Category Archives: Music

Can you relate to The Dark Night of the Soul? #creativity #inspiration

Week #5 Despair

Or: Dark Night of the Soul

(This is Part 5 of a six-part series. Here is Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

How does one feel when one has invested hours of research, money for materials and glistening bits of self in a project? At some point the hour may come to bare all. If one decides to share.

My plan is in place and I’ve practiced the process more times than I am willing to admit. I stand before the big event and I feel like I’m coming out of a cave, into the open, to expose my soul to the rest of the world. I’ve finally mustered up enough courage to submit my story. And the guests are coming tonight.

The sun is setting as the year heads towards the dark and damp winter solstice. A door opens elsewhere in the apartment and a cool draft goes through the hot kitchen. I hear stamping boots in the hallway. I peek around the door. A sigh of relief escapes my lips. Thank goodness, it’s not an early guest, only my significant other.

The heat of the kitchen is stifling, tension is mounting. Self-doubt creeps up my spine. I’ve come this far: everything that needs to simmer is simmering, what needed to be baked is baked, what needs chilling is chilled. Except me. I need to wash up and get dressed. I wonder if I can really pull this off. Who am I to think I could actually show anybody else what I have done here?

Suddenly the soup tastes too salty. The gravy has the consistency of wallpaper paste, the salad is wilted. I prepared yet again another piece of venison and it hasn’t gone the way I had planned. My mood slips from less-than-confident into a downright panic. I wonder why I even attempted this in the first place. A blackout or an earthquake would be a welcome relief. I feel like I’m in my own ‘All is Lost’ scene towards the end of Act 2.

I should not, no, I cannot judge my project at this stage by myself. I am my own worst critic. I see problems where there aren’t any. My brain manufactures grave scenarios when I step back and look at what I have created. Heck, I do this with lots of things in my life, not only my projects. As soon as it becomes important to me I am afraid. Afraid I can’t trust my intuition, afraid that I can’t write, afraid that I can’t cook, afraid that oh my God, what will these people think of me when they see what I have done! I don’t want any guests. I don’t want anyone to read my writing. Everything just plain sucks!

Heat rises in my face and I smell like fear. Despair sets in. When I was younger and wrote on paper, it was easy to set a ream of poems on fire and watch them burn with an almost ritualistic fervor. Not so easy with a laptop. Somehow pushing the delete button just doesn’t satisfy like fire does.

And here I stand over my perfect savory chocolate gravy. My tweaked Mexican Mole. I have cured the sauce and I taste it over and over until my tongue is numb. Yet another piece of meat is in the oven at a low temperature and can stay there until I’m ready for it. But the color is all wrong. It smells like a cadaver. I thought the desserts were perfect but I am now unsure.

I am no longer in the position to decide these things for myself. I need a fresh set of taste buds, a fresh pair of eyes.

We all need someone we can trust to honestly tell us if we’ve been true to our goals. I want to ease my guests’ spirits with my aperitif. The pumpkin soup should whet their appetites and leave them wanting more. The meat should carry the basic theme. I need the potatoes to hold their own like a supporting character. And I want the gravy to make a walloping impact; a subplot that rises to influence the final twist. The dessert is the climax. Have I done that?

Hopefully we have someone who has the guts to tell us what we need to hear, no chocolate-coated, candy-covered input. A willing food taster. An objective beta reader. I personally need someone to say, ‘Why did this character do that?’ Or, better yet: ‘This is a muddle!’ Then I’ll know if I’m getting my point across and if my plan is working the way I see it unfolding in the little world I so often inhabit alone.

I want my story to weave a classic mystery–did my beta reader ‘get it?’ If the reader didn’t get it, then I haven’t done my job. An honest reader tells me I may have missed a snippet. For me, an external opinion can make the difference between me throwing a meal out the window, setting a story on fire, pressing the delete button, or, hell, giving up on the rest of my life! It could make the difference between me melting down or buckling down to finish the job.

