The 25 Most Beautiful Scores to Write To

What an amazing collection! I am definitely going to use them in the future. Thanks to The Collective for compiling!

The Collective Blog

I don’t talk about music often. I listen to it constantly, and my tastes are eclectic, but there is something very personal about the melodies that speak to me. Music is vital to my creative process, and as a writer, I find it invaluable. Film and television scores are a particular weakness of mine, and sometimes I have to watch a movie more than once simply because the first time all I did was lose myself in the composer’s creation. That being said, I’ve been writing a lot of fanfiction recently, and have opened up to my fellow writers about the kind of music that helps me immerse myself in the story.

Here are my top twenty-five scores to write to, in a very vague sort of order. Please note that I have combined certain series to save room on the list (it’s not cheating if the movies in a trilogy…

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Good Night, Dear Souls – September 22, 2014


Today I was brave.  Today I was very brave. It’s not the time yet to talk about the details, but I have to say–brave is scary.

You know the old truism: “Bravery is not the lack of fear.  Bravery is feeling the fear and moving forward anyway.”  For the last few weeks, I’ve been fighting enormous fear.  I’ve been fighting dread and self-doubt.

I’ve been hovering near the edge of the cliff, skittering back and forth like a scared animal.

Today, I jumped off the cliff.

I’ve jumped off that cliff before, and I flew.  But over the past few years, I’ve become very comfortable.  I’ve become very sedentary.

I’ve forgotten what I’m made of, and I’ve allowed other people to tell me who and what I am.

That ends today.

Still petrified.  But at least I’m not stuck on the ledge anymore.

Keep watching this space for more details.

Sweet dreams, fellow travelers.


Background Music: Sara Bareilles – Brave

A Definite Lack of Cool

Still reading Anna Deveare Smith’s Letters to a Young Artist.  I intersperse it between other reading, allowing my subconscious mind to digest and process the information in its own time.

Today, I read an amazing quote from her March 2003 letter entitled “Urgency:”

Don’t even bother coming out onstage–or doing anything in the realm of artistic communication–if you don’t have a sense of urgency.  Nothing is cool here.

Smith in the next chapter discusses “The Death of Cool:”

So the death of cool…would do what?  It would probably bring more tones, more color, more emotion, more love, more raw spirit, more argument, more energy.  More authenticity?  More compassion?  More laughter?  More tears?  More open hearts?

Try it.  Be uncool.  As uncool as you can possibly be….Be hot.

These words were a revelation to me.  In my youth, I was as far from cool as I could be.  I didn’t eat the right foods, follow the right musicians, wear the right clothes, or lust after the right celebrities (or gender, for that matter).  I laughed too loudly, argued too fervently, and imagined too wildly for most of my peers.

I was a geek, a nerd, an oddball, a wierdo, and a spaz.

Somewhere along the line, I learned to conform.  I learned to fit in…to a certain degree.  Enough to keep a job.  Enough to avoid controversy.  Enough to get by.

But that conformity came at a price.  With conformity, I wrapped up my energies and passions and enthusiams, making them user-friendly and as inoffensive as possible.  I buffered the world against my “uncoolness,” which probably made a lot of people much more comfortable around me.

But I died a little, too.  That part of me who went wild with enthusiasm over Broadway musicals, worried passionately about the plight of the sea mammals, she kind of took a back seat to the me who could create excellent spreadsheets and write great business correspondence.

But I only died a little, and it seems a ghost of that person still mucks about inside me.

Because when it comes to science, I’m uncool.

When it comes to politics, I’m uncool.

When it comes to music and art and literature, I’m uncool.

When it comes to Doctor Who, I’m totally uncool.

And at the ripe old age of 47, I think I’m coming full circle with my geekiness.

At the risk of being absurd, I believe embracing my lack of cool might be the coolest thing I’ve ever done…

Peace to you–


Good Night, Dear Souls – September 14, 2014


On the subject of acting one’s age….

