Sunday, April 23, 2006


I would love to be famous, as long as I could do it anonymously. It is terrific when people recognize my work but I can happily live without them being able to recognize me. The kind of people impressed that you're on TV are the last people you want to impress. It's only those who see what you do as special compared to others who do the same thing whose esteem means anything real.

Yes, I realize that sounds strange coming from a guy writing a blog under his real name and who cheerfully plugs his eponymous website at every available opportunity. (See it at:!)

What small taste of public notoriety I had during my TV career was enough to tell me that being famous is not all it's cracked up to be. It's the thing I miss least now that I don't do it full-time any more. Scratch that. It's the next-to-last thing I miss. The last thing is working holidays when everyone else is home with their families.

This thought came to me as I thought about a movie I watched last night: Unbreakable. Director M. Night Shyamalan gives himself a cameo as a drug dealer. My first thought was if he's the guy who tells the actors if they got their lines right, who tells him? Then I wondered, do people stop him on the street to ask about his movies? Does the average person even know who he is?

That's when I had my epiphany. I would love to direct famous movies as long as I didn't have to become a famous director. The people whose opinions I valued would know how good I was at my job. I'd still have a pile of money and the artistic leeway to choose projects that appealed to me yet the supermarket tabloids and and my fellow pedestrians would not find me interesting enough to bother. That would be cool.

Another random thought I had that of that might deserve elucidation later:
Only when you are willing to lose everything do you really have anything.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Gotta Play

The guitars are spending too much time in captivity. I'm doing better at playing regularly but I haven't spent as much time creating new music as I should.

That song is called Mirage because of its dreamy surreal sound. It reminds me of how pavement looks on a hot summer day as the heat rises from it. (If a graphic with a play button doesn't pop up in the space above, click on the song title to play it.)

The drums came from a CD I have called Ape Breaks which is a collection of looped drum tracks performed and recorded by producer Shawn Lee. It's actually a series of 5 CDs, of which I own Volumes 2 and 3.

Don't worry, the CDs explicitly say that you can use the tracks royalty free as long as you create a new pieces of music out of them, as I have, so I'm not pirating anything here.

Listening to the rhythm, I just started strumming the chords that you hear. Once I recorded that track, I went back and recorded some spare lead guitar.

I record music right into my PC with the help of something called Guitar Port. Its software has sounds from all different kinds of pedals and amplifiers built into it. I plug my guitar into the external unit pictured at left then connect that to my computer.

It's a great piece of equipment for someone like me who doesn't have a regular amplifier or traditional recording studio-set up. I play right into the computer and record onto the hard drive.

But not often enough. As I make more of my mini-documentaries, I want to begin scoring them with music. If I use my own music, I don't have to get -- or pay for -- anyone's permission to use it. It's also just fun to listen to a piece of music I have done and stop to think, "Wow! I did that!" Or when my brother hears it and asks, "Is that really you?"

Mirage ©2006 John McQuiston

(Not that I expect a problem with that!)

Friday, April 21, 2006


Three a.m. is early to wake up and still be late to work. But that's the way of the world when you try to work a freelance gig around your regular job. And after a long nap, perhaps I'll come back to tell you more about it.

Monday, April 10, 2006


If you have been reading this, I have been one poor correspondent. Thanks to that handy dandy comments feature I have contributed much more to other people's blogs than to my own lately. Isn't it always easier to analyze and deal with other people's difficulties?

This entry on a sorrow-filled blog written by what appears to be a lovely woman with a smile that can warm an Arctic afternoon prompted me to comment:

How good did it feel to write all that stuff down and get it out of your head? I mean, it's still in your head but it's not stuck there, you know? You splayed it all out there in front of you where you can look at it, piece through it and try to make some sense of it, crazy and inexplicable as it may be.

Burdens you can unload, even if it's anonymously on the Internet, are ones you don't have to carry alone.

Of course this blog is not anonymous (except for the fact that almost no one knows it exists) and that makes me hesitant to write more honestly (or at least in more detail) about things that trouble me even as I sit amazed by how much personal detail some people will share writing in their own names.

But I should use this space more -- more often, more effectively and more frankly -- to help me sort out all the stuff that spins inside my head sometimes. You're welcome to help. I did some unbundling in a letter to a friend recently. I have felt depressed lately, which is not exactly foreign territory for me but it's never been anything some good news or a smile from a pretty girl has failed to cure.

She asked if I missed my former career as a full-time news reporter.

As I wrote to her, I don't miss news too much. I like the storytelling and the performing aspects of it and some of that I get to do with the freelance work I still do, though I wish it were more regular. I just sent in a couple of stories to a show I contribute to. In one I screwed up when I shot my standup and it turned out with no audio. Oops. So when I edited the piece, I re-recorded the audio lip-synching the words until I matched them. It took a few more takes than I thought it would but you CANNOT tell that I dubbed the audio in. That was fun.

Ideally, though, I'd work a regular job where the boss was flexible and freelance the TV stuff on the side. We'll see if the job I recently started will qualify. My best times in TV have always been when I've freelanced. You don't get involved in the politics of the newsroom and you never have to worry about whether the managment likes you. If they call to ask you to work, you know you're doing well enough. That's all I need.

But I also need to get into my own place. I need to meet people and build a circle of friends here. I know a few people from when I worked here the first time but it's hard for me to pop back into their lives these years later and expect them to make room for me. And, someday, as much as I appreciate my cat's company, I need to cuddle with a female human.

For more than a year now I've mostly been treading water. I haven't been aiming at anything and, thus, I haven't been reaching toward anything. I need to sit down, set some goals, then get off my rear end and go for them.

It's not TV I miss as much as having a career that impassioned me, challenged me and, if I may say so, was something that I was good at. Still am, actually.

It frustrates me too that I have so much going for me in many ways but I can't seem to figure out how to put it all together. I'm not loaded but I'll be able to pay cash for my house whenever they finally finish the thing. I'm not GQ gorgeous but I'm no flabby scuzzball, either. I'm occasionally witty and charming, usually reasonably intelligent. I can even play a little piano and guitar.

I've got to figure out how to surround myself with achievers whose lives I can enrich as they enrich mine.

If you have ideas, send them on!