C. A. Casey

Another worthless writers blog

Archive for May, 2007

Waiting

Posted by Casey on May 31, 2007

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Writers spend a lot of time waiting. They wait for verdicts on stories from magazines, agents, and publishers. They wait for their work to be published. Ideally, they spend this time writing more stuff, but the mind is a funny thing. Writers need re-enforcement sometimes.

An acceptance is an affirmation that “yes, maybe I can really do this writing thing” and you want to finish one of those half-written bits of prose gathering cyber dust on the harddrive. Even a non-acceptance with a positive personal note can stimulate the creative juices. A rejection is equal to a challenge, so that gets me going too.

But waiting . . . well, waiting just gets tiresome.

I have four stories out right now. One has gone to the next round of reading, the other three, who knows. One is at a new market that pays well, so it’s the most iffy for acceptance. Another is at a literary magazine. I’ve never tried literary before, so I don’t know what to expect. One is being held to see if it fits a future issue. This one I can sub to another market according to the publication holding it. Frankly, it’s my favorite story but it’s way too weird for most markets and it’s been in the slush of four magazines already, so I’ll take my chance on this magazine.

Number of days I’ve been waiting for a verdict?

The story in the next round – 80 days
The one to the better paying market – 50 days
The one to the literary market – 124 days
The one that’s being held – 212 days

Non-writers out there are probably thinking that’s way too long to wait, but actually these numbers are the norm.

Why does it take so long? It depends on how many submissions a publication receives, how many spots they have to fill in an issue and how many issues they’re filling at a time, how much time they have to look at submissions. Some have reading periods, some have reading parties.

So I wait . . . maybe I’ll work on one of those half-finished stories.

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Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

Posted by Casey on May 29, 2007

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[disclaimer: The photos in this post are curtesy of cell phones and cameras of others, except the photo of Robyn walking — that one’s mine. My poor camera wasn’t up to the task.]

Saturday was my father’s 87th birthday. Saturday Robyn Stevens graduated from San Jose State University. These two events don’t seem to have much in common and have little significance outside my narrow part of the world.

My father was a college professor who did his share of “graduation duty.”

Robyn Stevens is a champion racewalker whose life is bookworthy.

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The significance is, I was unable to call up my father and tell him about the graduation I went to. He left us, back in November, before he had a chance to celebrate his 87th birthday.

So I found myself in San Jose, California attending the second graduation I’ve ever been to. The other one was my own, for my Bachelor’s degree.

The main ceremony was in the stadium. The graduates walked in and sat with their colleges. Family and friends went wild and snapped pictures as if their kids were the star players on the field. The graduates yakked on cell phones and broke rank to pose for pictures for various people in the stands.

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The arts students decorated their mortar-and-tassels with piano keyboards and palettes, several wore old fashion basketball shoes and jeans. Some things never change. I was one of those arts students over thirty years ago and I recall wearing jeans under my gown. I can’t remember what I had on my feet but I do know I owned a pair of black white-toed basketball shoes.

After the national anthem everyone remained standing as if collectively programmed to wait for the first point to be scored. The professor in charge of the microphone had to instruct us to sit down.

During the introductions of honored professors and students, the grads kept themselves entertained by bouncing around beach balls, throwing paper airplanes and disks, breaking out into impromptu waves.

A couple of the speakers mentioned that the graduates wouldn’t remember a word they said or even remember much of the day. The keynote speaker, Omid Kordestani, a SJSU grad and the senior vice president of Global Sales and Business Development at Google, went as far as to say they wouldn’t remember anything they learned in college. While this is true, it ruins the fun of learning all about the joys of disillusionment themselves as they blindly grope their way through life.

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As each college was asked to stand and receive the great academic blessing of a degree, the grads did so in character of their majors. The engineering students threw paper airplanes and strange littles disks that didn’t fly very well. The applied sciences students kept doing a wave and a half dozen did a pagan dance around the larger group. The theatre and film students stood on their chairs and cheered.

