Archive for September, 2006


Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

Just got email from the Nashville blogger known as Chez Bez, who was reminded by my last post that he thought he caught a picture of me and Karsten riding our bikes downtown during the jazz festival a few weeks ago. Sure enough, there we were (fourth picture down).

I had mentioned riding bikes downtown that weekend in a comment on Metroblogging but forgot to write about it here. (ETA: Actually now that I re-read my comment, I guess I was talking about running downtown with Karsten riding his bike beside me. But the next day, we both rode our bikes back down there, so that’s when Chez Bez’s pic was taken.) That’s some pretty cool serendipity.

We love riding along the riverfront to downtown. There’s a great little ice cream parlor on Broadway called Mike’s and they have an awesome chocolate peanut butter flavor. It’s a real treat to ride through the downtown greenway to Riverfront Park, go up Broad a block or two to Mike’s, get a cone, and then carefully (so as not to drip melting ice cream!) ride back over to the riverfront to sit on one of the benches near Fort Nashborough and look out over the river. And it’s only going to get better.

I’m so happy to be in Nashville.

“Shut up, clown, and make me a bike!”

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

I am, apparently, entertaining to children. That is to say, my face is apparently entertaining to children. My coworker sent me this picture she took of me yesterday while our company and its parent company were all together on a river cruise, and she told me that her kids laughed and said, “Mommy, show us Kate again!”

How lovely to be so amusing, like a clown.

Someone who obviously didn’t read my profile

Friday, September 22nd, 2006

A personal message I just found in my MySpace account (all typos and capitalization left as is for your enjoyment):

Hi Sweetie,
I read your profile and I’m very interested in getting to know you also.Am [full name] by name ,I’m From [state] in [town] and have lived here all my life and some years in state too, before being back home. I’m a single man with a son called [son's name]. I work as a contractor am into building and construction. I’m an active member in my church and attend service weekly. I’m a Man that knows what I want and how to get it. I’m very intelligent and can hold a decent conversation. I’m looking for a Woman that knows what she wants and can get it.
I’m looking for a Woman that know respect, honesty, and truth. I’m looking for not just a Good Woman, God fearing but the Best Woman. I want to know a Woman that wants to have a beautiful family one day. A Woman that wants to find true love and wants to be in love. I’m not into playing games with people and I’m very sharp and articulate with spotting people that are. I’m allergic to drama so I stay far away from it. I wan t a Woman that want to travel and see new things. I’m not into the clubs and I don’t smoke and I’m pretty much looking for someone that is the same.
Now don’t get me wrong I’m a very fun person and can make fun of any situation. I’m just looking for everything I need in one Woman. Ok I’m done for now and I’m turning the table back on you… If I still sound like someone that you want to know then by all means let me know, I may have what you need. Hope you have a Yahoo Messenger and msn messanger, You can add me to your list or email…. [email snipped] . i await your response.
[name removed]

Seeing as my profile indicates that I’m a Woman who doesn’t believe in God and who already has a Man, i think he’s barking up the wrong tree.

Scaffolding in front of house

Friday, September 22nd, 2006
Scaffolding in front of house
Scaffolding in front of house,
originally uploaded by Kate O’.

This is what’s going on chez nous. It’s crazy, man, crazy.

How to appreciate life, from someone who deals with death

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

We know about the deaths at the site of the World Trade Center twin towers on 9/11, and we’re reminded often, and no one should belittle their significance, and we should endeavor not to let them be forgotten. But how perspective-shifting is this, from the New York Daily News: top New York City Medical Examiner’s office investigator Shiya Ribowsky, who was deeply involved in the identification of victims from Ground Zero, points out that this was also “greatest rescue of civilians in American history,” in which 25,000 people were saved.

Talk about reframing your focus. How many other opportunities do we miss to appreciate what positive outcomes there may be all around us?

Metaphors that can kill

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

Ever thought of a metaphor as deadly? You might after reading this article by George Lakoff in AlterNet. Metaphors and how they shape our thoughts and the world around us have long been the subject of Lakoff’s work (although he’s also written about semi-related topics such as in his book “Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind” which is not only very relevant to the work I do, but also one of my favorite book titles ever, but I digress). In this article, though, his investigation of metaphor may be critical to building a successful opposition response to war advocates. By framing the 9/11 attacks, and our response to them, as a war, Bush & Co have been able to tap into some kind of primal patriotism — that of the “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” variety.

Conservatives have grown very good at this sort of linguistic manipulation. Against abortion? That makes you “pro-life.” Sign me up! I want to be pro-life. Who wouldn’t? Against marriage equality for same-sex couples? That’s because you support “family values.” Neat! I do, too!

But progressives have been slower to pick up on this metaphorical framing. And yet, as Lakoff states, language “can determine how we think and act.” Shouldn’t we be paying attention to how we describe ourselves and our causes? Shouldn’t we be looking for opportunities to re-frame debates and issues the way we want them seen? I think it’s harder for many on the Left, because the “with us/against us” dichotomy isn’t the way most of us parse the world, and that’s an advantage to many on the Right. In fact, it’s a struggle to even write this post without inserting a bunch of parenthetical caveats (”not all conservatives think this way!” etc ad nauseum) but maybe this isn’t the time for such gentle consideration of those who oppose us. Maybe this is the time for us to wise up, assess the message coming from the folks who’ve kept themselves in charge in spite of the wishes of the majority, and start responding to their tactics — not necessarily with the same tactics, but measure for measure in tactics we can stand behind.

