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Recent entries from the NaSoAlMo 2012 Category

NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 13

November 13, 2012

Day 13 of NaSoAlMo was full of snot. I have contracted a nasty cold. And I'm declaring NaSoAlMo a failure because my mind and now my body are not into it. I've NaSoAlMoed successfully for 5 years in a row before this, so I'm okay with it.

My final progress:

  • NaSoAlMo 1: Untitled (Basic guitar recorded ~ 4:20)
  • NaSoAlMo 2: Untitled (Piano chords sketched ~ ?)
  • NaSoAlMo 3: Curiosity (Guitar chords sketched and lyrics finished)

This is more than I would have done without NaSoAlMo, so not a total failure.

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NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 12

November 12, 2012

I had an appointment with a surgeon today to talk about my gallbladder. He recommended surgery because of a large gallstone. You know that paper they have on the thing you lay on at the doctor's office? He drew a picture of my insides on that paper to show me where the gallstone is. Then he drew lines on my torso to show me where he would cut me to take my gallbladder out.

I scheduled the surgery for December 7.

This news took the wind out of my NaSoAlMo sails. There was no musical creativity on Day 12.

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NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 11

November 11, 2012

On the previous day of NaSoAlMo, I was too busy with the Counting Crows concert to do any songwriting or recording. My plan was to get back to it on Day 11, after I recovered from the excitement. And after I rented a Rug Doctor and cleaned my carpet. During the Eddie Vedder concert two nights before, Lily had an accident on the carpet (something she rarely does anymore). My fault, really--I left her home alone too long. The carpet has been needing a good cleaning, anyway, so what better time?

Day 11 was devoid of musical creativity.

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NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 10, Part III

November 10, 2012

Continued from Day 10, Part II

We, the Counting Crows VIPs, stood in line some more between the Sound Check/Meet and Greet and the Concert. I was in line with youngsters. I always wonder when I'm in situations like this if they think I'm weird because I'm by myself. And I wonder how old they think I am.

The couple of kids in front of me were from Oklahoma and had been to the show the night before at an indian reservation there. They were following the band to Houston the following night, too. I've always wanted to follow a band around.

We were among the first in line and when they let us in, they warned us not to run, that there was plenty of space in the front. The entrance is steep downhill, though, so it was hard to keep a slow pace. People were calling out to us "Don't run! Don't run!" and I yelled back, "I can't help it! It's steep!" I got down to the front and just to the left of center.

Tender Mercies

The first band to play was Tender Mercies. This band includes Counting Crows members Dan Vickrey and Jim Bogios. They had a similar style to Counting Crows.

Here are a couple of pictures:

Mean Creek

The second band was Mean Creek from Boston. They were rockin' and I was inspired by the chick guitarist.

Despite the many pictures I took, I did not watch the concert through my viewfinder. I only pulled my camera out periodically to capture a moment.

Counting Crows

Here are Counting Crows:

Adam Duritz

Below, Adam and David play "The Girl from the North Country", a cover song from their Underwater Sunshine album. In an odd occurrence of cover song synchronicity, Eddie Vedder had played it the night before.

Adam Duritz and David Immergluck

A panorama of the stage during "A Long December":

I heart Charlie and his accordion:

During the meet and greet, Jim asked fans for requests. I requested "Margery" and got a frowny look in return. I'm pretty sure they never play that live, but I still wanted to request it. Despite his frowny look, I told him, "Oh, just write it down." I don't think he did. Here's Jim, not playing "Margery":

Counting Crows Jim

Toward the end of the show, Charlie's daughter came up on stage with a toy accordion to help out the band.

Below, are David Bryson and Adam Duritz. I believe they are doing "Holiday in Spain."

The boy who stood next to me at the concert was a barely 21-year-old who was sooo very into the Counting Crows it made me wonder how he discovered them. He was singing his heart out with the band and caught the eye of Dan Vickrey who gave him a pick toward the end of the show.

