truepenny: photo of the keyboard and raised lid of a 1911 Bluethner grand piano; the inside of the lid has inlaid brass letters reading BLUETHNER LEIPZIG (bluethner 1911)
[personal profile] truepenny
So this year, after a gap of twenty-five years, I started taking piano lessons again, focusing--because I'm an adult and get to choose for myself--on ragtime. There's a bunch of stuff around this decision that does not need to be explored at this juncture, because what I want to talk about is one of the biggest fucking paradigm shifts I've ever experienced.

I learned piano very much in the traditional you-learn-pieces-and-perform-them-at-recitals-and-they-get-progressively-harder mode (also traditional is the nice Lutheran lady teaching piano in her living room), and one of the reasons I started again was that I could work with somebody who went to UW-Madison for music--somebody, in other words, who's been exposed to the theoretical underpinnings not just of music, but of teaching.

Dude rocks my fucking world, I tell you what.

Partly, this is because I'm an adult and I've been exposed to the theoretical underpinnings of teaching (I always know when a teacher is using a particular pedagogical technique on me--which interestingly doesn't always make it less effective). I learn differently now and with a different understanding of what "learning" is. This is the place where Csikszentmihalyi has been extremely helpful to me, because I can recognize how a successful learning engagement works. ("Learning experience" would be a better phrase, but it already has connotations that are really kind of the opposite of what I mean.) And the pressure to learn pieces for recitals is mercifully off, which helps, too. But partly it's because this guy approaches music completely differently, bottom up instead of top down.

But the thing that has changed my relationship with my piano is something my teacher said (and I can't for the life of me remember what it was) that made me understand--quite literally for the first time in my life--that fingerings aren't arbitrary and they aren't just put in music so that teachers can judge whether students are obeying them or not. Here's where playing the piano is exactly like rock climbing:

The notes in the score are like the hand, finger, foot, and toe holds used to set a route in a climbing gym. You work the fingerings out yourself, the same way that a climber works out her own solution to how to get to the top of the wall using the holds available. And he said, "This music is for playing." A weirdass chord progression or run is like a difficult sequence in a route; it's a game, a puzzle that a musician who's been dead for 100 years set for all the pianists who came after him to solve. You work out the fingerings (4-5-3-5 WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK) so that you don't hang yourself out to dry, the same way that a climber works out her holds so that when she has only her right hand free, the next hold isn't three feet to her left. When you make a mistake, you laugh and pick yourself back up and go up the wall again, because it isn't a pass/fail test. It's a game. You have a sense of glee that you share with the route setter about solving this incredibly intricate puzzle almost--in a weird way--together.

What that means is, (1) playing piano, which I have always loved, is now infused with a sense of fun that it truly has never had; (2) I know what I'm learning--not just "music" but the route up the wall, the game that underlies the performance; (3) when I'm fumbling through a new chunk of music, I know why I'm fumbling. It's not because I'm stupid or the music is stupid; it's because my brain is trying to process so much new information that it gets overwhelmed. That's why I miss easy chords and consistently play that damn C-sharp when the piece is written in G. Because THAT'S WHAT THE LEARNING PROCESS LOOKS LIKE.

But honest to god the idea of music as a game being played between composer and performer, and not a game like tennis, but a game like riddling--riddle set and riddle answered--is a seismic paradigm shift for me. Everything looks different now.
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[personal profile] copperbadge
I am like….90% sure I’m going camping this Friday. 

It depends a bit on the weather, but I’m mostly packed, I’ve cooked food that’s currently waiting in the freezer, and I have acquired the third Diane Mott Davidson book to read. 

The plan is to leave work early, catch the train to the campground, camp overnight, and in the morning hike out to a different train station further down the line, about a seven-mile trek, to do a longer endurance test than last weekend’s. Then I’ll catch the train home around noon on Saturday.

If something goes wrong, I can catch an evening train home on Friday until eight o’clock, or starting in the morning at 5:30, with little to no exertion. It’s pretty low-risk and I’m well stocked. I don’t have a sleeping pad, but my backpack has a partial one built-in, and I have one arriving tomorrow (though it might be too bulky, we’ll see). And honestly in this heat, I might just sleep on top of my sleeping bag in any case. 

Worst case scenario, the campground has heated, lockable shower cubicles with nice big floors. I’ve slept on worse. 

Caaaaaaamping! *jazz hands*

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The episodes that never were

Jul. 18th, 2017 08:12 pm
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] resonant
[personal profile] lunabee34 says: "Tell me about the episode (or book chapter) that never appeared in one of your fandoms but should have."

