I should have been editing Soul Scream. Or completing the uploading of Genius High. But opportunity called and I dove back in to … poetry. Dark horror crime poetry about the most modern of monsters.
And I tested the limits of my marriage, too.
The latter is not something writers encourage. Leave the spouse out of it, they all say. Why torture the ones you love?
(Enough of that wiseass.)
I am not a flowery poet, nor a technically proficient one. My poetry heroes run more to Bukowski and Jim Carroll. But please do not blame them.
So what kind of poems did I attempt? Lots of free verse in this work, a touch of concrete, a highway pileup of rhyming verses with exterior and interior rhymes slamming together to tell a bit of the tale, a distant cousin of Fibonacci (really distant, like through a broken marriage but the cousins on both sides still talk distant), and yes, some haiku. All used to build one narrative crime horror tale. From the monster’s POV.
And I don’t know what I have, honestly.
But I know it feels right (and so does Glorious, wiseass).
What is it? An 81-page narrative horror poetry collection about the modern American equivalent of Dracula, metaphorically, at least.
And with it, I meet my first goal toward submitting at least one new work a week in 2023. At least I will tomorrow, when I submit it over morning tea.
I’m on a roll of one week in a row. Heh.
I just pray I don’t succumb to the Writer’s Disease, “Maybe I should just read it over one more time…”
It had been a long day working on final fussing over a narrative horror poetry collection, planning the final forms of a horror fiction series, wrestling with publishing schedules for those and two novel reboots, and discussing cover designs with a great artist in Argentina.
Refueling was necessary.
Our tanks empty, Glorious and I had no plan as we opened the streaming abyss. We just wanted to quietly watch something for a few minutes. Somehow we found a documentary made after Tom Petty’s passing about the release of Wildflowers and All the Rest, the expanded edition of his best selling album.
First of all, we didn’t know it had been that successful. Nor did we know the circumstances, both personally and professionally, surrounding its creation.
Most of all, we didn’t know we would be watching a restorative discussion of the power of doing what you are called to do the best way you know how to do it every day that you are given to do so.
I am completely refueled.
I hope you check it out and become refueled to do what you do, too.
Occasionally, I awake in the wee hours, brain alive with thoughts that need immediate address (“Get Cheerios! Rewrite that chapter! Hey, let’s see what the bathroom looks like.”). Usually, this results in meandering around before discovering my sleepy zombie shuffle has lead me back to bed, nothing accomplished.
This early a.m. (2ish), I managed to get myself to the den, my writing table, laptop, and, finally, my WIP, a narrative horror poetry collection I am about to submit.
I am doing that last read aloud, when we fuss with the work, rewrite a line or stanza, and possibly add a new poem during this alleged final final phase, so I believed a half-asleep, creative zone read aloud would be okay.
Where did the Southern drawl come from? I didn’t know. I adjusted to the usual, casually detached tone that Glorious says is chilling. Read ten poems, changed four words and three line placements, and added a few stanzas, then went to back to bed satisfied that no remotes had been utilized, no time wasted.
The 2023 adventure is off to an interesting start, and better use of time.
A sizable portion of “people of a certain age” no longer go out on New Year’s Eve. They get together with a few friends, or stay home with their significant other, maybe watching the grandkids. That makes them a perfect potential audience for televised News Year’s Eve entertainment.
And that poses a problem.
By and large, most of us aren’t fans of the majority of current performers on New Year’s Eve specials. For us, there is little enticement to tune in, especially at that hour. As a result, we do not watch.
I respectfully submit that broadcasters are leaving mounds of money on the table by overlooking us. We grew up watching television, and if enticed with interesting content, there is a ratings bonanza to be enjoyed.
It is a simple idea: create programing for mature viewers featuring older acts. This is a ratings gold mine! Therefore, I propose that following programming pitch.
Dick Clark’s Rockin’ EveFest and Early Bird Special!
With technology today, programmers can easily manipulate existing footage to bring back our generation’s favorite New Year’s Eve host -in his prime! A CGI Dick Clark can easily host the whole event, and we’ll love it.
The broadcast day can start early, with tribute bands. There are tons of them around so they’ll work cheap. Stations, imagine how affordable it would be to broadcast performance videos from cover bands on the circuit. Geezers would love sampling Almost Queen, Kashmir, and Midget Kiss!
But wait, there’s more!
Stations can also host the “Where Are My Keys” battle of the tribute bands, allowing viewers to vote for new favorites in a “Break The Hip” competition between age appropriate groups like Jethro Toes, Genopause, Fleetwood Metamucil, and Grey Sabbath.
