Music Monday: Kuana Torres Kahele, Napua Greig, James Ford Murphy From the Pixar Short ‘Lava’

Occasionally, I will watch an animated film alone in a theatre. The last time I went to see one with some friends, Frozen won over the other films showing in the theatre. (Divergence, our first choice, sold out once we arrived.)  I connected with its music, getting a sense ‘Let It Go’ has this combination of music, lyrics, and lack of interference to connect with audiences. It’s also a tune stuck in your head, doing the very opposite of what it preaches.

Fast forward to this past Friday with a very simple plan of catching the nearest bus to the movie theatre, buy a ticket, and have a rare popcorn to watch Inside Out. I nearly purchased a stuffed anger from the film, but decided to take Olaf and his warm hugs instead. I liked the idea of emotions personified, each with a purpose at the controls. For those telling me they will see it on demand, or Blu-Ray, it’s well worth watching. However, the short film opening the feature had a song with the same level of lyrics, music, and lack of interference, to give the Oscar for Best Original Song category its first front-runner in 2016.

Last year’s Feast  told a boy man-and-his-dog story with music and animation. This time the music serves as narration, a love letter to the Hawaiian Island serving as Pixar’s inspiration the way the Highlands did in Brave. (The location shots show the level of craftsmanship in the animation.) No need to tell you about the story, listen to the song. The sounds heard in the background come from the film itself.

An interview with animator James Ford Murphy about making the short, with the song closing out the interview:

Music Monday: Mean by Taylor Swift

I had planned to feature this song before Taylor Swift penned her letter to Apple, and the company did an about-face on on their new streaming service. (Although Wired takes a different view on the situation.)  While her album 1989 dominates the music landscape, and I find myself singing along to ‘Shake it Off, some of her country stuff shows good song writing crossing this pop-music-infused mind.

‘Shake it Off’ and ‘Mean’ both deal with barbs disguised as criticism. Recently, the UK group Cybersmile foundation had their Stop Cyberbullying Day with people tweeting awareness about internet bullying, and how it crosses the criticism line. (How did I learn about his group? Let me give you a riddle: The tall dwarf always has the loudest voice without raising it.) The topic requires a series of posts, but I remembered music giving the strength to get out of bed to face the barbs in my own life. (Next Monday I will reveal the song with the most impact in this department.)

Now sing it with me someday I’ll be living in a big ol’ city..

The Coding Saga Reaches Its Epic Conclusion

I take full responsibility for the melodrama in those ‘Coding Saga’ posts.

It will take a few week to fully process the class. One one hand if I looked at my first assignment, then my last project, improve peeks out in a few places. A little more time, more dedication could make things better. If I wanted to web design, I would move this blog lock, stock, and barrel to its own website. I have no interest in that headache.

However, I finally wrapped my brain around CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). I can finally take full advantage of the control over it, one I paid for on WordPress. It’s hard to take control if a person does not know what it is. If something comes up, I know how to fix it. While WordPress comes with ready-made blog templates, a little coding knowledge can go a long way. Wisdom makes sure it doesn’t make a mess of things. (Jury still out in my case.)

I will suggest to take a course like this without anything else on the schedule. Big mistake number one: I took this course at the same time the acting class reached its conclusion. I learned my energy will stretch thin, or for those with a metaphorical bent to their thinking, it’s true what they say:

A person chasing two rabbits loses both.

 I took one course, I knew people taking Master’s degrees online. I am not remotely there, but it doesn’t mean stop learning. A piece of paper may get you someplace, but it does not define intelligence. A deft mind, a willing heart, will make a person in wisdom. (Common sense dictates acknowledges Thorin Oakenshield’s voice in my mind as I wrote that last sentence.) I do want to jump on my soapbox for one thing: Girls need learn how to code.

I majored in English in university. While I graduated with a teaching degree, university meant breaking away from the small world of my high school, of my neighbourhood. I always had the sense of a larger world. I also had the sense many people swallowed beliefs without thinking why, or whether it actually worked. In high school, to be a girl with a thought or an opinion did not make you a boy magnet. Girls aimed to be boy magnets. It’s not an obvious thing, just very subtle. How many girls take computer classes? Learn coding? How many go in STEM jobs. I believe some girls want to do that as much as they want to major in English. Instead of playing the video games, they can create in the medium, and push it further. It starts with coding, it’s the key.

I may not turn into a web designer, but as a potential client I hope to step back and let people do their jobs. I understand the work it takes to put a website together. In the meantime I content myself with the written word and this blog. The other upside of this course….it crystallized what I really want to do. I want to explore the creative side left neglected in the name of whatever I thought people wanted.

In this we are all warriors. It takes time, in my case a lot of time, but it’s doable. I will steward what I have. In the meantime, it’s time for one last thing in this class. Will you follow me one last time.

one last time

Music Monday: Grooving at Starbucks

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Sometimes as I pull out my journal, after having my coffee,  I ask myself am I pretentious?  What pulls me into a Starbucks, as opposed to Tim Horton’s, has to do with music.

At Starbucks I don’t have to listen to one of our many, annoying top 40 stations, and what passes for banter.  I also get to hear instruments like guitar,  and most importantly vocals. No acrobatics just singing with genuine emotions.

I scribble away, clearing the debris left by years of ‘can’t’ in my life. Sometimes the perfect song comes on,  and I let it take me where I need to go.

I don’t have a song today. Every time I blog by phone, I consider it practice for my New York trip. (Yes,  I am going.) My thumbs need the practice.  Now for one last swig of my coffee to greet the coming week.

The Coding Saga Almost Ends

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It’s week nine of this ten week course. Mentally, if my brain had feet, I have one foot out the door. Add one other thing to academic fatigue – Hannibal starts tonight.

When I stayed home those two weeks in October, I caught up on the first two seasons.  As Hannibal ate the rude in one episode, I suddenly, and strangely, felt peckish. Hannibal requires a strong stomach, and a willingness to follow its trippy retelling of the non-Silence of the Lambs novels.

What does this have to do with the coding saga? Nothing. Only as a way to get through the last two weeks of classes.

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Full stomach and a couple of chapters; A good lunch indeed.

Munch Time Reading

Music Monday: Good Mother by Jann Arden

Cardboard masks of all the people I’ve been
Thrown out with all the rusted, tangled,
dented god damned miseries
You could say I’m hard to hold
But if you knew me you’d know
I’ve got a good father
And his strength is what makes me cry

 -Jann Arden

 It’s a song always staying with me many years after purchasing Jann Arden’s Happy? cassette in the 90’s. (Did I buy it on CD? Do you know how many formats have changed in my lifetime?)

The song came along during a difficult time. On the surface my path seemed assured; Beneath the surface things crashed like waves against the rocks. Good Mother gave me a very important message: choose my own path. For the past decade I have reworked the script in my head;It’s a bit like overhauling a house. You paint the walls, put in new flooring, but the bathroom renos prove more difficult than first planned.

In the end, take Jann’s advice: Just be yourself. May you be yourself, and remember it’s never too late to get things started. (Make sure to repeat the last part many, many, many times as it’s easy to forget.)

The Coding Saga Addendum :This Is Why We Proof Things Kids

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While at Starbucks to kill time, scribble away the internal cobwebs,  and check phone for messages,  a friend of mine sent me a message wondering if I quit my job.

Oh,  man I wonder if the new post caused misunderstandings galore. I thought.

Nope,  staying put at my position . I enjoy where I am. I guess I really want to say-to myself and the world-
just relax.

And proof your stuff better, whispers the brain, just a thought.

The Coding Saga Continues: Home Stretch Time and Issues About Timing In General

The sands begin to run through the hourglass. With three weeks left in my course, I spent last weekend pondering the age-old question what the (bleep) was I thinking? I learned a lot from my course, and I just learned the biggest lesson of them all: take something you enjoy. My brain kept thinking about keeping my skills fresh, making sure I stay competitive, and kicking off a swirl of what ifs along the line of ‘what if I found myself out of a job?’

I had to sit my brain down for a chat.

Listen up brain, I beganwe are doing fine. We have a good job. You helped me decide to leave a full-time job, with benefits, to go back to school. Yes, I live in uncertain times. However we are doing alright, and this time the heart is getting sick and tired of taking second place. It’s demanding I do something for myself, and it’s really ticked off I took this class while taking acting class, and trying to finish my story for Off The Wall. I mean it’s whining about doing two stories instead of one. It’s driving me crazy.

From now on, brain, you are helping out in the creative department. We will write more, and we will take another acting class. And I am taking the one for television and film. Yes, I know the camera adds 20 pounds, but I want to shake up my fears. This will shake things up. Understand?

The brain and I need to discuss matters further.

Let me clear something up: I enjoy coding. I wished I took the self-taught approach rather than a class. Even as I wrote that sentence, I search for some fault within me. I have an uneasy relationship with formal schooling. On the surface I understand its necessity, and I have succeeded through the system. On the other hand directing my learning made me retain more, and it also imbues things with some meaning. I have a check list in my head of things I should have done to not feel so overwhelmed. On the other hand, I have an even bigger checklist to go with a strategy in my head, making sure overwhelmed does not incapacitate. Ever see a squirrel freeze in the middle of a field thinking if I stand perfectly still no predator will eat me. Welcome to what happens if overwhelmed crosses into incapacitated.

In the end it’s onward and upward. Just finish the course and pass.