Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Music and Life

Music is important to me. It's not quite an obsession, and I'm not a scholar by any means, but music occupies a significant part of my life.

When I work at my computer or write at my desk, I like to listen to music. It's in the background, blocking all those other sounds that distract me. Music is my "white noise" while I work on projects.

Sound quality matters to me.

Recently, I reimported my favorite CDs into iTunes because, back in the day, 128kbps was what my hard drive could hold, and I skipped so-so tracks back then. But, the tracks sounded "tinny" to me with better headphones, earbuds, or via the home stereo. At 256kbps I can't tell the difference between the CD with these tracks with headphones. (Maybe it is my age, but I doubt anyone could tell the difference unless sitting in a silent room.)

I opted against ALAC / AIFF for now because of space. Yes, I have that many CDs and I'm not always connected to the interwebs. If we someday buy a RAID system, I'll migrate my music library to lossless files formats. Even then, I'd only reimport the music I listen to on a regular basis, as I come across discs that I liked a lot.

Completeness matters, too.

I don't like "holes" in my music library, not even if an album by a favorite band was only okay. There's something about missing a CD that bothers me, like missing a book from a series. Bands and musicians evolve; if you're missing one album, you're missing part of the complete story of that musical evolution.

My Collection

My tastes are not that unique for someone born in the late 1960s. Being raised during the 1970s, I appreciate what might have been the most varied period popular music. Give me the Beatles, Stones, Grateful Dead, and Pink Floyd. I also appreciate surf rock, with the guitars and drums. There's a uniformity even researchers have identified within 1980s pop that lacks the complexity the previous three decades. Yet, I admit that 80s pop with its synthesizers and drum machines is comfortably familiar. The "New Wave" and "Post-Punk" sounds of The Smiths, The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Police… everyone knows the 1980s KROQ playlist.

Celtic, classical, jazz, techno, pop, and metal — I own a bit of everything.

Music reminds of people, places, and events in our lives. Each CD I own means something, a connection that compelled me to add to my collection.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Writing as the Only Choice

In response to several queries from friends, a bit more elaboration on my plans.

I applied for a number of teaching posts and have now received the standard letters proclaiming an "overwhelming number of highly qualified candidates" for each opening.

The decision to not teach part-time as an adjunct, at least for now, was best for me. I'm too tired to drive two hours (or more) to teach one class in the fall for 80 minutes. Also, teaching part-time where I wasn't renewed full-time wasn't going to be comfortable. (The hiring process still angers me.) The pay was fair, but the situation would not have been healthy for me. If I teach again, it will be somewhere more welcoming.

My passion remains creative writing, and the rhetoric of stage and screen — followed closely by the visual rhetoric of page design (including digital "pages"). Give me scripts, sets, and camera angles. I'll ponder what makes a great play vs. a great movie, and how both are evolving in our saturated media experiences.

Give me histories of printing technologies and digital type. I'll passionately debate why "hinting" isn't as good as designing font data for visual sizes (Display vs. Body vs. Captions, for example).

In the university teaching interviews I've had since 2009-10, most have asked if I would rather teach writing or be writing professionally. I've argued that teaching informs my writing, making it better because you constantly learn through teaching. Told to choose, though, I always answer that given no choice, I would rather write and hope my audiences learn from my words. Isn't that still teaching? (Trying to "thread the needle" as most writers I know also have to teach or have other careers.) I'd argue academic writing is creative, but not how we currently teach it. Maybe I don't interview well when I do get that far in the process, at least in academia.

This is why I am writing primarily, and taking on some non-profit work on the side. Teaching is important, and I will teach through my words (sometimes, teaching that someone else is smarter than I am via my mistakes).

I will miss teaching. I might teach again, someday.

But, when forced to make a choice, that choice was what it now is… creative writing in all its forms.