An Apple a Day…

Isn’t keeping the doctor away.

"Why would you do that?"

“Why would you want that?”

I said doctor, not Doctor, Doctor.  Get with the program, Alien Boy.

I began putting today’s post together when I realized I have to start getting ready for my doctor’s appointment today.  Normally I wouldn’t need that much lead time, but her office is 140 miles/225 kilometers away, and I need to be on the road in about ninety minutes.  Which means I’d either have to rush getting ready or rush getting the post out, and I don’t want to do either.

That means you get this filler post that tells you the real post is coming this afternoon once I’ve returned from the Swamps of Jersey and I’m ready to talk.

Let me just say something…  is coming.

A Hundred at the End

I said I was going to do it and yesterday I did.  Somewhere around six-thirty P.M., I not only crossed the one hundred thousand word mark, but ended up a hundred and fifty words beyond that point before stopping for the evening.  It took about two and one half hours of writing to get to that point, but get there I did.

So in 169 days, or five months and sixteen days, I wrote 100,150 words, for an average of five hundred and ninety-two words per day.

Not a bad five and a half months of writing.

Not a bad five and a half months of writing.

The majority of what I wrote yesterday was part of a thousand word monologue performed by Professor Ellison–who we are still excerpting today.  Funny how that happens.

Oh, and after I finished with this part of the novel, I got dressed up, put on makeup, put on my over the knee boots, and headed down to the local restaurant that usually frequent where I got a ricotta cheese plate and the cannoli to accompany the three glasses of champagne I drink to celebrate the end of 2016.

I wanted to feel good today, not like I'm dying.

I wanted to feel good today, not like I’m dying.

All in all it was a good evening, and I didn’t end up going to bed until about one o’clock in the morning, which allow the fireworks which go off near my apartment to finish.  The first New Year’s Eve I spent in my apartment I went to bed about a quarter to midnight, not realizing that a tremendous fuselage of fireworks was about to go off, and continue going off, for nearly ten minutes.  I don’t make that mistake anymore.

So what remains of this visit to the Keyboard Room?  Not a lot, which is why am going to dump out the rest of the scene today, my first gift of 2017 to you.  Also, as of right now I’m eight thousand words ahead of this point, so I have plenty of room to maneuver.  So let’s finish this part and see what sort of satisfaction Kerry gets:

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Kerry looked down as he smiled. “I guess I knew the piece better than I thought.”

“I’d say.” Matthias returned to his place at the right side of the KRONOS. “So, do I have you sold on this?”

“Oh, man—” Kerry started laughing. “This and the KROME are what I want to work with. They’ll fit right in with what I want to do.”

Matthias picked up on the wistful look that momentarily crossed Kerry’s face. “I take it you have plans for beyond this next Ostara?”

Annie squeezed between Kerry and the keyboard and took his hand. “He told me he has a plan for when he performs that Ostara during our D Levels.”

He nodded. “This year I want to learn the equipment and see how I can use it to play simple stuff. Then the following Ostara—” He looked toward Annie once again before turning back to Matthias. “That’s when I want to play something impressive.”

Matthias nodded. “It certainly won’t go wrong with this equipment.” He gently rested his hand on the instrument panel of the KRONOS. “Now, when it comes to this particular instrument I have good news and I have bad news.”

 

So Kerry can get his keyboards, but there’s that old “good news/bad news” thing going on.  So just like Annie and Kerry, let’s find out what the professor’s going to tell them–

 

Annie sensed Kerry starting to wilt, but she knew Professor Ellison wasn’t the sort of person who would string them along and then disappoint at the end. “Perhaps you should get the bad news out of the way first, Professor.”

“That’s a good idea. The bad news is both the 88 key version of the KRONOS are reserved.”

“What?” Kerry’s eyebrows shot upward in disbelief. “So what’s the good news?”

“The good news is Nadine was in first thing this morning and reserved both keyboards.” Matthias pointed at Kerry. “She specifically said that I needed to set one of these aside for you, along with one of the KROME workstation. She will use three keyboards in her performance and two of them are the ones we just looked at.”

