Monday, August 16, 2010

APPLE: It's the Low-Tech Life

(to be sung to the music of ANNIE as arranged by Ralph Burns)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Query re: APPLE, A Computer Musical

August 29, 1983


Dear Sir or Madam,

Would your magazine be interested in a "computer musical"--a take-off on the Broadway hit ANNIE? It's called APPLE but does not refer exclusively to any one brand. It concerns a husband considering the purchase of a PC and his reluctant wife who finally take the plunge and become enthusiastic computer owners. I have re-written the lyrics for ten of Ralph Burns' songs, including some which I've titled It's the Low-Tech Life for Us, Dumb DOS, We Got Apple and PC Street.

Thank you for considering this.

(Mrs.) Jessica Shaver

(Identical letters sent to PERSONAL COMPUTING, MICROCOMPUTING and MicroDiscovery.)

September 2, 1983

"Dear Mrs. Shaver,
Thank you for your letter of August 29 with regards to a take off of the musical Annie. At this time, however, it does not meet our current editorial needs. . ."

September 9, 1983

"Dear Mrs. Shaver:
Thank you for submitting your article entitled 'APPLE'. . . Unfortunately, we feel your submission is not geared toward our current audience. . ."


September 19, 1983

"Dear Mrs. Shaver,
Thank you for your recent letter concerning several article proposals. . .Unfortunately, this is not what we are looking for at this time. . ."

September 20, 1983

"Dear Mrs. Shaver:
Thanks for sending your query, but it's not quite right for us. . . "

March 6, 1984

Mr. Ralph Burns
American Society of
   Composers, Authors and Publishers
ASCAP Building
One Lincoln Plaza
New York, NY 10023

Dear Mr. Burns:

I am a freelance writer (not a songwriter) and I find myself in a strange predicament. I have written lyrics to music which you composed and which, because of elaborate copyrights, I cannot sell.

A few months ago, while listening to the soundtrack from ANNIE I found myself writing a take-off to it and ten songs later I had developed a "computer musical"--a musical about home computers. It seemed appropriate to name it APPLE.

I contacted a woman in Hollywood who told me that for $75 she would see if it would be possible to obtain permission for me to sell the lyrics to a magazine (such as MAD or Popular Computing) and for $250 she would get me the permission if it were obtainable.

If I had $250 and were to spend it on getting permission to sell the lyrics, I do not know of any market interested in buying them. I sell articles on moral issues and the family, not songs.

But I enjoyed writing the words and am convinced that someone familiar with the music for which they are written--someone like the composer himself--would enjoy reading them.

So I enclose these songs, solely for your enjoyment. They are free (as long as they aren't used for publication). Of course I would be happy to know that you did receive them and that you got a kick out of them too but there are no strings attached.

Jessica Shaver

Saturday, August 14, 2010

PHOTO: Nightmare on Xenia Avenue

     Decades after we lived in Yellow Springs, Ohio, Mum bought the Reynolds family homestead we had rented from Antioch College and we met there for a family reunion there. I hadn't been back since I was 13 and before that since I was seven.
     Xenia Avenue hadn't changed much. The center of town is still only a couple of blocks long, lined with craft shops. Arsenic and Old Lace was still playing at the Little Theater. But now there were new age shops filled with crystals, ads for yoga classes, and the odor of incense.In the window of a magic store this cat somehow managed to sleep peacefully in spite of the lurid poster over her head.

Friday, August 13, 2010

PHOTO: Eggshells

     I broke these eggs for some dish I was making and liked the look of the eggshells in the sink. We had the kitchen remodeled not long after that so the sink wasn't chipped anymore. It didn't have the personality of the old one.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

PHOTO: Patterns in Polyester

     I have three quirky color photographs I took which I like so much I mounted, framed and hung them on the wall of our bedroom. This one, Patterns in Polyester, was in a neighbor's back yard. I glanced out the second-story window of the apartment where we had our first darkroom (try to make a white kitchen light-tight!) and below me a woman was hanging out polyester pants in a pattern I thought was pleasing in itself and formed pleasing shadows. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Photos: Homeless in L.A.

     I snapped this when our photography class were in downtown Los Angeles to shoot the old, ornate, abandoned Bradley building. I've often looked at the two layers of pants showing above this man's socks and wondered what his story was and whether things turned out all right for him.
     This is a photograph of the photograph on our wall. (I don't know how else to post mounted pictures that are too large for our scanner.)

Monday, August 9, 2010

PHOTOS: The Stamp Man

     About 37 years ago, an elderly couple were neighbors of ours in Long Beach, California. Jacob Margon was 96 and everyone called him the Stamp Man. He told me he had been collecting stamps for ninety years! The neighbors appreciated being able to buy current postage from him any time. Once he gave me some stamps which were old but unused. I used them on letters I sent out until mail carriers started asking me where I got them and I realized they were collector's items!
     I took this black and white photo of Mr. Margon before I knew anything about lighting. The only light source was the lamp on his marvelous honeycombed desk. When my husband and I printed the picture in the darkroom we shared with another couple, we had to burn the heck out of the lampshade to get the pattern in it to emerge. Mr. Margon's face is just a profile since I had no fill light but I guess it works because the photo took first place in the "People" category of a local photography contest at Tuttle Camera.
     The Margons had a small bedroom filled with large pieces of cherry wood furniture. Jacob's wife Paula said they had all belonged to the French actress Sarah Bernhardt and were a personal gift from her. The dresser and mirror unit were so tall they had to be cut in half to be brought into the house and were set side by side. I should have thought to take pictures of them. I'm sure she wouldn't have minded.
     I had printed, mounted and overmatted an 8 x 10 of the photo for a class assignment and had shown it to the Margons, promising I'd make another copy for them. (Privately I wasn't sure I could make an exact replica or even one as good. Attempting to get the lampshade over-exposed just right through the little cardboard cut-out we had made to hold over it while we gave that part of the scene extra exposure had taken hours and hours and had cost us a lot of expensive paper already.)
     Before I could get back to the darkroom, the Margon's grown son, a local doctor, knocked on our door and wanted to see it. When I told him I'd make another one for the family, he said, "I'll take this one!" He turned on his heel and walked out with it. It was both a great compliment and a great rudeness. In those days I only signed my first name, Jessica, so I knew no one would ever know who took the picture.
     I did make another but I don't think it is as good. (I don't really know because I can't compare them. It hangs on our wall and I photographed it through the glass to get what you see here.)
     The Margons eventually went into a convalescent home and then passed away. I tried to track down the son but I think he'd passed away also. If there were no other posterity and no one else wanted it, I would have liked to get that copy back.
     Oh well. I hope someone somewhere is enjoying it.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Poems, etc. by Becky

(Published in Horizon International Magazine,
Calvary Chapel of San Diego, December, 1980)

 (Published in Kids' Writes, Summer 1984; limerick that runs off the page reads, "There once was an ant on a log/who said that he had a small dog /The dog at(e) him up/That silly old pup/The ant should have know(n) how to jog.")

(Published in The Rainbow Generation Magazine,
Fall, 1985)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

PHOTO: Becky sleeping in the back of a camper

     This is Becky asleep in the back of a camper with the tailgate down. I asked her dad to take the shot and what I wanted was for him to back off so you could see the camper shell around her. But he didn't know that and I didn't know that isn't how he had composed it until we got the film developed days later so this is all we have.
     She's cute anyway, even if you don't know the context--which of course now you do.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

PHOTOS: Ormond Beach, Florida, November, 2009

Birds watching hurricane-whipped waves
Reflections (or Bird Bottoms)
Sun rays (taken by Jerry)
Oasis in Sahara?
Pelican surfing (by Jerry)
Speed limit--on the beach?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

PHOTO: Strained relations

     I took this photo through a window into the living room of a house we were renting in Arrowhead, California for a family reunion. These two men, relatives, both close to me, were not close to each other and had little in common. In the view I had from outside--of their expressions, their distance from each other, the objects on the table between them, and the reflection of gnarled branches typified for me the guarded and tentative relationship they were feeling their way along. So "strained relations" in three senses: wary relationship between two people, wary relationship between people related to each other, and relationship strained through reflections of branches.
     The above copy is actually flipped. Jerry digitalized the slide for me and he accidentally copied it backwards but I think I like the composition better than the original. It also has cooler colors, which is appropriate to the mood I was trying to catch. Here is the original: