About Me

My photo

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

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Capitalize...

I spent yesterday evening upgrading some things on my Macbook, buying new software, etc.  Yesterday morning was an amazing yoga class and work was been pleasantly slow compared to my first day back on Friday.  It's a much mellower return to routine than I expected.  And now I'm getting ready for the upcoming year.  Scheduled some time at the mastering studio for next Thursday to master the audio for the licensing agency and I have a couple of rehearsals with Lacy next week as well.

It seems just like any other post Christmas run up to the New Year in that I'm thinking about resolutions, as you do.  Yet, I'm feeling so much more optimistic about 2013.  I got thinking about it after a general suggestion from my yoga teacher to not simply make resolutions but to decide what you wanted to bring with you into the new year and what you wanted to leave behind, i.e. what worked and what didn't.  2012 was probably the best year since I moved here and I can't think of much that didn't work except for a tiny bit of personal stuff.  I started the year out a little tame, not really being so aggressive and then, after that first voice gig (well the two in one weekend) came through, I realized what I had the potential to do.  So, I started taking charge of things and managed to get 8 more VO jobs, on top of scoring two shorts, three potential feature lengths that ultimately didn't pan out but showed that my name was getting out there, a promo, a PSA, another potential PSA that didn't pan out but helped me forge another connection, and a contract to license my music for film and TV.   At first, I was merely dragging myself through, saying I had to just keep at it.  But somewhere around halfway through the year, I started to realize that it was momentum and that I had to step it up and capitalize on it, not simply persevere despite how harrowing it can be waiting and waiting for that next gig.

So that's what I decided 2013 should be about.  Capitalizing.  Becoming more proactive with these opportunities.  Things I have happening for the first part of 2013 that I could capitalize on?

The 7 songs that I have going to the licensing agency are almost ready and their release will mean a lot of exposure.  Besides the opportunity for my work to appear in TV and film, producers looking for custom scores will be exposed to my music and may consider me for their projects as well.  Plus, it's a non-exclusive license so there's no saying I can't submit these to any number of other licensing sites.  I came across a great resource that reviews a ton of these sites and will start looking into placing my music with them as well.

Lacy and I are forming a band and planning concerts for the CD release party and beyond.  More full sets, more fully electronic performances, hence my delight at getting my laptop closer to being ready for live performance (finally!).  Meeting new musicians and getting out and playing live more will encourage me to start performing my own stuff once I'm more comfortable using my laptop to do so.  And those who knew me back in high school and college know how much more alive I feel when I'm playing music.  It's one of the things I enjoy most in life.  I am most comfortable in my skin when I'm performing and in my element.  The prospect of doing it again lights me up like you wouldn't believe.

The voice over world is about to get smacked upside the face by my voice.  My promo demo is the next step.  Once in the can, I will finally be ready to start testing out voice over agents in earnest.  And if I can keep up the momentum from last year (even from these last few months of auditioning and people finding me on the web without me having to do much marketing), I'm sure I can make some strides even in just the first few months of the year.

And not as talked about is the fact that I scored two great films last year that I'm really proud of and as soon as they are done, I have even more material for the film scoring reel.  That'll be five solid films that I've scored, plus one promo and a PSA just this year, since I moved to NYC four years ago.

Yes, I said four years ago.  I'm rounding up. I'm still not used to saying "three years ago," to be honest. Time is just flying by it seems.  Just under four years ago I'm came to the city and unceremoniously fell out of a Uhaul truck onto the pavement on 42nd Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn not really knowing if any of this was possible but being extremely excited to be trying it out.  And four years later, I still love this city and wouldn't rather be doing this anywhere else.  Not even LA, where so many people have suggested I should be for film scoring.

But I digress.  Tomorrow's New Year's Eve and I'll be here at work until midnight thirty, at which point I may head to some as yet undetermined bar where I will ring in the New Year Central Time.  Or something like that.  And welcome a new year which I will predict will be as awesome as this one or better.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Home...

Safe and sound in Raleigh after a half day long car ride with Lacy and her sister.  We left at around 7:30 this morning, stopped once in Philly to pick up Lacy's sister, once more for a bathroom break and a final time just before Stafford, VA to get lunch.  The only two bouts of traffic happened between D.C. and Fredricksburg and then again after Stafford so we wound up pulling in to my parents' house around 7:30pm.  Half a day later.  My timing was impeccable as dinner was ready as soon as I rolled in, and the kids were just finishing an episode of "Dr. Who."

It's good to be back and with family for a while.  I don't have to head back to NYC until the 27th so that gives me a few days to relax and enjoy my time here, regroup and maybe even start thinking about my approach to next year.  I have also been tasked with cleaning out the garage of my old stuff as my parents are converting the attic where it was all stored into an apartment.  My how things change around here.

I've been totally messing with my own head a little tonight though.  I'm killing time while my laundry finishes (yes, I'm 31 and I'll still do laundry at my parents' house...laugh), and I started to read old blog entries. It was a while before I realized I was gravitating to the 2009 chapters and reminiscing something fierce about those times.  Not sure why but it's really bringing me back to that mindset I was in back then.  It's weird to be here at my folks' house, where I was when I started to dream about this, reading my story and at the same time knowing how it ends, or at least knowing a few chapters ahead.  It's somewhat cathartic actually to look back and see what I was writing about back then and to find my words about my struggle, proof that I was unsure this would work out and how I was just diving in anyway, sink or swim style.  Apparently, I swam and this is almost like getting a chance to go back and tell my past 2009 self that I was on the right track and, though it didn't seem that way at the time, good things were going to happen.  Eventually.

Tomorrow I see the whole entire family and we eat and open presents and eat some more.  I'm hoping to write some more with more reflections about the year and thoughts about where the journey leads next year.  For now, I'm going to get some sleep because I've been up since 7:30am and I'm running on only 5 hours of sleep.  Good night.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Remix-apaloosa...

I've been ruthless.  Cutting things out, dropping levels of parts I thought were crucial to the song, only to find out how much better things sound without them, adding things in that basically completed the songs and ultimately cleaning things up and getting them ready for mastering.  I've also had some amazing creative spurts, born out of just simply clearing my head and starting fresh on these projects first thing in the morning, while at home alone with no one but the cat and the DVR to distract me. 

It's been great.  And it's made me have an epiphany about my work, specifically where I do it.  It matters to the overall quality of a creative session where it takes place.  I've known this for years on some level really but having two places where I do the bulk of my work has made me realize how important the where is.  My most prolific months to date can be attributed to being in a the most comfortable and, somehow simultaneously exciting place I had been in for years.  My apartment in Greensboro, NC on South  Mendenhall Street in the top floor of a beautiful hundred year old Victorian effing gingerbread house in the semester of graduate school immediately following my divorce and return to single life.  And most significantly, the first time I ever had a living space all to myself (with just a cat).  Starting back to graduate school was exciting, living in that place was incredibly healing and the future was wide open for the first time in my adult life.

Now, my life is still exciting (and getting more exciting every day), I live in another beautiful space, not quite as old, still pretty beautiful, and comparitively sizeable, still not entirely alone (though for most of the day and yes, still with the same cat) and I finally have most of the things I need for a pretty basic home studio, up to and including a damn comfortable chair.  Why would I trade that in for working on my music here at work, furtively shoving my earphones in between answering phone calls and emails, hoping that those famous lulls in activity can sustain themselves long enough for me to get something, anything done? 

Granted, I've found that I can get simple, remedial tasks done here in my down time but ultimately, there's nothing that beats being home and in my own space for creative work.  Those moments where the muse just speaks to you don't happen when you're not entirely focused.  You can't write when you're thinking about it in terms of "getting it done really quick before you have to be somewhere else."  It's so much better to approach the creative task when you actually have time to do this, so you're not thinking about how little time you have to complete something meaningful.  I find that this makes me manage my time much better because if I only have two full days off during the week to write and do creative things, I pretty much have to do my creative work on those days and get the projects up to a point where I can do whatever else needs to be done at work.  For example, if I'm writing out a score for something.  I write the music at home and input the basic idea into the computer while in front of the piano, then I take the score to work with me and add in dynamic markings and clean up the score and basically do anything tedious and mind numbing that I don't necessarily need the creative part of my brain for, or large amounts of focus.   

That said, 6 of the 7 have test mixes ready to go for the car ride on Saturday.  And barring some meteor strike, tidal wave, solar flare, pole reversal Mayan Apocalypse (which won't happen because it's really just the end of the calendar and not the end of the world), earthquake, super volcano, nuclear explosion, I'm sure the world will be around to hear my music get licensed to some film/tv show/commercial/documentary/something something as yet to be determined.  Rock and freaking roll. Daoust out. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Turning anything around...

