Serious tools

Serious artists like to use serious tools. But, the things that actually make your work any good are FREE.

Passion, talent, and good ideas. (combined with a willingness to go through lots of bad ideas too) When I was in school, my chef instructor, who boasted of his expensive education rarely taught a lesson without reading from a textbook. You can’t buy your way to artistic genius. Anyone can look like a pro.  Actually producing decent art, on the other hand, is harder to fake. 

In real life I work for the non-profit agency and we are stressed with implementing new learning method- it’s about online learning  for people who left school before graduation. We cooperate with a well-know blog for promoting e-learning. So recently we discovered that despite the fact that our target group (people without education) struggle with money, 65% of people who access information about promoted classes on the blog: http://educatetheusa.com/online-ged-classes/ do that using smartphones.

For us it means that we need to consider adjusting communication tools but I wonder if it is a case that people feel more confident if they use modern tools. Since then we changed the way we communicate and we asked the blog to rewrite the content. But I keep wonder how it works. Let me know your thoughts.

513b803e76bfb6fda683c9ce8c17466d

Remember Elliott Smith

In 2013 it is 10 years since Elliott Smith, an incredible musician and a real master of the studio, passed away. I really appreciate his achievements high above anything else released since then, although I always try to embrace all kinds of new music. Nowadays, lyrics appear to have no priority anymore, but Elliott Smith didn’t wasted any words, and each and every of his songs draws you into his catchy lyrics.

As I have always been a huge fan of Elliott’ music, I decided to put some effort into re-launching this website that has been the best forum for the fans of Elliott Smith for so many years. Now we all will have another chance to share plenty of stuff about Elliott, and I will add a few of my own stories as well. This website is sponsored by Educate The USA.com

Quick details in relation to Elliott Smith:

The well-known Elliott Smith memorial wall can be found on 4334 sunset blvd., Los Angeles, California. Elliott Smith was photographed at this location for his 2000 ‘Figure 8’ album cover, and nowadays some small Jameson Irish Whiskey bottles (his favorite drink), and candles are still there in memory of this unique artist.

First of all I want to tell you that Gil Reyes directed and funded the documentary Searching for Elliott Smith. The film has not been slated for commercial release yet, but it’s shown from time to time. You can read about it on their Facebook page. 

 Searching for Elliott Smith is a documentary screening to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Elliott’s passing.

Elliott Smith was born on August 1969 in Omaha, Nebraska and he grew up in Duncanville, Texas. Actually he was one of the most unexpected indie-rock musicians to hit it big in the pop and rock industry. Elliott, born Steven Paul Smith, was a singer-songwriter especially known for his songs for the Gus van Sant movie Good Will Hunting including Miss Misery, which got an Oscar-nomination. In 1984, Elliott Smith relocated to Portland, and moved in with his father Gary Smith and his wife Martha Greenwald.

In High School, Elliott played in a band called Stranger than Fiction, and he soon became one of the leading musicians in Portland music scene and 1993 he released his first album Dead Air together with the band Heatmiser. Fortunately Elliott didn’t dropped out and didn’t need GED classes like we provide in educatetheusa.com. In 1994 Elliott Smith released his first solo album titled Roman Candle, and later he mover from the tiny record label Cavity Search to the more impressive Kill Rock Stars label. This switch boosted his reputation and Smith got the nickname ‘Nick Drake of the indie-rock.’ Together with the band Heatmiser he made two more albums that didn’t do so well. Smith’s folky acoustic-influenced solo records, such as 1997′s highly acclaimed Either/Or, were anti-ehetical in the eyes of his indie peers in those days. Continue Reading

What I learned from living in the Netherlands

I’m not sure if i mentioned before that I lived a few years in Holland, or rather how they say in The Netherlands, so here is a post  featuring a summary of my own experiences living here in the Netherlands as an expat and the ups & downs. While I rewrote this, it was interesting to see how much my views have changed. Especially how much more positive I’ve become, as most of my 2008 was spent dealing personally with culture shock. My pros and cons list here is based upon a website I once found, created by someone else who lived for a while in the Netherlands. Many points she shared were and are quite similar to the thoughts I have myself. Some topics are inspired by her page, while some are my own personal additions.

