REVIEWS

[The Night Shifters is] a fascinating ride. The voice feels a lot like Neil Gaiman. This is a huge compliment in my mind, and one not to be taken lightly.” - Melinda VanLone Reviews

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Servant (and Co.)



If you've worked in the book biz (or the movie or music biz, for that matter) you feel cautious about announcing deals to the public. Those deals sometimes evaporate like fairy gold in the light of day. But I've signed and returned the contracts, and my editor has made an announcement about the deal to professional trade publications, so I think I can go out on a limb and announce that I've sold two books to Tor, both based on the novelette that was published in Clarkesworld, “The Servant.” The first book (titled Medusa Uploaded) is complete, and is in the editing stage now – the second one is in progress. Tentatively, the first should appear in Spring 2018 (watch this space, because that could change). As soon as I get a file of the cover art, I'll post it here.


I'm very grateful to Neil Clark for publishing that original story. Without, it would have been a lot harder to sell two novels. So it really is worthwhile to write short stories and send them out (try ralan.com for SF/F/Horror market reports).  

Ernest Hogan Illustrated this post.  He drew a picture of a nightmare I had about being chased by a spider monkey.  I'm thinking maybe that spider represents new responsibilities . . .

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Blooey-pocalypse



Considering the current state of affairs in the world (and particularly in the White House), I'm guessing that no one is particularly alarmed that I haven't been posting updates about my stories that are currently accessible online. But, what the hell – sometimes the only things we can fix are the things we're able to do ourselves. I have a strong suspicion that within the next year we're going to see another American president get impeached (unless he resigns first or is taken out by some (semi-)obscure constitutional procedure). Because of the power struggle between the two major parties (and also within those parties), things are probably not going to get better until they get a lot worse. This is one of those times in history when truth is stranger than fiction and fiction is a reflection of that larger reality.

That's the best segue I can wrestle out of this collection of ideas, so I'll cut to the chase. The first story is titled “The Cat at the End ofthe World”, and it was published in Cicada Magazine. It addresses a theme that was popular even before someone started taking the nuclear football along with him to Mar-a-Lago: an apocalypse caused by arrogance and stupidity. But along with the second story I'm going to tell you about, it also explores the idea of rescue. What and who is worth saving?

The second story is “Now is the Hour”, published in Clarkesworld Magazine. It explores a much bigger picture, multiple worlds instead of just Earth, and apocalypses both personal and planetary. I dreamed both a happy and a sad ending for this story, and when I woke I realized with one ending it wouldn't be tolerable and with the other it wouldn't be believable. But what if there was a way for the characters to experience both endings?

People have been fascinated with the idea of apocalypse since we first started imagining cosmology. Many of us experience it on a personal level at least once in our lives (not including the day we die). In my case, I happen to live within 30 miles of Luke Air Force Base – Air Defense North America. Any ICBM from China or Russia would take me out within the first twenty minutes of an exchange. That doesn't scare me. It pisses me off.

But anger is only useful if you can do something constructive with it. So I'm painting my house and getting rid of stuff I don't need. I go to work every day at a job I like. I'm writing new short stories. I just finished writing a novel based on my novella, “The Servant.” Now I'm working on the sequel, Olympians. I'm gardening, and working on my health, and taking care of my family. Those are things I can do.


Washington is going to have to sort out its own mess. The sooner, the better.   



The International Appeal of the Ancient Lyre



Michael Levy has been interviewed in a prestigious English-language Indian paper. Click the link below to read!

My Interview in "The Hindu"

Excerpts of an interview about the story of my lyre music has just gone to print today in "The Hindu"; India's no.1 literary English daily and the biggest English language newspaper in the whole of Southeast Asia!

The story features in the prestigious section 'Friday Review', where international artists of high calibre are featured. The full story can be read here 

It never ceases to amaze me, that music I mostly create and record in my humble spare room studio, increasingly has reached not only a global stage in recent years, but also now has found truly cross-cultural appeal...

