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-Bearded Creative Pioneer of the World of Tomorrow-

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Who the hell coined the term "Dad Rock" anyway? Probably a Dad.


There have been recent allegations that Wilco is "Dad Rock." Well, I must have a kid I don't know about, cause I love me some Wilco. Here's what frontman Jeff Tweedy had to say about it:

"When people say dad rock, they actually just mean rock. There are a lot of things today that don’t have anything to do with rock music, so when people hear something that makes them think, 'This is derived from some sort of continuation of the rock ethos,' it gets labeled dad rock. And, to me, those people are misguided. I don’t find anything undignified about being a dad or being rocking, you know?"

Yes Jeff, I do know. Here's the thing. Wilco has been around a long time, popular for less long. And what happens when you've been around a while? You get older. So, apparently making quality rock/alternative music in your 40s because your career hasn't fizzled out like every top 40 artist is now a crime punishable by the "dad" music label. Steely Dan has also been somewhat wrongly labeled as dad music, but let's face it, Steely Dan is pretty much the most dad friendly music on the planet. BUT Steely Dan is also an amazing band, influencing more quality music than Nirvana (Nirvana influenced ALOT of bad music). Sorry to burst your bubble "critics," but Dads these days are more inclined to listen to the terrible patriotic
stylings of Kid Rock. FACT.

I'm not ashamed to admit that Wilco did not appear on my proverbial radar till about 3 years ago with the release of their self-titled album. Certain prejudices kept me from discovering them in college. I was very against anything that appeared to be "weird for the sake of weird." Upon first listen, which was curated by an ex-girlfriend who had a tendency to be into hipster music for the sake of being into hipster music, I just didn't get it.

But time has eroded those prejudices, and a new and more seasoned ear (yum) has helped me understand the genius of Wilco. It is insanely difficult to put out music that is balanced with pop sensibilities and weird shit. Tweedy and Co. have mastered that skill, leaning different ways with each album. They have done so while retaining and creating fans, not alienating them.


Ugh, critics suck. Wilco rocks. Steely Dan is unattractive.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

So Much Good Music, So Little Time


Due to my wonderful friends and family, I have had the great fortune of receiving some absolutely fantastic music lately. In fact, I have so much I need to listen to that I'm having a hard time finding time to listen to it all! This is a wonderful problem to have, but it's still a problem. In order to hear the painstaking details that went into these songs it is only appropriate to listen to them on quality speakers or headphones. I love the volume that Apple is able to get out of these tiny little Mac speakers, but they are simply not up to par for a quality listening session.

These listening sessions go way beyond simply listening and following along with lyrics (which I rarely do.) No, I see these sessions as learning opportunities, studying not only the recording techniques and decisions, but also the song structure, instrumentation, and all that other good stuff. Does this suck the fun out of music? Absolutely not. I love learning and it is a challenge and something that I enjoy more with each new artist I stumble upon. I make mental notes in hopes of using what I have learned in my own work. I try to learn what works, and more importantly, what doesn't. Having an arsenal of options in my head pays dividends in the real world.

One of the artists I have been crushing on lately is Josh Ritter. Described by iTunes as Country and folk, Rock, Pop, and just Folk, Josh Ritter is an extremely talented singer/songwriter whose lyrics and song writing are worth more than one listen. The first song I heard of his was called "The Curse," off of his newest album So Runs the World Away. Thank God for NPR's World Cafe. That was a great car ride home and I was eager to find more by this guy. (Because I didn't hear who the artist was before the song started, I initially entered the World Cafe playlist from the evening and thought it was Tim Robbins and his band...that was close.) "The Curse" is about a mummy who falls in love with the female archeologist who found him and brought him back to New York. She repeatedly asks, "Are you cursed?" to which he replies "I think that I'm cured." But as the song progresses, she gets older, he becomes famous, she dies, and we are left with the initial question and answer again. It sounds hokey when I spell it out. Any story with a mummy is bound to raise eyebrows, but it is an incredible song that I suggest you check out. Other favorites include Harrisburg, Gallahad, and Girl in the War. Each of these displays clever wordplay that is instantly memorable, some making you smile and the others making you think.

This whole "folk revival" has gotten me very excited. There is such a unique focus on writing quality songs and crafting memorable stories that it is impossible to let Bob Dylan ruin the genre for me anymore. In fact, some of Dylan's work is now listenable. This is huge for me. But my new band, the Miss Misery Trio, has gravitated towards the folk stylings without even thinking about it. The combination of personalities and influences is creating my own exciting music. It excites us anyways. And speaking from years of playing in (shitty) bands that range from Irish Folk/Punk to Grunge/Metal, I have never been this excited. Most bands have revolved around songs that I have written, but that doesn't mean they were good. I am now at a point in my life where the "listening sessions" are culminating into sensibilities that translate quickly to my music, making the songs much better. I also have great band members that I can bounce ideas off of, echo my enthusiasm, and can collaborate and trust immediately. Wish I had more time to dedicate to this stuff.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Staying Power


I've discovered a pattern in the music that I have chosen to surround myself with over the last few years. All the music and artists must have staying power. Basically I just ask myself, " will I still want to listen to this in 5 years? 10 years?" This mentality has really helped me discover some great music and look past the average.

As you can probably guess, none of this music is "mainstream." These are artists who are creating works that do not appeal to the mass audience. I believe this is due to that fact that the music is not aimed at anyone. The songwriters and bands are returning to a frame of mind that was prevalent in the great songwriters of the past. They make music for themselves. Is this selfish? Not at all. It is simply an outpouring of human emotion and experience that is created for the benefit of the author. This is not to say that the music is not meant to be shared with the world, but it was not made because people will like it or it will make them rich and famous.

Another thing that I have noticed is that types of music that once thrilled me and got me to rock out now bore the shit out of me. Last weekend I went with my buddy Tim to see a band I was really into in college called Pepper. They're a reggae/rock/dub trio who had one hit infused album about ten years ago. I thought that it would still be a good time, perhaps in a nostalgic way. But I was so insanely bored. The song formulas were predictable and average. The hit songs that I once blasted out of my speakers in my dorm room no longer had any effect on me besides, "when will this be over." Also went down to a street fair-type thing in Bay View yesterday. There were some bands, but they all played straight rock. The lead singer of one band yelled to the family-based audience that the next song was called "we want to get you high." Stupid. What really made me sad was that more people would go see a band like that than a local singer/songwriter ( http://www.haywardwilliams.com/ ) I discovered a few weeks ago. But regardless, I know if I was in high school, I would have watched that band and nodded my head the way white guys do to rock. It isn't head banging but it isn't standing still. It's what we do. But it was just so...meh.

This is another thing that these new artists that have staying power excel at. The songs are interesting and make you want to keep listening. Even after the twentieth listen, you can still find something new and draws the listener in. I believe this mentality of moving away from cookie cutter rock and moving forward with music is spreading. It is part of the reason artists are making the music they're making. It is part of the reason I make the music I make. We're evolving. This has how it has always been, but nowadays it is so easy to get this music into people's hands and into their ears. We can make our own recordings and post them to the interweb latter that day. Think about 50 years ago. This was impossible. And now the forward thinking musicians are gaining prevalence and a dedicated following.

