Go With The Flow – Happy New Year 2014
Jan 1 2014

¡Feliz Año Nuevo 2014! Another year has passed and boy/girl what an entrepreneurial year it has been!  I’ve been trying to figure out how to fix the spam (stupidity) hack that someone has done to my email feed, but after checking feedburner, feedblitz, WordPress, and staring into space, a solution/fix hasn’t surfaced.  Thank you to all of you who replied to my email feed noticing the insertion of random, annoying spam ads.  The emailed version of this post may have spam inserted, so please don’t click on the spam links…unless of course you are “looking for a good time via potency drugs.”  Fortunately, the post itself as it shows up on my blog and the RSS feed do not have spam links, just the email feed and I have no idea why!

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While I am writing this post, I’m listening to final mixes of two of my songs: Save Me From Myself and Soul Escape.  Pretty soon you can sing them in your shower without worries of copyright violations!  :-)  It’s been close to a 3 year process to get to this point, but I can check “having a professional song produced” off my list soon…

Just like Fred Wilson, I am Unresolved this year, and I couldn’t feel happier about it.  When you think about it, it’s almost kind of stupid to make resolutions when so much of life is out of your freaking control.  Sure, I can eat better, exercise, laugh more, cry more, make sure I have the best career ever, piss off more people, etc. but it seems to me it’s best to just “Go With The Flow,” be as honest as you can be, and “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.”  Why humans don’t get this simplicity (see Scott Adams’ article below) after thousands of years is perplexing.  We must be a slow species that likes to complicate things.

But in other good reads:

The Non-Movie Version of Entrepreneurship – Francine Hardaway

How to Burst the “Filter Bubble” that Protects Us from Opposing Views – MIT Technology Review

Changing What You Do Versus Changing How You Think – IttyBiz

Simplifiers and Optimizers – BoingBoing by Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert

Rethinking the Job Search – Scott Uhrig of White Rock Partners (also relevant to Sales and Fundraising)

I Don’t Need To Search Anymore – gaping void

The care and feeding (and shunning) of vampires – Seth Godin

To copy what I posted on facebook: “Happy New Year! May 2014 be full of love, laughter, joy, and mind blowing (lovely) adventures with good health and peace mixed in for good luck!

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, holiday, Just For Fun, music | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

How To Copyright A Song
May 5 2012

Well, we finally did it.  Brett Jason Wintermeyer, my songwriting partner and fellow Metaphor Maniac (link to facebook page that we haven’t actively publicized yet, but hope to soon), finally filed a copyright on 4 of our songs last week.  We were trying for a 5th, but we kept getting stuck so we gave up in the hopes we’d be inspired later.  4 is a lucky number, right?

It’s important to keep in mind that all artists own the rights to their works and have immediate copyright protection even if they don’t submit for a copyright registration.  Having a copyright registration just helps the artist in case some legal issues or unfair usage claims arise.  We might submit them to some songwriting sites so I thought it best to do the legal thing.

The creation of the 4 songs took much longer than we thought given we met on average one night every 2 to 3 weeks.  Over 1.5 years later, we finally felt they were in good enough condition to “finalize” and file.  I’m sure we’ll continue to tweak them as we practice and perform them live.

The process of filing wasn’t that difficult.  You go to the US Copyright Office page and create a log in with tedious password requirements.  I heard that within the last year they implemented the ability to do it all electronically so you can now upload your files.  It’s $35 per song or compilation.  If you wanted to register 9 songs as part of a CD compilation, you could do the entire compilation for just $35!  We chose to file separately after I conferred with a music attorney in town, Christian L. Castle Attorneys.  We don’t know if we’ll ever make a CD or if we will just play/sing them socially.   Rob Wells, their Director of Artist Relations, walked me through the process quickly, and I was able to do most of it on my own.  It’s a little tricky the first time to know what items to check, what category to select, and what info you need.  It takes 90 days for the copyright office to review submissions.

