Research · Review · Television · Writing

Binge watching and a Review

I am not a binge watcher, per say. I watched way more movies growing up and still prefer movies to television shows. The binge watching phenomenon that came with streaming services is lost on me–two episodes and then it’s a fight to stay focused. The other reason I don’t care for binge watching is that my brain has a knack for patterns* and when I start watching television shows in large chunks I start to discern the tropes and writing patterns that take me out of the story and therefore make it less enjoyable. 

Recently, however, my thoughts on the matter have changed–no, shifted is a better word**. I have been on 12 weeks of maternity leave and while she is a good baby and a much better sleeper than her sister there are long lengths of time where all I have been good for is feeding and laying on the couch and letting the tv play while my brain de-mushifys. This has led to some inadvertent binge watching. 

With my latest writing project being a buddy cop/detective story my tastes in television have been the same. I started with Gotham (totally separate fan girl filled blog post!) and have since moved on to Person of Interest. 

Here comes the review: To put it bluntly–I really frickin’ love this show! 

To detail further: Not only does this show combine many things I love– detective stories, cops, espionage, technology/hacking, it has subtley complex characters across the board and a great mix of one shot stories with great overarching plots. 

Mr. Finch is quirky yet believable and is an excellent foil to John Reece’s dry ascerbic humor and more violent tendencies. Detective Joss Carter might be one of my favorite women on television ever. She is a great detective but is not solely defined by that–she is also a mother, a woman trying to get a date and a great moral compass for the show that walks a very fine legal line. Fusco, Shaw and Root get more interesting through the seasons and I appreciate that the writers hold back and let these characters develop later.  So many shows seem to want to lay out their entire team in the first season and make everyone interesting immediately. 

I’m almost finished with season 3 out of 5 and while several plot points are slightly predictable there have been several that took me by surprise which is refreshing. We are deep in Government Conspiracy Land but I have faith that it will be far from ordinary fare. 

* Not on a genius cryptographer sort of level–more of a “hey that line of cars next to me has alternating white and black cars” and “my daughter gets extra weird one week a month around the full moon” level. Although, at one point in my life (around 7th grade) I was rather obsessed with codes and code breaking. Perhaps on Earth 2 I am a world class cryptographer! Who knows! 

** I say shifted because as soon as I go back to work I will shift back to not liking nor have time to binge watch. 

Books · Goals! · Research

24: rediscovering the joy   

I have many friends who do amazing things of all kinds. One thing they all pretty much do better at than me is reading. I don’t mean that in any sort of derogatory way to them or to myself. It is simply a fact. 

I don’t have time to read much. Or to be honest, I feel guilty when I read–I feel like I should be doing something productive towards one of my other creative pursuits. It’s dumb I know, and I am working on it. As a writer I should be devouring books, but it just hasn’t been fun. 

That being said I have made a goal for myself this year–a small one but a goal nonetheless!  

I will read 10 nonfiction books and 2 fiction books this year, by golly! This goal is two fold. First, I can finish these darn fiction books I started forever ago! Second I can read some of my nonfiction books that have just been moldering away on my shelves for an embarrassingly long time! And another advantage to this is that I will feel like I am learning something a feeling I miss, since graduating college and very much enjoy. 

Here’s to 2016! A year of rediscovering the joy of reading!

A wide variety of topics for sure!
Goals! · Research

47: blogging update

Wow, I’ve made it this far–nearly 20 days in a row blogging consecutively!

I’m still not really sure what this blog is accomplishing other than being a place for a little cathartic release when I don’t get to work on my writing projects. I am feeling a little stuck on what to write about every day. It’s like that middle third of the novel where the protagonist is just plodding along towards the climax but nothing truly engaging has happened yet. Ok, that’s a little grim but I know I need to push myself to keep this up. 

Why don’t you write only twice a week? I need to make this blog a conscious part of my life before I set a different schedule. If I don’t I’ll fall back into the update every fifth moon fall of the second odd month. 

