Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Nah... No WriMo

I wrote the lyrics to three songs today. I opted against trying to do NaNoWriMo this year, because frankly I've got enough on my plate without stressing myself about writing 1700 words a day for the month of November. I'd still like to try my hand at writing a novel, and I've got an idea about taking some of my previous ideas and putting them together with an old short story idea; I don't know if I'm going to attempt this for the next NaNoWriMo, or just do it at my own pace...

...but right now, the album is my creative focus, and so I finally sat down and wrote "Morning, Doves" and "A Blurb" and "A Blur" today. The first was inspired by the loss of a friend (in that most final sense) as well as the end of a romance; the second and third are intended to bookmark the album as its opening and closing tracks respectively, and were inspired by my quote: "Better that your life be a blur than a blurb." I added a few more lines to a fourth song, "They Might Be Roses," too, but that one's not quite done yet, and I'm not sure if it's going to be on the album anyway. Perhaps it will; that would bring me to 42 tracks, and we all know how relevant that number is.

Yes, this thing is going to be a bit gargantuan. I'm planning on using a number of the songs from Joy in the New (remixed and mastered), a number of the songs I've recorded since then, and ten or so that I have yet to record. I've been working on the remixing, and I was quite happy to find the original multitrack recording of "Hole in the Wall," which I'd thought I'd overwritten well over a decade ago. I've also been working on demoing and recording some of the new stuff.

I haven't quite settled on the album title yet, but I may go with The Unfortunate Truth, Signifying Nothing. A reference to myself, a reference to Shakespeare... what's not to like?

I'll tell you what's not to like: Daesh. Fuck Daesh. I don't have very positive feelings for anyone who lets them win their games and gives them what they're after, either. Islam is not at war with the rest of the world, and refugees fleeing from death and destruction are certainly not at war with the rest of the world. It's Daesh, the bigots and sowers of discord, who want to kill anyone who doesn't think exactly like them, and anyone like that deserves our contempt, all of our contempt.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Rainbows Are Visions

I love the Muppets, having grown up with the original "Muppet Show" and enjoyed "Muppets Tonight" as well. Laura was a big fan, too, and we saw an exhibit on the Muppets at the Museum of the Moving Image together before we were really dating. The first movie we went to together was "The Muppets," and we watched many of the old episodes and films at home (and had a habit of singing "Mahna Mahna" together). She and they are kinda inextricably entwined in my mind now, which is both a happy and a sad thing. As a result, I couldn't bring myself to go see "Muppets Most Wanted" when it came out, and I was hesitant about checking out the new show that debuted tonight (and it doesn't help that yesterday would've been our two-year wedding anniversary)... but I decided to watch it anyway.

"My life is a bacon-wrapped hell on earth," indeed. And the "passionate bear" reference... lol This is certainly not "The Muppet Show" or "Muppets Tonight." I'm still adjusting to the "reality TV" angle, but I have to say I enjoyed the premiere very much. "Ivan the terrible... dancer!" "Maybe you're grumpy your spray tan's too orange..." Glad to see the jokes are as good and as bad as ever. Poor Tom Bergeron... As great as it was to glimpse Uncle Deadly using a lintroller on Kermit, though, I do need to see some of those Muppet penguins again!

Boston was nice, thanks for asking. I could definitely have used more time there, but the weather was perfect and I enjoyed the time I did have. I also got some me time in NYC on Saturday evening, opting to celebrate first Oktoberfest (because I'm part German) and then the Feast of San Gennaro (because I'm also part Italian). Weissbier, bratwurst, and zeppoles... yum. I attended another of Tania Stavreva's musical performances, too. Pics, as always, are in the Gallery... of Death!

Yes, I'm making some progress with the album. I've been digging out old files for remixing and mastering, and I'm working on writing a few new songs to be recorded. Slowly but surely. So I'm movin' right along...

And yeah, I think I'll have to sit down and watch "Muppets Most Wanted" soon.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Consider Me Gone...ish

You will not see me much on Facebook / Twitter / Google+ anymore. Read on if you want to know why...

When I started creating accounts on various social networks back around 2006, I was thinking mostly in terms of helping to promote my music. Nine years later, my pictures and snarky comments generate some online interest, but gods forbid I post something about my music... While a few of you do seem to have read my last 'blog post, about the next album, no one had anything to say about it at all. Fine. I have a finite amount of energy, and I've decided it can be put to better use working on the album, and promoting the album and my music in general, than in trading in likes and favorites and pluses. While I appreciate the friends and followers, I need to focus on getting more fans, which most of the friends and followers don't seem to be. And frankly, social media is starting to drain me.

