She still humbles me

Posted on 10 November 2011 | No responses

10 years ago tonight, I stuttered and fumbled my way through a first date with a beautiful, smart, and witty woman who had me floored, and I was the luckiest man in the world.  I quickly fell in love with her, and found safety in the beautiful fragile soul behind the boldness.  Things couldn’t last, I was a boy then, though we were friends when it didn’t hurt too much.  We didn’t talk for years.  Nine and a half months ago, our paths crossed again, and we found that as incomplete as we both still felt, we were ready to grow with each other.  And we have.

It won’t be long before I ask her to become my wife, to make us officially a family of our own choosing.

I love you, Leslie.  Ten years ago, my life changed, and the heartaches only make me more sure that you’re the one I want with me whatever the future may bring.

First they searched the Arabs…

Posted on 8 February 2011 | No responses

 Dan Roentsch shared this video from today, about asserting your rights to refuse consent for a police search.

I find myself incredibly (using that word in it’s true meaning) frustrated with the excessively large portion of my countrymen who believe that broad search powers are warranted "if you’ve got nothing to hide".  As mentioned in the video, if you’ve got nothing to hide, you’re not helping the police by allowing them to search you or your property.  I wish that more folks could remember what Pastor Martin Neimöller had to say on a similar topic.

With the humility of one who recognizes when he stands on the shoulders of giants, I will borrow his words and form to illustrate what I perceive to be the danger of mindless consent.


First they searched the Arabs,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t an Arab.

Then they searched everyone for bombs,
and I didn’t refuse consent because I wasn’t a terrorist.

Then they searched everyone’s data for religion,
and I didn’t refuse consent because it wasn’t a crime to be atheist.

Then they searched everyone’s data for financial irregularities,
and I didn’t refuse consent because I can still use cash to pay for my vices.

Then they changed the law
and their searches were evidence before I could refuse consent.


Putting Music to the Words

Posted on 20 December 2010 | No responses

It’s been 6 months since I began writing a song, and I put things on hold while I tried to find the sound in my head that went with the words with which I’d begun.

I put off trying to refine the lyrics because I felt like I needed to strengthen my ability to hear the music that would carry them.

On Friday night, I had a Linkin Park concert playing on TV, and I sat down to try to figure out the piano bit in In The End, and while it’s a simple pattern, I was happy to find that I could find the keys by ear, and was able to play it in a moment or two.  I don’t expect anyone to be impressed by that, but it was an indication to me that I was starting to make some progress matching what was in my ear with what was in my head, and ultimately with the piano keys.

It may not seem like much, but I also found that after I’d gotten the finger movements down for the bit of Brick I shared earlier, that mental practice (I was the guy on the subway “playing” his thigh) improved what came out the next time that I actually sat down at the keyboard.

I’m enjoying the feeling of learning music like a child, getting comfortable at the keyboard, and experimenting in a number of ways.

I’m not going to try recording myself singing yet, but here’s the verse

Like an actor playing me who didn’t get the part,
I wasn’t living my own life, not with all my heart.
Stopped getting wiser with my years, just started gettin’ old,
Tryin’ to figure what went wrong, I found I’d lost my soul.

And here, my friends, is how I’m hearing the music for it now… have a listen…

Why Music?

Posted on 15 December 2010 | No responses

I’ve spent much of the past 6 months trying to figure out what I do and don’t want my life to be.  Last night, in discussing my progress or lack thereof with a friend, I brought up music as something that I see helping me along.  Saturday, I turned up 80s tunes and sang in my living room, and I could feel the goodness.

I sat back down at the keyboard I’ve mostly been looking at, watched a Youtube video to try to pick up a few chords that went together.  After getting used to playing them the way they were in the video, I naturally started playing with what I later found out was arpeggio — playing the individual notes in a chord separately — and I started to get something that sounded somewhat like No One by Alicia Keys.

I really like finding these things by accident.  My entire life, I’ve learned through experimentation more so than formal training.  Playing music gives an immediate feedback loop, and doing it on a USB keyboard plugged into a PC means that not only can I hear and record, but the software that I’m using (Music Creator 5) has a view called "piano roll" where I can see the notes which I played and I don’t have to rely on my ears alone.

I can’t imagine a better scenario for self-learning.  I just don’t have a clear goal yet.

I think that my next step should be to try to learn a complete song, but I’m not quite sure how to approach it.  I’ve been mostly playing with my right hand, which is something from which I’ll have to move on, but I think that what’s probably best for me to do is to try learning small parts very well, achieve "muscle memory", and then add complexity.  Just like I did with typing.  I no longer look when I type, but I never learned how to use the home row and "touch type".

Another friend went to see Ben Folds last night, so when I spent some time at the keyboard last night, I decided that I would learn the first part of the melody from Brick.

I think I’ve got most of the muscle memory for this bit down pretty well, but I’m not sure if I should move on to other parts, try to get timing and pressure right, or find another song I’m willing to straight-up commit to.

I know the timing and pressure vary within this sample, but even just being able to get to this point so quickly is encouraging.

Here’s what I’ve got so far…

It’s time to move past "testing the waters", though.  I’m desperately searching for a song I can commit to learning in whole, and will stick through simply because I love it.  Of course, it also helps if it was written for piano, and on the simpler side… 

I’m open to recommendations…

Song-in-progress: Doubling Down

Posted on 8 November 2010 | 1 response

Like an actor playing me who didn’t get the part,
I wasn’t living my own life, not with all my heart.
Stopped getting wiser with my years, just started gettin’ old,
Tryin’ to figure what went wrong, I found I’d lost my soul.

It won’t be easy, not at all, but things just couldn’t stay,
I’d die a lonely death inside, it has to be this way.
Moving on I know I do so all by myself,
but there’s a need I have I just can’t put back on the shelf.

I’m doublin’ down.
I’ll take my chances, raise the stakes, givin’ up’s what I can’t take.
I don’t have a master plan, just gonna do the best I can.
Get my body workin’ right, hangin’ out with friends at night.

I need a love I can’t deny, no matter how hard I try,
where we’re seein’ eye-to-eye, naked souls nowhere to hide.

This was my first recent attempt at writing lyrics, as of July 25th.  I’ve continued to edit, but I wonder with later revisions if it began to lose something.  I’m sharing it now as my starting point, and hopefully it will evolve into a full and robust song.

I’ve just begun reading a book on writing song lyrics,  Popular Lyric Writing: 10 Steps to Effective Storytelling and I’m already convinced that it’s both confirming what I thought I’d noticed while listening intently to songs, and teaching techniques which will help me bring out what I know that I’ve got inside, to share.

Comments and civil criticisms welcome.

Copyright 2010 Anthony Dante Ortenzi

How Open Will Change Television

Posted on 17 October 2010 | No responses

The licensing dispute between Fox and Cablevision which kept the Giants game from coursing across the Cablevision network at kickoff today shows us yet again why closed licensing models based upon licensing aggregation simply are not in the best interest of consumers.  As I highlighted in a previous post, I’m not a fan of having my cable company providing content contingent upon my letting them negotiate on my behalf without my input.  By restricting my choices, by forcing itself as an unwanted middleman, it holds me hostage as a bargaining chip.

It’s not uncommon within traditional media, and it’s being forced upon new forms of media consumption and distribution.  Proprietary methods of licensing, securing, and distributing content seek to retain control, while purporting to solve the problem of enabling fair compensation for copyright holders.

Large media companies are in the business of exploiting economies of scale to monetize content.  Aggregating customer demand and simplifying its own job of authorizing access to content by providing as uniform a product as possible, cable companies both remove the market choice for content, subsidizing what it provides at its own discretion, and with limited provider choice in most markets, provides service that’s "good enough".

I remain convinced that what will ultimately destroy large media companies will be the disintermediation of forced relicensing schemes by the establishment of an open content authorization standard, and service providers which compete on the basis of the quality of their service instead of the exclusivity of their agreements.  An open content authorization standard, complete with near-real-time analytics, support for cryptographically-secure delegation of authorization (to allow for voluntary relicensing schemes), and an ecosystem of disinterested authorization providers can enable a new transparency in the media supply chain.

If Greenpeace can force Timberland into transparency about the sources of its leather purchased from Brazilian suppliers, why is the relative exploitation of both producers and consumers of copyrighted materials free of such transparency when it’s so incredibly simple to track the provenance of digital assets?  Should I be able to filter the content I’ll pay for based upon the business practices of the company providing it?

This past week, I listened to Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL, giving a keynote speech about the future of his company.  Two things stuck with me from what he spoke about — one being my introduction to the AOL property Seed, the other being his description of what was needed to create "offramps from the internet", programming.  Seed is a site for writers and photographers to create freelance content from which AOL can draw, while compensating contributors.  His reference to programming was to evoke the notion of television or radio programming, what most new media types refer to as content curation.