Kerry let out a sigh of relief. “I should’ve figured Nadine would be looking out for me.”

“Well, you two have rehearsed together the last two Ostaras.” Matthias cleared his throat. “She also mentioned she was the one to put the bug in your butt about starting to work with keyboard workstation.”

Annie gave Kerry a playful look. “I was wondering when you would get around to mentioning her.”

“Yeah.” He allowed a sheepish look to vanish from his face before continuing. “She emailed me at the end of June and we started corresponding back and forth for a couple of weeks. Since she wanted to use a workstation for this Ostara, she thought it would be a good idea if we both worked on them at the same time.”

Matthias nodded. “It’s a good idea. It’s also probably why she reserved both the 88s.”

“She probably figured we get the basics down on the keyboard and then work off the same set up when we knew we wanted to do.”

“Exactly.” Matthias motioned at both keyboards he’d shown. “I’ll get these two set aside for each of you, then get you a couple of MIDI servers and a monitor to cable into the keyboards.” He pointed at another instrument further down the row. “She’s gonna use one of the keyboards down there, too.”

Kerry leaned to his right so he could look around Professor Ellison. “What’s that?”

“A Roland Jupiter-80. It’s a digital synthesizer with analog modeling capabilities. Really a nice instrument.”

“Ah, yeah. She used one of those the first time we performed.” Kerry knew that Nadine was a fan of Roland equipment and that was all they used them for their first performance. He got to pick the equipment for last year’s performance thought she worked hard to have him use a Roland keyboard in place of the Yamaha piano. “You know what she’s going to perform?”

“She’s going to do three songs, but the only one she told me about was Foreigner’s That Was Yesterday: she said she was going to do the old twelve inch remix version.” He placed his hands in his pants pockets as he smiled. “You familiar with that?”

For the first time Kerry was stumped. “I don’t think I know that.”

Both Annie and Professor Ellison looked at Kerry with mock shock, though Matthias was the one to speak. “Really? Look it up when you get the time: I think you be impressed.”

 

That Nadine, she likes to look after the kids she used to tutor.  It seems when it comes to music Nadine has been a great influence on Kerry–not because she has better insight into his musical stylings, but when it comes to equipment she seems to be a bit more knowledgeable.  One has to wonder if Kerry would’ve considered using keyboard workstations this time around if Nadine had emailed him over the summer and said, “Hey, you need to look at this.”  Either way, Nadine is a good influence on Kerry when it comes to the technical aspects–even if she can’t always get him to use what she likes.

Though she's using this for her performance no matter what this year.

Though she’ll use this for her performance this year no matter what.

And if you were ever wondering what Roland equipment Nadine and Kerry used during his A Level performance, his keyboards were a RD-700nx piano for the lower keyboard and a V-Synth GT for the upper keyboard, while Nadine used the Jupiter-8o for her lower keyboard and a Juno-Gi for her upper keyboard and synth pad.  All this equipment is legitimate and based upon a Roland catalog for 2011.  Yes, I do my homework.

And for the first time we see Kerry stumped by a song title.  Yes, there is some old music he has never heard, but you can be assured that once he had a few minutes alone with his computer he probably looked up the song that Nadine had chosen the play–at least the only one she mentioned was going to play.  Don’t worry, I know what both of these kids are playing for the next Ostara.

It looks like were almost done with getting the equipment, but there’s one more question…

 

He removed his hands in his pockets and interlaced his fingers together. “Anything else you want to discuss?”

Kerry shook his head. “I’m covered.”

Annie answered before Matthias could ask her. “I have nothing, Professor.”

“I have something for you before I returned to my office.” He lowered his voice just a little. “Since you’re already a little advanced for this class, would you be willing to help a few students if I ask you to give them assistance?”

By now Annie was so used to being asked to be a minion that she didn’t question the request. “I wouldn’t mind helping if necessary, Professor, but you should know that our levelmates aren’t always receptive to us helping out during labs.”