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Ascension of the Lyre



Listen up all you Spock fans and cosmic music lovers – here's your big chance to explore the soul of the Vulcan and your own cosmic roots at the same time. And if you're willing to do some promotion for Michael Levy, the experience is free! Such a deal! Click! Promote! Enjoy!

Ascension of the Lyre

I am pleased to announce the release on all major digital music stores and streaming sites today, of "Ascension of the Lyre"; my most ultra-experimental album...ever!

This album is my most visionary recording project to date, attempting to ascend the lyre of antiquity from oblivion, onto a psychedelic musical odyssey through the solar system and beyond, into the music of our far distant future...

Inspired by the otherworldly sound of the "Star Trek" character, Spock's "Vulcan Harp", the title of this highly experimental album features a pun on the ancient Greek legend of the ascension of Orpheus from the Underworld (as depicted on the album cover - the most famous lyre player in the literature of classical antiquity) and my musical mission in this album: to literally ascend the lyre from its previous status as a dusty, long-forgotten ancient museum relic; onto a new musical journey into the 21st century and beyond!

I attempt this almost Herculean feat by literally creating for my recreated lyres of antiquity a new voice, by transforming their ancient timbres with a host of contemporary studio effects, magically metamorphosing the sound of the lyre into a 'musical spaceship', evoking cosmic visions of strange and distant worlds...

The album already has an extended review, which can be read here.

Here is the link to my brand new webpage, which lists all the major digital music stores and streaming sites from which the album can be purchased, the YouTube 'promo' video can be viewed and from which a PDF booklet of the detailed album notes can be freely downloaded:
http://www.ancientlyre.com/new_age_ambient_space_music_album/ascension_of_the_lyre/

As an 'independent artist', without the benefit of a record company to promote my music, for the first time ever, I am actually offering the chance to receive this album for free - in return for promoting the release on my behalf!

Great ways to promote the album, are in the form of online blog posts, album reviews on major digital music stores such as iTunes or Amazon and social media shares about the album, including links to streaming sites such as Spotify etc.

If anyone would like to become my 'promo agent' for the this album and in return, to receive this release for freesimply drop me a line!

Thanks once more, everyone, for your invaluable support in my ongoing musical mission to put some lost ancient soul into the soulless, modern musical world...

The Epic of Thebes




Michael Levy has been busy, so there are lots of new links for you to follow to get your favorite music. Click and feast your ears!

The Epic of Thebes (Story of Passion and War)


I am delighted to announce a brand new collaboration with the Egyptian film score composer, Remon Sakr!

For my collaboration in this project, I provided an ancient Egyptian-themed improvisation for lyre, which Sakr orchestrated for two of the tracks on his debut album, "The Epic of Thebes (Story of Passion & War)" - an epic musical journey into the era of Pharaoh Ahmose I and his struggle against the Hyksos...

For track 5, "The Holy Nile (Hymn to Hapi)"the melodic theme I arranged for lyre is skilfully orchestrated with a rich texture of strings and delicately punctuated by harp chords, set against evocative natural sounds of gently lapping waters and birdsong.

For track 7, "Salvations Hymn for Amun (In the North Temple of Amun)", Sakr orchestrated my lyre theme with the exotic, ancient timbres of Egyptian ney flute set against a background of hypnotic Egyptian rhythms, to set the 'ancient Egyptian feel', leading up to the ending section of the track; featuring haunting, sacred-sounding vocals, to conjure up stunning mental imagery of the sort of long-forgotten, ancient sacred rites which may once have been performed in the Temple of Amun.