But there will always be part of the music listening society who will hold on to the four-piece rock band playing verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus songs. They also hold on to image of the pop star whose voice will make up for the lack of originality. And that's fine. But the staying power mentality is increasing, spreading to the ears of young listeners. The Darwinian evolution of music will continue and this makes me happy.




Sunday, September 4, 2011

Where have all the albums gone?


As I enter my fourth week in the good land, I am still enthralled with the wonder that is Milwaukee radio. Between 88.9 RadioMilwaukee and 102.1, I rarely have to change the station. When I was on my way home from work the other day, there was an in-studio performance by a band called Gabby Young and the Other Animals. At first I thought they were playing some vintage 30s or 40s artist, lost in the crevasses of time. But no, just a performance by four musicians from across the pond, displaying an affinity for gypsy, jazz, rock and pop. They stated how they were playing at Shank Hall the upcoming Friday night. Needless to say, I rounded up my future bandmates and checked out the show. It was fabulous, but they deserved more than the 50 or so bodies in the hall. RadioMilwaukee was also airing an exclusive performance of TV On the Radio the other night. These are just some recent gems from a great station.

However.

Mostly out of 102.1, there are a lot of good songs being played by up and coming artists. But you can tell that these are simply just songs. To buy the album would be an overpriced disappointment. It's hard to describe how I can discern the quality artists from the duds, but there is something about these artists that seems so...meh. It's as though they had a good hook or sound, but don't take the necessary steps to make it really interesting, to give it staying power. I think of it this way: rather than setting up a campfire with the proper kindling and log position and sitting around it for a few hours, these guys prefer to just pour some gasoline on the fire and see how big the flames will get before it quickly dies.

People have been saying that the album is on it's way out, that a steady stream of singles will be released rather than waiting 2 or 3 years between albums. I can see this happening, but not for any artists that will be around for more than 5 years. Well, if they partner this approach to the complete album, success can be lasting, but single after single will lose it's appeal quickly. There is a reason one hit wonders are ridiculed on VH1. Singles don't matter if the album is crap. Sure, the pop world will make more money this way, and the guys who actually write the songs will make a metric shit-ton of money, but artists who write and perform their own music don't operate that way. The argument is also made that recording on the go is so easy that people will just keep writing and recording while touring the world (and elsewhere.) Can you imagine how draining that would be on a band? Instead of taking the travel time as time for practice, relaxation, or phone interviews, they would also be obligated to write and record a quality product for almost immediate release.

I'm sure there are smarty-pants turds who can make any system of releasing music work to their advantage, and it would be a great system for bands trying to gain a following (it's actually what most do already, i.e. myspace/youtube) but I refuse to believe bands like Wilco, Bon Iver, Muse, or any other bands like that will ditch the album for the profit-hungry system that is the constantly streaming singles.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Perhaps an attic I shall seek...



So Kristen and I are moved in to our Oak Creek apartment. Oddly enough, this apartment is starting to feel more like home than our old apartment ever did. I love the way the office/studio is set up. In fact, I have already written and recorded a new Cranston tune called "Gunslinger." As you can probably tell, the music is rather inspired by the old West, featuring for the first time, real harmonica and a maraca. I was going to make a new album based upon that theme, but there are extenuating circumstances that have changed the way I'm thinking about making music.

As I posted on the Facebook, I recently lost out on $250 for a song I wrote due to poor timing and other circumstances. I was pissed, but am over it. Basically, I contacted the agency that wanted to pay me for the track and they would like to work with me in the future. They enjoy my work and think it fits great for their type of ads. It's an affirming feeling that I haven't necessarily been waiting for, but kind of have. I have never really expected anything out of Cranston, but now that things are kind of happening, I become more and more excited to potentially cushion my wallet with those earnings. I have also received numerous e-mails from grad students wishing to use my work for their projects. It's just cool to have people I've never met be interested in what I do.

As a result of the previous paragraph, I will no longer be posting new material on the FMA
website or the Bandcamp. Those sites will serve as samples, but are also available for purchase. Since the potential buying of that track, I have looked into the license that my work is protected by on the FMA site. Turns out only I can charge for the music, and that the license just insures that I am the only one who profits. So when I compose nowadays, I believe I'll focus more on the individual tracks and making them a little more polished than before. An album or two may creep in there though.

Interestingly enough, it appears like my degree may actually dictate my future job (for once.) I received an e-mail inviting me to an Apple Hiring event in Madison on my birthday. I only applied for the Creative job, so hopefully that's what I'll be interviewing for and potentially be hired for. I also met with a guy at a local music store today that sells nation-wide. He said that as soon as something opens up (it will either be a sales position on the phones...no outgoing calls, or warehouse) I am first on the list of people to call. It was very encouraging to know that somebody out there wants to hire me. It almost feels like the Oak Creek/Milwaukee area/Universe wants me to return to music...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Things happening fast/ rant


We move in less than a week. I'm completely checked out of Baraboo and am anxious to get back to Milwaukee, but the lack of a job scares the crap out of me. It wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't bleeding money for rent and moving costs. But hopefully one of my best friends will be able to hook me up at his old place of business. Have a few gigs coming up playing some guitar and bass, but I could always use more.

I'm getting really excited for the band that I've been getting ready, Miss Misery Trio. It consists of myself on vocals, guitars, and keys, my friend Tim on bass and vocals, and my old next door neighbor Kevin on keys, guitar, and vocals. Hope to throw some percussion in there, but there are no plans for a drum set at all. The music is a lot less "rock" oriented than past bands. I think that the music is very accessible to a general audience which should score us a considerable amount of gigs.

Spent a little money on me today. Bought the new Bon Iver album and two Elliott Smith albums that I lost when my desktop took a shit. After some advisement from my eldest brother about the production techniques that could help out the Miss Misery Trio songs, I'm really going to study up these Elliott Smith recordings. He made gold with less equipment than your average musician. Beyond the amazing song-writing, the production techniques are what make them shine. The double-tracking on his voice and the simple instrumentation are key.

These are the things they should be teaching in the Audio Production classes at Whitewater, less emphasis on mixing and panning, which is important, more recording techniques based on what the music requires. They completely miss the point of recording and the creation of the art that it is. That's actually one of the reasons I decided that the business was not for me. I enjoy making music and recording it, but the industry is wrong in their approach to recording. They treat recording like math. It isn't. Math doesn't involve emotions or personal/ gut feelings and instincts. Math is based on numbers and calculations. Recording is about the music, but that somehow gets lost in translation. Something went very very wrong. And it makes me sad.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Randoids


Why did I check out Dean Cain's IMDB page this morning? I don't know. But it appears that the former Superman from Lois and Clark was destined to play football for the Buffalo Bills but had a career ending knee injury before his career began. He has also been busy over the last few years doing TV movies and movies you've never heard. Go Dean!

Went and got Coldstone ice cream with Kristen and wore my Cheers t-shirt. The Coldstoner sang me the song!!! He earned his tip.

I also love the fact that Hunter Pence, formerly of the Astros, was traded midway through their loss to the Brewers the other day. If only he was traded to the Brewers during the game, got suited up and on the field the next inning. Now that would be awesome.

That is all for now.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Perhaps a bathroom Blog


It's been quite a while. This summer is flying by and there is no mystery as to why. Since May I have been interning at the Reedsburg Independent, which has no online presence aside from the new facebook, and working at the Wilderness for some monies. As a result, I work 7 days a week, every week. The only vacations have been for my brother's awesome wedding in Oregon, and his triumphant return to the home land for our Wisconsin reception. Other than that, it has been go go go. A lot of days are about 10-14 hour work days, but I still have most of my sanity. Thanks to increased contact with friends and family over the past few months, I'm going to make it.

One of the downsides to this is that I have had no time to BLOG! All of my writing efforts have been dedicated to the paper. This is not good or bad, it is just a fact. But I have made a startling discovery this morning. The bathroom is a perfect place to blog. So, dedicated followers, most of the blogs from here on out are going to be written while I am taking a shit. So it goes.

I hate to jump on bandwagons, but I am really getting into the band Bon Iver. I have to admit that it definitely didn't take on the first dozen listens, but the appeal of a bearded Wisconsin musician was too much to deny. The songs are heart-felt and his falsetto really grows on you. I find myself falsetto-ing on the golf cart at work, probably appearing like a crazy, bearded Wisconsinite to the FIBs and Viking fans. They can suck an egg.

Still job hunting with zero luck. I've done follow-ups and still nothing. It's hard to find time to search online. I'm starting to lower my job expectations as the move is coming within a few weeks. This hurts my confidence, but I will continue to do as I have since graduation, do what is necessary. This is the way of things. I'm not happy about it, but I am doing all I can. If any of you have contacts in Milwaukee, please let me know.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Promptly/Your Story


Basically a promptly, but with the chance of publication in Writer's Digest. I also made some progress on another tune for the untitled duo project. I really can't wait to play live again. These songs are really starting to come easier and take shape. I'll be sure to post them soon.

Begin your story using the following line of dialogue: "You won't believe what came in the mail today."


“You won’t believe what came in the mail today.”

“Bills?”

“No, but close.” Robert shot me a quizzical look.

“I’m being blackmailed, Robert,” I said.

The question marks radiated out of his eyes, magnified by his enormous glasses. I took out the letter and tossed it across the coffee table. Robert remained focused on me for another second or two, trying to discern whether I was joking or not. He grabbed the letter.

“This makes zero sense,” Robert said after finishing the sparsely worded letter.

“You’re telling me. Why blackmail a poor guy? I have no valuable information to give either. I could talk about the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust or what year each Beatles album came out…but that’s all stuff you can find on Wikipedia.”

I went to the kitchen and made myself a drink: Miller Light in a mug. Robert followed, still grasping the letter and looking over his glasses at it.

“Well, why would you be blackmailed anyways?” Robert asked. “I mean, have you done anything shady lately? Stolen anything? Peed in public? Picked up any hookers?”

“Christ, Robert. No. Those are things you would do, you sick fuck.”

He giggled a little and nodded in agreement. I shot daggers at him and Robert put the concerned look with the furrowed brow back on.

“Okay, okay. Maybe it’s not something you did directly. Maybe it’s someone screwing you over on purpose. I bet it’s a club owner who hired you to play but gave you fake money. Who have your recent gigs been for?”

“Churches, Robert. Churches.”

“Oh…”

“Yeah, I don’t think all the Christian denominations are teaming up to blackmail a freelance guitarist for a hundred bucks a week. But nice try.”

I reached in to the fridge for another beer. Robert took it as soon as I turned from the door. My hand holding nothing, I stood in disappointment. I grabbed another beer. Robert and I had been roommates since college and these actions were not entirely unprecedented. He never grew up… or learned his manners.

“Give me back my letter,” I said as I snatched it away. Robert shrugged, chugging his/my beer.

Then I saw my crucial mistake.

Robert and I have incredibly similar names. It’s probably a strange form of narcissism, but I think that’s why we’ve stayed roommates. His full name is Robert Paul Van Zandt. Mine is Robert John Van Zant, but I always go by Bob Zant. The letter is addressed to Bob Zandt. I saw Bob and immediately dove in. Robert was chugging his beer again.

“Hey Robert. This letter is actually for you Mr. Z-A-N-D-T.”

“What?” He spit out some beer.

“Have fun with that one, buddy.” I pushed the letter on his chest as I walked away to enjoy my blackmail free Miller Light.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

New Projecto On Tap


Greetings and Salutations all,

Most of you know by now, but I have the newspaper internship and will start on May 9th. I'm transferring to another department at the Wilderness to make some monies and because I hate Shipping and Receiving with 80-99% of my being. It is a welcome change, but is very risky. I really have my reservations about leaving a full-time job after it took me a year to find it, but I know I'd forever regret not taking this chance. It's about damn time I get my career going.

I had an idea the other day after reading the newest edition of TapeOp magazine. The feature article was an interview with Jack White (who is apparently going by Jack White III now.) I personally believe Jack White (III) has dipped his hand into too many lemonade stands. While he is a fine drummer, his work with The Dead Weather is not as impressive as he thinks it is. At the same time, he has officially called it quits with The White Stripes, but still plays with The Raconteurs. The Raconteurs are amazing and this is where Jack belongs, in a band where he isn't the King bee, just the Jack (pardon the pun.) He shares writing and lead duties with Brendan Benson. The two make quite the team. But anyway, Mr. White (III) also produced the shittiest Bond song ever with Alicia Keys. Just a crock of shit-tardedness. There are countless other ventures as well.

BUT REGARDLESS, he talked a lot about his dedication to recording via analog tape, rather than the easy and limitless digital realm. White (III) uses this to his advantage, really making everything on purpose and restricts himself to produce the best possible product.

So somehow out of all this, I decided to start a new project. It has no name yet, but I am writing and recording songs with only 1 keyboard part, 1 bass part, and 1 vocal. No guitar, no drums, no MIDI. I'm recording 95% of everything in one take, essentially pretending it's to tape (I got a little too frustrated and caved a few times.) So far I've recorded two songs and I am very pleased with how they've turned out. It's amazing how full I can make it sound, despite my lack of keyboard skillz and usual instrumentation. I'll keep on churning them out and hopefully with put an album on FMA or bandcamp soon.

This is also a response to my desire to play live again. I figure that with this limited instrumentation, somewhere down the line it will be easier to find another person to play with me and BAM! Not holding my breath, but it was an ulterior motive that I had to confess.

All for now.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Amid the Lousy Smarch Weather


A lot has been going on that I will touch on in another blog, but for now here is my newest promptly contribution.

Write a story featuring an author, the ocean, and an antique weapon.


“This is poetic, isn’t it?” I thought to myself. The white peaks of the waves crashed with a quiet power. There wasn’t a seagull to be found, the wind and water filled my ears. I had placed myself on one of the outrageously large boulders that lined the shore. It was cold and hard, but somehow comfortable. A spider crawled across my moccasin, clearly in a hurry. I let him live.


In my satchel, which usually contained my laptop and notepads, was an antique crossbow. I bought it at a Renaissance fair a week before. I guess I was searching for an elegant way to die. Of all the muskets, samurai swords, and Native American daggers, the crossbow seemed to be the best way to go. Everything else was just laughable. The refinement of the crossbow was clear. It had the curves of a woman, the size and sexiness of a James Bond pistol, and the rust of something that had seen some action. I couldn’t think of a better way to die, so I forked over the two hundred dollars to the portly proprietor.