“I’ll worry about their feelings: that way you can concentrate on helping.” Matthias chuckled as he waved everyone toward the doorway. “I need to get back to my office—”

Annie nodded. “It’s quite all right, Professor.”

Once in the hall Matthias closed the door to the Keyboard Room and took a couple of steps back from his soon-to-the students. “Thanks for coming by; I’ll see you in class next week.”

Annie and Kerry said their farewells and headed toward the stairs leading to the ground floor, with Annie holding Kerry’s hand tight. “Now that you have all that out of the way, how do you feel?

He let out a long sigh. “Excited and relieved.” He glanced at Annie out of the corner of his left eye. “We should meet with Nadine after dinner and tell her we met with Professor Ellison.”

Annie knew how eager Kerry was to discuss the work Nadine and he would do together preparing for Ostara, and sitting down with her after dinner would also give Annie a chance to sit and talk with her friend. “I would like that.” She pulled Kerry to a stop a few steps short of the ground floor landing. “You’re certain you want to keep this year’s Ostara performance simple?”

Kerry gave a slight nod as he smiled. “Trust me, Darling. This year I just want to do a great performance of a few songs. The last thing I want are any surprises.”

 

So there you go: Kerry is ready for his 2014 Ostara performance.  Well, ready in the sense he has his equipment set aside; there’s still matter of rehearsing songs, but that’s a trifling matter.  By the time November rolls around Nadine and he will probably have a pretty good handle on playing their parts, which means they’ll have January and February of the next year to start the rehearsals with the house band.

When you think about it, there’s a crazy amount of work that goes into getting up on stage at Ostara and performing for ten minutes.  And Nadine and Kerry are like your normal performers: they seem to be their own worst enemies in that they’ll just want to play well, they want to play great.  In reality, these two kids do their best not to play but to perform, and if it ain’t perfect, they ain’t gonna be happy.

Just like Annie says, now that that’s out of the way…

We’re going to go and spend some time with our favorite witchy doctor–

Arts and Music: The Personal Evaluations

While I managed to cross the ninety-six thousand word line last night, I didn’t come near thousand words as I wanted.  Probably because when I got home around five I sat down and watched the last movie in the Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest.  So there was three hours spent camped out in front of the TV right there.  No complaints, though: you need that time to sit and recharge the batteries, and to get your mind and write creative space.

Will I write three thousand, seven hundred words by midnight on Saturday?  Doubtful.  But I will cross the hundred thousand word mark by at least 1 January, because I don’t intend on going out and getting stinking drunk on New Year’s Eve like I did last year.  So crossing that line will be a good way to celebrate the coming of what I feel is going to be a year just as shitty as 2016.

And as I pointed out to others, on New Year’s Eve instead of playing Auld Lang Syne, we’re gonna play The Rains of Castamere:

This is a perfect image of 2016--

This is a perfect depiction of 2016, and I’m sure I’m not the one holding the knife.

On to happier news now.  When Kerry goes off to visit Professor Ellison on the first day back to school, it’s often with Ostara in mind.  That’s what happened the first time Annie and Kerry visited, and it was implied that they discussed music selections when they visited during their B Levels.  And it’s true he’s there to discuss what he wants to do during this year’s performance–please also doing a bit of a postmortem on what happened last year…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

“First, I want to scale back my next performance. Instead of doing one long, complicated song, I’d rather do two or, if you let me, three songs instead.”

“Any particular reason why?”

Kerry nodded. “Burning Rope was a complicated piece and I feel I may have gotten a little over my head. I pushed myself with an ambitious piece—” For just a moment he looked a bit chagrined. “And it almost got away from me. I feel like I need to step back a little and do a change of pace this year so I can push myself again the following year.”

Mathias said nothing for a few seconds: when he did speak there was a semblance of pride in his tone. “Again, spoken like a true artist. We are often our own worst critics, but if we can put that ego aside and look at those points where we know we were skirting with danger, it helps us grow that much more as an artist.

