadn't seen much since they'd been there so they were up for just about anything. Taking into account some things we had missed the day before that we wanted to do, I made an itinerary for the next day that included the Mary Baker Eddy library and surrounding environs, the start of the Freedom trail, Quincy Market and whatever else we could fit in along the way.

The Mary Eddy Baker library was okay. The building and the surrounding plaza were pretty impressive but we weren't terribly interested in seeing the paid exhibits (except maybe the mapparium but I think you had to pay for everything to see the one thing...incidentally, this is an indicator of how cheap [or broke, depending on how you look at it] we are that we couldn't spring 6 bucks to see the mapparium and then ditch). Ditch we did, just like we did the Harvard Yard tour, so that we could move on to other things. Instead of grabbing the Green Line for Park Street we opted to walk up Huntington Avenue and through the Back Bay area until we reached the start of the Freedom trail near the Boston Common. Debating following closely behind a tour group or two, we grabbed some roasted nuts on the common and started down the Freedom trail.

I tried to keep straight all of the old buildings and captioned the photos as best as I could.

Boston Day 2


We breezed through Fanueil Hall and reached the Quincy Market where we waded through the absolute cluster of people until we decided on a place for lunch. Most of the restaurants throughout the place seemed fast foodish but a few seafood places looked good so we chose one that had a lobster bisque and New England clam chowder, grabbed our food and then pushed through the crowd to the outside. We ended up eating in a park close by that is situated right above where they dug the tunnel for I-93.

From there we followed the Freedom trail through the North End, my favorite part of Boston so far. Incidentally, passing this many pastry shops is, as some of you might agree, is damn near impossible without stopping, despite long lines and crowds of tourists. We found one that had massive cannolis and killer tiramisu (well Debbie made a face and said it tasted like Rum and not espresso cake) and munched while standing outside of one of the (or the, I can't remember) oldest Catholic churches in America.

Further on and further in, we wound up walking by the harbor until we crossed I-93 again and turned a corner on Canal Street and headed to Boston Beer Works where we whiled away the afternoon drinking local brew and eating probably the biggest plate of nachos I've ever taken part in. After that we headed back up the Orange Line to Wellington Station to pick up my stuff from their car and then it was off to the bus station to wait for Karishma.

I gotta say, I'm enjoying the fact that I live close to New England and all the many places therein that I've always wanted to see and/or further delve into. That's one good thing about New York City. It's close to so many places worth going, so there's always somewhere to go when you need to get away from the city. But of course, I was glad to get back home and, as I pointed out in my earlier blurb, there's nothing like seeing the skyline approaching from the highway at night (Or from an airplane for that matter).

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Chinatown bus goes to Boston...

Back from Boston now. Sitting at home relaxing with a beer and reflecting on the weekend. I like traveling, especially now that there's that added element of having to take all sorts of public transit so I feel that much lighter when I do travel. I packed up a duffel bag and carried just that and my shoulder bag to work that day so I could leave straight from, no car to worry about parking or fueling. Just as long as I could make it to whatever terminal I was leaving from, I'd be fine. And traveling solo can make you feel even lighter, but traveling with a companion can be just as fun. This trip was actually conceived because Karishma was planning on meeting a friend in Boston, just to get out of the city for the weekend and I realized that going with Karishma would be the perfect excuse to get out and go meet up with Jeff and Debbie for the weekend. I hadn't been to Boston since I was ten either.

I was planning on leaving straight after work for Chinatown to catch the Fung Wah bus, the oldest running Chinatown bus service between New York City and Boston. I met Karishma outside the Grand Street subway and, from there, we decided to throw out our plans of hitting a specific dumping shop, across the street and down a block, and, instead, to get dumplings at the first place that looked good. We opted for a hole in the wall on Chrystie Street, the name of which escapes me, ordered a good amount of food and carried it over to the place where we were to meet the bus. There was a little window in the side of the building with signs for our bus company all over it so we went up to the window to check in. After telling us to sign our ticket stubs she directed us to go wait down on the corner for the bus. So we went looking for the corner she was talking about and had to circle almost half the block before we actually found it. Confident we were in the right place, we promptly got out our food and began wolfing it down, Karishma with hers coated in too much hot sauce. An older Chinese man stopped on the sidewalk beside us and started to eyeball Karishma's dumplings, all cradled in styrofoam and piping hot. I thought he was going to ask her for some, but instead, he pointed out that it was good food we were eating and then launched into his life history, starting in some obscure town in China that was near India, and led through every other city in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Sydney, Australia and a bunch of other places I couldn't remember. I was too busy eating some awesome pork dumplings. A little pre boarding entertainment from yet another one of the city's characters.

