Process

New Year Rituals I ACTUALLY Stick To

I'm not huge on New Year's Resolutions (my god, so much pressure), but I do have a couple important rituals that have significantly improved my life, so I thought I'd share them with you!

RITUAL #1:  Positivity Jar

In 2013 and 2014, I did actual jars, but in 2015 and 2016, I migrated to small journals due to my heavy travels. Same concept though! Basically, all I do is write tiny positive things on a slip of paper or in the journal. I try to do at least one a day, or several a week. If I fall off the tracks, that's okay; there are some weeks I forget to write in it and then I end up writing 15 things at once. We're talking small stuff, like "I woke up well-rested today," "I'm looking forward to my massage," and "I'm so grateful to have a working heater this year."

RITUAL #2: Everything Journal

The Everything Journal (I made that name up today) is my creative secret weapon. I could talk forever about it. I can even trace snippets (or whole concepts) from my pieces to things I wrote, drew, or observed and documented in my journals. A lot of my text-based work comes from inspiration in there too. Basically, whenever I'm stuck, I have oodles of pages to mine for gems. I forgot to mention the big rule with these journals: They are not allowed to be perfect. I write in pen even though it means making mistakes. I just live with it and look back wistfully later on. If I write something that's actually promising, I will edit it on my computer and refine it there. Everything Journals are just a creative, freeing thing for me.

Bonus new ritual: This year, I was inspired by Gretchen Rubin's Happier Podcast to come up with a one-word theme for 2017. She and her sister/cohost Elizabeth suggest doing that instead of coming up with full-on resolutions, which I like. The theme I've decided to try on this year is "Follow-through," becuase I have trouble finishing the zillion threads I start, and I have a big case of artistic/inspirational overload (opposite of writer's block), which compels me to explore and expand things so much that I hate to just let them go and finish. There's always too much more potential for me. This year, I'd like to get better at wrapping things up. Here's the original podcast episode/blog post about one-word themes, if you want more background on the concept. The episode is only 5 minutes long, so I highly recommend!

If you have any more questions about the Positivity Jar or the Everything Journal rituals, let me know, and I can try to elucidate for you and help you start your own versions!

xoxoxoxoxoxoxox,

Chrysanthe

Halfway through #NaMuCoWriMo!

 Pointless photo included solely to make this more visually interesting and to provide a thumbnail. 😂

Pointless photo included solely to make this more visually interesting and to provide a thumbnail. 😂

As you may know from my recent blog or my social media updates, I started a thing this month called NaMuCoWriMo (National Music Composition Writing Month). Basically, all that means is that I'm challenging myself to compose every day, no matter how crappy the output is. 

True to form, I have a zillion thoughts about this already, but I'll reserve the bulk of my reflection for my follow-up post at the end of the month. At the end of the month, I'll also post a list of what I worked on every day.

But I wanted to do a little check-in now that the month is over halfway over! It's been a GREAT experience so far.

My work has really been all over the place this month, and I mean that mostly in a good way. Because of the "rules" I put in place for myself (mainly not to stagnate in perfectionism), I've been a lot more willing to go outside of my usual boundaries. This means I've done more in Ableton, done more with visuals and space, worked on text, started things that didn't have a clear direction or destination. 

Some trends that have developed. I don't want to judge myself for them yet, instead choosing to (attempt to) focus on observing them neutrally. 

