The Strongest Day of the Weak

I know that fear and doubt aren’t real, but in those predawn sleepless moments they seem like the only things.  They rattle their chains, beating up on the floor boards from below in a hollow cadence.  And they continue their mining until I muster the hegemony of happiness against them, get out of bed and occupy myself with greater things. I don’t think I’m strange.  Or alone.  I think everyone has those moments where the dystopian sneaks onto the firmament. But I’m left to wonder if that’s natural. A friend of mine once told me that cat tails only grow where there is some deficiency in the soil.  No other plants will grow because something is wrong.  And I guess it’s like that with the dark thoughts.  They thrive in soil that is waterlogged and yet parched, where no other healthy thing will set down roots. I reflect on this now because I am happy.  I am blessed.  Hell, I’m so incredibly blessed I have to restrain from hugging people when they ask me how I am.  I work in corporate, so that makes for some interesting pregnant pauses.  By almost any measure, things are just good.  But still, the cattails grow. And I wonder about money, about work, about 40 hours each week, and merit-based pay, and maintaining a team attitude… And I think about cavemen.  I wonder if they woke to Poe’s Raven, whispering loudly.   I know that if I were caveman I’d club someone whenever I heard something about “synergizing” our “paradigm.” But I’m not (to my parent’s attestation) a caveman.  And neither are you.  Except...

Meeting Aeneas

A few weeks back I wrote a post about seeing Les Troyens, and the subsequent conversations I had after seeing it.  Last night I went to see a concert in Asheville and got to see my friend Kara play.  Afterward she mentioned going to see Troyens again and it got me thinking again.  Maybe it’s time to flip the coin on the topic of strong female characters and talk about strong male characters to ask the question, “What is a strong male character?” In my post about Dido and her catastrophic crush on Aeneas, I wondered why she fell apart.  Perhaps I (and we) should better wonder why he really left. I mean, the over-arching theme of the opera, and just about all the emotional shmaltz that came out of the Romantic era, was that love is a fundamental moving force of the universe and that it conquers the laws of physics as well as obscures any glaring plot holes.  His reasons for leaving seem to be sewn in the first act, but what if there’s something deeper? For those who are too lazy to read my last post, or go see 5 hours of French opera, a brief and half-ass summary is as follows:  In act 1, Troy is invaded, Aeneas is introduced briefly as a heroic leader, heir to greatness, and by way of a creeptastic ghost is revealed to have a future in empire building.  Sadly, Troy is sacked and our hero hoists anchor for Carthage.  In act 2, Aeneas pulls his broke-down hooptie up to Dido’s crib in Carthage and loses his cool.  They go...

Letters to Doug, Part III

This is the third in a series of letters between me and an old friend/coworker on learning how to develop websites.  Doug is a graphic designer in Michigan and is trying to convert his Photoshop kung fu into web ninjitsu.  You can read the previous letters here and here. Doug writes: Hi Dan, Good news. I sorted out my font issue finally. Sorta. I never actually managed to figure out the Typekit problem. In fairness, I probably should have reached out on the Headway support forums. What I ended up with was that after doing some more digging, I found exactly the type of font I needed in Google web fonts which made the whole thing streamline. Now my problem is trying to get my image slider working/looking the way I want. I may have to find a better plug-in. So my question now is this: if I wanted to get serious about being able to do this, what’s my education path? I think a goal would be to take a design from a Photoshop PSD to finished WordPress site, with enough ability to tweak code as needed to make things work. What little I know, tells me I would minimally need to learn CSS3, HTML5, and PHP. What do you think? And how is jQuery used? Thanks, Doug I’ve really given this some thought.  I don’t want to come across as too much of an ass, as one can sound that way when one is teaching. But assery be damned, this is how I think of it. I’m glad you got the font thing ironed out, and don’t...

A Locked Room

I went to a conference today.  Not a tuba conference.  And that’s significant, because the message was of a different type.  Not just a different message, but a different type of message. See, most of my life I’ve been going to conferences aimed at performing musicians.  And those conferences tend to focus on “how” and “what.”  With very little thought as to “why.”  The question of “why” is manifest in that the participants are there in the first place.  I love to play the tuba, so I go.  And that’s it. But the question behind so much of everything is “why.”  Why do we make art?  Why do we write prose and poetry?  If we can peel away all the subsequent questions and go back to why, maybe we can find another path to gratifying the drives within us. The conference was the Southern Entrepreneurship in the Arts Conference, and I enjoyed myself.  I learned something.  I learned things. But the important thing I learned was that there are a lot of people out there in my shoes.  They don’t know how to connect the creative impulse with the world around them in a way that lets them eat regularly. But what moved me most was when a friend of mine, to a large room and with tears in her eyes, admitted that she’d closed herself into a practice room with a cello since she was 10 under the impression that practice was all it takes.  That the craft is more important than the connections.  That what she has been doing hasn’t brought her success, and she needs to...