Thursday, March 02, 2006

Eyes, Ears, Throat

Weekend Assignment #101: Name a talent that you don't have that you wish you did. This can also include talents you have a little bit of, but wish you had more.

Extra credit: Do you have any completely useless talents?

Hmm. Well, in the Mâvarin books, the word "talent" usually refers to a magical one, with different magicians having different sets of abilities. (Yes, I know that's a little like Xanth. Hush!) If I were a mage, in a world where such things were possible, I'd like necromancy as a talent. I don't mean icky reanimation of bodies, or messing around with crystal balls. But I'd love to be able to do what a couple of my characters do in Mages: bring someone's spirit back from the Hereafter for a couple minutes of conversation, and then let them go back where they belong. I'm not sure it would be an ethical thing to do, but it would be interesting

Here in the real world, most of the things I don't do very well are clustered around three basic shortcomings:

  • an inability to really notice what's going on around me, and

  • an inability to understand spatial relationships well, and thus

  • an inability to manipulate my physical environment well.
My mom's piano and I were never close.Simply put: I'm a klutz. In D&D terms, I have a dexterity of 6, out of a possible score of 18. I trip into things and over things all the time, I put something down or drop something without knowing I did it, and I bump into what's right in front of me or next to me. If you need me to follow instructions - "Put your right hand on this bar, bend over and lean in," - the mammography tech said today - you'll probably have to tell me at least twice, and guide me physically before I get it right. Because of this, I could never play an instrument very well, despite years of piano and guitar lessons, and half a year with the clarinet. Nor did I draw very well, regardless what the Famous Artists saleswoman said. And of course I was never good at sports, even before I ruined my ankles.

And you know my typing skills are pretty abyssmal, although I've been hanging aroud QWERTY keyboards since I was six years old.

Even singing is something I don't quite do well enough. I don't mean by professional standards, but even as an amateur. I was crushed (again) when a member of the St. Michael's choir told me a couple of weeks ago that I'm a little flat - or was it a little sharp? I forget. I can hear when someone sings badly off key, but I can't hear the more subtle transgressions I commit myself. In junior high and high school, I made All-County twice and Area All State once, and sang in the OK Chorale. But I never made the really select choirs, the Choraliers and the Swing Sixteen, and I never got a solo.

Well, it hardly matters now, after all these years. I'd like to stop tripping and hurting myself, but even that doesn't usually bother me as much as it probably should.

My mom's piano and I were never close.One musical thing I would like to do better, even now, is write original melodies. I've written a few in my time, but not often, and they mostly aren't very good. I have a fair idea what's wrong with them, but I lack the talent to fix them. How do Paul McCartney and Billy Joel and all those other folks come up with great new combinations and patterns for the same old notes?

One of my characters is, among other things, a semi-professional musician. He sings for his supper, tells stories, and does a little stage magic that secretly contains real magic. I've written several songs for him to sing in the books, but I haven't enough melodies to go around. One night, doing a reading from Heirs for my then five-year-old godson and his parents, I suddenly came up with a semi-decent melody for the comic ballad The Bear and the Beaver. I was thrilled, until I realized that I'd stolen the melody from My Name is Fabi Stok. And I'm not sure I can still remember the melody I came up with, flawed as it was, for Sleepy Moon.

But heck. We can't all be Paul McCartney, can we? My mom wrote a number of melodies in her day, but I eventually realized as I grew older that even she didn't come up with enough completely new songs to carry each of her musicals. For the rest of the numbers, she wrote parody lyrics to modified pop songs such as The Glow Worm, or serious lyrics (such as One For the Wanting) to classical melodies.

In case you're wondering, the answer is no. Fayubi won't be singing melodies by the Clash or Gwen Stefani any time soon.

Extra Credit: useless talents? What, you mean like ear-wiggling? No, not a one.


I'm giving two things up for Lent this year:

  1. the vending machines at work, except for soda and the one machine with tuna and crackers and stuff like that, and
  2. blogging after midnight - including blog-jogging. Except for Friday nights, of course.
Those of you who are using to seeing me on your buddy list at 2 AM know this will be a major change, if I manage to pull it off. Maybe I'll get more sleep around here. That's the plan, anyway. I'm counting on you folks to help keep me in line. This means I probably won't tinker with every entry for an hour after posting it (I'll have to proofread them more carefully to begin with), and each one may be a bit less elaborate. Plus, you know, I only have archived pictures to use for now. So there will be less photo editing, for the next few days at least, and you'll be seeing "reruns" for illustrations.

So for now, that's my solution to the seemingly insoluable problem of my not having enough time for sleep and housework and such. We'll see how it goes.



Paul said...

As someone pointed out on another blog I'm fond of: Lent is not the same as New Years. You're not supposed to give up things that are bad for you, or that you shouldn't be doing in the first place. Although, I guess both of those things could qualify as guilty pleasures.

Alexis said...

I don't agree with Paul at all. Lent is about sacrafice and if it's something that's hard for you to do, it counts. I always used to give up wine and cigarettes and believe was a challenge every single day until then end. I'd follow through by remembering WHY I was doing it and it would work. I think you need a "Bravo Karen" for doing something for many people are so apathetic about it! So....BRAVO Karen!!!