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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. “


“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.