Tag Archives: music

What Are the Arts? A Hollywood Standard

After spending more than my self-allotted time on Facebook today, the running theme was the Meryl Streep speech. This blog is not a political debate and I will not go into politics. However, I will discuss “arts.” Ms. Streep made a rather bold comment that has sent MMA fighters globally into an uproar, whether her intention or not.

Per Ms. Streep, “So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick them all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.

The question now begging to be answered is: What are the arts? Are the arts only limited to those on stage or in productions? Have we lost sight of what the arts are? Have the arts  evolved or devolved?

According to Oxford, art can be defined as 1) the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. 2) (the arts) the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance. 3) a skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice.

I would consider definition #2 to include artists, writers, poets, sculptors, singers/song writers, and dancers. In there I would add acting as well, as this is a dominant basis to portray stories through creative activity. That would be my opinion. Using the given Oxford definition then, Mixed Martial Arts, football, even culinary chefs would fall into definition #3, as they have honed into a special skill acquired through practice. This can also absorb definition #2, as a writer works at his skill acquired through practice: the art of writing. Similarly,  the art of song writing, the art of basket weaving, the art of sculpting, the art of dance, the art of fighting, heck even the art of war.

So here is my kick: as definition #2 (the arts) can easily dip into definition #3 (acquired skill), can acquired skill also be considered the arts? The definitions are so broad. Have you ever watched Tai Chi? The slow and fluid motions are almost poetic in nature and mesmerizing to watch. Would Tai Chi not be a creative activity defined as the arts? Again, the definition is quite broad and could not encompass every example of the arts, but instead gave the more prominent ones.

Glass blowing: the arts or an acquired skill; the art of glass blowing? Tai Chi versus MMA; is there a difference?

Definitions give to evolution in an ever changing world, but are the definitions variant through the eyes of the beholder?  A husband and wife go to an art museum. The wife is in awe of the sculptures and paintings, to her that is art. They walk into the next museum, an air and space museum, and the husband sees the curves, the mass, the depth of an old WWII fighter plane and says that is true art. Which one is wrong? Are they both correct? Couldn’t building a plane be considered a creative art? I’m sure the Wright Brothers would love to hear that argument.

My blog today was not to bash or trash, and definitely not to make a political statement, but rather to entice people to open their minds as to what is art and what are the arts. Are only the beautiful aspects to be considered art such as Tai Chi versus MMA? Are some form of the arts higher up on the evolutionary art ladder than others: slam poetry versus Hollywood movies? Is it art to portray a fighter in a movie but not to be a fighter? Is it art to portray a fighter pilot in war but not to be a fighter pilot in war?

Have we evolved or devolved our definition of the arts over time? And if all of Hollywood disappeared today, would the arts disappear with it?

I would love to hear your “non-political” input on what you consider to be the arts, or on Ms. Streep’s thoughts that without Hollywood there would be nothing left but football and MMA. Maybe the world could read the book instead of watching the film adaptation, but I’m a writer; I can dream.

Tania L Ramos, RN BSN & Author of the arts

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Lost Song

Lost Song

Sitting in night contemplating days, the music in my head
Running through madness, this beat found dead
Listen to the song of our life, hear the memories we left behind
An inspiring melody we drew
Fantasy poem as simple as you

In one beat your mine, in one note I’m yours
Memory fades, in what verse did we close the doors
Afraid in this song, alone too soon
Drowning in meaning, singing a different tune

Sweet lyrics tell me goodbye
Beautiful words say you aren’t mine
In a lost song the words become you or me
Love forgotten, in an unloved melody

Running between the music, grasping the lie
Tempted to sing, I try and I try
Under the stars, lost in words
Tear up our song
…In lyrics I don’t belong

lost song

© Tania L Ramos

The Artisan Project

This has been an idea in the making for quite some time.  The idea for Blackbird LSD’s (Literary Services and Development) Artisan Project has been on the table for about a year, but finding a venue and backing has proved to be difficult.  Not only did the Blackbird staff want the ability to hold one of the biggest shows in the Inland Empire, but they wanted to incorporate all of the arts, as they are not just lovers of indie authors, but of indie music and indie artists.