The sponsors alone can make any struggling station flush for the year. Ad time can go to companies selling:
Who Gets My Albums Living Wills
Remember the Lyrics Memory Improvement Pills
No More Crooked Peace Signs Arthritis Cream
Roto-Rooter’s Colonoscopy Prep Kits
Menopause Away Marijuana Gummies
Classic Rockers Elder Care Facilities
and, of course, the Our Time dating app.
Next up, ReunionFest, featuring:
Motown: Whoever’s Left, including performances by
Gladys Knight and the Pip
The One Top
and, Smokey Robinson is a Miracle.
Finally, a three-hour New Year’s Eve countdown starting at 6 pm (with an adjusted clock), bringing back (via the latest tech) classic line-ups at their peak. Viewers will thrill to:
Creedence Without the Drama
Yes (from back when they still said Yes).
Led Zeppelin – Going Full Bonham One Last Time
And Classic Pink Floyd (with a guest appearance by pre-breakdown Syd).
Finally, topping the show, the long-demanded reunion of The Beatles. (Pre-show update: while hologram George is politely agreeable to this, hologram John is threatening a bed-in for CGI Peace if actual Yoko isn’t included).
The legendary Iggy Pop can ride the New Year’s Eve ball down to bring in the new year. Fire will roar from each side of the stage (warming the chilly older audience), then the ball “explodes” into lights that creates a giant “2023!” which then reforms into five hologram legends: David Bowie, Keith Moon, James Jamerson, Sly Stone, and Jimi Hendrix, who perform a medley of their hits called “The Fame of My Generation is Dancing in The Streets and Taking Us Higher because We Are Experienced”.
Best of all, the entire audience gets to bed by 9:30.
I usually last until a little further into December before I lose myself in Christmas music, but this year The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special did me in. Such a fun soundtrack, it offers a bunch of my new favorite seasonal music. Which got me thinking…
There is a thing that happens during the holidays for most of us that “makes” our season. Sometimes it is a holiday movie or show, or wintry weather, or decorating, or … music that we need to hear for our season to really get going.
Mariah Carey hilariously announced “It’s time!” the day after Halloween, transforming her wardrobe from witch to a Santa outfit to signal the time of year when her holiday hit seems to dominate the airwaves, bringing her a yearly royalty boon. Good on ya, Mariah, but how about the rest of us? Which holiday song makes the season for you and why?
For me, the answers are almost too numerous to mention. I need The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrappings” because that was the new holiday hit when I was away at college (shut up about how old I am, ya thugs). The Band’s “Christmas Must Be Tonight” touches my spirit because their sound always lifts me up. The Trans Siberian Orchestra gets my whole family going because we used to play it while driving together to family Christmas celebrations. And so on.
But what about you? Which song makes the holiday for you and why? I included a playlist to help you. In this season of sharing, let’s share our favorites and why in the comment section. C’mon! It’ll be fun!
I’m not what would be recognized as a Fleetwood Mac fanatic, hardcore fan, or, um, even official fan. I’m just a music fan who spent my teen years in the 70’s and 80’s.
And that means Christine McVie’s passing yesterday hit me hard. Because Ms.McVie, like the rest of the classic Fleetwood Mac lineup, have been woven into the lives of an entire generation of music lovers, whether they made our top ten of not.
So much has changed in the world. These days, people stream whatever music they want into ear pods for a highly personal experience. When we were immersing ourselves in culture, it was communal. From plastic Panasonic radios when we were really young to “portable cassette/radios” that looked like small luggage, or even bulkier eight-track players, all of it played through speakers to whomever was in earshot.
That meant when we were just old enough to hang around near the older “cool” people, we heard whatever they were playing. CSNY. Elton John. Zeppelin. Dylan. And then the world changed because Fleetwood Mac Rumors came out.
It was everywhere. Everywhere. Playing throughout the playground, behind the ball field, near the beer, over where those two were making out, and definitely wherever more than three girls were in existence. It was as if those sounds floated around them.
And that album had staying power. We heard it every day, all summer, while we were doing homework that fall, in between holiday songs.
And we still hear those gems today. It is highly likely that a song from Fleetwood Mac Rumors is playing on multiple radio stations across this country, and the world, right now, approximately 45 years later.
Fleetwood Mac added to their presence with hit albums for years, and while many, especially pubescent boys, focused on the increasingly ethereal and alluring Stevie Nicks, as we got older, most of us realized two things: 1) Christine McVie wrote more hits, and 2) her songs resonated more deeply as we matured, ventured into relationships, and, if we got lucky, fell in love. While Nicks remained a mystical star attraction, McVie’s work came home with us, walked in our shoes, hung out, and was there when we least expected and most needed it. For decades.