AOL’s building its businesses and brands around content curation, it’s doing so by sourcing its inputs directly from independent contractors, placing thousands or millions of tiny bets in a marketplace that can’t be controlled by its competitors.

An open, transparent authorization system could still be used to allow exclusive licensing access to a single customer, should the copyright licensor choose, but an open platform provides the opportunity for new revenue models based upon ubiquitous access, low transaction costs (at high volume), and simplifying consumption.  Authorization policies can allow new methods of consumption, entitlement to value-added content, and clarity on policies for derived works.  One can easily imagine a "cover" of a popular song inheriting obligations from the original, but allowing a new performance by an amazing coffeehouse talent to distribute her performance in ways that still ensure that the songwriter’s licensing restrictions (say, a royalty of tenth of a cent per play) are respected.  Content curators, such as those doing the "programming" would have an incentive to add value.  Content distributors would have an incentive to compete on the value offered by their distribution service, and not on their ability to negotiate licensing deals.

People can run from the comfort of Comcast/Cablevision/Time Warner/Verizon/DirectTV/Dish to the comfort of iTunes, but they’re simply exchanging one master for another.  Eventually, even Netflix will face its day of reckoning — its model still relies upon large-scale aggregate content deals it makes on behalf of its customers.

Eventually, open WILL win.  Market forces will eventually dictate it.  Want to get ahead of the curve and help make it happen?

I do.

Poem – Making Love

Posted on 12 October 2010 | No responses

 Making Love

Melted selves combine,
amalgamated lovers
kisses outside,
inside: lust
naked tumble fumble
gyroscopic elevation

Locked embrace
oh, the pace
veins, they race!
energy escapes…

A recent poem, in which I was playing with diction, rhythm, and form.

Happiness Starts in the Bedroom

Posted on 1 September 2010 | No responses

I’ve always been a night owl.  Whether out and being social, working on a project, or simply passing time, I’ve always felt comfortable being up late into the evening.  I’ve come to understand as well that I have a nagging feeling like I should be doing something, and that going to sleep somehow forces me to miss out on things.

Contrasting that notion, I find that when I’ve not gotten enough sleep, that I have poorer control of my emotions — I’m more easily frustrated or enraged.  I don’t know how much of that is about the restorative powers of sleep on the brain itself, and how much it’s due to reduced insulin sensitivity because of the lack of sleep.  I’m a type II diabetic, and my blood sugar control this summer has been much better than before — often waking up at 95mg/dl or so instead of the 230+ from a few years ago.  I’ve felt like I’ve been thinking better, been more positive, smiled more, been more happy.  I’ve seen it crawl up again, particularly after a minimal-sleep trip to Las Vegas and an offset body clock.  It’s time to get back to the treadmill — exercise both has an immediate and a lingering lowering effect on my levels — but it’s hard to get on the treadmill and push myself when I haven’t slept.

Sleep needs to become a priority for me.  Happiness starts in the bedroom.

Rockin’ the Roasted Veggies

Posted on 25 August 2010 | No responses

I must say, I could eat healthy like this quite a bit!

I put a container (are those things pints?) of brussels sprouts, halved, and about a third of a head of cauliflower into a ziploc freezer bag, poured in a bit of olive oil and some freshly-ground pepper and sea salt, mixed it all up to get coated, and put it into a 400 degree preheated oven in a rectangular glass baking dish.  About 15 minutes in, stir to cook evenly.  After another 15 minutes (half-hour in), I did the same thing with the freezer bag and a large stalk of broccoli cut into pieces and grape tomatoes.  I sprinkled it with a bit of dried basil just for the hell of it, too.  After another 15 minutes I stirred again, and cooked it for another 15 minutes (an hour total cooking time).  I plated it right out of the oven so it would melt the shredded Asiago I sprinkled on top.

Awesome awesomeness.  Sheer awesome awesomeness, actually.  Plus a bit more, FTW.

Add Your Own Rose Color

Posted on 24 August 2010 | No responses

The more I listen to music lately, the more I realize that trying to stay away from the topic of romantic love and longing just puts an unnecessary filter on creativity.  If this time in my life is about finding a way to embrace the whole of me, I can’t just put my heart on pause — I need to grow into it.

With that in mind, on the walk from the subway to work this morning, I looked at each woman I passed as though I were in love with her, looking for what about her would be stamped on my mind as her essence when we said goodbye at the end of an evening.

Imperfections become beautiful when colored by love, more beautiful than perfection, because the appreciation is personal.  Nobody else sees her quite like I do, no matter who she is.

What a pleasant way to brighten up a chilly morning…

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