On this day, I sat down only once between 3:00 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. and that was in a port-o-potty. Even then, I don't think I sat down all the way. Gross. I didn't have anything to eat or drink during that time, either. Afterward, I went to Kerbey Lane Cafe for tortilla soup and it was the most satisfying tortilla soup I've ever had. I was full of happy again.

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NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 10, Part II

November 10, 2012

Continued from Day 10, Part I

Watching the sound check for Counting Crows was special. They played some songs, but there was no applause. This was a job for the band, and a special insight for the fans.

Below you see Dan (acoustic guitar), Jim (drums), Millard (bass), Adam (vocals), David (electric guitar), and Dave (steel guitar). Charlie is behind Adam on keyboards:

Counting Crows practicing a song

Below the guitarists have switched things up. Dan with electric, David with a mandolin, and Dave with acoustic:

Counting Crows practicing another song

A panorama of the Waller Creek Amphitheater at Stubb's BBQ and the VIPs watching the sound check:

Below, Adam was working with Millard and Charlie on "Monkey." It's the part that goes "I got nowhere but home to go / Got Ben Folds on my radio right now." They did it a bunch of times to work it out and then it was fun to see them do it in the real show... like I had secret insider knowledge that they practiced it a lot.

After the sound check, the band came down and took pictures with the VIPs and signed autographs.

Counting Crows and Me

As I walked over, David Immergluck (right of me) said he liked my Mushroom T-shirt. Millard Powers (left of me) looks like he's up to mischief (he wasn't, that I'm aware).

Below, Adam signs autographs. The guy on the left brought a guitar for the band to autograph.

Adam Duritz signing autographs

I didn't think ahead to bring something special to autograph, so all I had were my VIP pass and ticket. The first person I asked for an autograph was Charlie Gillingham, so I handed him my VIP pass. He noted that it was him pictured on the pass. Wow... it was perfect. No way could I have any of the others autograph it. Here it is next to a picture I took of Charlie during the show:

Charlie Gillingham's Autograph

I asked the other Counting Crows members to autograph my ticket. From top to bottom, I believe are Dan Vickrey, Millard Powers, Dave Bryson, Adam Duritz, Jim Bogios and David Immergl├╝ck.

Counting Crows Autographs

Next up: The concert

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NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 10, Part I

November 10, 2012

Day 10 of NaSoAlMo was Counting Crows concert day. I bought a VIP pass, so I would be going to their sound check and meet and greet and would be among the first to enter the general admission concert area.

I had to be at Stubb's Waller Creek Amphitheater by 3:30 p.m. to check in and, being a worrier of logistics, got there at 3:00 p.m. to ensure I would find adequate parking.

Checking in meant standing in a line outside the venue while our assigned onsite event staff member, Dennis, checked our names off a list. Once checked off the list, he gave us a VIP badge and we were free to go somewhere else for a while, but there really wasn't anywhere to go, so we continued to stand in line.

A motorcycle policeman arrived and a man with a walkie talkie gave him some information about something that was going to happen soon. Walkie Talkie man alternated between standing around and talking on his walkie talkie.

Walkie Talkie man indicated that "their arrival" was imminent and then a van arrived and several people got out including an important looking man with a light colored straw hat and hawaiian shirt. Some film crew types with big cameras and a boom mic got out, too.

They entered the venue while walkie talkie man continued to stand around and talk on his walkie talkie about other people who were due to arrive. This time it seemed like they would be even more important because the policeman was involved in the discussion about where the next van should park.

At one point, I heard them say something about "the actors." Oooooo!

A van pulled up right in front of the Counting Crows VIPs (us!) and familiar looking women got out. Then I instantly recognized a man: Ryan Gosling. One of the Counting Crows VIPs just about fainted because apparently she loves Ryan Gosling.

