Starbucks to stop selling music

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Not that I was buying any of their tunes anyway, but I generally loved the music they sold at the Starbucks counter. Often the baristas would play them over the sound system, and as long as they weren’t assaulting my ears with their glass-shattering volume, I found them to be awesome introductions to musicians I otherwise would never have heard of. I never bought the CD’s, but only because they were a wee bit above my budget.

So I’m disappointed that musicians have lost one more outlet in which to sell their work. I’ve never been totally sold on the idea of Starbucks as the harbinger of evil, although I can sympathize somewhat with their critics. I generally like the ambiance, the consistently good coffee (except here in GJ, where the low unemployment rate means that the coffee chain can’t be too picky about their barista hiring, and it’s showing in the quality of their java), and the comfy chairs. And yeah, the good music. Sure, some of it was just compilations of old masters, but others were displays of up-and-coming artists who desperately need all the publicity they can get.

Oh well. Maybe they’ll have a big clearance sale before they disappear from the counters completely. If so, head on over to your nearest Starbucks and find yourself a new music love.

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Not too long before B. and I started dating seriously, I was dating another guy who was both a millionaire and a really nice man. (Not always synonymous with each other.) One of our last conversations involved a very sleepy night, jet lag and the desire to reach out to someone when the entire world (or at least, my little corner of it) was asleep.

I’d only been back home after a four-month backpacking trip through 4 continents for about a week or so, and I could not get to sleep. I knew that he often stayed up late, so I chanced it and called him up at his hotel. (His home base was North Carolina but stayed for long periods in Dallas, where he owned a very successful business.) Sometime during that midnight conversation, we ended up chatting at length about the difference between the words accurate and precise. Seriously. Must’ve spent at least 15-20 minutes on it. Parsed the nuances of meaning of each word, weighing them against the other word, using them in different sentences, arguing their appropriateness in a particular sentence, that sort of thing.

Yeah, I’m such a Word Nerd.

And he loved it. I guess that’s why we got along so well.

As for B., well, one of the things I love love love about him is his happy willingness to spend entire afternoons at Barnes & Noble or Borders, sitting in the cafe and leafing through piles of magazines (that we don’t buy) while sipping our coffees and munching on sweet treats (which we do). Any guy who would share that time with me is my hero.

Saturday, sweet Saturday

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Why I schedule writing time on Saturday, I’ve no idea. Reading the paper at the coffee house after a leisurely 11:30 breakfast is about the best I can do.

However, I did get inspired to organize my office today! Next week, B. will get his own desk, so mine will return to my corner of the study, and I won’t have to clutter up the dining table with my laptop and papers anymore. Wheee!! Mmmm… my cozy little writing corner, surrounded by neat stacks of magazines and books on the floor, Sting on the radio, and a warm halo of light around it all. I will have absolutely no excuse not to write anymore.

Got more feedback from a fellow playwright on my play (currently posted on a writing forum). B. read it this afternoon while we were at the coffee house as well. Definitely needs more work (not just tweaking…I’m talkin’ real work), but I think I have a better grasp of it. The dialogue does sound stilted, and there’s so little action. B. says that there’s so much more to the story, which I’m fully aware of, but I really want to stick to the One Act/Two Scene format for now. It can most definitely be expanded to become a full-length play, with several characters, but the way it is now is challenging enough.

I need to inject more tension in this first scene. The story itself has built-in tension, but I’m not sure the dialogue conveys that. I guess that’s my work for next week.

As for the novel, I now have a contact in Singapore — an academic, natch — who’s done considerable research on the Japanese community there. He was sooo kind — he sent me PDF’s of the two relevant chapters in his last book that dealt specifically with the issue I’m grappling with! Did I mention how much I love academics???

Bedside reading this week is Marilyn French’s In the Name of Friendship. Good feminist read, albeit sometimes confusing. Characters with similar names, multi-generational female friendships, that sort of thing. (Funny. I just realized that the characters with very similar names — e.g., Steven and son Stevie — are all men. Is French trying to make the point that men are so simple and similar to each other that to give them unique names would be pointless?) Anyway, at one point, one of the characters — an artist — is pondering the question of whether or not a woman can be an artist and a wife/mother. I haven’t finished the book, but my suspicion is that the answer may actually be no, despite some rare examples to the contrary. (Ayun Halliday is the first to come to mind.)