To hold a lethal weapon in your hand is a powerful feeling. You can either save a life, or destroy one. In my case, I was out to destroy one. It was almost like a game of Clue. I found the weapon. Next was the location. The beach was an obvious choice. There is nothing poetic about shooting a crossbow in a small and confined condo with posters of Batman and David Bowie on the walls. I’m not really sure why the ocean popped into my head so quick, but once it was in there it wouldn’t leave. I could see it all. It would take place at dusk, the setting sun sitting on the horizon. Not a soul in sight. Totally poetic.


I took another long look around. This was perfect. With a deep breath I raised the crossbow to my chest. It was a little more awkward than I anticipated. The length made it impossible to hold it like a gun. I held it with both hands, as though I were choking it. Not what I was expecting, but it somehow looked more tasteful to hold out the crossbow like an offering to God. This was it. I cocked the bow. It creaked like a ship on its final voyage. The click was loud and startling. I held my breath as I pulled the trigger. I exhaled.


There was no arrow. I just needed to see what it would be like. I’m a writer, about to start my third novel. Since I saw Stranger Than Fiction I’ve had an inexplicable need to experience the largest moments of my characters. I also need to know the ending before I begin. It really helps me get in their heads. In this case, it also gets the blood flowing. Who would have thought a crossbow suicide by the ocean would be such a great way to die? I sure didn’t, until I tried it.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

WACKY WAVING INFLATABLE FLAILING ARM TUBE MAN


Prompt:For Lent, someone you live with is partaking in the tradition of giving something up for 40 days and 40 nights—and it's one of the most bizarre things you've ever heard of anyone giving up.


On Fat Tuesday, some friends and I went out for drinks. We were all raised Catholic and discussed what we weren’t giving up for Lent. Collectively, we agreed to go out of our way to eat meat on Fridays. My roommate, Tommy, was eerily quiet.

“Tommy, what’s going on? You’re quiet as balls,” I asked.

He sipped his Guinness and wiped the distinctive cream foam from his moustache.

“Well Joe…”He took another sip. “The Lord has put it upon me to take a journey this Lenten season.”

We put down our beers and looked at each other. Tommy never said anything positive about religion in the 15 years we’d known each other, let alone giving in to the practices of the church.

“For the next forty days and nights,” he continued, “I will sacrifice one of the essential elements of my life for the betterment of my eternal soul.”

“And what element is that, Tommy?”

“Walking.”

We burst out laughing and continued with our celebration, figuring Tommy got us good. He returned to his beer and didn’t speak for the rest of the night.

The next day, I woke up to the previous evening being a happy blur. The details of what happened weren’t as important as the good time I must have had. My headache was evidence of that. I opened my door to discover Tommy on the floor…reading a Bible.

“Good morning, Joseph.” He turned to greet me, ashes on his forehead. The discussion about Lent started to return to me.

“Hey…Tommy. I’m going to McDonalds for some grease. You want to join me?” He carefully closed the Bible as though it were the Dead Sea Scrolls.

“Yes, Joseph. I believe I will. But I will have to catch up to you, I have some praying to do.”

I nodded and headed out the door. Tommy was freaking me out. I kept piecing together the elements from the night before. I knew Tommy mentioned giving up something for Lent, but my memory skipped straight to laughing at whatever it was. Then I heard some very loud stomping coming from behind me, fast. I turned. Tommy was running towards me with a goofy smile on his face. His arms were flailing and his legs bounced around. He was like those Wacky Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Men that are displayed in front of car dealerships. Tommy quickly caught up to me and began running circles around me.

“Tommy, what the hell are you doing?”

“I gave up walking for Lent, Joseph!” He was breathing heavily, but was still smiling. I just shook my head and continued.

Tommy stuck with it. He ran everywhere. We would be on one end of the bar and he would dash over to the bathrooms. I learned quickly to bring him his drinks. He ended up losing twenty pounds. After Easter, he went back to normal, not mentioning Lent ever again. I’m still not sure what it was really all about.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

About Damn Time

Finally Promptly has given me a good prompt. Many of the recent ones have revolved around the premise of one liners: what would late literary greats tweet today? These are problematic for me seeing as I am not particularly well-read when it comes to classic authors. I suppose I could have done something biblical, but it's a little late for that. Anyways, I finally got a prompt I can use. Most of it is a true story, however it happened at a Christmas instead of my birthday.

In regards to other creative output, I've been composing a little different stuff lately. I'm trying to get a new album out there, but also keeping material in mind for my next project with DeNu. I'm kind of waiting on him right now, but that's fine. It gives me some time to feel out this "new direction," which isn't really new at all, just embellishing on some older techniques.

I've also been realizing where a lot of my influences are lately. Music that I haven't really forgotten about, but am starting to hear my own music in theirs. My dad seems to hear a heavy influence from Chip Davis (the Mannheim Steamroller guy) in some recent works. I'm not sure I hear it, but he always hears things much differently than I. Oh, that reminds me. Two weeks ago a complete stranger e-mailed me asking to use one of my songs for a short film he was creating. I gave him permission and he seemed very grateful. The video better not suck. But the point is that it was very cool to have someone from Canada be interesting in my music. Just a cool feeling.

Anyways, here's the prompt: It was a birthday present he’d never speak of again.

No More Alexander Hamiltons

-Nathan Honoré-

There are many ways to fake knowing someone when it comes to birthday presents. The digital age is making it even easier with online gift cards through Amazon and iTunes. Gift certificates were becoming more and more prevalent as I became a reclusive teenager. We didn’t see my extended family much so it was a given that we didn’t know a lot about each other. Gift certificates were aplenty.

However, my Grandpa decided to buy me something on my seventeenth birthday, straying from the usual cash that looked like it had been through every war of the twentieth century. Alexander Hamilton was very worn by the time he got to my wallet. Grandpa’s gift was one of the last of the party. Everyone was in a good mood and laughing. Now, gag gifts were not uncommon on that side of the family. My uncle would present my dad with a twenty-four pack of toilet paper before giving him the newest version of Uncle Jon’s Bathroom Reader. Another common gift was movie passes, prefaced by a singular piece of candy in a gigantic box.

Grandpa handed me his gift. More than the usual card, I braced myself for a gag. Anticipatory giggling filled the room. I ripped open the small rectangular present. An instructional fishing DVD greeted my eyes. I immediately burst out laughing. My brothers and parents all joined in. What an amazing gag! We were almost to tears by the time I looked over to Grandpa. He sat very still in his chair, hands folded, straight faced. He didn’t get it. This was no gag gift. I tried to back pedal and look at it seriously saying things like, “Yeah, this will be useful.” But it was too late. Grandpa was pissed and hurt. And soon after the party, so was I.

Fishing had once been a big part of my limited relationship with Grandpa…when I was ten. I hadn’t touched a fishing pole in at least 5 years, much less watched instructional fishing videos. Since I entered high school, I was all about music. It was my life. Every day I’d go home and play guitar, bass, drums, and tuba (I know, tuba.) I even played at church to gain more experience. Fishing was dead to me, a relic of my childhood. Then I realized something: my Grandpa had no idea who I was. I became angry and spiteful. At least my other relatives went to the trouble to ask what stores I wanted gift certificates for. Grandpa was still convinced I was a prepubescent turd who loved fishing. A little late, old man.

Anyways, I was eventually forced to call my Grandpa and apologize for laughing but pointed out why. He didn’t take it so well. I think this was when he started being a crotchety old man, a good indicator of what was to come. We don’t talk much anymore, but that present will never be mentioned again.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Flex those Muscles, Brain!