Here is Sakr's official 'promo' video for the album, in which brief clips of my lyre improvisation can be heard at 0:52 and 1:37 minutes into the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0lZWcYg6iQ
 

Here is my own rough 'live' performance of the improvisation I created for the album (attempting to evoke some of Sakr's amazing ancient Egyptian-themed orchestral textures for the tracks, with my Boss RC-1 Loop Pedal!):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpRsDkVUliI 

As a special bonus, for all you lovely lyre fans, here is a sneak preview of two as yet unpublished videos, featuring extended length clips of the actual tracks which feature the lyre theme I created for this album:

The Holy Nile (Hymn to Hapi):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RC-KD0RbWCA


Salvations Hymn for Amun (In the North Temple of Amun):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxZ77bSgZ-A

The album is out now, on all major digital music stores, including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Spotify - all details of where to purchase the album can now be found on Sakr's official Facebook Page.

Such a unique privilege to have had this opportunity of collaborating in such an epic, ancient Egyptian-themed musical production!

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Holiday Release, a Recreated Kithara, and the Hurrian Hymn



Michael Levy has a new album out in time for holiday gift-giving! Follow the links and get to ordering!

Kithara of the Golden Age
I am pleased to announce the release on all major digital music stores and streaming sites, of my new album, "Kithara of the Golden Age". The sequel album to "The Ancient Greek Kithara of Classical Antiquity", this album also features the wonderfully recreated kithara of the Golden Age of classical Greece, complete with its reconstructed 2,500 year old vibrato mechanism, handmade in modern Greece by Luthieros:

http://en.luthieros.com/product/cithara-of-the-golden-age-ancient-greek-cithara-9-strings-top-quality-handcrafted-musical-instrument

The album features original compositions in the original ancient Greek modes, in the wonderfully pure just intonation of antiquity.

Since the kithara is so suited to accompanying the human voice, although I am by no means a professional singer, as in my previous album featuring the kithara, I have added simple vocal lines, to hopefully provide an evocation of how the kithara once may have accompanied the singing of the professional musicians of ancient Greece.

Here is the brand new webpage I have just this minute created, featuring the free download link of the PDF booklet of detailed album notes, my first 'promo' video for the album now on YouTube and all the main purchase links on both the major digital music stores and streaming sites:

Any new album reviews on any of the major digital music stores would of course be like a 'libation to Apollo' in aiding my daily efforts as an 'independent artist', to honestly promote my lyre music to the rest of the unsuspecting world - please feel free to share with the rest of the known universe...thanks for you continued support in my ongoing musical mission, everyone!

Finally, in closing, during my recent updating of my website, I have also recently posted a brand new news bulletin, documenting the incredible chain of global events which have occurred, since one miserable February evening in 2008, I decided to upload my first YouTube video of my arrangement for solo lyre of the 3,400 year old Hurrian Hymn, the oldest fragment of written music so far discovered, in human history - as recently featured in the Daily Mail, Fox News network, Classic FM and even in the NME mainstream pop and rock magazine:


Amazing what magic can be conjured, from nothing more than a miserable 10 quid mono PC mic and quite possibly, the oldest known webcam in human history!

Season’s greetings, everyone - warmest wishes from the freezing UK!

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Good and Affordable Stuff -- Updated for 2016!



I posted the original version of this report a couple of years ago, but I thought I'd better keep updating it.  A few things usually change, and some things remain the same.  One of the things that stayed the same this year was price range (for the most part).  All but one of the shops that I visited had the same, ultra-low prices, ranging from  $1 per item to $15. 

Our favorite used book store in Santa Fe disappeared, last year but this year we found a sign promising it would make a come-back -- so watch this space next year. Ernie made out like a bandit in the book department, finding good buys at all of the thrift stores we visited.  

So here is the post that started this tradition:



In the last quarter of the 20th Century, a gal used to be able to find wonderful little shops in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos. These shops carried handmade jewelry, unique clothing and shoes, art and folk art, perfume and lotions, books and nick-nacks, pots, plates, wind chimes, fossils – you name it. The cost of the items started at $2 and went up to a few hundred dollars, but you could get quite a lot in the $15 to $45 range. My mother and sister and I looked forward to visiting these shops every time we visited New Mexico.

But many years have passed since those days, and recently a woman came into the Heard Museum Book Store during my regular shift and asked me if there was a shopping district like that in Phoenix. She told me that visiting those quirky little shops used to be one of the highlights of her trips in the Southwest. Lots of cities had them; locally we had the Mill Avenue shops in Tempe, and Tucson had its own shopping district near 4th Avenue. Flagstaff still has something resembling a cheap-and-fabulous shopping district, but not to the extent you would have found back in the 1970s and '80s. “What happened?” the traveling lady asked me. “Was it the economy?”


I suspect it was the opposite. Those shops were enormously popular. I think the landlords who owned that property decided they should raise the rents. They raised them so high, the owners of those little shops couldn't pay. In New Mexico, expensive jewelry, rug, furniture, clothing stores, and art galleries moved into those spaces. The top 5% of the population can afford to shop there now. The rest of us seem to be out of luck.

It's sad to see our paradise lost, but there are some alternatives for those who are willing to hunt a little harder. My search always starts with thrift stores. Prices there usually run from $1 to $15 for clothing, and quite reasonable for a gamut of other stuff. Places that advertise themselves as consignment stores or vintage clothing shops often charge more, but their items still cost considerably less than what you'll find in the expensive stores in the shopping districts. Second hand shops also run the gamut, price-wise, but are always worth investigating. And some of them carry new work by local artists and artisans.



Here are some of the places my mom and I have discovered in New Mexico:


BOOMERANG THRIFT BOUTIQUE in Española carries a wonderful variety of hip clothing, including smaller and larger sizes. While we were there, they were running a sale, so we got our items for even less. The price range was $1.50 to $9.50. They carry an eclectic selection of other second-hand items as well. They're on the southbound side of HWY 84-285, near the southern end of town.


THE WATER STORE in Española is under new management and has re-opened as of this publication.  They have a thrift section stuffed full of clothing priced from $1 to $4. If you're in the area, it's worth checking to see what's going on with them – they're on the northbound side of HWY 84-285 that leads through the town to Taos.



Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store in Española has updated its dressing room, so it's more comfortable to try things on in there now. That shop has one of the best selection of Ladies' pants/slacks I've ever seen.  I bought five pairs from them last year, at $1 apiece.   



In Taos we always check out the COMMUNITY AGAINST VIOLENCE store on 1046 Paseo Del Pueblo Sur. From the road, you simply see a sign that says CAV. This year they only had half as much clothing as they did last year, but my mother and I both found a few things we liked, and they're worth checking out.


 On the other side of the street at 1024 is a consignment store called PIECES that has a trendier selection than most of the other thrift stores.  Their prices are very reasonable, from $5 to $45.  I found several fabulous blouses there this year (2016), and my mom found two gorgeous skirts and a couple of blouses.


TREASURES, located much farther North on Paseo Del Pueblo, is always worth a visit, though we have only bought a few items of clothing there. She also carries antiques and folk art from local artists; she specializes in the quirky and unique items.  I bought two blouses from her this year, paying more than I usually do for thrift clothing, but they were gorgeous and would have cost far more in an upscale shop.  And she has a lovely little garden out front. Just up the road from her (going north) are a couple of affordable import stores, like the CAMINO REAL IMPORTS AND GIFT SHOP. They've still got that Jesus sale going on (see photo below).


As you're headed out of town toward the High Road To Taos Scenic Highway, you'll see THUNDER LIZARD DIRECT CORAL IMPORTERS. They specialize in beads, so if you're a bead junky in recovery, don't go in there.


In Santa Fe, there are a lot of thrift stores on the southern end of town on Cerrillos Road, and you don't have to drive near the complicated tangle of the main plaza to visit them. These shops include GOODWILL, one of my favorite thrift store chains. I love the way they organize their stuff by color. GOODWILL discount days vary from place to place, so expect blouses to cost about $4.99 to $5.99 when they're not on sale.


The HOSPICE CENTER THIFT STORE AT 1303 Cerrillos Road offers clothing and antique/collectible items, and their clothing is always 2nd-hand fancy stuff. They were having a 50% off sale the day we visited, so we got several gorgeous items for a steal. Call them at 505-473-0972.


If you want a break from clothing shopping try A BIT OF EVERYTHING at 1836 Cerrillos Road. They don't have anything you can wear, but they're a 2nd hand/antique /collectible emporium that offers – you guessed it, a little bit of everything. You can call them at 505-983-0665.


So yes, the halcyon days of cheap and fabulous, quirky and hip shopping districts are gone. But it's possible to roll with the punches. And though people who have to shop for smaller and larger sizes sometimes don't have as much luck when shopping for second hand clothing, thrift shops usually offer more than just apparel. These are the places you might find pretty dishes, garden décor, books, etc. Second-hand book shops are always worth investigating, and they could use your patronage. 


Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Sack of Troy (The Musical!)

 

Michael Levy has an “epic” new single out! Follow the links below . . .

The Sack of Troy: Paean for Ancient Greek Kithara

I am pleased to announce the general release on all the major digital music stores and streaming sites of my new single for solo ancient Greek kithara, "The Sack of Troy: Paean for Ancient Greek Kithara"!

In ancient Greek Classical literature, there was a lost ancient Greek epic by the title of "The Sack of Troy" - which was one of the Epic Cycle, which told the entire history of the Trojan War in epic verse. In creating this new composition for replica ancient Greek kithara, in authentically pure just intonation featuring the intense ancient Greek Dorian Mode, it was therefore my intention to evoke the sort of ancient Greek 'Paean' style melody (an ancient Greek hymn of thanksgiving in the ancient Greek Dorian Mode, to which that lost epic of ancient Greece could have been recited).

This single explores the rhythmic potential of the recreated ancient Greek kithara, by occasionally using the heavier mass of the replica ancient Greek carved bone plectrum as a baton to beat rhythm on the soundboard of the instrument. I also use this piece as a demonstration of the recreated 2500 year old vibrato mechanism of the ancient Greek kithara - handmade in modern Greece by Luthieros.

Here is my brand new webpage about this release, with all the main purchase links and link to the free PDF of the detailed single notes:

http://www.ancientlyre.com/ancient_greek_themed_albums/the_sack_of_troy___paean_for_ancient_greek_kithara/

The ancient magic of the music of Apollo has once again, been reborn!!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Confessions of an Online, Real-Estate Lookie-Loo

 

The first time I went house hunting, online real estate sites were fairly primitive. This was only fifteen years ago, so it seems funny to talk about the magnitude of change in computer processing power, internet speed, and usability of websites as if I were talking about the difference between WWII fighter planes and the most current stealth fighter jets, but that analogy may be the best. The rate of change and improvement in internet services is dazzling.

But even back then, I was impressed. You could see pictures of homes in your price range and sort the data based on square footage, number of baths and bedrooms, whether there was a fireplace or swimming pool, and other features. The best site was run by a local news station. I quickly became addicted to it.

The only problem was the site always froze up my computer when I was on it for more than half an hour. This was frustrating, because I found it more entertaining than TV. I would have been on that site until my eyeballs melted, comparing details of homes for sale.

When we were ready to buy, I hired a realtor. We visited many of the homes I had viewed online, and they often turned out to be not as nice in person (to put it kindly). And the house we eventually bought was not one of the homes I had seen online, mostly because the listing was only a couple of days old. 
 
We've been happy in our place, and we expect to be here until my retirement, around 2027. A long time in the future, right? So you would think it would be pointless to look at real estate websites right now.

But I find the siren call of these sites irresistible. The listed homes have an undeniable mystique. Your home is the place that belongs to you – your domain, your castle, the place where (ideally) you're safe and comfortable, where you can express your creativity.

Owning a home for fifteen years has taught me that home can also be your money pit, your responsibility, your albatross – sometimes your nightmare. This is apparent when you look at the photos people have posted online of the homes they're trying to sell.

Which brings me to the other attraction of looking at homes online: the side-show aspect. The parade of neglect, bad judgment, wretched DIY projects, and even more wretched professional upgrades can have you clutching your face in horror one moment and laughing until you cry the next. It's better than anything reality TV has to offer (including the shows about looking for homes).

I always look at properties that are close to the range I hope to be able to afford. You would think I would want to see how the other half lives, but the high-priced homes seldom live up to their hype. The affordable homes reflect the realities of the way people really live. That's why scoping out the real estate for sale in a town can be even more informative than checking median incomes, crime rates, and weather averages. Who can afford to live there? Are they able to maintain their home? Do they need heavy security bars or shutters? What kind of flood/fire damage can be seen? (Is the new carpeting hiding blood spatter?)

All of that is important, but it's just the tip of the iceberg. Though my curiosity drives me to check out the choices, I've become hooked on the general weirdness. Here are some of the observations I've made in my obsessive search for a home I'm not even going to buy yet, in no particular order of importance.

1. It turns out that a little town named Bisbee, AZ has the best selection of houses in my price range. This seems like fate (probably because I haven't seen any of these homes in person).

2. Price doesn't necessarily determine the quality of a house (especially in Bisbee). You may think that higher-priced houses would also be higher quality, but this often means that you're paying for the location, or that expensive (and often appalling) remodeling has been done. Which leads to this observation:

3. Most (if not all) kitchen remodels are way overdone. Yes, it is possible to have too much granite and tile, usually in bold colors that only the original owners would like. True, the real estate agent will often suggest this sort of upgrade, but many people feel overwhelmed when it comes to choosing colors/patterns/textures, and you can end up with what my boss likes to call "Tuscan Everything."

4. Bathroom remodels usually aren't as scary as kitchens, but plumbing can be kind of odd, with toilets, sinks, and tubs crammed together so tight you have to wonder how anyone got in and out of there – or placed in really weird spots, as if the bathroom were designed by someone who knew absolutely nothing about plumbing (a very high likelihood, considering the current DIY craze).

5. The worst color in the world to paint an ENTIRE ROOM is dark red. But many people apparently love bold colors that no one else could stand, including truly awful shades of orange, yellow, purple, green, and in one memorable case a patriotic red-white-and-blue theme. (Oddly, some of the folks in Bisbee make those colors work.)

6. All laminate wood flooring is not created equal.

7. People who have remodeled their homes to make them more attractive for prospective buyers are really fond of tile flooring. Miles of it. Everywhere. Some of it the color of intestines.

8. An amazing number of people will buy a beautiful, vintage house, and then "update" all of the charm and beauty right out of it. Damn their eyes.

9. The vast majority of murals painted on the walls of children's rooms are both poorly done AND scary.

10. Your taxidermy projects are not a selling point. With the rare exception of stuffed jackalopes. (If you have one of those, try to stage the photo as if the jackalope broke into your house and took a selfie.)

11. People will sometimes decide to take out a wall in order to open a room up, but fail to consult an architect, and then discover that the wall was a load-bearing wall, but they've already destroyed most of the wall anyway, so they take it out and put in a supporting post that just stands there in the middle of the new room looking awkward and totally ruining the effect they were going for in the first place.

12. A lot of people think they're really good at landscaping, and they're just so wrong.

13. Having a fireplace is not necessarily a good thing, especially if the bricks over the top of the fireplace are badly charred from the time that you built the fire too high in there. This tells prospective buyers that: a.) you're a danger to yourself and others, and b.) your heating system is crappy.

14. Original wood floors are nice, as are wood ceilings, but it's possible to go overboard with wood in other parts of the house. Like bamboo that's been glued to every possible surface.

15. That trend where you stencil words on the walls, like in the dining room or in people's bedrooms? Stop it. Stop it NOW.

16. Yes, I know that you're still living in the house because you can't move until you sell it. But for pity's sake, rent a storage unit and dump 75% of your stuff in there. Don't leave it piled all over the place so it's visible in all of the photos you're hoping will sell your house. This is particularly true of your DUCK DYNASTY posters.

17. If you're anything like me, even after you've put 75% of your stuff in storage, your house is still going to look too crowded. Because:

18. Deep down, we're all just a bunch of bears with furniture.

I hope some day I'll be able to turn my lookie-loo web surfing into an earnest search for a house where we can retire. I know once that happens, most of the fun will go out of the process, but those real estate sites will still give me a good idea what's out there. There is one thing, however, they will never be able to tell me. If I move into one of those homes, will I be able to see the stars at night? Being able to see the Milky Way is more important to me than having a fireplace. 
 
For me, that's a deal breaker.

The photo at the top of this page is what our side fence looked like before it was torn down and replaced with a block fence.  Just so you don't think I feel all superior and stuff . . .

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What Sam the Bad Cat Taught Me About Hunger



One day as I was carrying a load of laundry into the garage, I was arrested by the sound of avid munching. There is no other way to describe it. Not the placid chewing of the herbivore, or even the fierce gobbling of the carnivore, this feverish crunch-crunch is made by a particular creature – the nyom-nivore. In this case, Sam the Bad Cat. He had discovered our store of dry cat food and had broken into it.

As you can see, Sam the Bad Cat was well named. Even when he spotted me, he didn't pause in his pursuit of satisfaction. As I watched him relentlessly reduce our stock of feline nutrition, I realized he reminded me of someone – myself. Not that I'm into cat food. But I'm also capable of diving into a meal with irrational exuberance. Yet Sam was a cat with diabetes. I've been overweight many times in my life, but I've never been diabetic. What was it we really had in common?

You might say, Well duh! How about hunger? You know, like – itself?

But I've had far too much experience with hunger to dismiss it that quickly. Hunger can be much more complicated than it seems. In fact, after years of over-eating, fasting, dieting, and struggling with hunger itself, I've identified four different types of hunger, each with its own special challenges. The first and most common type is the least complicated.


Empty Hunger
This really is the most straight-forward (and dangerous) hunger, provoked by an empty stomach and the need for calories to stoke the furnace. I have known people who only feel this sort of hunger a few times a day, and who satisfy it easily with small, simple meals. When they aren't feeling it, they don't even think about food, and they honestly can't understand why anyone else would. They think it's all just a matter of common sense. How hard can it be?

Yeah – those people are really annoying. And they never seem to feel the second kind of hunger, the one that demands comfort.

Comfort-Me Hunger
This is the hunger that tends to erode my self-control. It's triggered by stress, exhaustion, frustration, and a serious passion for cake. Empty Hunger may be a factor in triggering Comfort-Me Hunger. But while Empty Hunger can be satisfied by eating nutritious food, if I don't find just the right thing to satisfy Comfort-Me Hunger, it's just going to get madder and madder, like a peevish zombie who's been offered a plate of toenails instead of the yummy cranial stuff. That madness can lead to the third kind of hunger I've felt.

Junkie Hunger
This really is the food version of a heroin habit. It shares enough symptoms with drug and alcohol addictions that I can often recognize myself in testimonials I've heard from people in recovery, like hiding my food purchases from family members, lying about what I'm eating and how much, and lost weekends where gallons of ice cream mysteriously evaporate. But the most disturbing thing about Junkie Hunger is that it can't be satisfied. It's the rush from eating that I crave, and often the only thing that will stop it is feeling uncomfortably full. Comfort-Me Hunger can pack the pounds on gradually, but too many episodes of Junkie Hunger have sometimes caused my weight to balloon in a fraction of the time it takes to lose the same number of pounds.