The audience shot streamers and held up signs, snapped pictures and yelled and screamed and confetti wafted down onto one wing of the stadium. I kept looking at the scoreboard to see who was winning.

For a final act of academic tradition we all got to butcher, uh, sing the school song, which they had been kind enough to print on the back of the program.

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The morning had started overcast and cool and by the middle of the ceremony it was sunny and hot without a cloud in the sky. Welcome to the Bay Area.

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We spent a few hours eating lunch with the graduate and hanging around downtown San Jose. I’ve never been to San Jose before and it has a nice downtown. The campus is snuggled right up against it, like PSU in Portland, Oregon. The downtown is a bit Portlandish with its walk-friendly streets and trolleys. 1st street is a long street with a trolley and lined on both sides with trees. Very nice street. If I’d had my camera I would have taken some pictures of it. This will have to do — stolen from somewhere on the Internet . . .

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The second ceremony was at the San Jose Museum of Art. Yes, a second more intimate ceremony for just the art students.

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It was chaotic because all the families wanted the best seats and saved whole rows up front, the sound system was lousy so no one could hear what was going on, planes landing at San Jose Airport were so low they seemed to skirt the top of the buildings and, of course, drowned out the speakers, the art professors were laid back in their presentations, some kind of non-stop tribal drumming was coming from a few blocks away, the sun beat down and reflected nicely off all the light stone . . . my solar oven would have worked beautifully there.

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Once that was over, they had a reception in the museum, where they tried to stuff several hundred people into one of the small gallery rooms where they put the food. We staked out a claim in an alcove in the lobby area and unwound a bit before going our separate ways. All in all a nice way to spend a Saturday in spring.

Congratulations to Robyn for making it through this rite of passage.

I had only one poignant moment. The song “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor played in the restaurant. There are some songs that put me in another time and place, always with a sad nostalgia. “Fire and Rain” is one of those songs. At that particular moment it helped me find some peace as nostalgia collided with the present reality.

“oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again”

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Peace

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Fact is Stranger Than Fiction

Posted by Casey on May 21, 2007

If you’re ever stuck for writing ideas, just look at the news, look around you, read historical accounts.

I like to poke around Project Gutenberg and pick out a book and just start reading. It’s like browsing around a library, except bare-foot and with a kitty in your lap. Anyway, I found a book published in 1916 called With the Turks in Palestine by Alexander Aaronsohn. It’s a memoir about the Jewish settlers in Palestine during World War II.

So I’m reading this very fascinating book and come across this paragraph and think, if someone included such notions in a historical novel, it would blow historical credibility.

The Turks were less far-sighted. They believed firmly that they were
going to sweep the English off the face of the earth and enter Cairo in
triumph, and preparations for the march on Suez went on with feverish
enthusiasm. The ideas of the common soldiers on this subject were
amusing. Some of them declared that the Canal was to be filled up by the
sandbags which had been prepared in great quantities. Others held that
thousands of camels would be kept without water for many days preceding
the attack; then the thirsty animals, when released, would rush into the
Canal in such numbers that the troops could march to victory over the
packed masses of drowned bodies.

Camels of the world unite!

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Miss Snark . . . Is Retiring

Posted by Casey on May 19, 2007

It’s a sad day in the publishing world.

Miss Snark, a stiletto-wearing, gin-guzzling, George Clooney admiring, setting hair on fire New York Literary Agent, who has a cult following that goes way beyond the publishing world and who has introduced important new words like “crapometer” and inventions like the clue gun, and a wonderful cast of characters like her cigar-smoking tam-wearing metrosexual squirrel-chasing poodle, Killer Yapp, and Grandmother Snark. Who created a lexicon of snarkisms. Who ruined many keyboards with her cutting humor and who raised the word “nitwit” to new heights of nitwitery. Who has had youtube videos and fake news articles and posters created for her. Who has helped more writers understand the world of publishing . . . is retiring from blogging.