I wasn't at the top of my game, so I didn't have my camera app fired up. The actors entered the venue and I searched for movies being filmed in Austin. Turns out, Terrence Mallick, the important looking man in the hat, is filming a movie in Austin with the "music scene" as a backdrop. The actors we saw this day were Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara.

The mother and daughter VIPs in line with me had this exchange:

Daughter: That's Rooney Mara from "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."
Mother: Oh, The Girl with the Golden Dragon.
Daughter: No, "Tattoo."
Mother: Oh, The Girl with the Golden Tattoo.
Daughter: Uh

I did get a picture while they were filming, but then felt embarrassed when one of the crew asked me nicely to "pleeeease don't take pictures."

Terrence Mallick, Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara

After filming the scene, all parties to the production left the venue. This was purely a bonus and not part of the Counting Crows VIP package.

Next up: Counting Crows sound check and meet and greet

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NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 9

November 9, 2012

Day 9 of NaSoAlMo was a make up day for Eddie Vedder. He was supposed to perform in Austin for my birthday celebration back in April, but was suffering from nerve damage in his hand. Being a kind-hearted person, I allowed him to reschedule during my November song-writing vacation.

Before my evening with Eddie Vedder, I went to Gourdough's Public House for a donut burger. I was craving a fancy coffee drink, too, but Gourdough's didn't have their fancy coffee drink making process going, so I postponed the fancy coffee drinking until later.

Later at Flipnotics, I drank a latte and tried to write lyrics.

Flipnotics Latte

There still wasn't much going on in the lyric writing quadrant of my brain.

I hear they don't teach cursive anymore
And typing seems more useful

A song about cursive? I've written worse.

After an hour or so, I put my half finished latte in the bus tray as there didn't seem to be enough room in my gut to finish it. I put my not even half finished lyrics into my purse and headed for Bass Concert Hall at the University of Texas.

I arrived just after sunset and found the U.T. Tower lit orange with the number 100 to celebrate 100 years of the School of Human Ecology. I felt Longhorn pride.

UT Tower 100

Glen Hansard was the opening act. I wasn't familiar with him and enjoyed his set very much. Turns out, I should have been familiar with him. His band, The Frames, is responsible for that sweet sweet song "Falling Slowly." It's also featured in the movie Once which I really, really, really want to see now.

Eddie Vedder's set was wonderful. I felt deeply inspired and during both performances, I pulled my lyric notebook from my purse and wrote words in the dark.

To make the sound of my words as fluid as sign language

Eddie Vedder ended his show with Hard Sun. He asked several people to help him end the show including Glen Hansard and Clarence Clemmons' nephew and saxophonist Jake Clemmons. It was a big song and a perfect encore.

I walked to my car full of happy.

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NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 8

November 8, 2012

I went to Thrice for Day 8's adventure. I ordered a caffe latte and a gluten free chocolate chip cookie. I find gluten free desserts to be too sweet. It seems they overcompensate the absence of wheat with too much sugar. Or maybe the wheat dilutes the sugar and they don't adjust for that. It's not just at Thrice. I got a gluten free mini chocolate cake at Sprouts one time, and the sugar overpowered the chocolate.

When I got my latte, I was disappointed because they didn't have Sweet n Low. I wasn't surprised, though, because they are a true all natural type place. They don't have any artificial sweeteners. Even though I wanted Sweet n Low, I respected them for being true to their all-natural mission. Besides, I should carry Sweet n Low in my purse for times like these. I used honey, but it wasn't the same.

Even with the too sweet gluten free cookie and the non-Sweet-n-Lowed latte, I enjoyed myself. I tried to write lyrics to NaSoAlMo 1 again, with little luck. I came up with another lyric or song idea that maybe I can flesh out later. "If you want to, you will."

When I got home, I had a message from the doctor's office. Gallstone confirmed. So I made an appointment with a surgeon. And started worrying about how I would deal with surgery given that I don't have a dedicated someone to take care of me.