“I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to stifle your confidence, but I had my doubts you could actually pull that performance all. It wasn’t that I thought you wouldn’t play well; it was more that I was worried you were going to convince yourself you couldn’t do piece correctly. And when you go into a performance like that with any sort of doubt, the results can sometimes be disastrous.

“It was a good performance: maybe not the best you could’ve done, but still a hell of a lot better than what most people were doing. But from where I was sitting I could see that look in your eyes on a couple of occasions where you were wondering, ‘What the hell have I gotten myself into?’ The fact you got through it with nary a bobble is another sign of true artists: keep pushing on no matter what.”

Matthias stood and circled around to the edge of his desk. “As a C Level you have an option on three songs, though as you know you have to keep them relatively short. If you’re looking at doing something a little simpler, three songs isn’t a problem.”

Kerry smiled, appearing relieved. “Thank you, Professor.”

“You’re welcome. And as I’m sure you’re going to discover, Nadine is also doing three songs. So you guys will be able to rehearse together again.” He took a couple of paces away from his desk. “Since you indicated a first thing you want to discuss, I gather there’s a second?”

 

In the B Level novel Kerry shared his concerns with Annie that perhaps the song he played shouldn’t have been the song he played, and he felt as if he’d taken on too much too soon.  Were finally hearing that Professor Ellison agrees with that summation, but that he’s also happy to hear that Kerry learned from the experience and wants to scale things back just a little this next time around.  Someone might say, “Well, performing three songs isn’t actually scaling back,” but Kerry will have an option of playing three, which means he can only play two if he wants.  Sure, two five minute songs is still ten minutes of performing, but at least you break up the action a bit.

Now to Kerry’s done with his postmortem–and this time around he didn’t beat himself up too bad–he gets to the second part of why he’s there.  Beyond the, “I want to talk about what I want to play this year,” stuff:

 

“There is.” Kerry stretched his shoulders before letting them drop to his sides. “For the performances this year I’d like to work with keyboard workstations.”

This caused Matthias to return to the front of his desk where he once more against the edge. “That’s interesting to hear. But why the sudden interest in working with that sort of equipment?”

Kerry ran his right hand through his hair a couple of times. “Last year it was really cool to get to use all that different equipment. I mean, playing Tony’s ARP was tremendous, and I got to use a mellotron which was cool, but the more I thought about it over the summer the more I realize that stuff is all part of the past.” He gave a quick shrug. “If I’m gonna play in modern times, I need to know how to use modern equipment.”

Matthias returned rubbing his chin. “Hence using a workstation.”

“Yeah. I did some research over the summer and saw what you can do with the new workstations. I want to learn how to create and modify MIDI files; I want to use one with DAW software; most of all I want to be able to do things like split the keyboard and switch between engines and use customized play lists. And you’re only going to be able to do that with a modern keyboard workstation.”

For a few seconds Matthias regarded Kerry. “You know what Tony thought about new equipment, don’t you?”

Kerry was well aware what Tony Banks thought on that subject. “He said he always tried to work with the newest technology and he didn’t look back on the old stuff with any sort of nostalgia.”

“Pretty much. He certainly liked working with digital samples more than he liked working with stretching tapes and overheated electronics.” He stood up once more began heading toward the door, waving it open as he turned towards his guests. “Come on, I want to show you both something.”

 

Ah, keyboard workstations, something I spent a good two weeks researching just so I could get a thousand good words on the matter.  (Trust me, it’s usually like that…)  Kerry got to play with a bit of history during his B Level Ostara performance, but he also got a taste of the present when he used an Akai keyboard controller to play MIDI files so his keyboard sounded like an organ.  So now he wants to move up to creating those files and working with Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) and splitting that keyboard so he can pretty much play two different things at the same time.

You know, just like real musicians do.

Which means we keep to see what sort of goodies Professor Ellison has stashed away in the Keyboard room–

The Day Into the New Year

Though I had a full spa day yesterday I am not blogging about it here.  There’s too much to cover this morning, so I’ll write it up tonight as there isn’t any Walking Dead to snark on for a while and I damn sure won’t watch a Home Alone movie.