Star Trek TNG: "The Price" is such a god-awful episode that when it leaves those two Ferengi in their shuttlecraft stranded in the Delta Quadrant and doesn't bother to tell us what became of them, that's not even the worst of its crimes. (The worst of its crimes is probably what Crusher and Troi wear to do aerobics.) Anyhow, yes, the Ferengi were acting like jerks, but they didn't deserve to die the kind of death that you'd die stranded in a shuttlecraft 30,000 light-years from home. I think either they should reappear as part of the Borg collective, or the Voyager crew should find them.

Due South: More Ray&Ray. Doesn't everyone want more Ray&Ray? Make RayK go to meet a new informant and discover that it's the Bookman.

The Princess Bride 2: the story of how Buttercup wound up being the Dread Pirate Roberts.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[personal profile] truepenny
Dear Senator Johnson:

Thank you for speaking out against Senator McConnell's methodology, which looks suspiciously more like tyranny than democracy. I hope that you will publicly refuse to vote to repeal the ACA with nothing lined up to take its place. McConnell's plan is catastrophic and could only be put forward by someone who neither knows nor cares anything about the healthcare needs of his constituents. I am strongly in favor of bipartisan reform for the ACA, and I hope that you will reach out to your Democratic colleagues to make that happen.

I know I will never persuade you that you are wrong about the effect of the free market, but, because I choose to believe that you are acting in good faith, I have to--in good faith--try again:

The problem with the free market is that it erodes ethics. Free-market capitalism says that ethics are irrelevant--if they're not actually a liability, making you less able to compete. This is why it is crucial that the government regulate corporations. The government doesn't need to worry about corporations making money. They'll take care of that part themselves. The government needs to ensure that they don't run roughshod over employees and consumers in the process. Deregulating everything and trusting to the free market to solve the problem is like opening all the cages and trusting the tigers to solve the food supply problem. Corporations, like tigers, will solve the problem for themselves. We need the government to make sure the problem is solved for everyone.

This is why we need government. This is why government should never be run on the corporate model. It is not a corporation, and if it is to succeed in providing justice for all citizens, it cannot be a corporation. It has to be the balance to the corporations, to keep their untrammeled free market competition from literally poisoning everything they touch. In the past fifty years, America has proved repeatedly that deregulation is not the answer. Deregulation only and always makes things worse, because--hey, wait for it--our country is not a corporation. Treating it like one merely destroys it.

This is why ethics are not something that can be discarded. Because without ethics, you get the Trump administration, and I have to tell you that, no matter how it looks from where you are, from where I am, all I see are tigers.



There's also email to Governor Walker about why isn't he one of the governors speaking out against ACA repeal?
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] resonant
- There's a group of people who detest it on principle. Asked to define it, they create a definition that basically sorts everything into two categories: Things I Hate, Which Therefore Belong To the Genre I Hate, and Things I Like, Which Obviously Do Not Belong To the Genre I Hate. (Ask a classic rock fan who hates country about Crosby, Stills, & Nash. Or a classic sci-fi fan who hates fantasy about Pern.)

- Traditionally, about a third of it was worthless due to sentimentality.

- More recently, another third of it is worthless because capitalism endlessly churns it out in identical shiny plastic pieces.

- When it's bad, there's nothing worse.

- When it's good, it captures the human spirit so well that it brings tears to your eyes.

(no subject)

Jul. 17th, 2017 01:01 pm
nestra: (Default)
[personal profile] nestra
DS9 rewatch:

"Looking for Par'Mach in All the Wrong Places"

Julian is really invested in the state of O'Brien's marriage, to the point of eavesdropping. That's weird, Julian. As is the idea that Kira is now some kind of pseudo-wife, because she's carrying the baby. We're supposed to be concerned that they're developing feelings for each other, but the complete lack of chemistry torpedoes that. (Poor Keiko. She does not have much to do in this episode.)

Ah, Quark's Klingon ex-wife returns. Not really a storyline I needed follow-up to, but I suppose it's interesting, given the hostilities between the Klingons and the Federation. Or, it's interesting for about 10 seconds, and then the rest of the episode is Worf playing Cyrano for Quark, in between moaning about Klingon opera and Klingon mating traditions.

I guess it accomplishes the main goal, which is getting Worf and Dax together.

"...Nor the Battle to the Strong"

It's a good idea to pair Jake with Bashir in a situation where Bashir is practicing medicine on the front lines. Julian was kind of the baby of the adults when the show started, idealistic about "frontier medicine". Now he's aged into some maturity, while Jake is 18 and still learning how to be an adult. One minute he's fantasizing about something terrible happening so he can write an interesting article, and the next minute he has to confront the reality of that situation.