How are you going to come up with 46 more topics to write about interestingly enough that random internet goers will want to read what you say?  That’s a good question, Alex. How am I? Organization! That’s how! 

There is this wonderful app a friend turned me onto called WunderList.  I started out using it solely for work but have since then discovered a multitude of ways to use it for my personal life. Blog topics is one of them. Using the due date aspect I can plan out my week of blog subjects complete with alerts to remind me. It has been majorly helpful thus far. 

In addition to the app I plan on devoting a notebook to blogging as well. Here I will plan out ways to more effectively reach out to other bloggers and use social media in the best way. 


Classical Music · Research

Follow Up…

So I realized today that rather than just rant and rave about my favorite music I should put a little more time and effort into my blogs and provide information on that which I love: music. This is my follow up blog to my previous post about the composer known as Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky, whereupon I will try to provide a little more information about one of my favorite composers.

Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky was born in the town of Votkinsk in Russia to a middle class family May 7th, 1840. While his family objected to his becoming a musician pushing him towards a career as a civil servant. While I know it still exists today–families that would rather have a lawyer or doctor over a violinist even if it is their kids fondest wish. It just seems more prevalent back in “tha day” Today our world seems filled with stage moms and dads (and yes, I am VERY keenly aware of Mr. Mozart Sr.!). Perhaps it is just that our world is so much more connected and we hear about these stage moms and dads more than what might have been known in earlier centuries. However, I digress. In 1862 he entered the Saint Petersburg Conservatory which gave him a solid Western oriented training that really set him apart from the more Nationalistic music being written by the mysterious group known as The Five (which another article may come later because they sound like a cool Russian superhero-musician group!) His life was never the same after losing his mother, and later his patroness and these tragedies bore greatly on the emotions that set him to composition.

Musically his training gave him a wide range of more Western oriented techniques to express his intense emotional outbursts. Some of his music showed the very Classical and Romantic elements of the time while other music gave hints of more nationalistic style. This kind of dichotomy in Tchaikovsky’s larger orchestral music would lead to two categories of work: one, his symphonies which would fall under the heading of ‘program music’ and two, more lyrical work that would fall under the heading of symphonic poems. Both types of work give huge artistic credence to his musicality. Characteristically, Tchaikovsky makes use of harmonies to create tensions that build until there is one big dramatic release of energy and feeling. For the technically musical he utilized German Augmented Sixth chords, minor triads with added major sixths, and augmented triads to create these . I am not up to snuff on my musical composition and theory and will admit that I am not fully aware of what all that means–it is on my to do list! All I know is that what he uses creates hard pounding rises in emotion that sweep through you ending in a resounding clash of sound and energy. It is what I like about him. He was often criticized for a lack of development in his work through out his career, although it could be said that his focus was on these harmonies and the embrace of the release of emotions through them.

For a long time Tchaikovsky’s works were held up to a critical eye, and he was never emotionally secure about his work or his life. While his technical skill and musical architecture were sound the intense emotional outbursts that he favored tended to polarize audiences. However today he is seen as one of the leading ballet composers as well as winning a favored position with concert goers second only to Beethoven. Part of this public change in opinion is due in part to what Harold C. Schonberg terms “a sweet, inexhaustible, supersensuous fund of melody … touched with neuroticism, as emotional as a scream from a window on a dark night.” I think that describes it to a tee. Many today feel that Tchaikovsky is the first ‘professional’ Russian composer who bridged the gap between the old folksong and Russian Orthodox Church music and the new Russian 20th century music (Stravinsky and the like) with his mastery of the Western European symphonic style.

This is by no means a comprehensive biography of Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky but only a taste. He was a brilliant yet emotionally dark and unstable artistic genuis in his own way. If you enjoyed this little snippet then really the best way to learn about him is to listen to him–reading about his is also good but nothing really lets you into the soul and heart of a composer like his music.

For a complete list of his works go HERE.