In Progress on a Busy Day

Check out #icprompts on Instagram. I’m sharing some of my photos as prompts. Coming soon to Idleblog too!

Percussion & Repetition x 11.

The formula to something ritualistic and guttural? I don’t know for sure, but I’ve had these phrases stuck in my head for a while. I used to record and experiment plenty with sound, but I haven’t had the chance recently. I do want to lay some tracks down for a few song ideas which are going to become a narrative. I should add, most of the work I do recording demos revolves around creating a story-based songs. I love that feeling of telling a tale that unfolds like rain drops collecting as a puddle; constant, rhythmic and somewhat unfiltered. This concept I’m tinkering with may be an offshoot of a demo album I recorded long ago, called Headphone Music for Nowhere People. It feels similar, perhaps it’s because I hear electric guitar and noise which feels like it belongs in a post-apocalypse, like in that old album.

The Flood, from Headphone Music for Nowhere People (2009)

I’ve thought about recording it on my lunch hour, since I have to go home and see how the cats are doing. Recording demos is really the last thing I should be doing so it doesn’t help to try to cram it in right now. I should probably reserve my lunch time for self care and time to pause momentarily. I’m troubled by my inability to slow down. I can’t blame the coffee either. The mind just wants to race and commit every spare thought to developing a story. Perhaps I need to convince myself once again, that writing and recording is my therapy, and one that yields continuous joy.

I’ll keep you posted,

j

All

All of these beautiful people

All of these people that walked the earth

And the salt of our tongue, resisted

The hall of demons in afterbirth

All of these people that walked the earth

All of these people that walked the earth

And did the Shaman run to the fire?

All of these people that walked the earth

And did the hollow gram of desire

Find you the consequence of your worth?

All of these people that walked the earth

All of these people that walked the earth

You find me not in the short carousel

You find me spiraling down the well

With all these people that walked the earth

Your dream as common as prairie dirt

And I am certain it’s what we deserve

All of these people that walked the earth

All of these people that walked the earth

All of these people that walked the earth

Up next: 25 years of ORMF!

Looking forward to one of my favorite video projects coming fast at the end of July: The Oyster Ridge Music Festival!

www.oysterridgemusicfestival.com/

Truly Wyoming’s Premier Music Festival event, the great folks in Kemmerer, WY host some of the best talent from the folk and bluegrass scene nationwide, and bring them to us FREE! This will be my third year providing videography for the festival and I am just overjoyed to know such a tremendous group of people. This festival, top to bottom, is a complete labor of love. Many of the musicians I have interviewed attest it’s one of the most well-run festivals they’ve played, and time and again, I have heard them say everyone is just so nice around here. I can’t imagine a better message to send out to the rest of the country about what we’re all about in Wyoming.

This will be the 25th anniversary of the festival and I, for one, can’t wait to see this lineup live! Here’s our recap from last year which included the Grammy Award-winning Steeldrivers! Bluegrass is not my default setting, but coming to this festival and surrounding myself in the genre has really made me fall in love with it. There is an earnest quality about the music and undoubtedly an insane amount of talent.


The prep begins!

To me, Oyster Ridge is a one man band videographer’s dream. There is so much happening that without a game plan, it is bound to overwhelm. Lucky for me, I was able to pick up a few tricks from my first trip that now I can simply enjoy the process, the friendly atmosphere, as well as the incredible talent onstage.