The comments to her farewell blog says it all. She will be greatly missed by her devoted Snarklings and by the world. Fortunately, she will keep her blog online and it should be required reading for anyone who is remotely interested in any aspect of the publishing business.

Let’s all have a moment of silence in the memory of Miss Snark’s blog and watch this touching Christmas tribute to her.

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WNBA Opening Day

Posted by Casey on May 19, 2007

Last year the Sacramento Monarchs were the reigning WNBA champs and we got to go to the opening game instead of watching it on tv. They lost to the Detroit Shock in a five game showdown for the 2006 Championship, so the game will be in Detroit rather than Sacramento tomorrow afternoon on ABC.

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There are five games being played tomorrow and since I won’t be covering the Monarchs game, I’ll be able to root for my favorite team . . .

Go Seattle Storm!

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Four words: Lauren Jackson is healthy.

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Let the season begin . . .

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Media Day Photos

Posted by Casey on May 17, 2007

Not all my photos at Media Day turned out as overdone as the one in a previous post. Here are the better photographs.

Not the sharpest or the best, but not bad for being stuck on one setting with a weird light shining out from the front of the camera.

Saturday is opening day for the WNBA. Yeah! Go Monarchs!

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The Upside of Playing Basketball

Posted by Casey on May 16, 2007

The upside, at least for some . . . Rolling in Rubles

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The Down Side of Playing Basketball

Posted by Casey on May 16, 2007

It’s called Media Day. All the local tv, radio, and print media show up to the arena and wait around for when the basketball players are trotted out two at a time to make the rounds. I went to my second Media Day today for the Sacramento Monarchs.

The media waits, some of us wander around with cameras . . . waiting. The tv crews sets up their lights and backdrops and wait. The reporters talk to each and wait . . . It’s a fun time for all.

The players get to answer the same questions over and over and over again. They get to stand in front of the tv cameras and film all those little tv spots, ditto for the radio stations. They’re pros and they do it with a smile, but you know they’d rather be doing just about anything else.

I wasn’t suppose to take pics, but the regular photographer couldn’t make, so I was hopping up and getting pictures of the next players who came in and getting back behind my digital recorder and notepad to interview the ones brought to my table. My recorder worked . . . my camera seems to have suffered a nervous breakdown from freezing Saturday night at the Sirens game.

It’s acting like a car when the computer system goes haywire and the windshield wiper swishes when you turn on the lights and the left blinker blinks when you roll down the window . . . Well, my camera’s back display has stopped displaying and a light that’s never been on before in the front goes on (and quite annoying to whoever the camera is pointed at) and it only takes pictures in one mode. It takes pictures in another mode, but I have to turn the camera off and then on again after each shot.

Several shots look like this . . .

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But I couldn’t tell, because the back display wasn’t working.

So I changed the backup battery. It didn’t help . . .

. . . Anyone want to buy a Canon EOS 20D with lots of, uh, personality? I’ll throw in the lens that only works in manual mode for free . . .

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Confession Time

Posted by Casey on May 15, 2007

Okay, I’m a librarian . . . no, no . . . That’s not the confession. The confession is, I’ve always wanted to do a full blown Broadway type musical scene set in a university library. The scene I imagined was a timid student walking up to the reference desk and asking if they had books on such and such subject. The librarian stands up and says “Do we have books?” and then breaks out into song that explodes into a musical spectacle with the library staff singing and dancing around a bunch of bemused students.

That never happened, but this is the next best thing. Absolutely hilarious in a nerdy librarian kind of way.

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Don’t Try This at Home Kids . . .

Posted by Casey on May 14, 2007

Photographing sports events is 10 percent knowing what you’re doing and 90 percent blind luck. We can’t anticipate what’s going to happen and snapping the great play or injury or weird incident is nothing but luck.

So my friends said, of all the shots I took (about 1500) at the Sacramento Sirens game, there wasn’t any way I could have missed the mighty Quan stiff-arming an opponent. They’re like “Did you get that shot?” and I’m like “I don’t know what I get, I just aim the camera and pray.” But my friends insisted that Quan was right in front of me, heading for me in fact. I couldn’t miss it.