Instead you get the next scene, which is the first Friday back, Reacquaintance Day for returning students and a pretty big day.  Sure, students can just chill out and stay back in the coven towers and play grab ass all day, but those students who aren’t complete assholes it’s a chance to catch up with their favorites instructors and see what the next instructors they’re going to have are like.

And not only do we see our favorite couple heading out for the day, but we learn a bit about last night…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

The first day back at school was shaping up to be far nicer than last few days in Paris, at least weather-wise. Though there was an overcast expected well into the evening, there wasn’t any rain in the forecast. Also, the temperature was already above 18 Celsius and were expected to rise into the upper twenties by mid afternoon.

Since they expected to do a lot of walking, both Annie and Kerry had dressed appropriately. Kerry wore a tee shirt and a pair of blue jeans he bought in Cardiff in mid-June, which made this the first time he’d worn actual blue jeans at Salem. Annie went a different route, wearing a light jacket over a tank top which she matched with a short black skater skirt. Since they were doing a lot of walking both were wearing sneakers, though Annie told Kerry when she greeted him that morning that she wasn’t opposed to changing into sandals in the afternoon and then flying to their destinations.

Both were in a good mood this morning. Their gathering with the B Levels had been the success and they’d been up well past midnight enjoying their homemade snacks, listening to music, and talking. At one point Soroushi and Leonora complemented Annie and Kerry on not only being great hosts, but making them feel as if they were now a part of the school.

The other good news had occurred at some point around twenty-two hours, when Professor Semple brought the new A Levels into the coven tower. This year they had six new students, two boys and four girls, and in the morning they saw the attendance list sent to their in-dorm computers. Two students were from Asia, two were from Africa, one was from Australia, and the last was from Western France. Kerry checked the attendance for the A Levels of the other covens and discovered Cernunnos was the only coven not to get new students from either of the Americas. Annie quipped that this was likely The Phoenix’s way of making up for the fact that they had three students from North and South America last year, and that all three of those students were now B Levels.

 

Everything went great, which is what Annie and Kerry wanted.  Being a good host is a lot of work, but they managed to not only pull it off, but they dispelled the stereotype of the Mean Upper Levelmates as well.  You’ll get a chance to meet some of these kids as well ’cause I have minions to write about and they’ll likely show up when the minions are hard at work.

Now that Annie and Kerry have had to spend the night in their own dorm rooms, this has led to an issue:

 

Both were in great spirits by the time they left the coven on their way to the Great Hall for breakfast. They paused for a moment in front of their bench and shared a quick kiss while making plans to come back at some point during the day so they could sit, chat, cuddle, and kiss.

For the first time all week Kerry felt relaxed and satisfied. When he woke up he checked his phone quickly to see if there were any messages from his parents; when he saw there wasn’t, he set the phone in one of the external pockets of his backpack and gave no further thought the matter. He didn’t know what sort of snit his parents were experiencing, but for now he was through trying to contact them. As he saw it, when they were ready to talk, they would contact him. He was the one to chase after people and he wasn’t about to start his family.

When it covered about half the distance from the covered walkway to the West Entrance Kerry kissed the back of Annie’s hand. “I really missed you last night.”
Annie chuckled and leaned into him. “I missed you as well. It was strange to roll over in bed and not find you.”

He nodded. “Same here. When I woke up the first thing I did was reach for you.” Kerry emitted a long sigh. “And… you weren’t there.”

Annie sighed as well. “We knew this was going to happen: we even talked about. Now that we’re back at school, we have to get used to sleeping alone.”

He snorted. “Yeah, it sucks.” When they were within eight meters of the West Entrance Kerry waived open the door. “Think there’s any chance that they’d let us share a room if we asked nicely?”

“I doubt it.” Annie slowed as they entered the West Transept so she could adjust to the dim light there and beyond. “I’ve already thought about asking if it would be possible, particularly given that the headmistress is aware of our—” She lowered her voice she leaned toward Kerry. “Special situation.”

