Saturday, October 18, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Here is a senario for you, followed by a survey question.
Let's say I wanted to go to Texas at the end of January and record an album with Tom Prasado Rao and Cary Cooper at their studio, the Wildwood Tofu Bar so I could have an actual, honest-to-goodness studio album. But let's say I did not have the capital to put forth for this. Would you be willing to buy this CD now, pre-pay, $15 + $5 shipping now for a finished product I could probably send you in June?
I'm trying to figure out if this might be something I could actually do. Please let me know. If you don't like to post comments, email me, or facebook me. It's a thing others have done and I'm wondering if it might work for me.
Thanks, friends. I really will try and write something soon!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
As I said previously, Josh missed the first day of Song School due to flight problems. The second day, Tuesday, I wasn't sure if he was there. There had been no announcement and no one had said "Hey! There's Josh Ritter!" So at 1:30 I went to the Mountain Lion Tent where his session was supposed to be. I was the only one there. I decided not to move--to sit in faith that Josh Ritter would appear. A guy named Ken appeared and we discussed the chances of this deal actually going down. Ken decided to take action (good man!) and go ask somebody. There I sat, alone in the Mountain Lion Tent, when in walked Josh Ritter. I wasn't actually sure it was Josh Ritter. But I said, "Hi, I'm Emily" and he said, "Hi, I'm Josh Ritter." So, yes, no question about it...Josh Ritter. And there we were alone in the Mountain Lion Tent.
But as soon as people could see that there were people (me and Josh Ritter) in the Mountain Lion tent they began to come. I was afraid it would be huge, but it was only fifteen or so people. Let me just say, that Josh Ritter looks like he's 15--maybe 20. He was very nervous. He said had never taught anything before and was quite unsure what to expect from us or what we expected from him. He said he had a bottle of whiskey in his bag should worse come to worst. But we were very easy and he was great.
He had seven or eight principles of songwriting to share. Two that have really stuck with are 1) never use cliches and 2) mulch your ideas. Cliches are the easy way out. We should strive to say things--convey our ideas--craft words so perfectly that we create the new cliches. As songwriters we should be writing so beautifully that people will borrow our wording.
The mulching is a little harder to explain. Josh said that he rewrites and edits...well...a lot. He said he works with an idea for as long as he can until he is certain it simply isn't going to work and then he mulches it. He visualizes chopping off the idea and letting it drop to the floor. Then, all his future ideas, all his potential ideas eat it. They cannibalize it. It becomes mulch or compost and feeds his future ideas. It's the conservation of energy--nothing is lost. Even though it may be frustrating to strike a thought you have put a lot of thought or energy into, it isn't lost. It feeds your future ideas. Parts of it may emerge later in another form.
We talked for a long time. It was very conversational, very participatory. Then someone (Sarah Sample, I think) suggested he sing a song for us and then tell us about his songwriting process. He played The Temptation of Adam, Kathleen and a new one called Folk Bloodbath. It was awesome. He closed his eyes and smiled and sang his heart out right there in the tent for the 15 of us. Ahhhhhh.....
Nate wanted more details, so I thought I'd tack some on.
Regarding The Temptation of Adam, Josh said that he had been mulling over the concept of this song for some time. He had the story. He specifically had the ending in mind--"I look at the great red button and I'm tempted"--and had to work backwards to fill in the story/events that precede it. He did a lot of research about missle silos. It sounds like he reads a lot. I think he was speaking specifically of this song when he talked about his rewriting and editing process. He will write the same song over from multiple points of view, with different rhyme schemes, in differet meters until he finds what works best. I can't say that I've ever been that committed to a song--to keep rewriting it?!
Another thing he talked about, which I loved, was debunking the myth of "the artist." A person doesn't have to be mentally ill, or medicated, or wacky to be an artist. Josh admonished us to be healthy, go for a run, get a good night's sleep and go buy groceries--"you'll write better." He also said that crediting being an artist or crediting "genius" for great songs does everyone a great disservice. It devalues the work of the songwriter. Songwriting is a craft, not an art--through discipline and work songwriters hammer together words into songs. To say that someone writes good songs because they are an artist implies that songs magically appear. It implies lack of effort. It implies ease. It also implies that you have to be a certain type of person (ie: unhealthy, medicated, wacky, up all night, messy, difficult, etc--you know the stereotype) to create good work. That was affirming to a fairly straight-laced gal like myself. It is also great to think that I can improve. It's not some gift and you take it or leave it. It's a craft and you learn it and practice it and improve it.
