Rendered Fat Content


Hans Weiditz (II) (anonymous:)
Mannen bij een proeverij [Men at a Tasting] (1514-32)

"I paint my face with well-practiced authenticity."

The mirror image of the project-initiating Milling Around Period appears nearer the end of the effort. It amounts to much dusting and polishing, sequencing and clarifying, none of it strictly necessary but all of it nonetheless useful. It might even qualify as meaningless work, but since ninety percent of all work apparently qualifies as meaningless, this classification alone provides no excuse for avoiding engaging in it. Besides, it feels so danged satisfying. Most of the earlier stress and anxiety have by then been leached out. What deadlines remain carry little threat. I feel prepared if not quite prepared enough. I am Fining.

Once a wine or a beer has finished fermenting, it's done for most intents and purposes, save one.
Its formal finished face remains to be affixed. That persistent haziness needs precipitating. The color wants a final blending. A few bottling details remain unresolved. The finished product isn't quite completely finished until somebody accomplishes these final fiddling steps. There's no glory in this work. Once finished, its presence only becomes obvious in its absence. Most would have considered the before result fine enough, but the discerning palate would notice the lingering feral nature and take note. Some producers deliberately avoid Fining their product, feeling their product more authentic without their finishing touches. Some performers seem to revel in their improvisations. I'm not one of them.

For my SetTheory work, stages exist beyond mere mastery. Once I consistently get the melodies, the underlying rhythm takes prominence. I catch myself deliberately leaving out notes, letting the underlying, understated rhythm carry the slack, which I realize it always had but without me noticing. Some redundancies I'd always left unedited find their way onto the practice room floor. I focus more on melody than words, attending to all those elements behind and beneath telling stories. Subtle bits emerge. The songs mature before me. They have, after all, reached an age and most can no longer claim any association with youth. They can no longer be clever, but must appear wise. They cannot remain unfinished now, in process, but must become authentic memories, reflections, representatives of times before which are no longer here and will never return.

I have not yet decided upon my final set list order, but I this week printed out in fat font all the lyrics for all the prospective tunes. I even bought a three-hole punch and filed the sheets in a ring binder to produce a set book like I've seen artists at Jazz Alley use. It's a fake book, really, with absolutely no musical notation or chord names, containing just enough information to jangle entire combinations of responses: words, music, rhythms, tempos. I have in the past sometimes embarrassed myself, frantically looking at The Muse, who sometimes remembers lyrics better than their humbled author and might be capable in that moment of mouthing the missing piece I've forgotten, without too many in the audience noticing. No, I have my fakebook now, and however I set my stage, I will not feel afraid to disclose that I no longer trust my memory in performance. I paint my face with well-practiced authenticity. I've been Fining this wine before sharing it, understanding that these final stages just serve to tame the performance.


Dusting My Inventory
This writing week has chronicled passage up and out of The Valley Of The Shadow Of, as The Muse left her radiation treatments behind and began recovering from their damage. As mahogany as her neck became, her oncologist said the inside was worse. She said that she avoids seeing her patients the week after radiation ends because their condition seems too disturbing to witness. By the following week, they start moving beyond that shadowland and back into some semblance of future and hope. Fine pieces of my eventual performance began taking something more akin to their final shapes, too. I even started feeling comfortable performing for my most virulent critic again: me. I have three more weeks remaining, twenty more stories, give or take, before the performance date arrives. I expect to spend much of that time Fining, clearing away remaining clouds and simplifying flavors. As unlikely as it seemed a short eight weeks ago, I've now renewed my relationship with my songbook and my guitar. I'm just
dusting my inventory now, working on the invitation, awaiting customers.

This writing week began with last writing week's benediction. I have, since I started my Friday PureSchmaltz Zoom Chat, ended those session with some musical selection. With this week's writing summary, I start including a link back to that ending point which also serves as the starting point of this week's writing. This song, for me, perfectly represents that sense of starting the climb up and out of The Valley Of The Shadow Of, though The Muse thought it just sad.

Prior Week's Benediction:
Rag’n’Bone Man & P!nk – Anywhere Away From Here (Official Video)

Hans Weiditz (II) (possibly):
Het produceren van wijn en andere medicinale dranken
(Producing wine and other medicinal drinks) (1620)

I began my writing week Begetting thankfulness. " … we were sitting smack dab in the middle of a fucking miracle struggling a little to remember for just what precisely we should testify we were thankful."

Jan Havicksz. Steen:
Children Teaching a Cat to Dance,
Known as ‘The Dancing Lesson’
(1660 - 1679)
I briefly reflected upon the fate of those of us who play for work in PlayForWork. "What do they want to be when they finally grow up? They want to be engaged in BIG play, the kind of work that's endlessly fascinating rather than the kind that just feels endlessly enslaving. They want to grow up to not be quite all grown up yet."

Vincent van Gogh: Self-Portrait (1887)
The most popular piece this week was hardly perfect when published. Its first couple of iterations featured some serious tense problems which I resolved in iterations after I'd already posted *MakingPerfect. "Most of us reman suspicious of our gifts, not completely convinced that we entered the correct profession for us, and a little haunted at the tenacious absence of perfections in our lives. We know shortfalls much better than any elevations. We might have better nurtured our critics than our benefactors. We might take a lesson from frivolous shopgirls and learn to genuinely perceive perfection surrounding us."

Jacques Callot: Camping Place of the Gypsies:
The Preparation of the Feast

(Artist's working dates 1612–1635)

I next considered how much I seem to accomplish in the final few minutes before a real deadline arrives in FinalPrep. "I've been picking away at preparing for my mythical future SetList house concert performance, but worst case, I figure I can finish FinalPrep in the final fifteen minutes before I take the stage."

Henri-Edmond Cross: The Pink Cloud (c. 1896)
I updated The Muse's cancer treatment status in Spectacular. "One day, probably a day long after all the players in this current drama have gone, a future winner in the cancer lottery might face a less daunting treatment than most in the past experienced thanks in part to what The Muse insisted upon doing. Her forbearance might well be remembered as her most Spectacular contribution."

Charles Sheeler: Amaryllis (1924)
I told the story of what happens inside me when I perform my songs in Transcending. "I leave refreshed and slightly light-headed, eyes clear and voice phlegm-less for a welcomed change. I feel high, as though I'm floating slightly above my former existence, witness to my experience more than mere actor."

John Edward Gray:
Dr. Hamilton's Paradoxurus, Paradoxurus Hamiltonii.
From The Living Animal in the
Surry Zoological Gardens
(circa 1830-34)

I ended my writing week describing my now waning role as The Muse's EmotionalSupportAnimal."My purpose in declaring myself her Emotional Support Animal had more to do with keeping the most serious possible business just as light as possible. My intentions were serious but also bordered upon unspeakable. I wanted to declare that I would be there for her as she went through her cancer treatment, no babying intended."

A writing week which began in Thanksgiving might have been destined to turn into play if not necessarily immediate perfection. Time blurred and seemed to expand, producing Spectacular experiences. In fact, this writing week might have been all about discovering that the underlying purpose of my SetTheory excursion was less about recovering my songbook and more about re-experiencing Transcending, that and ascending up and out of that Valley Of The Shadow Of. The Muse has proposed that, once her cancer treatment's finished, she'll become my Emotional Support Animal or, perhaps my traveling companion again, once we're untethered from the treatment regimen. Thank you for following along on this curious excursion! Expect to receive an invitation to my SetTheory House Concert next week!

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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