There are two different things you can copyright when it comes to songs.  One is the music & lyrics and the other is the sound recording.  It’s important to understand the distinction to figure out when or if to file for one or both types of protection.  It’s best to talk with an attorney as to what’s best for you.  The chances of our songs making it big are pretty slim for many (7 billion people on the planet and millions of songwriters doing this full-time) reasons, but it’s kind of neat to potentially have an official, documented claim to a piece of work.

The songs range from pop, jazz, to rock and their titles are below.

  • Save Me From Myself – my favorite  (Jason created this amazing “sweet” guitar picking intro to the song that makes me smile & tear up at the same time)
  • Look At Me – Jason’s favorite based on chords/melody he created many years ago that happened to fit my lyrics.  We also affectionately refer to this one as our ‘elevator musack song.’
  • Fatal Attraction (or Soul Mate) – a jazz piano song (think: grand piano/lounge singer) about the foolishness of love and its often mistaken identity
  • Soul Escape – a rock song based on wanting to escape bad, noisy (and sometimes silent) connections with people

Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to perform these live some day.  The lyrics were inspired by many things but mostly my kids and a few people & experiences that profoundly impacted me at critical junctures in my life.

Author: | Filed under: music, singing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Three Chords And The Truth
Jan 8 2012

The Austin Songwriters Symposium that I wrote about in my previous post was amazing!  It wrapped up this morning after a Sunday morning gospel jam session with the attendees and a lunchtime jam session with the pros.  I don’t attend church often, but I love gospel music and hymns…they really pull at the heart strings of us sinners non perfect people.  I learned a lot about a whole different industry.  It’s even harder to make it in that industry than being a high tech entrepreneur.  Songwriters are entrepreneurs.  The main difference is that most songwriters make it on their own merit or maybe co-write with one or two other people.  To build a successful high tech company requires hundreds of people moving in the same direction and buying into the same vision.  The payoff can be bigger (95% of songwriters don’t make much money) in building a company but the complexity is higher.  Most songwriters seemed to originally have wanted to make it big themselves as a singer singing their own songs but find themselves barely getting by playing their own songs in clubs or the more savvy ones end up writing for the great, well-known singers.

People like Joe Ely, Sonny Throckmorton, Gary Burr, Georgia Middleman (she sang a song called Dare To Dance Alone (YouTube) this morning that she co-wrote with Gary Burr that really touched me), Will Sexton, and Matthew Santos were in attendance and were either performing and/or hosting workshops.  It was an eye opener.  All of them wrote their own songs or wrote songs for many of the household name country singers of our time like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Faith Hill, Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, Waylon Jennings, etc.  I certainly don’t have any delusions visions that my songs will be published and adopted by great singers but it was nice to know I was not alone in wanting to create new songs.  There were people of all ages and different stages of discovering songwriting.  I met with a publisher and he had some great advice on a couple of the songs I had co-written…most of it I knew already, but there was a gem or two.

I didn’t realize before I attended how heavy the emphasis would be on country music, but I picked up a saying or two.  One of them was the country music was nothing more than “three chords and the truth.”  And that certainly seemed accurate to me by the end of the symposium…and the painful truth of us being human certainly comes out a lot in the lyrics of country music.

Attending the conference was a nice break from my daily routine and it was great to hear world class music played by people who obviously loved what they did.  I was so impressed how they could get up on stage together, never played a song together, and then play off each other to produce professional sounding concerts.  They way they were able to improvise and produce a joyful noise made me seriously think about finally learning to play the guitar!

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, singing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Austin Songwriting Symposium – 2011
Jan 6 2012

I haven’t blogged too much about music or songwriting recently, but I signed up to attend the Austin Songwriters Group 8th Annual Songwriting Symposium this weekend and tonight was the first night…well it’s now past midnight as I’m writing this post.  My voice teacher, Gene Raymond at Octave Higher, forwarded me a notice about it only a week ago and I figured ‘what the heck, I should go.’ So far so good.  They had songwriters from Texas and Nashville singing their original music tonight.  It was like having a semi-private concert given by very talented song writers in a smoke-free room where everyone was really interested in listening to the singers.  In other words, people were focused on them and not talking to each other, trying to pick up dates, or drinking to excess.  They were all so good and all of them said that no one goes into songwriting for the money.  A guy named  Jim Photoglo made a funny joke about marriage, sex, money, and songwriting but it’s probably not appropriate to write here.  I’m looking forward to a guy named Sonny Throckmorton and a gal named Kimmie Rhodes talk about co-writing songs tomorrow (or shall I say later this morning).

