Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Answer

There it is! I found it docked on a Welsh beach. If only I'd known it was so easy....
Happy dissertation turn-in day, wherever you are, comrades in words. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Today Feels Like This- Virginia Woolf & The Hours

I'll spare you any scenes of Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf. I'm still baffled how her 24 minutes of film got her this Oscar. But I hear where good old Ed Harris is coming from...and, as it has been since the day I first heard it, the Indigo Girls song is le mot juste. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Words of wisdom when I'm so close

I'm getting closer and closer to being done with this dissertation and collection of short stories. I'd like to sleep for a hundred years. Or hang out in my bed in Edinburgh and read for a long long time. I'm longing for Fall and returning to normal. Skipping past going to the U.S. (even though it will be fun) and getting through all the visa drama I'll likely endure in order to return here to stay for the next three year block. 

But it could be worse. (And if it is, and you're stuck in a hurricane named Irene, nice of to make this playlist.) I mean, technically, it's not bad at all. As my pal Sandy once said with some measure of certainty, "We're going to be alright, aren't we?"

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Weekend LOLz from our friends on the internets

Do you need some laughs? I've really needed some laughs this week. So here's what's made me laugh this week for your weekend LOLZ. Yee, Kamon. Stop da war.

In case you really really need laughs, continue on to: This & This from Eddie Izzard.

Friday, August 26, 2011

What Matters

All week, I've been drowning in stories of liver cirrhosis and addiction and what kind of person we become when the addictions win. How we get to that point. I was struggling. Then, there was this message and this song from a childhood mentor of mine, Duncan Sheik and I was heartened. Real honesty always wins.  
Hello Friends,Duncan here, offering you belated apologies for the cancellation of my June tour.  The truth is I didn’t do it because I realized I was drinking too much and chose to confront that situation, with the help of family, great friends and some thoughtful, highly qualified professionals. In fact, I entered a treatment center the same day my most recent effort Covers 80s was released.  With as much gallows humor as I could muster, I told the staff there,  ”My record is coming out and I’m checking in.”
Those of you who know me through music, personally, or both, know that like everyone else I’ve had my share of ups and downs in my life and career, and there were many contributing factors here that I will share with you in the future.  While this episode may sound like a low point, the experience actually confirmed for me how much I want to go forward in my creative life, and how much I sincerely value all of those who have supported me.
I do want to share one very fascinating thing I learned while at the treatment center. Drinking as much as I was, it would seem I did a real number on my neurochemical functions.  As I learned about dopamine, serotonin, and GABA levels and how they affect the “reward” center in your brain, some bells started to go off in my nuerochemically compromised head.  To vastly oversimplify this physiological process, the current thinking on the subject is that all alcoholics and addicts have something called Reward Deficiency Syndrome or RDS.  The example I was given was this: Person One, with normal brain function, wakes up on a beautiful crisp autumn morning and walks out the door enjoying the sun and the nice cool air and all is well in the universe of their head.  Person Two, whose brain functions have been rejiggered due to too much drinking or drugging, walks out the same door on the same beautiful morning and doesn’t feel any joy at all about the weather or anything else for that matter.  Not until they have a drink anyway.  What was terribly interesting about this example to me was how it characterizes a very similar situation Vis a Vis my Buddhist practice.  When I get up in the morning and chant with a lot of focus and determination I’m Person One.  When my practice is undisciplined or lazy or rushed, I’m Person Two. There is actually much more to say about how my practice relates to this situation but I will leave it for another time.
Having left treatment with the blessing of my excellent recovery counselors, I’m currently in Jakarta, Indonesia, writing songs as well as formulating ideas for a book and working on a few musical theater projects, including Alice In Wonderland, The Nightingale and American Psycho. I’m chanting, playing guitar and writing stories. Life is good. Actually, exponentially better than when I was drinking like a ridiculous fish. 
All of this to say, I’m well, and truly sorry for any inconvenience or disappointment caused by my abrupt cancellation of the tour.  But I look forward to the opportunity to make it up to you. Plans to reschedule the tour for this spring are currently underway, (It looks like I’ll be doing a bunch of shows as a co-bill with the wonderful Suzanne Vega) as well as for a coinciding remix version of Covers 80s (by lots of cool electronic music folks and some fancy DJ’s).  So there may be, God forbid, music people will want to dance to. I consider all of it a good thing, a new challenge, an interesting riddle, a gift.  And I promise you that both the music and I will be better for it.
Love, DS
You can see it here