  1. Some days, I "finish" a draft. Other days, I do not. So far, I haven't gone back to fix or finish a lot of my compositions started this month, thus I have a lot of new incomplete things. This makes me slightly anxious but not nearly as much as usual.
  2. I really, really love working with text. I mean, I already knew this, but damn. I really really really do. 
  3. I am liking Ableton Live 1000% more than expected, and I actually think it'll be be a bigger part of my future. Here's a song called "Lament" that I made in there. I assembled the lament on the night of the devastating election, which also happened to be the day of my grandfather's funeral. 
  4. Writing myself etudes and beginner pieces has been really fun! I started learning marimba recently, so one of my compositions was an easy marimba etude to work on some 4-mallet intervals that I suck at. I'm actually totally into the idea of writing more beginner pieces for myself. Not even just beginning-level things. I'm going to start doing this for myself more with violin too, to work on specific things that crop up. Why didn't I think of this sooner?!
  5. It's been an interesting struggle figuring out the best way to notate experimental things.
  6. One piece I'm totally jazzed on is a collaboration with my friend Arthur Breur! We have never met, but we are "composition" friends online, and he is a fellow Patreon creator. I don't know too many composers on Patreon, so it's rad to have him there. We are writing a sonata for violin and piano together, sort of like the FAE sonata except totally different, of course. I want to collaborate with more Patreon artists in the next year, since there are so many creative, cool people on the platform, and Patreon is where I have the most fun with things creatively. So far, I've worked on initial melodies, and Arthur is in the process of coming up with harmonies.
  7. Related to the above point about my sonata collaboration with Arthur: Because he exclusively uses MuseScore for his composition notation, I downloaded it and will be using it for our sonata too. It's easier to share things that way, since it's an open source program that has easy online saving options. We tried sending back .xml files, but it was too clunky. I'm nervous but up for using this different platform (I'm normally a Sibelius person). In the past, I probably would have stressed about changing my routine in any way, but this month has freed me up a lot. 
  8. NaMuCoWriMo has made me even more obsessed with Patreon, to be honest. Since I've been trying a lot of new weird things this month, it's nice to have a safe place to share half-finished and vulnerable works. Most of the things I've done this month are definitely not polished enough to share with the public yet, haha. So if any of my patrons are reading this, thank you for being so receptive and in for this ride! (If you want to be one of them, you're of course welcome to join at any time! It's literally just $1 a month for the the secret updates.)

Stay tuned to hear my further developed thoughts and the day-by-day breakdown of what I actually worked on every day this month! 


Anyone wanna do NaMuCoWriMo with me?

This post is for my fellow composers and creatives who feel the unbearable weight of inertia as much as I do.

I'll speak for myself here: This is really uncomfortable to admit, but I have trouble working. It sucks. I'm a composer and yet I spend more time languishing, planning, fretting, troubleshooting, shooting down my own ideas, and feeling guilty than I actually do composing. It's a hard truth, but I gotta accept it. Both my greatest strength and weakness is my mastery of the art of deliberation. 

I'm tired of it, or at least I need a break from it this month. I have dozens of personal projects and pieces in progress, a lot of great opportunities scheduled for the next 6 months, and more commissions lined up right now than I've ever had in my life (YAY)! -- These are all blessings, of course, but, well...now I have to (get to) actually do them.

I'll get to the point: A lot of writers I know participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) every November, and I would like to do a composer-y spin-off of that. NaMuCoWriMo, if you will. (That's National Music/Composition Writing Month, if that wasn't obvious.)

I'm sure someone else can come up with a better title, but NaMuCoWriMo sounds generic enough to be flexible. I want to use the month of November to do one composition per day. It doesn't have to be an epic, big, real thing. I'm thinking little exercises, various challenges and prompts to get me out of my comfort zone. If I have a week-long project in mind, that's fine too, as long as I'm making sufficient tangible progress every day. I'm posting this blog for accountability. If I write the intention, it becomes more real, right? 

***This post has already changed 3 times, from NaMuWriMo to NaCoWriMo, and now NaMuCoWriMo, due to it being uncharted territory on Twitter, which makes it easier to hashtag and accurately check up on each other's progress.***

Here are some guidelines and general thoughts for myself this month:

  1. I must compose every day.
  2. I must produce "something to show for it." It can be a scratch recording, a sheet of handwritten paper, a page in Sibelius, a 1-minute Ableton file, really does not matter. 
  3. Nothing I compose has to be "good." 
  4. Ok, because I know I won't listen to the previous rule, I hereby give myself express permission to write REALLY CRAPPY STUFF. This will make me more comfortable exploring new territory.
  5. I'm not going to be concerned with "what is music?" and "does this count as music?" or "is this a serious work?" or any genre or other nitpicky bullshit. I don't care about weird standards like "50 bars of notation" or "5 minute run-time" or whatever. 
  6. I don't have to post my creations on my blog, but hey, I might from time to time! I think it would be really cool to document these terrible little compositions, but I also don't want to impose another ritual on myself, since I'm busy enough already. So I'm gonna go with no imposition for now. I'll just see how I feel as it goes.
  7. I'm actually probably going to be sharing this stuff on my Patreon, because I do want to share, but I don't necessarily want everything public. Become a patron here
  8. Oh, I'm allowed one day off per week. So if I really really need to skip a day, I will.
  9. Re-evaluate these guidelines from time to time and shift anything that isn't working well.
  10. I'm absolutely positive that I'm going to want to change one of the guidelines. Totally cool and good.
  11. If you want to join me, cool. If I'm totally alone in this, cool. But let me know if you do do it! Maybe we can just post on a group or thread or use the #NaCoWriMo hashtag on Twitter/FB just to say "I did my thing today."
  12. I was really back and forth between NaMuWriMo and NaCoWriMo, but idk, I guess my flavor of the minute is now Co (composition) rather than Mu (music), because I hate boxing myself into a genre too much (lol). ***edit: As you can see above, the people joining me on Twitter have persuaded me to use NaMuCoWriMo, for hashtagging reasons. 😉

The hardest thing about this will be shushing the deliberation monster that turns me into this absurd perfectocrastinator. I'm going to really need to embrace self-acceptance and "let it be" and "just let the piece go." It is in that spirit that I took the super snazzy photo of myself at the top of the post. Literally me now, just looking oh so fashionable and put together as I write this blog. I hope my mini-compositions this month espouse the vibe of that photo -- unpolished, unplanned, and unedited, but at the end of the day, totally fine.

Portals: A poetry preview from my new album

Homecoming, my new album of musical poetry, will feature woven layers of acoustic violin and spoken word poetry. Below is the poem that goes with track 2, "Portals," which I wrote after being inspired by the beautiful doors on the island of Syros. Here is a rough video captured at a live demo presentation I gave at the Syros Sound/Word Residency.

 Doors in Ano Syros, Greece

Doors in Ano Syros, Greece

Portals

First day here, I’m staying at a local’s house. The night is warm for exploring.

I take a picture of the front door before heading out.

A clue.

To find my way back.

I love the doors on this island, Syros. Can’t stop taking pictures.

There’s a royal blue one, a dark bold wood, turquoise with brass handle. Even chipped edges look just right against stark white walls.

Every house begins with a door.

Every door is a portal to a house.

Portal to a home.

I think about my own apartment door, identical to the hundreds of other doors in my building.
Is my door a portal too?

Last month, two neighbors mistook my door for theirs. In the middle of the night, I heard the clanking, scraping of misfit key entering lock.

This would not happen here in Syros.

Not to the faded aubergine nor the freshly-painted tangerine.
Not to the shy lavender or pastel pink with periwinkle trim…

How do I make my door a portal? What if a portal only happens when a house becomes a home?

I have a ways to go.

Is home really a home if it has one hundred clones?

 

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This work was written by Chrysanthe Tan during Syros Sound Meetings' Sound / Word Residency (Ano Syros, Greece, July 2016).

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Doors as Portals to Home

One of the first things I noticed upon arrival in Syros was how uniquely beautiful each door is. I love walking and taking photos while I admire the wide plethora of colors and constructions: faded turquoise, royal blue, bold dark wood, forest green, a shy lavender, pastel pink with periwinkle…

Seeing all these doors has added a new dimension to my thoughts about what makes a home, as doors are portals to a home.

My first day in Syros (when I was staying elsewhere on the island), I took a photo of my host’s front door as a way to remind myself which house to come back to at night. I do this everywhere I travel.

My apartment door in Los Angeles is identical to the door of hundreds of other units on the premises. Last month, a confused couple tried to open my door with their own key simply because they mistook my door for theirs.

This would not happen in Syros.

I’m not sure where these thoughts are going, but my brain is spinning, thinking about doors being portals, signifiers, symbols, invitations to a home. What does it mean if your portals looks identical to all the other portals? How important is differentiation or customizability in establishing home?

Is a home really a home if it has one hundred clones?

For what it’s worth, the day after my neighbors tried to enter my unit, I went out and bought a doormat. I think it helps. Perhaps my subconscious already knows how to make a home.

This post originally appeared on the Sound/Word residency blog.


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Scoring Scripts vs. Annotating Music

At the beginning of each composition, there's a brief down point in which I wonder "Do I know how to do this anymore? What if my last piece was really my last?"

In the creation of my musical-poems, my question is always this: Which should come first -- the music or the text? All week, I have been jotting down ideas, collecting notes, basically being a data collector. I have themes, musical motifs, photos, annotated receipts, 3 hours of field recordings, and pages of journal notes about all the things that make me think of "home." 