When Daniel, of Blackbird, landed himself back in college and on the school newspaper the opportunity had at last arose.  After hob nobbing with some of the college’s finest, and after making some crucial associations in both the literary, musical, and world of art, bringing his baby to life was becoming more and more attainable.

Of course any local vendor event benefits me because I don’t have to drive far, so I offered any services I could.  Note to self: always rethink volunteering for big projects.  But I digress, I am in charge of vendor booths for now because this event just keeps growing on itself.  On a great note: there are already several featured artists and authors on the line-up, and just days into the announcement.

So what will this “Artisan” Project have that not many other shows have? Everything! The point is to publicly display the independent arts in every form.  There will be indie bands on one side, displays of art on another, and the giant lake will be bordered by rows upon rows of indie authors.  Toss in a few vendors to make it a truly crowd gathering event and you have the ingredients for one powerful day and a plethora of talents!

For more info on the Artisan Project, or to be part of all the fun visit Blackbird LSD.  Event is held in Victorville, CA in March 2014.

artisan project

The Hazy Auburn, Purple, and Gold Mood

Ever have a melancholy kind of day? I have the blues. Seriously, can’t seem to pull out of this funk. Maybe I should kick up the beat to my iTunes music. Today, I spent my morning catching up on music, since I haven’t downloaded in nearly a year, I felt it was time to make amends with Apple Inc (long story). So i downloaded and downloaded, then sorted the downloads into files.

Why files? Well, I have one file of upbeat music for days I feel upbeat. Then there’s “punching bag” music, for days I rage against my punching bag and need some kick butt music to help me vent. Then I have slow songs, which I play when I’m writing, because they always keep me in the writing mood.

Except, today, I’m stuck in this slow music, country kick, with the occasional Bon Jovi, Green Day, Glenn Miller Band, and a little Peter Cetera tossed in there. Yep, its eclectic tragic love songs day. Not doing much for my writing though. I need my peace and quiet, which is why I tend to write at 1 am.  But when I write at 1 am, it means I get little to no sleep, which makes for bad nursing habits. And step away from a story too long and I lose focus. I swear, I’ll have to reach into the deep nether reaches of my brain to find these characters again. Bad author! Bad author, for letting it get away from me.

desert sunsetSo, back to these love songs, breaking up songs, why did my wife leave with the dog songs, and Cowboy Take Me Away songs (my favorite ones). I’ll imagine myself in a quiet place, out on some desolate prairie, the weather is mild, the sky is a hazy auburn with purples and golds, and I’m sitting in a rocking chair listening to “Somewhere With You.” Ahhh, that is bliss!


Tania L Ramos, Author in need of a time out

Do You Need A Book Trailer?

I post this because I am currently working on a trailer for someone’s book. Yes, I am a jack of all trades. Actually, my son is the brains behind the magic, I just do the grunt work of looking for clips and music.

Is a book trailer important? I blogged on this last year, but things have changed since last year.  Trailers have become a near necessity at this point. When you put out a book there is always a checklist to create and complete: get all my friends & family to purchase a book (check). Put out a press release (check). Email everyone who has ever sent me an email and promote my book (check). Start a Goodreads account (check). Buy marketing material (check). Take a closer look at my budget (check). Create a book trailer….a what?

A book trailer is a commercial for your book and created just like a movie trailer. Some are simple: a picture of the book, a quick synopsis, picture of author, and end. Some are more detailed: pictures scrolling across the screen, overlapping, fading, words, picture of the book and end.  Others are more detailed: video clips, pictures, scrolling words, advertise pic of book and end. And some people shell out thousands to have actual actors and voice overs do scenes from the book.

Why are they important? Because it is a commercial and point of advertising. And once you post it to YouTube, it is there forever, so will be forever advertising.

Do people buy based on a trailer? yep. One woman who was doing research for her trailer watched book trailers for over three hours.  When she was all done, she had a list of ten books to buy based on the trailers alone.  In my own personal experience, I have had a few people contact me based on my video. It works.

Who sees it? Anyone searching for trailers based on your meta tags.  Search, “Be Still trailer Tania” and my video will pop up on YouTube. Use as many relevant meta tags as possible.

How much does it cost? That’s tricky. If you have a basic knowledge of WMM then it can cost you nothing. If you want video clips and pictures then you will pay accordingly. To have one created starts at about $1,000 and can go up to the cost of a small production studio at $25,000. I did mine just under $500, and the one I am working on for a friend will cost about $500 unless she wants more clips.

Can you do it on your own? Yes. Most computers have some form of video editing applications. Play with it.

Does it have to be full of bells and whistles? No. Michelle Proulx had an epiphany one night.  There was a thought in her head about creating a trailer that wasn’t too serious, but got the point across.It was simple, and it works.  Here is what she came up with: 

Yes, you can do it all on your own. From simple to elaborate, from cheap to expensive, you should have a book trailer. If you need help, let me know and i’ll give you some detailed pointers, or you can ask my son (the movie wizard) to create one for you.  Here is my trailer for Be Still.  This one cost about $500, and the views continue to go up everyday. Remember, it is eternal advertising. Once you list it, it is there for millions to see.

Advice: Keep it under 1 minute. One poll states most people will skip to the next video after one minute. If you are only using words, keep it moving or add diefferent pictures behind it.    Don’t add too much crazy scene changes, like using fan out, pan up, pan down, circle in, etc. Fade to black works great.

Snoring Conspiracy Tried to Ruin My Book Trailer

     I feel awful not being able to blog all week, but working all day and coming home to immediately run my son off to school keeps my days busy.  By the time I get home I pass out…and snore!! It’s not very lady like, but I still hold to the fact that I snore like a princess (not a chainsaw like my boyfriend).  I spent a few nights working on my book trailer and doing some research.  Have I ever mentioned I’m a nerd when it comes to doing things? I have to research everything and play the numbers game.  In my last blog I said it costs $4-19K to have someone produce a book trailer and I thought I could do it better and cheaper.

     I spent about $250 in conversion software and  video downloads to make my trailer.  It is still raw but I think it is coming along nicely.  I downloaded everything in standad format and wish I would have upgraded to media which would have been about $150 more and about $500 more for HD, but live and learn on that one.  My raw file is on windows movie maker for now which I can’t upload to the blog for review, so I’m working on a better format with my video converter. 

     My son showed me a few new fonts but we had trouble downloading those so I am still working on that, too.  I wish I could say looking through a million videos and pics was fun, but it just wasn’t.  It gets quite tedious and burns my eyes and when my eyes grow tired I start seeing floaties which is a major distraction.  Then I spent endless hours listening to music and had my son eventually tie in two songs for a nice break and change in pace.  The kid is brilliant with stuff like that, unfortunately he gets a bit lazy when it is not something he enjoys doing.  Everyone says the video looks good, but the kid says, “I hate the font!” Yet does nothing to help fix the problem.  Then again this is my gamer kid, my blow up the world with napalm, and alien abduction theories kid…not sure I want him to choose my font.  It’d be some weird alien doodle that blows up in the end.  Not at all fitting with my theme, but he did approve of the armageddon video clip.  The military really needs to pick up this kid.

     I suppose my boyfriend also took witness to a different side of me (and he’s still here so kuddos to the boyfriend) while I was working on this.  His best advice is, “just use that one.”  I told him he wasn’t inside my creative genius and I couldn’t just, “use that one,” because it was the first thing to pop on the screen.  I had to explain that if I spent over $200 then it had to be great not just good, and if I spent over $500 then it darn well better be the best video ever created by man (or woman).  Then he saw the original video and said, “its good, Honey.” I shook my head.  It was okay, but nothing was in sync, which leads me to believe he works for some other author who seeks to destroy the future of my career by infiltrating my life by placing a wonderful man that I would fall in love with only so he could detour me from reaching greatness by saying things such as, “it’s good, Honey.” Or…as my son would suggest…perhaps he is an alien intelligence decoy.  Hmmmmm.

     All in all I had to sit the perpetrator, I mean my boyfriend alien decoy, down and explain that when my name is attached to something it can’t just be, “okay,” it has to be amazing.  It has to be stunning.  Eye catching.  A spiritual experience.  Most of all, it has to make people want to read this book.  After all, it is a commercial to plug the book and show off my writing skills.  A commercial can’t be mediocre.   Mediocre publicity would be associated with the book and that is not good or acceptable.  After seeing my intesity and frutration he dropped the subject, turned around, and began to snore like a bear with sleep apnea… I couldn’t work the rest of the night because snoring is about as distracting at a gooey hot fudge sundae sitting on my lap, and thus the alien conspiracy theory and other author infiltration theory grew.   It took over 40 hrs to research and get to where the video is at today, and assume it will take another 5-10hrs to finish, but I can’t do that until I have a pdf of the book cover to plug in at the end.