Wow-what an incredibly productive weekend. It felt amazing to give my brain muscles a chance to flex. Yesterday, I composed two songettes for the project with Mr. DeNu and continued to read an entire novel. Today I fixed one of the songettes (will explain briefly) and did another one for a new genre/theme.

We've been focusing on a "church" theme for our project which, if I haven't explained before, is basically partnering music with photography. The music represents the image and vice versa. They are incomplete without the other. So I've been banging out these miniature songs (songettes) for a few weeks and thought I had run out of ideas. There was almost two weeks where I had absolutely nothing. But this weekend completely tossed that out the window and I was back in business. In fact, the ones I made this weekend make all but one of the others look like complete shit. I think I've found the three that I would like for our trilogy and have seen one of the partnered images and it's going to be very cool.

Not sure how to present it yet-possibly putting them all together into one iMovie? It's hard to find a way to represent both as equals. Any thoughts?

Anyways, I recorded one of the songettes with this moog-like synthesizer but the tuning started going funky about mid way through. I believe it was slowly detuning the entire time and by the time I recorded the melody it sounded like a pig eating a pigeon. So I went back and recorded the entire songette with different and more instruments. Turned out much better.

So I read a Nick Hornby book yesterday and one last weekend. He is amazing at keeping my attention, which isn't always easy in literature. There's a reason I started and finished a book yesterday. His plot lines don't go where you think but are still very realistic. I'm learning a lot about dialogue in his books. The language is nice and casual and so is the dialogue. It's interesting how he keeps it moving though. I find that mine gets stale if it's too casual.

The only downside to this weekend is no actual writing. But reading is like homework. I'm learning a lot from these books lately and the articles I've been checking out in Writer's Digest are also helpful. Work has been very draining, along with the extra stress that this Budget Repair Bill is putting on me and Kristen, it's no wonder I haven't had the energy to do anything during the week.

All in all, a good weekend. Now time to go back to the job where my creativity is stifled.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

No Funyuns Tonight!

The call came in at the newspaper reporter's desk late on a Sunday. Finally, he wanted to meet.

No Funyuns Tonight

The Governor’s new changes had just gone through. He had refused interviews for weeks. But now, late on Sunday night, he called the Reporter’s desk. He was finally ready to meet. The Reporter arranged a meeting at his own home in an hour. The Reporter was as angry as anyone else. The Governor’s ideas seemed to come straight from the Totalitarian and Fascist handbook. The National Guard was brought in. It was as though he started reading the history books but didn’t finish them. The Reporter’s wife was one of the workers who took the brunt of the hit. She had followed every inch of the campaign, sent letters and e-mails, and made others aware. But in the end she lost half of her budget, among other things. The Reporter tried to prepare, but his anger shrouded his usual impartial attitude towards stories. His words were failing him.

When the Governor arrived at the Reporter’s house, he wore an expensive suit and a beaming smile. The Reporter had two chairs set-up in the living room with a coffee table between them. The lights were low, creating a dark shadow upon the Governor’s face. The Governor was in high spirits.

“I’ll have a Johnny Walker, if you have it,” he said. “Do you have any Funyuns? I love Funyuns.”

“Sorry, no Funyuns. And I only have Dewar’s.”

The Governor sighed, “I guess that will do. Give me an extra olive or two.” He took a seat in the bigger chair and waited for his drink. The Reporter came in with the drink and his recording device.

“Ooh. No recordings please,” the Governor said, losing his smile. The Reporter nodded. He opened his mouth to start his first question, but the Governor raised his hand to stop him. He was chewing one of the olives in the fashion of a cow.

“No, no, no. You see, you’re going to print what I tell you.” He swallowed the olive. “I know who your wife is. I know that you, along with the rest of this state, are not happy with me. But that’s not what matters. “

“Oh?”

“What matters is that you’re going to start changing their minds.” He paused for a sip of his scotch. “The National Guard can only be on alert for so long, you know.” The smile returned.

Before he could respond, the Reporter’s wife emerged from the back room. They both turned. She walked slowly towards the Governor. He stood up, dug his fingers in his drink and popped another olive in his mouth, smiling. She stood for a moment, then slapped him. The Governor fell backwards, over the chair. He started choking on the olive. With one hand, he grasped his own neck. With the other, he reached out to them. The Reporter ran to him and attempted the Heimlich, but he had stopped breathing. The Reporter’s wife calmly called 911, and grabbed the Governor’s drink.

“Good scotch,” she said as they waited.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Give Me Some Ouija, Soul Brotha

Hey Hey. Started and finished the other Nick Hornby novel last weekend. High Fidelity was freaking awesome. I haven't been that drawn in by an author since I went through the entire Jonathan Ames catalog this summer. These are the books I wish I would have known about in high school. My life would be profoundly different, I'm sure. For those of you who didn't know me in high school, I was a bit of a jackass when it came to English. All the books I was forced to read for the first two years completely turned me off to reading or writing for that matter. The material was stuffy, outdated, and terribly taught. After two years I stopped reading the material all together, relying on classmates, skimming, and cliffnotes. Needless to say it worked. In retrospect, this was a terrible decision as I missed reading countless classics that I'm going back to read now, however my appreciation is much greater now that before. It was a lesson I had to learn. I had to find the good books on my own. This is great because I obviously love reading and writing now, but terrible because I pseudo-wasted my time in college. However, my musical education is not useless, but provides me zero income. And I wouldn't trade my radio experiences for the world. Anyways, Hornby is pretty awesome and I can't wait to get my hands on more of his books.

Here is my newest crack at a promptly. I had the first sentence easily and struggled with the rest. Not really that happy with it, but I'm glad I finished it and such.

Write a story featuring a Ouija board, a search engine, and a self-help book.

Joey had been on an overnight drunk for the last seven years. Accompanied by a soundtrack of David Bowie and the Pixies, he drank his way to the bottom. Rehab did not come easy, but when Joey emerged, he found something else to focus on: Ouija. A self-help book he got in rehab recommended filling the void his drinking once occupied. Ouija seemed reasonable enough.

Every time Joey felt unsure about anything, he would go home to his shared apartment. He locked himself in his room, lit some candles and brought out the Ouija board. Most of the time it would tell him soothing phrases like “job well done”, “keep it up”, or “stay strong.” Joey loved guiding the heart shaped triangle and receiving the encouragement he needed. The spirits loved him, he decided. So he would spend most mornings, post-work afternoons, and evenings with the Ouija board.

One afternoon Joey walked home and Google-ed himself. A co-worker recommended it. She said it was great fun. Joey loved great fun. He searched through three pages of results and nothing came up that was about him, Joseph Patrick Henderson. All that came up were Facebook and twitter accounts of other Joseph Patrick Hendersons. Joey started to sweat and his mouth was dry. “Do I not exist?” he thought. He quickly zoomed through another twenty pages of search results and received nothing. He ran to his room and looked under his bed. The Ouija board was not there. Joey panicked. He needed its guidance.

When his roommate, Shawn, came home that night, he found the apartment in complete shambles. Furniture was turned over, lamps destroyed, and a hole in the TV. Shawn rushed to Joey’s room and found him hiding in his closet, clutching two empty six packs of Labatt Blue, the plastic still holding them together. Joey was soaked in the beer. Wide-eyed and shaking, Joey looked up at Shawn. He saw his precious Ouija board under Shawn’s arm. He lunged out of the closet at the board, knocking Shawn over. Shawn dropped it and ran out of the apartment, screaming obscenities. Joey opened the board and searched for guidance. His fingers guided and guided, but no words were forming. He continued.

