Hello Everyone, it’s me, Hellis, live and in person. Well, in spirit. I’ve been away from our little corner of the virtual Utopia we call Blogworld this week because I’ve been spending time with the new love of my life. Yes, people I am in love, and have decided to use the Funny Blog Friday post as an opportunity to introduce him to my world.
The latest object of my affection is a man like no other; he is fun-loving, free-spirited and young at heart. His childlike innocence attracted me immediately and before I knew it, I was hooked. Today I’d like to introduce you to the man who captured my heart and is sure to steal yours. Without further ado I give you…Randy Pan. (more…)
FROM THE DESK OF THE GRIM REAPER:
Tomorrow is Halloween- the one day a year when souls breech the veil between the living and the dead and make my life Hell. Tomorrow is also FUNNY BLOG FRIDAY’s first ever blog hop, an event intended to celebrate humor and incite laughter in all who stop by.
Whoopdee Freakin’ Do.
I know I’m supposed to be as jazzed about this as Hellis is, but that’s fucking impossible. That Hellis chick’s not right in the head. She’s so amped for this in fact that she asked me to turn one of my “legendary” rants into a blog post for the occasion. I said yes, of course. After taking a colossal Bit O’ Honey dump, ranting will be the easiest thing I do all day. (more…)
On the heels of the ass-whooping the New England Patriots gave the Chicago Bears last Sunday, I’ve decided to rerun a post that should do a good job of summing up my present state of misery as a former Pats fan:
Picture the scene:
It’s 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 of O Fortuna pours out of the speakers and my heart begins to pound in anticipation. I move closer to the screen just as the un-mistakeable sound of Ozzy screaming, “ALL ABOARD!” heralds the moment I’ve been waiting for– the moment my beloved New England Patriots take the field for SuperBowl XLVI. (more…)
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.
I am officially traumatized.
I promised myself when I started this blog that I would never post pictures of myself, simply because I absolutely LOVE the fact that most people wonder if I am really a dude. The problem is that now even I am not so sure, because something has happened that has shaken me to my core.
People, I have found my twin.
It all started innocently enough this morning, with me at my computer putting the stories together for F*CKED UP FAIRY TALES. I had a tab open with YouTube as I always do, listening to music in the background. My Glee-obsessed daughter suggested I listen to a channel that featured songs the show had covered. One of the featured bands was Journey. Sounds innocent enough, right?
Call it fate or irony or twisted divine intervention, but for some reason I decided to pull up the background tab just as a video loaded on the cue; a video that will haunt me for the rest of my days. I stared in horror at what I thought was my reflection, the truth slowly dawning on me one terrifying, note-filled moment at a time. For you see ladies and gentlemen, I look incredibly, unbelievably, motherfuckingungodly similar to Steve Perry. Give him big boobs and a small nose and it’s me, in all of my sad, stuck-in-the-80’s glory. I even have that same top, I shit you not.
So for those of you who may have wondered what I look like, look no further. I look like Steve Perry. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to cash some cleverly forged royalty checks, right after I show this to HR Nightmare and do some REAL damage.
Welcome to day four of BLOGSHORTS: a ten day, ten story, 110 word writing extravaganza.
Each participating blogger chooses a pooch a day from a list of dogs, thunk-up by our fearless leader BLOGDRAMEDY, and then writes a short story featuring their dog of choice.
Each story is 110 words in length and can feature as much or as little of our canine friend as we like.
Today we travel beyond the land of Muggles to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to meet with our favorite three-headed dog, FLUFFY!
FLUFFY’S FATEFUL FAUX PAS
Fluffy tucked El Guapo’s speakers into his ears and for one blessed moment let the smooth, mellow sounds of Coltrane drown out the incessant bickering between his two ex-wives.
Fluffy often used his stolen quiet time to reflect on the course his life had taken. He dissected every decision and evaluated every consequence. He ran scenarios over and over again in his mind, asking himself what he might have done differently to have avoided the fate that had so tragically befallen him.
But no matter how many times he replayed that fateful day, Fluffy always came to the one sad, inevitable conclusion:
He should have never called He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, “Lord Moldywart.”
Revisit these soon to be canine classics:
BLOGSHORTS DAY ONE: Tea Cup Cujo
BLOGSHORTS DAY TWO: Toto’s Ruby Red Booty
BLOGSHORTS DAY THREE: Lassie Learns the Truth
TAKE YOUR BLOG FOR A WALK AND THROW THESE GUYS A BONE: