(insert pithy rejoinder here)

Music

The Soundtrack to Characterization

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One of the oddest things about my blog is that I rarely utilize it for what it was originally intended- namely, sharing my writing. Since I’m nearly finished with REAPERS TWO, I decided I would share some of the writing techniques I used in the conception of that novella, and hopefully get new ideas from other writers about their character-building habits and techniques.

Today I thought I’d share a specific technique I use for conceiving characters: I assign them a song.

On the surface this may seem counter-intuitive since music is capable of conveying emotion without words, but I find that the perfect song will reveal emotions or behaviors in the characters I create long before I construct a single sentence. The right song can encapsulate a single moment or an entire lifetime of a person’s emotional experience (recent birthday boy ElGuapo knows what I’m talking about). With that in mind, I’ll describe two different ways I use music to build characters.

The first way I do this is to create a generic version of a character in my head, and then find a song that suits him/her after the rough draft is written. I find this works best for when I really want to “flesh out” a character by layering dimension over the bare bones of the initial conception. One of the characters that benefited most from this technique was the character of Raphael in THE GODS OF ASPHALT. Because his character was the most like me, I found that he was the hardest to flesh out. You’d think he’d be the easiest since I ought to know him so well, right? He wasn’t. I suppose that is because it is always easiest to hide our truest selves from ourselves. Well that, and the fact that I had never planned for him to resemble me in the first place. By the time I did my first run-though edit it was painfully obvious that I had captured myself in print.

I struggled for what seemed like forever to find something, anything, about myself in Raphael that I could use to turn him from an angry, closed-off parent into a character with true dimension. Finally I discovered that what made his character and myself alike was our inner struggle with our ethnicity. Being raised as an American in a household filled with Old-World ideals made it hard for me to know who I really was and where my loyalties lay. I was constantly conflicted and to this day struggle for a sense of equilibrium. Without realizing it I had passed that same internal struggle onto Raphael.

Once his (our) internal conflict had been revealed, I searched for music that would tell the story of a compelling character- one who grew from a disgruntled Midwestern teen into a man struggling to find peace as a proud Spanish father. Rodrigo y Gabriela’s cover of the Metallica classic ORION instantly became that song for me.

From that moment on, every time I wrote Raphael I would listen to that song. The music brought him to life for me; from the timbre of his voice to picturing the way he walked. ORION became the soundtrack to every scene Raphael was in and helped me navigate his character through the story.

Rodrigo y Gabriela – ORION

This next example illustrates the same technique, although switched-up a bit. That example is the character of Lucifer in THE REAPERS WITH ISSUES Series.

Unlike the example above where I conceived of a character before assigning him/her a song, with REAPERS I was faced with the challenge of re-characterizing established characters. The one that gave me the most trouble was Lucifer. The difficulty lie in the fact that Lucifer is more than established; he is downright iconic. There isn’t a culture on the planet that doesn’t have a vision of evil-incarnate, so how was I to reinvent him?

I knew that within the context of the story I would have to humanize him to some degree, so I decided to portray my version of Lucifer not as purely evil, but simply as…a dick. I also knew that to “flesh” him out would not be to layer dimension onto him, but to reveal him; to strip away his skin and discover what makes him tick.

I failed epically.

Every version of Lucifer that sprung to mind was a stereotypical construct from the deepest, most generic part of my brain. I had nearly lost all hope when I came up with a solution: I’d do it all backwards and let Lucifer pick his own music. Sounds crazy, right? Well it worked. I turned on my music, closed my eyes and listened to every song I could think of that wasn’t evil, dark or brooding until Lucifer revealed his song. That song, believe it or not, was CLINT EASTWOOD by the Gorillaz.

Why that song? I have no idea (I let Lucifer pick, remember?). But I will tell you that things became instantly clearer for me whenever I listened to it. I easily pictured the way he walked [slightly slouching] to the way he spoke [slightly spoiled] and imagined a dozen tiny little habits [folding origami] the instant that song became a part of his character. But as great as that song was, it wasn’t exactly right. I needed a version of that near-perfect song to do more than just bring Lucifer to life. I needed Lucifer to be reborn.

Words + Music = Art

I enlisted the help of a musician to remix CLINT EASTWOOD into something that sounded slightly more sinister, slightly more spoiled, and slightly more modern. Below is that song: Lucifer’s Remix conceived of by production musician extraordinaire, DJ Casper. Believe me when I tell you that to my mind, this song IS Lucifer.

DJ Casper – LUCIFER’S REMIX

I imagine the idea of using music to inspire or create words on a page may seem unconventional or downright bizarre, but to me it is the most natural thing in the world. I chalk it up to spending too much time on the road as a kid with nothing by my father’s music and my imagination to keep me company. I firmly blame my inability to finish GOA2 on the fact that I can’t figure out what kind of music River listens to. Like Lucifer, I’ve decided to let River choose. I am praying he’s not into Rap.


