Monday, March 2, 2015

Create52: #9 -- I Got It


If you're a clock watcher, you might have noticed something about this edition of my Create52 series of blog posts:  It's the first one so far this year that wasn't pre-written so it could be put up early in the morning.

The main reasons for that is because I've been very busy the last week AND I am currently home sick. I was sick all weekend and didn't even touch my computer. My granddaughter had a bad cold, and then her mom did, and them my lovely wife got it along with a horrendous sinus infection, and guess what? Now I got it.

But even though I feel like... less-than-optimum, shall we say, I am still committed to the Create52 and am getting this post up. It may not be first thing in the morning, but it's still Monday, so it still counts, right?

At this point, let me remind you what the whole intent of this 'Create52' thing is: This is number nine of what I plan to be year-long series of 52 posts under my self-imposed 2015 blogging initiative -- to create something new and share it here on my blog each and every Monday.

If you'd like, you can get a little more background about my Create52 goal HERE, in my first Create52 post of 2015.

So for today, I'm going to offer another piece of music and a bit of writing, all of which tie to the "I Got It" theme, or at least as close as I can get in my addled, medicated state...:


I Got It #1 -- "I Got It"

I recently added another jam to wikiloops, titled -- yep: "I Got It." It is a jam that was based on two tracks added by user "ZamZam". He uploadeed a piece called "Get It" then added some more keys and drums to it and called it "Getting It."  I really liked the cool jazzy, funky, slightly-spacey groove and added a couple of guitar tracks.  One was a wah-wah rhythm track and then a lead track.

I kind of like how the finished piece turned out. See what you think.  You can click on the images to the left or right, or on the link HERE.

It was one of those pieces that was put together quickly, but doesn't sound complete like an improvised throw-off.

It's maybe a little too much of a smooth-jazz feel, but I still think it has some redeeming qualities. I like the funky rhythm guitar and the lead turned out pretty good. I hope there's enough soul in it to overcome the "jazz lite" vibe.

As always -- I'm interested in your feedack and thoughts.  Feel free to leave a comment letting me know what worked for you and what didn't.

And, of course, thank you very much for taking the time to listen!  I really appreciate it!


I Got It #2 -- "No Imagination"

Back in my Create52 post #7 I shared a 50-word story "No Imagination." I had sent it to Tim at FiftyWordStories.com and hadn't heard anything about it.  He published the other story I had sent with it ("I'm Alive") but hadn't said anything about "No Imagination" so I assumed he was passing on it.

Turns out I was wrong -- that story did get accepted and published. Tim notified my on the 23th and then put it up on February 24th,

Os if you haven't already read it here on my blog, I invite you to go to Fifty Word Stories and check it out: HERE.

Sometime you don't discover you got it until after you've assumed you didn't.


I Got It #3 -- "Cat Sitting"

And to give this post some other new writing, I'm sharing a "10x10" post I made at the Creative Copy Challenge writing prompt site.

A "10 x 10" is a story of ten lines of ten words each, using the ten prompt words in order, and in the correct position within each line (the first word in the first spot in the first sentence, the second word in the second spot in the second sentence, etc).

From the prompt words, I came up with a story of a reluctant brother stepping up to say "I got it," in helping out his sister who's travelling.

See what you think -- the ten prompt words are all highlighted in the story below:

=======


Cat Sitting


Scrabbled together offerings from six cans and three dry packages,

A technicolor blend of kibble, meat and strange smelling mysteries.

The writhing mob at my feet sings in joyous anticipation.

I set the keys aside and start to fill bowls

Another group enters the doorway, drawn by the clanking sound;

The kitchen is filled with bleating, purring, and eager meowing.

I ask myself – Are we really related to each other?

The only cat I've liked was my costume in kindergarten,

That Halloween my cat suit had eyes like fires inside.

Now feeding my sister's cats is part of my repertoire.


=======

Thank you so much for stopping by, listening, and reading!  I hope you enjoyed what I've offered!

Now I'm going to go back to bed to shiver under the covers. I've got it, but I really want to get rid of it!

