Monday, March 4, 2013


As an actor getting the right prop was essential to finding and fixing the character. It’s hard to capture the grit of a Forties Noir in sweats and a T-shirt

And fixing the character, no not correcting the writer’s image, but locking the character you have selected to portray makes finding all of the nuisances so much easier.

Just watch Spencer the Great work, in Captains Courageous and Tortilla Flat he was a Hispanic. Now Mr. Tracey was many things but Hispanic wasn’t even close to one of them but he became so completely fixed in his character that the audience accepted him even though he wasn’t Latin.

Of course he could do that. Just watch The Mountain; Mr. Tracey climbs a cardboard set and makes your palms sweat.

So what do you care?

Finding the right mood for your working space is just as essential as that fixing of character is to an actor. An artist creates with the mind first and then the tool in hand. If the environment is right it will be hard to find the focus to get anything to come out right.

One of the ways you can fix the character of your working environment is with music. It is something which will fill you with all sorts of inspirations, comfort, security, passion, peace, joy and more and all you have to do is listen with half an ear.

I never connected with the music of my own generation. There were any number of reasons. Way back then in ole Big D we had all of the RIGHT stuff, opera, orchestra, (Even though Ft Worse really had a much better one, we in Dallas never mentioned the other place. See the rivalry was so bitter that Ft Worse had a bit of a baby brother complex; they just had to have more, be better, be more exciting than their powerful neighbor. Sure they tried for years to have an air port of their own and only when Jim Wright became Speaker of the House and twisted arms to make North Texas a regional air port system did that happen. But the one thing that they always did better was the Fine Arts. They had the Kimball, the Ft Worse Opera and the Ft Worse Symphony and they pumped money into it to keep it that way, not that the cowpokes and oil riggers gave any more of a rat’s patootie than the bankers in Dallas, they just wanted to beat Dallas’ behind so they coughed up.)

No I grew up in a house filled with the music of the Big Bands, not surprising, my parents were older and they spent their youth in those frantic War Years when Glenn Miller was King and nothing could be better than “eight to the bar.” Dad even had a band in high school, maybe he’ll even forgive me for mentioning it, the Tiger Teasers, cause he was from Corsicana where the Tigers played and that was what brought in the folks.

So while my peers were rockin’ ‘round the clock I was with Ella and Charlie Shavers and Bix Biderbeck. I even discovered a nasty, dirty unfit jazz show on the big RCA that sat in my room, Ole Jim Lowe’s Cat’s Caravan: How Blue Can you Get?

So I have always been a jazz man. I grew into a night crawling lounge lizard after college and found the only jazz club in Dallas Jac Murphy’s Villager where the drinks were strong, the nights were cool and the jazz was hot.

So I won’t kid you, I listen to jazz. For most of my life I didn’t know that. I thought it was Big Band music and singers but once I found Amazon they corrected the error of my ways.

Now I know what to listen for, Ann Hampton Callaway, Renee Olstead or Jane Monhiet. That’s what puts me in the mood.

But because of the Internet you do not have to go out and buy CDs to fill all of your cabinets. No, you can bring the right music into your own home today for free.

Star here, Radio Tuna has all of the genres, even rock if that is what winds your watch and you can listen until you find the one that makes working a delight. No stopping to change the CD, no turning the LP over, I told you I was an old guy, no you don’t even have to haunt garage sales looking for those 8-Tracks to play in the player you salvaged from your Gremlin. You can listen all day and never have to do anything once you find the station you like.

Me I’m partial to the Jazz Groove under Cool Jazz in the jazz listings at Radio Tuna, but maybe you fancy something else? Try a bunch of them. You can hop around until you find the one that is right for you.
One hint, when you find the station that works for you, go to its site and bookmark it there.

It’s likely to be a bit more stable that Radio Tuna cause there won’t be so many curious folks stopping by for a quick listen.

Once you’ve found your groove let the sound carry to where you can shut out all of the noise of daily life and just make what you see in your mind come out to play.

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