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NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 7

November 7, 2012

I had an ultrasound on NaSoAlMo Day 7. It was ordered by my doctor to determine if I had gallstones. When pregnant ladies get ultrasounds on television, they are warned that the gel will be cold. I was prepared for cold gel was startled by hot gel. I guess they heat it as a courtesy, but I was expecting cold. What a weird sensation.

They poked and prodded me with the ultrasound thing for half an hour or more. There were two ultrasound people. I think the first one was a student and the second one was checking the first one's work.

They both asked if I hurt when they prodded me (besides the discomfort of being prodded). I did not, but that lead me to believe they saw something in there.

After the ultrasound, I met a couple of friends for lunch at Gourdough's Public House. Their specialty is food made with donuts.

Here's the Ron Burgundy burger:

Gourdoughs Burger, The Ron Burgundy

It might sounds gross to have a donut for a bun, but it's actually delicious. The donut isn't glazed or cakey sweet and it doesn't overpower the inside of the burger like some buns do.

The dessert donuts are spectacular. This is the Freebird (cheesecake filling, cream cheese icing, graham cracker crumbles, fresh strawberries and blackberries).

Gourdoughs Dessert, The Freebird

It was big enough for two people (or three or four, really). I ate a few bites and took the rest home for later.

I didn't feel up to doing music today.

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NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 6

November 6, 2012

Today, I took an adventure south of Austin to Gruene, Texas. I've been there a couple of times to eat at The Grist Mill, and I believe it was the starting point for a float down the Guadalupe River one time in college.

Gruene is also home to Gruene Hall, Texas' oldest dance hall.

Gruene Hall

My first stop was The Grist Mill for lunch. It's just behind Gruene Hall and on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Guadalupe River. The building used to be a cotton gin, the primary business that brought families to Gruene in the mid-1800s.

Grist Mill View

I remembered the food to be good, but that was when I was a starving college student, so I wasn't sure if "good" then would translate into "good" now. It did. I ordered Chicken Acapulco, a grilled chicken breast topped with pico de gallo. It was moist and delicious.

After lunch, I walked down to the river and sat on the bank a while, soaking up some sun.

Guadalupe River, Gruene Texas

Guadalupe River, Gruene Texas

Next was a walk to the Gruene Coffee Haus where I drank a latte and tried and tried and tried to write lyrics.

Gruene Coffee Haus

I had only small incremental success writing lyrics (e.g.,"the wires in a tangle / dust on my breath"). I enjoyed my time there. A few customers came through and got coffee, but I was the only customer sitting in the shop.

The adjoining shop sold antiques and pickles.

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NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 5

November 5, 2012

I didn't make any progress writing or recording songs today, but I did find pine nuts at Central Market. I visited the doctor and he wants me to get an ultrasound. Perhaps the pain in my gut is gallstones.

About the only NaSoAlMo things I did were to sing through the Curiosity mars rover song (I find I like it pretty well) and to listen to the NaSoAlMo 1 guitar track.

Something I Found Helpful

I wanted to print a calendar for November so I could write down appointments, adventures and meal planning information. I have an electronic calendar, but I find when I'm planning things, it's easier to write and erase and write and erase. I found these printable calendars very easy to use.

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NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 4

November 4, 2012

The time changed last night. Lily Dawg doesn't understand the time change. She thinks I'm feeding her an hour later. Technically, I am.

I worked on the lyrics to Curiosity today. They weren't coming the first couple to stabs I took. I went to Conan's pizza to have pizza that I'm not supposed to eat. It wasn't even that good. But I took my notebooks so I could work on lyrics. I forgot to bring a pencil, though, and writing lyrics in pen is like doing the New York Times crossword puzzle in pen. You've got to be really good at it. I'm not.

Back home in the evening, I tried again at the kitchen table and again in the living room in the big comfy chair. Between those two places, I got the lyrics worked out. There's room for more lyrics in a bridge, but I'm happy with what I've got.

I also went to Super Target to buy a kitchen rug. Pine nuts were still on my shopping list, so I walked around the store looking. I wish there was an app that would tell you where to find things in a store. I didn't find any. I'm going to have to break down and go to Central Market or Whole Foods. Surely, they'll have pine nuts.


  • NaSoAlMo 1: Untitled (Basic guitar recorded ~ 4:20)
  • NaSoAlMo 2: Untitled (Piano chords sketched ~ ?)
  • NaSoAlMo 3: Curiosity (Guitar chords sketched and lyrics finished [mostly] ~ ?)

Something That I Learned Today

A twelve-year old girl (at the time) won an essay contest to name the latest Mars rover "Curiosity." Meet Clara Ma

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NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 3

November 3, 2012

I started the day feeling in good shape because I had two music tracks ready for lyrics. I tried a little bit in the morning to write, but I had distractions at home. So after lunch, I packed my Kindle into my purse and went to Strange Brew for coffee and lyric writing.

I figured I could use the Kindle to search the web for inspiration since it's a little easier to use for surfing than the iPhone.

The first thing I did was listen to the NaSoAlMo 1 guitar track over and over as I drank a latte. Not much in the way of lyrics was coming to me. Snippets included cliche things like "I have the answers" and "see me through." I'm not above cliche, but nothing was coming together.

So I checked Twitter. Scott Maxwell, @marsroverdriver got me thinking about Curiosity for the subject of a song.

I read the latest news and reviewed information about the landing and tried to get the idea to gel with the music I wrote.

The music wasn't having it.

I gave up and went to Sprouts to buy milk and pine nuts (among other things).

I walked around the store several times and found everything on my list except pine nuts. At the check out, the cashier asked me if I found everything.

Me: I couldn't find pine nuts.
Her: Oh? Was it in the ad?
Me: Huh? Oh, I don't know. I just want to cook something with pine nuts.
Her: I'm sorry.

And that was that. They always ask me if I found everything I need, and I've wondered what they would do if I said I didn't. The answer is nothing.

At home, I abandoned trying to fit Curiosity words to NaSoAlMo 1 music, and tried to tap into some other subject. Still nothing. It's disheartening to spend time with a piece of music and not be able to find the words for it. I realized I have lots of time, so I put it aside to start something new.

I was thinking about John Denver's "Calypso" and decided to try to build music that would embrace the story of Curiosity. Whatever I write will be much more literal than "Calypso." Denver wrote a love song to that vessel. As much as I love Curiosity, I don't think I have a love song in me that wouldn't sound hokey or sound like a ripoff of "Calypso."

It didn't take long before I had a chord progression in 6/8 time to work with. I read some more about Curiosity and watched Curiosity's Seven Minutes of Terror. Lyrics began to form. As I suspected, they were very literal. I finished the day with two verses written.


  • NaSoAlMo 1: Untitled (Basic guitar recorded ~ 4:20)
  • NaSoAlMo 2: Untitled (Piano chords sketched ~ ?)
  • NaSoAlMo 3: Curiosity (Guitar chords sketched and lyrics started ~ ?)

Something I'm Excited About

One Christmas at a Time - a Christmas album from John Roderick and Jonathan Coulton

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NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 2

November 2, 2012

My goal today was to record the guitar part I wrote yesterday. When I booted up my recording computer, I found that I hadn't cleared off last year's NaSoAlMo files. I should have done that last weekend before the clock started ticking this month. It's not necessary to clear off the files, but I don't like all the clutter, so I started backing up the projects into bundles and deleting the loose files. Then I ran a defrag.

While the computer was defragging itself, I sat down at the keyboard. I immediately played a Dm/Am chord combo, and NaSoAlMo song #2 began to form. I worked on that until the defrag finished. Then I started recording guitar for NaSoAlMo song #1.