Got it?



Monday, February 23, 2015

Create52: #8 -- Good Enough

(image from wikimedia commons)

My last two Create52 posts have touched on the two poles of creativity -- in-the-moment improvisation, and dedicated editing and refining of a piece to make it the best it can be.

Sometimes there's a need for something in the middle. Restrictions of time, energy, materials, or whatever may force the creative effort to end at a point where it's just "good enough".

You may have a piece where you're not going for off-the-cuff improvisation, but you just don't get the opportunity to make all the changes and refinements you'd like -- you're finally forced to slap some duct tape around it and hit the road, hoping it all holds together.

This week, that's where I'm at.

But first, let me refresh you on what the whole point of this 'Create52' thing is: This is number eight of what I hope is a year-long series of 52 posts under my self-imposed 2105 blogging initiative -- to create something new and share it here on my blog each and every Monday.

If you'd like, you can get a little more background about my Create52 goal HERE, in my first Create52 post of 2015.

Now back to that thought of "good enough:"

Due to a hectic past few weeks, I have not be able to get as much creative work done as I would like.  I 've managed to do some editing of an earlier story in preparation of its submission, but little else. No time for messing around making music and not much time to do any new writing.

So this week, my Create52 is only a couple of things that, even combined, barely make it as "substantial" enough to meet my third Create52 guideline. And in both cases, I'd maybe prefer to edit them some more, but one has already been posted, and the other one I just haven't had the time to do.

Both will have to be good enough.


Good Enough #1: He Talks With His Hands


I've written 50-Word Stories for quite a while and really enjoy that format. You can look back through my older Create52 posts and also the "My Writing" tab to see some examples.

The other day, I happened to stumble on a similar but slightly larger format -- the 100-word story.  HERE's the website that I found (100wordstory.org).

I haven't formally submitted anything to the site, but I did notice that in addition to accepting submissions, they also offer an open monthly photo prompt where you simply reply with a story in the comments. 

So I gave it a try. The photo they had up for February is to the right, and I tried to create a 100-word story based on that image of hands.

Since those are a man's hands I ended up with a story from the female POV. I think it turned out OK, and I did actually take some time to edit and refine it, but in the end, I also wanted to get at least something 'completed' to share for my Create52 post. 

So I called this story "good enough" and submitted it.  see what you think -- I call it "He Talks With His Hands:"

=====

He talks with his hands.

 

He talks with his hands.

His expressive fingers dance in the air, accentuating each spoken syllable with frills of motion.

He’s done it as long as I’ve known him, from his waving gesture when he first approached me in the college library, to him wringing his hands this morning when he said we needed to talk.

His fluttering hands remind me of a baton-free musical maestro, bringing forth each note from a devoted orchestra, or perhaps a powerful wizard generating potent magic out of thin air.

It’s fascinating to watch.

But it doesn’t ease the pain of his underhanded betrayal.


=====


Good Enough #2: The Special Affair


But also speaking of 50-Word stories, I've been working on a couple of them lately, and want to submit one for February to Tim's FiftyWordStories site.

But while I have a few "finished," none of them strike me as quite "submittable" as they stand.  I still need to tweak and edit a bit to get them to that state.

But I also want to share one here.

So I'm offering one that is "good enough" -- again, mainly because I don't have any more time to improve it before sharing.  I call it "The Special Affair."

======

The Special Affair 


I struggle to fasten my pants. The suit fit perfectly at my wedding, but that was years ago.

I hope my date doesn't mind.

I peek into her room. Giggling, she rushes to me in a swirl of pink lace.

"I'm ready for the Daddy - Daughter dance," she squeals.


======


Well, there you go -- two Create52 offerings that aren't quite what I'd call "edited to perfection," but hopefully are still "good enough."

Do you think "good enough" is acceptable?  If deadlines or other reasons force you to reach a point where you simply can't edit any further, are you satisfied with "good enough," or do you choose to go for "not at all?"

Thank you so much for visiting! See you next Monday for another post in my Create52 series!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Create52: #7 -- Getting it Right

(image from pixabay)


In my last Create52 post, I talked about the fun of creating impromptu things, and I shared some music and writing that I'd made on the spur of the moment.  But for this post, I'm going in the opposite direction:

Sometimes it's worth taking the time to get it right.

Building a watch requires that each gear has to mesh perfectly in order for it to function. This type of work is hard to do on an impromptu basis -- you have to have a solid plan to make each gear and to know where each component goes. You can't just improvise your way through the process. 

Some creative efforts are that way, too.


But before I go any further, let me offer another reminder of what I'm doing in this Create52 post:

This is the seventh of what I hope is a year-long series of 52 posts under my self-imposed 2105 blogging initiative -- to create something new and share it here on my blog each and every Monday.

If you'd like, you can get a little more background about my Create52 goal HERE, in my first Create52 post of 2015.

Now let's get to some examples of what I was talking about at the beginning of this post:


Getting it Right #1: Git Right On Wit It 


Recently, I took another very cool wikiloops jam I'd found and added two quick guitar tracks. I called it "Git On Wit It". As another off-the-cuff jam, it was certainly fun to do, and my rhythm and lead guitar tracks weren't completely terrible. In many cases, I'd have called it "good enough" and moved on, perhaps even sharing the piece here.

But the more I listened to the finished track, the less I liked it. 
http://www.wikiloops.com/backingtrack-jam-32738.php 
The underlying jam I'd used was excellent -- the intricate layers of drums (by "Baer" and "MrAdamOnDrums"), xylophone ("Fred"), upright bass (wikiloops founder "Dick"), and saxophone ("MrSnuts") had come together really well, but my loose improvised guitar on top just didn't do the jam justice.

So I called a do-over. 

I took the time to really listen to that jam track, learning and documenting each section a little better ("Ah hah! There's only 14 bars in this part -- not 16!"). Then I added not two, but eleven distinct guitar parts, with several takes until I was happy with each one.

http://www.wikiloops.com/backingtrack-jam-32738.phpAll that time and effort paid off, I think. I call the revamped version, "Git Right On Wit It" and I invite you to check it out by clicking on the pictures on either side, or by clicking HERE

It's still not perfect (the tone I chose for one of the lead tracks ended up really making it really buried in the mix, for one thing), but I do think it is WAY better than my earlier thrown-together version.

Improvisation is fun and magical when it works out, but some things are worth taking the time to get right. I think this jam was one of them.


Getting It Right #2: No Imagination

As much fun as it is writing something on the fly in response to prompt words, that is actually not my normal mode of operation.  A big reason why my writing output remains so low is that I am a horrendous self-critic and in my 'serious' writing, I typically nitpick every word until I'm satisfied.

Here's a brief example.  

This is a piece I submitted back at the end of December to the site, 50-Word Stories -- one of two I'd sent in.  The other piece ("I'm Alive") was accepted and posted on the site, but this one was not.

Yet this is the one that I worked the longest on, and actually the one I thought was the 'better' piece. I had edited and revised it many times in the weeks leading up to its submission. It's kind of funny to think that a story consisting of all of 50 words goes through a lot of editing, but in this case, it did.

The story may not have been accepted at 50-Word Stories, but I still think it is the stronger piece, and it was worth the time to get it right. 

See what you think -- I call it "No Imagination":

=====

No Imagination

I imagine us together.

I imagine you committing. I picture us making plans.

But you can't see it.

Instead, you tell me to get off your porch. Then you slam the door.

So I take my Acme Vacuums sales kit and leave, hoping your neighbor has a much better imagination.


=====

So do you think these pieces of music and writing were worth taking the time to get right?  Do you tend to lean that way in general? Which do you prefer -- In-the-moment creation, or meticulous editing and revision?

Thank you so much for visiting!  See you next week for another Create52 post!


Monday, February 9, 2015

Create52: #6 -- Impromptu


I like improvisation -- that sense of juggling ideas on the fly, creating impromptu things off the cuff, in the moment with little preconception, and hoping that something good comes out of it.

Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised by what I end up creating; sometimes I fall off the tightrope and crash to the ground amid a pile of poorly-executed results. But either way, the fun of creating in the moment is still worth it.

Or at least I hope it is.

But before I go any farther, let me offer a reminder of what I'm doing here in this Create52 post: This is the sixth of what I hope is a year-long series of 52 posts under my 2105 blogging initiative -- to create something new and offer it here on my blog each and every Monday.  You can get a little more background about my Create52 goal HERE, in my first Create52 post of 2015, if you'd like.

Impromptu I -- Improvised 'Wistful Reggae'

http://www.wikiloops.com/backingtrack-jam-31862.phpI recently added another track to wikiloops -- this is the fabulous online jam site where you can create and interact with hundreds of other musicians around the globe via uploaded and shared jams.  I found an overlooked reggae track by the user "pingala" which I thought was kind of cool.  I liked the keyboard-driven, slightly-weird, reggae mix and thought it would be fun to add some guitar.

So I added three guitar tracks, all kind of spacy and ambient, and all recorded quickly in a spur-of-the-moment series of improvised tracks.

As always, it was fun to do, but here's the thing -- listening back to the final version, I'm not sure I really like it.  Take a listen and see what you think.  You can click on the picture to the right, my 'StratoRapor' icon to the left, or on the link HERE.

http://www.wikiloops.com/backingtrack-jam-31862.php
This is one of the things about Impromptu creativity -- it can be kind of hit or miss. It can have a certain kind of unique energy that is often missing in tightly-woven, heavily-structured pieces which have been recorded and re-recorded until each part is 'perfect'. And when it works, it's magical.  This is why Deadheads love certain live recordings and often shrug their shoulders at the records the Grateful Dead made in the studio.

But it can also end up being as disappointing and unsatisfying as watching a juggler drop balls all over the place. It can be frustrating because it gives hints as to what "might have been," and yet still fall sort.

I don't know -- maybe I'm too hard on myself.  If nothing else, it's something 'new' that I created which didn't exist before.

And that's the whole point of Create52.

Impromptu II -- In Prompts, Too!

But sometimes the muses come through and the impromptu efforts pay off, too.

I didn't want this edition of my Create52 to have only a piece of music I find lacking. So I thought I'd try some off-the-cuff piece of writing since I haven't got anything else new and finished to share. I visited the old Creative Copy Challenge website to see what their latest ten-word prompt was, and spent a half-hour or so to come up with this, which I call "A Fluke of Nature."

I'm not going to suggest that it's stellar writing, but for a rough-draft, spur-of-the-moment, thrown-together impromptu piece that used all ten prompt words in order, I think it turned out fairly well.


You can check it out HERE or below (the ten prompt words are in bold):


=====

Fluke of Nature

Doctor Nathanial Hawkins paused, uncertain how to respond to his newest client. As a highly-sought and very successful plastic surgeon to the rich and powerful, he’d almost become jaded to the odd requests he’d had in his career, but he still found himself flustered at what Brooke Swanson was asking.

“I’m not sure it would be… in your best interest,” he finally said.

“You don’t have to be subtle with me,” she said. “I want your blunt assessment, not your sugar-coated opinions. Is it possible?”

Hawkins sighed and regarded her — mid-thirties, beautiful, excellent health, and obscenely wealthy. In essence, she was the perfect patient for much of his work. But she wanted much more than a tummy tuck or a new nose.

“Yes, I actually think it could be possible. But I question the ethics of doing it.”

She laughed. “I don’t care about the ethics. It’s my decision and it’s between you and me. I’ll sign whatever release forms you want to make sure your ass is covered. I only demand absolute secrecy. But I would hope you have had enough experience with the subterfuge needed to hide your work from the prying public.”

In his mind, he ran through the procedures required. Each would be extensive and challenging. But they would also be ground-breaking.

“You won’t be able to hide it forever,” he said. “Something of this magnitude will eventually leak out.”

“I only need long enough to heal. Then my pilot and my staff will fly me out the US. I already have the island set up, thousands of miles away from the news media and the lawyers. All I’ll have around me will be the froth from the rolling waves and blue water in every direction.”

Hawkins let his thoughts wander again. If what she was asking for worked, it would be amazing, unlike anything ever attempted. The results would be simply marvelous to behold. He would become even more famous — not just to the aging elite desperately searching to maintain the illusion of youth. He would become a household name.

And he had to admit to himself he was excited about it.

# # #

Hawkins removed his hat and wiped his brow. The tropical sun was relentless, but the view across the sparkling lagoon was spectacular. Brooke Swanson had chosen well on this isolated island. He followed the ripples as she swam up to the dock.

“So what do you think, Doctor Hawkins?” she said after breaching the water. “You still like your work?”

“Call me Nate,” he said. “They removed my license following the trial. I’m no longer technically a doctor.”

“I’m sorry about that,” she said.

“I’m not. It was worth it.”

“I’m glad you feel that way. I flew you down because I wanted to make sure. And also to offer to increase your payment as restitution. I didn’t intend to ruin your career.”

He admired the sleekness of the plasticized skin covering the buoyancy chambers along her sides; the intricate way the dorsal fin had been grafted onto her spine; the smooth streamline of curves as her merged legs flowed into the wide fluke of her dolphin-like tail; and the delicate way the embedded tubes ran under her cheekbones from her sinus cavities to the artificial gills implanted along her neck.

She used her arms to tread water in front of him, her webbed fingers sweeping gracefully through the water

He thought her even more beautiful than she had ever been.

“You didn’t ruin my career,” he said. “You made it.”

He laughed. “The operation was a complete success, and because of you, I’ll be forever known as the man who made a mermaid.”

# # #


=====

So what do you think -- did either of these impromptu pieces turned out worthwhile?  And even if not, was the fun of improvised creativity worth enough as it's own reward?

Do you like improvisation and creating impromptu things yourself on the spur of the moment?


Thank you so very much for visiting -- I greatly appreciate it!  See you next Monday!



Monday, February 2, 2015

Create52: #5 -- Hands and Fear




2015 has rolled into February, and --- wonder of wonder -- my Create52 goal is still going strong.

Today, I'm sharing more writing, including some exciting publication news.

But first, if you're a new visitor to my blog, let me say "welcome!" and explain what I'm doing here. This is another entry in my 2105 blogging initiative -- to create something new and offer it here on my blog each and every Monday of 2015.  You can get a little more background about my Create52 goal HERE, in my first Create52 post of 2015, if you'd like.


Hands of Fear

I've completed another piece of writing -- this is a piece of flash, under 1000 words, called "My Father's Hands". It's kind of dark, but I also think it has the potential of being a pretty good story.  Right now, I'm sharing it with my critique group, but after a round of review and edits, I'll send it out for consideration of publication.  I'll probably start with the site, Every Day Fiction.

Here's a brief sample of "My Father's Hands":

======

The sounds of splashing faded as my focus narrowed. The musty smell of the lake and the gurgle of beer spilling out from a can as it rolled across the pier slipped from my consciousness. Only my vision remained, centered on a frozen image of my father's hands, as if my mind was capturing it on film. Around his hands, waves of water paused mid-crest and droplets hung motionless in the hot summer air.
Time and tide both waited.
Dad's right hand stretched upward, fingers spread wide, almost as if he were waving. His left hand was closing, either forming a clenched fist or trying to grasp at something other than empty air. I'd had plenty of experience with both his clenched fist and his callous grasp, but it was still difficult to predict which one was coming.
His hands were rough and scarred -- a testament to a life of brutal harshness. The pinky of his right hand bent sideways at an odd angle, a remnant of it getting crushed under a pallet of sheet metal. Dad often joked about it, laughing about having a liquid lunch in the parking lot and then coming back into work a little too drunk. He was proud of the fact that he'd finished his shift without his supervisor finding out about the accident.
Seeing his stern hands bursting up through the surface of the lake touched some scars in me, too.