Regarding "Kathleen," Josh mentioned something about getting into a fight at a Dunkin' Donuts and somehow that tied in to the writing of the song. I never quite made the connection, but it was funny to imagine him getting in a fight at Dunkin' Donuts.
Clearly, I'm all out of good details.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Apparently the narrative feature film version of the documentary is now being written--I'm sure it will be fantastic and they will go nuts recreating the 80's hair and clothes and whatnot--but please, please see the original. No one can possibly play Billy Mitchell, Donkey Kong World Champion as villianously and hilariously as Billy Mitchell himself. No one could play underdog and all around good guy Steve Weibe better than Steve Weibe. If you just see the feature film you will think they made up the Video Game Score Keeper who practices transcendental meditation. Rent it. You will not be sorry.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Thank you for curry sauce with chick peas and rice.
Thank you for Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone.
Thank you for Lemony Snickett's Series of Unfortuneate Events.
Thank you for The Magic Treehouse and Captain Underpants.
Thank you that we get to go see "Kung Fu Panda."
And thank you for Jesus.
Paul came home and we all ate lunch and drove to the Stuhr Museum in Grand Island. The kids had been there on field trips (one of which I chaperoned). Paul had never been, but he's officiating a wedding in the rose garden there in a couple of weeks. We got a map from the main building (where Ollie caused a traffic jam by reading aloud the sign that said "Sturh Museum Foundation." I wasn't really paying attention and it wouldn't have struck me if I had been, but all the docents freaked out that Ollie fluently read the sign. I forget sometimes that most five year olds don't do that) and headed to the 1898 railroad town.
It's a whole town set circa 1898 (I accidentally typed 1989--that would be kind of fu too, though). In each building there is a docent or "interpreter" in period dress who walks you around, explains and answers questions. We toured homes--the kids were fascinated by the stoves, the box grand piano and a dumb waiter. In one house the interpreter was so shy and akward that I felt like we had actually just walked into her house. At the next house a young woman walked out onto the porch to greet us and said to the kids "I'm so glad you are here! I need your help!" and she marched them to the backyard to take the laundry off the line. It was fantatstic. We went to the mill, the tin smith (the kids made a tin icicle), the post office, railway station, jail, etc. The kids wanted to know about everything and kept saying things that made my heart glad like, "Marilla Cuthbert has that in her kitchen!" or "Laura Ingalls probably used one of those."
Just before 5:00 we went to the early bird dinner at Red Lobster. I know, Red Lobster. But even in the big town of Grand Island our choices are Applebee's, Ruby Tuesday, Whiskey Creek, Perkins and Red Lobster. You know what? It was delicious. I had the grilled harbor platter (shrimp and lobster), Paul had a big ole plate of crab legs and the kids had popcorn shrimp. Our stuffed bellies suprisingly had ice-cream shaped holes in them (this is our standard joke when the kids CAN'T eat their vegetables because they are SO FULL, but then ask for desert) so we went to Cold Stone Creamery and headed home. Paul got pulled over on 281, but got off with a warning.
Monday was a good day.
Friday, June 06, 2008
Tonight is our Vacation Bible School picnic. For the fifth or sixth year I have done VBS music. As my musicianship has improved so has the VBS music. Tonight we will be singing "Oh, How I Love Jesus" and "Softly and Tenderly" accompanied by the accordion (note the 3/4 time on those--perfect for the oooom-pah-pah), which most of the kids had never seen before, and "Alleluia to the Lamb" and "Big House" accompanied by the pink Daisy Rock electric guitar. Of course the acoustic would have been just fine, but the kids got really really jazzed about plugging in. After the picnic several other mom/helpers will go to Murphy's for our annual post-VBS beer. I love my church.
Paul bought a 23-pound turkey. The desire for a giant turkey must have just struck him while at the grocery store. I started defrosting it--it took forever--and realized I was running out of dinners at which to serve a giant turkey. Tonight is the picnic, tomorrow is Phoebe's birthday party and Sunday we'll be in Iowa. So, I got up early and put that bad boy in the oven. We had roast turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy for lunch today...June 6..for no good reason. It was great. While Paul was carving I drove to the gas station and bought big-gulpy giant Cokes to go with our giant turkey. Yum.
Phoebe's ninth birthday party is tomorrow. Six girls are coming over. We're roasting hotdogs over a fire in the back yard and having s'mores in lieue of cake. Did I put an extra "e" in lieue?
I'm missing a camp reunion right now. I'm trying to think about it. I could be in Monett chillin' at the Garretts' house and visiting the greatest man I've ever known, Heno Head, who is old and quite ill and requested we have a reunion so that he could see us all, his camp children, again. I just couldn't swing it. JVB even offered to meet me at the Iowa/Nebraska border and drive me down. :(
JVB lives astonishinly close to John & Hope, but almost everytime I go visit John and Hope JVB goes out of town. I think we'll get to see him this time on our way home, though. Hooray!
My parents brought us a Wii. There's loads of fake tennis and fake boxing etc going on around here. I'm sad to say, my initial Wii fitness age was 79. Say what?
My mother-in-law in Indiana called me at seven this morning. My mother in St. Louis called me at eight. Both had heard on the news, or heard from someone who heard on the news that Hastings was hit by tornados. Not true. Wednesday night the sirens went off at 1 am and we hauled the kids to the basement, but there was no rotation. Last Thursday there were loads of tornados throughout the state, but none in Hastings. Last night, there was nothing.
I'm taking a one-credit class by arrangement this summer. The chair of the English department, another English professor, my friend/co-worker J and I are reading George Eliot's Middlemarch. We get together on Wednesday nights at the chair's home and discuss. It's like my dream book group. I get college credit for this. Reading and talking and drinking ginger tea.
Speaking of ginger--vodka ginger lemonade--my new summer drink of choice. Mix one cup sugar, one cup water and 2 tsp ground ginger. Boil for a couple minutes until slightly syruppy. Let cool. Then pour syrup into a pitcher with 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1-1/4 cup vodka and a 750 ml bottle of sparkling water. Serve over ice. Say hello to summer.
Because of my nutty new life with a job and graduate school I didn't teach Sunday School at all this year until the past three weeks. Why is it so easy to forget how much I love something? What a ridiculous notion--to forget a thing like that. I love those kids. It was great to discuss spiritual matters and theology with teenagers and try and get them to really think and not just recite and try and break big ideas down into smaller pieces, not too small--not pat-answers--but manageable pieces. Good stuff.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
So, here's how it works:1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc) 2. Put it on shuffle. 3. Press play. 4. For every question, type the song that's playing. 5. When you go to a new question, press the next button. 6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool. This is my life as a movie soundtrack...
Opening Credits: Ob La Di Ob La Da--The Beatles (beautiful start!)
First Day At School: Keep the Customer Satisfied -- Simon & Garfunkle
Falling In Love: Mah Na Mah Na -- The Muppets (strangely appropriate)
Breaking Up: Every Minute -- Sara Groves
1st date: Coleman Stove -- Jalan Crossland
Prom: School House Rocky, the theme from School House Rock
Life's OK: Box of Letters -- Emily Dunbar (a little wierd to hear myself, but it's my soundtrack, right?)
Driving: You Can Still Rock in America -- Night Ranger (perfect!)
Flashback: Overture from The Nightmare Before Christmas
Getting Back Together: Down to the River to Pray -- Allison Krauss
Wedding: Mad Mission -- Patty Griffin
Final Battle: Bitter End -- Dixie Chicks
Death Scene: Circle of Life from the Lion King (I kid you not!)
Funeral Song: In Thee is Gladness (instrumental) -- Jonathan Rundman (nice!)
End Credits: Stockton Gala Days (unplugged) -- 10,000 Maniacs
Monday, May 19, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Name Oedipus' s mother and father.
Well, I had just written the paper--that should have been easy. I thought to myself "Laius is the father and the mother is....? Jocasta is his wife, but who is his mother?" I finally left it blank.
Uh, his wife IS his mother.
That's the whole flippin' point of the story: he kills his father and marries his mother.
I don't have a 4.0 for nothing, folks.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
I just checked my email and there was a deal from Planet Bluegrass--which puts on the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival and The Song School (for which I got my grant). Get this:
1. Nanci Griffith is in the line up for the festival.
2. Josh Ritter is in the line up for the festival and will be an instructor at song school.
How freakin' cool is that?!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
There are two things I have always dreamed of being: a rock star and an English teacher. They are not as dissimilar as they immediately seem. Both entail standing before a group of people, forging a connection, and sharing knowledge and ideas, be they academic, creative or emotional.
Six years ago I took my first steps toward my dream of rock stardom by buying a guitar and taking lessons. As a twenty-seven-year-old pastor's wife and stay-at-home-mom of three, the dream, not surprisingly, took on a new form from that of my youth. I quickly became aware that my joy didn't lie necessarily in performance or the hope of fame, but in creation. I began to study the craft of songwriting. I now perform regularly in Hastings and nearby communities and in 2006, I won a statewide songwriting contest. The process of turning a daydream into a reality has been exciting, empowering and inspiring.
This fall I started working toward my second dream of being a teacher. I am pursing my Masters of Arts in Teaching with an endorsement in secondary English. I work as a graduate assistant in the Learning Center where I edit student papers, give general study help, and teach Learning Labs to students in the Excel program for academically at-risk freshmen. Much of my work is focused on writing, be it informal instruction to drop-in students or formal lessons in the Lab.
An Imagine Grant can help me combine my two dreams by attending The Song School at Planet Bluegrass. For the past twelve years Planet Bluegrass in Lyons, Colorado has hosted an intensive four-day songwriting workshop. The Song School is self-described as an event “which brings songwriting and creativity together in a community based on shared love of music and support for each participant.” Each August, songwriters from around the country and the globe join together to explore the writing process and create, hone and share their songs. The Song School provides a nurturing environment in which participants can stretch and grow in their creative endeavors. The faculty is made up of internationally known songwriters, actors, music professionals, and songwriting peers.
Attending The Song School will help me in my personal artistic journey and give me the tools to help others. My confidence, sense of personal creative fulfillment and my art itself will be impacted from the instruction, support and mentoring I receive. Also, I will have the opportunity to observe how to construct an open, creative learning environment, observe how instructors nurture their students’ creativity, and discover techniques for “out of the box” writing instruction which can be directly applied to my classroom teaching. The Song School’s model of mentoring relationships, supportive critiques, and a framework for collaboration are all things I can reproduce in my classroom both now and in the future.
However, I do not want to wait until I have completed my course of study here at Hastings College to put what I learn at The Song School to use. In the fall of 2008, I would like to host a grant-funded songwriting workshop for local high school students. The workshop will be free and open to any interested Hastings-area young writer. Using current and forging new contacts with private and school-based music teachers, I will distribute informational flyers inviting young writers to participate. Ideally, the workshop will be on a Saturday in September or October on the Hastings College campus. We will meet 9 AM to 5 PM, students to bring a brown bag lunch, drinks and snacks provided. I will design a curriculum and activities based on what I learned at The Song School, modified for the time frame, age group and number of participants.
In this direct way, I can pass on what I have learned from The Song School.
Hopefully, attending the songwriting workshop will help young writers find joy in self-expression and fulfillment through music, which they can, in turn, pass on. In the long term, as a classroom English teacher, I can use these same techniques to inspire my students, and fuel their dreams--even a dream as unlikely as being an English teacher and a rock star.
The Song School tuition/camping fee: $450.00
Meals (three per day @ $10/ six days): $180.00
Mileage (423 miles one way x2 @ $.048/mile) $406.08
Fall Songwriting Workshop (publicity, materials, refreshments, etc.) $100.00
Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
to turn your hair platinum
you'll never need to get
* * * * * * * *
Said Fido to his owner Jack
"Let us try a different tack
I throw the stick, you bring it back."
* * * * * * * *
I saw a storm come rollin' in
upon a wagon wheel.
I saw a strom a'brewin'
seafood stew with eels.
I saw a storm a'ragin',
yelled with all he had.
And then the storm dropped great big tears.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
2. YOUR GANGSTA NAME (fave ice cream flavor, favorite type of shoe):
3. YOUR NATIVE AMERICAN NAME (favorite color, favorite animal):
4. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME (middle name, city where you were born):
5. YOUR STAR WARS NAME (the first three letters of your last name, first two of your first name):
6. SUPERHERO NAME (2nd favorite color, favorite drink):
7. NASCAR NAME (the first names of your grandfathers):
8. STRIPPER NAME ( the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy):
9. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME (your fifth grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter):
10. SPY NAME (your favorite season/holiday, flower):
11. CARTOON NAME (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now):
12. HIPPIE NAME (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree):
Thanks to Jill from whom I stole this list.
Monday, February 11, 2008
I drove out to the Adams County Fairgrounds at 5:30. The place was already hopping. I read that they were hoping for 200-250 people. There were well over 100 when I arrived. I filled out a little blue half-sheet caucas registration form at the door. There were folks handing out stickers as we walked in and I took an Obama sticker from a city councilwoman. Until that point I was still feeling 85% Obama, 15% Clinton, but it was time to make the leap. Kathy smacked that Obama sticker on.
I took my little blue sheet around a partition to the registration tables that were arranged alphabetically. My academic advisor registered me (I knew probably 7 of the 10 volunteers at the tables), gave me a name tag with my precinct on it and directed me toward my precinct (3C) table. Each Adam's county precinct had its own round table, with folding chairs around it and posters & such for each candidate strewn about it.
