SubscribeStar Saturday: Easter Weekend 2022

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As is my custom, it’s time for my annual Easter Weekend post (read “Easter Weekend” and “Easter Weekend 2021” if you’d like to track the posts over time).  Easter Weekend is always doubly special for yours portly, as it marks the beginning of my Spring Break.

Unfortunately, on the first morning of my long-anticipated (and much-needed) break, a freak accident befell me.  My beloved dog, Murphy, and I were out walking.  I had some breakfast in the oven, and realized we needed to get back in the next five minutes.

Murphy—as bull terriers are wont to be—is very stubborn, especially when she picks up the scent of cats (or vermin).  I usually can get her to follow along with me if I tug her and start running; she will then trot along to keep up.

I began my usual tug-trot procedure, when Murphy suddenly turned a full ninety degrees and ran—at top speed!—directly into my right ankle.  I heard a crunch and collapsed to the ground.

Miraculously, I managed to hang onto her leash.  She’d seen a couple of cats darting by, and—without regard for her human—crippled me in her would-be pursuit.

Angry and wounded, but still not feeling the full effects, as my adrenaline was pumping, I attempted to drag her homeward.  She resisted, and slipped from her collar.  Murphy then resumed her chase of the poor felines.

I limped over to her—she had the cats scrambling up a porch post, fleeing for their nine lives—but before I could get the collar back on her, she darted across the highway after the cats (it may also have been another stray cat—we have a problem with them here), right as a Darlington County Sheriff’s deputy went rolling by.  In my limping, disheveled state, he must have taken pity on me.  If so, I thank him for not writing me a ticket for my dog being off-leash.

So I proceeded to limp across US-401 to my friend’s mother-in-law’s house, where Murphy was pursuing her quarry through her bushes.  She then trotted up onto the porch, and as I slowly climbed the steps, she trotted back out, looking at me as if to say, “Hey, dad, what’s up?”

Thus began our gimped walk home—and she still resisted.  We finally made it back to a burnt (but still edible!) breakfast.

I stuck to the full day of lessons I had that afternoon, literally dragging my foot from one house to the next (driving, fortunately, was not difficult).  I think I overdid it here, but $150 was on the line, and if I was going to end up at a doctor’s office, I’d need that much (at least) for whatever ungodly medical bills I might face.

As of the time of this writing (Good Friday!), I still have not been to a doctor to X-ray the foot, but a long night’s sleep really helped.  The foot is still swollen, though that’s gone done, and with the aid of a cane—yes, I am walking with a cane, care of a good neighbor—I can get around with minimal pain.  Thursday night it had gotten excruciating to walk around, but now I can bumble around the house without too much inconvenience.

So, now that I’ve regaled you with tales of my recent crippling, here’s what’s in store for Easter 2022:

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Painting Update

Last week was our big Fine Arts Festival at school, and part of the festival included an art showcase.  The Fine Arts Department Head invited me to submit my little paintings for sale, which I happily did—all nineteen of them!

On the last night of the festival, I slashed the prices of all of my paintings, and ended up selling four that evening (“Ghostopus“; “Springtime“; “Feelin’ Froggy“; and “The Elixir of Life“).  As such. I’ve lowered all of the paintings on Bandamp to $15 accordingly (“Valenween/Franketine” is at $20, but just because I like that one so much).

I haven’t had time to work on too many paintings since the festival, but I do have a few newer ones that might be of interest to readers.

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Blogging Reflections at 1192 Days

Anyone who has been on WordPress for longer than five minutes has probably come across Cristian Mihai, a Romanian-born blogger, who writes about, well, blogging.  I don’t know much about Mr. Mihai, but he has apparently figured out a way to make a living blogging.

Many of his posts are tips about blogging, and almost all of them are sales pitches (no judgment here—I do it, too) for some blogging-related product or another.  I’ve never paid for any of his courses or the like, so I can’t speak to their quality.  He does sell reblogs on his blog, meaning he re-posts another blogger’s work in order to increase that writer’s views.  I don’t endorse that practice personally, but if people are willing to pay for that exposure, they have the right.

I do, however, have a free membership to his irevuo website.  On Monday, he posted a very interesting piece about Seth Godin, one of the early adopters of blogging.  Godin has been at it for over twenty years, reaching his 7000th post on 6 November 2017.

That’s insanely impressive.

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Even More Little Paintings

I took a bit of a break from painting last week to finish up Péchés d’âge moyen, my short collection of twelve original piano miniatures, but by the time “More Little Paintings: Hearts and an Octopus” posted last week, I’d already churned out a total of fifteen of these little guys.

Rather than subject you to week after week of bizarre paintings, I figured I’d dump them all into one post:

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Lazy Sunday CLIV: Behind the Songs, Part II

Subscribers to my SubscribeStar page have enjoyed (I hope!) a series of retrospectives about the songs from my debut EP, Contest Winner EP.  I’ve dubbed this series Behind the Songs.  Today, I’m dedicating the second of two editions of Lazy Sunday to look back at this series.