I write because I do. I always have done. I write for myself, keep a journal and devise stories–it’s a great way to keep my bored brain entertained. But I want to share my stories. They come alive when someone else reads them. In the same vein, I eat to live. I can go weeks on boiled potatoes and carrots and a few handfuls of nuts. But the kitchen is the beating heart of the home and comes alive through the banging of metal pot lids, the smell of frying onions and a splash of sherry, the laughter of fed and watered friends.

Bring on the guests. Bring on the readers.

It’s showtime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Is there such a thing as too much romance? #amwriting #ambaking

39793-felicitys-perfect-ginger-007

Week # 4: Romance

Or: How Spicy is This Going To Be?

(This is Part 4 of a six-part series. Here is Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

So, we’ve had an idea, brainstormed and have sorted out some sort of structure for our meal and for our story. Now we’re coming to the next phase. I need to reassess the work I have done, season, thicken, tweak and refine. I need to tighten up the plot, add descriptions and emotional nuances, elaborate here and there and spice up the characters in order to make this experience large and memorable.

Here’s the question: How much is too much? It’s easy to over-salt. And it’s just as unsavory to add so many foreign flavors that the original tastes of the foodstuffs themselves disappear underneath. Just the same, I can add unnecessary description and zesty scenes that will suffocate the plot and we forget the original story. I’m never sure how much seasoning I can lend to a good creation. Overdosed spicy-hot herbs border on scandalous and can spoil the event. On the other hand, too little won’t excite the guests and will leaving them wanting.

I have experienced a meal like this. The cook added so much spice that I wondered if he was just covering up the fact that he was unsure of what he was trying to accomplish. Now is the time to keep the goals in plain view. I have a meal comprised of quality ingredients and I want that to shine through. And I have a story that revolves around adult relationships, broken marriages, friendships; the human condition, compact and concise. (Oh, yeah, and a dead body.)

Many human relationships do involve some sort of sensuality. In my first novel, I wrote the intricate adult personal relationships with little physical contact. I was unsure how far I could go with it so I did nothing. Then I changed my mind and went full tilt, writing explicit love scenes. Neither approach suited me.

Josip Novakovich discusses love scenes in his book Fiction Writer’s Workshop, a book I highly recommend. It helped me a lot when I was writing the Heaven’s Ponds series. I wanted to include realistic, personal love relationships but I didn’t want to put an 18-plus warning on it. Novakovich takes a more poetic, metaphorical approach to describing a scene between two lovers. For my particular project, this take on writing love scenes helped me a lot. If I was writing erotica, this would not be the case. Again, it all depends on my goals, who I’m writing for and how I want to make people feel.

Personal love relationships are really the dessert of life. We may not always want them, but they taste so good. They can be unhealthy. They can make us over-indulge, are too rich and our bodies shouldn’t have as much as we sometimes give them (see: sugar shock.) But we crave them, don’t we? They taste like more. They fill that hole in the soul. Like brownies twenty minutes after they’ve come out of the oven, the chocolate chunks cooled but still molten. Served with a deep frothy mug of cappuccino, the earthy smell of fresh ground espresso beans surrounding the young man behind the counter who brushes your hand with his, smiles and winks a coffee-brown eye as he hands you your change.

Yes, Love is the dessert of life. Mmm, dessert…Oh my God! I haven’t decided on dessert yet! And I haven’t written the ending!

No, this story does not have an ending yet. Some writers have to know the ending before they begin this phase, others don’t. I tend to do both, depending on the project. All I know at this stage is that I want all this to end on a happy note, the meal and the story.

Once again, we’re trying to guess what the guests or our readers are going to want or need to call this experience fulfilling. A conservative ending? A twist? A classic? Would they rather a cheese platter after the main course? (I’d have one on hand just in case.) With a dry red Franconian wine. Or are the guests charged, animated, inspired, the correctly-dosed spices of the meal still tingling on their lips?

Right now, I would have a few tricks up my sleeve. I have alternate endings for the story and will remain flexible to see where the characters are going with their antics. For the dessert, I will have a few alternatives on hand too. But my main offering to crown the evening will be the king himself, HRH Ginger Cake.