The remix project almost ate my brain last night.  I have been working on mainly VO things for a few days and, as such, it had been a while since I really took a listen to every track to see where I am with them.  So, last night I did just that while in my last hour of work at NY1 and had a minor freak out because nothing was sounding like I remember it sounding.  I needed that experience to happen though because it made me realize I may have been cutting some corners and making concessions.

This morning, instead of going to yoga, I opted to stay in and work before mine and Lacy's rehearsal.  I pounded my way through every track with a mind to taking a realistic look at what needed to be done on each to bring it to completion (or at least to get them ready for mastering).  There was one track in particular that was just in shambles yesterday night.  Moving MIDI and audio over from Fruity Loops to Logic so I could use new instruments and drum samples was giving me discrepancies between the project tempo and the tempo of the actual files.  Logic was reading them at 138.somethingsomethingsomething when they were bounced out of Fruity Loops at 140 BPM.  I wasn't liking the bass sound, I wasn't liking the new parts I had written on guitar, and I was getting ready to scrap the whole track and leave it for a later offering to the agency.

But something happened this morning.  Something about my mindset when I was composing.  I was already tidying up a little around the apartment and trying to set up my guitar amp to use it during rehearsal instead of using my desktop monitors so I think my mind was a little more organized in general.  I got up at around 8am to begin all of this, had a shower and a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, arugula salad and gluten free toast and a cup of gunpowder green tea, so I was fresh and clear-headed.

Now, I'm listening to the result of all the extra tracks and the tweaks to the placement of the bass notes and even a little cleverly placed break in the drum track and it sounds AWESOME!  I can't wait to post up the new version.  This one and the others.

I also had an epiphany about one of the songs.  The mix on a song called "Song for the Awakened," that's been written and finished for years now, was really really muddy and I couldn't place it.  Really, I hadn't even begun to start ruthlessly dropping instruments out of the mix and, after showing it to Lacy, I finally just muted this one part (a secondary guitar part), and everything sounded so much clearer.  I had also had three different synths playing basically the same part, but several days ago I had decided to just use one keyboard sound that encompassed all the sounds I had been trying to achieve.  Now, the only thing left is that the bass line is a bit busy and overwhelms in parts.  So, there may be some rewriting to be done in there.

And that's just the thing.  I wasn't keen on rewriting any of it because I'm in a rush to get these songs in to the agency.  And why?  No reason.  They even told me to take my time.  So, I should, right?  I want these to be good.  I want people to want to use them.  So I'm not going to submit shit so I can say I was prompt about it.  No.  So why not take the time to craft something really good instead of saying I don't want to rewrite or re record things because it'll take time.  I should be taking time.

Hell, taking another stab at rewriting the track I was talking about earlier "Sleepwalking With You" (an older version is on my soundcloud page), turned out to be so satisfying today, I'm thinking about just not worrying if these aren't all done by the end of the week.  I had envisioned getting them all finished so that Lacy and I could listen to them on the ride to NC this weekend.  Now, I'll just see what I can get done.

I'm just glad I was able to clear my mind and turn it all around in just a few focused hours this morning.  Before I was freaking out a tiny bit about the quality of my work and whether or not I should even be submitting half these songs.  But I don't need to go down that road.  That'd be wholly unproductive to listen to those voices.

With that said, I'm going to get back to it and see what else I can get done tonight.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Blind Barber...

I was walking down 10th Street in Alphabet City in search of a bar called the Blind Barber last night.  Stupidly, I assumed that the actual old school looking barber shop couldn't have been it and passed right by it and the adjacent store front that had no sign in front of it.  I turned the corner on B and glanced up the block aways before turning back and deciding to investigate further.  Lacy had told me in her last text to me that I was in for a surprise.  We were meeting at a party for the PR company she's working with which had an open bar and where we were supposed to meet a ton of music folks.  

I walked more slowly toward where the address should have been and then spotted a store front constructed of old looking wood with an over large iron pair of scissors hanging on the wall.  There was a door with no handle but a slender window in it and, of course, music coming from inside that I had no idea how I had missed before.  Thinking this was maybe some kind of speakeasy, I knocked, like an idiot before turning my head to the left and noticing a gentleman with an eye patch (seriously, not kidding) checking IDs in front of the barber shop.  This was all starting to make sense.  

In the back of an actual two-chair barber shop, where two people were getting actual haircuts, was a sliding door which led to the bar I was looking for.  And the party was in full swing.  

I connected with Lacy shortly after and took advantage of the open bar for a mere ten minutes before we had to start buying drinks.  The crowd was great and everyone was really nice.  Lacy first introduced me to the PR people she's working directly with and then we met a few people who were musicians in bands and just talked the night away.   Dancing was hinted at in the invite but I saw immediately that this was not the kind of party where I'd be trying out my moves from Sunday.  

Did I mention, by the way, that I went to the coolest yoga workshop on Sunday and learned some breakdancing moves?  One of the yoga teachers at Yoga Works Soho that I've been taking class from teaches a breakdancing inspired yoga workshop...or was it a yoga inspired breakdancing class?  She herself got started breakdancing when she was just a teenager and then came to yoga years later and was looking for a way to incorporate the two.  I heard about it from taking her class and got really excited because I've always wanted to learn more about breakdancing and it was a few years ago that I started to notice all the similarities between the two insofar as the kind of strength required for the poses and the moves, etc.  The class was so much fun.  

She got us started with a flow sequence of her design that echoed breakdancing moves, then as the class goes on she got us more comfortable being on our hands and doing inversions.  By the end of it she had us learn a sequence of break dancing moves and stitch them together to do a routine.  The problem is I have been out of yoga classes for a few weeks now, just practicing at home because one of my memberships is suspended and the other doesn't start back up until January.  So I was and am a little sore.  

Anyway, the remixing project is pushing forward now that I have my new software and I'm inches away from calling it done.  Hoping to be sending all this off by the end of the year.  There are 7 songs now I believe ranging from a minute and a half to 4 minutes or so in length.  All of them electronic, some incorporating guitar and bass.  I'm psyched to have them done and out there.  

Right now, I'm waiting to hear back from an opportunity that I won't say much about but that it's big.  Even if I don't get it, I hope to be saying that a lot in the new year.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Overnight...

With the combined blow of people requesting off holiday time and two co workers quitting within weeks of each other, I now sit working my third overnight shift since my shift changed back in June.  I gotta say, it's not nearly as bad as I thought it might be.  My body still remembers how to stay up all night and readjust my sleep schedule and everything.  In fact, I'm finding it eerie how I've slipped right back into the routine.  Thankfully, this is the last one I have to do for the foreseeable future.

It was odd yesterday morning as I headed home to see all the same commuters that I used to see every day on the train.  These are people I've never spoken to except the occasional complaint about the train being late.  But I've come to expect to see them in the exact same place and at the exact same time every day with almost no change in their routine.  Almost like they're part of the scenery.  

I'm sure they'll all be there this morning when I get off work, too.  Just like always.  It seems crazy that I would see the same people over and over in such a huge city but it makes sense if you think about it.  People have their routines and occasionally, the trains actually run consistently on time, usually only at the very beginning of rush hour when I'm commuting. If I ever saw these people anywhere else but their designated spot on the train platform, I'd probably freak out.  I've only had that happen once where I was out and about in the city and saw the same person twice in one day in two totally different locations.  It was way weird.  

Meanwhile, once this little stint is over and I sleep some, it's back to work on the remixes.  Getting ever closer to finishing this project and moving on to the next, getting a VO agent.  And Christmas shopping somewhere in there.  I'm planning on traveling to NC on the 22nd.  Already bought a bus ticket and then found out that Lacy was also traveling to NC on the 22nd and also coming back the same day as me.  So, now I have to find out if I can exchange the ticket (already know I can't refund it).

The remix project was waiting on a crucial software plugin that I was using on a few tracks before I reinstalled everything.  After the reinstall, I realized that I couldn't find that plugin and that I would have to if I was going to keep those songs sounding the way they did.  Not only was it used on one of the remix tracks and not only was I considering using it on another, it was critical to the sound I achieved on the underscoring to "The Life."  It was a certain special effect box that came in Guitar Rig 4 that I used to delay and reverse the guitar parts.  In the version of Guitar Rig 4 that I unearthed after my reinstall began, it was missing and then it dawned on me why: the version of Guitar Rig 4 that I had available to me was not the full edition (it was Essential and not Pro).  I needed it bad I reasoned.