I am circling back to my theme of DS9 being a show where sometimes, there are no good answers. Bashir's decision to go help means putting Jake in mortal danger. Jake judges a man for injuring himself to get out of battle, but then Jake does something equally as bad, if not worse. These are the wages of war.

The episode title is from the Bible. The verse says that sometimes the fastest person doesn't win a race, or the strongest person win a battle. Sometimes it's just chance, and there's nothing you can do about it.
heresluck: (book)
[personal profile] heresluck
Tracy K. Smith is fast becoming one of my all-time favorite poets. Finding two new poems in this month's Nation was a gift.

The United States Welcomes You

Why and by whose power were you sent?
What do you see that you may wish to steal?
Why all this dancing? Why do your dark bodies
Drink up the light? What are you demanding
That we feel? Have you stolen something? Then
What is that leaping in your chest? What is
The nature of your mission? Do you seek
To offer a confession? Have you anything to do
With others brought by us to harm? Then
Why are you afraid? And why do you invade
Our night, hands raised, eyes wide, and mute
As ghosts? Is there something you wish to confess?
Is this some enigmatic type of test? What if we
Fail? How and to whom do we address our appeal?


— Tracy K. Smith
in The Nation, July 17/24 2017

(no subject)

Jul. 17th, 2017 08:48 am
copperbadge: (radiofreemondaaay)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Ways to Give:

[tumblr.com profile] readera's partner, J, has been in the ER multiple times in the past three months, and their finances are very strained because of it. They're raising $300-$500 for transportation costs and medicine; you can read more and reblog here or give directly here.

[tumblr.com profile] sleepyheathen needs to make next month's rent and is selling items, offering commissions, accepting donations, and has an Amazon wishlist up. You can read more, purchase, or reblog here, or donate via paypal here.

[tumblr.com profile] tony-in-distress is trying to escape an abusive situation and hoping to take her siblings with her. She needs to raise enough money for a deposit on a safe house for her and her siblings to live in. You can read more and help out here.

Anon is raising funds to help a friend cover debt and pay for legal bills after her abusive husband took custody of their youngest son. You can read more and give here; unfortunately due to Australian law apparently they can't provide much information.

Sarah Sadat had to leave her job recently due to stress and is facing mounting medical bills for a failing kidney and previous hospitalization; she has surgery scheduled for next month, and is fundraising to help cover medical and other bills. You can read more and give to the fundraiser here.

[tumblr.com profile] ohstephyy was let go from a job three months ago and hasn't been able to get another one; there are also other costs coming up to cover. You can read more and reblog here; a paypal address is available at the post.

[personal profile] laurashapiro linked to a fundraiser for [personal profile] kuwdora, a talented vidder who is trying to become a professional editor. She has an opportunity for professional coaching from the editor of Burn Notice and Empire, but can't afford the expenses on her own. You can read more and help out here.

Anon linked to [tumblr.com profile] tiarasnteakettles who is looking for work as a harpist, including attempting to purchase a harp that would be a massive upgrade from her current instrument and allow her more freedom in performance. You can read more about her situation and reblog here, including links to her Patreon and online store and Paypal donation address.

[tumblr.com profile] rilee16 is struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and has a fundraiser running to cover living expenses, previous medical bills, and a recent rent increase. You can read more and help out here.

News To Know:

Anon linked to [tumblr.com profile] wanderlust-anthology, an upcoming anthology of reimagined myths, legends, and folklore based on the theme Quests and Journeys. They are looking for creators for this anthology, which will be a full-color printed book with stories, comics, and artwork. You can read more at their tumblr or at the FAQ here; sign-ups close July 30th.

Housing:

Riel is looking for a roommate in Austin, TX to share a townhouse; she and the other roommate (male) are both grad students, and they do have a cat. Riel is very fandom-friendly. Lease starts in August. You can check out the townhouse here and get in touch at ariellayendler at gmail.com.