When I think back on all the times in my life where I truly needed a gift, I always received one in the form of a song. "What Matters" is a prime example of that. The following are some of the most vivid and real lyrics I've heard in ages. 
The sense of place, the simultaneity of humor and introspective reckoning is at a level I aspire to every day. This is why, since I was a kid, Duncan's been a kind of hero of mine. A hero who let me share with him some his life and some of his struggles whether that be chanting together or talking about musicals, or laughing at his 40th birthday dinner or through songs I wish I'd written. Like this one. Talking about what matters-- it has all mattered and continues to matter to me. 

I wish I could share this with my mom. 

  What Matters by user2298931

Here in the choir room
Where no songs are sung
Only the talk of frequent doom
from a smoke-filled lung
Here in children's chairs
there is little comfort
everyone's aware
of innocence that's done for
doesn't matter who you are
or who say you wanna be

it matters what you do
about what you don't wanna see

on these basement floors
there are some things you taught me
I did not come for the decor
I did not come here for this coffee
and somehow take along
and somehow leave behind
and you'll say that may go wrong
'cause you're a true friend of mine
it doesn't matter who you were
or who you thought that you might be

it matters what you did
about that version of yourself 
that you didn't wanna see

doesn't matter who you are
or who you say you wanna be
it matters what you do
not what you don't wanna see

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Battle of the Redheads- Vote for Lindsey

My cousin-extraordinaire has been trouncing the competition in this "Hottest Week" Vote off on and now she's in a battle of the gingers, third round. She needs your help. I'm still not actually sure what the contest is about (it's not an all-redhead contest). Whether it's about designers or just about being hot. In any case, I obviously think that Lindsey should win. So vote for her here, and check out her work here. The winner gets a big interview on Curbed, so let's help give a self-starting entrepreneur and awesome designer a nice platform! (And voting ends tonight at 10AM Eastern, so don't delay!)

Here are some more links for your Thursday:

-Cute article about two VOTE! actresses
- Another badass redhead, Grace Coddington
-These CEOs have pledged no campaign donations. Woo!
- Buying short stories for $1.99 on Kindle... will you buy? I might. I  mean, it's Tom Rachmann
- Everyone's jumping on the instagram train!
- Granta Magazine talks the nature of Memory & Invention
- And because they're awesome, they also did this awesome interview with my phd advisor, John Burnside
- Literary spheres of influence
- Quit your job and follow your dreams. I did  it. Lindsey did it. Do it. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lost Lost Edinburgh

Lost Edinburgh was a facebook page I adored devoted to images of a by-gone Edinburgh. Before many historical buildings (say, on Princes Street) were demolished to make way for concrete 60's and 70's block buildings.  I had planned on blogging about it anyhow, but now there's a new twist on the story. The page has been shut down to conflicting copyright issues with Royal Commission of the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

I've always been interested in historical preservation. And with my work for my latest novel, I've been studying copyright laws and modern copyright battles, as a copyright battle features prominently in the book.

Basically, because the Crown owns the images, it conflicts with facebook's copyright claim on anything uploaded to their site. So now, instead of directing you to the page, I'll direct you to its replacement: "We want the Lost in Edinburgh Page Back, Please."

The comments raise some interesting questions, like "Why are images of public places taken by dead photographers copyrighted?" "Why aren't they public domain yet?"

There are answers to these questions. Some satisfying, some not. But it's interesting to think about. And work has already begun to reinstate the site using photos from private authorized collections. What do you think? Somehow, both issues of preserving (buildings/tradition/architecture & artistic ownership) go together. Who has ownership of a city? Or a city's history? Is it the people who live there right now, or does that ownership stretch backwards and forwards? It might be a scenario where the questions are more interesting than any answers...nevertheless, the discussions should be intriguing. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Baby Birdies in the Studio

You know what my favorite word in the English language is? Earnest. I present it to you now in video form. I'm still skeptical that our cast can fit into one room all at the same time. So cute. And soooo many of them. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

My Welsh Writing Retreat

More on Welsh splendor tomorrow. In the meantime, I leave you with these and a big thanks to my fab hostess, Zaza. Good night everyone!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Belting Bechtels

On a rainy night in NYC, I went to hear my pals Autumn and Nina sing in a cabaret put together by my other pal Tiffany to support a children's theatre in Texas. While I was there, I got to finally hear in person adorable 11 year old prodigy, Mallory Bechtel. Musical Theatre is a family affair for the Bechtels-- older sister, Meredith was also present and I was thrilled to make the first acquaintance of a member of our Houston cast. (You cast see her pretty well in the "Be Aggressive" video.) I'm thrilled to know the Bechtels and can't wait to hang with them in Houston next month. 

Check out Mallory for yourself and don't forget to come see Meredith and the rest of our cast next month. Get your tickets at

So listen. I'm writing a lot and headed to Wales tomorrow. I just might take this weekend off. I may post. Haven't decided yet. Just go with me if I can't pull it off though, okay. It's crunch time.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

So Fly

Today, I went flying over England and the Welsh border. Zaza's brother Jon is a pilot and even though the day was hazy, flying 2700 feet over England is pretty dreamy. So I'm basically just like Muffin but at 3700 feet instead 37,000 feet. 

I don't think I could ever ever be a pilot-- my eyes aren't good enough, and we won't even get into my sad sad coordination level. It was fun to listen into the radio, even though the only thing I took away from my listening was "Golf India Golf. India Golf." 

Super wish I was better at using my camera because I know I could have amped these up a bit for my trip in the "blender on wheels" as Jon called the little two-seater. I'll post more once I'm done tweaking. Off to work! Hope you're having a dreamy day!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Cutest Wedding Invitations...Ever

Right before I left New York, yesterday, Steven and I met my super-pal Autumn at a sweet Belgian Restaurant where she bestowed upon us the most adorable wedding invitations known to man. 

Autumn and Tim are getting married this fall. (Remember their adorable engagement subway video?) In a bookstore! (Be still, my heart!) And so their invites look like the pockets that come inside library books! Why is she the cutest!?! Way to be creative. Except that...actually, Tim had quite a lot to do with these and made most of them himself. Way to get involved. Man, I love those guys. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More Vote! Vids

It's my last day in NYC, so I'm running around trying to enjoy as much of everything and everyone here that I can. Spent the morning at City Bakery with Steven and the amazing Nikole Vallins. Laughed a lot and talked about these adorbs kids. Check out these snippets from rehearsals. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Good ideas! - And today is the last day!

I just think Snail Mail My Email is delightful! And sadly today is the last day! So hop to it! Send an email to and one of over 200 volunteers will hand write it out and mail it to your person...for free! I miss getting handwritten mail. (So it's not too late to send one to ME!) And just look at their gallery of mail already sent!

In a culture overrun with instant gratification and on-demand services, this project cultivates appreciation for the lost art of letter writing.
Word up to that. What a good idea. Here are some other good ideas, and things making me happy this Monday, my last full day in NYC.  

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Our Houston Muffin covers some Jessie J

Listen to our stellar Houston Muffin, Miss Carley Nunn cover some Jessie J "Who You Are." It's my Sunday jam for rainy NYC day. I'm all about being who you are. 

