life intervenes

I keep thinking I have things to say that won’t fit into 140 characters, and then I get distracted by other things, and don’t write here. Hell, half the time I don’t even tweet.

It seemed like the holidays were crazy-insane, starting on Halloween and continuing through, like, yesterday: my sweetie’s mom came for Thanksgiving (there has to be a mom present for Thanksgiving or it doesn’t count); Christmas was several weeks of silliness (we found ourselves with a bit of extra money and had a blast getting our friends books and book-related gifts); New Year’s was awesome (we went as Arthur and Trillian to a sci-fi-themed fancy-dress party); my birthday party was a triumph (brunchy things, including homemade crepes, washed down with mimosas and blackberry bellinis, which were all nearly too delicious for words); then a last-minute trip to NAMM last week, that we combined with a couple days at Disneyland (a fantastic vacation in every way possible).

But now things should be calming down, and I want to write more. I want to take more pictures, describe more things, be more present.

After all, I won’t be able to remember this stuff in twenty years’ time; it’d be good to have it all nicely chronicled, right?

winding down

I am finally at the end of three or four weeks of craziness: daily practice for our show; playing the show (no pics of us have surfaced yet, but here is my set of Bella Morte shots); having my mom as a houseguest for a couple days on her way to a vacation with her sister; going camping; having my mom as a houseguest again, after her triumphant return from Durango, Canyon de Chelly and points north and east; and a fairly crazy few weeks at work that are still ongoing.

And in the midst of all this, we’re integrating the kittens that no one wanted to adopt (you’re missing out, seriously), keeping the dogs entertained, and pretending to clean the house occasionally.

I’m not gonna lie; I am wrecked.

I mean, our show was pretty good — I wasn’t too nervous, I didn’t screw up too badly, the sound was killer, and most of the other bands were great people and made with the serious rocking.

And camping was crazy good. I love when it gets down to the high 40s or low 50s, because I sleep so well in the cold. And the dogs had a blast, and our new gear was just exactly what we needed, without being heavy or expensive or fussy, and it was a delightful 2 1/2 days with some of my very favorite people, and I can’t wait to do it again as soon as we possibly can.

But despite these pockets of awesome … I am looking forward to a few days of nothing much to do, and long days in which to do it.

outnumbered four to one

Since no one wanted to adopt our kittens — or, rather, could adopt our kittens — it’s pretty certain we’ll be keeping them. I am simultaneously happy and anxious about this — happy because, well, kittens; and anxious because for one thing, if the animals organize an uprising we are fucked.

We’ve been slowly introducing them to the other cats using the methods suggested by the behaviorist we engaged to help us with some of Miss Freya’s issues (a story for another time), and it’s been going as well as can be expected: Perdita is wary, Agnes is pissed, Ix is indifferent and Windle’s excited by the new range of food he can steal.

The kittens themselves are thrilled by all the new things to smell and new kitties to play with and new places to hide and the way they can get up to top speed, round corners by digging their claws into the carpet, and end up in a whole new room in just seconds. They are, not to put too fine a point on it, loving it.

Earlier in the week, we let the kittens go as far down the stairs as they dared, while the dogs waited anxiously on the landing, separated by the baby gate. Only Mr Grey went down, curious but cautious. Then Friday, while I was at work, Loki let the dogs come upstairs to meet the kittens properly.

I’m so pissed I missed this. Apparently it was super-cute and no kittens were mauled in the course of the love-fest.

So I guess we have to come up with names now. I personally favored Marmalade and Dumpling, as befitting an orange cat and a pudgy one, but I think they may end up as Trillian and Arthur, unless anyone has a better suggestion — and supposing we can remember to actually call them that.

I edited a video!

Back in February, Reliquary had a photo shoot to update our ridiculously-outdated studio stills, and thought, hey, we’ll be in a photo studio, with a backdrop and lighting and stuff. We should do a video! And we did. And then I took the raw footage from three inexpensive HD cameras* and smooshed it together to create this :

I am kinda proud of this, which is my first ever try at non-linear editing, even though the end result is not exactly what I wanted it to be.

The important thing is that I learned a whole bunch, and I can’t wait to apply everything I learned to another video. I would, though, do a lot of stuff differently, especially in the shooting. We didn’t think we had the time to go back and re-shoot**, so I worked with what I had.