And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.
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[personal profile] reviews_and_ramblings
The Rules of Love Cara Malone
Lesbian - Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 298 pages
Publisher: Independently published (May 15, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1521294968
ISBN-13: 978-1521294963
Amazon: The Rules of Love Cara Maloneh

Maxine Saddler has never been in love. She knows exactly what it looks like – she’s spent years studying the phenomenon in other people, but her Asperger syndrome makes it far too anxiety-provoking to attempt such a thing in her own life. Instead, she focuses exclusively on academics. She’s 23 years old, starting grad school, and perfectly content to ignore the world beyond her textbooks. That is, until she meets Ruby Satterwhite, who makes Max want to give love one more shot. Ruby is the consummate social butterfly – sorority president, extracurricular list a mile long, and stunning to boot. In short, she’s way out of Max’s league, and on top of it all, she kind of hates Max for how she blurts out whatever’s on her mind, no matter how blunt. But when they’re thrown grudgingly together for a group project in their first class, the heavens open up and the sparks begin to fly. There are only two problems – Ruby’s still pining for her perfect ex-girlfriend. It’s time to turn on the charm like never before, but can Max master the rules of love?
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[personal profile] reviews_and_ramblings
Rubber-Band Ball (The Mason Braithwaite #5) Christopher Church
Gay - Sci-Fi / Futuristic
Series: The Mason Braithwaite Paranormal Mystery Series (Book 5)
Paperback: 254 pages
Publisher: Dagmar Miura (January 3, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1942267193
ISBN-13: 978-1942267195
Amazon: Rubber-Band Ball (The Mason Braithwaite #5) Christopher Church

A metallurgist's desire for Mason to locate the earth energy points running under Los Angeles seems straightforward enough, but what is he planning to do with them once he knows where they are? A shady real estate transaction and a bizarre machine hidden in the backyard might reveal some answers. Mason's research leads him to Julia, a waitress and part-time banker who draws him into a quest of her own, plumbing the depths of the radio era when she uncovers a cache of forgotten artifacts. And what does Meg, descendant of a long forgotten radio star, know about it, hiding from the world in her townhouse? From digging up the yard to tracking down clues on the other side of the country, and with the begrudging support of his boyfriend, Ned, and help from their roommate, Peggy, the intrepid bicycle-riding psychic investigator uses his paranormal skills and real-world insights to get to the bottom of the twisted mystery.
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[personal profile] reviews_and_ramblings
The Invisible Arrow (The Mason Braithwaite #6) Christopher Church
Gay - Sci-Fi / Futuristic
Series: The Mason Braithwaite Paranormal Mystery Series (Book 6)
Paperback: 286 pages
Publisher: Dagmar Miura (July 5, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1942267320
ISBN-13: 978-1942267324
Amazon: The Invisible Arrow (The Mason Braithwaite #6) Christopher Church

When an old client sends psychic investigator Mason on a ghost hunt, he stumbles onto a research lab populated by strangely passive scientists with some remarkably advanced tech. Ingratiating himself with Annette, the director, by participating in the local town's folk festival as the Hunter, Mason scores a gig--to find Qualtrough, a scientist gone missing under mysterious circumstances. Equipped by the researchers with a new suit and a fat wad of cash, and using his burgeoning psychic powers, Mason sets out on his own to hunt for Qualtrough in the shadowy underworld of Los Angeles nightlife, tangling with drag queens, cops, and con artists and finding his voice in an unfamiliar world.
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[personal profile] reviews_and_ramblings
Where The Light Glows Dena Blake
Lesbian - Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (May 16, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626399581
ISBN-13: 978-1626399587
Amazon: Where The Light Glows Dena Blake

Izzy Calabrese wants to make her restaurant a success. She has a passion for cooking and life in general. Romance is the furthest thing from her mind when she finds Mel Thomas crying after being abandoned by her husband…again. She tries to distance herself from Mel, but she keeps showing up.

Clients know Mel Thomas as the CEO of her own consulting firm. She’s smart, engaging, and successful. Anyone who knows her would never think she’s insecure, but she’s more fragile than anyone knows. Her marriage on shaky ground, she doesn’t know how, or if, it can be salvaged. All she’s ever wanted in a relationship is someone’s attention. She thinks she may have found the person who can give that to her. Never in her wildest dreams did she expect it to be Izzy.
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[personal profile] reviews_and_ramblings
Snap Shot (Cayuga Cougars #1) V.L. Locey
Transgender - Erotic Romance
Series: Cayuga Cougars
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 27, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1544986114
ISBN-13: 978-1544986111
Amazon: Snap Shot (Cayuga Cougars #1) V.L. Locey

Mario McGarrity has been around the block – and rink – more than a few times. He’s creeping up on retirement age, has some dings and dents, and says what’s on his mind. Not exactly what most would consider a luxury ride, but his beautiful Lila - the transgender woman who stole his heart - loves him like no other woman ever has despite a little rust here and there. Everything is good - no, great - aside from the distance issue, until a surprise from Lila’s past crops up and moves in with her. Can Mario be the family man that Lila needs, or is this one game the old vet is unable to skate in?

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