It’s hard for people to understand that a long range lens gets nothing but close-up body parts when players are right in front of you. But that luck thing was on my side and I redeemed myself with my friends. Here’s the shot.

The gallery for the game is here. I had so much fun, I hope to have the opportunity to do it again next year. Unfortunately, the Sirens remaining home games are played on the same nights as Monarchs games and the Monarchs are my main gig.

Music of the day Rising by Misty River. Nice relaxing bluegrass for a gorgeous spring day.

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Saturday Night Lights

Posted by Casey on May 13, 2007

What did I do last night. Hmmm. I walked around on astroturf for three hours, hefting a several pound camera, taking photographs of women playing football . . .

Yeah, I confessed in this very blog that I don’t “get” football but that didn’t stop me from getting the chance to cover the Sacramento Sirens of the Independent Women’s Football League for SportsPageMagazine. Besides it was fun. Even when the sun went down and my fingers froze to my camera.

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Now I just have to finish the article . . . And by the way Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there.

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Being Pegged

Posted by Casey on May 12, 2007

A friend went to the coast (the left one) today and sent me this picture from her camera phone.

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I admit I love my Jeep. Here’s a picture of it, taken three years ago, at the most remote place in California–Shelter Cove in an area called The Lost Coast.

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You can get a T-shirt in Shelter Cover that reads “I survived the road to Shelter Cove.” My Jeep was in Jeepy heaven on that road.

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An Illustrious Life

Posted by Casey on May 12, 2007

Last night I went to a lecture by children’s book illustrator, Joe Cepeda.

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It’s always fun to hear how people approach the creative process. His canvas is the dimensions of a book plus space for the text times the number of pages it takes to tell the story–always divisible by four, in case you wonder why some books have blank pages at the beginning or end.

We learned that Mr. Cepeda likes to includes portraits of his family and of himself in his illustrations, plus dedications embedded in the backgrounds. I kept thinking of the animators of the old Warners Brothers cartoons who used to amuse themselves by adding silly things in the background. One animator described a scene where a fishbowl is knocked over and down in the corner an indignant fish walks off the screen. Hardly anyone notices it, but it’s there.

I also received another book from my friend who wants me to become an expert at baking vegan desserts.

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You omnivores just don’t know what you’re missing. Delicious cholesterol free desserts that taste as good if not better than anything with dairy and eggs in it.

Now if I can just get that solar oven to work . . .

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Career ending novel . . .

Posted by Casey on May 11, 2007

Some bloggers do cute little things like indicate their mood, what’s on their iPod at the moment, and what books they’re reading, etc.

Well let’s see . . .

Mood? All over the place, like always. I try to keep my moodiness within as thin of a bandwidth as possible to give the impression that I’m in no mood at all.

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iPod — is on because every time HP wants to update my computer software it conflicts with the sound card and I have to put in a fix to fix the update. So I can’t listen to my collection on my computer. So what’s on my iPod at this very moment? “Leave Me Alone (I’m Lonely)” by Pink (see Mood)

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What am I reading? The Awakening by Kate Chopin.

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I wanted to see what the 1899 version of a career ending novel looked like, because this elegant piece of prose caused such a controversy that it ended Chopin’s career as a writer.

As I read it, I can picture a 21st century critique group suggesting that the author show more and tell less–replace summary paragraphs with entertaining dialogue to help develop the characters. And I can hear the endless discussions on how no editor would look at it because it’s written in third person omniscient.

But the impartial reporting of the main character’s “awakening” from an arms-length narrative distance is what caused the uproar of controversy. Storytelling without the overlay of social censorship.