Pros—Things I enjoy about the Netherlands:

• Windmills which grace the landscape seem like a painting out of time past. I most likely will never become jaded by the sight of a windmill.

• I love the random ponds, green spaces or parks, found in the middle of communities and randomly throughout larger cities.

• The 3 C’s: Castles, Canals and Churches. All 3 offer postcard-like settings.

• Although I also love a larger variety in one-stop shopping, like what I grew up with, I also enjoy the quaint, small store shopping atmosphere. I do my some of my shopping at the butcher, the fish monger, the baker and the market for fresh vegetables and fruit.

• Learning another language. I have been learning since I first began with my plans to come here, and though the language seems like barely a drop in the pan, when it comes to all of the languages spoken around the world, it’s been extremely useful and a lot of help for me to understand as much Dutch as possible. Outside of the big cities, I’ve needed to use Dutch more than you’d think!

Experiencing a different culture. It’s best to keep in mind this culture in the Netherlands is likely to not be like your own. Keep in mind that, to the Dutch, you are the one who is different and it would be the same if they came to your home country. I try to remember this and think about it in a positive way.

• Fresh cut flowers and bouquets at the market and florist are abundant and very affordable.

• The canals are very romantic. There are not only canals in Amsterdam, but as well in cities like Utrecht, Delft and Giethoorn.

• History abounds everywhere! I love to think, while I’m riding my bicycle or riding in the car, bus or train, about the history all around me as I’m passing through.

• Usually the Dutch are very eager to assist you if you are confused or lost.

• Each part of the Netherlands has a different culture. If you drive 25 miles to another point within the country, you may already be in an area where the culture differs from the previous town. Also the dialect of Dutch can and will vary.

• Beautiful leaded glass in many windows of homes. I love to see this!

• Arts, music and cultural experiences are strongly encouraged and supported in schools and communities.

• Honesty, whether you like it or not. And I would rather people to be honest with me, up front.

The three K’s: Kaas [cheese], koffie [coffee] and koeien [cows].

• Many neighboring countries in Europe are just a few hours drive or an hour or two by plane.

• Driving along the canals or through the countryside during sunset in the summertime, which is around 10pm, is quite a sight to see!

• Some houses have a thatched roof [Dutch: rieten dak], and I think this is beautiful!

• A must-do: Ride your bicycle on the bicycle trails through the countryside [Dutch: platteland] and off the beaten path. There is so much more to see, nestled away from the busy roads.

Cons—Things I’ve needed to adjust to in the Netherlands:

• Drop candy. I haven’t yet acquired a taste.

• Minor adjustments I had to make. I’ve adjusted to almost everything OK now, but a few minor adjustments for me were:

1. Getting used to the metric system. This hasn’t always been an issue, but temperature has for some reason. I still can’t tell you off the top of my head what 75°F is in °C. I always have to look it up or do the math.
2. Some regular over-the-counter pharmacy purchases were not available here [on many occasions, I've found this to be a pro, rather than a con], and I had to either adjust to the items available or have items shipped.
3. Some products carried in both the Netherlands and America are more expensive in the Netherlands [e.g. a $4.00 tube of brand mascara is about $12.00 here].
4. Remembering to keep a trolley token [Dutch: winkelwagenmuntje], 50¢ or 1 euro cent coin with me for whenever I might need a shopping cart [Dutch: winkelwagen] at the supermarket.

• On average, the release of an American movie has a delay of somewhere around 2-3 months to movie theaters, and American TV shows can be up to two years behind the original release. This makes discussions about programs and movies with friends and family back in the States a bit complicated at first. I found myself often explaining how a movie wouldn’t be out in the cinema here for another month or so.

• Screens coming with a home on the windows to keep flies and mosquitoes out in the warmer months is a nice idea, isn’t it? I was baffled by this because everywhere we’ve lived, there have been no screens on the windows. We’ve always had to create and buy our own.

