Welcome and Welcome Back

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and I’m always surprised when WordPress sends me a notification of a new follower, just for that very reason. I’m not here to make excuses or to say don’t worry, I’m back, or anything like that. If you’re here, I want to let you know where you can find what I’m doing now, and I also want to thank you for being here. I will be back (I still have two interviews to clean up and get posted!), but I don’t know when, so I don’t want to make any promises.

Until that day, here’s where you can find me: I’m currently the editor of Speculative Chic, a speculative fiction fanzine on WordPress. If you follow me here, I’d love it if you could also follow us over there. Yes, I do contribute on a regular basis, so you’ll find me talking about television or movies or my latest favorites in geek (and for those of you who miss Calico Reaction, I do have a book review coming before April is over!), but there are other many other talents contributing to the blog, and I’d love to have more people reading their stuff.

We’re also always looking for guest writers at Speculative Chic. While we’re currently a volunteer effort looking to expand our readership, people like you help make it happen, so if you’re interested in writing for us, check out our guidelines here.

And that’s all I’ve got folks. Thank you for following me here at Calico Writes, and if you’ve been here a while, thank you for sticking around. And please, if you aren’t already, please come join us at Speculative Chic! We’d love to hear your thoughts, even if you’re just commenting on one of our daily posts, or just liking something we’ve done.

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Memory: The Muffin Cat

It’s been an adjustment to say the least. My husband and I talked about how some of the daily habits we’d come to expect out of Storm Shadow had been tempered by his illness. He’d started spending all of his time in our bedroom (we’d moved his food, water, and litter box there in January, when he first got sick), so in some ways, many habits were already broken.

But it’s the mental self-checks that trip me up. When I get up from the couch to use the restroom, my first instinct is to check on Storm Shadow. Before he got sick, it would be to pet/pester him; after he got sick, it would be to see where he was and make sure he was okay. Waking up in the morning, I had to tell myself: I have no kitty.

What really got me today: we decided on a hodge-podge of food for dinner, and after eating popcorn, my brain went through the following thought process: Continue reading

Storm Shadow: 2002-2017

Today we had to say goodbye to Storm Shadow.

Storm_Shadow_Office Chair
Storm Shadow always won the war for the office chair.

I’ve been reticent when it comes to talking about his health publicly. In fact, at first, my husband and I spoke to practically no one save our employers (due to the multiple vet visits), because each day brought a whiplash of hope and despair, and we were still grappling with Storm Shadow’s sudden crash in health ourselves. Trying to understand how our mostly healthy cat had gone from normal to the brink of death in less than a week was impossible to wrap our heads around, let alone explain to other people. So we kept quiet. This was back in January.

Continue reading

Music Monday: The Cranberries’ “Zombie”

Music Monday is a wee bit late today, because I had scheduled these so far in advance that I basically forgot about it. However, while I’d intended to start Christmas music this week, I was at a birthday party a few weekends ago and during a jam session, we all broke out into impromptu karaoke rendition of The Cranberries’ “Zombie.” The chorus is fun as hell to sing (which is what we were all singing), but the song — SPOILER ALERT — is not about actual zombies, and given the lyrics and the video, it just feels appropriate right now.

So without further adieu, here’s your earworm for the week, and if I remember, we’ll jump on the Christmas music train next week. 🙂

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Sound off below!

Reminder: Music Monday is about the music, not the videos. Videos are just the medium I’m using to share the music, and some videos aren’t actually videos at all. Enjoy the songs, but if YouTube forces you to watch some sort of advertisement before you can get to the music, please be patient.

Music Monday: George Winston’s “Thanksgiving”

You may not figure me for the sentimental sort, but when I realized I could post a song titled “Thanksgiving” during the week of Thanksgiving? I absolutely could not pass up the opportunity.

But never fear: this is a beautiful piano solo that I’ve loved ever since I was introduced to George Winston’s work, which was, well, forever ago. “Thanksgiving” is the very first song off of his album December, and I’ve seen Winston perform twice in concert in hopes to hear him play this very piece. No luck yet (he has a rather maddening method to what music he performs where), but I’ll always have the song available to listen to whenever I want.

So if you’re feeling stressed out this week, especially if you’re in the United States and are dealing with scheduling and meals and family and even worse, Black Friday, take a moment, listen to this song, and remember to breathe.

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Sound off below!

Reminder: Music Monday is about the music, not the videos. Videos are just the medium I’m using to share the music, and some videos aren’t actually videos at all. Enjoy the songs, but if YouTube forces you to watch some sort of advertisement before you can get to the music, please be patient.