Congressman Lloyd Doggett showed up since he’s a big supporter of the Austin music scene and gave a little speech.  There were many references to some great country singers like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, etc. because most of the music the singer/songwriters played this evening was country music.  Whenever I hear country music, I remember a guy I worked with at Mr. Gatti’s pizza in high school who told me when I told him that I hated country music that it was because my heart hadn’t been really broken yet…and he was right.  I get teary eyed when I hear good country music now.

I signed up to pitch my songs to one of three publishers who will be there on Sunday morning.  We get 15 minutes with a publisher.  I hope I’m brave enough to hum a few bars when it’s my turn because our songs are still in varying degrees of completion.  I wish my songwriting partner could be there, but he’s too busy playing live gigs!  We are hoping our schedules will allow us to finally record some of our stuff this year.  I mean…come on…we have a facebook page for our two person band, so we have to accomplish something, right?  Please go like our page:  METAPHOR MANIA.  I think we need 25 people to like it to remove the numbers from the URL so…do the right thing and wish me luck in pitching…I could use some positive affirmation right about now.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, singing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Mar 20 2011

This post went out accidentally via email yesterday before I had finished editing it.  I wanted to let it sit overnight and re-read it before publishing it.  Although I had reverted back to Draft in WordPress, Feedburner did not get the message and sent it out.  Fortunately, the edits are not major but were more for clarity. However, if you read it the first time, I suggest you read it again because those few changes will likely change your understanding of what I was trying to convey. I also took out some not so relevant sentences and added a couple links to the book on Amazon should you be interested in purchasing it.

My best friend of 23 years is an English professor.  We met during my first day in the dorm before starting my freshman year in college.  I was a business major who didn’t know much about English other than writing seemed to come easily for me even at a young age.  I can trace my interest in creative writing back to a 5th grade teacher I had the first year I moved to Lubbock, Texas.  I would make A’s and A+’s on my English papers in high school for creativity but practically fail grammar until my freshman year in college when grammar all of a sudden made sense to me.  Or maybe I should say I quit trying to make sense of grammar and accepted it for what it was. My best friend is a grammar guru and maybe the combination of taking freshman English and typing her papers for her, because I typed faster than she did, somehow helped me get the practice I needed to improve my grammar and punctuation.

Our professional worlds rarely collide, but when I’m facing a situation personally or professionally, she often has a reference to literature (sadly, my knowledge of great literature is not deep or wide given my business degrees) to help me try to make sense of what is happening.  Fiction is fiction but as a writer I have come to appreciate that really good fiction is based often times quite heavily on the author’s direct experience or observation of others.  A book that my friend suggested I read a while back when I was going through my personal family transition is called The Awakening by Kate Chopin (wikipedia) [The Awakening (Norton Critical Editions) - Amazon link], but she didn’t think it wise for me to read it while in the middle of my turmoil since the main character kills herself and she was concerned about me.  Not that I ever had suicidal tendencies, but it was probably wise I wait to read it because I’ve come to realize that the state of being one is in when they read certain words has a huge impact on how they receive and interpret those words.  So I read it this weekend.

The book was banished for decades after Kate Chopin wrote it in 1899 for it’s scandalous depiction of Edna, a married woman with two young boys, and her behavior.  I find it scandalous even today given her dramatic moves, an affair with not one but two men (one physical, one emotional), feeling no remorse, shame or guilt, and then killing herself when she can’t be with the man she loves thereby leaving behind two young children.  But it was back in the late 1800′s, when most women had no means to support themselves and they had to remain in situations they did not want to be in. The man also loves her but knows he can’t be with her because of the rules of their society and withdraws himself from her life. Since Edna is not able to pursue other opportunities or escape her current life, she resorts to killing herself (you’ll have to read the book to see how she does it) rather than live in a despondent world “without the vibrant colors of love.”

