The Voice: When You Think You’re Good, but You’re Not Quite There

Last night I was sucked into an episode of The Voice. Now, those of you who know me, know I’m a pretty good singer. Strictly at an amateur level. I can wake up a karaoke party, but I would *never* try out for a show like The Voice. Last night was a blind audition night.

The show highlighted a lot of singers. In case you don’t know the show’s gimmick, what happens is that the judges of the show face away from the stage, a hopeful singer belts it out, and if the judge wants to train that singer on their team, they press a button and turn around. Sometimes one judge turns around, so it’s easy. When more than one judge turns around, they barter with the contestant and they choose the judge they want to work with the most. Sometimes no judges turn around.

Last night one of the segments focused on one young woman for whom no judges turned around. Then the show did a montage of people who didn’t get on a team. The judges were supportive in the efforts of these contestants, but told those people they weren’t quite ready. Hey, everyone of those people could do more than wake up a karaoke party. These were *good* singers. They just weren’t quite at the level where the judges thought they could be pushed to their best. They were told to keep working. And honestly, as I watched the show, I could hear it. The slurring , the wrong notes, the lack of confidence that affected the performance. All of these were subtle, and most of the performance was good. But these contestants just weren’t quite there.

And that is the world of art, isn’t it? We work and we will get to a level of expertise through practice, practice, and more practice. One of the contestants came back last night after having been rejected last season, and she was welcomed onto a team. Improvement. We can’t move forward unless we figure out where we’re weak, and we practice to overcome.

No contestant sailed in on the basis of talent. Clearly, some singers had more than others, but the people who had shiny talent also had expertise and skill as its counterpart. These contestants were vied for the most. Like the man who performed on Beale Street 300 nights a year. Or the 17 year old girl, home schooling now, who worked constantly on her voice. Practice, practice, practice.

Thinking of becoming a better artist, it’s really a journey. A long, frustrating, rewarding journey. Jay Lake reminded us in his journal that it took him eleven years before his first story was sold. Practice, practice, practice. All things in their time.

And you might be the best you’ve been, but you might not be there yet. That’s okay. You know what you’ve got to do.

I’m going to go do that now.

Political Correctness

Last night, I was trying to write, but I ended up boiling and stewing over the Locus April Fool’s joke. In case you missed it, it was pejorative to women, Wiscon, and those of Arabic descent. I ranted about it on Twitter, and all the way driving into work today I was aggravated.

Well, I’m halfway through my day, and I have been so busy that I mellowed. I know too that spewing vitriol in response to vitriol really only escalates a problem. But there are some things that I want to talk about, not from a rhetorical ATTACK! position, (You, stay away from me! I have a liberal arts education, and I will cut you!), but rather from a position of consideration about this term political correctness, which seems to be a foundation for the prankster, as he felt his April Fool’s joke was widely condemned by humorless feminists who had buried all their discriminatory senses under a veil of political correctness. (or perhaps a burka, given his “joke.”)

What you need to know about me before I write this.

Continue reading “Political Correctness”

GI Joe: Retaliation–Yo Joe Again

I know that usually this journal is synonymous with class, but let’s take a small vacation from that. Bryon and I went with our friends Dan and Lisa to see GI Joe: Retaliation on Saturday.

You don’t have to do this to yourself. Not if you take the time to read this wonderful link Dan found today posted by Flapjacks at Mighty God King. Yo Joe Again.

Nepthys, Osiris and Set

Four siblings were born to Nut and Geb: Isis, Osiris, Nepthys, and Set. I’ve talked about Isis separately, because she is a protagonist/antagonist, and does a lot in the stories that motivate them. Set is a bit more like Isis too, an instigator. But Nepthys and Osiris?

Nepthys spends most of her time in the background. She marries Set and assists Isis when Isis goes looking for the parts of Osiris, and in some versions of the story, whe helps Isis hide Horus, but for the most part, Nepthys is someone who stays out of things.

Osiris? Well, Osiris is…kind of a dupe. Try this on for size. You have a brother who hates you, right? And he decides to play this party game where he asks you to see if you fit into this box, essentially a coffin, right? And then your brother seals you up in the box, and sets you out to drown, right? Later, the box would somehow magically ginsu Osiris into several pieces.

Isis decides she’s got to hunt down the pieces of her husband/brother Osiris to give him a decent burial, and to put him back together long enough to have a son with him that can defeat Set, whom Isis truly dislikes. She does this, and then Osiris becomes mostly associated with death.

What about Set? Why does Set hate Osiris so much? That varies. Early stories say that Set is kicked by Osiris, and that’s embarrassing. Apparently that’s as good a reason as any to whack up your brother. Heck, in Greek mythology, looking at someone cross-eyed is a great way to get turned into…just about anything, so obviously, the Egyptians can be as capricious. But mostly, Set wanted the power of kingship, and he had it for several years, until Horus came along and challenged his claims to the kingship of the pantheon.

Here are the responsibilities of these gods and goddesses:

Osiris: Life, death, truth, and the giving of life.
Nepthys: Death and rebirth, particularly funerary rites. Notably, she is Anubis’ mom.
Set: Protector of Ra and the Ship of the son. Deserts, Storms, and Foreigners. Later, bad stuff.

It is interesting to note that Set was not painted as a “bad guy” in the Osiris/Horus story after Egypt was conquered in later times. All these actions were a power struggle, nothing more. Also, some people think that Set has the head of a donkey or a mule. He is actualy a mythological beast, the typhonic beast. Set’s villainy might be accounted for because of his rival cult status in Ombus. The best way to stamp out a belief is to villainize the god.