Monday, October 8, 2007

Random life updates for you voyeuristic types…

I almost never do a general life update kind of blog with snippets of info on my boring-assed life (to borrow from Kevin Smith), so here's a series of bits and pieces of what's up with me lately…

The music store is…well…same as always. I go in, do a handful of things the others there are either too busy, lazy, or incompetent to do, I leave. It's been kind of slow lately, but unfortunately, I still can't take the copious down time to do the projects I would like, such as blogging, composing, arranging, organizing my hard drive, recording learning tracks, etc. The salesman (who likes to think himself a general manager) is constantly hovering over my shoulder and coming by with inane tasks for me to accomplish. Tasks he could do in 2 seconds if he had any desire to learn ANYTHING about the computer he's been using for 4 years. I swear, I don't know how he ties his shoes by himself in the morning some days. He's the type that likes to make sure the boss is getting his money's worth out of me by inventing chores and keeping me busy whenever he sees me remotely idle.

He has little power or self-confidence in any arena of his life, so he likes to throw what little weight he has around to feel important somewhere. Imagine Bill Lumbergh and a whiney, stuttering 2-year-old, combined. That's him. He's a spineless, indecisive wimp, but nonetheless, he's my superior. Thus, I have to constantly look busy and can't start on any personal project I can't quit immediately or close down before he sees it on my screen, and God forbid bring my own laptop to the office.

I know, I shouldn't complain about doing actual WORK at work, but it's the way he goes about it. I don't mind doing what needs to be done. Servicing horns, making ads, editing the website - hell, even cleaning up and sweeping – are tasks I don't mind doing. It's the redundant and pointless tasks he invents for the sheer sake of keeping me busy that drive me nuts. He spends more time double checking my work and that of others, inventing things for us to do, and walking to my desk and explaining what he wants done than it would take him to do himself if he bothered to use half a brain cell. If he spent HALF as much time actually dealing with matters that are his responsibility and making and implementing actual decisions as he does playing Big Brother, the place would be twice as productive – and a lot more pleasant to work in.

Blockbuster is getting a bit frustrating, but is still a great job. We've been going through a big push for sales of the Rewards membership. Sales are where I shine. I have one of the highest individual sales rates on any given promotion of any employee in the region.

Unfortunately, for this promotion, I have to be behind the register to do it. This, along with a cut in hours passed down from on high, means that I'm off the sales floor and not doing my "Entertainment Specialist" gig. I'm back to being a register jockey.

It wasn't so bad, at first. Being the key salesman, it means I don't have to do the mundane chores like restocking, shelving movies, processing transfers and such. They need me on the drawer to keep up the quota. After a while, though, repeating the same lines over…and over…AND OVER…get maddeningly boring.

I'm fast and efficient on the register and still get to converse with customers and enjoy my coworkers, but I'd much rather be on the floor helping customers out on a more personal level. I enjoy having the time to suggest titles, and make people smile, feel appreciated, and comfortable, which is difficult to do in a few seconds between ringing up people on the register. Not to mention, I LOVE having that P.A. system mic, doing my Blockbuster DJ thing and playing my ukulele from time to time. I don't have a single shift go by without a handful of customers asking me where my uke is.

Eh, it's only temporary. The Holiday season will be here before I know it and my position as "Entertainment Specialist" will be back again, hocking gift cards, suggesting promotions, asking trivia and cracking jokes.

Contest is coming up fast and we're rehearsing as often as we can. We had Dave Ellis come back and coach us last week. We had intended on having him work with us on "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans" for the entire time, figuring that as we hadn't worked on our timing and interp much on "I'll Be Seeing You", it would likely waste his time while we worked on that.

After about an hour on "Do You Know…", Lou starts whining about wanting to sing "I'll Be seeing You" for Dave. Lou had brought the song to the table in the first place and he has a special attachment to it. We roll our eyes and relent, figuring we'd sing through it and get a tip or two, then go back to the other song.

We spent the next 2 hours on it.

The ironic part is, it was WORTH IT! Dave Ellis had us singing that song so much better, it became our preferred ballad for the contest, instead of our second choice, as we had expected. So, the tactic was annoying, but the result was positive. We'll be previewing our contest package for our chorus next Monday and get some feedback before we compete.

I have been in contact with the arranger/composer/bass of The Blanks (the quartet from the TV show Scrubs) for a while, attempting to get a few of his arrangements – most notably the theme to "Underdog" – for my quartet. A pleasant guy, but either incredibly busy or a bit of a procrastinator, it took the better part of a year to get something from him. He had planned on publishing his arrangements, but hadn't gotten to it yet. He finally put "Underdog" on MIDI and graciously sent it to me along with his blessing to use it. Thankfully, Finale can extract the parts.

I had attempted to transcribe it myself from their CD recording of it, and had a decent reduction, but I apparently didn't give him enough credit for creativity. Now that I had all the right notes, all I had to do was some re-voicing of the arrangement to get Lou out of the stratosphere. That's just a matter of switching the melody line to tenor a time or two. I input the lyrics, PDF it, and send it to the guys. Our hope is to have it decent by convention to do at hospitality rooms after contest. Otherwise, we'll be doing it on our annual chapter show this February, which has a cartoon/kiddie show theme. Can't wait to have this one in our repertoire!

Liam is doing MUCH better at school this year. He has a new teacher, who has a very firm set of rules and a great disciplinary system based on a reward of free time (AKA "Fun Friday") that they lose time from if they step out of line during the week. It's a great balance of reward and punishment – a kind of simultaneous positive and negative reinforcement – that he's responding VERY well to. 2nd grade is suiting him quite well. He's been better at home, as well, with fewer meltdowns and whininess. That, along with his whirlwind progress through the Wolf Scout Handbook, has given him a great sense of self-confidence and accomplishment. I'm immensely proud of him.

Courtney is doing well in pre-school. She goes 4 days a week for about 2 ½ hours per day. She's enjoying socializing with other kids her age, which she doesn't get a lot of opportunity to do, and doing art projects in class. We need to plan some play dates for her, when our schedule permits.

I tend not to blog about Sonya much, as I'm rarely sure what info about her goings on she doesn't want passed along.She can be very picky and private about her personal life, so I'll leave that to her to blog about, if she chooses. Suffice it to say, she's always busy helping out friends and family as much as she can, as well as trying to keep up with our two bundles of energy. It's not easy in such a small house, trying to keep track of all of her projects, keep up with the kids, and find time to just sit and think her own thoughts. I admire her fortitude.

It's a tough balancing act for me, fulfilling my work and obligations to others, trying to be home enough to let her do her thing and not worry so much about the kids or chores, and not crowding her and being in her way. We need a bigger place.

In the meantime, I try and afford her all the time I can spare to let her do her things. I hope to be able to do more come November. Quartet gigs will slow down, rehearsals a bit less of a priority, fewer distractions, and more time at home. Some better time-managing habits will help that a lot.

Crazy busy, professionally frustrated, and financially stressed.

Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.

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