The Awakening is a beautiful lyrical work that’s just a joy to read. Here’s the first of Edna Pontellier’s several awakenings:

She entered the hall with him during a lull in the dance. She made an awkward, imperious little bow as she went in. She was a homely woman, with a small weazened face and body and eyes that glowed. She had absolutely no taste in dress, and wore a batch of rusty black lace with a bunch of artificial violets pinned to the side of her hair.

 

“Ask Mrs. Pontellier what she would like to hear me play,” she requested of Robert. She sat perfectly still before the piano, not touching the keys, while Robert carried her message to Edna at the window. A general air of surprise and genuine satisfaction fell upon every one as they saw the pianist enter. There was a settling down, and a prevailing air of expectancy everywhere. Edna was a trifle embarrassed at being thus signaled out for the imperious little woman’s favor. She would not dare to choose, and begged that Mademoiselle Reisz would please herself in her selections.

 

Edna was what she herself called very fond of music. Musical strains, well rendered, had a way of evoking pictures in her mind. She sometimes liked to sit in the room of mornings when Madame Ratignolle played or practiced. One piece which that lady played Edna had entitled “Solitude.” It was a short, plaintive, minor strain. The name of the piece was something else, but she called it “Solitude.” When she heard it there came before her imagination the figure of a man standing beside a desolate rock on the seashore. He was naked. His attitude was one of hopeless resignation as he looked toward a distant bird winging its flight away from him.

 

Another piece called to her mind a dainty young woman clad in an Empire gown, taking mincing dancing steps as she came down a long avenue between tall hedges. Again, another reminded her of children at play, and still another of nothing on earth but a demure lady stroking a cat.

 

The very first chords which Mademoiselle Reisz struck upon the piano sent a keen tremor down Mrs. Pontellier’s spinal column. It was not the first time she had heard an artist at the piano. Perhaps it was the first time she was ready, perhaps the first time her being was tempered to take an impress of the abiding truth.

 

She waited for the material pictures which she thought would gather and blaze before her imagination. She waited in vain. She saw no pictures of solitude, of hope, of longing, or of despair. But the very passions themselves were aroused within her soul, swaying it, lashing it, as the waves daily beat upon her splendid body. She trembled, she was choking, and the tears blinded her.

 

Mademoiselle had finished. She arose, and bowing her stiff, lofty bow, she went away, stopping for neither, thanks nor applause. As she passed along the gallery she patted Edna upon the shoulder.

 

“Well, how did you like my music?” she asked. The young woman was unable to answer; she pressed the hand of the pianist convulsively. Mademoiselle Reisz perceived her agitation and even her tears. She patted her again upon the shoulder as she said:

 

“You are the only one worth playing for. Those others? Bah!” and she went shuffling and sidling on down the gallery toward her room.

Good stuff. Now go away, I have to work . . .

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Important Breaking News . . .

Posted by Casey on May 10, 2007

Spartak (Moscow Region) won!!!

Now everyone get on a plane to the States so we can get the WNBA season started.

Ticha & DeMya

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Lauren Jackson

 

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Diana Taurasi

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But Wait . . . There’s More

Posted by Casey on May 10, 2007

Every once in a while, when I take photos at a sports event that a more experienced photographer (with better equipment) isn’t shooting at, SportsPageMagazine will publish a gallery of my shots.

So here’s the gallery accompanying the new uniforms article. All I can say is the lighting was a challenge. They usually pick and choose the pictures, so I’m a little surprised to see all my almost-the-same-photos-for-them-to-choose-from. Oh well.

http://www.spmsportspage.com/images/WNBA/2007/Monarchs-Event-5-8-07/IMG_0009-1.html

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I Don’t Frequent Fashion Shows But . . .

Posted by Casey on May 10, 2007

Last night the Sacramento Monarchs modeled their new uniforms. The WNBA is back to tucking the jerseys in after four years of playing spot the tattoo on Lauren Jackson’s abdomen and catching glimpses of Deanna Nolan’s six pack.

It was fun hanging out with the coaches and the players in a relaxed atmosphere outside the team store. A lot of fans showed up and got to chat with the players and coaches and get autographs. I was working, which meant slinking around taking lots of photographs and sticking out my digital recorder to get sound bits for my article.