     Thanks for keeping up with me and my crazy ideas of publicity.  And just remember to ak yourself, “when he’s snoring, what is he trying to keep me from accomplishing?” It’s probably a conspiracy.  That one’s for you, Honey.

People Watching & Bacon Shakes

     I’m sure most writers have done this at some point and time.  Sit down and just watch the people around then create their life, personalities, back stories, and run with the stories from there.  Since I’ve been out on disability for an entire year I can’t say I have done much people watching lately.  Most my time was spent sitting at home and writing.  My best people watching was spent on my pets, even the turtle was given a character.  Well, today was my first day back at work which is at a fairly small hospital in my relatively small community.  We are quite a diverse little area and see people of all kinds of nationalities, backgrounds, histories, and sizes.  I gotta say, after a year of talking to the pets, I was in sensory overload.  Steam literally escaped my ear canal from all the fusing synopses in my brain.  No RedBull, Monsters, or Dexatrim needed to get my brain in action.

     I wish I would have had my laptop to get all this information down (which may have subdued the overloaded brain).  I had so many story lines from people who walked through the door before I ever got their names.  There was a beautiful older couple sitting in the hall, holding hands, and I couldn’t help but create a life for them.  Then there was  a younger couple who bickered loud enough for people a city away to hear, and I created a story line for them, too, but there’s was a bit more death metal while the older couple was a little more Etta James. 

     Oh, yes.  I do hear music in my stories and I equate things to colors.  There was a research study for that years ago, but quite frankly I’m not looking for the cure to “why music and colors fill my head”.  I don’t know why, but I see the cute older couple and I hear Etta James and see pastel yellow.  I see the bickering kids and think Ozzy ripping off a bat’s head and think deep purple.  Go figure.  I was so overloaded I had to drive straight home and jot down personalities on my cell phone.  This stuff is classic.  And its free, so that’s a major bonus since I’m a flat broke writer moonlighting as a nurse.  Funny how a year changed that around. 

     Anyway, I realized just how fat my brain was (does that make sense?). I mean teachers say that learning is exercise for the brain.  Well if I was trapped (chained to my laptop) for a year without much in the way of sensory stimulation save for the occasional SpongeBob cartoon when the 4-year-old is home, or K-9 therapy sessions, or frontal lobe meltdown while the 17-year-old explains the time continuum paradox flaw in time travel, or the telepathy games that the bag of Oreo cookies plays on my mind every night…other than those little blips in life, I was getting no mental exercise.  This fully explains why my brain fried today.  It was out of shape.  It was like pulling it from a one year bacon and rocky road ice cream sedentary slump then instantly sticking it on some Jillian Michaels or Insanity work out on expert level.  Mmmmmmm….bacon.  Sorry, old habits die hard.  Wake up brain! Focus.  There is an entire world out there to explore and write about f you would just get up off your lazy medula oblongata and see past your own frontal cortex.  We can’t continue to melt down everytime we are in a room of people like a person suffering from agoraphobia who steps out the front door for the first time in a year.

     Tomorrow we will walk around the park and take it slow.  Maybe create a back story for a sparrow or lizzard to start.  We can move on to the creepy man with muscles on his shoulders who walks the little boston terrier and wears shorts just a bit too tight to be considered “casual.”  Perhaps if we feel up to it we can go to the movies and catch Star Wars in 3D and watch the people in the theater while the 4-year-old eats all our popcorn, tells us what is going to happen next, and gives a sermon on why Darth Vador needs to pray.  We will walk and not run through our people watching exercises.  Next week we work 40 hours and that will start the endurance training.  And when we survive without any shorting of fuses I will gladly reward all your wonderful efforts: BACON SHAKES!!! 

     Lesson of the day: take your brain out for a walk…oh, and keep a pen and notebook handy for all those wonderful thoughts.

Jack In The Box: Bacon Shake. Yummm or hmmmm?