When in doubt, I always refer to two of my great inspirations for concert films: The Santana performance in the Woodstock documentary, and Queen’s 1985 performance in Live Aid. I liken that electricity they captured to something perennial and ritualistic and ultimately so gratifying. I’m fortunate this was my introduction to their music and my cassette tape sensibility, which still guides me when it comes to video work. It’s incredibly appealing to hold the camera in my hands as I record the details around me. The imperfections of an un-cinematic zoom, or a panning shot that slightly jitters, are there to remind you there is actually someone behind the camera. I was so hesitant to give up that organic, imperfect feeling that I didn’t feel the need to own a stabilizer until recently. Maybe it’s refusing to adapt, or being honest about what works and doesn’t work for me, but no matter the project, I choose to go handheld most of the time. It’s more immediate to me. More human. That’s what I love about those live broadcasts and now hallowed concert recordings: It really felt like the folks framing the shots really were immersed and invested in what was transpiring right in front of them. I know it’s a tall order to aspire to produce a work like those epic concert films, but it’s fun to revere them and emulate them. In my own way, I want to continue to create videos that highlight the pure joy and freedom of an expertly executed performance. I don’t mean to say great artists who craft technically superb projects using stabilizers can’t connect with their subjects. As artists, we all have an approach that rings uniquely true to each of us. The tools are there for us to create an aesthetic that makes sense to us, and hopefully, will make sense to a viewer. As long as we’re pursuing to deliver something honest.

I’ve been so eager to get back to Kemmerer, I’ve gone back to last year’s footage to remind myself what I’m in for. I like to do a multi-cam setup and work the cuts to amplify the intensity of the performances. I’m moving away from Premiere as well, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to play around with DaVinci Resolve and the other alternatives. The biggest difficulty so far is getting comfortable with the color correction “nodes” in DaVinci, but in due time, I think it will get the job done for me.

Of the many performances we got last year, this closing number from Mike Mangione & the Kin was amazing. Hope you enjoy! More to come,

j

Please check out the Oyster Ridge site for more information! Did I mention it’s free?!

Noteworthy 7.12.19

Happy Friday folks! Heading into the weekend with some links to look forward to!

  1. Let’s start off with these breathtaking award winning images from the Audubon Photography Awards. It’s a nice change of pace to immerse into such beautifully crafted photos during the workweek. Definitely will be on my mind for a while.
  2. Shoutout to playwright Dana Lynn Formby, who shares with us her award winning play  “Johnny 10 Beers’ Daughter,” thanks to The American Playbook Podcast. I got to meet Dana at a playwriting conference and she is just a great soul and fellow Wyomingite, so I’ll be listening this weekend: So should you! 
  3. NPR broke my heart this morning with this article about service members living in fear of their family members getting deported. Men and Women who commit to serving this country should not have to worry about coming back to an empty home due to deportation. Surely, there must be more pressing matters for our nation than to hunt down the Navy officer’s Amá, or abuela. 
  4. My friend Rebecca shared this piece about dancers and the massive obstacles to becoming a professional dancer. I nodded through most of it as I felt it made sense to us playwrights, filmmakers, or any creative folk pursuing some kind of career in our day and age. It talks of a few ways to make inroads, and keeping your chin up.
  5. This week we lost a major creative light in the world. Mr. João Gilberto passed on, leaving a legacy of work that shaped the timeless and spellbinding sound that is bossa nova. I’m hoping to write at length about his work in due time, but for now, I’d just like to write that his songs helped me cope with some difficult times of transition and growth, and I could not be more grateful for the magic he brought to us. I could share the whole of Chega de Saudade, a work that guided me to better spirits, productive writing spells, and optimism when I worked at the cemetery. Instead, I will leave you with his rendition of Jobim’s perennial masterpiece Aguas de Março. I have listened to this track at least twice a week for the last six years. There is so much hope and possibility and introspection in his rendition of the song that it breaks my heart and puts it back together too. Rest in peace, Senhor. Thank you for the new sound.

Anyway, here’s a picture of Oscar licking the inside of this container. Happy weekend friends.

Make art, make haste.

j

Parade Day

The parade started at 10am and I thought I would get to sleep in. No parent with a young child gets to sleep in. This is my burden to bear and I accepted it as I woke earlier than I wanted to for a day I wasn’t prepared for.

I decided yesterday I would take today off for the local Parade Day. I figured it would be a great opportunity to spend quality time with my son and get to do the things we didn’t get to do last weekend.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I struggle with being present. I have a conceptual, scatterbrained mind that takes me decades into the future, then to the lessons I keep forgetting, then to next weekend, then to what’s in front of me. I need to look into that. But for the time being, I have condensed my goal for self-betterment into a concise, attainable focus:

Be present at least once a day. Don’t wander, get out of your head. Enjoy what’s in front of you.

Be present. My son deserves that from me. Typing this as the day comes to an end, I’m feeling pretty good about our outings. In spite of the parking availability, we made it just as the parade was getting underway. Second Street was lined with families and their eager children with their hands hungry for candy and handouts and they littered the edges of a road suddenly too small for parade floats. Then came the local clubs and real estate teams and other floats by organizations of influence and goodwill in our city, and the joy was palpable and bright on a breezy morning. We got sprayed by the water soakers, we got more tootsie rolls than we could handle, and even a little jump rope for my son to practice his hopping. I hadn’t even considered leaving, but after a solid forty five minutes, my boy was ready to go exploring downtown. Hoping to remain in the moment, I opted to let him lead for a little while. 

He examined the splash pad downtown. He hopped around and asked for a lollipop from his parade loot. He said he wanted to sit down and relax so we went into the coffee shop for some shade and a snack. 

We counted the candy spoils and sat enjoying our drinks and our shared chocolate chip cookie. And I didn’t think about anything else. 

These days are a luxury. This is why I opt to take something from them because I know they are few and far between. In those moments when we rise to the surface, and gasp for air before plunging back into the depths of adulthood, I think there is time to evaluate what is good about our pursuits, and why it’s important to stay the course. We must seize the opportunity to look at what’s in front of us, and grant ourselves the clarity to be moved and to be truthful about how things are actually going for us.

I’m lucky because I get to have moments of reflection more and more. I get to pause when others simply cannot. But it didn’t use to be that way. Just two short years ago, I was gasping for air every single day. My pursuits were not aligning with the person I wanted to be and I was investing my time and energy into something that wasn’t compatible with my life anymore. I remember feeling suffocated and directionless and joyless. With those bitter memories faintly echoing in my heart, I am reminded to take nothing for granted. So go forth, enjoy your families, let your commitment to the now grant you the clarity you’re looking for, and joy will come. 

I hope you get a parade day yourself very soon. You deserve that.

j

Noteworthy Links

This song has been stuck in my head all week. Welcome to Throwback Country.

Hope America’s birthday weekend is going well for you all! Just wanted to share a few links I found illuminating and/or interesting. Also, having them here will be useful to check out later. Thanks for stopping by!

1. The Daily is becoming my go to podcast for current events and general discontent. This episode of the detention center in Clint, TX about made my blood boil. Not the best way to start the week, but no way to avoid it anymore. No matter the circumstance, we are talking about children: Toddlers, babies, young lives forever broken for the sake of politics.
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/01/podcasts/the-daily/migrant-children-border-detention-clint-texas.html

2. This one just makes me so thrilled to be working on a brand new, poetry-based iteration of my Creative Drive podcast. Oh how much fun would it be!

https://www.npr.org/2019/06/29/737073800/podcasts-are-providing-a-new-way-into-poetry

3. And this New Yorker article just turns me into a pendulum of love and hate for Instagram. I’m conflicted and I’m afraid I don’t know if IG is doing poetry good or if it even matters. Social media makes me fairly existential, if you haven’t noticed…

https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/yrsa-daley-ward-breaks-out-of-the-instapoetry-pack-with-her-memoir-the-terrible

4. Late into Wednesday night, I had the 90s classic “Barely Breathing” on repeat and still going strong. I wondered what had been of Duncan Sheik outside of Spring Awakening. He always struck me as an incredible talent, but on a whim, I went down the youtube rabbit hole and found this performance, which really highlights his work as a songwriter of the highest caliber. Hope you enjoy as much as I did.

5. Lastly, I found this story illuminating on what’s happening to our neighbors in Gillette. About six hundred employees went in to work Monday morning and were sent home. I’ve been pondering this the entire week and I hope we can come together as a state-wide community and help any way we can. 

https://www.wyomingpublicmedia.org/post/meltdown-started-coal-bankruptcy-dramatically-unfolds?fbclid=IwAR2hF_srkH3_Ab13EQoQurJknnTAaaJNe2XX7KRfdjCqUprh5LGbe1XrySQ#stream/0

Hope to stay up and work on something. I’ll keep you posted!

j

We went how long without podcasting?