The main character, Edna, was 28 going on 29 when she began the awakening process.  I was 38 going on 39 when I started to realize I was waking up to a different perception of myself and the world around me.  I remember words I read in an email, I remember my response, I remember the place, the person, the drink, the conversation, the expression, a twinge that when placed together triggered a shift in my being that resulted in my songwriting, journaling, poem writing, emotion laden emails to co-workers, family and friends (i.e., gushes from my writer’s soul that had been behind an enormous dam for a long time).  I sought understanding through courses like Landmark (Transformation in Process and Who I Was Being Was Not Exactly Who I Am) and Search Within that both guided the participant to live an authentic life and not what Henry David Thoreau writes in Walden – “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”  That was a quote my best friend reminded me of this past weekend.  I couldn’t go to the grave with the song still in me, and I hope I don’t die (mostly for my children’s sake) before I release the songs based on my lyrics that I’ve been working on with my songwriting partner.  I also hope I don’t die before I find what some people call their soul mate so I can sing him my song, and he’ll understand it just as I will understand his song.

Here are some interesting quotes from the book written by an author who was 32 years old, widowed with 6 kids:

In short, Mrs. Pontellier [Edna] was beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being, and to recognize her relation as an individual to the world within and about her.  This may seem like a ponderous weight of wisdom to descend upon the soul of a young woman of twenty-eight –perhaps more wisdom than the Holy Ghost is usually pleased to vouchsafe to any woman.” p. 17

She [Edna] is not one of us; she is not like us.  She might make the unfortunate blunder of taking you seriously.” [This was said by Edna's friend to the man, known to Edna's husband, who eventually became the object of her love.  Edna was not Creole but apparently it was common for young, unmarried men to cater to the needs of married women and flirt with them in that society.]

Edna began to feel like one who awakens gradually out of a dream, a delicious, grotesque, impossible dream, to feel again the realities pressing into her soul.” p. 41

He [the doctor] observed his hostess attentively from under his shaggy brows, and noted a subtle change which had transformed her from the listless woman he had known into a being who, for the moment, seemed palpitant with the forces of life.  Her speech was warm and energetic.  There was no repression in her glance or gesture.  She reminded him of some beautiful, sleek animal waking up in the sun.” p. 92

Yes,” she [Edna] said.  “The years that are gone seem like dreams — if one might go on sleeping and dreaming — but to wake up and find–oh! well! perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life.” p. 147

Author: | Filed under: book review, books, marriage, music, parenting, poetry, singing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

A Song To Sing
Mar 3 2011

I hired someone recently to update (way overdue) my blog design.  His name is Brian Hurdle (photographer extraordinaire), and I think it’s going to look very nice, clean, and professional…oh and cool.  He’s going to add a musical element to it since my current entrepreneurial endeavor is songwriting related.  He’s going to remove the clip art girl on the phone, change the font, put a nice graphic, move it to a 2 column theme, etc.  I can’t wait for it to be ready as I’m hoping it will inspire a new wave and direction of blog writing for me.

Speaking of songwriting, I forwarded a quote from Jeffrey Fry’s quotables to my songwriting partner, Brett Jason Wintermeyer that said:

“A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” –Chinese Proverb

To me it meant that a bird sings because she is born to…because the bird cannot be herself without singing her song.  Or maybe it’s boy birds that sing…well, it doesn’t matter.  He replied by saying “Reminds me of someone I know who has a song to sing  :-) “  I was not expecting that response as I had not connected that saying to one of the songs we are working on based on my lyrics.  The title of the song is called “I Have A Song To Sing.”  I don’t know why I didn’t connect the two, but the second line in the song after “I have a song to sing” is “But you won’t let me sing it.”  That lyric is (c) copyright 2010-2011 Aruni S. Gunasegaram by the way!

I guess that’s why it’s important to have a songwriting partner or talented people in your life…to help you connect the dots…

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, music, singing | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments »