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the return of lent productivity

A long time ago i used to use Lent as a pretext to be creative - 40 photos for 40 days was the common one, although i sometimes did other things too, such as "make sure you compose at least a little bit of music every day" or "make sure you clean one thing in the apartment every day" or the like.  This was at a time when doing that was fairly trendy around my group at Tulane.

I stopped doing that a few years ago now, but I've had the urge to do it again just to try to help me get out of the psuedo lazy funk i've been in.  It hasn't actually been a lazy funk, it's been more that i've been so goddamned busy that in my free time i have a tendency to veg and not be productive, and while that's a reasonable thing to expect, it feels like a waste.  I need a new spark to make sure i'm balancing the relaxation time with personal productivity time in a way that has definitely shifted to relax only.

So here it is.  Lent 2016 will be 'write a blog entry every day until Easter'.  It doesn't have to be long, but it has to be something, and it has to be something relevant to what's happening in my life right now or something that's going through my mind.  It also feels more appropriate to do that here on my LJ rather than my own blog of mendellee since that blog is more professional than personal and i want this to feel more personal.

Not sure what i'll write about through this time.  There's a lot of stuff i feel like i should get off of my chest, but i'm very conscious about interent scrutiny because of my profession as a teacher.  It's likely that most of this stuff will be fairly safe, but some more risqué stuff may creep in here every now and again.  Maybe i'll even have to use that 'adult content' lag which does something that i don't know.  We'll see.

Having day one as purely an introductory post seems like cheating, but whatever.  I have a lot of stuff to do today, and i'm doing babbling rooks this evening anyway.  Real entries will start tomorrow.

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clock oddities

people that know me well enough are aware that i believe in setting most of my clocks in my house to different times.  The time that i set them is typically governed by whenever that clock was turned on/plugged in.  My microwave clock and oven clock up to this point have always reset at the same time when there's been a power outage since they're on the same circuit - but when i came back from the holidays this winter, there was a power outage and the clocks for the first time since i moved here about 2.75 years ago were displaying different times - almost exactly 30 minutes apart.

Danny and Caylie were watching mallory while i was away, and i suspect that they changed one of the clock times just to mess wtih me.  Or to support my clock chaos philosophy.  or both.

yeah. probably both.

wow i was nudged.

so yeah, it's been forever since i've updated here, so i actually got nudged by belenen to update on here.

Part of the reason that i abandoned this is because my life has gotten incredibly hectic and energy draining.  Not in bad ways, i'm doing what i love and i live in a great city and i have great friends.  But the amount of work i do these days has been so exhausting that independent projects have fallen to the wayside - I still run a big contemporary music festival, but my own music projects have started to fall to the wayside and blogging has fallen even further.

It's not that i don't have the time to do these things, it's more that those things require a degree of energy that when i get home from work i don't want to put in anymore.  This is usually something that ebbs and flows - after particularly busy times i'll sometimes go into hibernation mode and do nothing really productive instead focusing on zoning out on video games or telly.  Then i pick it back up again after getting my rest.  These days, rest has been longer than normal, and i've developed some bad habits relating to how productive i opt to use my free time.

Part of the new year is to try to fix that, make sure that i can stay on top of all of my projects, particularly in this next week.  But one of the things that will still end up being a low priority is this particular blog in favor of shifting more of my blogging and social networking to my fb and g+ profile and the blog that i maintain at mendellee.com.  Livejournal was a very important part of my life for a long time and i've gained some important lifelong friendships as a result of it, but i think that i have to finally come to terms with the fact that it's something i have to legacy except to pop my head in every now and again.

In an effort to jumpstart my creative process in new ways in the new year, i'm doing some initial planning of a vlog series that's yet unnamed that involves my good friend and former student Kyle.  The idea is to take Yahtzee Crowshaw's "Let's Drown Out" youtube series and do my own spin on it.  Once that happens, i may post those here for greater exposure for those that are still here because otherwise i can't imagine that it will end up being very popular - i just want to do it because i need a different outlet.

Otherwise, if you want to follow my exploits and ramblings, feel free to friend me on facebook, circle me on g+, follow me on twitter, go to my blog at mendellee.com or nienteforte.com, or visit new orleans.

and feel free to poke me on here if you so wish; i may not post right away, but i'll definitely tag it and post if prompted.  until then, it's time to get to work.
Kung Fury - for a kickstarter project, it has high production value and some big names attached to it, and it's a pretty great over-the-top 80s action homage that's hilarious and amazing at the same time. The long "2-D side scrolling action scene" is absolutely fantastic, and while the script and the action fall apart towards the end, it succeeds at delivering an entertaining retro-pacakge that makes me wish that it had raised the necessary $1mill to make it into a feature film because even if it had resulted in wearing too thin with the longer run time, it would have been ultimately successful as a failure and therefore could not fail to be a success.

Fails the Bechdel test.  The only time two females are even in the same shot together, they don't ever talk to each other, they only ever talk to Kung Fury.

Mad Max: Fury Road - I remember coming out of the movie thinking that I had just taken the equivalent of three huge breaths.  The first real break in the film in the desert made me realize in the middle of watching it that a lot of time had passed in a way that felt simlutaneously like nothing and forever, and then it happened again, and then a third time.  Ultimately I describe the film as beautiful - not because of the success of the action scenes themselves or the beauty of the visual elements, but the construction of the film is beautiful - the depth of story and characters despite little dialogue and the overall flow of the movie both at that depth and at the surface from every short moment to every short moment and every long moment to every long moment was unlike anything that i've experienced in a long while in a single two-hour span of time.  I definitely need to watch it again, although likely not in the theater as it did start to make me feel slightly nauseous.

Passes the Bechdel test easily.

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two successful poker hands.

i haven't played a lot of cards in 2015 - ten sessions in total, and four of those sessions have been in the past two weeks.  Prior to that the last time was in february, and like the last time i was forced to take a break for a few months about three years ago, my playstyle has adjusted and i think in a good way.

The first time i adjusted, i went from being a fairly tight passive/aggressive player into a medium loose aggressive player. Gradually that turned into hyperaggressive, where i was generally seen as the table bully more often than not and would then be exploitable because of just how loose aggressive i had gotten. In the past four sessions i've recalbrated somewhat, still tending to be aggressive but dialing it back from, say, an 8 down to a 6-6.5, and I think it's served me pretty well, particularly on friday night because the table was so loose passive that there was absolutely no need to ever bluff, and last night because i was aggressive just enough that people were willing to call me with fairly weak holdings, and that built up my stack in such a way that my big score was huge.

There were two hands in particular that were very profitable - one where i went all-in for $137 and came out with $460 which is absolutely insane, and one where i went all-in for about $425 and came out with $900.

hand specsCollapse )
I still need to tweak my play more in regards to the vocabulary i'm comfortable with, but i'm confident that that will continue to hone and improve over time.  I still have yet to put check-raise bluffing into my vocabulary - even though it should be used as a rare weapon only, i've only done it maybe five times in my poker career which is much rarer than i should use it given the right circumstances.  maybe it'll happen in the near future, but we'll see.

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Jumping ship?

i've used FCP for years.  The version that we have at the office is FCP Express.
I've heard so many negative things about FCP X that even though they don't exactly apply to me, i'm considering making a switch to Premiere Pro, especially since Tulane owns a license to Creative Cloud so it's basically already bought.  I guess i should learn After Effects too, just for fun.  The biggest impact that I think it will have is on the revamped TUMB Pregame video that i want to try to do this summer after all of the music arranging is done.

I'm a little hesitant about it.  A long time ago before Premiere Pro existed, i tried using Premiere 5 or 6 and it was counterintuitive to me because i was so used to how FCP worked and Premiere was very different from that.  It's kind of like any switch that i've failed to do, Finale to Sibelius being the prime example - there are pros and cons to each paradigm and if i can rattle off a piece of music in Finale in two hours, why take the 10-15 hours to learn a new program?