When the little ladies with the red shirts and the walkie talkies came around to check our tickets, they gave an approving nod and a proud look when they saw that we had already had them stamped and signed and we proceeded to board. When we got situated, our driver came over the intercom and assured us that he wasn't going to lie to us and that we were in for a long bus ride. He had seen the northbound traffic on I-95 on his way down and decided that we should avoid it, adding almost another hour onto the trip. We drove through the city to the Bronx instead of getting on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, and cruised at a decent speed for what was basically an uneventful four and a half hour trip. The lights of Boston were pretty impressive and I was surprised to see us plunge into an underground tunnel before coming up to the bus station. I had no idea before this weekend about the "big dig," the interstate being underground and all those other things that Jeff told me about associated with the Boston transportation system.

Jeff agreed to meet us at Davis Station because it was about as far for us from South Station as it was from his house in Medford. Sleepy Medford. It was a short ride to Jeff's place and we soon crashed after talking over what we might do the next day. I expressed a desire to take it easy and do mostly free stuff (except eating and drinking of course).

On the agenda for Saturday was to tour Harvard and then go into the city and try and tour the Harpoon brewery and if that was a bust we would just walk around the Back Bay area. Harvard was nice, we took half of a student guided unofficial tour and slipped away from the crowd around the memorial hall portion of the tour and then headed over to Harpoon which was off of the Silver line somewhere on the outskirts of downtown Boston. Karishma left us around Park Street to meet the friends that she'd be staying with for the rest of the weekend. Harpoon's tours were sold out so we checked out the bar area, used their restroom and headed back towards the Back Bay area and walked the Boston Commons area and on through the Public Gardens and down to the Boston Public Library, before heading back to Medford to let the Pug Lola out and eat dinner. That night we went out to Old Magoun's Saloon and had some tasty beers. Here are pics from Chinatown and the first day in Boston:
(The first three are in Chinatown NYC)

Boston, Day 1


I'll write more about the second day and overall impressions tomorrow. I'm too exhausted right now.

Blurb #12

There's nothing like driving into New York City at night and seeing the skyline approach. That having been said, Boston was tons of fun too. A different kind of city with lots of history. I enjoyed myself and took a ton of pics. Saw the Harvard campus, tried to go to the Harpoon Brewery, walked some of the Freedom Trail, and hit Quincy Market, and then landed at Boston Beer Works before grabbing the Chinatown bus back to New York. But now, I'm back to work early and too exhausted just now to recount all the details. Pictures are forthcoming (of course), perhaps tonight. So stay tuned.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Technicolor strikes again...

I picked up a shift short notice at Technicolor today. They called me yesterday and we worked out that I could come in at 4:30pm since I was working at NY 1 from 8 until 4. I was excited as I walked around the West Side with Karishma, because this meant that I would be working all four different jobs during the month of September. NY 1 all over the place, CNN next Friday, shooting with Joel on the weekends and this shift at Technicolor.

Before I get started, here are pics from yesterday's romp:

Upper West Side September best


Anyhow, today was pretty normal at NY 1 and most of the day I was looking forward to walking from one job to the next (One of the five gazillion reason I love this city). Upon arriving at Technicolor, I pretty much had to hit the ground running, as the print we were screening was ready and so were the clients. I managed to screw up a few things in the process of screening this film for them, doing changeovers late, taking too long to run the film back, delaying the following screening. Things like that. But I don't think it was a big deal. Hopefully it might will show them that I need more time getting familiar with the rooms and I'll get more hours there. We'll see.