• The Dutch have a lot of respect for well educated people, diplomas are important for them. Unfortunately they don’t have something like GED programs and don’t know a value of GED diploma.

• The homesickness comes and goes. I try to go back to visit my family and friends at least once each year, and this mostly helps solve the issue.

• Culture shock is different for everyone, and from experience I can say it’s best to not surround yourself with negativity at the time when culture shock should arise.

• Be prepared for rainy days. It rains a lot in the Netherlands.

• If you plan on owning a bicycle, remember it might get stolen. You should get two keys for your bicycle lock when you buy a bicycle. Check that they both work before leaving the shop. Keep the second key somewhere else and not on the bicycle because you will need to bring it to the police if your bicycle is stolen. This helps prove, above all things, that the bicycle is your bicycle. To help prevent your bicycle from being stolen, it’s best to lock it in a storage, in your home/apartment or in the garage, whenever you are not using it. Whenever you ride your bicycle, lock it at all times it is not in use, and if you’re going shopping in a city center or plan on taking the train and must leave your bicycle behind, look especially for the bewaakte fietsenstalling [English: guarded or secured bicycle parking]. This is how it has worked for me in various locations: as you enter, the guard gives you a slip of paper with numbers written on it, as they also attach to your bicycle a slip with the matching numbers. When you leave with your bicycle, you will show your slip of paper to the guard, and they will check for the matching numbers on the slip on your bicycle. Note that someguarded bicycle parking facilities are free! There are some locations in Amsterdam [at this link], where you can park your bicycle for free for up to 24 hours.

I know I could’ve written more, but I believe this list will do for now. Maybe in another two years I will update it again. Something I want to point out is how this time my list has more positives than negatives!

What are your thoughts on some of these topics, and do you have anything you would add to your own pros and cons list?

elliottsmith4

Elliott Was Our John Lennon

Elliott had played at the Academy Awards, he had done a great number of late-night talk shows, and had performed in all sorts of clubs, big and small. Elliott really was an indie rock symbol and many people regarded him as a modern-day singer-songwriter and poet much like John Lennon or Bob Dylan. I believed that we at last had somebody, that we finally had a really fantastic poet for our own generation. You will not find that many songwriters who so wonderfully are able to catch the very time period in which they live. And when you discover one, you want him to last forever. Elliott definitely was one of them, and I must say that I never ceased to be a fan. Every time I see his movie on Youtube, I’m really brought to tears. I always feel there is something so temporary about him, and although I wouldn’t like to be seen as morbid, I sometimes feel like that around certain people. This is a feeling like: Capture it right now and don’t forget this moment. This could never come about ever again.

 This is a story from Juliet.

 

am999075

Trouble with fame and celebrity status

I received this story from Jack P. he is an owner of the small guitar shop in Ballarat, Australia

Some people say that Elliott Smith had trouble with fame and celebrity status, and look what’s happening now, he’s more popular and legendary than ever before.

I do believe that that is a misunderstanding. Elliott got rid of his anonymity. Elliott is the sort of guy that goes out at nighttime and then writes wonderful lyrics on paper napkins or receipts or trash. And you know how it is, the more well-known you become, the more difficult it is to operate in that way. Some of his writing he did inside his home, but most of it was done out, communicating, monitoring people, contemplating, creating. This will become more and more difficult to do you constantly get interrupted for less important motives than the person who would like to know who you really are. I really do think that this was difficult for Elliott, but on the other hand I believe that he wished that people would hear his music and lyrics. He surely didn’t plan to bury his music, he wanted his songs to be heard everywhere, but he just disliked the idea to have to do a lot of ridiculous promotional issues. This made him come to feel so cheap.