I worked through the pain in my fingertips and got a double-tracked guitar part done. It's in my iPhone now, so I can listen and write lyrics tomorrow.

I took a break to go to CVS to buy allergy medicine and aspirin and ended up also buying toothbrushes, deodorant and stronger reading glasses. I looked at the candy, but my willpower was strong.

Back home again, I sat down at the keyboard and fleshed out NaSoAlMo #2. I didn't record it to the computer, but I recorded the section needing lyrics to my iPhone Voice Memo app. Now I have two songs ready for lyric writing.


  • NaSoAlMo 1: Untitled (Basic guitar recorded ~ 4:20)
  • NaSoAlMo 2: Untitled (Piano chords sketched ~ ?)

Something I'm Going To Cook Soon

Cornmeal Pancakes With Vanilla and Pine Nuts

I'll use the blue cornmeal I got from Greenling.com this week.

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NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 1

November 1, 2012

I got up at 5:00 a.m. to feed my animal babies with the intention of going back to bed immediately after. Then I remembered it's National Solo Album Month (NaSoAlMo). I wavered a bit, but ultimately decided to pick up my guitar and see what would happen. I came up with a five chord picking pattern. Then I went back to bed.

I got up again at 9:30 a.m. and really wasn't feeling into it. I'm on vacation (staycation) for the next couple of weeks, and feel more like giving my house a good spring cleaning six months late.

I made breakfast (sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, kale and eggs), took a shower and drove my car to the dealership for scheduled maintenance. The best part of scheduled maintenance? They wash my car!

While waiting for my car, I pulled out my NaSoAlMo notebook and jotted down some thoughts from my trip to the hospital Monday night. One reason I'm not feeling into making music is because of residual feelings from that experience. It's a stark reminder of how alone you are when you have to call a cab to pick you up after a night in the emergency room.

At home again, I took my guitar out on the back porch to sit in the sun and pick and strum. I worked on the five chord picking pattern from the morning and soaked up some Vitamin D.

Then I came inside and got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed the kitchen floor. I prefer hand scrubbing to using a mop. I can't put enough elbow grease into it when the sponge is at the end of a pole. The clean floor makes me happy.

Late in the evening, I finally picked up my guitar again. This time, I worked on some strumming chord patterns that will form the verses and bridge of the song. I think the picking pattern will be the intro and outro. I made good progress and finally started feeling into it. I'll probably record the guitar tomorrow so I can put it in my iPhone to listen to while I form lyrics.

Calluses are forming on my left hand fingertips again. Allergies are threatening to make me miserable. My lips are chapped from running the heater when it was cold early this week. This is NaSoAlMo.


  • NaSoAlMo 1: Untitled (Chords Sketched Out ~ 4:30)

Something That Distracts Me From NaSoAlMo

Pocket Planes iPhone game.

Pocket Planes

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NaSoAlMo Eve

October 31, 2012

Besides being Halloween (I saw adults dressed as a nun, a hippy, a devil and a referee), it's National Solo Album Month (NaSoAlMo) Eve. Tomorrow begins my month-long attempt to write and record a solo album of at least 29:09 minutes. I really don't have any ideas, so I'll just jump in tomorrow and see what happens.

Mr. Orion and his kidney disease are still with me. I had no idea he could hang on this long. I still take him to the vet three times a week for fluids.

As for me, I spent Monday night in the emergency room with a pain in my torso. I've heard that heart attacks can take many forms and some people have several without even realizing it. The pain went on for an hour before I decided to call an ambulance. After lying on an emergency room gurney for 6 hours watching tv shows like Family Guy and Repo Games, they ruled out a heart attack, said everything looked picture perfect with my heart and sent me home. I have an appointment with my regular doctor next week to start figuring out what's wrong with me. I've had this pain 2 times before, but it only lasted about 15 minutes both times. This time it lasted 1.5 hours.

Wish me NaSoAlMo luck!

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