Since I am writing a concept album, the question of whether text or music comes first seems more pressing than usual. I want the pieces to flow together, so I do have to be mindful of beginnings and endings, as well as the overall sonic and textural arc. At the same time...this also applies to the text. It seems almost as if this album will end up as one continuous story, should the listener choose to regard the work in this way. I do want each piece to stand alone as an entity independent of the others, but I can't ignore the fact that when put together, there will be a verbal/textual narrative. 

Balancing tones and weights is a delicate act. 

By tones and weights I mean the heaviness and emotional charge of not only topics but also renderings of such. For example, one piece on this Homecoming album will likely center around addiction and mental health struggles/shackles while another will be about cats. When I wrote my MFA poetry manuscript a few years ago, I dealt with this range by splitting my book up into 3 distinct sections, but it made more sense, since I was dealing with a significantly higher volume of words.

I guess all of this is my procrastinatory way of saying that I feel stuck and confused today. These are the approaches I've considered taking: 

  1. Writing out all the text first, in track order, as if it were a screenplay. Then "scoring" the text afterward.
  2. Opposite of the first one, that is, writing the music first and fitting the text in afterward.
  3. A hybrid approach in which I focus on one piece at a time, or switch off between tasks.

My favorite interpretation of the meaning "experimental music" is that which acknowledges the scientific, literally experimental process in which the music can manifest. 

My brain tends towards the analytical, so as much as I'd like to throw caution to the wind, I almost must think about the above things while producing my work. I know many of you reading this are probably thinking it doesn't matter; just start and see what happens. In the end, you are right. 

I hypothesize that approaches 1 or 3 would be best. After assessing my mental and physical resources and restrictions (a big one being that a large portion of my best workday period must be dedicated to quiet siesta time), it seems that I should go for #3. That way, I can use the mandated siesta time (2:30-5:30) to write text and the other hours to record my violin.

Crossing my fingers. Let the experiment begin (or continue).

This post originally appeared on the Syros Sound/Word Residency blog.


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Homecoming

Note: For the next 10 days, I will be at the Sound/Word composer residency in Syros, Greece. This was originally posted on the communal residency blog, where my colleagues and I will be posting updates throughout our time here. 

I feel like I'm always searching for home, in almost every sense of the word.

I've been on the road a lot in the past few years. Lived out of a suitcase while on tour for most of 2015. Moved my place of residence several times. Packed up, sold things, stored things, started over, bought, packed, sold, started over again.

Like most biracial, 2nd generation American kids with immigrant parents, I'm never sure how to answer the question "where are you from?" Should I say the west side of Los Angeles, where I live? Long Beach and Orange County, where I grew up? Maybe Hawaii, where I was born. Or Cambodia, where my dad was born. Greece, where my mom was born?

Now that I am finally in Greece, I am too embarrassed to speak Greek, for fear that my accent is too American, that I can't remember the right words, or that my grammar is unintelligible. I overhear people talking about me, staring at me, whispering to one another about my hair and assuming I cannot understand. I also experience comforting familiarity. It is a complicated homecoming.

The search for home also takes place within my body. I have a history of dissociating as a coping mechanism. Evicting parts of myself from "me" in order to function smoother on the surface, resulting in sometimes-homeless brain, homeless body.

So what, where, who is home? I am artistically, intellectually, emotionally, and physically invested in these answers.

 

Incipient Project Proposal

During my residency in Syros, I plan to continue a series of musical poetry pieces investigating home.

Here is an example: 

As in the above piece, I will be weaving spoken word with layers of music and field recordings, culminating in a continuous or semi-continuous concept album that uses only the instruments and tools I have here: violin, H4N Zoom field recorder, Apogee portable mic, Oxygen 25-keyboard controller, Akai mini controller, and anything sourced from the island or my fellow composer participants. I foresee mainly using the first three items on that list. I will be writing all the spoken text/poetry myself, though I haven't decided if I will stick to my own recorded voice or include others, particularly when it comes to Greek-speaking portions. I think it is too early to make an assertion either way, as the content and development of the project will likely reveal a clearer direction.

I have many more thoughts and ideas but will save them for later.


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From the Trenches

Dear everyone reading this: 

I am currently writing this post from the trenches. That is, I am deep in the middle of a composition that I’m having a really hard time with. 

I don’t communicate from the trenches very often. Sure, I have gotten better about sharing my struggles, but I tend to write about them in retrospect. After I have already finished the piece or “overcome” the hard thing. When I’ve supposedly reached a wise and better place from which to tell a neat story. You'll hear that I was once vulnerable but do not hear when I am still actively vulnerable. 

Today, I feel scattered. I am overwhelmed. I have notes spread out in more places than I can count, and not enough time to collect, assess, notate, and curate them all in an organizationally rigorous fashion. I have digital notes (typed in Evernote), handwritten notes (in my Moleskin journal), audio snippets (on my Zoom recorder), more audio snippets (in Garage Band), handwritten music (on staff paper), a drawing of caterpillars climbing a tower (also in my journal), and one hellish-looking Sibelius project containing a multitude of independent ideas separated by empty measures. Furthermore, instead of reviewing, refining, and committing to my ideas, I feel a desperate urge to come up with just one more, for certainly my last idea will be the idea to end all ideas, and it will be so beautiful and perfect that I can scrap all of the previous nuggets and finally focus on this clear path, right? 

For someone who thrives on structure, regularity, organization, knowing where everything exists and how to access it, this point in any given composition is a nightmare. 

I don’t normally speak from the trenches, because whenever I am here, I am not sure how I will escape, if it will be graceful, even if my current ideas will survive the inevitable developments. I extol the virtues of “sharing one’s work” and “process over product” (hell, the name of my blog is Process Report), but these things are easier to contemplate than do. 

But today, I will share this. The piece I’m writing is a duo for cello and violin, and it is inspired by an illustrated book called Hope for the Flowers, by Trina Paulus. It is allegorical tale about two caterpillars that set forth on a journey to the top of a caterpillar pillar, unsure of what lies at the top. Thousands of other caterpillars concurrently pursue this journey, not a single one certain of the destination. Suffice to say, the tale has always been meaningful to me. But as I type these words at this very moment, I wonder if Hope for the Flowers will even make it to the final iteration of my composition. If it doesn't, will I look back on this naive blog entry and judge myself for changing my mind, feeling silly for having introduced the story so lovingly to you in the first place? 

In the past, the answer certainly would have been yes, but with practice, I hope in the present and future, it will be no.

Process Report: Monolith

I've decided to start blogging more about my artistic process, for anyone interested (okay, mainly for me). Without further ado...

While I was finishing up the Honeymoon Tour with Ariana Grande, I started working on several exciting new projects.

The first is a piece called “Monolith,” which will be part of the score for Mono, an experimental film created by UK filmmaker/artist Sangam Sharma. The film, which explores monolithic architecture, drone music, Old Norse/Celtic mythology, and the circular perception of time, has several contributing composers onboard; I have been asked to compose for the final three sections before the Epilogue. It features gorgeous but nearly-static long shots, thus it’s pretty easy to miss the subtle shifts of things like clouds moving and light changing unless you pay close attention. Sangam intentionally lingers on her images past the average person’s comfort zone, as she believes in letting an object reveal its own story. As the composer, I’ve also had to practice letting each rock formation, smoke stack, and lake reveal itself to me at its own pace, then create music that complements not only the images but the goal of the film itself.

I’m not finished yet, but this is what my process has been like so far:

1) Receive script and picture. Watch the film excerpt, following along with the script. Take preliminary timing and idea notes. Where are the blackouts and transitions? When do the new titles show up on the screen? When do the voiceovers cut out? Are there any interesting phrases or verbal articulations I’d like to highlight or give more space to? This is mostly straightforward busy work; a good task to do while hanging out in the dressing room before my show.

2) List initial musical ideas. I want this score to consist entirely of string sounds, including several extended techniques and gradual microtonal shifts. The filmmaker and I have talked about revolving around a single drone throughout the piece. I love this idea: mono, monoliths, circular time, lingering shots...this is what the film is about, after all. 

3) I spend a few days recording and building up a library of violin sounds that I can draw upon and piece into the score later. For example: a bunch of long notes in various registers and dynamics, marcato single-tone pulses in eighth notes and quarter notes, harmonics on various strings and tones, drones played with slow and wide quarter-tone vibrato (with variations for both quarter-tone above and quarter-tone below the established drone note, Eb). 

