Monday, January 6, 2014


Well, for once, I may have actually gotten a jump on something. Being a violist, we are proverbially late, clueless and short of the mark. We supposedly aren’t good enough to play violin, so we switched to viola and slithered into orchestras by nefarious means. Horse feathers. Unfortunately, I can play the violin, and apparently, well enough to fool stupid people into giving me money to play it, although my preference has always been for the viola, and who wouldn’t want to play viola when you own such a viola as I do. My violins were never nearly as good as my viola. The only kinship they shared is that they were all made of wood, and there the similarities stopped. The violins I owned were mere peons; my viola is a member of the Italian aristocracy, and is eager to let everyone know at every opportunity.

At one point, when I was hired for my first violin “gig” I didn’t own a violin, and rented one. A student model, as I recall with metal strings, tuners and tape on the fingerboard for the people unfortunate enough to have been trained in the “Suzuki” method, wherein everything is by rote, and you can have an ear made of the finest tin; intonation not required. Nor is interpretation, passion, or finding your own “voice”. Thus, we have armies of automatons on the violin, playing the same way, same out-of-tuneness, same vibrato, and just. . . gah!

My god, I can almost smell the pancake makeup from here. This must be "Elvis: The Staid Years"

I played that bastard loud and proud for some kind of Elvis tour, wherein all of Elvis’ old sidemen were present and Elvis was up on a screen. I played 1st violin and sat between the Concertmaster, an old colleague from Michigan and an old friend from the Concertgebouw who had a non-cordial hate for one another. I guess I was the de-militarized zone of the first violin section. All of the old muscle memory in place and it was as if reading in soprano clef had never left. Every time the two antagonists would seem to want to have a go at bows-at-20-paces during “Aint’ Nothin’ But a Hound Dog,” I took that as my cue to fling my hair around and emote wildly. There was a cameraman recording this whole hallucinatory event; the three of us were on-air more than Eblis was. Egad!

And then there were the “admirer-impersonators”, to be found at every stop we made; from whole families decked out in silver and gold lamé jumpsuits, with flared legs, Beatle boots, or “cockroach killer” shoes and pompadours, teased, combed and sprayed with what looked like flat black paint for outdoor metal furniture, alá Rustoleum, complete with black, eyebrow-pencil mutton-chop sideburns. They all seemed to think we were holding auditions, as we were regaled with everything from impressions of “Thaank yuu, vury mushhh…” to warbling out-of-tune a capella renditions of “Jailhouse Rock”. My personal favorite was the guy from Brazil, who came trotting up to me as I was getting into my car and leaving Sunrise, Florida for Jacksonville, for our next sold-out performance.

I guess everybody's gotta have a hobby. Most of the impersonators who traipsed after us were horrid, and they usually had embarrassed families in tow. Still, they were harmless enough, and picturesque to say the least!

He asked me if I was one of the “dancers”, which was a good one, as there were no dancers,  either in the 40-foot high hologram of Elvis or on stage. I turned around to get a look at this cat, as he had caught me putting my crappy rental violin in the back seat of my Cougar, and I almost started laughing. First off, he was my height, 5' 4" and I was wearing flats. He had the whole Eblis thing going on, but he was also wearing sunglasses at 11 pm and he had on a tiny red cape, like some junior Count Dracula, or Superman. His flared legs on his silver lamé jumpsuit were too short and I could see his white socks, peeking out over the tops of his Beatle boots. The suit was also too small for him and he had this little man-cameltoe-nutsack thing going on, although I had to sneak surreptitious glances, as I didn't want this guy to think I was interested. Well, I was, but not in THAT way. 

As best I could and keeping a straight face, I pointed to a bus in the very back of the parking lot, that had brought in a batch of Q-tipped old bats from the Old Folks' Home and said that was where the “dancers” were. Off he went. This was one of my more memorable tours, playing fiddle, or  violin, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

When word got out that I had a passing acquaintance with the violin, although when I picked up and played the rental fiddle, it had been over 30 years since I had played one, more idiots decided I should earn some money playing the violin. If there were no viola spots available, as in the case of “West Side Story,” or “Cats,” I played violin and ran gibbering and capering off into the night with my ill-earned lucre, until the next gig came along.