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My summer job has officially started:

A New Look, A New Season for the Monarchs

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Solar Oven Technical Difficulties

Posted by Casey on May 9, 2007

Hard to believe that something so nontechnical can have technical difficulties but the solar oven is not behaving in a logical manner. It warms up nicely to 200 degrees but when the sun is overhead and the rays are directly hitting the oven, the temp goes down and keeps going down as the day gets hotter.

Even with my official oven guards watching over it . . .

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I have to go back to the drawing board and make some adjustments. In the meantime have a look at what these folks are doing with solar ovens.

 

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Influences

Posted by Casey on May 8, 2007

I listen to music as I work. No big surprise. Most people do. The stations on the tv are nice because they’re nonstop music and they display the names of the composers, performers, etc.

Currently I’m listening to the third piano concerto by Prokofiev. As always when I hear this piece, I can see in my mind’s eye the tiny public library in Carbondale, Illinois (long before they built the fancy new library building). In the corner near the front door was a wall filled with LPs.

When I was twelve I checked out two recordings that pretty much changed my life. One was a recording of the 1st and 3rd Prokofiev Piano Concertos. The other was the Julliard String Quartet classic recording of the six Bartok String Quartets.

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The concertos were eye-opening. The quartets were mind-blowing. I listened to the quartets over and over again, trying to figure out how Bartok could get all those strange, unique, incredible sounds from four homogeneous instruments and fashion it all into intense and beautiful music. I swore I wanted to be able to compose like that someday. I can honestly say that was the turning point in my decision to concentrate on composing rather than performing as a musician. Even at the tender age of twelve.

The next year I started taking composition lessons with a professor at the university and I discovered many other composers and amazing works through the years. But the Bartok string quartets remain the pinnacle of music achievement for me because I’ve never been able to completely unravel their wondrous mystery.

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Monarchs Taking Off

Posted by Casey on May 8, 2007

I went to the open practice for the Sacramento Monarchs on Saturday. Open only to season ticket holders and the media. I went with a group STH’s and, although I got in with my media credentials, I was there just to enjoy watching the team I’m going to cover again this summer.

Ticha Penicheiro and DeMya Walker are still in Russia battling it out in the Russian Championship (Go Spartak!). Rebekkah Brunson is in the Russian consolation round and Nicole Powell is still playing in Spain. Unfortunately, the Russian Championship finished game four today and are tied 2-2. The winner on the 10th takes all. Go Spartak!

We’re just hoping Ticha and DeMya (not to mention Rebekkah and Nicole) will be back in time for the first pre-season game on the 13th. We’re also hoping Diana Taurasi will be with her Phoenix Mercury team for that game. But she’s also playing for Spartak . . . Go Spartak!!

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Let the Sun Shine

Posted by Casey on May 5, 2007

While we’re waiting for the clouds and the rain to go away and for the temperature to rise . . .

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I just want to remind you that tomorrow is the home opener for the Sacramento Sirens . . . What? Oh, they’re a women’s professional football team–a part of the Independent Women’s Football League . . . What’s that you say? You’ve never heard of them? Well, go here and get educated.

In women’s basketball news Spartak (Moscow region) and CSKA (Samara) are 1-1 in the best of 5 Russian Superleague Championship. Go Spartak!!

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Uh, I think the sun will be out tomorrow. If I can pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees, I’m baking bread.

In the meantime I’ll charge up my PocketPC and download some books from Project Gutenberg. The librarian in me loves the idea of having a library right at my fingertips.

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Going Solar on a Cloudy Day

Posted by Casey on May 1, 2007

I’m researching a new story. So I built a simple solar oven. I’m three-dimensionally challenged with klutzy fingers, so simple is a relative term. But all the fun details in a story come from the things that can go wrong and figuring out shortcuts, etc.

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I’m going to test it on the next sunny day. So stay tuned . . .

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