Is this too spicy, too provocative, a little too pungent to end the meal? No, I don’t think so. This is the punch I want to pack. The guests will have had a few drinks. I’ll see a yawn and notice a few glassy stares. Satiated stomachs cause the eyelids to droop. What better way to illuminate the guests before I send them on their way than an espresso and a piece of Ginger Cake? Numerous discussions surround the search for the perfect recipe. And I have found one by Felicity Cloake using dried, fresh and candied ginger and Lyle’s Golden Syrup. Smile. I will share this with you here.

And I’ll end this story on a frosty November evening, the washing up forgotten and decorating the kitchen like a trophy to would-like-to-be gourmet cooking. The guests have gone home leaving behind a settling quiet. A ballad has taken on a life of its own–Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Lenny. The significant other returns, famished and looking for leftovers. Candles burn on the cleared table illuminating a glass of Remy, a mug of cinnamon-spiced apple herb tea and a plate of warm, dripping-with-golden-syrup Ginger Cake Love.

 

 

Why Bubenreuth? A brief look at a fascinating village #Germany #History

Bubenretuh

At first glance, Bubenreuth is just another small town near Nuremberg in Southern Germany. A closer look however reveals a town well known as an important centre of musical instrument manufacture.

Before World War II, Schönbach, Graslitz, Markneukichen and Klingenthal were part of the Saxon-Bohemian ‘Musical Corner’ or Musikwinkel, one of the most important musical instrument making regions in the world. When musical instrument production was revived after World War II, these instrument makers from Czechoslovakia were resettled in the Nuremberg area. The community council of Bubenreuth – then a village of fewer than 500 inhabitants – decided in October 1949 that about 2000 displaced luthiers, bow and part makers, string spinners, tonewood dealers, lacquer and rosin producers, and instrument manufacturers from Schönbach would be allowed to resettle there over the following ten years.

Thus, Bubenreuth was transformed from a small farming village into the main centre of German string instrument making. Violins, lutes, mandolins, banjos, zithers and guitars of all kinds (classical, western, archtop, semi-acoustic and electric) were made here. Among companies and luthiers active were Dörfler, Framus, Glassl, Hanika, Hannabach, Hirsch, Höfner, Hoyer, Klier, Mettal, Paesold, Placht, Pyramid, Roth, Sandner, Schuster, Teller and Wilfer.

Without this small village in Germany, the European and, in particular, UK music scene in the 1950s and 60s would have been very different. Both the ‘Beat Boom’ and the ‘British Invasion’ owed their sounds to Bubenreuth with most of the guitars and basses played originating here. Members of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, Pink Floyd and guitar heroes Jimmy Page and Ritchie Blackmore, along with many others played instruments from Höfner and Framus, two of the biggest makers then in Bubenreuth.

Today Bubenreuth still retains its importance in the musical instrument making world and to honour this a museum was formed in order to maintain the cultural heritage of Bubenreuth.

To see the Museum website please click here:  http://www.bubenreutheum.de/en

Thanks to Dr. Christian Hoyer for the information on Bubenreuth

BubenBanner

Hutchins Guitars are proud to still be hand making guitars and basses in a town where so much musical history originated.

The Hutchins Workshops are in the old Hofner building, Bubenreuth.

We offer sales, set-up and repair services at our Bubenreuth workshops.

Please ring us to make an appointment or e-mail us using the contact sheet here

+49 (0) 9131 9085802

In unseren Bubenreuth-Werkstätten bieten wir Verkaufs-, Installations- und Reparaturleistungen an.

Bitte rufen Sie uns an, 09131 9085802, um einen Termin zu vereinbaren oder schicken Sie eine E-Mail mit dem Kontaktformular hier.

 

Bub-Sign

 

 

#Bubenreuth CROWDFUNDING FOR THE HISTORICAL VIOLIN COLLECTION #germany

BubenBanner

The Crowdfunding project COLLECTION OF HISTORICAL VIOLINS has started!

In order to collect donations at all, the Bubenreutheum e.V.  needs 100 “fans” for the project “Stringed Instrument Collection” within 2 weeks.