I met my neighbors. There was no one yet at the table whom I knew, but since the precincts are geographical, they all live near me. We made introductions and chit chat as we watched the room fill up. It was just amazing. More and more people kept coming! I saw all my professors (two of whom it turned out are in my precinct, husband and wife, split on candidates) and everybody who I hoped would appear two hours later at the Listening Room Show--about 75% of our audience was there! I saw friends from school and a few from church. It was like a Who's Who of fun people in Hastings.
Those of you readers who live in Metropolitan areas probably can't imagine how crazy this was for us. Nebraska is such a red state that in the last presidential election I wondered if there was even a point to voting. Did my one Democratic vote count in the sea of Republicans? In the last presidential election I did not see a SINGLE tv ad for a candidate. Neither Kerry nor Bush wasted their money campaigning here when it was a given that Nebraska would go red. It made me feel sort of useless and isolated. This time Obama is running tv ads here. I got calls from both Obama and Clinton's campaigns--and I mean actual people on the phone, not recordings. They want MY vote. I count. God bless America.
And then to have over 500 people come to the fairgrounds to caucas....it was like a coming out party. No more closets for the Democrats! We all marveled and said "it's not just me! look at us all!" An announcement was made that they were running out of registration sheets and the place went nuts with applauding and cheering. An announcement was made that there was a red BMW in the parking lot with its lights on, followed by "I didn't think there were any Republicans here" and we all giggled and clapped.
At about 6:15 it was time to get down to business. Our temporary chairman said we needed to elect a permanent chairman (we picked him because he clearly knew what he was doing) and a secretary (easily done). We counted off to verify how many of us there were in precint 3C (there were 18). Then by show of hands we voted Clinton, Obama or Uncommitted. It came out 11 Clinton, 7 Obama, 0 Uncommitted. We arranged ourselves into groups.
In other precincts where there were uncommitted voters, each group selected a spokesman to speak on behalf of its candidate to try and persuade the uncommitted to join their side. I heard that in some precints, particularly the larger ones, this was done rather formally. We had a friendly discussion, except for one Clinton supporter who accused us of not thinking a woman could do the job (we booed) and then said "...and Obama's values are not what our country needs!!" at which point her own group told her that she was way off-base and was no longer representing their point of view. Then the rest of us went back to our friendly discussion: youth verses experience and electibility. We mostly all thought it was a shame to have to choose between the two. No one changed sides.
Meanwhile, our chairman had his caculator out to figure how many delegates we would send to the county caucas on June 2. There was a formula that decided the ratio of Clinton delegates to Obama delegates, but the delegates from each precint needed to be 50/50 male/female or as close to it as we could get. People volunteered. The secretary looked over the chairman's paperworked an signed off. And that was the Nebraska Democtratic Caucus in Adam's County.
I did an informal poll and my precinct was the only one I heard of that went to Clinton--totally anecdotal. The county and the state went Obama. Obama won by a lot in Lincoln and Omaha and by a much closer margin out in the third district (which includes Hastings and the western chunk of the state).
I read online and in the paper about what a mess there was in Omaha and Lincoln. The number of participants WAY exceeded expectation and things sort of fell apart. I was really very proud of how well ours went--even with twice the attendance hoped for. It also made me so glad to live in a smaller community. It felt like home to walk around and see so many people I know--and to know that the delegates are my classmates and neigbhors and professors--not just random people. The volunteers knew what they were doing, the chairpeople were well trained, even though it was the first time it was done, and everyone seemed pumped to be a part of the process. It was a big party. A big political party :)
Sunday, January 20, 2008
It's been two years since I've posted ANYTHING on Acid Planet. Maybe every six months I'll get an email that someone has reviewed a song and I think "OH! I forgot that was out there!" A couple days a go I got an email from Acid Planet saying congratulations, I had been included in an Acid Planet podcast. I thought hmf, whatever. And then I started getting review notice after review notice.
I just listened to the podcast. Okay, I listened until I heard myself (and thankfully, I'm the second song!). It was bizarro to hear the podcaster announce me like a dj and then play a song I posted two years ago and haven't even played since! And now, apparently people are listening to the podcast, then finding my Acid Planet page and listening to my music! Wierd! And a lot of it is old...and not so good!
If you want to hear the podcast click here. You can fast forward to about 5:50 to hear me. If you want to take a stroll down memory lane and listen to old Emily Dunbar "hits" (aka: mostly crappy home recordings but a few nice ones recorded by and with Jay Bayles--I recommend "did you not think of me") you can click here.