About a week ago, I saw a great deal on not only the newest version of Guitar Rig but all of the Komplete instruments that Native Instruments sells.  This would add multiple synths and numerous samples to my library so I thought it a no brainer and sprung for the software, which came in the mail two days ago.  12 discs which took me 5 and half hours to install!  But I'm eager to try it all out now.  Early Christmas present to myself.

With any luck, these mixes of mine will be done next week and I'll be ready to go to the mastering studio.  I'll keep the updates coming.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Oh What a Night...

I've got a good feeling about 2013.  I keep hearing myself say that.  I just got back from the 2012 New York Voice Over Mixer tonight where I met and reconnected with a ton of really great people.  Though I didn't win any of the raffle prizes, it was a really great night all around.  Besides getting to chat with my current coach and hear more great advice and praise from her on my progress, I reconnected with an old coach, met up with a voice over narrator or two that I met last year and made all kinds of new VO friends and got some great insight from them.  I even met a handful of producers and casting agents.  One, who was a film composer as well, I ended the night chatting with at the after party.  Great guy.  And not the only composer in the house either.  I met another fellow who has been doing voice over as long as I have right about and also composing.

Kinda cool to spend a night schmoozing with my contemporaries and having great conversations with people doing what I'm doing.  This year I seemed to have more direct questions for these people as well, so I feel, in general, like I got much more out of it than last year and may have forged some lasting relationships with these people.  Last year, I did meet some folks but I had to leave early for Tania's birthday concert (something I've attended for the last two years) and thus missed out on most of the event. 

This year Tania's concert and the voice over mixer fall on different days, so I'll be able to make it to that as well tomorrow.  In fact, Lacy and I are planning on performing there when I get off work tomorrow night.  So, that should be great fun.  She and I are gearing up for CD release parties coming up in February, as I had mentioned.  Now that she's here in Brooklyn, we're rehearsing a lot more and today, in fact, I actually went to her place to rehearse for a change (she's always been coming here to rehearse).  So that was nice and convenient.
 
Tomorrow night we play one tune from the new album and potentially two from the old.  It's late now and I've got a long day tomorrow between church choir, work and the concert afterward, so I may have to call it quits tonight after I finish my tea.  So, good night and stay tuned for more updates. 


    

Monday, November 26, 2012

Me and My Lists...

It's turned bitter cold outside recently and winter seems in full swing.  My radiators never start hissing until the mid morning hours when I'm just waking up, so it's often chilly in my bedroom.  I guess this is how I know it's winter.  And I'm just thankful that I have radiators to begin with.  I can't even begint to fathom what the city's less fortunate and the hurricane victims are going through. And it's only going to get worse...might even snow again this week.  

Now, Thanksgiving weekend is already a memory and I'm gearing up for a marathon December between all this remixing and mastering I'll be doing.  Then more voice coaching and hopefully, more voice gigs.  Also, Lacy and I are gearing up for the CD release parties which are only a few months away...dates and locations TBA, of course. For more information see Lacy James' website. :)  I plan to have the mastering done before the end of December at which point I will be sending the tracks off to the licensing agency.  My first batch. I won't say much more about Lacy's CD release because that's for her to announce.  This Friday I'm doing some voice over coaching with Sylvia which should be great.  I'm hoping to have a copy of the last gig I did for the young adult novel web ad to show her.  But we'll see. 

On top of all of that, I've already started my end of year reckoning and planning for next year's goals.  Lists of goals like these are great motivators.  I find them to be quite useful.  Part of the process of fabricating next years list of goals had me looking back at what I set out to do this past year and it's always interesting to see how many more I'm checking off as done than I did last year.  It was quite a few things.  Plus, the ones that I didn't check off weren't left undone necessarily, they just didn't turn out to be necessary or they were started but I realized that they were too ambitious for one year.  Things like finding a voice over agent.  In that regard, the lists can be fluid.  Voice over strategies have morphed a bit.  For instance, I found myself planning originally to email bomb a ton of production houses with my demos once I felt proud of them...but I think subconsciously I wasn't ever truly proud of them until I started racking up actual jobs to put on them.  Now that they're filled out with jobs I've actually done vs. random scripts I read in the studio specifically for the demo, I'm a lot prouder of what I'm putting out there.  Plus, without even using the demo to solicit more work in other places besides Voice123, I ended up averaging a gig a month for the last 9 months.  So, at some point along the line, I deemed it unnecessary to focus my efforts on soliciting production houses and instead hatched the plot to take my track record to an agent.  And now, I feel I'm still not ready.

So, using all of that, I fashioned a much more realistic checklist for next year, for both VO and music, to keep me on track and motivate me to bring them all to completion...or just about as close as I can get.  What's important is the trajectory, not necessarily whether or not I hit my target.  I'm always going to be getting closer and closer.

That having been said, and speaking of lists, I'm at a rather satisfying stage with the remix project now.  My list has been refined to the point where all the tasks on there are final tasks.   When these are done, the project is done.  At the start, the list is always, "what to do to get started."  And in my notes each day, I write down what I did, what still needs to be done and anything else that came up.  Each day the list is changing until one day, I can see the handful of tasks that it will take me to finally finishing the thing...whatever the thing is.  And that's where I am for the remix project.  Each track has a few tasks left, such as rerecording a bassline, tweaking the drum mix or just bouncing out individual audio tracks from MIDI instruments.  (Sorry just threw some music technical-ese in there, my bad).

This is how my mind works best and there are probably better ways to do it but it works for me so I stick with it.  Some might choose to not even start until every task is laid out on a very precise to do list, some might not make lists at all.  Honestly, so much goes in to my endeavors that I can't not make to do lists but on the other hand, I also can't box myself in and have to remain fluid and be able to accomplish things in stages. If I sat down and wrote out every single task that needed to be done I'd probably quail at the thought of starting.  And ultimately, when taking on a project like this (or any other of comparable scale), it's impossible to see what all needs to be done until you start doing things.  It's important to be systematic, of course, and figure out the best place to start, because that could make me quail as well, not knowing where to start.

Hehe...quail.  What a funny word.  Anyway, as you can see I'm getting a little loopy. It's time to shut this down and go to bed...as always.  Wish me luck with the lists and completing all of my tasks.  This coming Sunday night, the great Tania Stavreva is having her birthday celebration concert at Vivaldi Cafe in the W. Village and Lacy and I have been invited to play.  Though I get off work at 11pm that night, we will probably be doing so.  Stay tuned for updates on that.  Good night! 


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving aftermath...

...or, secondary title, I've never had so much food in my fridge from one meal and my kitchen has never smelled so good.  So, all in all, it was a success.  The turkey brine was a great idea.  It left my turkey insanely moist for a bird that just spend almost 3 hours in the oven and the process was pretty simple.  Now, I have a bucket leftover for such tasks should I want to do something like this again in the future.  I probably will.

My gluten free rolls were better the first time around but they still were pretty good today.  Nice and soft, and not too gummy or brittle.  Unlike the stuffing.  I used a loaf of Udi's Gluten Free bread which is my go to for sandwiches but somehow it didn't stand up to being turned into stuffing.  It's crumbly still, though less than other brands, and when the moisture in the chicken broth hit it, it started to disintegrate into a grainy mush.  Not Good Eats, as Alton would say.  It did the job just fine though and was certainly tasty, just not quite the right texture.  I added a red delicious apple for more flavor and used shallots instead of onions.

The gravy also did not thicken as much as I wanted, probably owing to the simple fact that I didn't use enough corn starch to thicken it.  It did gelatinize in the fridge though so that's good.  Maybe it'll be better tomorrow.  Lastly, the sweet potato and turnip mash was amazing and I have so much of it I ended up freezing a huge portion of it, along with a large portion of turkey soup I made after dinner.  The turkey soup, even though I didn't boil the carcass for all that long (maybe an hour and a half), came out excellent and it left my kitchen smelling amazing. That'll be great for the colder weeks to come.

After dinner, we ate a pie that Alexa's mom made.  Pumpkin with a crushed pecan and date crust.  It was so good I'm having to stop myself from eating another slice just because they left me a couple.  It'll be amazing tomorrow.  She had also brought a gluten free quiche that we devoured for brunch when they first arrived.  Crust made out of shredded potato hash. 

I guess all this just goes to show you how a gluten free Thanksgiving is totally possible and not all that hard.  In fact, the harder aspects of today were the typical things that anyone would find difficult doing this for the first time or the thousandth time.  And a lot of that falls under the timing category.

And though it was a challenge, timing everything to be ready at the same time, I managed and it reminds me how much I love planning and executing.  Also how much I love cooking.  I have forgotten that in recent days when I'm confined to cooking quick cooking meals that can reheat well (i.e. one pot dishes and simple chicken dishes, never fish because it never reheats well) and that I can bring to work in separate portions so I only have to cook once or twice a week.  This presents its own challenges and can be fun if I have the enthusiasm and creativity to change it up every once in a while, but some weeks when I'm trying to cram so much into a day between full time work, yoga, and freelancing in voice over and music, it gets tempting to just fall into a pattern and stick with what works.  So I'm almost never trying new things like, say, brining a turkey or baking gluten free rolls.  So, this was great fun.  And I'm thankful that I had the opportunity and the means to pull it off and that I have friends and family to share it with.  That's what it's all about after all. 

And for the record, I'm also thankful that I'm living in this city, still surviving after almost four years, doing what I love and accomplishing, albeit slowly, what I set out to do.  Signing off after a long full day of food and friends.  Early day tomorrow.  Good night. 

Thanksgiving 2012 Best Shots

Thanksgiving blurb...

The bird is out of the brine and hanging out in the refrigerator until it's time to stick it in the oven, the stuffing is cooling on the stove top (looking rather strange owing to the fact that I used gluten free bread and it's kind of falling apart in there...should be extra mushy). I just cut up a cantaloupe in anticipation of the arrival of my guests, who are bringing with them: a gluten free quiche, a gluten free pumpkin pie, some asparagus to roast later on (which I hope I have room for in the fridge when they get here), and hopefully some moral support. 

I'm kidding.  I have a schedule written out starting with the time the oven goes on straight up until the rolls and asparagus go into the oven to bake and roast respectively.  I've been meticulous and thorough (I keep telling myself).  We opted for a late afternoon meal which is different from what I grew up with.  By now, the kitchen is usually incredibly steamy from the oven that's been on since early in the morning when my mom got up to start the meal cooking and we were aiming for a 2pm meal time.  That's why I felt a little nervous sitting around watching TV this morning while I waited.  I've had it in my head that it takes from 6am to 2pm to cook a Thanksgiving meal.  Now that I think about it I'm not sure what my mom was doing that early, except maybe making the stuffing ahead of time and making the dough for the onion rolls.  I think I recall the bird actually going in the oven around 9am or so. 

Either way, I think I've done enough research that this is going to go over quite well.  Before and after pics of the bird? Why not.  Stay tuned. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

No Stress, no mess...

Did I say something about being stressed out about this?  No, I said I understood people who got stressed out.  No, I just remembered that I am the king of time management.  I should be fine.  I love this kind of stuff, remember?  Am I not always going on about that?  Yes, Turkey day will be a cinch.

Okay, I got a little advice from a trusted source.  In fact, I laughed that I didn't think of it before.  Good Eats Thanksgiving episode.  Inundated with the billions of different opinions on everything from roasting temperature to brining to whether or not to even use stuffing, I realized I should go to the sources I trust.   I've made Alton's recipes before and they've never done me wrong.  Difficult and complex though they may sometimes seem, I do like the reliable science that goes into them and the rationales behind the steps.

And even though Alton doesn't like stuffing, I am still keeping that aspect.  His rationale for not stuffing the bird is salmonella and campylobacter, but I don't see why you can't just keep cooking the stuffing in a casserole if it doesn't get up to temperature with the rest of the bird.  Right now, though, the thought of brining the bird does seem enticing.  I'm not sure I can procure a large enough vessel to do said brining before Wednesday night.

The point is, I'm remembering that this kind of thing is fun to me.  Not just the cooking but the planning on pulling things off.  I'm sitting here working on my remixes tonight and making slow and sure progress.  Seeing my well laid plans come to fruition is probably one of the most satisfying aspects of what I do.  When they do come to fruition of course.

I spent some time today looking at some of the project files for the songs I've composed this year. I remembered that I need a plugin that came with Guitar Rig 4 Pro for some of these songs and, since my reinstall I can't find the install file on my hard drive so I've had to install Guitar Rig 4 "essential which I do have lying around, but which doesn't have the aforementioned plugin.  So, now I'm thinking of just upgrading to Komplete 8, which gets me not only Guitar Rig 5 Pro but a whole host of other tasty synthesizers and samplers for a measly $229.  Early Christmas present?  Perhaps.

I've gotten the list of remix-able tunes down to 7 as well, which is much more manageable then the 20, I was trying for initially.  And I've gotten those 7 down to a tight to do list, so as long as I can manage to stay focused in the next few days, I should be able to take these all to mastering by the end of the month.   If all goes well.

With that, it back to simultaneously planning my Thanksgiving feast for 4.  More updates as the process begins from thawing the bird right up to managing the leftovers.


Friday, November 16, 2012

First turkey ever and the to-do list...

I now, finally after all these years, understand how holidays can be stressful to some people.  In just under a week, I will be cooking my first Thanksgiving bird for my girlfriend and her parents.  I bought a 12 lbs.  turkey at the Park Slope Food co-op yesterday and am planning on cooking the poor thing in my own kitchen...which means also hosting the dinner at my apartment.

So naturally, I'm in organizational mode and have been taking on more than I can handle, it seems.  Lukcily, I was able to outsource the pie and some of the sides to my girlfriend and her parents.  But Meanwhile, here's a few of the things I've decided to make:

Sweet potato and turnip mash, because we went back and forth about whether to have mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes or one or the other, or turnips, or not turnips and then this recipe surfaced:

Gluten free rolls, which I'm going to adapt to be as close to my mother's onion rolls that she would always make on Thanksgiving.

And as for that pie I'm outsourcing, Alexa found this.

Now, it's all a matter of cleaning up the apartment, planning the timing of everything I'll be cooking, and somehow, finding two extra chairs.  Thinking about seeing if I can borrow something like that from my neighbors or buy cheap ones.  As it stands I have 2 kitchen chairs, a piano bench, an office chair and two sofas but I think I'd rather have everyone sitting on something as chair like as possible.

The trick to all this is to do lists and time management.  I've found them to be invaluable all these years for the enormous amount of stuff I try to accomplish in the 16 or so waking hours I have every day.  Without to do lists my brain would melt into an incomprehensible pool of obligations and deadlines and I wouldn't know what to do with myself.  And without time management, I would never get anything done...or at least I wouldn't get nearly as much done.

My current remixing project would be nowhere without the lengthy to do list I have in place as there are multiple pieces I'm working on.  It's fluid and each piece has it's own sub-to-do list, with tasks to complete before I get to the creative phase of changing things around (tasks like separating out all the individual tracks and putting them into a new project file in Logic).  I'm changing things daily and deciding which songs I should cut as well.  Hopefully, with the technical stuff out of the way, I'll be getting on with the creative aspects, which are better taken care of in the lair, i.e. when I'm at home.  So I'm doing all of the technical stuff while I'm on the move and here at work.  That's time management.

With that said, I need to take care of a few more of those technical things before I leave tonight.  And then figure out the seating arrangement for Thanksgiving dinner.  Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Voice Over Gig and more remixing...

Just got back from a friend's place in Bushwick.  Great dinner, good times.  And another long day of music, split up by a yoga class and laundry.  This is good, though.  I love when I can get a huge amount of stuff done in one day.  I was tired and didn't get nearly as much done as I had hoped but I did finish separating out all the tracks for every song I plan on remixing.  Now comes the hard part though.  Making tough decisions about what stays and what goes in each piece.  How am I going to maintain the essence of the songs while changing what I think needs to be changed. 

With one piece, I was trying to record a bass line today and now I'm realizing how bad the pick up on this old bass I picked up really is...maybe I'll borrow one, maybe I'll scrap the bass line altogether and just use a synth patch.  It might work better anyway.  The more I listen to that one piece though, the more I don't like some of the chord progressions in certain parts so now I'm thinking of overhauling that aspect of the piece. 

I'm also realizing that some of the others don't need as much work and I'm thinking maybe I should focus on them first.  There are ultimately about 10.  Some I wrote when I was in college and, while I still find them catchy, it's apparent that my compositional skills were not as developed as they are now.  The ones written in the last few years need far less work...mainly just different drum samples and more attention to the mix. 

Anyway, I have a full day tomorrow to make some more strides and hopefully, I'll be satisfied by the end of the day and will have even more momentum. 

This Monday was the voice over gig and boy, was that fun!  :) I never use emoticons in my blogs so...

When I got there, I was running a little bit early and had to wait for the producer to show up.  When he got there he handed me a script with one minor change (at this point, I had the damned thing memorized after how much I had practiced it) and then he headed off into the studio to get set up.  It wasn't long before I was ushered into the studio we'd be using and greeted by the tiniest scruffy black dog named Phil.  Phil was not the audio engineer...in fact, I think he belonged to the producer.  Anyway, I sat down and looked over the script some more and got some direction from the producer and then got set up in the booth.  They had a monitor in the booth with me and I was able to see the visuals from the almost finished spot I'd be voicing over and hear the music in my headphones so it was way easy to get into character and deliver.  Strangely, I thought in retrospect, I didn't get any direction from him in terms of which one of the reads I delivered to him in my audition he wanted to hear.  I just automatically went for the more energetic angsty kind of read vs. the deep movie trailer voice of god read that I also sent him.  We ended up with about 10 takes by the end of it plus 10 more takes of pickups (i.e. give me the first line three times in a row, stuff like that).  Throughout, I never felt nervous or anything, I just did my thing and listened to directions, never took anything personally and always remained professional, only speaking when spoken to and when asked to read.  I found myself far more comfortable than I ever do recording at home, which made me wonder if I shouldn't maybe adjust some things about my home setup.  I still can't put my finger on what it was.  Maybe I just love doing this so much and I was more excited to be in a real studio doing a real job for once, instead of just working with people long distance and corresponding in emails.  I was so comfortable I was even able to crack a joke when we started to get some RF disturbance from the cables and they had to stop the session and switch them out.  I was hearing pop music in my ear from some nearby radio station and when the engineer asked me if I was hearing it, I said, "yeah, and it's not even a good station." 

When we had enough takes, the engineer began to move them around and line them up with the visuals so I could see a finished version before I left. The whole thing took about an hour and I hung around to wait for a phone call back from one of the other producers, I guess, who they wanted to approve it with.  He never called so they let me go at that point, assured he would approve it.  Then I just headed to my other job.

Man, if I could just do that a few more times a week, I'd be golden.  Anyhow, I'm off to bed now so I can be fresh for tomorrow and maybe submit a few auditions on top of the music work.  Good night! 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

New Music, remixes...

Just spent the evening remixing an old tune from a while back.  Going to record a bass line tomorrow if I have time.  And so begins my mission to remix and master 10 songs for the licensing agency by the end of the year.  Hopefully, I can pull this off.  I figured that was the most manageable way to get some music submitted to them soon before starting from scratch on new stuff.

New tracks, I'm going to approach in batches, with regard to what they could possibly be used in (i.e. what kind of shows/movies/documentaries etc.), and also with regard to instrumentation and genre.  For example, first, I may write, solo piano and simple instrumentals, then simple electronic stuff, then rock stuff, then chamber and orchestral.

Old stuff, I took the gems, the ones that I found some catchy element in.  These are tracks that were never released.  I wanted to remix, revamp and even overhaul some of them.  As long as, I could see them working with various types of projects, they were included. 

This is making the process not seem as long and overwhelming.  But it'll be nice to have all of these songs ready and handy.  Just recently, I was talking with someone about supplying music to a short promo for a .org.  I didn't think I had anything prepared that they could use but, after offering to do a custom track for them, I realized I did, miraculously.  Showed it to them but the rest of the production team decided it was too late to change the music.  Either way, it made me realize how nice it's going to be to have all this stuff ready for the licensing agency because I'll also have it ready in case someone asks me directly for music.  This is a non-exclusive contract after all.

Anyway, it's going to be a busy winter.  And I'm psyched as well because on Monday, I go into Big Yellow Duck Studios on W 45th Street to record the voice over for this gig I just got.  Sorta psyched for that.  Will have much more to say about that on Monday evening when all's said and done.  Should be fun.  I'll keep you in the loop.  For now, I'm off.  I have old college friends in town that I'm hopefully having drinks with after work.  Good night!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Aftermath 6, The Kindness of Strangers...

Sunday, I took off from work. The head cold won for a day...or at least I let it think it won for a day.  I slept in until about 8:00.  Yes, I set my clock back before I went to bed.  Every fall, I much prefer this to doing so after I sleep.  It somehow makes the night and that extra hour seem longer.  I can change the time when I'm in a quasi-somnambulistical state, forget I did, and then wake up at a regular time but feel like I've had more sleep.  Anyway, that amount of sleep, almost 9 full hours, seemed to get rid of the aches, most of the snot and a even a tad bit of the coughing.  I'd say by tomorrow morning I'll be closer to 100%.

I wanted to do something, and have wanted to do something all week, with my good fortune following this storm.  Knowing it'd be Wednesday before I could go anywhere that needed help, I opted to donate clothing Sunday because I heard my church was picking things up and taking them to communities in our area, Red Hook and other places on the waterfront.  I also wanted to go to church, even though I told my choir director I wouldn't be there for rehearsal.  Just felt like I needed to be there.  After the harrowing images and stories from this week, and knowing that some of my fellow congregants were affected, I needed to sort of touch base and hear everyone's stories.  Some of the members got up and spoke about their respective adventures throughout the storm.  One woman had a tree on her house and just happened to have taken her family out for dinner that night while the storm was just starting to get bad, so no one was in the house when it happened.  Another, our junior minister, was in the E. Village when the substation exploded on 14th Street. Sounded like it was pretty exciting and scary.  He was outside and, like many others, saw the sky light up blue before all the power went out. 

 I wanted to write a blog at some point sort of encompassing my entire experience with the storm and its aftermath and some reflections.  But it's hard to really know where to start and stop.  For example, the news coverage angle never really stops.  We went straight into election coverage and now there's a Nor'easter slamming the city as if Sandy wasn't enough...it's actually snowing outside right now.  WTF?

Two realizations have come from this experience.  One has to do with the over-arching dilemma of how inefficient and sometimes one-sided news coverage can be and even if it is thorough on some news outlets, how easy it is to assume the one bit of coverage you happen to watch is the entire picture.  For example, I've heard so many sound bites from angry Rockaway Beach residents (whom we've given a chance to shout at the camera and make their voice heard regarding the inefficiency or non-existence of the clean up effort) and, forgetting for a moment that they probably don't have electricity to watch TV coverage of the storm cleanup, it makes you think that, wow, the government is really dropping the ball here, or why hasn't their been any relief out there?  But, stay on the channel for a while, and you'll hear all sorts of reports about how quick and efficient the government response has been to the worst hit areas or how ordinary people are helping out in so many ways.  I saw a story that moved me quite a bit, the local Sikh community in Staten Island were some of the first people (in fact, maybe the first), to go out and serve food to people who were without power and whose homes were destroyed.  The Southern Baptists even came up to serve food to displaced residents in Staten Island.  So, there are amazing things happening and those sensationalized sound bites are merely one side of a story.

I also heard that the gas lines were crazy.  One man was arrested for brandishing a gun at a man who complained when he jumped the line.  But every interview our reporters have fielded from the lines, people seem to understand why the lines are there, why this is happening and they are not angry.  One man said, "so many others have it so bad, so what is it to me to have to wait in line for a few hours?"

It's interesting how people can take one bit of information and run with it without consideration as to whether that bit of information is truth, only a tiny piece of the reality, or a complete falsehood. This is a can of worms indeed so I won't go so far into it.  Suffice it to say that there are far more than even two sides to every story.  While some things as far as cleanup and relief have been inefficient and some bad things have happened post Sandy, I personally choose not to firestorm the government agencies and whomever else because I have had a chance to see several interviews with the local officials over the past few days and I see how big and multifaceted this clean up effort is.  Getting the subways back online in a timely manner itself is a massive feat of engineering and quite frankly, I think the MTA officials are genius for having the presence of mind to shut down the subway to safeguard the equipment.  We are up and running at almost full status as of just about a week later and I'm probably never going to be so quick to complain about a late train for at least a couple of months now that I've been listening to what goes in to keeping the system running 24/7 like it does...the inconvenience of being without it for a few days notwithstanding.  
 
I acknowledge however that I have a pretty comfortable spot to survey this all from and perhaps I would feel differently if my home had been swept away and I was dealing with a range of emotions over the loss and needed somewhere to direct that.  I get it.  But that's just my perspective and I'm aware that it can't be easy to lose so much.  At least three of my co workers had their homes flooded and are dealing with cleaning that up and salvaging what they can.   It's heart wrenching. 

The other realization ties pretty closely in and it has to do with my own reaction to the storm's effects on this community I live in.  I'll preface this by saying that I've seen this in rooms full of people watching news coverage of past storm cleanup efforts a dozen times before over the years.  Every time this argument comes up and I have to pause when I hear it.  Those people in the evacuation zones who are stranded without power, with destroyed homes, what are they even doing there?  They should have evacuated, it's their own fault, how can they expect government help, yadda yadda blah blah blah.   It's almost cliche at this point.   But, my response to that after being this close to a situation like this is this, and it comes straight from Buddhism: we should be compassionate toward people without judgement.  Especially since some of those people either couldn't evacuate because they are elderly, or maybe they weren't even in an evacuation zone but just happened to be affected or couldn't get out once the storm got bad and they closed the bridges so they hunkered down.  The point is, you don't know someone's situation and you can't presume to condemn them and say they are undeserving or they just want a handout.  If someone's drowning, you don't ask what they're doing in the water.  You jump in and try to save them as best as you can.  Ask questions later.  This is what I've seen so many in this city doing over the course of the last week and it's amazingly uplifting.  We as a society should be more like this all the time.  That's a slice of Ana's sermon on Sunday at the UU church.  Kind of this call to not stop at donating clothes and canned goods.  And I agree and I also think it should extend to more than just storm relief.  I'll leave it at that for now though.  I don't much care for proselytizing or grand-standing.  I just feel like we as humans are at our best when we are compassionate toward each other rather than when we are being isolationist or selfish. 

With that, I'm going to photograph this insanity outside my window and get back to troubleshooting my audio/MIDI equipment problems.  And also share with you a wonderful piece of news that I got last night as I was starting my shift at work:  I just booked another voice over gig!  My 9th paid gig in almost as many months and the first one I'll be going into Manhattan to record at a studio.  It's an internet ad for a young adult novel.  I'll let you know how that goes.  The session is Monday at noon.  Talk soon!


Friday, November 2, 2012

Aftermath 5, electricity returns...

The power is finally back on in the Chelsea Market and all around us.  Though to the south it is dark.  We were getting video in from all over on the East Side as the power came back on over there.  People cheering in the streets.  I have no idea how many more neighborhoods will have power by the time I get off work.  I don't feel like I'll be up to typing after a 39 degree F ride home so I thought I'd fill everybody in before I set out.  I still have just under 3 hours before I leave here and I'm not expecting it to be terribly busy.  The two biggest stories of the night practically happened simultaneously: the cancellation of the marathon and the power starting to come back on in waves.  How can you top those, really? 

Anyway, the commute this afternoon was rather unhurried and I even had time before hand to do laundry and grocery shopping.  Some of the shelves at the co-op were empty and the lines were as long as some of the busiest days there.  It was a typical day at the laundromat though. 

I took my bike on the R train and got off at the end of the line in Downtown Brooklyn where I biked over the Manhattan bridge.  I'll do the same in reverse in a few hours, despite the temperature and my pesky head cold.  I need to get that bike back home.  With any luck tomorrow won't be as bad getting in...I don't expect to have full train service but if there's power in Lower Manhattan, hopefully the trains will run over the bridge. 

I will be elated if this is the case.  Moreso than I was taking the elevator for the first time in 5 days when I went to check on my bike just now.  The sidewalks were illuminated on my side of the street, when I went outside, while the opposite side of 15th as well as 14th on south were in darkness.  Only the billboard across the street is illuminated making for an eerie scene still.  One more spooky adventure through Manhattan tonight.  Maybe I'll see revelers in the streets.  I'll try to photograph what I see, if I'm not too cold to stop.  Good night for now. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Aftermath 4, night commutes...

Another interesting commute tonight.  Here are some pictures:

Aftermath 2, Night Shots


After snapping these, I hailed a cab at 7th and Greenwich.  When I was at work one of the last pieces of video I took in at NY1 was footage of the lines for the shuttle buses that are trying to fill in the holes in subway service between 34th Street in Midtown and Downtown Brooklyn.  I didn't want to brave that even though I had been trying for the last few hours of my shift to work out the logistics of such a commute.  It seemed more trouble than it was worth.  I'd have to bus to the east side (if the M14D showed up) and then take a shuttle bus to Jay St./Metro Tech and grab the R train to Prospect Avenue.  No.  Cab was my best shot.  The company will pay for it after all. 

This cabbie seemed harried and worn out.  I told him, after getting in the cab (because you never tell them where you're going until you're secure inside the cab because they can't refuse you once you're inside), Park Slope, 19th Street between 5th and 6th.  He said, flatly, "I don't wanna go."  I sighed and said, "Look, I get it but I gotta get home."  Before he could speak, I said for him to take me to the Manhattan Bridge at least and I could walk to Jay St./Metro Tech for the R train.  He said he could do that then went on to tell me all about how hard it was getting gas and how hard it would be for him to get back to the city.  We shared war stories for the length of the commute and somewhere along the way in downtown he agreed to take me to Jay St.  Before I knew it we had passed Jay St. and he offered to take me all the way to Atlantic Avenue where the new Barclay's Center is now.  I negotiated a drop off on the corner of Pacific and 4th and hopped out right into the subway station.  There were uniformed officers on the mezzanine.  The emergency exit door was propped open, the turnstiles roped off.  Free subway and bus rides until this ordeal is over. 

I wandered into that subway station, eyes wide, realizing just how long it's been since I've been in a subway station.  A couple of days doesn't seem like much until you consider that every day of my life for the past 3 1/2 years, I've spent at least a half an hour inside subway stations.  I reached out and touched the tiled wall on the stairway to make sure I was really there.  When I hit the platform and walked down to the spot where my usual car comes to a halt, I heard it.  The characteristic sound of a train creaking around the corner of the tunnel and crawling into the station.  I've never been so happy to see the R train.  I left work at 9:23 and I hit the street level at Prospect Avenue at 10:10.  That's the most normal commute I've had in almost a week. 

One day at a time.  Good night.

Aftermath 3, Midtown...

Coming to you from a Starbuck's near Penn Station where there's electrical power and life seems normal.  I'm having to stand at a bar near the counter because it's pretty packed in here.  Even if not for the storm, this Starbuck's might be this way.  Crowded, nowhere to sit, wifi jammed up and slow.  But I'll take it.  And I'll take back what I just said, there is one thing out of the ordinary here.  I was just solicited by a man selling portable phone chargers, a clear sign that there's a new market for electricity in the city.  I saw footage on CBS when I dropped by work of people hooking up power strips to the wiring in the manholes and charging their phones en masse in the streets.  Crazy.

Crazy how we're all such slaves to our devices, our windows to the world.  We are not only starved without food, we are starved without information about the outside world and what's going on around our community.  It's not quite apocalyptic here but there is a bit of a sense of what it could be like without all the creature comforts that characterize modern living.  If we hadn't come to depend on so many of these things that run on electricity and depend on electricity (i.e. preservation of mass quantities of food via refrigeration and mass transportation), I don't think we'd be so lost without them.

Speaking of mass transportation, the reason I'm in town so early when I don't have to be in to work until 1:30pm, is that I had a ride with one of our reporters and her producer, my friend who lives four blocks from me.  The reporter was staying in Brooklyn with her sister because they had no power in Westchester.  Because of the mayor's carpool rule, or maybe just because of the sheer fact that there are millions of transit riders forced to drive, the traffic was horrendous.  Strangely, only until you got to the Brooklyn Bridge was it such.  Then, the road opened up and we made it to work from the bridge in only 10 or 15 minutes.   No one was on the West Side Highway.

I dropped by work, grabbed a banana, and checked in with people before setting out for the line between power and no power.  On the way, I ran into one of my co workers and I ended up going back to the hotel where she said there'd be food.  There was fruit and muffins and coffee.  I stayed for a sec chatting with her, noticing that the pool is actually above the lobby's glass ceiling, something I don't know how I didn't notice before.  Then, I came up here.  The walk was easy and it was interesting to see how things were.  People walking and driving around like normal but everything closed up until I got to the 30's.  There was an Episcopal Church handing out sandwiches on 9th Avenue around 26th Street or so.

No I stand here drinking an expensive OJ and leaning on the counter typing.  I have a free copy of the New York Times from today which I will probably read at some point, though I may go outside to do so, if I don't try to send off some long overdue emails.  Much more later on.  Hope you've been enjoying the pics and the updates.

Halloween...

Today, I biked to work.  It was a choice I made last night when I decided I didn't want to take another cab and wait to be reimbursed nor did I want to brave the limited bus service.  It took Katrina 4 hours to get in to work using the bus system.  No, I'd rather snake my way in between the cars on my bike than sit through that kind of ordeal.

Unfortunately, my bike was really in no condition to take such a commute.  But I was determined and, anticipating possibly having to use the bike a few more times before the subway comes back up, I decided to splurge and get a few things I knew I'd need: a bell, a light and, after the ride to yoga made my hands feel like ice cubes: gloves.  Yes, I worked yoga into the mix.  Because yoga was exactly what this stressful ordeal was missing.  A teacher that I most often take classes with posted to my Facebook page that she was definitely teaching in Brooklyn Heights this morning.  So, since I haven't been to class since last Friday, I knew I had to make that part of my day.  And it was the best class ever!  It felt like it anyway.   Just to have a moment of calm in the midst of all of this.

After yoga, I got some advice from my yoga teacher about where to go for a bike tune up and all those accessories I needed.  She's an avid cyclist and bikes everywhere so I knew she'd have the scoop on where to go.  First I hit a shop on Smith and Bergen for the light, bell and gloves and then, since she'd told me I could probably still get a free tune up here, I went to Bicycle Habitat on Lafayette St. in Soho.  The tune ups were not still free but the shop was at least open and, though there was a crowd, I got in pretty quick.  They had no lights but they had a lot of people on staff and bike stands set up, outside the shop even, giving people tune ups.  They were, of course, only taking cash and walking about the darkened store with flashlights to fetch things.  The guy who tuned up my bike, greased my chain and adjusted it for me, had a thick New York lifer accent and sported 3 foot long dreadlocks.  He was animated and seemed like he was having a ton of fun just helping people out who had no other way of getting around but their bikes.  He fixed me up, rather enthusiastically, in just minutes while we chatted about my bike.  Apparently, one of the first kinds of bikes he ever worked on.  $10 and I was out of there on the smoothest ride I'd had on that bike in, well, ever.

I skirted from there over to the West Side with little difficulty.   Only trick was there were no traffic lights so you had to be on alert and wait to cross avenues.  Most cars would stop, especially if they saw a crowd trying to push across.  Then, since I've never taken the Manhattan Bridge to work (beautiful ride, by the way), I sort of had to figure out as I went what the best route was going to be.  The trick?  Follow other bikers.  There were, after all, a ton of them out. Almost as many as the cars.  In fact, Mayor Bloomberg issued a carpool rule for all the bridges into the city to cut down on traffic in the city, especially since there are still no traffic lights below 39th Street.

Work was okay.   The most excitement happened when the news came in that they were evacuating Bellevue Hospital after losing generator power.  The newsroom was all a buzz with everyone running around trying to make sure we could get one of our reporters there ASAP. 

Biking home was probably the coolest thing today.  I stopped and took a ton of pictures along the route, to the extent that it took me an hour and 15 minutes to get home (30 extra minutes than it normally would have on my bike).  As soon as I stepped out into the night, I realized how spooky it was going to be.  Fitting that it's Halloween.  I had my light, which, as the guy who sold it to me said, would not illuminate my path but it would let people know I was coming.  As such, I could barely see the bumps in the road coming and cursed myself once for turning down a cobblestone road in pursuit of some other bikers who I thought might know the way to the Manhattan Bridge.  My bum really hurts right now.

When I crossed back over the West Side Highway after zipping down the Greenway to Tribeca, it became suddenly dark in between the narrow cross streets of that area.  I had the glow of a near full moon and the occasional passing taxi or other cyclist but beyond that I was straining my eyes to see a lot of the time.  Pedestrians would come up out of nowhere, often in Halloween costumes.  Bleeker Street was the darkest but the spookiest was turning onto the bike path on the Manhattan Bridge right where the mouth of the subway tunnel is for the N and Q trains.  I could feel an eerie warmth coming up from the tunnel, and tried to keep from looking down it as I climbed past it on my bike.  In the middle of the bridge, I had to stop and snap a wide photo encompassing both the darkened Manhattan side and the fully lit Brooklyn side, along with the almost full moon and Jupiter floating nearby.

Scary Commute, Halloween Best Shots


I reached a point on the bridge later on where the street lights suddenly came on and looked back a few times to see the sharp contrast, the line between electrified and powerless.  I had to refrain from taking another picture.  I had already wasted so much time and was fatigued.  The rest of the commute home was a breeze compared to all the turns I had to take in Manhattan and the busy streets I had to cross (Houston, Delancy, Bowery, all the avenues, Chrystie St.) and the cobblestones and the darkness and the distractions.  There was one funny moment on 5th Avenue in Park Slope when a woman dressed as a nurse/zombie was lurking in the street near a cab that had pulled over in the bike lane.  She turned to look at me and began to come towards me, fully in character, hungry for brains.  I shrieked and swerved.  Laughter erupted from the sidewalk from the rest of her friends.

Thankful for that final hill, up my street, being short but annoyed at the obstacle of trash cans blocking the gate to the back yard where I lock my bike, I was finally home.  Now, I'm exhausted and have to sleep then literally turn right back around and go into work again tomorrow.  This time, I'm carpooling with a co worker who lives nearby though I have get up much earlier than I normally would need to and will be waiting around for my shift when I get there.  Should be a much easier day, though, as I'll probably take a cab home on the company's dime.  With that, who knows what tomorrow will hold. See ya soon!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Aftermath 2...

Well, I'm home.  Had the smoothest cab ride and only a little trouble finding said cab ride.  Once I got in, I dropped everything and started filling Katrina in as I raided the fridge for something to eat.  I basically just threw a bunch of stuff in an omelette and made some toast.  I also finished off the bottle of wine from Sunday night.  Then I used the toilet which I did not have to manually flush and immediately jumped in the shower.   Hot (and then gradually lukewarm) water never felt so good.

Funny, I thought, how I'm making like it was such a big deal to be without power and running water for what amounts to slightly more than a day, something that can really be totally bearable if you have the right mindset...also if you're prepared for it.  I was not.  That made all the difference I think.  It's all about comfort levels really.  People go camping after all, on purpose, and expose themselves to a lack of hot water and amenities, after all, and they do this for fun.  I think the worst part of it was not knowing what kind of food I was going to have access to.  I could have survived a couple of days longer but I was coming down with a cold and moving back here was really the best option.  To sort of regroup and recuperate a little.  After all, since I'm pulling overtime tomorrow I'm working for six days straight now.  I'm going to need the rest. 

I don't know how I should prepare for tomorrow's shift.  I don't think I want to bike in, because I'd be biking back in the dark (remember there's no power in Manhattan still, read: no traffic lights) without a light on my bike.  But the bus service doesn't make sense and there's no efficient route into the city as none of the buses go over the Brooklyn or Manhattan Bridges I don't think.  Plus, there's no way to heat up food at work so I can't justify bringing food in and will just have to be at the mercy of what kind of food they can get us.  

Still if this the most of my worries I'm probably fine. I keep watching the news and realizing so many people have it so much worse.  This is always the case in just every day life and I'm the kind of person who never takes for granted the good fortune I've had in my life.  Of course, one always needs  perspective and sometimes you can get caught up in your own problems but the truth of the matter is, I dodged a huge bullet with this storm that others did not dodge.  There are 50 homes destroyed by fire in Breezy Point Queens, major flooding and homes destroyed in Staten Island, widespread destruction from wind and flooding all over the city and 18 deaths confirmed in the city already.  The New York City subway system suffered the worst catastrophe in its history and millions of people are without power.  And this is only here in New York City.  Don't forget, this is a storm that was 2,000 miles long and probably affected countless people.  So, my heart goes out to everyone and I found myself earlier today wishing I could help out in some way.  I guess for now all I have time to do is keep helping with the news coverage.  I'm sure I'll find some way.

For now, I have to gather my thoughts and figure out how to get back to work tomorrow, bike or not.  I could buy a light perhaps but when will I have time.  I'm not going to bother packing more than snack food because I can't heat anything up at work anyway.  The microwaves are not hooked to generator power.

Either way, as more news comes in and as the subway system comes back online, I'll keep you all updated on the return to normalcy.    

Aftermath 1...

I woke up to gurgling noise from the bathroom.  We still have no water at the Dream Hotel and I just couldn't sleep anymore, my head buzzing with what I need to do.  I knew I was going to come here at some point and get some news (yes, without power, I still have the option of walking into the TV news station even if I can't turn on the TV).  And also food.  But I also had this to think about: without power, the situation at the hotel could only deteriorate.  Maybe they'd offer free food to the guests at the hotel as it all might spoil anyway, or maybe they wouldn't and I'd be forced to come in to work and hang around waiting for food to miraculously arrive.  Also, I need to assess what I'm going to do the next few days, get clothes, shower, and quite frankly, I don't want to have to continue to manually flush the toilet here at the station, nor do I want to keep climbing stairs as I go back and forth from the Dream to the Chelsea Market.  8 flights on one side, 6 on the other. 

I left my room after packing everything up and took only my camera.  Peering out the peep hole I realized that the lights were on.  Apparently, they do have emergency lighting in the hallway working...odd that they have it on now in the daylight and didn't last night. Whoever's managing this hotel should be smacked.  Even the stairwell was lit and I passed a few guests on the way down.  Some seemed to be checking out. 