The analogy isn't quite parallel and recent greater understanding of the Adobe Suite in general makes me feel like the switch would be okay.  I recently fell in love with InDesign and am familiar enough with Photoshop and a little bit of Illustrator that maybe the jump to the video application will be seamless.  We'll see how it goes when i can first bite into it around mid-July if everything else goes according to schedule.

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today is a 09:30-20:00 day, tomorrow is a 09:30-23:00 day, Wednesday is do-my-taxes-and-then-have-rehearsals-until-22:00 day, Thursday is a 09:30-17:00 but then socializing from 17:30-22:00 day.

Next week on Sunday i'm doing a drumline candidate interview, on Wednesday we have the concert band concert, on Friday and Saturday i'm adjudicating a band festival and then officiating a wedding on pretty much straight after i do my adjudicating,

The following week will be heavy recruitment time and then my friend Corinna is coming into town for the last weekend of jazz fest.

May, please get here.  i need a break.

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So from Thursday to today (Saturday, i know it's past midnight) I adjudicated with the Worldstrides Heritage Festival in Nashville, and the following fortunate events happened:

1. The room type that was originally planned for me in the huge big opulant and super expensive hotel was booked solid, so they had to give me what they called a 'parlor' room - meaning that i didn't have a real bed, i only had a pull-out sofa bed.  The pull-out sofa bed was fine, probably better because it was firm and that's what i like.  As an apology for this 'inconveniece', they gave me a $100 credit to the room which i used to have two expensive hotel meals - one which was not worth it, and the other one which totally was.

2.  As it happens, the College Band Directors National Association (or something like that) was having their national conference this past week in Nashville, and my friend Matt Westgate (husband of the ever fabulous friend of mine Erica Drake) happened to be in town at the same time as me.  I haven't seen him in about two years when i wrote his wind ensemble a piece of music when he was still at Xavier, and it was good to get dinner and drinks and catch up and also get a vague promise of me writing his wind band at UMass where he is now a piece - where he said, "yeah, you can write whatever you want."

3. The second day of adjudication only involved two groups, so we got out super early.  My flight was originally supposed to leave at 18:45 and had a connection to St. Louis (what.) that would have eventually put me in New Orleans at 22:00 - not in time for me to go to Caylie's birthday party.  I got to the airport at about 14:30 and talked to the attendant at Southwest who said that a flight change to a direct flight that left at 16:30 and would have gotten me to New Orleans at 18:00 would have cost me $160.  Since i didn't pay for any of this trip really, i was loathe to do that.  She told me that if my flight had a delay of 15 minutes then i could get put on standby for the earlier flight for free, and that i should be able to get on the flight since there were plenty of open seats.  I didn't think that it was likely that Southwest would actually delay a flight that much earlier to get me on the standby list, but when i went to that gate to check on it right around the time that they were about to board, i was joking with the woman behind the counter, saying, "i don't suppose you could convince the flight to delay itself just by 15 minutes so i could get on this flight, could you?" and very soon after she said, "as a matter of fact, your connecting flight *is* 15 minutes late, so here you go."  I got back at 17:45 instead of 22:00 and was able to go to Caylie's party.

It was only three days ago that i finished running my contemporary music festival, and i was amazingly happy with how that went.  The Nashville stuff was a great end to what was a crazy but positive week.

Now on to the next one.


So not that i've written in here a lot lately, but i have to hermit a little further in the next couple of weeks and also not read the friends page   quite so dligilently because i'm doing pretty consistent 12-14 hour days of straight work plus some weekends.  Bascially between trying to sort through and do admin for all of the drumline applicants, rehearsals for the Green Wave Brass Gigs, rehearsals and promotion and etc. for my contemporary music festival, recruitment season, and trying to get everything else lined up for the fall, i'm super slammed.

But i will be back here and may pop my head in when i have a break. Until then, my love to every single one of you because you're all awesome.  

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i think i just remembered that a couple of nights ago i had a dream that involved my first girlfriend from high school, Rebecca.

i don't remember anything about the dream whatsoever, just that she was in it.

I wonder how she's doing.  Maybe i should dig up her old hotmail email address and see if it's still valid.  it'd be good to catch up and see what she's all about.

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February 2016