4) Label and re-label my new violin loop library a million times, because I can’t stop obsessing over which way of labeling is the best-looking and clearest to understand. 

5) Drag a few of the simple drones into the Logic session I’ve started. Watch the film a couple more times while improvising off the drone with my violin. This is completely off the record; I just want to experiment with various combinations and potentialities. 

6) Get annoyed at a few lingering inconsistencies in my labeling. Re-label and re-index the loops yet again. Organizational stuff seriously fucks with me, and I sometimes I can’t move on until things (that don’t really matter) are perfect. Just being honest here.

7) Now that I've finally calmed down enough to move on, I go ahead and experiment with various combinations of my pre-recorded sounds. I always go back to the drone. Sangam envisions the Eb drone as a steadfast fixture throughout the three sections of my piece, but I want to also make sure each chapter is completely distinct, as her static shot drastically changes from section to section. There’s not a whole lot of harmonic variation I can introduce, because we want to keep this very minimal; excessive, fancy modulations or departures from Eb would take away from the film and other contributing music. I brainstorm other ways the images are speaking to me and hypothesize ways to evoke that. For example, the middle section features a shot of concrete smokestacks puffing out smoke. In my mind, the smoke symbolizes decay; each white puff starts out as a full cloud but gradually disperses into the sky, losing its form. In homage to the glassy, kinetic, decaying smoke, I write in my notebook to feature harmonics and descending glissandi here in juxtaposition with the fixed concrete smokestack (which in my mind is the relentless Eb drone). By the way, I’ve also made the decision to replace the continuous Eb drone with accented Eb quarter note marteles in this middle section; everything still very much screams E-FLAT E-FLAT E-FLAT, but the persistent re-articulations of the same note sound more dogged and ruthless. This is more in line with what I want from the shot, which essentially depicts a factory. I haven’t told Sangam this yet, but hopefully she likes the result!

8) We have a day off (from tour), so I have a quiet day to record. I tackle the recording tasks I’ve planned in advance, then accidentally come up with a new idea. I record a rough version of this idea and love where it’s going. I leave it in the session to ponder and refine later.

9) Another show day, which means another “editing/create silently in my head/make a detailed list of recording tasks for later” day. This method of batch recording and batch editing has been a good way to work on tour, since show days have a lot of backstage activity and aren’t the most conducive to recording or heavy violin/composition work. Plus, arenas are often cold, and I can’t create, play violin, or even move my body in a good mood when I’m cold. May not seem like a big deal, but physical warmth is a crucial factor in my mood and functionality. By the way, I end up reviewing the new spontaneous idea and decide that it is indeed awesome. Fortissimo string power chords, you have made the cut. I tweak a few details, decide to add viola to the score for more body, and come up with my next plan of action.

10) Recording day. My tourmate, Kiara, is lending me her viola, but I have to give it back that day so she can practice. This works nicely for me, as it motivates me to be efficient with my time. I record viola and more violin things for a couple hours, which of course sparks new ideas and changes once again. It’s our last day off on tour, in our very last city (El Paso), and I’m glad that I find time that day to not only work on my score but also walk to the mall with my best tour friends (AKA the Honeymoon Strings). The three of us have fun trying on silly Halloween accessories, helping Kiara with her boyfriend’s extensive birthday gift, watching Adrienne buy out the Dollar Tree (she swears she really needed that 10-pack of glow in the dark fangs), and assembling a little gift to give Ari before the last show. Side note: I also buy birthday cake flavored gum, which is so accurate it’s awful.

11) On the last show day and then my first day back home, I spend a few hours reviewing and refining the score. It’s far from over, but I can feel it coming together. The bad news is that I’m going to have to re-record a lot of the parts for greater clarity and confidence. Now that I know how long I want certain drones and held notes to last, I want to re-record them in full takes rather than looping shorter segments together and doing a ton of automation magic. I’ll also have to refine a lot of things that currently have improvisation as a placeholder. Editing is not my strong suit, so when I have to record myself, it’s more efficient and natural-sounding for me to do long takes rather than studio heroics at this point. I also need to re-do rhythmic sections, because I know I can do better. Perfectionism is a slippery slope, though, so I have to be mindful of when enough is enough.

Onto more work now! 

I promise my next post will be shorter. 

-Xanthe

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