Things that will be better next time around:

  • Better lighting. So not kidding about this. I would much rather decrease the brightness in my editor than try to crank up levels. It did not work out well.
  • Better shot composition. I didn’t think anyone would object to the edges of the backdrop being in the shots, but someone did =) That meant I had to zoom in to get rid of the edges, which blew out the picture even more and resulted in some weird framing that I was powerless to correct.
  • More b-roll. We didn’t have a story for this video — more a theme, and a fairly vague one, at that — having gone with a fairly simple performance-based thing, but I still wish we’d shot a ton more extra footage. I could have used it. Speaking of themes …
  • A stronger theme. “… and then we can roll ourselves up in the tulle and lace we’ll be using as photo props!” It sounded simple and brilliant at the time, I assure you. Sadly, the best footage was the stuff we couldn’t use because of the aforementioned crappy framing, so you don’t get to see much of us enveloped by our funereal shrouds.
  • Better workflow. I understand the process so much better that it won’t take me two days just to set up the footage for editing, and the editing process itself will go much faster and much more smoothly.

I’ve been asked why we went the DIY/on-the-cheap route here (and why our label didn’t pay for it), to which I say: everything we can do ourselves is one less thing we have to wait for, or surrender control over, or pay for, up front or in the end — because every expense comes out first, before we start getting paid. Also, have you seen some of the crap videos out there? Yeah, this isn’t Oscar material, but I don’t think it sucks too hard, and the more I learn, the better the next ones will be.

Plus? It’s a whole lot of fun.

* In case you’re curious: a Flip Mino HD, a Kodak Playsport Zx3, and my new compact still camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 with the beautiful Leica glass. I wish I had five just like it.
** Our projected release date was in March, but that got pushed back by forces out of our control, so … I guess we could have re-shot, but … we didn’t. You’ll have to take it as you find it, and hope for better things in the future =)

menagerie

So we still have Mr Grey and Miss Orange.

They’ll be finished with their kitten shots on Friday, and their immune systems should be stable a couple weeks after that, so they’ll be ready to go out into the world.*

So far, my plan to find someone (or a couple someones) to adopt them has come to naught.

I get it. Everyone thinks, “Oh, well, Mr Grey and Miss Orange have a good home Chez Loki et Suriel, so they’re already saved. If I want a kitten, I’ll get one from the pound, where I’ll be actually saving a life.” I get that. I really do.

But at the same time, it makes me sad. I wonder how long they’d be stuck in a cage, lonely and unpetted, at our local rescue, waiting to be adopted — supposing the rescue can even take them. They’re not wee tiny baby kitties anymore, so they’re not quite as cute as they were ten weeks ago.

I wonder, if we end up keeping them, how good their home with us would actually be. Given our current four other cats and two dogs, integrating two spazzy kittens into that group will be stressful and difficult — for everyone involved — and will probably mean frequent hissing and flying fur.

And I love these two kittens, but I wonder if they’re really meant for our house. We didn’t rescue them thinking we’d keep them — six cats really is beyond the pale — but there don’t seem to be any viable options out there. Or any options that wouldn’t break my heart into a million pieces. We saved their lives, so I feel responsible for them, y’know?

So yeah. If you think a kitten or two would be a good thing to add to your life now, let me know. They may not fit in one hand any more, but they’re still super cute.

* They’ll still need to be fixed, obviously, but in terms of general health, they’ll be good.

the day we’ve been waiting for

I have so many things I want to blog about, but was prevented by an annoying hack of a bunch of my sites, including this one, so I’ll just start with the most awesome thing:

Path of Hours [click to embiggen]Reliquary’s 2nd album, Path of Hours, is finally available!

You guys, it has been four years since we recorded the songs for this, and it’s been a long, painful, agonizing process to get this album mixed and mastered and produced and sent to distributors — a process that is, at last, over. Our sophomore effort, as they say, is finally out there.

It’s on CDBaby right now, and will be on iTunes in the fullness of time, and of course, we’ll have copies at shows and stuff. If you haven’t seen a live show of ours in the last 4 years, it’ll all be new to you =)

I hope you’ll go take a listen, buy it if you like it, and tell your friends. And thanks for waiting.