Racking up new failures at record rate!

Goodbye, The Real LJ Idol. It’s probably about time I got eliminated. I thank the many people (and their friends lists!) who rallied to save me in the voting over the last few rounds. It’s pretty amazing that I made it to the “top 25.” I’m going to continue to watch, and I might play along now and then if I feel like posting on that topic. Have fun, the rest of you!

Also, I auditioned on Monday for that job playing the piano at Fry’s on the weekends. They’re not going to call me, of course, because they want someone who really can play. I need to modify my general statement when people ask what I do well or what I like to do, and not say what I usually say. I should say instead, “I write well but no one likes it, I play the piano badly, and I muddle around with taking care of Casa el Dumpo and the garden and the mama and the dog and even the hubby on occasion.” That would cover it in a more honest fashion.

Of course, I don’t really need or deserve the job, but I had on my “do this someday” list the item of playing cocktail piano in public, and so I had a hidden agenda. The front desk people sent me back to start playing “while the manager finishes up–he’ll be back there in a minute.” I enjoyed playing on their Steinway concert grand for almost 20 minutes until the manager arrived back there to lean over my shoulder, at which time I started making clunkers and messing up (I mean, more than usual.) Go figure.

But I wanted to play their piano–so I accomplished my covert goal. They told me to put my name/number on a card that they brandished and said they’d call me, that they had others to audition as well, and would make a decision by next week. But, of course, they’re not gonna call. I asked the guys at the exit if they could hear the piano and if it really sucked, and they claimed they couldn’t hear it, but they might have just been being nice. (That’s part of their jobs.)

If a music major shows up, though, he or she will surely take the offer, because they said it paid $25 an hour. Wow! It’s 6 to 9 on Friday night, 1 to 4 on Sat and Sun, and they said they might get more than one person and rotate the shifts. But anyway, I’m not really good enough to do it–I just enjoyed it. They said they wanted variety, so I started out with several jazz runs and arpeggios leading into the Fantasticks medley, and then played some classical (the easy Beethoven and the Fuer Elise), and then played the Vince Guaraldi “Linus and Lucy,” more show tunes and pop stuff, and then a New Age thing called “Kyrie.” Then I had to come up with more stuff that I don’t play as often, which was harder to do. Should’ve brought some books, but I was afraid they’d turn to a random page and expect a perfect rendition. They don’t realize that the performances on CDs are generally edited–there are clinkers and mistakes here and there, surely, that get edited out!

I should’ve saved my really good stuff for last, I suppose, but there IS that question as to where there IS any really good stuff. My family has always been ashamed of my playing, so that should clue me in, but it never does. I’m like a screwed-up Pollyanna. Can’t hear how bad I really am. But then that also works for my writing, as readers here can testify.

Yet how is one to overcome stage fright if one does not get out there? I mean, it’s not as if you’re on worldwide TV and everyone is watching to mock you. Or even if you ARE, you’re also getting your 15 minutes of fame.

I admire that crazy kid who was on American Idol, the Indian kid that everyone mocked (and without whom Keith Olbermann says that AI is jumping the shark but good), because hey, he was putting himsef out there and putting his heart into it! OK, he wasn’t Bobby Darin or Barbra Streisand or God!! He was a teenage kid who was having the time of his life, and he had charm, and it showed! Is that so terrible? I don’t think so. I think he carved a notch in the world’s bedpost, even if people laughed at him and felt all superior. He reminded me of this guy I was in high school drama with and whom I had a crush on and who used to toy with my affections (he was gay, of course, but that was back during the run of “Three’s Company,” and everyone pretended that most gay guys weren’t, even them), but who LOVED getting up on stage and fed off the energy from the audience. So what if he wasn’t Neil Diamond? Who is? (Neil Diamond still gots it at fifty-plus–we saw him on “Today” recently and he had the audience wrapped around his pinky.)

Heck, I would’ve played for free on a few Friday nights just to get to play on an in-tune Steinway. And it was kind of fun to know that people were listening. I did fine while the sales staff were off at their posts and just listening from far away. It’s when somebody comes and leans over the velvet ropes and stares that I get messed up. Here’s why, I think: I zone out and am not thinking about the notes or in terms of notes at all when I’m on a roll. It’s finger memory and the mental prediction of where the next tone should be, and then I go there. In fact, sometimes I play faster than I could think the notes in any symbolic sense. That’s when it’s going well, and I can concentrate on how it sounds, with dynamics and touch (legato or portato or even staccato or finger pedal or whatnot) taking the stage. If someone comes along, my left brain switches on. And suddenly the keyboard looks like a bunch of teeth and I’m not even sure where to put my fingers next. It’s a complete loss of focus on the part of the right brain, or something. Then I have to lose myself again in order to recover. It’s tough to explain. Has that ever happened to you?

Dennis said it hadn’t, but then he was a star in Vegas for years and years. Kind of tough to do that if you don’t have a super-concentration or focus, when you’re playing every night in the toughest of markets with all eyes on you. I was in all the junior high and high school plays and musicals, though!

Yum . . . dirt is very dietetic.
$ $ $
I note with sorrow the passing of fantasy author Lloyd Alexander. When we ran out of Narnia novels, we started on the Newbury/Caldecott shelf and found Prydain. I really enjoyed all of his work. He followed his wife, said Sartorias, less than two weeks after she crossed the Veil. They must’ve been a duprass, or close to one. Well, they’re together again and starting a whole new adventure. Fare well and have fun . . . we’ll miss you . . . until we all meet again.

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Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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