When Shawn returned, he was accompanied by three large men in white clothes and a stretcher. Joey was still sitting on the floor with the Ouija board. Joey looked up and said, “It won’t speak to me…will you speak to me?” The men in white said nothing as two of them grabbed him underneath his armpits, picked him up and placed him on the stretcher. They pulled the straps tight across his chest. He didn’t put up a fight. Joseph Patrick Henderson merely sang a song he had heard from a Dr. Demento collection years before: “They’re coming to take me away, ha ha, they’re coming to take me away, ho ho he he ha ha, to the happy farm, where life is beautiful all the time.”

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Stella gets her groove back...AGAIN

My creative side has been quite unleashed lately. It's nice to get back into a routine that allows for that. Not only have I been writing consistently, I've been reading A LOT. I always read during my lunch at work and really how it's going. I read a short story from Ernest Hemingway, then continue on The Know-It-All, a book about a guy reading the entire encyclopedia Britannica. And at home I just finished a book by Nick Hornby (creepily pictured right) called Songbook. I thoroughly enjoyed his style and his take on pop music. I have another book of his that I'll probably start today, but it was a very quick read.

In regards to my Cranston-ing, I've decided to hold off on another album and to focus on the cross country collaboration. We've kind of chosen a theme that I've been composing to, a sort of church theme. More spiritual I suppose, but also inspired by the architecture and beauty of old cathedrals and such. I've come up with 5 or 6 songettes and am really getting into it.

So, it is really nice to find a balance between reading, writing, and composing. I've labored under the assumption that I had to choose between my writing and music for the last two years or so, but words from a few people have really helped me realize how stupid that is. It's like Bruce Wayne and Batman. I can't choose to be either of them. They are one and the same.

So here is yesterday's promptly. I tried to put a much bigger idea into 500 words and will probably expand on this one, but try and fill in the gaps. That may help.

She'd passed him the note years ago, when he was studying abroad. He'd never had it translated. Until now.

Raymond had loved and lost several times since his return home. He tried to forget her. But with each new lover came great disappointment. They were not what he desired. Occasionally he would find one or two aspects that sent him to a state of pure bliss. Of course those things would soon be drowned out by their true personalities. They weren’t bad. They just weren’t her.

Etheline. She was what he dreamed of. She was what he left behind. Ray was enchanted by her eyes, crippled by her voice, delighted by her skin, incapacitated by her lips. They had four weeks together. She was a native of Florence, Italy. Etheline had traveled the world, but was in love with her home. She made a living giving tours to people studying abroad and selling flowers on the street. Ethaline loved both of those things and knew that she could never leave.

Raymond had been in one of her tour groups and immediately fell for her. He asked many questions on the tour, most of which a five-year-old knew. But it was a chance to talk to her. He found her selling her flowers outside a bakery the next day. Raymond asked her to create a bouquet fit for a queen. He bought it and handed it to her with a juvenile smile on his face. Her eyes widened and said, “But I am no queen.”

They saw each other every day, taking walks and doing all the things a couple that has been together for twenty years do. To Ray it was perfection. Her hand would crawl inside of his in a way that tickled but was incredibly intimate. There was nothing he didn’t love.

On his last day in Florence, Raymond proposed to Ethaline. He asked her to come back to America with him. They would live a charmed life, he claimed. Ethaline looked at him and stroked his face with the back of her hand. A tear escaped from her eye. She turned for a moment, scribbling something on a scrap of paper. She placed the paper in his hand, kissed him softly, and turned. She knew he would be disappointed and heartbroken, but it was all a dream to him. She knew they would not be able to continue living their life in America. She would be grounded there. This was where she belonged. He did not.

Raymond went to the airport full of rage. The note was in Italian. She knew he couldn’t read it. He had planned it all out. He had planned that moment the day they met. This was not how it was supposed to be. He returned to America.

Years later, after Raymond’s failed attempts at finding a suitable replacement, he had the note translated. It was one sentence, clear and concise: “I was born to fly.”

He crushed the old paper in his hand. Raymond went out into the night, searching for another Ethaline, one that wouldn’t need to fly.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Promptly/Your Story


Here's the newest promptly/Your Story. Which means that it could be published in Writer's Digest!!! The prompt is the first sentence of the piece. Enjoy!!!

Circus Peanuts and Abraham Lincoln

-Nathan Honoré-

It was on a bright, starry night that the traveling circus rolled into town. I looked out my bedroom window. The snow had stopped, but left a thick blanket on the ground. Arthur Avenue was completely deserted. The wheels of the circus trucks left perfect imprints in the snow as they passed. The last car disappeared into the night. My room had glow-in-the-dark moons and stars on the ceiling that always helped me fall asleep. The circus passing by left me on edge and the universe above me gave me no comfort. I got out of bed and put on my favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle slippers. Leonardo and Donatello looked up at me curiously. I paced around my room, looking for something to do.

My dad had just bought me my first guitar. It was an authentic Fender Stratocaster. It was perfect except for the color. I wanted either black or blue, but instead was given the standard candy-apple red. Regardless, I had mastered two chords, and by mastered I mean vaguely knew how to make those chords. C and G7 were the only ones in my Mel Bay chord book that my chubby little fingers could form. I loved how they sounded. They were so normal and definitive. Each strum had a purpose with those chords. I would find Beatles songs that used those chords and strum along whenever they popped up, noodling around for the rest of the song. I named my guitar Abraham Lincoln. I loved his beard. Also, he was honest, and that was something I wanted to be.

The red Abraham Lincoln sat on his stand in the corner of my room. My slippers and I eyed him up with every pace, trying to figure out what to do. The circus had literally just drove by my own house. I couldn’t just go back to sleep. The Turtles and I resolved we would write a song for the circus and present it to them. I picked up Abraham Lincoln, carefully placed my fingers on the enormous fret board, and strummed the infamous C chord. I slowly alternated between the C and G7, letting these words flow out of my mouth in a simple four-note melody:

Circus, circus,

You went past my window.

Circus, circus,

I am excited for the show.

Circus, circus,

You are very neat.

Circus, circus,

I wrote this for when we meet.

I put down Abraham Lincoln and scribbled the words on my Batman notepad. It was genius! They would be so thrilled when I played them my song. They would ask me my name and the name of my guitar and we would eat circus peanuts together. I packed up Abraham Lincoln in his gig bag, took off my slippers, put on my Batman boots, and put my jacket half on. I opened the door to find my dad standing in the hallway. He looked down at me in his blue and white striped pajamas. I almost didn’t recognize him without his glasses, but his moustache was the same. It had to be him.

“Going somewhere Mr. Music?” he said.

Wanting to be like Lincoln, I spoke the truth. I told him about the circus driving by, me pacing around my room, picking up Abraham Lincoln, and writing my amazing song. Dad put his hand on his chin. After a moment or two, he squatted down and gently took Abraham Lincoln from me. He started taking him out of his bag. My heart sank with each tug of the zipper.