So, what does all this blathering have to do with the first post of #ROW80, 2014. Well, for one thing, I have a, uh, “finished” manuscript of a novel that I pretty much created out of whole cloth as I went along during NaMoWriMo 2013, which I “won” by finishing, prior to the deadline of November 30th, 2013, with some 50,967 words. I’m used to writing rhetorical things and posing arguments and swiftly cutting people off at the knees when they are being 50 Shades of Ass in written form. This was a whole different arena and it was an enlightening one, as well as a confusing one. I shall not trot out the cliché of “humbling” because I didn’t feel that. What I mostly felt was a whole lot of confusion and at one point, panic, when I thought I had cut-and-pasted over some huge passage that was working, or seemed to at the time.

I had backups stashed everywhere and I had a format laid out that I immediately abandoned, because I naïvely thought that I would adhere to a strict schedule, as I did when I blogged every day. I quickly found that this is an entirely different process, at least for me. I know that different things work for different people and cannot even begin to guess at how people like Stephen King or Colin Falconer have managed the prodigious output in the span of their lifetimes. Admittedly, I came late to the rodeo, so maybe this will all become clearer later on. I have gone back and looked at just the stuff I’ve written for my various blogs, and for the span of time I have devoted to writing, it is in the sort-of small to medium range; nowhere near to prodigious.

I had fun with the computer systems at IBM, but the people at Verizon were much more random than the computers. Go figure. I can make Boolean logic look emo.

The old adage applies, perseverance over time. Practice, practice, practice, whether it’s the viola, or my other career; IT. I held a 4.0 GPA in Mathematics which was astonishing because I totally sucked at it in high school. As some of you may know, my 2nd husband, a violist, was very disappointed when the Zither Fairy did not appear after we were wed, although we met on a gig playing violas. I'm not sure which of us was the stupider one. Probably me, because I married the schnook. I won the gig with the Moody Blues and he did not, so he pouted. Jesus; men. So, I went back to school and picked a subject I thought radically different than music; computer science. Seeing as how I was so *meh* in math in high school, I really dug in, because studying higher maths become intense: calculus and trigonometry, differentials, matrices, and complex numbers were worked and re-worked. I used the same discipline that I used when I was in Music School. I don’t believe that I have a natural ability with numbers, but I studied 8 hours a day every day and I knew I was smart enough to “get it” if I applied myself.

Music is something I was born to do, and come hell or high water, I will again. Practicing, tremor-free, is a joy, but slow going. I expected this, but I feel better than I have felt in decades. Computers I will always have and with 4 in the house now – JC and Alex bought me a Quadcore to run alongside my Dualcore – I can build virtual machines and do more consulting work. When I worked from home for 3 years prior to losing my 2nd house because the Rent to Buy people went bankrupt and the banks would not turn the house over to me, I was ill and tired. I had to leave my job. But recently, my old boss has gotten wind of the fact that just maybe, I might be available to do some special projects for him. That would be awesome.

For another thing, I wrote this post a DAY early, which is also been unlike me of late; I need to get my groove back, so, my goals this round are to go back to what I did when I first joined #ROW80; I plan on posting something on this blog, every day, even if it is something I am using as a writing prompt, something humorous, or something that has outraged me and I am just venting. I am going to make sure that I join in on #IWSG, the first Wednesday of every month. I am also going to continue on my editing of the “hot mess” that is “Music of the Spheres,” with Commander Skip Bombardier and the “Alien Undead Underground Railroad,” or the “Undead Alien Underground Railroad,” which has a much better ring to it, I think. Will the Commander, along with the Captains of the Air Force, Glenn Miller and Glenn Wallace be able to save the day with the Lost Boys and Gurlz of SoulZ and the confused, meandering, albeit good-hearted aid of some very clueless violists who thought they were going to Comic-Con, but ended up at the Annual NSA Spy vs Spy convention and got more than they bargained for? We shall see.

In the meantime, I have a lot of heavy lifting to do. Write what you know and research the hell out of the rest. Better yet, run it through some folks who may have actually done whatever it is you’re asking your readers to buy into. I’ll give it a shot!

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