======

I'd share more, but it's only 1000 words and -- like I said -- I'm sending it out for consideration of publication.  But I promise to keep you updated should anything come of it...


Publication News!

But speaking of updates about publication and Every Day Fiction:  My flash-fiction piece, "Idle Musings" has been accepted for publication! And it's published today!!!

This is my first publication acceptance anywhere outside of the micro-fiction I've had published at FiftyWordStories.com, and I'm pretty excited.

This story is a very writer-centric humor piece, so I don't know how well it will appeal to non-writers.  But I was very pleased and thankful for the wonderful feedback and assistance given by the slush-readers and editors at EDF.  In fact, the story was originally submitted under a different name and one of the editors helped come up with a much catchier (and much less confusing) title for the piece. If you're a writer and have a fear of submission, take matters into your own hands and try out EDF -- even if you get rejected, you'll get great feedback from a very supportive staff.

I invite you to read "Idle Musings" over at Every Day Fiction -- I'd love to know what you think!


Publication News -- Part 2!

And speaking of publication and Fifty Word Stories:  I had a publication success over there this past week, too!

My 50-word science-fiction micro-story, "I'm Alive" was accepted and posted on January 29th.  Site owner Tim Sevenhuysen e-mailed me with the acceptance late last week and then posted the story the very next day.

You can check out the story HERE. I'm always interested in whatever feedback you'd like to give.



Taking Fear Into Your Own Hands

Speaking of fears and taking things in your own hands, let me also offer you a short piece I wrote in response to the last 10-word prompt at the Creative Copy Challenge website.  I used a similar format to my last 10 x 10 piece, with 10 lines of 10 words each.

But here, the prompt words are also used in order, but always as the first word.  In addition, I added them as the tenth word in every line, but in reverse order (the prompt words are in bold). It made for a restrictive format where it was hard to get the lines to flow together well, but I came up with a piece about conquering your fears.

See what you think:

======

Edgy people can rarely put their fears permanently into storage.

Height, spider, or night — can their phobias be forgotten? Seldom.

Cobbled together remedies enable them to get through the darkness:

Goat milk, served warm, can help things be less disturbing.

Flower scents at home soothe fears of, “out there, somewhere…”

Somewhere inside is power to turn fear into a flower.

Disturbing panic can be devoured, like garbage by a goat.

Darkness loses its fight against courage, however it is cobbled.

Seldom is life better than when fear’s reduced in height;

Storage in the mind gets re-stocked with things less edgy.

======


Should We Fear the Kargrandes?



Finally -- Have you heard about the Kargrandes?  What are they?!?!

Are they something we can offer our hand to in peace, or are they something we should fear???

Find out more HERE and keep an eye out for them on April 7th!


Monday, January 26, 2015

Create52: #4 -- Can't Stop the Rain



This is the fourth Monday of 2015, and the last one in January -- which means that my Create52 goal has made it through the entire first month!

This has been a fun thing to do and now I'm fully committed. In fact, I can't stop doing this any more than I can stop the rain from falling. So let's use that as a theme for today's Create52 entry.

But first, if you're a new visitor to my blog, let me say "welcome!" and explain what I'm doing here. This is another entry in my 2105 blogging initiative -- to create something new and offer it here on my blog each and every Monday of 2015.  You can get a little more background about my Create52 goal HERE, in my first Create52 post of 2015, if you'd like.

Can't Stop the Rain #1

http://www.wikiloops.com/backingtrack-jam-31594.php This is another piece of music I put together for the wonderful jam site, wikiloops.com. I found a fabulous track originally done  with keys by the user Marceys, then added to with drums by Jaymny and bass by OB-Lix. The original track was called "Can't Stop the Rain" by Marceys, so I stayed with that name.

You can take a listen by clicking on the images to the left or right or on this link: Can't Stop the Rain.