I just read an amazing article on a group of older women reclaiming the fashion world for themselves.  Now, I won’t lie.  I know not of fashion.  I am a fashion illiterate.  But I do know something about people, and I love love love that these women are defying ageism in a powerful and enthusiastic way.

You see, it occurred to me, just a few days ago, that I am 48 years old.  Yes, that’s a “4” followed by an “8.”  Two years shy of half a century.

I have to be honest with you here–I don’t feel forty-eight.  I am not 100% certain I know what 48 is even supposed to feel like.  But the fact that I’m staring down the barrel of fifty, along with pretty much everybody I grew up with, has given me pause.

I look at my life and think, well, a lot of it was pretty darned good.  I’ve had some adventures, met some amazing people, and learned a lot.  And I’m in no hurry to stop doing those things.  As long as I don’t stare too closely at what my peers are doing and make the mistake of comparing myself to them (because, really, why?), I’m actually quite happy with how my life has progressed.

I’m very much looking forward to my 50s.  I’m looking forward to seeing what adventures I’ll have, what sights I will see, and who I will become.  I’m looking forward to seeing what new miracles all these brilliant minds will come up with next (seriously–who thought of e-books?  Because I want to send them a tin of candy at the holidays).  I’m looking forward to learning more, understanding more, and experiencing what life has to offer.

Yes, I do fall into the ageist trap once in a while.  My coordinator at work (all of 29 years old) mentioned the other day that she’d never seen a rotary phone in her life.  I explained to her that she needed to stop talking, please.  But aside from the random pop culture disconnect, I actually love spending time with younger people.  They live in such a different world than the one I grew up in, and they have a truly different perspective.

When I was younger, I sought out older friends.  I still do, to be fair.  But I’m discovering that age is not really what I’m looking at.  Your soul doesn’t really notice the age of your body, or of those around you.  Your soul simply sees itself and other souls it encounters.  Whether you are fifteen or fifty-five, eighteen or eighty, your soul is ageless.

If the ladies of Advanced Style are changing the rules for fashion, on the other end of the age scale there’s Madison Kimrey,the teenage wunderkind whose blog is rocking feminism and activism with her take-no-prisoners attitude.  (Her much-publicized call-out to anti-feminist icon Phyllis Schafly was an epic study in intellectual smacking-down.)

I don’t feel 48.  Madison Kimrey doesn’t write like a teenager.  And the Advanced Style ladies certainly don’t dress like little old ladies.

Age is just a number, folks.  All that matters is who you are, how you live, and what you bring to the table.

Have a good night–sweet dreams.


Background Music: Cats Sleeping On Clouds by Maneki Neko

When is “Enough” Enough?

buddha  1

My wife Kathryn and I have very different concepts of comfort and wealth.  We both enjoy eating out and traveling.  Kathryn, Taurus that she is, is a little more fond of material goods than I am and is not ashamed to admit it.   I, on the other hand, will gladly spend my cash on experiences–good books, music, theater, etc.  Neither of us is going to spend $13K on a dog, like a certain peroxide hotel heiress recently did, but we both have our moments of self-indulgence.

I bring this up because we’ve been reading a book together called Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin.  One quote really stuck with me from the introduction:

More is better; this is the motto that drives us.  It’s the motto that leads us to trade in our car every three years, buy new clothes for every event and every season, get a bigger and better house every time we can afford it and upgrade everything from our stereo systems to our lawn mowers simply because some new automatic widget has been introduced.

I remember reading that and looking up at Kathryn.  “Are we like that?” I asked.  No, of course we’re not.  Even if we had that kind of money, we would not be like that.  it made me wonder why people do such things.  Why do people have to fill their lives with things, and do those things make them happy?

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not an ascetic.  I have a laptop ($200), a Kindle (a gift from a friend), and a nifty little MP3 ($40) player that has my music on it.  I have high-speed Internet and a subscription to Netflix (streaming-only) that I enjoy the heck out of.  I eat in nice restaurants as often as I possibly can.

What I don’t understand is, if I already have a television that works perfectly fine, why would I need a new one that only works slightly better?  If I already have a car that gets me where I want to go, why should i go into debt to buy a newer one that…well, still gets me where I have to go?

When we obsess with filling each and every cranny of our lives with more and more stuff, what exactly are we trying to stuff?  Time?  Space?  A feeling of emptiness?

I only binge eat when I’m miserable.  Is that why people binge shop?

I find that the older I get, the less I need to be happy.  Good company, good ideas, good food, good music, and the time and health to enjoy them all are pretty much what I crave after the basic physical needs are met.

Maybe if we stopped trying to fill up every empty space with stuff, and got around to the business of creating happiness for ourselves, we would find that we didn’t need all that crap to begin with.

(Oh, and just in case you wanted to know?  Kathryn’s version of materialism includes a well-stocked kitchen to cook in (or the resources to eat out if we don’t feel like cooking), nice clothes to choose from, enough money to vacation at least once a year, a car that she doesn’t have to worry over, and a clean, safe neighborhood to live in.)

Yup, we’re practically channeling Paris Hilton, aren’t we?

Background music: Elysium, Honor Him, Now We Are Free by Lisa Gerrard and Hans Zimmer

Sharing: Middle Age Malaise By Charles Dowdy

Just wanting to share a post by a blogger I follow, Charles Dowdy.  It’s a wonderful reflection on middle age and how we can never let ourselves to continue looking down.

 It is easy to get caught up in the past, and the things that did not happen. It is easier still to get caught up in life’s routine and the things that always happen. What I have to is remember that my path is not set in stone. I might be in the midst of a beautiful journey, but right now I’ve got my head down. The days of life advance and recede like waves in the ocean. It is time to live in the now. It is time to take chances. It is time bring my gaze to the horizon, no matter how bright the glare of what stands before me, and pedal forward through the rocks once again.


Middle Age Malaise.

Good Night, Dear Souls – September 12, 2014


Driving to work this morning, I heard a piece by composer Aaron Copeland that was new to me.  I’ve always had a wide-open space in my heart for Copeland, who along with George Gershwin, represents in my mind the quintessential American spirit.  In contrast to Gershwin’s jazzy style, sometimes frenzied, sometimes languid, Copeland’s style always spoke to me of endless spaces, crisps lines, and the often-tense blending of harmonies.

It was an unusual start to the day, considering where I’d been over the past few days.  The tenderness of the song reached out to me, lifting me from this dark place that’s been my home recently.  Maybe it’s because when I hear Aaron Copeland’s music, my mind immediately visualizes the stunning beauty of the American Southwest, particularly the home of my soul, Arizona.


One of the biggest challenges, especially in times of stress, is to maintain an openness of soul.  When times are difficult, my first reaction is to curl inward, clutching my life into a tight fetal position in order to protect myself from the harsh and painful elements all around.  For a highly empathic person, I’ve never had great psychic shields.

The music of Copeland is like a shield around me, pristine and beautiful and big and open, creating a buffer space where my soul can rest and rejuvenate.  This makes sense, psychically, if you consider we are all created of energy.  Music, in its highest form, eases our energy into balance, softens our jagged lines, and soothes us in a way few other things can.

I week or so ago, I decided to create a playlist of all the songs I’d recommended as background music on this blog.  The official playlist is almost exclusively instrumental.  I’ve also created a supplemental playlist featuring more upbeat, popular music.  I’ll keep adding to it as I go along.  I hope you enjoy them both, and that the songs bring as much peace and joy to you as they do to me.

Good night, dear souls.


Background Music: Aaron Copeland- Quiet City (feat. Wynton Marsalis)

Opportunity Rising: September 11, 2014

Today is the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  I remember where I was when I heard the news, as pretty much every American above a certain age does. I remember watching The Towers fall.  I remember the candle-lit vigils, the fear, and the oddly-quiet skies, free of air traffic for several days in early September.

I also remember one of the first things I thought, after I was pretty sure it wasn’t the beginning of World War III:

Oh, man, are the whack jobs ever going to capitalize on this!

I know.  Cynical.  But I was not wrong.  Instead of coming together as a nation, our so-called leaders at the time managed to parlay the events of September 11, 2001, into a virtual rampage of jingoism, civil rights violations (which still continue today), war profiteering, and fascism.  The Bush Administration, aided by Congress and a complicit corporate media, managed to squander the goodwill of the world, while trampling on the very Constitution they were sworn to defend.

If this were the only result of that horrible time, I wouldn’t be writing this post.  I would simply be observing in silence, praying for a light to come back to our nation.  But this nationalist backlash engendered yet a second backlash–the reinvigoration of American liberals.

For 30 years or so, the Democrats and other more progressive parties had tried in vain to fire up the large number of liberals in the United States.  After the 60s and 70s, and the economic betrayal of the Reagan/Bush eras, many liberals were just weary.

But George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove did more to mobilize liberals in the United States than any Democrat could have hoped to do.  Suddenly, speaking out was not just for granola-crunching, Birkenstock-wearing hippies.  Librarians and nuns were the New Radicals.  And it wasn’t just politics.  The Christian Left stood up in a big way to reclaim their faith from the right-wing crackpots who were more interested in guns and gays than in God.

And while conservatives still have the bigger voice in America, liberals are still moving upwards and making their voices heard.

So what does this have to do with Opportunity Rising?  It’s just a reminder that even the most horrific events can serve as a catalyst for progress, social change, and justice.  It’s a reminder that even when things look the bleakest, there are people out there brave enough, strong enough, and smart enough to stand up for what is right.

So while we still fight daily against prejudice, bigotry, fear-mongering, and financial inequality, we can at least be assured that our numbers are growing.  We will get there.  We just have to keep fighting the good fight.

Love to you all–


Checking in…


Sorry this spot has been vacant for the past few days.  Dealing with life from inside a cocoon makes typing rather difficult.  I’ll get back into the Zone sooner or later.  

Much love,


Good Night, Dear Souls – September 6, 2014


I feel as if I’m watching the world from behind sheer cotton gauze.  I get so caught up in daily life and the grind of work that when I stop, sometimes my insides keep going without me.  Things get out of focus, tilting from one side to another, completely off-kilter.

Inertia is a cruel task-masker.

Sometimes, I just have to stop, put my head in my hands, take off my glasses and close my eyes.

Sometimes, it requires concerted effort to breathe and be still.

But sometimes, if I can be still long enough, my insides and outside..merge.  They come into alignment, and everything becomes clear. 

I haven’t been getting enough of these clear, still moments lately  I’ve been crashing through life like a human bumper-car, and it’s starting to take its toll.

My wife Kathryn is studying to be a life coach.  She is quite wise and will undoubtedly be a fantastic coach.  She hasn’t dubbed me The Family Guinea Pig™ yet, but she will put on her “Coach Hat” from time to time, if I ask nicely.

I asked her nicely.

I asked her nicely, what the hell is wrong with me?  I asked her how I could find my balance again.  What did I have to do?

She told me I got the questions all wrong.  The question is not, what do I do?  The question is, who am I?

“Start from the who,” she always says.

Always start from the who.

What the hell does that mean?  There’s no paper you can read, no test you can take, no questionnaire to fill out that can answer the question of who you are..  

This is where the real work starts, I tell myself.  This is where you have to ask the hard questions.  This is where you have to listen for the answers you’ve been avoiding all your life.

Civilizations crumble beneath the weight of questions like this.

And here I am, on a Saturday night, asking the questions that have no easy answers.

Who am I?  What are my values?  What does my authentic life look like?

I anticipate a few introspective days in the near future.

Sleep well, my dears, and dream of the truth.


Background Music: Mozart : Galimathias Musicum (Quodlibet) 1/3 : 1-7