I was going to rant about the level of political "discourse" online (mostly insults and/or threats, because of course the people who don't agree with you have to be stupid, or evil, or both), and about how people are mangling the English language more and more in their tweets and status updates and posts (and even allegedly professional articles), and about how I feel like I've taken a half-step back toward depression just lately... but it's OK. I've said most of it before, you most likely don't want to hear it, and, in the words of Andersen Silva, "The unfortunate truth is that I'll live."

And in the words of Gordon Sumner, aka Sting, "After today, consider me gone." I'm not deactivating any of my accounts, and I'm not saying I'll never look at my Facebook Wall or personal Twitter timeline again. Say something to me directly on social media, and I'll probably respond. I won't be posting those pictures and snarky comments for a while, though. Well, the pictures always get added to the Gallery... of Death! so you can visit there to see 'em. But I think I need some more time away, for my tunes and my sanity. I have to prioritize, and the pictures of your cats and your guns and your meals, the posts about Christie and Obama and Trump and Bernie and Hillary and Paul, the ridiculous and obviously untrue "news" articles... in the words of Sweet Brown, "Ain't nobody got time for that."

My music means something to me. I'd like to think that it means something to someone else out there, too, maybe even some of the people who actually know me, but even if it doesn't, I have to get it out and at least try to get other people to listen, and tell me what they think. It's not about becoming famous, or making money, or earning the respect of any community. This is something I need to do for myself, and (as with all too many things these days) by myself. Like it or not, I'm an artist. Feedback, constructive criticism, encouragement, a dollar... all would be welcomed, but I'm doing this regardless. At the end of this month, I'm turning 45, and I'm determined to have the new album (probably going to be a double) released before I hit 46.

So, no, you won't see much of me on Plusbook or Twitgle or Faceter, other than posts about working on the album and playing guitar. You know where to find me if you really want to. I'm sure I'll be back eventually, but for now, after today... after today... consider me gone.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

My Tunes

The itch to release new music has turned into a fire. After years of sporadically recording songs just to get them done, I realize I need to 'drop' a new album, for my own sake. Of course, I'd like it if you wanted to hear it, too.

Even before I finally finished and released Joy in the New in 2004, I had additional songs written, and several months later I'd begun recording again. The goal was to put out a second album, to be called Tougher Than Flannel, within two or three years. I lost momentum, and a little more of my sanity, however, and as the years passed, I still wrote the occasional song, and recorded as the muse dictated, but the idea of "the album" seemed distant and vague, and eventually I lost whatever commitment to it I might've had.

In late 2014/early 2015, after I recorded "Everything's Different Now" and made my first video, I started thinking in terms of completing an album again. Though the title Tougher Than Flannel still gets a grin out of me, I felt like the songs were generally going to be a bit more somber and dark than I'd originally been anticipating, and I decided I'd name the collection I Can't Possibly Give More Than I Can Give instead. Kind of a throwing up of hands in resignation and also a poke at those who exhort you to "give 110%!"

Lately, however, I've been rethinking the whole idea. I'm starting to feel this next release will be my last in "album" form. I will probably continue to record, but I think it would make more sense to put out the occasional EP with three to six songs on it than to agonize over larger sets of songs, especially when I don't have a fanbase clamoring for them.

With that in mind, I started considering the songs I've recorded thus far, both the new ones and the ones on Joy. There are some that I really enjoy and think are great, but others that frankly need either more work or discarding.

So... what I believe I'm going to do is take the best of the Joy songs and the newer material, re-record some bits where I feel it's warranted, finish another song or two, put more effort into mixing it all better (and actually try my hand at mastering, now that I've got software for that sort of thing)... and put it out as a new, defining album. Possibly a double album, if I feel there are enough good songs to justify it.

I have yet to sit down and cull the material into a list. (As you may have heard, I did some tinkering with my MacBook Pro's disk partitions the other night, and rendered it unbootable for a few days.) I'm going to get to that shortly, though. I've also changed my mind on a title again.

Before I'd completed Joy and settled on its title, I'd contemplated several options, one of which was Straight Outta Nutley (where I lived while some of the tracks were being recorded). I know the "straight outta" thing is simultaneously popular and reviled right now, but no, I'm not going to call it Straight Outta Lyndhurst. Go ahead, sigh in relief... I'm leaning heavily towards The Unfortunate Truth, a line from "I'll Live" (which will definitely be included). I also like Signifying Nothing, however (and award yourself 17 points if you get the reference). If I do end up making it a double album, I could conceivably use both in a double name... we'll see.

I was hoping to complete the album before the end of 2015, but I'm going to shoot for having it released by the first quarter of 2016; if it's ready before then, so much the better, but I'd rather not rush myself. I may set up a GoFundMe with a modest goal, $1000 or so, where every donation of $10 or more will get a copy of the album. Haven't really made a decision on that yet, but if I do it, it's going to be to help with the costs of getting CDs (and maybe posters or buttons or something... maybe even some vinyl?) made, not for pocket money.

That's my story. What say you? I'd love to hear what you think about me putting out a new album, my title ideas, any of my particular songs or my music in general... Please let me know, thanks!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Ride, Sally, Ride

I was feeling mostly happy, but also a little sad, when I got home from a wedding last Thursday night. Happy for the bride, a wonderful colleague of mine, and her husband, but sad for myself, as I couldn't help but be reminded that, in early June 2013, Laura and I were engaged and working out plans for a September wedding.

Then I browsed through Facebook, and even that sorrow was put out of my mind. I discovered that a friend and former colleague, Sally, had passed away on Wednesday, a week ago today, and it just stunned me. I went to bed without having fully processed it, and I'm not sure I've fully processed it yet. It hurts, though, this first irrevocable loss of someone I considered a friend.

To be sure, Sally wasn't one of my closest friends, emotionally or physically; she'd moved from New Jersey to Wichita, Kansas, two years ago, and then to California in 2014. The last time I saw her was in the spring of 2011, at a party she and Matt threw at the house in Oceanport, a party where she urged people to bring musical instruments. I obliged by bringing my acoustic/electric guitar, and while the jam session she might've hoped for didn't really happen, we all had a great time nonetheless. We'd mentioned me visiting Cali, and her staying with me when she finalized selling the house down the shore, but that party was the last time we got together, and at least it's a happy and a fun memory.

Sally didn't stay at Microwize Technology (or any job, really, in the time that I knew her) for too very long, but we got along well and spent time together even after she'd moved on. From wandering a few hours in the Village and getting drinks at Teak in Hoboken afterwards, to sushi and drinks while watching my friend Martin Rivas perform at Sawa in Long Branch, to dinner and drinks in NYC, to drinks at the City Lounge right here in Lyndhurst after work one evening, to doing a shot of rum together in my apartment... come to think of it, we consumed a lot of alcohol in each other's company. Heh-heh. I saw the Indigo Girls, Tori Amos, the Police (on Halloween!), and Bruce Springsteen with silly Sally, too. She goosed me once while we posed for a picture together. She and Matt attended my 40th birthday party and brought pizza. She cried on my shoulder while talking about difficulties she was going through, and I did my best to console her. She laughed and laughed when I answered the phone, "Hello, and welcome to Moviefone!" in my announcer voice. She congratulated me on getting engaged, and offered to return the huge plastic "diamond" I'd found somewhere and jokingly given her way back when (in 2007); she told me last year that she'd come across it again while packing for CA. She brought a smile to my face, though she never convinced me, every time she started a conversation with me with, "Hey, handsome..." She drove some of her other friends and me a bit nuts when she became fixated on Amy Winehouse's "Rehab," but she made us laugh, too.

I'm rambling a bit. My point is, I miss Sally terribly. We may not have been the closest of friends, nor kept in touch too regularly, but we were friends. I laughed with her, I worried about her, I enjoyed spending time and talking with her, and suddenly I never can again, and I'm struggling to accept the loss and the hurt. It feels like a bit of (what's left of) my heart has gone numb.

