This has been a long time coming.

I originally wrote this song for a Three Legged Race show last year. But we didn’t have anyone who could provide instrumentation for it, so it didn’t go anywhere.

A year and a half later, and I’ve done the piano myself.

It’s a sad, mournful song from the point of view of an evil genius, who has just made a wonderful (he thinks) present to his evil companion. But she’s, well, distracted. By Bob. Bob, the evil supergenius down the street.

Poor evil genius.

Anyhow, this will hopefully be something that we film and release early next year. Which means that I should, well, plan the video.

Until then, though, enjoy the song:

Bob” at the Internet Archive.


What I Made This Week

Finally, productivity. Thanks to the Thanksgiving break—two days of which I had no other demands on by time—I actually managed to finish a couple projects:

* Volunteer Vid. I made a video to promote volunteering at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (where I am a volunteer as well). I filmed it a couple weeks ago, but finally (thanks to the time and some figuring out of stuff in Final Cut) edited it on Thanksgiving. I’ll share it as soon as the museum posts it.

* North Pond Nature. This isn’t affiliated with the museum, although it was filmed around the North Pond in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, where the museum is also situated. This is a video about the wildlife that can be found in and around the pond, set to a soundtrack composed from the calls of local birds. It’s also the launch of Sciencey Vids, a new endeavor about which I’ll be talking more soon…

These both turned out to be really big projects. Neither is long – 2 minutes for the volunteer video and 1 for North Pond Nature. But both were complicated: 20-30 cuts for each, plus the soundtrack for NPN, which is something I’ve never done before.

* “Bob.” I’d hoped to record this this week, but it looks like that won’t be happening, since most of the rest of my afternoon will be occupied. (I’ll be working the PBS pledge drive with some other museum volunteers.) But I have been rehearsing it and I’m close to being able to record it, so that should be happening soon.

* And finally, the very beginnings of writing a comedy video for Three Legged Race. It’s a bit hard to describe, save to say that it’s about a fellow trying to do a crossword puzzle.

What I Made This Week

It was a busy and yet not productive week for me, at least by some metrics. I’ve been very diligent about exercise and eating right, which is great–but it takes time from things that might show up here. Much of the rest of my productive time was spent trying to work my way through some video issues — I’ve been dealing with a few different aspect ratio issues. I haven’t resolved them necessarily, but I’ve at least got a plan of attack.

Other accomplishments:

* Week 6 of Unicorn City. AKA, closing night. This show that has been the focus of so much of my time for the past 15 months is done. It is, I think, my biggest single act of creation to date.

* “Bob” is a song that I wrote lyrics for quite a while ago, but it sort of languished because I didn’t have the wherewithal to write the music. I’ve done so and am working on being able to play it well enough to record.

What I Made This Week

This was the third and final week of having reduced creation time; this time because my brother and his girlfriend visited over the weekend to see the play. A good time was had by all. Nevertheless, here’s what I accomplished this week:

* Performance 4 of Unicorn City.

* An important and painful lesson in Final Cut. Namely, how to work with HD video. (You have to set the dimensions before you import the video.) This will make my video better in the future, but it also means that I’m going to have to re-do my half of the editing of Three Legged Race‘s webseries Weathered Adolescents altogether. That sucks a lot. North Pond Nature, however, shouldn’t be too affected, because I’ve only worked on the sound so far.

* Edited “Strange Things in the Photo Booth,” which was actually less rough than I thought.

* Started composition of “Bob,” which is a song that I wrote lyrics for quite a long time ago for Three Legged Race but abandoned due to my lack of confidence in my ability to write music for. Only way to get better is to do, right? I hope that it’s the only song in the universe that has the words “geosynchronous satellite,” although that’s probably too much to expect, right?

* Finished writing lyrics for “This is a Galaxy”

* And the next big big big project: I have some 10,000 words of background information on the world where Unicorn City is set that I’m quite proud of. This week I started a book set in the world. It’s not particularly related to the events of the play, although some of the characters will no doubt make appearances. Progress so far is about 1,500 words, plus a bunch of brainstorming.

Music, Live

My brother once said that professional musicians make it look easy to play music because for them it is—they’ve practiced the songs that they perform enough where they’re unlikely to make any mistakes.

Two days out from my first in-person-before-a-crowd ukulele performance (as musical guest for Democracy Burlesque this Tuesday), I’m not to that point yet. I think I’ll do a perfectly credible job, but flawless? Unlikely.

That’s not self-dissing. In fact, I’m pretty impressed with myself. I’ve only been playing for six months, and had never played another string instrument before that, so I did not expect to be performing live by now. I didn’t actually expect to be performing live at all, but I’m not complaining.

What’s helped me to get a base level of adequateness that makes me feel okay about performing in public?

Factor A would be FAWM, the write-14-songs-in-February challenge that I attempted (and succeeded at). It consumed a lot of time, but a fair amount of that time was spent with the ukulele in hand. I wrote one of the songs on the three-song set-list during FAWM, and I learned a fair bit about the composing part of songwriting (well, I got introduced to the Circle of Fifths, which I hadn’t really comprehended beforehand) which made composing a second song that I’ll be performing way way easier.

Factor B is CHUG, the Chicago Ukulele Group. Now, I’ve only made it to 2 of the monthly jams—I’ve been out of town or in rehearsal for the other three—but the first one I attended was  when I had had the uke for just about three weeks and didn’t have a clue about it. Going there gave me some direction in how to proceed when I really had none. Plus, they made me do a solo, sight-reading, of “I’m a Believer.” Surviving your first one of those is always a big confidence boost.

Factor C… well, you can’t get away from it. Practice. I’ve been reasonably diligent, if I do say so myself. And the past couple weeks, moreso. I’ve probably been annoying the neighbors, though, since I’ve been doing the same three songs over and over again; I’ve actually taken to playing in the closet* in hopes of minimizing that.

So that’s my strategy toward becoming a ukulele hero in three easy steps. Follow them to achieve fame and fortune, or at least a one-off performance for a political sketch comedy troupe.

*This isn’t as bad as it sounds; I live in a small studio apartment, but the closet is relatively huge. You could use it as an office if you didn’t have to hang clothes up.