I've gotta cut this one short because I'm trying to get ready to leave for Boston tomorrow to go see Jeff and Debbie. Fun times shall ensue. Take care everybody.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Work and the impromptu tom-foolery that keeps me sane despite it...

An early, mid-week blog to sort of spew some of the contents of my head. I just had a shit day at work coupled with a great jaunt around parts of Manhattan with Karishma afterward, rounding out the day quite nicely while successfully tiring me out. I'm sure I'll sleep well tonight, that's if the stretch of 42nd Street between 8th and 9th Avenue will have mercy on me tonight and turn down its loud rap music and send its screaming kids indoors.

The shit day at work was really only because of a few misunderstandings resulting in a little bit of unnecessary crossfire between my department and another (coming from the other direction obviously). Nothing that a little perspective couldn't fix though. I don't usually buy into horoscopes and other types of mystical stuff but I read them for the fun of it anyway. I actually get one in my mailbox from a website that purports itself to be Buddhist (it's fairly close) but it's often tinged with a bit of mysticism. Nonetheless it's full of uncanny wisdom and today, it happened to really ring true. This isn't a horoscope in the traditional sense, but more just everyday advice, which is why I read it, because even if there's not the eerie notion that some horoscope writer is predicting my future, it usually contains some gem of wisdom. At any rate, point being, it was right on today and then funny thing is, the horoscope usually ends up in my email box at the end of the day so I have to look back on my day and say, "oh, I guess I could have applied that earlier this morning," or something like that. It's even better when it's telling me how to handle a certain situation and I find that, despite not having read the thing, I already handled said situation exactly, or relatively closely to, the way it told me to.

Weird. Anyway, enough of this. The example. I won't reproduce the whole thing here but it opens like: "You may be on the receiving end of criticism or judgment today, and this could cause you to feel a bit insecure or inadequate." Uh, yeah. So that happened. So I got a little miffed but held it in and then went to my manager to find out whether or not I was in the wrong in this particular situation (instead of fuming about it all day and trying to sweep it under the rug, in case they went over my head with it). Turns out there were steps I or my coworker could have taken that we didn't, let's just put it that way. The details are not important. At any rate, I think I handled it pretty well, even though there was a lot of tension going on throughout the day. The horoscope goes on to say: "Remind yourself of the skills you possess and the work and dedication you’ve put into developing them. If you do receive criticism today, you might consider taking it as constructive feedback. Absorb the information that is helpful and discard the rest."

Sounds like a plan...and that's what I did. Good to know that I instinctively do these things. I knew that if I didn't address my own role in it and forget about how angry I was that my coworker had yelled at me over the phone, then I would gain nothing from the scenario. So that's what I did.

Then, I left work, the second I could and met Karishma at Union Square. We were talking about going to the UWS (okay, okay for all you non-New Yorkers, The Upper West Side), but I randomly suggested we do the Roosevelt Island Tram since Karishma never had. So we grabbed the N Train up to 59 Street Lexington Ave. and walked one block over to the tram. I took loads of pictures. This is the same tram that Spiderman saves Mary Jane from falling out of at the end of I can't remember which Spiderman movie. It glides along beside the Queensboro Bridge (also known as the 59th Street Bridge, Feeling Groovy?). Here are the pics:

Roosevelt Island and Other Stuff_1


After that we walked to 73rd and York Ave. to grab Mexican food at this little hole in the wall called Palazio Azteca that I've eaten at with my friend Matt before. Great stuff. The place is BYOB but luckily there's a little bodega two doors down so we grabbed a tall Corona Extra and brought it in with us.

So, our bellies full, and the weather beckoning we considered going to the Upper West Side anyway, since we were on the Upper East Side and all we'd have to do is traverse the width of the entire island. No small feat so we settled for walking to Central Park and sitting on the Great Lawn and watching the softball games finishing up and the players trickling off the fields.

Such a great night for a walk. And now I'm exhausted and I need to sleep. But first I gotta make a sandwich.