When Bad Videos Happen to Good Musicians

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The advent of Mtv was both a blessing and a curse for me as a kid. Once musicians had the ability to act in their videos, they somehow felt the need to put on a show as opposed to simply performing their songs. Sometimes, as was the case with Billy Idol, it turned out to be a good thing. I remember as a kid sitting transfixed in front of the television whenever REBEL YELL came on, staring at the screen and thinking some very, very grown-up thoughts about this bleach-blonde wonder. And who can forget THRILLER? I remember exactly where I was the first time I watched that video. I can do the dance to this day.

Sadly, not all my experiences were as positive as the ones I’ve mentioned. Not every singer is a star, as music video history has shown us. I’ve dredged up some memories (and hit the YouTube) for a sample of some of the worst offenders. It’s time to buckle in folks, because this is going to be painful. We start our list of bad videos that happened to good musicians with:

KISS – LICK IT UP

I brought a KISS lunch box to the first day of kindergarten, that’s how big a fan I was as a kid. You can appreciate my shock and horror the first time I was subjected to…well, whatever the hell this is. I still haven’t forgiven them.

Damn Yankees – HIGH ENOUGH

The next video is every bit as tragic as the previous one because it features the cataclysmic crash and burn of one of rock’s best guitar legends: Ted Nugent. That’s right, Mr. Cat Scratch Fever himself joined a band who called themselves Damn Yankees- a band that can only be described as having all the raw sex appeal of the Traveling Wilburys, minus the badassery. Click play and see for yourself. The only thing in a Stranglehold in this video are Ted’s balls, clenched tightly in the fist of whomever he sold them out to.

David Bowie – CHINA GIRL

I imagine Bowie fans will come down on me for the next offering, but I will stand my ground. Yes, David Bowie is known for being unconventional and avante guarde, so the oddness of this video should come as no surprise. I contend that it is the utter lack of Bowiesque influence that bothers me most. It’s as if he’s trying to reinvent himself as a lounge singer. Not what I expected from Major Tom. And don’t get me started on the creepy pedophilic vibe running throughout this epic disaster.

David Bowie & Mick Jagger – DANCING IN THE STREET

It seems that whatever Bowie touched in the 80′s turned to musical “Meh,” as demonstrated in this technicolor nightmare featuring the once great Mick Jagger. This video is what I imagine homely girls do for fun at sleepovers. And…now I have no more followers.

Van Halen – TATTOO

This next one may be a bit controversial, since I am not entirely sure this song was good to begin with. It’s the rocking out on the down beat that does it in for me. On the flip side, it’s good to see Carol Channing getting steady work again.

Journey – SEPARATE WAYS

Even the most die-hard metalhead will admit to the powerhouse talent that is Steve Perry and to the awesomeness of this song, no matter how lame and sad this video portrays them all. Journey should have issued a fatwā on the dude who put this crap together. 


We have finally reached the top of the crap heap, to the musical spooge floating to the top of the bad video barrel. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the shiniest turd of them all:

Billy Squier – ROCK ME TONIGHT

Poor, poor Billy Squier. No musical career has been harmed by a video performance more than Richard Simm- uh, I mean, Billy Squier’s. ROCK ME TONIGHT was Billy’s biggest hit before this video came out, which makes me wonder who fell asleep at the wheel and hit “go” on this piece of musical holocaust. DISCLAIMER: Pregnant women and people with heart conditions should refrain from watching the following video:

There you have it, folks. My personal list of bad videos that ruined good musicians. If you can think of any I missed, feel free to leave them in the comments. On that note I will leave you with a palate cleanser from my youth. Please to enjoy, WINGER. Feel free to listen with the sound off.


Happy Birthday Tim Curry!!!

TODAY IS THE BIRTHDAY OF MY MOST FAVORITE ACTOR OF ALL TIME….TIM CURRY!!!!

I remember the first time I saw Tim Curry on the big screen. It was in a now defunct movie theater in Windsor, Connecticut with my best friend (yes, Quinn I’m talking about you) who dragged me kicking and screaming to see the movie ANNIE. I remember everyone HATING the character of Rooster but I was absolutely smitten. I loved his voice, the way he moved, his eyes, EVERYTHING about him.

It was just a few years later that I was dragged to another movie theater (yes, Quinn this was you again) in nothing but my bra and panties to see Tim Curry in the ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. Let me digress for a moment here…
Have you ever had an experience as a kid that forever changed your life? That molded and shaped how you saw the world and yourself in it for years to come? Yes, that was what Tim Curry’s FRANK-N-FURTER character did for me. Since then I’ve made a point to either see or hear everything he’s ever done in his career (even Pennywise the clown. That’s how deep my love goes).

Now, I’m not one to go all gushy when meeting celebrities (my life spent as a somewhat groupie kept my Starstruck meter in check) but if I were to meet Tim Curry in the flesh I’d fucking cum in colors, I shit you not (suck on that sentence, Freshly Pressed). So here’s to you, Tim Curry, for another glorious year with you in it!


New England Dissected

I’m sure I’ve mentioned somewhere in previous posts that I’m a New Englander, but unless you’re from here you can’t really comprehend the significance of that statement. New Englanders wear their citizenship like a badge of honor, defining ourselves not by our individual states but by our geographical region, much the same way someone from Scotland or Ireland would define themselves by their family, or clan.

So to help all of you southern, inland and west coasters out there understand the Clan New England, I’m going to break it down with a metaphorical example. Imagine a Thanksgiving day dinner table, and at one end you have:

MAINE

This is grandpa. He doesn’t do or say much, and he’s been around so long you almost forget he’s there. Oh, and he doesn’t have teeth. Next to him is:

NEW HAMPSHIRE

This is the oldest son, the one who went off all gung-ho to Vietnam and came back disillusioned and pissed. He rides a Harley and defends his right to not pay taxes. He’ll school you on the history of any firearm known to man, whether you ask him to or not. When he’s not at Laconia for bike week he’s at a Knights of Columbus meeting. He earns his money either by being a trucker, mechanic or working construction. And his wife is Asian. Always. Next to him is:

VERMONT

No one gets under New Hampshire’s tough leather skin quite like Vermont. Part hippie poser, part Phish fan, all organic NPR listening Vermont. He’s college educated, usually earning a degree in either history or philosophy, which makes him an expert on EVERYTHING. He’ll chastise you for driving anything other than a Prius and is forever preaching the evils of pop culture. The only reason he owns a television is to watch PBS, and he’s married to a girl from:

CONNECTICUT

The oldest daughter of a respectable family, make no mistake she is Vassar bound. When she’s not out shopping for argyle socks she’s sticking a finger down her throat or sneaking out to heavy metal concerts to bang tattooed pretty boys on motorcycles. I’m guessing. Next to her is:

RHODE ISLAND

He’s the red-headed step child; New England’s own version of Oliver from the Brady Bunch. Our own personal small ball of “why?” And that leads us to the twins. I say twins because this next state is geographically bipolar. Divided by the city of Worcester (pronounced WOOS-tuh), their personalities are as oppositional as any two children could ever be. And that state is:

MASSACHUSETTS

The child west of Worcester is the girl twin. She’s well-adjusted and lacking in any definable accent. She knows what she wants and that is to GET THE HELL OUT OF NEW ENGLAND. The twin east of Worcester is the boy twin, the one who calls you at 2 a.m. to come bail him out of jail because he:

A. Gave a Yankees fan a beat down.
B. Defended his position that Manhattan clam chowder is, by definition, not a chowder.
C. Beat someone who said something disparaging about Aerosmith or Godsmack or Denis Leary.

He’s the guy who doesn’t actually live anywhere; he just floats from couch to couch to couch. He borrows your car without your permission, drinks all your beer and steals your stuff. And even though you know he’s going to sleep with your girlfriend you let him in your house anyway because he’s just so damned awesome.

Just like any family we fight and spat amongst ourselves, but heaven help the punk who steps to one of us, because then he steps to all of us. Whitey Bulger wouldn’t be Whitey Bulger if he were from the midwest. Well, maybe Kansas. That place is like the friggin’ Twilight Zone. So the next time you cross the border into New England, roll down your windows and listen carefully; you just might hear our siren song:


Checking In

Hellis here with some good news and some bad news. The good news is that I recently received a promotion that is quite a big deal in my world. The bad news is that it leaves me less time to spend in blogworld. Once my schedule settles down I’ll be more available to post, but until then I’ll be checking in as often as I can.

So in the spirit of Halloween I’ll leave you with the most horrific thing I’ve seen all day.


Holy Jayne It’s Firefly!

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Attention all you shiny folks from the ‘Verse! Today is the tenth anniversary of the first episode of the uber series that hardly was, FIREFLY. You don’t have to be a Joss Whedon fan to appreciate his dystopian western turned cult-classic.

For anyone who’s read my novella REAPERS WITH ISSUES and enjoyed the antics of a horseman named War, you may want to pay close attention to a character named Jayne Cobb.

Here’s a big thank you to a young uber fan-friend of mine for her awesome video below.


Happy Blogiversary To Me!

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TODAY IS THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF MY BLOG! TO COMMEMORATE THIS AUSPICIOUS OCCASION I HAVE DECIDED TO RERUN MY VERY FIRST BLOG POST.

PLEASE TO ENJOY…

So yeah, I wrote a book.

I must have been high when I wrote it because there’s no other explanation I can give for my 120,000 word upper YA novel where the only noun I used more than “boner” was “blood.” It goes without saying that I’m self-published. I didn’t even try to submit it traditionally. Can you just imagine the poor agent who gets my query letter?

“My novel, THE GODS OF ASPHALT is complete at 120,000 words and is the first in a series of five books that for some reason I’ve decided to write out-of-order. Each one is told from the point of view of a teenage male protagonist who has exactly zero supernatural powers (unless you consider perpetual erections a superpower). Oh, and it also has Spanish subtitles.”

Yeah.

On the good side, if you’re like me and are just a little too into music, motorcycles and all around badassery this is the book for you. If you’re not, I’m sure Jodi Picoult’s got a blog somewhere. You can find the opening to chapter one at the top of the page under the tab GOA REVIEWS and you can find my book on line at:

SMASHWORDS

AMAZON


Raider Nation’s Reluctant Member

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Picture the scene:

February 2012 and yours truly is glued to the television, elbows deep in clam chowda, an ice cold rack a pounders within reach. The iconic opening notes of O Fortuna pour out of the speakers, and like Pavlov’s dog, my heart begins to pound in anticipation. I move closer to the screen just as the unmistakeable sound of Ozzy screaming, “ALL ABOARD “ heralds the moment I’ve been waiting all season for– the moment my beloved New England Patriots take the field for SuperBowl XLVI.

I spend the next hour watching the Pats do what they do best– beat the snot outta anything hailing from New York, all to the tune of AC/DC’s Thunderstruck. Drunk with uber-fandom superiority (and a few Sam Adams), I place a hasty call before the half to brain-dead idiot and lifetime Giants fan, Jeb.

Questions were posed as to how far I might go if the Pats inconceivably lost the SuperBowl, one in particular to involve the possibility of me patronizing another NFL sports team.  For life.

Confident in New England’s ability, my bet was made.

And lost.

Jeb knows me well enough to know that I would never make a bet to become a Giants fan, so he picked the lesser of two evils.

You guessed it. Karma is a Raiders fan. And as of February 5th, so was I.

Let me begin by saying that there are many reasons why I am morally opposed to patronizing a West Coast sports team, the first being that I am, in fact, an East Coaster. I mean, do they even have clam chowder in California? I bet they put pineapple in it, the savages.

Next are their team colors. Silver and Black? Really? My Patriots proudly sport the Red, White, and Blue; clear evidence that to be a Raiders fan is to be unAmerican.

Now, some may argue that the West Coast has superior beer, and I for one would agree. But I would also like to point out to all you West Coasters out there that just like everything else in California, Corona is from Mexico, which means it doesn’t really belong to you. Just ask Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.

But I think the biggest affront to my senses will be the assault to my ears. Tell me, how in the hell is Godsmack supposed to cover this??

People, it’s going to be a long season.


The Hotspur Challenge – Manfred Mann Edition

Manfred-Mann's-Earth-Band-Blinded-By-the-Light-&-Other-Hits

Resident blogger and uber audiophile Edward Hotspur recently penned (typed? keyed?) a post entitled: AN ANALYSIS AND DISSECTION OF THE UTTERLY STUPID SONG “ALL I WANT TO DO IS MAKE LOVE TO YOU”  in which he deciphers the twisted meaning behind Heart’s atrocious lyrics.

Naturally that got me thinking, and no good ever comes of that. So in the spirit of his blog post I offer up this challenge to the great EH:

What the hell was Manfred Mann trying to say when they released BLINDED BY THE LIGHT? I mean, WTF??? Just how prolific were drugs in the seventies?


Super Secret Project Clue #5

Have you figured it out yet? This might help:


Emancipation Proclamation

YAY!!! I MADE IT!!!

 


Twenty-Four Hours To Go

I’M SO CLOSE I CAN TASTE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!


14 Days And Counting….

How I’ve spent nearly everyday for the past week. Picture me the guy in the middle…


Happy Birthday Tim Curry!!!

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TODAY IS THE BIRTHDAY OF MY MOST FAVORITE ACTOR OF ALL TIME….TIM CURRY!!!!

I remember the first time I saw Tim Curry on the big screen. It was in a now defunct movie theater in Windsor, Connecticut with my best friend (yes, Quinn I’m talking about you) who dragged me kicking and screaming to see the movie ANNIE. I remember everyone HATING the character of Rooster but I was absolutely smitten. I loved his voice, the way he moved, his eyes, EVERYTHING about him.

It was just a few years later that I was dragged to another movie theater (yes, Quinn this was you again) in nothing but my bra and panties to see Tim Curry in the ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. Let me digress for a moment here…

 
Have you ever had an experience as a kid that forever changed your life? That molded and shaped how you saw the world and yourself in it for years to come? Yes, that was what Tim Curry’s FRANK-N-FURTER character did for me. Since then I’ve made a point to either see or hear everything he’s ever done in his career (even Pennywise the clown. That’s how deep my love goes).