Music Monday: Allison Iraheta’s “Holiday”

Women rock. We all know this, and after last week’s offering of “Bitch,” I wanted to keep something with a really great beat, and a woman with rocking vocals.

Enter Allison Iraheta. She was a contestant on Season 8 of American Idol who sadly finished fourth (behind one of the WORST contestants I’d ever heard on that show), but her powerhouse vocals and fuchsia pink hair won me over (especially since she was a TEENAGER when she competed), so when her solo album was released, I downloaded it immediately.

One of my favorites songs from this album is actually a cover from Dilana, and I was hoping that Iraheta would also have an actual video to go along with her cover, but no luck. Regardless, it’s a rocking, fun song, and it’s no wonder Iraheta’s producers had her cover it: both women have similar rocking growls to their voices.

But Iraheta’s version is the one I met and fell in love with, so without further adieu, I give you “Holiday.”

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Sound off below!

Reminder: Music Monday is about the music, not the videos. Videos are just the medium I’m using to share the music, and some videos aren’t actually videos at all. Enjoy the songs, but if YouTube forces you to watch some sort of advertisement before you can get to the music, please be patient.

Music Monday: Meredith Brooks’ “Bitch”

Now that Halloween’s over, it’s a good time to switch gears. Meredith Brooks’ “Bitch” has been on my mind a lot lately, partially because it’s on the Orphan Black Soundtrack, and partially because talking about my college years a few weeks ago brought back some memories.

Senior year, advanced creative writing workshop: I don’t know why we did this, but for some reason, the class decided we’d each pick a song that we felt represented who we are as individuals, and our creative writing professor collected the songs and burnt them on a CD for each of us. When this “assignment” came down the pike, I scrambled for a song that would fit, because nothing immediately came to mind. If I wasn’t listening to my hard rock stuff, Evanescence, or U2 (and a friend and fellow writer in the class was definitely going to pick U2: she’s the one who got me addicted in the first place!), I was listening to classical music, because — hello, music major! So I wracked my brain for something when when a friend of mine suggested, “So I have an idea for you, but when you hear the title, you might be offended, but don’t be offended, because it’s a great song and it fits you.”

She sent me Meredith Brooks’ “Bitch.”

I’d never heard it before (musically speaking, I’m perpetually behind the times), but when I heard it, I knew she was right. I loved the song, and it fit all the contradictions I was dealing with at the time (and the first line is especially perfect for 22-year-old me: I was an angry, frustrated, and confused person during my last year of college). So I submitted it, and when the grand unveiling came in class, we had to guess which song belonged to whom. Memory is a fickle beast, so I could be wrong, but aside from hearing U2 and knowing exactly who selected it, I want to say the class rocked out to my song pick, but I can’t remember if they figured out the song was mine or not.

Either way, when I heard it the first time, it fit. When I hear it now, it really fits the girl I used to be, on the cusp of college graduation and that weird transition of knowing she’s definitely not a little girl anymore, but she still wants to be, sometimes.

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Sound off below!

Reminder: Music Monday is about the music, not the videos. Videos are just the medium I’m using to share the music, and some videos aren’t actually videos at all. Enjoy the songs, but if YouTube forces you to watch some sort of advertisement before you can get to the music, please be patient.

Music Monday: The Devin Townsend Band’s “Vampira”

Happy Halloween!

So, after four weeks of country-infused music, and then classical piano solos and a symphonic score, I decided to jar you all out of your complacency and remind you that my musical tastes do run the gambit, and it’s time to hit you with something heavy.

I decided to take advantage of the holiday, and what better way to do so than sharing with you THE CORNIEST, SILLIEST VIDEO I’ve ever seen? I mean, seriously: how can you top a grown man prancing around a fake graveyard in a devil suit, while singing with a fake curly mustache plastered on his face? The answer? YOU CAN’T.

You may recognize the name Devin Townsend, and it’s because back in 2014, I shared a song from one of his other musical projects, aptly named The Devin Townsend Project. This, however, is The Devil Townsend BAND, and despite the similarities of the names, the musical styles couldn’t be more different (at least for the purpose of these two songs). In fact, after you listen to “Vampira,” I dare you to click the link above and marvel at just how damn different those musical styles are. DARE YOU.

What’s the same? When Townsend isn’t screaming metal at the very end of the chorus of “Vampira,” his powerhouse, operatic singing still rocks the house.

So if you don’t like heavy metal, why should you listen to this song? Because the video’s hysterical, and it’s Halloween, and if you can’t have fun on Halloween, what’s the point? And did I mention the video features a grown man prancing around a fake graveyard in a devil suit, while singing with a fake curly mustache plastered on his face?

Yeah. The video is THAT silly. And the song is fun. So enjoy. 🙂

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Sound off below!

Reminder: Music Monday is about the music, not the videos. Videos are just the medium I’m using to share the music, and some videos aren’t actually videos at all. Enjoy the songs, but if YouTube forces you to watch some sort of advertisement before you can get to the music, please be patient.

 

Music Monday: Ramin Djawadi’s “Light of the Seven”

This week is a cheat. It’s an intentional cheat, because I composed and scheduled all of my Music Monday posts long before I went on vacation, and a kind of progression developed out of that. Two songs with country ties, followed by a completely unrelated classical piano solo that utterly changed the way I listened to music. And to keep this sense of pairs going, I wanted to share a piece that I feel is very much influenced by Philip Glass and minimalism, especially when you compare the very start of both pieces.

Why is it a cheat, then? Because I’ve already gushed about this piece over at Speculative Chic. My Favorite Things may be a weekly column, but unless we have five Mondays in a month, I only contribute to one per month, and early on, I gushed about today’s piece: “Light of the Seven” by Ramin Djawadi.

So instead of saying the same thing with new words, I’m going to copy what I said over there. Forgive me, and please, even if you don’t watch the show, push play, sit back, and enjoy.

This may be a little late, but I’m in love with the track “Light of the Seven” from the Game of Thrones Season 6 score by Ramin Djawadi. All of his work on the show has been phenomenal, but this track really stands out because it’s SO unlike anything the show has utilized thus far. The season six finale (don’t worry, no spoilers) started out with this gorgeous piano solo that’s simply haunting, and immediately you feel like something big and important is going to happen. It draws out the tension in a maddening way. Like I said, no spoilers, but watching the events on the show almost overpowers the music scoring it, and it wasn’t until I listened to the track by itself that I really fell in love: how it starts out with the piano and adds the strings, interplays between the two, and then adds the haunting vocals from two boys, and then lets lose with a mad organ frenzy, and finally folds in the orchestral movement for the finale. And if you listen carefully, you’ll most certainly catch a variation on the opening credits theme that we all know and love. I’ve seen the season six finale criticized partially because this song doesn’t feel like it belongs on the show. It does. It so does. It’s beautiful and haunting and if you start listening to it, you’re not going to get it out of your head. It’s a symphony in and of itself.

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Sound off below!

Reminder: Music Monday is about the music, not the videos. Videos are just the medium I’m using to share the music, and some videos aren’t actually videos at all. Enjoy the songs, but if YouTube forces you to watch some sort of advertisement before you can get to the music, please be patient.

Music Monday: Philip Glass’ Glassworks: “Opening”

And now for something completely different.

Last week, I talked about the evolution of my musical tastes growing up. Truth is, I left a few things out: see, once upon a time ago, I was a musician. A singer, actually: I joined choir in grade school, discovered I had some talent, and followed that singing career to the top choirs in high school, which earned me a scholarship at Hollins University for Vocal Performance.

I was a music major.

As part of my music major, I had to take music theory and music literature courses. But one particular course combined the two: 20th Century Music. Taught by my music theory professor, Dr. Michael Sitton, I was exposed to the wide variety of musical styles and compositions that made up that century. One of my absolute favorites was minimalism, which led to the discovery of Philip Glass.

It’s been a while, but I remember Dr. Sitton describing minimalism utilizing a repeated refrain, with subtle changes during the course of the song or movement, so subtle that you don’t realize the song is changing until the very end. And to demonstrate this, he played for us “Opening” from Philip Glass’ Glassworks.

I fell in love. We’d been given list of musical compositions for our quizzes and exams, and we had to memorize pieces so thoroughly that when Dr. Sitton played just a snippet, we could identify the song immediately. Glassworks “Opening” was on that list, and trust me when I say that memorizing this piece was an absolute pleasure. It makes me wish I’d taken piano lessons long before I turned 19, because I would kill to play this.

I hope you love it as much as I still do.

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Sound off below!

Reminder: Music Monday is about the music, not the videos. Videos are just the medium I’m using to share the music, and some videos aren’t actually videos at all. Enjoy the songs, but if YouTube forces you to watch some sort of advertisement before you can get to the music, please be patient.