This morning I woke with “Figure 8” in my head, a Schoolhouse Rock ditty sung by the late Blossom Dearie, jazz pianist and vocalist extraordinaire. For those 1970s education snippets she also sung about adjectives, but “Figure 8”, written by the exceptional Bob Dorough, isn’t just about numbers, but achieving dreams. Mastering one’s 8 times tables might be one of those goals, but skating that perfect figure eight is certainly another. It wasn’t one of mine; I grew up in the Sacramento Valley where no frozen lakes existed. But I wanted to sing, and Blossom’s voice is like the Kristi Yamaguchi or Midori Ito of singers. When young, I sang along to all the Schoolhouse Rock tunes, not only learning some maths, grammar, and history, but finding incredible joy, and some inspiration, in voices that weren’t AM radio staples.
I was going to write about football today, ahem, but Blossom Dearie just wouldn’t leave me alone. As I pottered about the kitchen, making tea, pouring Grape Nuts, I kept going over the 8 times tables, albeit in Blossom’s captivating tone: One times eight is two times four, four times four is two times eight. If you skate upon thin ice, you’d be wise if you thought twice, before you made another single move. Then I sat down with the Grape Nuts, careful not to spill the bowl all over my desk. Poking through various sites, I encountered yet another piece of this morning’s blog puzzle, a quote from Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl, all about the benefits of singing in garages as opposed to standing in front of judges. Dave swears, so I only linked to it, but it’s quite fantastic. And what’s even better is what’s written afterwards about how this quote applies to writing, added by my lovely friend Julie K. Rose. Julie, well done!!
So, I was pondering those nuggets with Blossom’s voice still in my head: One times eight is eight. Two times eight is sixteen. Three times eight is twenty-four, four times eight is thirty-two, and five times eight is forty, you know. Every Friday I check the various online sites where my books are available, in part to make sure book covers are still visible (a while back Kobo lost some covers, that was a drag). Also to check if books have arrived at sites (I’m still waiting for the last two Alvin novels to reach Sony, and Timeless Nature has yet to appear at Apple). Also… yes, to see if any new reviews are present. Okay, I’m guilty as charged; it’s really nice to read reviews, even the bad ones (someone left one star on Alvin’s Farm because of the blue language). Long ago I reached the point where reviews were just a barometer of people’s tastes. But I won’t lie; five stars makes me smile, and recently The Timeless Nature of Patience made someone’s day. Five stars waited under that book’s cover on Barnes & Noble this morning, plus a nice write-up. Talk about a great way to begin one’s Friday!
Blossom was still running through my mind: Six times eight is forty-eight, seven times eight is fifty-six, eight times eight is sixty-four, nine times eight is seventy-two, and ten times eight is eighty, that’s true. I was also pondering how cool is this gig, books and tunes and inspirational quotes from rock stars and writers. That beats a football post hands down! (Yes, football has been on my mind all week, but really, just say no to the hype, and go Niners!)
It also serves as the reason to continue this path, even when indie publishing seems more like tracking loose ends than actually writing books. The above hassles with Smashwords have been piling, making me wonder if I’m on the right road with that company. All I want is to write, then edit, then publish books; why does it have to be so gall-darn complicated? I’ve been feeling that way about the approaching Super Bowl, more hoopla than you can shake a stick at. I stopped reading articles about it a few days back, disgusted by Chris Culliver’s homophobic comments and plain sick and tired of media-in-general BS. Sort of how Dave Grohl feels about TV talent contests and Julie Rose’s view, mine too, on the publishing culture. Yet so unlike Blossom Dearie’s take on math.
One times eight is eight. Two times eight is sixteen. Three times eight is twenty-four, four times eight is thirty-two, and five times eight is forty, you know.
Simplicity is my mantra. Maybe that’s a dying art in this smartphone day and age (more about dying arts next week, but hopefully I won’t be discussing my San Francisco 49ers slip from their undefeated reign at the Super Bowl). I am so blessed to have the opportunity to publish, and small headaches are just par for the course. Nothing worthwhile is easy, the manifesto of The Timeless Nature of Patience. One of these days that novel will hit Apple, and its predecessor will see the light of day at Sony, hopefully before Timeless gets there. But those things are out of my control. What I can do is sing along with Blossom, consider Dave Grohl and Julie K. Rose’s wisdom, and be pleased someone enjoyed the last Alvin’s Farm novel. Then I’ll drink some more tea, maybe listen to another of Ms. Dearie’s wonderful tunes (check out her self-titled release from 1956 if you really want to be wrapped in stunning vocals), and pick up where I left off yesterday, editing yet another manuscript. Just one day after the next, blessings hidden in the most unexpected places.
Figure eight is double four, figure four is half of eight. If you skate, you would be great, if you could make a figure eight. That’s a circle that turns round upon itself.
Place it on its side and it’s a symbol meaning infinity.