MRA

Imperfect Strangers

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Why do people insist on talking so loudly in public? Do they really not know how far their voices carry?

Four women playing cards on the table next to me here in local coffee house. Discussion turns to health matters:

WOMAN #1: And then my doctor says, if your bowels don’t make a sound in the next hour, you’re gonna be in trouble.

WOMAN #2: Wow.

WOMAN #1: (leaning forward earnestly) Well, you know what I did, right? I walked around in my bathrobe for forty-five minutes!

Laughter ensues. I vow never to sit next to them again.

Trust me. I wasn’t even eavesdropping. I think they heard her in the hospital across the street. Iiiiiiicckkkkk.

I wrote my required five pages today, but damn. Today was like yesterday, all pain and no glory. No flying fingers, no clever turns of phrase, just two hours of slogging through excruciating prose. Oh well, at least I got my page count.

Should it bother me that I’m conducting research simultaneously with the writing? I’m having to stop and start constantly, looking things up on the Internet (dates, names, biographies, etc.), confirming facts and events. Not fun. But I just discovered something today that may change my entire novel, which is terrifying.

I understand that Arthur Golden took ten years and many, many drafts to write Memoirs of a Geisha, and that he had actually started out writing it in 3rd person. He then ended up rewriting the entire bloody novel in 1st person.

And T.E. Lawrence allegedly lost the entire manuscript to Seven Pillars of Wisdom on a train to (or from) Reading, so he had to start from scratch.

So I wouldn’t be in such awful company if I had to start over. But……..oy.

Well, anyway, on the bright side, the play is going reeeeally well. I banged out 10 pages yesterday and hope to pull out another 5-6 (just for the first scene) either this afternoon or tomorrow (likely tomorrow). It’s not too bad for a beginner’s effort, I don’t think (I’m not counting the last 2-3 scripts — both overambitious — that I began last year), but we’ll see. I’m going to try to be more optimistic about the whole endeavor and not sabotage my efforts — especially not this early in the game — by overanalyzing everything. I may get B. to read it tonight or tomorrow and see if it sounds like something he wants to know more of.

Good news, though. It’s Thursday, January 4, and you know what that means: a new episode of The Office!

MRA

Cafe Society

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I love coffee houses. Not coffee shops (e.g., Denny’s, IHOP, the local greasy spoon), but the real children of French cafes, the ones that let you linger over one cold cup of coffee and have stacks of newspapers and magazines at the ready. And if they have free Wi-Fi, well, all the better.

Unfortunately, I’m finding that writing in a coffee house — unless it’s a letter or postcard or Christmas card — is almost impossible to achieve. Loud ’80s music piped in, even louder habitues, cell phones chirping, espresso machines burping. And here I thought that writing in a coffee house would make me so productive… like Simone de Beauvoir in that photograph of her in Cafe Deux Margots (I think), fiendishly smoking and writing. Nope. I just get frustrated and start listening in on people’s conversations. Possibly useful for future books or stories, but not very much so when you’re writing something set in World War II.

Overheard in my favorite coffee house the other day:

TALL GIRL: I was talking to my sister the other day, and, like, she’s really into this comedian from, like, a long time ago, years ago. Name’s Gilda Radner.

TALL BOY: Yeah? What’s she like?

TALL GIRL: Oh, god, she’s so funny. She’s like, really tiny, really petite, like. 5’5″ or something. [COMMENTARY: 5’5″ is so not petite! 5’5″ is gigantic!] She died, like, a long time ago from some kind of cancer. Anyway, she’s got this funny character she plays, can’t remember the name.

TALL BOY: Cool.

Sigh. Not only am I feeling old, but I’m apparently positively elfin.

Awesome book I’m reading this week: Lewis Buzbee’s The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop. At last, a kindred spirit.

MRA

Update: They’re playing The Police’s Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic! Now I’ll never get this book done.