For this tune, I added a clean rhythm guitar track and a echo-y, distorted lead guitar track.  I tried to keep my playing to a minimum during the "verse" sections to allow the beautiful piano and bass playing to come through. During the "chorus" sections, I stayed close to the chord progression in my lead for most of the song, although I stretched out a bit at the end.  

http://www.wikiloops.com/backingtrack-jam-31594.php
But other than taking time to learn the progression and changes for my rhythm, this still ended up being a bit of a "jam" piece in that my lead is a first-pass recording. I definitely hear some things that can be improved, but overall, I think it worked out pretty well.  I enjoy the wistful feel of the song that Marceys put together and it was fun to play over.

Thank you very much for listening!


Can't Stop the Rain #2

I was also inspired by the title and music to come up with another 50-word story. I haven't heard back* on the last two stories I submitted (mentioned in my Create52 post #1) to Tim Sevenhuysen at FiftyWordStories.com, so I'm not sure if I'm going to submit this one. Actually, since I'm sharing it here, I probably won't, and will send Tim two different pieces a little later in February.

But I hope you still enjoy it:

==========

Can't Stop the Rain

The rain falls, and I'm forced to remember.
 
Watching through the rivulets streaming down the window as you left that morning, I had no idea that you'd never return.
 
Still, I've tried to move on.
 
On sunny days, I've even stopped thinking of you.
 
But I can't stop the rain.

==========

*NOTE: 1/29/2015 update: Since originally writing this, I have heard back from Tim on one of the two stories ("I'm Alive"), and Tim published it at FiftyWordStories.com today!  I'll have more to say about this in Monday's Create52 post, but in the meantime you can check out this 50-word sci-fi story HERE.


Thank you very much for stopping by and taking part in my ongoing Create52 effort.  I really appreciate it!



Monday, January 19, 2015

Create52: #3 -- Voice of Chunk



Here's the question for today:

Have you ever used a piece of music as inspiration for writing?

Today is the third Monday of 2015, and for this week's Create52 entry, I've done just that -- twice.

But first, if you're a new visitor to my blog, let me say "welcome!" and explain what I'm doing here. This is the third entry in my 2105 blogging initiative -- to create something new and offer it here on my blog each and every Monday of 2015.  My creative offerings have been writing and music so far, and you can read more about the thoughts behind my Create52 goal HERE, in my 1st post of 2015 if you'd like.

For this Create52 post, I'm using  another artist's music to inspire my writing. Let me first start with the song:
 
Voice of Chunk I -- The Song

In 1988, John Lurie and his band, The Lounge Lizards released their third album The Voice of Chunk. A cool mix of New York attitude, punk-meets-jazz sensibility, wry humor, poly-rhythmic funk grooves, sensual sax, and angular guitar by Mark Ribot, it is an album I really like, and I find it holds up well even today, 25 years after it's release.

The album is filled with a lot of songs that I like, such as the second song of the album -- the hard-edged grooving titular cut, Voice of Chunk. I love the haunting horn lines over the funk groove with the driving bass and piano riff. The way the two saxes and trombone blend is mesmerizing, and the guitar solo is edgy and fun.  I also love the way it dissolves at the end into the floating horn riffs over the piano.

Here's the album cut:


It may sound like there's a lot of unstructured off-the-cuff improvisation in the song, but surprisingly, it is pretty tightly arranged.  HERE's another video of the band playing the song live on TV -- notice how closely they cover the song part-by-part and yet still make it feel fresh and in-the-moment?  I think that's pretty awesome.

Voice of Chunk II -- The Short Story

I find that there's a lot of potential for interpretation and creative thought in the music of Voice of Chunk, but that's not actually what ended up inspiring me.

It was the title.

"Voice of Chunk" -- just what does that mean???

I really have no idea what John Lurie, his piano-playing brother Evan (musical creator behind "The Backyardigans"), and the rest of the band had in mind with the title, but when I listened to this song last week, the words "Voice of Chunk" kind of turn root in my mind and planted seeds.

I came up with a short story that may be a bit different than what the Lounge Lizards were going for.  It's about 2,500 words and is currently being shared with my critique partners in preparation of final polishing before being sent out into the world in submission and -- hopefully -- eventual publication.

