Chopin, Paris, Bradbury, happiness

Chopin tomb
Paris, October 2017, and his music in the air.

OCTOBER 16th 2018 — I visited Chopin’s tomb at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris a bit over a year ago.

And the greatest thing was that there was his music in the air just then, just like in an episode of THE RAY BRADBURY THEATER that had a scene actually filmed there: “On the Orient, North”. Someone was playing it from their phone. I almost couldn’t believe it.

Also wonderful was how the apartment I rented happened to be located literally just down the street from this cemetery (and I mean, Paris is huge), which I always knew I would want to visit. But I didn’t even realize this when arranging for the flat. It was the only one open to me, really.

It was on rue du Chemin-Vert (“Street of the Green Path”). And in Paris I experienced some of the happiest moments of my life. I treasure some of those memories.

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These things will apply to everyone I will ever meet

Vision

From two or three years ago.

OCTOBER 14th 2018 — Never let anyone compromise your principles.

You are the one who would pay the price of living with that, perhaps for the rest of your life. It’s not worth it, whatever the situation.

And there are people who will appreciate and perhaps even love you precisely for refusing to lie or say false things.

I have decided to do what I can to live up to that ideal of never saying anything to anyone that could not stand as the last thing I said to them, should I rejoin eternity soon after that.

I will never play a single game with another person’s heart. It’s not what we’re here for.

* * *

I will never be one of those people making others feel there is something they need to change about themselves in order to be good enough. In order for me to like them.

Don’t listen to those people. That is a road that will never end.

You will never get lasting validation from them, and even if you did, it would be for all the wrong, manipulative reasons, and would be taken away the next time that person felt peevish — or the smallness of their own heart.

If I or others like you and your company just the way you are, you are already more than good enough, and wonderful.

This life is too precious and fleeting and fragile for anything more closed-minded than this.

Nudge for Concepts

5637A0D5-6A6F-4B3B-A13A-E80C616FBF8E
Some shapes Nudged into shape.

OCTOBER 8th 2018 — iOS app Concepts just introduced an amazing new Nudge tool, which finally adds a function to a drawing program I have always wished for.

Being vector-based, Concepts already let you always adjust any line and element of a drawing at any point in the process, but the Nudge tool makes drawing with it completely malleable. You can push and pull everything to mold and shape it with infinite freedom.

Incidentally, part of the Concepts team is Finnish. I am not involved with them, though certainly would be proud to be.


Here is a Medium article on the new tool and here is the app’s web page.

A great Bear McCreary piece

1 (18)
Mister McCreary with his Emmy Award in 2013 for the title theme of DA VINCI’S DEMONS. Photo from his official site.

OCTOBER 3rd 2018 — Here and embedded below is a great concert performance on YouTube of a terrific piece from the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA version of 2003–2010.

Mister McCreary conducts, and the vocal soloist is Raya Yarbrough. Recorded in July 2010 at the Tenerife International Film Music Festival, Canary Islands, Spain.

For me, music for American science fiction series stagnated for a long time following Gene Roddenberry’s death in 1991. From then on the producers of the STAR TREK spin-offs actively worked to push music as far into the background as possible.

They even fired their best and most interesting composer, Ron Jones. Fortunately all his soundtracks for THE NEXT GENERATION are now available on Spotify, for example.

From that point in the early 1990s, music in the TREKs became a thin, disappointing hum in the background, rather than being an active, strong voice or even character of its own.

This was not the fault of the composers, all of whom would have been capable of much more, as shown for example by Dennis McCarthy’s soundtrack for the seventh film, STAR TREK: GENERATIONS, where he was allowed more range and freedom. He was one of the most active composers for the spin-offs ever since the debut of THE NEXT GENERATION.

BABYLON 5 fortunately went for strong, powerful music, by former Tangerine Dream member Christopher Franke. And then later the GALACTICA reimagining with Bear McCreary was just wonderful in this area.

He scored every episode of those four seasons as well as the associated TV movies, having started as assistant to Richard Gibbs on the miniseries that preceded the first season.


Bear McCreary’s official site is here. And you can find him on Twitter: @bearmccreary.

Scott Murphy & DeForest Kelley

Kelley, DeForest
The unsolicited photo I received in the late 1990s from Mister Kelley, not long before he passed away.

OCTOBER 2nd 2018 — Scott Murphy is one of the legends of adventure games. He co-created SPACE QUEST for Sierra, and he’s also a really friendly, approachable, and down-to-earth person.