And here she is with more of our leads being interviewed while recording the cast album in Houston. Can't wait to hear those tracks!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bachelorette Parties- Autumn Sparkles

Last night, I got to celebrate that my sparkly friend, Miss Autumn Hurlbert is off the market and getting married this fall. Kind of kismet that it worked out the party fell while I was in town so I could whoop it up with such a great set of girls at beautiful Megu in Tribeca. We had so much fun eating rock meat and phallic asparagus and telling off-color jokes. Sometimes I miss this life. Last night was one of the times I wished I was here more often, but at least I didn't have to miss. 

Thanks to the lovely Meredith Forlenza for planning and best wishes to Autumn & Tim.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Vote! Cast Album, Videos, Interviews

It's so easy to get thrown back into the NYC factory of work. Lots is going on here from Ferguson-Jamail Command Center Alpha on 45th Street. We've been writing new stuff for Nic & Alix, and preparing for the new 12 track VOTE! Cast Album TUTS is making with our adorable teenage cast. 

We went back into the studio with our beloved Jim Morgan to round out some of the orchestrations (I still remember when we first went in there with Haviland, Dan, Alissa and Idara back in 2007. Wow.) and lay down the track for Angelica's new number "Be Aggressive." For those of you who've seen the show, you know this element was always a part of that scene, but now it's a whole number, complete with a marching band. Let's see some cheerleaders fly, shall we? 

I'm sending this new rehearsal vid your way with some snippets of them people learning the opening number and choreography. Can't wait to see it in full. It's one of the biggest changes to the show, actually. We used to be really concerned about whether people liked Muffin. We kept trying to make her likable in the beginning. And finally, we just said, you know what? Let's just let her be kind of a brat in the beginning and save them liking her until the end. The difference was amazing. That's why we've kept her out of the first half of the opening and just let everyone else discuss her. Then we meet her. She's hiding out from everyone, and from their expectations of her. She doesn't want to run. We don't know why. We assume it's because she's lazy. She sings "Dreams Are Overrated" (now part of the overall opening number called "Everyone Has A Dream") as a way to work up the nerve to go back out to school and face the fabricated persona that she and Trish have pigeon-holed her into. It played really well in the UK. Can't wait to see it on a big pretty stage. 

Speaking of personas, I got to do an interview with the TUTS people for their website and here is the article. You might already know a lot of this about the creation of stuff and how Steven and I got together, but in case you don't, here is the interview!

Hope you have a jammin' Friday and a great weekend! 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Violent Outrage in E'burgh.

This is how we riot where I live. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday Links

-Yeah, seriously, what if we just decided to musicalize ANYTHING?
-Downton Abbey DIRT! Woo!! I can't wait. (Well, Highclere Castle dirt, anyhow)
-Paul Rudd. You are the only person who makes being THIS goofy appealing. Oh, how I love you.
- Word to your mother, Bobby Lopez. You talk on about that creative process! I'm really into his point numero two. 
-I just really think TED talks might be the best things ever invented. Jeremy Gilley talks about "one day of peace" in Edinburgh

Hope your day is great!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Depressing Tuesday

It's pouring rain in NYC, torrential rains expected in Scotland, there's riots in London, the US political situation is a nightmare, a crazy is screaming on 8th Avenue at the moment and I've been sick all day. I internalize everything and so I've been pretty depressed. The only thing I could think to do when I feel this badly is watch Jane Eyre. So I finally rented the new Cary Fukunaga adaptation with Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska. 

It's lean. And I mean LEAN. But I loved it. First rate in tone, look, and especially performances. But Jane Eyre is more for wallowing than for cheering. 

I wish I could post something here to cheer you and/or me up, but alas. I got nothing. Just this. And this. I guess sometimes, you just have to take a day and give into a little gloom.

