Tuesday Tuneup Nine

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. Yes.

Q. Why have you summoned me?

A. Because it’s Wednesday.

Q. Uh – isn’t the Tuesday Tuneup supposed to take place on Tuesday?   And haven’t we been here before?

A. You asked me two questions at once.

Q. What’s wrong with that?

A. And now there are three unanswered questions!   Really, sir, you overload me.  And I’m already overloaded.

Q. Why so overloaded?

A. Perhaps you haven’t heard. 

(Takes a deep breath.)

when_opportunity_knocksI’m engaged in this huge process of getting all these singers and musicians to learn my music, so as to record three songs from my musical Eden in Babylon and have the long-awaited demo recording finished by Sunday night.  It isn’t often that a decent sound engineer offers me free studio services and resources, and his availability will not last forever.   

Q. Do you mean to tell me that you are actually working to a deadline?

A. (sighs) Much as I despise the concept, ’tis true.  

Q. Now why do I find that so hard to believe?

A. Probably because I am noted for espousing wild philosophies I picked up after years of living on the streets.  I’ve even gone so far as to say that no human being should ever be required to show up a specific place at a specific time.

Q. But don’t you work better when you don’t have a deadline?

A. I do, yes.  Others do not.  But the point is that my own work as the composer-playwright of Eden in Babylon is already complete.  It’s only a matter of getting a finite number of people to respond accordingly.  It may well be that these people work well to deadlines.

Q. And when is this deadline?

A. Four days from today.

Q. Have you — er — succeeded in getting the money together to pay these singers and musicians?

A. Almost.  I am prepared to pay the remaining $150 out of pocket the at this stage.  But I would have to wait till the beginning of the month, which might inconvenience a couple of the singers who are strapped.  And of course, I am also strapped.  I have made myself strapped in order to succeed in this venture, as any other devoted Artist would do.

Q. Won’t you become even more strapped after contributing $150 from your fixed income?

A. Of course.  And I’d prefer the $150 come from somebody who can actually afford it.  Still, the joy of seeing this leg of the project finally coming together after all these years is certainly worth a lot more than $150 to me.

Q. But – but – won’t you starve?

A. I prefer the word “fast,” thank you.

Q. Are you not parsing words?

A. Not at all, sir.  When a starving artist decides to fast in order to produce a work of Art he believes in, it is no longer a matter of health.  It is a matter of Spirit.  For Art is a spiritual matter.  It is a matter of the Heart.

The Questioner is silent.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Gratitude List 818

1. The birds are chirping outside my window; and not only that, but the sky is getting light at only 4:45 am.  It just feels so right to be up early and to see all this stuff happening out of my very own rented window.   I loved hearing the birds chirp at four in the morning when I slept on layers of cardboard on the dirt outside of East Bay Area Works.  And now that I have a nice one-bedroom apartment in a secluded setting nestled within an idyllic art-positive community, I love to hear them chirping even more.

2. Slept solidly for four hours last night – but I mean solidly.  At this stage, that’s fine.

3. Really good two mile run last night.  I was fleet.   One nice thing about the heat wave is that it’s going to be super nice to run in the early mornings (like at around this time) and also the evenings, when it’s nice and cool.

4. Thankful I’m not going to have to worry about wearing the spikes when I run.

5. Yesterday I both meditated for the second time (in this phase) and ran for the second time (in this phase) – and I mean back to back.   It’s one of the many reasons it’s so wonderful to be living with the woman I love.  She motivates me to do all the right things.

6. Adora Myers has my vote.  I don’t know what office we can get her to run for, but when she does, she has my vote.

7. In a few short hours, my 32 year old daughter will be driving up from California.  Starting tomorrow night, her car will be parked in my apartment parking lot.  So nice of her to offer us all three its use, as needed.  I will now get a State of Idaho driver license, and be driving again – for the first time in 14 years.

8. All four of my singers should be showing up to rehearse the music from Eden in Babylon tonight at the church containing the Baldwin grand piano I’ve been playing daily, the church that actually let me have a key to the building.  I also was able to reduce the cost of the demo by $125 by rearranging the men’s parts after one of the basses had to drop out.   So I only have $150 more to raise — and my demo will be affordable.  After all this time!

9. I don’t have a penny to my name; and yet I am more blessed than any man.

10. The Lord my God is Good.

Tuesday Tuneup Seven

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. I have a very good idea, yes.

Q. Then why have you summoned me?

A. Time for a tune-up.  Missed last Tuesday, just needing to operate more effectively.

Q. Effectively?

A. You heard me.

Q. Is there something about the way you’ve been operating that is particularly ineffective?

A. Well – maybe not about my own modus operandi.  But about my work, which in essence is the product of my operational procedures.   Take my piece in question: Eden in Babylon.  The script, while effective in many places, is extremely ineffective in certain spots — as has recently been revealed to me.

Q. Revealed to you?  You mean, supernaturally?

A. No – not supernaturally.  This particular revelation was imparted on the part of earthlings.  But these were no mere mortals who conveyed the information.  I’m talking about a panel of MFA playwrights.   People who are definitely “in the know” when it comes to such concerns.

Q. A panel?  You don’t say?

A. I do say!  

Q. And when did you appear before this panel?

A. On Thursday night,  which was the scheduled reading and critique of Eden in Babylon here at the local One World Cafe.

Q. The scheduled critique involved a panel?

A. As it happened, yes.  

Q. Can you clarify this, please?

discussion-clipart-group-of-readers-hiA. I’ll do my best.  You see, it turned out that not many Actors were answering my advertisement for the upcoming reading.  This threw me into a minor despair, which I articulated to one of the Actors, who happens to have an MFA in Playwriting from the local University here.   

His response was to round up his own crew of fellow MFA Playwrights — people who critique scripts like mine all the time.  I was impressed with their professionalism, with the way that they expressed their observations honestly and eloquently, without emotional attachment one way or the other to my piece.

This helped me to detach myself from emotions that would have interfered with my accepting their observations reasonably.  As a result, I gained very much from what they had to offer, and I am wholeheartedly going about making the script more effective than it was before.

Q. Really?  How so?

A. You don’t expect me to answer that, do you?

Q. Why not?

A. I’ll give away the story.

Q. But what about all of us who are so eager to hear this story?

A. Then all of you are just going to have to make it possible for me to tell it now, aren’t you?

Q. Whatever are you talking about?

A. You know what I’m talking about!  Daylight’s burning.  We’ve got a show to produce.  

Q. What??

A. Kick it down, clown.  We don’t have all night.

The Questioner, presumably, is silent.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Good News

For the past week or so, I’ve been sitting on some pretty majorly good news as far as the progress of my musical project is concerned.   That I haven’t even brought myself to blog about it may seem a bit hard to believe.  But the news came out of the blue, and it shocked me — and I basically haven’t quite known what to say.

Friday before last, I was approached by a very reputable figure in the local Arts scene, someone who has his hand in a lot of different activities, and who is also a respected sound engineer.   Long story short, he offered me full use of his studio and his services in order for me to put together a demo recording featuring songs from my musical.   

singerHe also comes connected to specific singers and voice professionals in the field of musical theatre.  So he’s confident he can find the singers for me that my own less informed efforts have not been able to find.   The singers of course will need to be paid, but his own services will be provided as a gesture of one theatre Artist helping out another, for the overall sake of the Arts.

Since this has long been an important goal of mine, one would think I’d be overjoyed.  However, any elation I might have originally felt was quickly consumed by the awareness of how much professional preparation lay ahead of me.   Now I have to select three songs that will best demonstrate the musical score, and prepare the vocal parts for the specific singers involved, both in terms of written music, and of mp3’s for them to listen to.  In addition, I have to make sure that the instrumental tracks for the three songs are perfectly polished, so as to provide compelling accompaniment for the singers on the demo.

Once I have all that stuff prepared, I am to send it to the engineer, so that he can distribute it all among the singers.   Then the singers in turn do their homework, so that once we finally get into the studio, everybody knows their stuff, and the engineer’s time is optimized.  So – this could be a really great thing.

As far as the pay factor, the price I quoted for the engineer was $125/ singer.   Earlier, I came up with a $700 budget to pay the singers and get the other odds and ends of the demo together.  Right now, there’s $325 in that fund.  I’m only using four singers, so $500 is all I need to pay them.  That means I need $175 more.  If seven people each were to contribute $25 to this cause today, I would have all the money I need for the singers, right there.   

I also got another article published in the March edition of Street Spirit and you can click on the link for that.  I want to do more writing along those lines, having to do with homelessness and classism, as dealt with in the musical as well.   But for the present time, the unexpected musical calling is consuming me.  It might be a while before I fully surface.

So once again, if you feel you can help at all towards the rest of what I need to produce this demo, now would be an excellent time for you to consider doing so.  In the meantime, I’ll keep cranking out these parts.  Maybe it will all time out just right.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

The God of Love

For many years, I taught private piano and voice lessons in a very wealthy area of California. Rarely did I find the parents involved meaningfully in the lives of their children.  They were too busy working their two high-paying jobs, as well as attending unnecessary high-brow social occasions to which the children, of course, were not invited. Most of the children were brought up by nannies because the parents did not have time to bring them up themselves.  In almost all cases, the nannies were from foreign countries and did not speak English.  The children did not speak the languages of their nannies, and no effort was made for either party to learn the language of the other.

The parents placed their children in numerous activities that they had the money to pay for, seemingly to take them of their backs.  The children, involved in ballet, lacrosse, musical theatre, volleyball, etc. often received only four or five hours of sleep each night.  Actual parental contact with their children was minimal.  In one case, the mother did not even know my name six months after I had been teaching her award-winning son how to sing, and had been showing up at their home on a weekly basis.

On the other side of the socio-economic spectrum, we find a similar disregard for the sanctity of family love.   Consider the preponderance of foster children, emancipated children, and homeless children. I have spoken with homeless teenagers who were so eager to emancipate at the age of fifteen, that their concept of living indoors had become associated exclusively with abuse, neglect, violence, violation, and bondage.  The speech I gave in the previous post deals with this phenomenon, which I have experienced first-hand. 

Because I met these remarkable young people at a very difficult time in my life, when I myself was homeless and struggling to survive outdoors, I was inspired to to write a musical about the effects of homelessness on the youth of today’s America.  I honestly never dreamed I would be ever be able to finish an entire musical – book, music & lyrics – at this time time in my life.  But I did, because I was exactly that motivated, and that inspired, by these Kids.  What was so inspiring was the immense love that these Kids held for one another – a form of love they had never found anywhere else.  In their unity, one to another, they developed ideals toward the kind of universal love that could well save the entire human race.

Why on earth should today’s young people have to leave their birth families in order to awaken to these first-time experiences of love?  Why have we permitted our sense of family and birth community to disintegrate to the extent that love cannot be provided first of all in the first places of our lives?  I have seen some of these Kids absolutely freak out at the idea of living indoors.  When a well-meaning social worker recommends an indoor living situation, it cannot help but remind them of the only indoor living situation they have ever known.  There, the ungodly treatment that they suffered at the hands of their so-called parents had scarred their capacity to live inside, rather than outside —  possibly for the rest of their lives.

America has simply forgotten how to love. We seem to have lost sight of a few very basic standards that will dramatically improve our national morale as soon as we choose to re-implement them. A chain is only as strong as the weakest link. A house divided cannot stand. The Good Shepherd does not go after the ninety-nine sheep who remain in the fold, He goes after the one who is lost.

chain weakest linkYet we split our houses in half at the drop of a dime.  We toss our aging “weak links” into poorly run, dehumanizing retirement homes.  We throw our “lost sheep” to the wolves so as not to have to cast our blinded eyes upon the sight of the pain in theirs. We have become a nation of self-serving pleasure-seekers, when we would profit immensely from redirecting our energies away from the pursuit of wasteful pleasures, and toward the love of our neighbors, of ourselves, and of the God of Love.  We have become, as predicted in 2 Timothy 3:4, “lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God.”  That we have not yet been completely consumed in the colossal consequences of our misdirected love is astonishing.   I think it’s high time we opened our eyes and realized what is going on in the shattering of the spiritual fabric of an entire generation.

It would not be a burdensome matter for us to cease burning bridges with such abominations as identity politics, liberal bashing, political correctness, White nationalism, and pointless flirtations and arguments on Facebook.  Why not become far less concerned with recreation, and far more concerned with creation itself?  Are we not all born with creative power to change, in the very likeness of the Creator who gave us all birth?  We have the power within us to create a new and better world for ourselves and for our children!   Why are we wasting our precious time doing anything else?

So – call me fanatical or reactionary or whatever you want to label this kind of thinking.  In my mind, of course, I am nothing of the kind.  This is neither a conservative statement nor a liberal statement.   It is a statement of hope.  I will confess that I hope not to have to express this position more than once.  But I express the reality of this hope as one who is old enough to remember when America was a compassionate nation.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!