He wrote back when I messaged him in my earlier Facebook days, and we chatted from time to time, and I was lucky enough to even Skype with him once.

Then later Scott also provided a crucial voiceover — lines written by our leader Agustín Cordes — for our game SERENA.

I feel fortunate to have had some contact with Scott.

He is now dealing with a serious health issue and could use our support. He deserves it. The GoFundMe campaign for him is here.

I hope you may consider sharing the link on social media, and contributing if you can. It all helps and really makes a difference.

* * *

Scott once told me an anecdote on Facebook about DeForest Kelley— Dr. McCoy in the original STAR TREK — whom he saw in the early 1980s.

Our mutual friend and colleague Agustín Cordes — creator of horror adventure game classic SCRATCHES and of the upcoming ASYLUM — went on to comment that this exchange should be preserved for its historical significance.

And it’s true — a very human anecdote with two legends (Scott might squirm at this description) having a close brush.

So I thought, why not actually do that — preserve it? So here it is.

It started when, back in 2010, I shared the above photo from De, with these words:

“I wrote to DeForest Kelley towards the end of his life and received this unsolicited autographed photo. Thank you so much, De. I never had the honor of meeting you in person, but to me you will always be the real McCoy. A true gentleman and hero.”

(In that letter, I made a point of praising his fantastic voice acting for the two Interplay STAR TREK adventure games — available on GOG.com — that feature voiceovers from all of the main cast. I believe that was the last time he played McCoy, and he really did amazing, completely authentic work for them — likable, enjoyable, and funny to an almost unreal degree.)

See the end of this post for screen caps of the exchange between Scott and me, but here it is as regular text for easier reading:

Scott:

“Simo, shortly before his death, DeForest Kelley kind of staggered into the restaurant I was cooking at just before I joined Sierra, a place called The Broken Bit in Coarsegold, California. I actually cooked a meal for him. (No, he didn’t die within the next 24 hours, bitches!) Unfortunately, we were quite busy, as it was a Saturday night, so I was unable to go out and stroll by his table. Oddly, he was alone, and word from the waitresses and busboys was that he seemed very sad and depressed. Poor man. In front of the camera, though, he was a true professional who will long be remembered. Quite admirable in that regard.”

Simo:

“Thanks for sharing this, Scott. I treasure every anecdote about DeForest, even sadder ones like this. They all add to the reality of the man and only increase my sympathy for him… I have gathered that he drank quite a lot, but I wonder if something specific was weighing on him at this particular time. Do you remember about which year this would have been? When I read the biography [FROM SAWDUST TO STARDUST by Terry Lee Rioux] again, I could try to see if there is mention of what was going on in his life at that time. (The death of a pet or other loved one was always a terrible blow to him, for example.)”

Scott:

“I can only guess, as I have barnacles on me older than you. It would have been between the beginning of 1982 and March 1 of 2003 [see below for clarification of these dates], which was when I began my career at Sierra. He seemed someone well acquainted with alcohol. It may have been a stereotype, but he did look that way according to the floor staff and my personal distant view of him through the small window in the kitchen/dining room door. It could even have been in 1981. My memory is a little suspect. I’d lean toward 2002–2003. I know it’s very difficult to have been someone of his celebrity, relegated to the occasional reprising of the role for the new ST movie, as well as making a living attending STAR TREK fan conventions. For some, that could have been, and quite likely was, psychologically crushing. Then there’s the alcoholic’s genetic predisposition. I hope the time frame helps.”

Simo:

“Definitely — although did you mean 1981–1983 rather than 1981–2003? A quick flip through the biography reveals little about what he did in that time frame apart from the first STAR TREK movies (the first one was released in December 1979, the second in June 1982, and the third in June 1984), so probably it was not a particularly active time for him. From what I have read, I get the impression that he saw the McCoy straitjacket in an increasingly positive light as the years went on and he accepted the lack of other roles. Of course it must have been bitterly disappointing after steady employment for year after year before STAR TREK — but by the mid-80s I think he was saying he was retired from acting other than for STAR TREK. And he seems to have also valued the quiet life he led with his wife and their many animal companions. He was a very private individual anyway. If I remember right, I think none of the other original cast members were ever invited to his home. But aside from the sad decline of his own and his wife’s health towards the end of the 90s in particular, he seems to have had a solid strength in him (of course disturbed badly at times and certainly not helped by his generally frail health) and quiet convictions that he revealed rarely but that came across when he played McCoy. A fascinating man.”

Scott:

“Yes, 1983. D’oh! Just woke up after a long night of trying to migrate my Outlook files onto my newly installed replacement laptop hard drive.”

Simo:

“I figured it was something like that! 🙂 Thanks again for sharing this story. I have only slowly gathered over the years how much DeForest imbibed… No disrespect intended, we all have our weaknesses and it never made him harm anyone around him. Official sources have naturally been discreet about it, and the biography does not dwell on it either.”

Epilogue: Two years later

Agustín:

“This post should be preserved for its historical significance.”

And so it was.


Below is the exchange as it appeared on Facebook. Read from left to right like a series of comic book panels. Not sure why Facebook shows 2008 as the date, as I only got on Facebook in 2010.

Index: September 2018

Gold Dust 01
“Gold Dust” from 2015.

This is the monthly index for September 2018. Posts for the month in chronological order:

Welcome — Opening and introductory post with general thoughts about Iceland and life.

What do you do? — A moment of reflection and a thought on creativity.

Let’s read THE GRAMOPHONE in Iceland: No. 1 — April 1923 — First post in this series, with musical selections and a little random music theory.

Bradbury country — Of Ray Bradbury, childhood, art, and Iceland.

Dream — An unsettling dream from the night before.

Sunset — A beautiful dusk.

Let’s read THE GRAMOPHONE in Iceland: No. 2 — June 1923 — Continuing the series, with more musical picks and a little about the harpsichord.

Pitch shifting, rhythms, & a figure — What I was doing that day related to music, including a bit about my personal catalogue of rhythms, a notebook bought in Paris, and then also a little about our game SERENA.

“…a long, long time.” — Remembering a storyline in the science fiction series BABYLON 5.

1st day of school — My first day at the university, with photos.

The Settlement Exhibition, Reykjavík — A visit there, and a bit about the extinct flightless bird, the great auk.

The great auk and Fire Island — More about the great auk, with photos from a guest photographer.

Let’s watch THE RAY BRADBURY THEATER in Iceland: 1.01: “Marionettes, Inc.” — First entry in this series, which I am particularly happy with. A lot of work went into this, with plenty of screen captures. Mister Bradbury and this series deserve it.

Let’s read THE GRAMOPHONE in Iceland: No. 3 — August 1923 — Some amusing quotes, and one less amusing one, from this issue, plus early music on the harpsichord.

Let’s listen to Bob Dylan in Iceland: 1959 — Starting a chronological listen of all his released music, with Spotify playlists per year.

Transposing — An amusing consequence of doing so much music recently.

My interest in music — A wish or a future plan.

Chopin & Leisure Suit Larry — A whimsy: sheet music of a Chopin piece as it appears in a classic adventure game.


The master index can be found here.

A fresh wind

Moore, Gerald - book
Mister Rawshark likes it too.

OCTOBER 2nd 2018 — There’s a fresh wind blowing. Some corner has been turned. I don’t know why or how. But that’s the feeling.

I was thinking this with some wonder on my way to the grocery store, and next thing I knew, this book, THE UNASHAMED ACCOMPANIST (1984) by Gerald Moore, fell in my lap — I found it on the free book exchange rack at the nearby shopping center.

Gerald Moore is a pianist whose work I got to know in the early 2000s when I acquired a collection of back issues of BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE, the cover CDs of which featured full, quality performances of classical music. He played on some of them.

(I still have that collection of magazines and CDs. I packed them and only a small number of other important things into plastic storage boxes and asked my parents to keep them for me back in Finland.)

I also remembered an interview with him from those issues. And the thing is, he was already active in the 1920s, so I’m currently coming across his name in the back issues of THE GRAMOPHONE I’m now reading.

To paraphrase from memory one of my favorite writers: We respect serendipity around here. I’ll share the exact quote in a later entry when I come across it again.

Or, for another paraphrase of the general thought, when two meaningful events occur in such close succession, it means something.

Somehow, the things we need seem to find us sooner or later, wherever we go. At least, as long as we follow our hearts. No matter how strange or difficult the road.

P.S. “There’s a fresh wind blowing in THE WILD SHORE,” is what Ursula K. Le Guin said of Kim Stanley Robinson’s debut novel, which I only just realized was published the same year as THE UNASHAMED ACCOMPANIST. Mister Robinson is the only living science fiction author whose work I read.