Monday, August 8, 2011


I'm pretty jealous of my friend Pete's cool photo taking these days. He's making New York look real real good. He has a fancy camera, but some of these, like the one just above, he's taking on his iphone! I mean, come on! There are a couple of HDR pro apps for iphones. Some are only a couple of bucks. I might spend a bit of today testing the the one I got out. Happy Monday!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I ♥ Coney Island & my new camera

I'm basically just learning how to use this thing, but so far, so good I think in just a few days. A whole afternoon of Amy & Jon's wise cracks was just what I needed. I missed the real honest-to-god diversity you will definitely get at Coney. "This is real democracy, right here," said Jon.

We even found out what a "Nutcracker" was. They'd been selling them illegally on the beach for as long as I can remember, but thanks to Jon's brother Matt, we now know: Everclear & juice. Matt told us all about living in Morocco, so I think I may have my next crazy travel adventure. Hope you're enjoying your Sunday!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Thanks for both of these in one week, NPR

This week, NPR gave us full concerts from two of my faves, Bon Iver and Frightened Rabbit. Listen to these to either A.) Chill out B.) Get ready to go out. I mean, it's Saturday night. I'm headed to a roof party after a day spent in the sun with some of my faves. Good times. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Baby Birdies Sound Pretty!

I promise I'll cool it with the VOTE! stuff, but just had to share this great video of the cast in Houston learning the title number. They'd only been rehearsing for three days, but man, they sound good. 

Last night, I sat in on a session in our recording studio with Jim, our music engineer and Steven, while they were working on a new song Steven had written with the lovely Morgan Karr. As I sat on the couch where I had spent so much time in the past years, I thought: this. This is the thing I miss the most. Being in the studio. It was wonderful. They weren't even working on one of our songs, but man, it felt good to be in that studio. Happy Friday! Have a great weekend. I'm going to the beach! 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

There's a Vote! Study Guide, Ya'll!

Dude, I have always wanted a study guide for VOTE! and boy do we have one now! Thanks, TUTS. This week has been filled with awesome tweets from rehearsals and now this study guide! It's very weird and very cool to see. Steven and I read through it this morning and chuckled away. I think I'm going to do some of the exercises it suggests. 

It also has tons of pics from the Bloomington Production... speaking of that... I'm going to a Bloomington baby birdie's WEDDING this weekend! Our little Trish Yoder from Bloomington is getting married this Sunday in Boston and I'll be there to celebrate. VOTE! is a family, you guys. 

It's a beautiful day in Manhattan! I'm off to reconnect with pals, write, and test out my new camera. Hooray. Hope you're having a great day. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

With a fist full of dollars....and baby, you better believe, I'm back!

I'm so mushy with love today to head back to my favorite place in the world. I want to see everyone and do everything. Let's hang out. Here's some Ace Frehley for you because, baby? You better believe I'm back in the New York groove. 

These are my priorities: 1. Mexican Food 2. Juice generation 3. Perbacco 4. Haircut from Aya 5. Mexican Food

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Man on Wire

Have you guys already seen Man on Wire? About Phillipe Petit's performance walk across the North & South World Trade Center Towers around this time of year 37 years ago? I bet you have because it's been out a while and won the Oscar in 2008. Well, I finally saw it last night. 

I was amazed at how funny and wonderful it was. Clearly, Petit is a performer in every sense of the word. What lovable losers the American accomplices were. It got me thinking about capers and risks and courage, and of course, New York. And that hole that's still there in our city and it's going to be 10 years next month. I forgot how majestic they were. This will be my first chance to see what construction they've done since I left. 

I love the way the story has reverberated into other media. In Collum McCann's wonderful book, Let The Great World Spin, and even this cartoon about the adventure narrated by one of my personal faves, Jake Gyllenhaal. 

My favorite part is when the movie talks about how all anyone could ask Phillipe was "Why?" "Why?" And what an American question that was... mmm. There is no why. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Let it Roll

I am insanely busy writing and trying to meet deadline and trying to get everything in order to rent out my room for the month and go to NYC. Um, it's August? So instead of the links post I've been working on and am still not done with, I'll leave you with The Hieroglyphics. Oakland, represent. Let it roll. 

Why Stop Now?

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