“Take off your coat and boots and put your slippers back on. Then meet me in my office.” I was seldom allowed to enter Dad’s office. He would tell me there were too many breakable things in there. I put Leonardo and Donatello back on. I looked down at them and shrugged. When I pushed the office door open, Dad was sitting with headphones on and Abraham Lincoln in his hands. He motioned me in.

“What chords were you playing?”

I told him. He quickly played them back and forth with ease and fluidity.

“Now, we’re going to record your song and send it to the circus. Is that okay with you?”

I nodded vigorously. Dad handed me some headphones and we recorded my song. We finished it quickly. Dad said he would try his hardest to get it to them.

“I know they will get it,” I replied. “We have Abraham Lincoln on our side!”

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Projects Aplenty


Greetings and Salutations friends. Much to report. First of all, I have been on a composing rampage. This last weekend I completed my new work, Marlowe. It's definitely inspired by Raymond Chandler's famous private eye, Philip Marlowe. This one is five tracks instead of the usual three, and I'm very excited about it. You can check it out here http://cranston.bandcamp.com/
or
here http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Cranston/

I also wrote two other short songs, which I have dubbed "Songettes" for a project with a friend I've never met. He has some amazing photography that has inspired me to compose mini soundtracks/themes for the respective pictures. Unfortunately both of those songettes/picture combos are unavailable for distribution for various reasons. However, we will remedy that problem by starting completely fresh and making something of our own. I am very excited for this collaboration. He has been very professional and seems to be as excited as I am. It'll be a nice change of pace. So look forward to that.

My extra duties and odd hours at the Wilderness are now at an end. My normal work week has resumed, allowing time for my precious Promptly and other non-musical writing. I really want to make time for both, and hopefully my regular schedule helps that. Here is today's promptly. It's a little sappy, but I can't change the prompts. Enjoy!

It was a strange engagement. But she had reasons of her own for wanting to go through with it. And so did he.

Two Words

-Nathan Honoré-

Gina loved James. Bill loved Tiffany. James loved Gina. Tiffany loved James. However, Gina is marrying Bill to spite James because James didn’t propose in the seven years they were together. James is marrying Tiffany to spite Gina for trying to spite him by getting engaged to Bill. Bill agreed to marry Gina because Tiffany was infatuated with James. It was awkward. For years, these four had been a very tight group of friends. They would do everything together. Things got ugly when Gina dumped James for not proposing to her. The proposals that followed occurred almost instantaneously. The spiteful plans were hatched, but this did not stop the group from hanging with each other: business as usual. The couples would stare longingly at the other’s fiancé. As one announced a wedding date, the other followed. Soon, the dates were upon them. James was to marry Tiffany a week before Gina and Bill.

“Where is Bill at?” James asked.

“He’s running late, as usual,” replied Gina. She was sitting at the group’s favorite bar in the usual dimly lit booth. Her vodka cranberry needed some tending to. James went to the bar, got Gina another and himself a Seven and Seven. He slid carefully into the opposite side of the booth. He pushed Gina’s drink towards her, then dove head first into his own.

“Yeah, Tiff’s running late, too,” he said between gulps. He was ready for another. Gina’s eyes glanced at James as she nodded. Her gaze quickly returned to her drink. It had been six months and forty-six days since their last kiss. They played with the stirrers in their respective drinks, careful not to make any unnecessary coughs or groans.

After a couple of silent minutes, Gina said, “ You’re really going through with all this then?”

“Going through with what?” James replied. Gina let her mouth open a little and slid her hand two inches past her drink. James stopped playing with the stirrer and started his hand towards hers. It was about half way across the table, directly under the low hanging light above them, and Bill came through the door. With a goofy smile on his face and smudgy glasses, he waved and walked towards them. As he got close, James quickly pushed his hand further across the table passing Gina’s outstretched fingers.

“Just grabbing her drink. Do you want a Schlitz, Bill?”

“ I do,” Bill replied, sliding next to Gina.

James turned and quietly said, “ Tomorrow, those will be the hardest two words that I’ll ever say…”



Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dark Knight Rises to meet a challenge


My very good friend and Pantsless compatriot, Zach of all trades Churan has hit me with some very important knowledge:some very key casting for the next Batman movie. I kind of went overboard on my facebook response and have decided to just post it as a blog. The info= Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle and Tom Hardy as Bane.

First of all, I have heard rumors that this will be the last of Christopher Nolan's Batman movies. Because of this, I definitely did not see Catwoman and Bane as the villains. Both have huge backgrounds and are complex characters. To fit all of that into one movie seems like a bit much, but they are definitely a great pair.

In regards to Anne Hathaway...I honestly believe that Christopher Nolan will do to her what he did to Heath Ledger. He will make us see her in a way we've never conceived before. My instincts say no, but they also said no to Heath Ledger as the Joker. As soon as I saw that first teaser for Dark Knight with Ledger's Joker laugh, I knew I was dead wrong. I believe my instincts will be wrong again. I eagerly await the transformation.

When I hear Tom Hardy I am both excited and confused. I have a sizable man crush on Hardy after his performance as Eames in Inception. His character was perfect and kind of stole the film a little bit. Clearly, he is an awesome actor and this gives me great hope for the way they will portray Bane. In the catastrophe of a film, Batman and Robin, Bane is dumbass packmule/goon for Poison Ivy. WRONG. Bane is kind of a genius. He is also Latino with a thick accent...hopefully Hardy can do an accent that isn't his charming English self. So, when Nolan casts Hardy as Bane, it must mean that he will lean towards the intelligent and lethal Bane, not the dumb piece of shit that George Clooney faced. Now, Bane is a huge, huge guy. Hardy is not. I pray that they won't "Juggernaut" Bane like they did to Vinnie Jones in X-3. CG is also not the way to go. Not sure how to pull off such a superhuman character whose dimensions do not match the average human, but I am confident Nolan will find a way or reinvent the character so it works.

I just can't wait another YEAR for this movie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!





Saturday, January 15, 2011

My kind of Prompt

Promptly finally pulls through for me, giving me a topic that I am near expert on: bathrooms. I'm quite happy where with this one went and some lines that were coined in the process.

Side note: I finally finished my Batman novel, based on my all-time favorite Batman comics, the Knightfall series. Some of
you are already familiar with the story line. Bane messes shit up, breaks Bruce Wayne's back, a new Batman is appointed and basically goes ape-shit. It is an amazingly illustrated comic and the story is great. The novel adaptation did not disappoint and actually filled in some gaps for me, seeing as I don't own the entire series of comics, but come pretty close. Great read if you love Batman as much as I do. Batman: Knightfall by Dennis O'Neil.

And now, the prompt: He'd never been in her bathroom before. As he turned on the hot water to wash his hands, the mirror, which was prone to fogging, fogged. And he saw what was written there.

John and Tina had been dating for five months and he had yet to go to the bathroom in the same building as her, let alone in her apartment. When they were out to eat, he wouldn’t even go to the restaurant bathroom. Bodily functions hadn’t been put on the table yet and John liked it that way. Every movement would shift and pass peacefully and his bladder was as strong as Paul Bunyan.

One fateful night, John screwed up. His ritual before heading out for the evening was fixed and meticulous. John was a creature of habit and he always honored the three S’s with the reverence of the Pope on Good Friday. Shit, shower, and shave, in that order. But work ran late and his movement had shifted to the bowels of his mind. John immediately jumped in the shower, and then shaved his face, taking time to make sure his slightly bushy sideburns were precisely even and trimmed. He checked his phone and had a few minutes more than normal, but couldn’t figure out why. Being raised that “early is on time, and on time is late,” he grabbed his corduroy jacket and headed out the door.

Tina had wanted to cook for John for a while and John, being the nice guy that he is, agreed. The evening was going great. The pork stir-fry that Tina crafted was delicious and the Riesling matched nicely. But there was something in the food that set John’s internal system off. Cartoon sized sweat poured from forehead. The gut-wrenching cramps caused him to squeeze his leg. He shifted his weight over and over. None of the usual tricks worked. It was there. It was time.

John politely excused himself to what he called, “the little boy’s room,” clenching all the way. His walk qualified him a top spot in the Ministry of Silly Walks, hands straight at his sides, completely upright and stepping carefully.

He turned the fan on and let loose. John now knew what it was to give birth…to twins. When he had finished, he flushed and turned the hot water on to wash his hands. Tina had mentioned on their first date how her ex-roommate used to leave fog mirror messages for her all the time, seeing as the mirror fogged up easier than the Moors of England. John washed his hands and looked up to see: “Thank you for washing your hands.” It was accompanied by a smiley face and a giggle from the other side of the door.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Promptly Strikes Back


Indeed, promptly comes through for me once again. The prompts lately have done nothing for me, but this one spurred my creativity. Enjoy compatriots.

The contents of the time capsule were, to say the least, baffling.

The construction site on Canyon Road had been in a permanent state of "coming soon" for fifteen years. Scott had played in there for years and then started hanging when he turned fourteen. Under cover of darkness, he would sneak through the bear-sized hole in the fence. Scott kept a small wooden box that most people use for drug paraphernalia under some rotted 2x4s. It contained a flashlight, Batman comics, fingernail clippers, and peanuts. Scott knew he was a loner and accepted his status in high school. His parent's thought he went to a friend's house on those nights he went to the construction site. What they don't know doesn't hurt them, Scott thought.

One summer night, Scott snuck into his beloved construction site, through the hole in the fence, and to his wooden box. He grabbed his flashlight and shown it randomly around the ground around him. His thumb started to slide towards the switch to the off position when something reflected back at him. Scott walked carefully towards it. It was metallic and shaped like a thermos, still half buried. Scott uncovered the rest with his hands, noting to get the dirt out from under his nails later with his clippers. The cylindrical object was a tarnished metal with a line down the middle. Scott twisted it and the top half came open. He poured the contents on the ground and plopped himself down.

“What the hell?” Scott said.

There were three items and a note. The note read:

To whom it may concern,

May this kit of anonymous fame be as useful to you as it was for me. I have buried this time capsule to immortalize the best ways to gain anonymous fame in the year 1953. If used properly, these things will assist you in doing things that you can take pride in forever, but will never take credit for.

Toilet paper- toss this over the trees and houses of your foes. It will take forever for them to clean it up.

Whoopee cushion- use with great discretion. Try to slip it onto a teacher’s chair or behind someone in front of you at church. Do not laugh more or less than others. That will solidify your guilt.

Baby Ruth- This candy bar is a perfect replica of fecal matter. Place in a pool and wait for the screams of disgust. The staff will have to evacuate and drain the pool. No laughing.

Enjoy, friend. I don’t know you, but I wish you all the best. Remember; never take credit for these actions. The key to this kit is anonymous fame.

Sincerely, John Baker

Scott finished reading and held the objects in his dirty hands. The whoopee cushion was still rubbery, the toilet paper strong, and the Baby Ruth unopened.

“Would Batman use these?” he asked himself. But quickly decided that he was not Bruce Wayne and hoped that Batman would forgive him for what he was about to do. Anonymous fame waited.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Things to come


Hey everyone- little update after the first week in the new year.

Writing has been slow, but I am finding the time to do it. It's just a matter of finding a new routine, as I no longer have to go the library to get internet. The guy we've been stealing it from finally learned how to lock it, so we caved. It becomes hard for me to concentrate at home in my favorite chair so I'm going to figure something else out.

Although, last night I came up with an idea for an original new story. I started a story about a fictionalized version of me that follows the semi-ficticious Bearded Sons of Christ (the band my brothers and I have made in real life.) I plan on balancing the hilarity that is in some of my writing with the dark and thought-provoking, as an underlying theme in the story is me dealing with my feelings towards my grandparents. I have a page done and can't wait to keep going.

More soon.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Holiday Madness

The hectic holidays are finally through, which means I can finally get back into a regular writing routine. I have been making a lot music lately, but my writing has been suffering. By the way, I created a bandcamp for myself under the pseudonym of Cranston. Cranston is the last name of the alter ego of The Shadow, Lamont Cranston. I found it fitting for the music I have created. If you have time, check it out: Cranston-Bandcamp

Here's my first promptly of the new year. I'll keep improving as I get back into a steady schedule, always do. But this is obviously not my best work. Either way, enjoy!

Craft a story featuring a cell phone, a lost and found box, and a blizzard.

Lisa was working at the resort when the blizzard hit. It was unexpected and swift, as most blizzards are, rendering the area completely useless. A great whiteness washed over everything. At least the blind know how to move around without their sight. Those with sight would squint until they couldn’t squint anymore.

The snow was still falling in heavy quantities when Lisa put down her binder. She was the head of the Lost and Found department and the Backcountry Resort and Golf Course. Though she was not enthusiastic about her job, she worked like it. Making calls and e-mails about blankets and cell phones that were left behind by their careless owners was rather tedious. But Lisa enjoyed people and helping them.

“Holy shit…” Lisa said. She was alone.

“When did all this happen?” she thought.

She emerged from behind her bar-like desk and walked towards the huge glass doors. There was pure whiteness outside. Lisa thought she saw an inch or two of the black handrails but couldn’t be sure. Her arms crossed. She stared for a few minutes into the ungodly white light.

You put on quite a show, really had me going…

The ringer broke Lisa’s contemplative and stoic state. She walked back to her desk and picked up her phone, looking back at the snow every few seconds. It was mesmerizing.

“Hello, this is Lisa,” she recited.

There was crackling and a terrible wind noise on the other end.

“Hello? Is anyone there?” She looked at her phone. It showed that a hotel number was calling, which could have been anyone on the resort.

More noise.

“Do you need help? Are you ok?” Lisa continued.

“L…Lisa…” a deep, smoke-ridden voice said. She knew who it was before he had actually gotten her name out: Jonathan from Security.

“Jonathan, where the hell are you? Are you ok?”

“I’m…outside…”

“Outside where?”

More crackling and wind noise.

“Jonathan, where are you?”

“Park….ot-“ The phone disconnected.

Lisa ran to the door again, looking into nothing, hoping to see something new. She knew that if she opened the door and went looking for Jonathan she would be able to see even less. The harsh wind would blind her and knock her down. She would need supplies.

The Lost and Found closet held a lot of summer clothes and flip-flops, but there was a bin of swimming goggles. Lisa thought that those might make it a little easier to see. Some poor blind person had left his walking stick. It would work for Lisa now. She donned her winter jacket, hat, and gloves. The goggles were tight but they fit. Lisa strode to the door and pushed. The wind was formidable foe, warning her to stay put. She lowered herself and lunged at the door. It opened enough for her to get out. Her goggles immediately fogged up and the cane had fallen somewhere in the snow. Now she wondered if she would be able to get back in.