Of course, Elliott wasn’t constantly in a state of mind to perform his songs, but he genuinely appeared to appreciate his audience more often than not, and this made them feel appreciated. Elliott never was like a snake oil sales person. He had his challenges, but Elliott never was unconfident about his lyrics and music. He actually was pretty self-confident about his music and he was never finished  researching.

elliot=smith12

12 months with Elliot Smith

This is a story from Andrew P. who is the writer and editor at mackmo.com,  he read, saw and heard the last twelve months everything he could find about Smith.

A year after his death (at age 34), Elliot Smith’s last album was released, with songs he had worked on in the last three years of his life. In one of those songs, “King’s Crossing”, he sings “give me one good reason not to do it”, and if you listen carefully, you can hear his mother and sister answering “because we love you.” During concerts this became a habit to do so for the audience, and after his death they spoke the phrase in the studio. A beautiful and deeply sad story, but this is not how it really was. When I began to research his life, I discovered that it was actually the voice of Jennifer Chiba, his girlfriend. During his life, Smith had already asked her to record this text into the song.

But at that time I was already becoming engulfed with all the details I could find about his strange life. According to Last.fm, I listened 885 times to one of his songs during the last twelve months. I created ​​a Spotify playlist containing all of his albums. I was looking for books about his life (and I found only one, Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing by Benjamin Nugent, in which only vaguely acquainted people come to speak), and I made ​​an ebook with all the articles I could find about him. I read it on my iPad as if it was a book I had composed myself. When I was sick and laying in bed, I watched movies that included his music. American Beauty, with the Beatles cover during the credits, Up In The Air, of course Good Will Hunting. And The Royal Tenenbaums, where you can hear “Needle In The Hay” while one of the main characters is trying to commit suicide by cutting through.his wrists in the bathroom.

When I had been drinking, I began talking about him to other people, about that he only at a later age began to suspect that he was abused as a young boy by his stepfather, and that there are references to this in his lyrics. That the band he founded with college friends, Heatmiser, started to play louder and louder because it was the early nineties, and the whole world was listening to Nirvana. That Elliott has always felt uncomfortable with it. For that reason he recorded his own songs at home, small-scaled and acoustic, inspired by The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello. They were meant for nobody and not to be heard by anyone. But a friend encouraged him to present something to a recording company, and that is how he earned his first contract.

 

elliot-smith

Elliott

Elliott  Smith moved to New York, and he still remained best known for his Good Will Hunting – songs. In a 2000 interview he clearly indicated not to be bothered by this at all. He liked the movie, and appreciated that Gus van Sant used his music for the movie. In fact, Elliot didn’t mind at all that this music was being exchanged via the Internet and bootlegs. He said that he really liked the fact that people appreciate his music and make the effort to record something they apparently like.

Elliott Smith had a certain reputation related to his addiction to alcohol and drugs, but he isn’t the usual alcoholic or drug addict in the way that he tried to keep it a hidden secret. He was quite straightforward about what was happening, and to be honest, Elliot was maybe everything but a liar. And to tell you the truth, it was very, very distressing to realize that a person I thought about so much was engaging in something so absolutely stupid.His behavior was getting more and more unpredictable, says Autumn De Wilde, and he is not the first individual I’ve encountered this. It is sad to see that drugs surpass the identity after a specific point.

Elliott Smith passed away on October 21 2003. Police at first assumed 34 year old Elliott killed himself when they found his body (it had two knife injuries to the heart), but this could not be proven by an official autopsy report. As of today, you can still find some questions associated with his death.

In 2004, Elliot Smith’s heirs released some of his recordings posthumously, named From a Basement on the Hill, and in 2007 the double-cd album New Moon was released with not previously published work. If you want to see Elliott Smith you can watch Jem Cohen’s film ‘Lucky Three’ where Elliot is portrayed in his Portland years, and the film includes three of his songs. Steve Hanft’s ‘Strange Parallel’ shows Elliott in Portland and New York, and includes some interviews with friends, and Elliott can be seen for a short time in Hanft’s movie ‘Southlander’.

Elliott Smith played on 2 Gibson Guitars, and fans are still searching for Elliott Smith a lot.

Elliott Smith (and heirs) released the following Studio albums