Monthly Archives: May 2008

What I Read This May

Night Work by Laurie R. King
Wizards At War by Diane Duane
Micah by Laurell K. Hamilton
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
With Child by Laurie R. King
Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks
Holy Fools by Joanne Harris
French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano
Broken Chords by Barbara Snow Gilbert
jPod by Douglas Coupland
Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir
Mozart’s Sister by Rita Charbonnier
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
City of Ashes by Cassandra Claire
To Play the Fool by Laurie R King
Enchanted Inc by Shanna Swendson
The Bee’s Kiss by Barbara Cleverly
Because She Can by Bridie Clark
Austenland by Shannon Hale
Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde (reread)
Dancing With Werewolves by Carole Nelson Douglas

See Autumn join the local library! See her books-read lists grow exponentially!

Random observations:

Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir: Thank God, I finally finished this. I liked the story (I’ve always liked the Jane Grey nine days’ queen thing), but it was slow. I think I prefer Weir’s non-fiction; it moves faster.

Dancing With Werewolves by Carole Nelson Douglas: This was dull. I love Douglas’ Irene Adler series, and I enjoy paranormal/urban fantasy, so I logically thought that I’d enjoy this. Wow, was I ever wrong. It felt like it had been whipped off without much thought, and different magical talents/abilities kept being assigned to the protagonist one after another in a much too convenient way. I won’t be following the series.

Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks: Not what I wanted it to be; a bit too medical-condition-ish. I preferred Daniel Levitin’s This Is Your Brain On Music.

French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano: This book kind of bored me; it took me forever to get through it. It’s likely because I’m not the author’s target audience. I already do most of what she was pointing out should be done, so it was mostly useless for me. Still, it a had one or two good be-in-the-moment philosophical observations in it that came at a good time.

jPod by Douglas Coupland: How have I lived so long without Douglas Coupland? Maybe it’s my generation, or maybe it’s because I worked for three months in a room with a game-design team, or maybe it’s just my sense of humour, but I loved this book.

I finally got through to the luthier this morning. The 7/8 I was going to book for a week-long home trial sold last week.

Olivier has promised to order another one in for me to try. He has no idea when he’ll have it, though.

I’m either numb or unmoved by it. A bit disappointed, but mainly because I’d made sure my principal was going to be at orchestra this coming week to look at it. Now I won’t be able to run it by her until September. But then, I’m not having much of an emotional reaction to anything these days. I’m really run down and I just don’t have the energy.

Now What?

Today has been busy. I dropped the boy off at daycare, drove through traffic to the West Island, got my hair trimmed, picked up groceries (managing to forget liquid laundry detergent, fabric softener, and iced tea yet again), drove home, checked news and such, sent out queries regarding final details for both projects, ate lunch, and finished/fixed/polished/proofread everything.

It’s one-thirty, and I have just uploaded/submitted all of my work to the various editors and co-ordinators. Yes, all of it. I appear to be done. Pending any further tweaks requested by the clients, that is.

So now that my work time is my own again, naturally my brain is rebelling at actually working on my own writing, which it has been thinking about longingly all week while I’ve been working on things for other people. It has specifically been tugging at me to work on the newest YA novel I outlined last month. Oh, wait; there’s that essay for the anthology I should finish up for Monday. And there’s the workshop outline I need to plan out as well as a bio to submit for the Hamilton festival this fall, also due Monday. Maybe I’ll work on those this afternoon.

One Of Those “Ah!” Moments

Something a lot of people don’t understand is that singing while playing the cello is hard. People sing while playing guitar all the time; why can’t cellists sing too? Despite how easy Jorane makes it look, it’s really a challenge and it’s something I’ve never really been able to articulate to other musicians other than to say, “No, it’s just hard.”

I finally figured out why, thanks to a thread over at Someone asked why it’s so hard, and why guitarists can do it with greater ease, and someone hit on the answer. It’s because the physicality of playing the cello is more involved and complex than that of playing the guitar. Basically, the movements required and the muscles used include those of the muscles one would use to sing.

To expound: one uses one’s ENTIRE body to play the cello, to especially include the diaphragm and body core (EVERY muscle is highly active in cello performance, to include even the legs and feet). Breathing is extremely important with the cello, ergo a conflict may ensue between the cello and voice.

And that’s a huge part of it. To begin with, it’s hard to sing sitting down, because your torso has less room to expand and there’s less support for the column of air. It’s difficult to keep the muscles in the centre of the body relaxed enough while playing to use them to sing as well. Sure, you could play standing up (again I point to Jorane as an example), but that requires learning an entire new style of physically playing the instrument. Your angles are different, the weight distribution is different, and so forth. And basically it’s hard to use muscles for two different things at once, when each requires so much energy. One might as well ask a saxophonist to tap dance while playing, for example.

Apart from that, other musicians on the thread (who play both instruments) pointed out that the cello seems to take more attention to play. This may be because of all the frequent and freakishly minute muscular changes constantly required to balance movement and direction in both hands and arms, for example. Some say they can sing along only if the cello line is simple enough (and, one imagines, the key). Others have problems with the rhythm of the vocal and the cello lines being different. It’s all food for thought, and provided me with an “Aha!” moment. I know how involved my torso muscles are when I play, and I wonder why I never made the connection before.

Cautiously Optimistic

I think I may have just finished fixing the previously-known-as-the-hearthcraft book to reflect the title change.

And apart from doing some creative paralleling (see me verb your nouns!) in the introduction, it’s pretty much intact and has preserved its dignity. As for mine, well, chances are good no one will even suspect there were changes made. Even you, faithful readers, should you ever read it in published form.

I’m so tired, and the damn headache is killing me. I’ve been taking Tylenol on and off all day, and I can’t bear to listen to music, which is somewhat appalling. It will also make orchestra tonight very interesting.