So it’s hard to believe I blinked and the month of June ceased to be. I have been trying to edit this episode for I kid you not, THREE WEEKS. However, Life called with plans of its own and I opted to go after it. It hasn’t been necessarily tumultuous but I’m glad I finally found an extra hour to wrap up what I had started so long ago. This month was a lesson in time management for sure, and I will make sure I find a better system so the podcast continues to be delivered consistently! So here it is, what might be our most proficient episode so far highlighting some of our favorite things:

It’s FOMO time! J goes on an intermittent social media blackout and we discuss the repercussions of leaving social media for even a day. Let’s discuss how linked to the system we really are!

We finally get to have our long-awaited conversation about HBO’s superb new miniseries, Chernobyl. While we tried to keep the spoilers to a minimum, please consider watching the show before listening to this episode.

And then it’s Tenacious D! On this throwback segment, Madd and I return to one of the bands that defined the coming of age of a generation. Specifically, we focus on their self-titled debut album. Hilarious, foul-mouthed, genius. Hope you join us on this one!

J&M

Into the Weeds

When I was working as a videographer, I didn’t do a good job on my lawn-care. The wedding industry in Wyoming crams a year’s worth of business into the summer months, so watching the grass grow just wasn’t a priority when the deadlines clawed at my heels. 

As I type, there is an obnoxious weed stifling the grass so horribly I fear I’ll have to start over with grass seed in the fall for next year. It is what it is. The weed is curious though. This weed with the tiny yellow flower, doesn’t sprout upward, but rather, stretches out on all sides on a quest to hug as far as it can reach. It’s a tough, greedy one. And I haven’t had much luck killing it.

If you really think about it, this isn’t an issue that cropped up overnight. This weed made itself cozy while I prioritized work. One of the reasons I left the video business was a complete lack of balance. Yes, this happens often in the freelancer and small business world, but I can’t completely blame my shortcomings on the nature of the beast. Your approach is a reflection of your priorities–Your values, passions, what drives you. I never seriously considered those questions until I let it all get out of hand. Is the lawn that important to me? Do I care what my neighbors think about my lawn? And more broadly, what do I care about? How am I going to spend more quality time with my family? What do I want to pursue and how am I going to pursue it?

To be rid of an infestation is not a short term goal. I didn’t know how to prioritize and balance the work and life balance of my life, so the weeds took over. Now I find it’s not so much about watching the grass grow, but about monitoring and maintaining it.

Usually I’m the kind of person who avoids getting into the weeds because I hate the minutiae of it. The hardship of assorting everything in your life that’s gotten out of hand. However, I’m reminding myself this is my own doing, and I must handle the problem before I resort to that grass-less Southwest lawn style. Let’s not go there.

I have to go now, I hope you have a vibrant, joyful weekend!

j

The typical update about reshuffling priorities.

My middle name is erratic. I have been so gung-ho about producing work and content that my inconsistent output is my only constant these days. Again, I’m revisiting this challenge of finding time to be creative. Since things are wild right now, I figure this might be the fastest way to get the word out:

  1. I’m currently offline from social media Monday-Friday, specifically from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Using Reddit and other apps sparingly. I just can’t keep myself on track if I continue wasting time on these networks. Social Media Blackout it is.
  2. The Creative Drive Podcast is on hold for the summer. Something had to give before the jenga tower fell. It will come back eventually, and that is okay.
  3. Our Kid’s Asleep Podcast will still be going strong!
  4. No more video projects for now until I finish what’s on my plate.
  5. I should be able to post here every now and then. Might be easier this way.

I’m doing this because something has to change. It is my great hope that this time to refocus will mean more quality family time, more learning, and more writing/recording.

Stay tuned folks! And Happy Father’s Day to all you Fathers out there,

j