Kerry had also given this matter some thought and figured Annie had reached the same conclusion. “That doesn’t really matter: as far as they are concerned we’re just a couple of kids. And if they give us special housing accommodations, they’ll have to give them to everyone else who wants to—cohabitate.”

Annie nodded as they entered the Rotunda. “It’s highly unfair. I’m sure there are some same-sex couples who are rooming together—” Annie pulled him closer. “I wonder if they will allow that for us if we were same-sex couple?”

Kerry half rolled his eyes as the implication of Annie’s statement hit home. “That’s something I don’t want to—”

“Hi, guys.”

 

The whole “I Gotta Sleep Alone” issue was sort of addressed earlier because I brought it up as sort of an aside.  You spend the week sleeping together in Paris and get special sleeping together accommodation on the flight home, and that first night back at school is gonna feel strange.  At the moment there is only one Instructor couple at school–Helena and Erywin–who share a room, but it’s a safe bet that Wednesday and Isis will share accommodations before the year out.

But when it comes to students doing the same things get strange.  At the moment there are no official rules at Salem about students living together, but the unofficial rule is a different story.  There are same sex couples who happen to be in the same coven sharing a room, though if they didn’t start out as dormmates they have to get permission from the coven leader to switch rooms, and they may even need to speak with Erywin as well to see if this move is being made because they couple have actual feelings for each other, or if they are only wanting to get together so they can bang their brains out, because the later tends to eventually lead to a lot of drama and blows right the hell up after a while.

However, there are NO hetero student couples sharing a room.  It has happened, but that tends to happen to F Levels who live in the upper floor of their coven–the area known as The Attic–where the rooms tend to look more like a small apartment than a dorm.  The last F Level student couple was, believe it or not, Maddie and her future husband David Palmescoff, who became engaged over the summer between their E and F Levels.  Since they had the Ring Thing goin’ on, no one saw any reason why they shouldn’t share accommodations.

Sure, the headmistress knows that Annie and Kerry have that special connection and that they will marry each other, but is that enough to put them together in the same room?  A lot of students would say “No”, but they’re haters so screw them.  Still, a few people would likely raise an eyebrow at learning that the Lovey Dovey Couple is rooming together and might ask why they can’t.  Because you aren’t soul mates, that’s why.

Then again, the whole point may become moot in a few months–

It won't talk long for Kerry to figure out that new Gift has one great advantage.

It won’t talk long for Kerry to figure out that new Gift has one great advantage.

We’ll see if and how the school deals with a couple who has already gotten used to sleeping together when the chance arises.  In the mean time–who’s saying hi?

I think you’ve already guessed.

Back to the Departing Grind

The long holiday is over this time to get back to work.  This feels so strange for me right now because everything went so quickly and I don’t know why.  I think it’s due to actually doing some stuff this holiday, rather than sitting around the apartment doing nothing like I’ve done past.  It’s just that it doesn’t feel like I have done anything.

Also, I woke up this morning feeling like I normally do when I’ve been drinking.  The but yesterday I didn’t drink.  I think it’s my body trying to tell me something–

One thing I did do was add one thousand, two hundred, and seventy words to the next scene which is a new scene.  It took longer than I thought it would but still: almost thirteen hundred words in about two and a half hours.  And in doing so I passed the seventy thousand word mark.

Here it is in all it's glory.

Here it is in all it’s glory.

If I stick to the rate at which I’m writing now, it’s entirely possible that I’ll hit ninety thousand words before the end of the year.  That wouldn’t be bad: nearly a hundred thousand words in six months time.  At that rate, I’ll finish this novel up at the end of next year.  Hey, at least it’s a goal.

But I’m not ready to show you the new scene yet.  Sure, you get to see a little of the above, but were not quite there at the moment.  All I’m going to say about the new scene is you are going to be extremely surprised at how Annie and Kerry traveled to Boston.

In the meantime, let’s get back to thinking about the psychological issues this boy is undergoing:

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