When I got to the lobby there were tons of people sitting around digging on the continental breakfast piled on the bar...I thought about checking to see if it was being given away or if it was the same deal, $22, but I thought better of it.  Emergency lights were flashing on the alarms and a buzzer was going off.  It seems moronic that they wouldn't try to shut that off for the sake of the people holed up in the lobby.  I walked out on the street to the sound of sirens and some lingering heavy drizzle that came in waves.  Seeing people with shopping bags from the nearby Western Beef, I assumed it was probably open so I made my way there, not knowing what the situation at NY1 would be.  I wandered in not even having any idea what I would buy, more just curious what I would see...and smell.  There was distinct spoiled food tang in the air around the deli and produce sections.  They did have some refrigeration running but not much.  It seemed warm.  I left. 

Having left everything in my room this time except for the camera, I walked down to the river to shoot some photos where I was yesterday morning.  Luckily, the flood waters are receding.  Unfortunately, the debris they kicked up did not.  Judging by what I saw, the water almost certainly came up over the West Side Highway.

Aftermath


I wandered back to the station, called my dad on the way, snapped a few more photos (which I'll be posting as soon as I can get them off my camera) and now I'm at NY1.   There was a hell of a spread of food in the conference room, thank God.  Mostly snacks from the grocery store but also some McDonald's, Dunkin Donuts coffee, and, of course, pizza.  The four food groups of breaking news. 

I'm debating cabbing it or hiking (if I have to) back to Brooklyn after I charge my phone and call a few of you.  I'm probably going to give my room to someone else here who might need it, grab my bags and try to get back to BK sometime today. I've been offered an overtime shift tomorrow and I probably will take it because, let's face it, I need the money and they need the bodies here.  But it wouldn't be until tomorrow evening.  So there's a slight pull to keep the room and stay here but I'm not sure how much longer I can manually flush toilets without the water pumps running in these buildings and go without a hot shower or clean clothes, which I'm running out of.  I still have enough socks and underwear where I could manage but it's pretty compelling to try and get home and resync.  I can bike back here for sure but then I don't want to bike back late at night.  There's murmors about us getting reimbursed for all cab fare.  I'm thinking what an expense this must be for the company, putting us all up and feeding us and getting us transportation in to work. 

I'll update again when I decide what I'm doing and if I manage to get home somehow today.  Wish me luck.

Storm 7, Power Outage...

I was lying on my bed watching an episode of The Universe on my laptop, considering one last attempt at a nap when the power went out. This was around a quarter to nine. I noticed my phone showed a message from my sister asking if I was okay because they had turned off the power in Lower Manhattan. At that point, I almost got up to turn the TV back on to see what I could see. I heard a noise of wind outside that banged something over again and then, almost as if in response to the noise, the lights went off. "Oh shit. Now it's getting serious" is what immediately ran through my mind. I started frantically grabbing things (not sure why I was so frantic) and throwing them in my bag, mostly valuables, leaving only my clothes there. On some level I must've realized that the locks on the door might not work without the power and if I was going to be here at the station all night, I had better not leave anything that might get stolen. I'm not even sure this thought had time to run through my mind. All I was thinking was I'd better just get to the station where there's bound to be power.

A voice came on the intercom and just kept repeating, "may I have your attention please?" Out in the hallway it was dark except for the exit signs, the emergency lights the hotel promised never having come on. I breezed past the elevator bank to the stairwell, using the flashlight app on my phone to see in the pitch dark stairwell. A few floors down I was passed by hotel workers with flashlights who directed me to go down to the lobby. At the bottom, eight flights later, was another hotel employee directing me out of the stairwell into the lobby. It was quite busy with activity. Diners at the restaurant had their flashlights and phones out and people were milling about. I saw some of the employees checking out the electrical panels. I assume they were trying to get generators up or something. I thought about waiting in the lobby but decided against it.
Upon leaving the hotel, I could see there was no power in many of the buildings except for emergency lighting in stairwells and things like that. The wind howled and rain fell sideways though not as hard as it had done earlier. I jogged across the street, picking up the pace when I heard something rather large sliding down the street behind me, unsure what the wind had picked up and not wanting to find out. I slid into the entrance of the building where the security guard asked me where I was headed and directed me to a stairwell I've never had to use. On the way up I ran into two of the news assistants I work with carrying camera equipment up the six flights of stairs, having just come from shooting footage outside the market. They looked exhausted. The air was quite tense in the newsroom. At that point, I don't think we were on the air, but we were on backup generators for the essentials. Unfortunately, the essentials did not seem to include refrigerators holding all the leftover food they fed us today. The rumor is there will be no food delivery tomorrow. What we have is what we have. Hopefully, things won't be nearly as crazy and we'll be able to get some food here.

My boss told me not to clock in yet and conserve my energy for the long overnight shift ahead. But I couldn't relax. There's too much excitement. I took some pics out the window of the blackout and sat for a while watching all the activity outside, listening to the wind howling and to things shifting on rooftops and down side streets.

Police cars were riding down 9th Avenue with their lights on and there were people walking around with flashlights. I heard someone say there was a group of people stealing sand bags from the front of the Chelsea Market and loading them into a minivan. I sat in the breakroom looking out that window for a while with the security guard who has been here all day. There was so much happening out there and we were straining to hear what the wind was doing and to see where the lights we were seeing were coming from. I've had goose bumps all night long from all the excitement. I tried to take something of a nap in the dark of the break room but did not succeed. When I finally did clock in, it was about 10:15. One of the first things I wanted to do was see a lot of the video that's been coming in all day. It's all pretty harrowing. As my coworkers read me in, I sifted through them all and found one that just blew my mind. This explosion happened at a Con Ed power substation on 14th street near the FDR. For context, we are on 15th street on the West side of Manhattan. The FDR snakes up along the east side. Check it out.



 I saw another video later of a substation four blocks from my apartment in South Slope doing the same thing. I texted Katrina to make sure she was okay. We still have power but I think she heard the emergency vehicles. So this is getting a little crazy now and I'm hearing that power might not be restored for a week. What does that mean for public transit? I don't know. The subway tunnels are flooded, the outer boroughs and beaches are flooded. I don't have any idea when things will be back to normal. I'm going to try and sleep the day away in the hotel tomorrow and maybe try to make my way home somehow. I need reliable access to food and can't count on that here. I was lucky today that I was able to get food. I'll try to keep the updates coming. Good night for now. Four more hours and I can leave. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Storm 6, Noises Outside and Press Conferences...

I fell asleep for a few hours and woke up to near pandemonium.   I woke prematurely, having intended to nap until 7pm but I just lay in bed for a while.  What prompted me to get out of bed though was a loud bang from outside.  I rushed over to the window to try and see what had happened but was unable to see much beyond all the people on the opposite wing of the building peeking out their windows onto their balconies.  So whatever it was must have come from my my wing of the building.  The wind seems to be pretty fierce outside now.   I'm not even sure how high the water has gotten but I'm going to check soon.  Before I came back from work, someone said something about them expecting the water to rise high enough to reach 9th Avenue.  For reference, to those who don't know much about the area I'm in, 9th Avenue is the avenue I have to cross to get from the Dream Hotel to work.  Let's hope I can actually cross it later on tonight.

I read something on Facebook about a construction crane dangling near Columbus Circle and now I'm waiting for the press conference which is starting imminently.   The pictures look pretty crazy.  We have a tower cam at Columbus Circle aimed at the crane.  So far Bloomberg isn't talking about it yet.  Just general storm stuff.  I'll update more as soon as I see what it's doing outside.  I need to get dinner somehow.

Storm 5, The Flooding Begins...

Just got back from a jaunt along the Hudson River with my camera.  It's crazy out there.  The water level is higher than I've ever seen it...which isn't saying much because I've only ever seen it at normal levels before.  It's basically up to the bottom of the piers and spilling over onto the sidewalk.  It's eerie how slowly it rises as the waves come in.  Of course, I wasn't the only one with the idea to go down to the river to see the flooding.  Lots of people who I assume live in the W. Village were out there.  Kids were jumping in the water as it slid across the pavement, carrying with it years and years of debris and detritus.  I've posted the pics on Picasa here:

Hurricane Sandy, First Flooding Pics


Additionally, here are some pre storm photos from yesterday in Greenwich Village

Hurricane Sandy Pre Storm 2


and pics of my room last night!

Dream Hotel, Best shots


I remembered that the Media Ingest department here has USB adapters for compact flash cards so I was able to transfer the pics onto my laptop and upload.  I even sent a few to the assignment desk to see if they'd put them on the air.  More updates to come.  It's raining sideways now.  Glad I'm back inside!