Now, I’m not one to go all gushy when meeting celebrities (my life spent as a somewhat groupie kept my Starstruck meter in check) but if I were to meet Tim Curry in the flesh I’d fucking cum in colors, I shit you not (suck on that sentence, Freshly Pressed). So here’s to you, Tim Curry, for another glorious year with you in it!

 


It’s…SPaM!!! (Redux)

Seeing as I am neck deep in various writing projects, I’ve decided to start reblogging SPaM posts every other Monday. So take it away Edward Hotspur!

 

WELCOME TO…SPaM! (Shameless Promotion Monday)

I decided to take my fear of belief in Karma and offer my blog post on Mondays to someone who wants to be heard; be it writer, artist, musician, blogger, what have you. I hope to do this every Monday so if you or anyone you know is interested then shoot me an email at: heellisgoa@gmail.com

First up is blogger extraordinaire….EDWARD HOTSPUR!

I’m not exactly sure when I first stumbled onto Edward’s blog, but I’m glad I did. He’s like that guy you see in movies everywhere that you don’t know the name of but it doesn’t stop you from pointing at the screen and shouting, “Hey! It’s that guy!” As time goes on you notice him more and more and then once he makes it big you shout to everyone how you knew he’d make it all along. Well, today I’m shouting…

EDWARD HOTSPUR!

Whether it’s taking a virtual car ride alongside him to work or listening to his Zagnut packed tales of Granite Countertop–Private Investigator; every moment spent on the Hotspur blog is an online wet dream dripping in awesome sauce. Now let’s hear from the man himself.

So Edward…what prompted you to create such an awesome blog?

There was this flashing thing which I believe is called a ‘cursor’, and it seemed to want me to do something. Actually, I think of random stuff all the time and wanted to incorporate this weird but good stuff in something, like the first guy who ate lobster.  The digital voice recorder helped with that. For me, this blog is like my Twitter, except instead of having 160 characters I have 5000+ words. Also, I must be honest – I chopped down the cherry tr – no, wait, what I meant to say was I hoped to make money at it.

How did you come up with the character “Granite Countertop?”

I actually came up with it, or him, right on the spot, and the process of that appears in Scenes From A Morning Drive 15.  Behind the scenes (see what I did there?), there was one more part of the process, and that is that I was really sick, and on some cold medication. The meds really took the filter off – yes, imagine me with no filter – and I just went with it. A part of me wants to never get better so I can keep writing all the things! But the part of me that is sore and tired of being sick knows that this happy place can’t last forever. I’ll have to find another one.

I know I’d love to see Granite Countertop published somehow. Is this something you’re considering or is he just for fun?

Granite Countertop practically writes itself, plus it’s really easy to clean. I just put a pen to some paper, and come back and things have been written down for me. It was just for fun, but some people seemed to like it/him. If there’s any way to make a little money at something that is really fun, I don’t see why I wouldn’t publish something, if I can figure out how. Some of you might think I’m a little obsessed with money, but I’m not. I’m obsessed with bling, and you need money for that. No, seriously, I have found that if I plan things out, really think about what I’m writing and outline where I want a blog post, flash fiction story or some other piece to go, it kind of sucks. Whereas if I just sit down and start writing, it sucks a little less. So you can see, doing less work results in a slightly less bad product. That’s efficiency, baby!

Name the three things you’re most known for:

Aside from inventing the wheel, I am known for a sarcastic dry sense of humor, an enormously huge penchant for the absurd, and a tendency to end a sentence with a word that you don’t avocado.

Name the three things most people don’t know about you:

Most people don’t know that I’m older than I look, that I’m very romantic, or that I’ve got this blog. Sigh.

If someone made a movie of your life, who’d play you?

A robot of me would play me. It’s the only way to properly capture all the nuances and shadows of my personage.

What more can we expect from Edward Hotspur in the future?

I plan on finishing the novel I have started, which I estimate to be about 1/3 finished, and trying to shop that around, however that is done. I also plan on recording two songs with a friend of mine, and possibly shooting a video for one of them. I also have written several short stories and the first 4-5 episodes of a serial (other than Granite Countertop). I’ve written about 20 songs for a J-rock visual kei opera based on Shinto mythology set in modern times. I’ve got to say, though, the immediate satisfaction of writing, publishing and getting feedback from a blog post is pretty hard to beat, so many, many more posts will be coming in the future. I might do one of those user-generated content sites.

Plus, there’s that secret project I’m working on, that I will reveal to everyone in, say, a few weeks? Or however long it takes me to do it.

You can follow Edward’s blog HERE

He also has merchandise for sale HERE

I can tell you this is one fan that’ll be rockin’ a Hotspur tee shortly. Be warned, they’re only for the truly “awesome.” No posers or Yankees fans allowed (well, maybe Yankees fans. But you pay extra).