Here are the second and last three tracks in the series, in case you missed them.  Access to the full articles requires a subscription to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more, but you should at least get a good taste for the pieces with these previews:

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Lazy Sunday CLIII: Behind the Songs, Part I

Subscribers to my SubscribeStar page have enjoyed (I hope!) a series of retrospectives about the songs from my debut EP, Contest Winner EP.  I’ve dubbed this series Behind the Songs.  As such, I’m dedicating the next two editions of Lazy Sunday to look back at this series.

I’m thinking of compiling these posts—which are quite detailed and lengthy—into a short ebook, which I might also offer as a PDF download with future purchases of Contest Winner EP.  I’d expand these pieces with some introductory and concluding remarks.

In the meantime, here are the first three tracks in the series, in case you missed them.  Access to the full articles requires a subscription to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more, but you should at least get a good taste for the pieces with these previews:

Here’s to an enjoyable listening experience for you.  And if you haven’t already, pick up my EP and my other work on Bandcamp!

Happy Sunday—and Happy Listening!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Péchés d’âge moyen

During the last eleven years of his life, the great composer of Italian opera Gioachino Rossini, enjoying a sumptuous retirement after a successful career, composed a collection of 150 pieces.  He dubbed these pieces—intended for intimate and private performances in his home—Péchés de vieillesse, or “Sins of Old Age” (that title is actually affixed to only two of the fourteen albums, but later was applied to the entire collection).  The pieces are a mix of chamber, vocal, and piano music, all meant to be played in Rossini’s home.

Most readers will recognize Rossini from his memorable overtures—often written mere hours before the opening nights of his operas, much to the chagrin of theatre managers—which are probably better known to mass audiences than his operas.  Here’s the most famous of them:

Romantic Era music that even Audre Myers can enjoy!

Rossini was so successful as a composer, he basically spent forty years in retirement.  While music historians disagree on exactly why he stopped composing operas so young, I suspect it had to do with the fact that made so much money from them, he didn’t need to work anymore, and enjoyed a fun retirement (ill-health was likely a contributing factor, too).  He also exited gracefully at the top of his game, avoiding the common pitfall of overstaying one’s artistic welcome amid changing times and tastes.

As such, the Péchés de vieillesse are real gems, coming as they did from a great composer who had long retired from the craft.  Here’s just one example (of 150!), his “Prelude inoffensif” from Volume VII of the collection:

As readers know, I’ve been getting back into composing, and have been exploring composing by hand.  It is extremely satisfying to write pieces by hand (as opposed to a computer, which is certainly more convenient, but lacking in the same tactile satisfaction).  I’ve written a few short piano miniatures—some good, some desperately in need of revision—and Rossini’s “Sins” have inspired some of my own:  a small project I’m dubbing Péchés d’âge moyen.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Contest Winner

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Well, here we are—the final installment of Behind the Songs.  I’m wrapping up this extended, self-indulgent walk through my debut EP, Contest Winner EP with the final and title track, “Contest Winner.”

Contest Winner” is probably the first track I wrote for the EP, long before I ever conceived of releasing an album or EP of my own.  If I’m not mistaken, it dates back to 2012, so it’s ten-years old this year.

I wrote the song for my very first songwriting contest, figuring that I might as well as be confident.

It did not win the contest, but it did win the People’s Choice Award.  And it spawned an era of artistic inspiration—and a lot of songs.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Behind the Songs: Funeral Pyre

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

Apologies to readers for the slight delay with today’s post.  It was a grueling but productive week, and after teaching eighteen lessons in five days to seventeen students (and it would have been twenty lessons and nineteen students, were it not for The Virus), I fell asleep a little before 8 PM last night, and slept until around 7 AM this morning.

Today’s post is the penultimate in my Behind the Songs miniseries.  I’ve been going through the stories behind each of the six songs on my debut EP, Contest Winner EP.  With “Funeral Pyre,” the fifth track, we’re nearly through the entire release!

I often conceive of “Funeral Pyre” as a companion piece to “Ghostly,” which I covered in detail last week.  Both are unusual songs, and it’s pretty easy to link ghosts and funerals thematically.

I thought I’d written “Funeral Pyre” last among all the songs on the EP, but it appears that I wrote it roughly three weeks before “Ghostly.”  Both tunes date to January 2014—6 January 2014 for “Funeral Pyre,” and 30 January 2014 for “Ghostly,” according to the original lead sheets.

Regardless, the two songs share some similarities.  Besides the thematic similarity, both are fairly dark in tone compared to the other songs on the EP.  They also were late additions:  originally, I think I was just going to record “Hipster Girl Next Door,” “Greek Fair,” “By the Light of the Laptop Screen,” and “Contest Winner,” and release a single.

But a gnarly ice storm meant that my recording session was delayed, and I wrote “Funeral Pyre” while sitting at home in my tiny apartment in Florence, South Carolina, while the world was covered in ice.  I was supposed to go that night to start recording the record, but the foul weather meant a postponement, which allowed time to write the song and, it seems, “Ghostly.”

One other similarity:  “Funeral Pyre” and “Ghostly” are the songs from the record I play live the least.  “Ghostly” does enjoy a lot of playtime during the spooky season, but for many years, I neglected “Funeral Pyre” in my live sets.

As we’ll see, I now think that was a mistake.

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