So when I saw poor old Sammy munching away at the kitty crunchies, I thought I was seeing something akin to Junkie Hunger. But I was wrong. His appetite was caused by something just as voracious, but essentially different.


Overfed Hunger
When you have diabetes, your body has trouble absorbing nutrients from the food you eat. That triggers Empty Hunger, because your body really craves those nutrients. It was awful to see poor Sammy eating bowl after bowl of cat food, yet slowly starving to death. Regular insulin shots and a high-protein diet helped him with that imbalance.

But I don't have diabetes; my blood sugar has always been within the normal range. Yet I've experienced Overfed Hunger too, a craving for nourishment that over-eating can't satisfy. That's how it differs from Junkie Hunger, which is more like a craving for sensation. It feels as if my body is so overwhelmed by the extra calories, it becomes less efficient at processing them. Sure, I put on some fat, but not as much as you would expect – and the Empty Hunger is still nagging at me, claiming that it never got fed. The more I eat, the louder it complains, and that's what made me realize the only way to curb both Overfed Hunger and Junkie Hunger – is to starve them.


Yowza! Did I Just Use the S-Word?
Starve is never a word that should be used lightly. It evokes thoughts of malnutrition, anorexia, hypoglycemia, and of countless weight-loss diets sabotaged by the stress of too much Empty Hunger. So I'd like to make it clear that I'm not talking about actual starvation. What I mean is that I control Junkie Hunger and Overfed Hunger by satisfying Empty Hunger and even indulging Comfort-Me Hunger from time to time. But I count my calories, don't exceed sensible limits (usually), and keep sugar and fat consumption levels within reasonable boundaries. My body seems to have an easier time absorbing nutrition when it's not struggling to process too many calories. I've lost weight, but don't feel like I'm starving.

I'm no saint. But I've been more successful at controlling my eating habits than I used to be. Bouts of Junkie Hunger are fairly rare these days, and I haven't felt Overfed Hunger in two years. And I'm pretty sure that recognizing these different types of hunger is what got me on the right path. For that, I thank Sam the Bad Cat and his munch-mania. If I hadn't witnessed what was going on with him, I might not have seen the bigger picture.


Sam the Bad Cat passed away a few years ago, at the age of 16 – old for a cat, and very old for a cat with diabetes. His illness had enough in common with human Type II diabetes to be a real object lesson. And it's not lost on me that many people in this world really are starving. I would never compare my problem to their suffering. Yet the hunger I've felt has sometimes been very stressful and challenging. And trying to understand the underlying cause of that hunger has helped me to get a handle on it.


I stole the illustrations for this post from my husband, artist/writer Ernest Hogan, but that's not the worst thing I've ever done to him. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Michael Levy in the Daily Mail!



Michael Levy has been interviewed on The Daily Mail!  Follow the link below . . .

My arrangement for lyre of the oldest written melody so far discovered - featured in the Daily Mail!

In my daily struggle in my status as an independent musician in the soulless 21st century CE (when I am frustratingly in possession of musical skills which certainly would have made me a legendary living as the 'Bruno Mars of the Bronze Age' in the 21st century BCE!), after another morning spent doing yet another tedious, tiring and totally unrewarding part-time job to make ends meet, I was delighted to be contacted by a journalist from the Daily Mail Online, who wanted to feature one of the viral YouTube renditions of my arrangement for solo lyre of Hurrian Hymn Text H6 in a news story on the world's oldest song!

At approximately 3,400 years old, the Hurrian Hymn Text H6, is literally the oldest surviving substantial fragment of an actual written melody so far discovered, which can actually be interpreted and performed, some 3,400 years later:


Who knows, maybe one day, some ever elusive, enlightened record company out there might now take my musical mission seriously...may almighty Apollo's will be done!