Here you can register and become a fan:

https://vr-bank-ehh.viele-schaffen-mehr.de/saiteninstrumentensammlung

We need as many fans as possible to show the bank that the project is popular with the population and has success prospects. Therefore, we would like to cordially thank you for helping to start the project through your non-binding registration.

With your registration as a “fan” you have no obligations.

YOUR PERSONAL DETAILS WILL NOT BE USED BY THE VR-BANK EHH OR BY THE ASSOCIATION BUBENREUTHEUM E.V. FOR ADVERTISING PURPOSES!

Please support us. Thank you very much!

Here in German:

Unser Crowdfunding Projekt Saiteninstrumentensammlung ist gestartet!

Um überhaupt Spenden sammeln zu können, benötigen wir 100 „Fans“ für unser Projekt „Saiteninstrumentensammlung“ innerhalb von 2 Wochen.

Hier können Sie sich registrieren und Fan werden:

https://vr-bank-ehh.viele-schaffen-mehr.de/saiteninstrumentensammlung

Möglichst viele Fans zeigen der Bank und uns, dass das Projekt in der Bevölkerung Zuspruch erfährt und Erfolgsaussichten hat. Deshalb bitten wir Sie sehr herzlich, durch Ihre unverbindliche Registrierung dazu beizutragen, das Projekt starten zu können.

Mit Ihrer Registrierung als “Fan” gehen Sie noch keinerlei Verpflichtung ein.

IHRE PERSÖNLICHEN ANGABEN WERDEN WEDER VON DER VR-BANK EHH NOCH VOM VEREIN BUBENREUTHEUM E.V. FÜR WERBEZWECKE VERWENDET!

Bitte motivieren Sie auch Freunde und Bekannte uns zu unterstützen.

Herzlichen Dank!

St. Stephen’s #Cathedral in #Passau #MondayBlogs

A documentary about St. Stephen’s Cathedral with music from Quetsch-Bassiges GraZien Ensemble www.blasmusik-woelfl.com and thanks to Pia Olligschläger from the Passau Tourismus e.V. www.tourismus.passau.de

Situated in Lower Bavaria where the river Ilz and the river Inn join the Danube lays the city of Passau. Built on the highest point in the old town is the St Stephen’s Cathedral. St. Stephan’s as we see it today was built in 1668 after a devastating town fire destroyed the late gothic cathedral that stood here before. St. Stephen’s is well known for the impressive pipe organ, built in 1733 by Joseph Matthias Götz. It was considered the world’s largest organ until the organ in the First Congregational Church in Los Angeles took over that honor in 1990.

St. Stephen’s is a bishop’s cathedral and was founded in the 8th century. Since then it has always stood on this very spot. This is the fifth cathedral to stand here, the other four having been destroyed, rebuilt, destroyed and rebuilt. The plans for this cathedral were made by Italian baroque master Carlo Lurago. The interior stucco works and the frescos were also done by Italian baroque masters. The two towers of St Stephen’s shape the cityscape of Passau.

Passau, die Dreiflüssestadt or the City of Three Rivers.

Speaking of Guitarists… #electricguitar

     Terry Kath was the guitarist in the band Chicago. They called themselves Chicago Transit Authority for their first album and then shortened the name to Chicago in 1970. He was a multi-instrument musician and singer who impressed me with his solid, well-rounded guitar solos. He not only played lead & rhythm guitar, but also banjo, accordion, electric bass, and drums.
     I sit here and listen to ‘Free Form Guitar’ from the first album. This seven minute instrumental guitar piece was recorded in one take. According to a 1971 Guitar Player magazine interview, the Fender Strat he played had a broken neck held together by a radiator hose clamp. Can anything keep a real guitarist from playing? Sharp fret ends, bowed necks, chipped paint, dented tops, scratched backs? 
     Imagine this: Wikipedia says he actually had 20 guitars at one time! Is that all? If he was still alive, he’d probably have 200.
     Yes, the sad fact: on January 23, 1978, after a party, Terry Kath put a 9mm semiautomatic pistol to his temple, said to his buddy, “Don’t worry, it’s not loaded,” and pulled the trigger. He died instantly. He was 31 years old.

If you’d like to see him in action:

I’m A Man: 
 
25 or 6 to 4:

https://youtu.be/7uAUoz7jimg

The full Tanglewood  concert:

Friday #FlashFiction @lauralibricz

The Venom Club

“Try this,” I said. “Drink some.”

He shook his head no and kissed the blonde girl as she sat back down on his lap. I lit a cigarette and passed it to the girl, burning her hair as she flicked her ponytail over her shoulder to conceal her left breast.

“Stupid woman,” she spat at me as she stood up and marched away, stiletto heels uncertain in the thick-piled carpet.

I held the glass out to him again. “Drink. You promised. Otherwise I would have left you two outside.”

His green eyes were clear and alert, so he’d had nothing to drink and was not under the influence of any other substance. His skin was healthy. What a suitable subject. He leaned forward, defiant, distrustful, but rising to the challenge.

Good boy, I thought.

He took the glass from me. “Why do you want me to drink it? You drink it.”

“I’ve been drinking just this all evening.”

He sniffed at the simple glass tumbler, recoiled, coughed. He leaned forward, coughed again and I almost hit him in the head with the pitcher of water as I tried to top up his glass. The contents of the glass went cloudy as the water mixed with the amber-brown liquid of my own design. I approved with a proud smile and a nod of the head. Years of work perfecting my concoction. He saw my reaction. He narrowed his eyes like a trapped dog.

I set the water pitcher down, picked up my own glass and filled it once more with the same amber-brown liquid from the crystal decanter I kept by my foot. I sipped at the brew like it was the finest cognac.

“Why would I want to harm you?” I said.

By the door, I heard his girlfriend arguing with my brother. I needed her out of here. She could ruin everything. My brother seemed to have heard my thoughts. The door opened, the girl protested, the door slammed, all was quiet.

He watched me closely and showed no reaction to the girl’s exit. As he raised the glass to his lips, I did the same. He allowed the liquid, the whole glassful–watered-down, yes–to flow into his mouth and swallowed without flinching. I did the same.

Warm tingling spread a numbness from my feet up my legs. I knew I could not stand if I tried. My fingers gripped the plush arms of my chair and I willed my eyes to stay open. I looked at the clock. I knew I must allow for this initial dread in order for it to clear again. My tolerance was great but I had drunk more this evening than ever before.

He closed his eyes and leaned his head back into the brown-leather chair. His head nodded to one side. I needed to monitor his every move, check his vital signs, to record his reaction. If only I could get up out of this chair!

Feeling returned to my feet and I slowly wiggled my toes. Ten minutes had passed. Elation replaced the initial dread and I knew I’d raised myself up to the next level. I leaned forward and touched his knee. He stirred. I took his hand and asked his name.

“Lasse,” he said and closed his eyes again.

“Lasse,” I said. “You have passed your first test.”

“What test?”

“You’re still alive.”

He opened his eyes and stretched his legs. Fifteen minutes it took him to regain his composure. My brother could not even recover that quickly.

I filled his glass and held it out for him. “Drink.”

“No.”

“Drink it, I said!”

“No.”

“You have a choice, Lasse. You drink it now, you drink it every day, you stay here with me and work by my side. I know you have no job, you have no perspectives. I’ve been watching you. Your girlfriend will never speak to you again after this evening. She didn’t want to come in here in the first place.”

Lasse took one of my cigarettes and lit it.

“And,” I said, holding up his glass. “And, you build up a tolerance to this stuff like I have been doing over the past year. It’s biological and organic, untraceable. I’ve distilled hundreds of gallons of this stuff. Enough to poison the whole city.

“Or, you become trapped in my web, doomed like the others. I plan to tap into the water supplied to the Manufacturer’s Building on First Street next Monday morning. Fifteen-hundred people working in there on any given day! And that’s just the beginning.”

He drew on his cigarette and flipped the hair from his face with the practiced head toss of a real guitar player.

“Then, no one can stand in my way! I’ve already sent anonymous threats to the city and still I get no press. They won’t even investigate. They don’t take me seriously.”

He stomped out his cigarette and stared at me.

“I will not die in obscurity! I am the real Black Widow!”