So, unfortunately, you won't be getting the whole thing here. Sorry to disappoint you.  But in order to meet my guidelines for my Create52 bloggy-thingy, let me at least offer you a sample.

Here's the opening (as currently written):

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Voice of Chunk

     The Anderson place next door was on the market for less than a month after they moved to Florida. When Marge and I noticed the "Sold" sign in front, we weren't surprised -- Tom and Dotty had been dedicated about maintaining their home and it was one of the nicest houses in our cul-de-sac. Throw in good schools, a quiet neighborhood, and motivated sellers and we figured we'd have new neighbors pretty quick. They might not grow to be as close as the Andersons had been –- our kids had all grown up together, after all –- but we were still eager to meet the new arrivals.

     The moving truck came on a Saturday morning. Marge was weeding and I was starting to mow when the semi pulled in with three men in coveralls. It was almost four hours later before a black SUV parked next to the moving truck.  A burly man with bulked-up shoulders got out of the SUV, gestured at the boxes stacked in the driveway, and then swore loud enough for me to hear over the trimmers I was using. I shut them off and waved at the guy, but he turned away without responding.

     At the time I thought that maybe he just hadn't seen me.

     "They damn well shoulda been done by now," I heard him say. "C'mon, Chunk. Get your ass out of the car."

     He stormed into the house as a woman climbed out of the passenger side. She was heavy-set with stringy hair, wearing an over-sized sweatshirt that was much too thick for the warm, muggy afternoon.

     She glanced around like a mouse expecting a cat to pounce at any moment before her gaze eventually came to rest on me. Her eyes were pretty, but her face was a mask of fear and sadness. I waved again.

     "Hi!" I called.

     She briefly raised her hand in my direction before lowering her eyes and rushing into the house.

     The moving men took another hour and a half to finish up and then the truck left.  We didn't see any more of either the man or woman, although Marge said she did catch a glimpse of the SUV pulling into the garage before the door closed for the evening.

     Our new neighbors didn't seem too interested in being neighborly.


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Voice of Chunk III -- The 10 x 10

But the short story wasn't all of it...

"Voice of Chunk" was still on my mind when I made a post last week on the resurrected Creative Copy Challenge, website, and there, I went in an entirely different direction with the phrase.

I enjoy the CCC -- it was a website I spent a lot of time writing at several years ago, but the guy who'd started it (Shane Arthur) had to step aside and, despite some valiant efforts from several people (like Mitch Allen), it faded away. Well, evidently someone named Anne is trying to revive it and it's up and running again, with new prompts posted every Tuesday.

Each prompt gives ten words -- you just write whatever you want and share it in the comments, using the ten words in your entry.  I used to do a thing I called "10 x 10:" Ten lines of ten words each, using the ten prompt words in order AND in the proper spot within each line (the first is the first word of the first line; the second is the second word of the second line; and so forth). It may not always result in a very cohesive story, but it's a fast way to generate some writing and a fun way  to stoke the creative juices.

I used the words from last week's prompt to create a 10x10 also entitled "Voice of Chunk." I even made it rhyme, but it's definitely not what I'd call poetry.

HERE's the link to it at the CCC, and I've copied it below (the prompt words are highlighted):

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Voice of Chunk
 

Tricks and schemes buried beneath soft words and smiled platitudes;
No limit to meaningless things he says to influence attitudes.
Like a telephone marketer selling empty dreams at outrageous prices,
He speaks to jiggle your phobias and stroke your vices,
and thrives on rallies, driving crowds of rabid followers wild.

No sound bites for the multitude to elicit their wows;
He serves up heaping piles of crepe papery, fragile vows.
In TV interviews, he’ll sit behind the desk and grin,
his voice of chunk spewing sugar coated promises, wafer thin.
But it works — just like giving candy to a child.


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So thee you go -- Create52 number three:  "Voice of Chunk" in three parts. With both my thanks and sincerest apologies to John Lurie and The Lounge Lizards for any misuse of their title.

Thank you very much for stopping by and reading!