 


The Hotspur Challenge

Alright E.H. this one’s for you.

Below you will find a link to a song that I absolutely LOVE. Unfortunately, whoever wrote the lyrics suffered a traumatic brain injury because they make abso-fucking-lutely no sense to me. Here’s the challenge should you choose to accept:

RE-WRITE THIS SONG WITH BETTER LYRICS!!!!!

***** HOTSPUR HAS OBLIGED!!!! *****

I was a pale dark boy, loser too cheap for whores
All of your street walk eyes wide on electric toys
Then when your top crossed your chest, I cut my teeth on your leg
Stole me a doggy style and noodled you everywhere

Have I fondled you
Padded girl, vampire, bleeding or lost you
That time of the month
Big string dangling

Now I’m a cat ass trophy
Nothing but store bought come
Watching the warm blood spill through your ass cracks
Dripping on magazine photos
Those open thighs thrown on the bed
And clean flushed in the red monthly stream

Have I fondled you
Padded girl, undead, bleeding or lost you,
That time of the month
Big string stuck going in


Yeah. I’m old.

2012-02-04 20.49.04

Thanks to my well connected friends I caught a LIT show this weekend and it was, well….let’s just call it awesome. What Catholic school girl wouldn’t love a tattooed rocker like A. Jay Popoff? Especially when I got close enough to reach up and wipe the sweat off his…uh, never mind.

As luck would have it a small group of us got to meet the band after the set and get autographs where I actually handed A. Jay an autographed copy of my book. Well, it was more like I signed it and then chucked it at him. You might think that trading autographs with a famous rocker would be the highlight of the evening, but it wasn’t. The highlight came when Kevin asked a small group of us to hang out afterward. That’s when I said….

No.

That’s right, people. I said no. Because the cigarette smoke and burning patchouli to cover the weed and the ringing in my ears from standing too close to the stage threatened to blast my skull in two. Because I made a long trip there and had a long trip home. Because I had work in the morning. Because I had to face the fact that I’m not twenty anymore.

God I’m old.


Happy Birthday!

I636-Lg J Happy Birthday

I want to wish my very good friend an early happy birthday for tomorrow. You know who you are.

***

GAZETTE – BEST FRIENDS

As a child, I dreamt of the future
Even now it doesn’t fade, but is vivid as I look forward
So that I’d grow, I’d hold the tears in as I watched the scenery I grew up with crush under time.
I began to run towards that one big dream
Because my good friends were with me, I did my best

Live well, young man
You’re not alone, so muster your courage
Lunge forward, for right beyond this
You’ll be laughing and shining with your friends

The steep path that you’ll be walking will be lit, but full of thorns
Good or bad, from start to finish, you’re gonna do it anyway, so make your dream come true
For those who watch over you, for the ones you love and for yourself
Get your senses to a super high level, and walk your own path today

I began to run towards that one big dream
Because my good friends were with me, I did my best
Even if there’s a high wall in our way, we’re not stopping
We’ll break it down and go on towards our dream

Live well, young man
You’re not alone, so muster your courage
Lunge forward, for right beyond this
You’ll be laughing and shining with your friends


Why The Seventies Were “F*in” Awesome

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There are so many reasons why the seventies were awesome that I needed to narrow it down to just one letter, and that letter is F. First, we begin with the obvious choice, FASHION. Or better yet, FAIL.

And what post about the seventies would be complete without FARRAH HAIR. When I was a little dark haired girl all I had to look up to for a media role model was a blonde beach bunny named Farrah. My Italian boy cousins however, got to have a television icon and Guido Extraordinaire, FONZIE. Seriously not fair.

Next we have FOGHAT, FRAMPTON AND FREDDIE. I’d like to think there’s a special place in music heaven for Freddie Mercury.

I’d also like to think there’s a special place in automotive hell for whatever sadist “revamped” the 1974 Mustang in order to better handle the rising costs of gasoline thanks to the imposed FUEL EMBARGO. Pure Sacrilege.

For some reason, interior designers of the seventies were all about the concept of designing for the FUTURE. Apparently, the world will exist on nothing but shag carpeting, paneling, polished chrome and FORMICA.

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One of the biggest events of the seventies was the advent of FREE AGENCY in sports. No longer “owned” by teams, a player could broker his own deal, essentially selling himself to the highest bidder (Confused? Watch Jerry Maguire). Pete Rose was one of the first to leverage his talent for the best deal. I’m sure he did great things with that extra cash.

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Now a nod toward Pop Culture; namely FADS, FEVER and FRANK-N-FURTER.

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BUT WHAT REALLY MADE THE SEVENTIES GREAT WAS:

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PORN


Fired Up!

I tapped deep into my Latin roots to come up with the perfect song to express my attitude going into this new year. EH? Megan? El Guapo? Sparkles? Who’s with me?

Uh…HR you kind of don’t have a choice here since it’s most likely your money I’ll be spending. Consider this fair warning. :)

*** WARNING – NAUGHTY WORDS AHEAD ****


Love Letters Gone Wrong – Four

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It’s time time for another round of LOVE LETTERS GONE WRONG! Every Friday I feature a LOVE LETTER GONE WRONG written and submitted anonymously by fellow bloggers. Sunday morning I reveal the secret admirer’s identity with a link to the blogger’s home page. If you’d like to submit some truly heinous love letters please send them to heellisgoa@gmail.com.

This week’s love letter was written and submitted by a blogger who liked my SOMEBODY SHOOT ME post. Check out this post and then return to the comments here to guess who the secret admirer is. The first correct guess wins a free copy of my ebook.

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Dearest Nightingale,

I don’t know your name, and I don’t normally do this, but I just had to say something. I saw you across a crowded room as I drank my wine, and I heard you singing with your friends. You have a lovely voice! I am amazed that no one else has said anything. I see you there regularly – actually, I’m kind of a regular myself at that same place. It sure was crowded that night.

I wonder if you would do me the honor of having dinner with me? I love the way you handle yourself, and how you’re not afraid to get up in front of a large number of people. And the things you sing about – they’re bigger than the both of us.

Please let me know, as I simply must get to know you better. I was thinking tonight, or this evening. I would ask you to lunch, but I have a meeting in the afternoon with a priest and a judge and my lawyer and the priest’s lawyer and – I don’t want to bore you with the details, but I can’t wait to meet you!

Yours,
Glenn McFadden


Sounds of the Season

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WHAT CHRISTMAS SOUNDS LIKE IN MY PERSONAL VERSION OF HEAVEN

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WHAT CHRISTMAS SOUNDS LIKE IN MY PERSONAL VERSION OF HELL

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Sandy SPaM

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As much as I blog/write/brag about being a New Englander I find it’s easy to forget that my life’s journey began in Florida, the same base of operations for this week’s featured blogger Sandylikeabeach (great name, right?). But the similarities don’t end with geography. I also suffer from her self-described “Scarlet O Hara syndrome” and could have written the following sentiment myself:

“With this blog, I hope to feed that part of my soul that yearns to create. My blog is not really about anything in particular, just recollections, memories, observations, thoughts and dreams.”

Anyone who’s had the good fortune to visit her blog quickly learns there’s more to this writer/poetess than simple anecdotes or pearls of wisdom. I give you my kindred spirit, Sandylikeabeach.

Before I answer your questions, let me say I’m delighted to be your kindred spirit and honored to be included in your roster of SPaM recipients. Now, on to your questions.

**** 1. What first influenced you to become a writer?

My high school English teacher, Mrs. McKelvy, opened my mind to the possibility of writing. I took her creative writing class and she was very encouraging. I wrote several short stories and poems, and won our school’s creative writing award my senior year. I majored in journalism in college, but never liked the “reporting” side of it. I loved the photography and editing classes.

Of course, I graduated from college during a recession so I never worked in my major field. I was just happy to get any job, much like today’s college graduates. Once I left college, I did very little writing, until I started this blog about six months ago. After decades of not writing, I’m still struggling to find my “voice.” I have been happily surprised by how encouraging and supportive my fellow bloggers have been.  It is unlikely that I will ever be a “post a day” blogger, but I am enjoying the journey.

**** 2. Where do you draw your inspiration for your poetry?

My poetry tends to be a bit dark.  When I am in an emotionally raw place, the words just seem to flow. Often the writing of the poem is enough to lift me out of that dark place.

The one poem you seemed to like the most was Longing, which ended with the line ‘Someone walked over my grave.’ That line was the starting point for the poem.  It was something I remembered from my teenage years. We used that expression when we would get a sudden chill that would give us goosebumps. I knew I wanted to end a poem with that line, so I worked backwards from there.

**** 3. Are you writing anything at the moment?

Just the answers to these questions. I do have an idea for a short story bouncing around in my head, not sure if it will ever make it from my head to the page.

**** 4. In your post ICE CREAM CONES AND RAIN – BOOKS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE you discuss a love of reading. What are you reading at the moment, and what book would you recommend reading?

Currently, I’m reading and enjoying W. Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage.  There are so many good books, it’s hard to recommend just one. I loved Vonnegut when I was younger, and Douglas Adams.  Dune by Frank Herbert was a stand out, as were The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Just in the last few months, I’ve read and would recommend The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner and The Gods of Asphalt by you!

**** 5. I love your post DISSECTING A CRAZY AUNT about living in Florida. What do you find is the best/worst thing about living in Florida?

The best is hard to choose as we have some of the best beaches in the world (I have traveled the world so I know this to be true), the best Cuban food this side of, well, Cuba, and so many crazy, freaky people (the circus really does spend the winter here). I think what I like most about my home state is it defies generic descriptions. The southern part is different from the northern part, the coasts are different from the center of the state. The state is an ethnic melting pot with more tanning salons and theme parks than any one state should have, including water parks which is just nuts for a state that bills itself as the sunshine state and is bordered by water on three sides.  We’ve had crazy out of control growth, and yet many pristine wild places remain. Florida is a contradiction, wrapped up in a conundrum, tied with a bit of whimsy, and just when you think you have her figured out, she surprises you.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce is going to hate me for saying this, but we have the worst bugs – giant, hideous, could star in a horror movie bugs. There are huge palmetto bugs that look like roaches on steroids. These things can be 4 or 5 inches long, at least,  and they fly – straight at you.  We have fire ants, scorpions, huge grasshoppers, spiders (which don’t bother me but some of them are as big as my hand), and some bugs that I don’t even know what they are but they look like they’re from another planet. Seriously, the sheer number and variety of bugs are an entomologist’s wet dream.

**** 6. What’s the best thing about spending winter holidays in Florida?

The weather! I didn’t see snow until I was 16 on a visit to Yellowstone in July so I never understood the appeal of a white Christmas.  I watch the news and see people all bundled up scraping ice off of their cars and I just cannot imagine having to endure all that cold weather day in and day out for several months. It’s not surprising that so many people move south, though don’t move to Florida because we have these huge hideous bugs.

**** 7. Quite a few of your posts feature dancing (my personal favorite is RIGHT BOOB ESCAPES DURING TANGO). How much does dance feature in your day to day life?

I don’t dance nearly enough! When I lost my job, I moved back to the little town where I now live. I can’t indulge my love of salsa, cha cha and tango as much as I would like, though I did dance salsa in my living room with the cable repair man a few months ago. I do take a couple of dance classes each week and often just put on some music and dance around my house. Music and dancing lift my spirit like nothing else.

**** 8. Many of your posts including, CLOUDS, ICE, ALASKA and CALIFORNIA DREAMING are about your love of traveling. What was your favorite travel destination, and where would you like to go that you’ve never been?

My favorite trip was a walking photo safari in Kenya about 11 years ago.  I had never camped before, at least not in a tent without electricity and running water. I went alone and had a fabulous time. Masai warriors, carrying spears, joined us on our treks through the Loita Hills. I witnessed the wildebeest migration on the Masai Mara, hyena feeding frenzies near the campsite and herds of elephants in East Tsavo. I saw Kilimanjaro and the Indian Ocean. The most amazing thing was just walking along and being just a few yards from impala, zebra and elephants. I also saw incredible poverty, yet these people who were living in tiny huts with next to nothing were warm, friendly and generous, welcoming us into their village and homes. They also recognized a fellow dancer, as I was chosen to join the Masai women as they danced around their campfire.  It was the trip of a lifetime and I would go back to Africa in a heartbeat.

There are only two continents I haven’t set foot upon, but still so much of the world to see. I’ve never been to the Greek Islands, but ever since I watched the movie, Shirley Valentine, a few years ago, I have longed to spend a few weeks on a sailboat gliding through the Aegean Sea and exploring those islands. Maybe someday…….

**** 9. Lastly, your post 25 RANDOM THINGS ABOUT ME doesn’t begin to sum up your clearly vibrant personality. What is the one thing about you most people would be surprised to learn?

Most people would be surprised to learn that I am surprising. I was surprised to find this out, too. People are always telling me that I am ‘surprisingly strong’ or ‘surprisingly athletic’ or ‘surprisingly deep.’ They are surprised by the things I’ve done, the places I’ve been and the thoughts I express. Not surprisingly, surprising is a wonderful way to be.

For more salsa fun follow Sandylikeabeach!

Next week’s SPaM features a three part interview with a special mystery guest. You won’t believe who it is!

For your own SPaM contact heellisgoa@gmail.com


Mean Mean Mom

As perfect as I like to think my children are, there are often times when they are anything but. The most recent embodiment of all that imperfection is my fourteen year-old son, Junior.

Like any parent I try to balance discipline with compassion as I guide him with a firm but gentle hand. But punishment is no easy task when your son out grows you by the time he’s eleven. That leaves me no option but to improvise.

Anyone who has a teenager knows the key to obedience is embarrassment, and as the parent of a teenager I have no problem with playing dirty. Below is a YouTube example of exactly the kind of thing I do to my children on a daily basis. In fact, my children are so traumatized conditioned to their response to my random public dancing that they obey as well as Pavlov’s dogs the moment the muzak cues in. So now I give you….JUNIOR’S WORST NIGHTMARE!

 

 

 


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