I love you, Sally. I hope you knew that.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Peel Slowly and See

My Web site was finally overhauled yesterday, and I'm happy with it. Not only have I simplified the design and menu, I've updated pages in sore need of it, brought back some content that was lost during previous "upgrades," and even added a few short stories and poems that hadn't been on the site before at all. It turns out I've written over 35,000 words in my short stories, essays, columns, and poetry, and I've penned the lyrics to 50 songs now; you can read all that online. There are also almost 6,000 photos in the Gallery... of Death! (with larger thumbnails now), so the non-readers have something to check out, too. Heh-heh. The old Frequently Asked Questions page is now a WTFAQ, I've added a few stories to the Anecdotes, Greta's Unmentionables has a page at long last... and, if you look for them, you can even find the restored Foogar site, my old New Jersey Transit Blecch!, and Skinny the Foo's ravings. I've made the original recordings of "Human Thing" and "Troll Doll" available again on the Originals page as well. It's taken quite some time to make all the changes and updates, and it's not lost on me that I could've used a lot of that time to create content, but this was long overdue.

In the process of cleaning and updating the site, a lot of memories were dredged up, happy ones as well as unhappy. Some things I've written in the past make me wince in the present. Nevertheless, it was my past, and I wouldn't be the person I am now if I hadn't seen and done and said and written and felt all that I had then. If you're at all interested in who I was and who I am, feel free to dig in; the menu's right there at the top right.

There's more to come, of course. I'm still writing (and recording) songs. There are a handful of old essays and high school newspaper articles (and my salutatorian speech, if I can find it) I intend to post, and about five incomplete short stories I've stumbled upon that need finishing. Lately, I'm feeling a bit of a poetry itch again, too. And photographs... there will always be new pictures (check out my cousin Helen and me, and the Samichlaus beers we had Friday night!), but there are thousands of old ones yet to be scanned and added to the Gallery... as well. More visitors come to my Web site looking for "man walks into a bar" jokes or the mixed martial artist than for me, but I find that humorous rather than upsetting. I just hope they, and you, will take some time to look around, and maybe even to interact with me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

To New Jersey Transit

On Wednesday, May 13th, 2015, I attended a public meeting of the New Jersey Transit board of directors at NJT headquarters in Newark. With a proposed fare hike looming in spite of service and equipment failures, and said hike intended only to "keep the lights on" and not to improve anything in any way, twelve of us took turns at the microphone to complain, to chastise, to suggest... to be heard. After brief unscripted condolences for the victims, and their families, of the fatal Amtrak derailing the night before, I read the following (from my Nexus 7 and not a printout - got to stay green!). (Update: put up this article about the meeting, featuring a picture of me at the mike, and WNYC put up this one, which has my name misspelled, but still...)

My name is Andersen Silva, and I had to leave my job in Paramus, 20 miles away, at 2:30 PM in order to make it here by 5. One bus, two trains… two hours. In my efforts to be as green as possible, to reduce my footprint on the environment and the roadways as well as to save a little money, I’ve opted not to own a car, but New Jersey Transit makes it harder and harder to justify that decision, and asking us to accept a 9% fare increase simply to maintain the woefully inadequate status quo is pushing the boundaries of fairness and good taste. For me, personally, a 9% increase will cost approximately an additional $250 a year, which I could accept if it bought fewer breakdowns, more frequent service, and fewer missed connections. However, I fear the floggings will continue until morale improves.

While I certainly ride New Jersey Transit to and from New York City on weekends and for concerts and other events, I’m probably one of the few regular intrastate commuters you’ll hear from today, and we’ve got it just as bad as the interstate commuters. When the Bergen Line train gets me to Ridgewood two minutes too late to make the 752 bus in the middle of the winter, there’s no heated area at the bus transfer for me to wait inside for 28 minutes until the next one. Secaucus Junction and Hoboken Terminal might be more comfortable, but no one wants to wait for a train for an hour and a half at either place on a weekend night. Quiet Cars and the MyTix app and My Bus Now are nice, but they’ll never make up for delays and long lines and wait times.

I call upon State Senator Paul Sarlo, Assemblyman Gary Schaer, and Assemblywoman Marlene Caride to represent my fellow commuters and me in the legislature and fight to restore $60 million in subsidies to New Jersey Transit’s budget, and avoid this unfair fare hike. Not investing in our public transportation system, turning a blind eye to the crumbling Hudson tunnels and the failing Portal Bridge, refusing to prioritize the rapid and efficient movement of people to and from jobs inside and outside the state… that’s not the way to go. There are two toll lanes closed, the bridge is out, and I doubt I’ll be the only one to jump if something isn’t done soon. Thank you.