And we can start, as Lakoff suggests, by exposing the war metaphor as just that: a metaphor. See how we’ve been manipulated, America? Take it back. Re-frame it. To what end? As Lakoff says, “It would allow us to name right-wing ideology, to spell it out, look at its effects, and to see what awful things it has done, is doing, and threatens to keep on doing. The blame for what has gone wrong in Iraq, in New Orleans, in our economy, and throughout the country at large should be placed squarely where it belongs — on right-wing ideology that calls itself ‘conservative’ but mocks real American values.”

As long as the leadership continues to manipulate, let’s call them on it. And bit by bit, maybe we can start to take back the direction of the country, steering it towards a more upright, diplomatic place where those of us who’ve become ashamed of our government can find some cause for pride.

Synchronicity! Or, Honey Bowtie Music gets some love

Saturday, September 2nd, 2006

I participate pretty heavily on a discussion forum for Treo users called, and lately, due to a weird alignment of the stars or something, there’s been a surge of off-topic interest in, of all things, my songs. One fella started a discussion topic all about how great my songs are, which was certainly flattering, and another just wrote to let me know he’d written a rather glowing entry in his blog about Honey Bowtie Music. And now someone else wrote to ask if I’d be interviewed for a front page story on the home page.

Oh, and I guess this is as good a time as any to mention that “Blown Away” is on hold for an independent pop-country artist, details to come later when / if the actual deal materializes.

Maybe it’s true what people say about things always happening in fits and starts. We were experiencing a strange little spike of activity like this back at the end of last year, and then it died down for months. Now we’re seeing a resurgence of buzz around our music, albeit from some fairly random corners. Whatever — I’m somewhat bewildered but happy about the attention, and I’m definitely happy about the hold, whether the artist decides to go ahead and cut the song or not.

Here’s hoping it’s just the beginning of a long, long series of good developments. :-)

A great loss from my past

Friday, September 1st, 2006

In the MySpace forum for my high school, I just found out that my high school band director died in June. I’m totally heartbroken about it. I searched a little on the web, and found a guest book for him. I left the following message there:

I just found out about Mr. Cross’ death, and I’m deeply saddened.

In the years I was in his bands, Mr. Cross did what few teachers ever do: he tried to let the students teach themselves. Where he saw talent, he gave opportunity.

I last saw Mr. Cross a year or so ago, while visiting my family when my dad was dying from cancer. I ran into him at Kinko’s, of all places, where I’d stopped in to fax something back to my office. He recognized me right away and must have known a little about my dad’s condition because he asked how my dad was. I told him things weren’t looking good, and he seemed genuinely sympathetic. He then asked what I was up to, and I very happily told him I’d moved to Nashville to pursue a career as a songwriter. He seemed pleased, and I may have only imagined it, but I thought he actually looked proud. I hope he did feel proud. I don’t think it’s any exaggeration to say that I pursued a career in songwriting partly because of his influence. Moreover, he remains one of the best teachers — of any kind — I’ve ever been fortunate enough to have studied with.

My deepest sympathies go out to his family and other loved ones.

I should add, for those who may not realize, that I was a most devoted band geek, which means that, by my senior year, I was spending about half of every day in the band room with Bob Cross (well, with Mr. Cross. Sorry, but even though he asked me to call him Bob after I graduated, he’ll always be Mr. Cross to me). We knew each other well; we definitely had our conflicts — as is bound to happen when anybody spends so much time together — but more than almost anyone else in my life, he really knew how to push me to make me excel. He had me working on new instruments whenever I started to get complacent (although he always supported my continued growth on my primary instrument, which was clarinet); he had me arrange my own parts for the jazz band; he had me conduct the band from time to time; he encouraged me to participate in solo and ensemble competitions; he pushed me to expand my musical vocabulary; and so on and so on and so on.

When I got to UIC and tried out for the concert band, I landed third chair. The conductor told me, “I would’ve placed you higher, but I think the other two would be upset. You’re welcome to challenge for their seats, though.” I quit after two rehearsals. The university band couldn’t hold a candle to our high school band; the credit goes entirely to Mr. Cross.

In retrospect, he was almost like a manager to me rather than a teacher, and I mean that in a very positive way — that he oversaw my own efforts to grow and learn. I wish I’d thought to call him up at some point last year while I was spending so much time in town and taken him out for a coffee to let him know how much I gained from him. I wish I’d ever properly thanked him for all the ways he discovered how to get me to grow as a musician and — seriously — as a person. I can think of quite a few examples off the top of my head when he taught me life lessons I may not have really wanted to learn, but am now glad I did. I’m truly a better person because of Bob Cross. How many people can say they helped make someone a better person?

Rest in peace, Mr. Cross.