Christine McVie’s passing is not only the end of the Fleetwood Mac Era, it signals the removal of an elegant part of our generation’s cultural foundation. Like Bowie and Prince and Tom Petty, among others, her loss takes with it a piece of our reliable reality. Our world has grown smaller.
Thank all the spirits who guide us that her, and their, music remains. Take solace in the simple grace of her compositions, the uncomplicated lyrics, the wondrously relaxed and relaxing tones in her singing.
And thank her for being so present in our lives without ever causing a fuss.
When I first stumbled onto today’s topic in the morning, my plans for this particular blog were completely different. Then I hit play. After a startling 72 tracks shimmying across more than four hours (including banter) I am convinced that the best rock record of the year arrived on November 25 (according to Apple Music).
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Live at the Fillmore, 1997 ( Deluxe) sounds like the most fun this band has ever had onstage, and they had tons in their career.
The record’s joy will fill your heart, enliven your soul, and get aging bodies moving. This one ain’t for the kiddies, folks, this here’s for us.
Reportedly recorded during a 20-night residency at the venerable theatre way back in the last century, this album is stuffed with fresh live performances of classic hits, a treasure chest of cover gems, and a handful of guest stars who add to the incredible amount of fun delivered on this collection.
The late Tom Petty is caught here at a performing peak. He is upbeat throughout, explaining, “We’re the house band here at the Fillmore, and we’ve tried over this run, we’ve tried to play a line of songs by people we admired or we have admired over the years, or liked one song and then didn’t like the band anymore. This is a little tribute to Little Richard by way of the Everly Brothers. it’s called “Lucille! You don’t do your sister’s will!”
And away they go, doing honor to the 50’s classic. And it is like that throughout the album. Gem after gem after jam after gem. And, yeah, there are cool guest stars, but each of them are just coming for a quick visit to the party that Petty and the Heartbreakers are throwing here. Such good fun it should be all over the radio, if radio still had the kind of free-wheeling programming this collection celebrates.
The performances are consistently both vibrant and funky, whether they are performing one of their hits, dipping into ancient history and delivering it with an energy that feel brand new. Additionally, they enthusiastically cover other Southern boys (Skynyrd!), break out beach party tunes, or dive into classic instrumentals. Nothing falls flat. Even the banter incites cheers. This album is so close to the best live show you missed it should be required listening.
The marketing info boasts 4K sound and if that is what makes this record’s audio quality so good, then our entire collection is going to need updating, because it all works, for these four hours! This record is so great I may not need Christmas presents this year.
If classic rock was your era, if you miss Tom Petty like I do, download Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Live at the Fillmore 1997 as a holiday treat for yourself. And God bless us everyone!
Christmas revelers have been listening to holiday music for decades. Bing. The Rat Pack. Elvis. Motown. Philly Soul. The Ramones. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” Mariah. The list is endless.
And many out there may know the songs below, but, for me, James Gunn just added another fun collection of rare gems (and one perennial must-hear) that is worth shouting about.
“I Don’t Know What Christmas Is (But Christmas Is Here) – Old 97’s This song is woven into the plot in the Disney+ Marvel Special Presentation and works well as part of that light-hearted action comedy, but I suspect this song might become a classic. Full of hilarious misinformation about Christmas traditions, the song is fun and should become a bar sing-along right now.
“Dead By X-Mas” – Hanoi Rocks I’ll admit I cannot tell whether this band was a serious venture or a genius comedic sendup of glitter/hair bands, but the song is as madcap as the one used as the theme for director James Gunn’s Peacemaker series on HBO Max. The lyrics are deliciously goofy, and every hook and riff is text book hair metal. The jaunty chorus of “I’ll be dead by Christmas ho-hoho-o-ho” kind of says it all.
“Christmas Treat” – Julian Casablancas is a song you might know more from the Jimmy Fallen era of SNL. Catchy and ridiculously danceable, I am amazed it hasn’t become a bigger holiday staple. We get another chance to fix that here.
“Just Like Christmas” – Low What a cool tune. The music has a muted wall of sound feel but the vocals sit on top, crisp and clear and mesmerizing. A great car song for traveling to relatives’ or holiday parties, this is a gem.
“Christmastime“ – The Smashing Pumpkins As soon as you hear this, it clicks that, yeah, The Pumpkins had the perfect sound for a Christmas song. They deliver here. A beautiful track.
“Fairytale of New York (featuring Kristy McColl)- The Pogues Reportedly a huge holiday hit in Europe, The Pogues didn’t quite get the acclaim they deserved over here (beyond legendary cult status). The lyrics depict a couple singing in an NYPD drunk tank, trading insults, until the cops eventually join the singing to ring in the holiday. Only The Pogues could make this work. And they do. Classic.
“Christmas Wrappings” – The Waitresses The only indisputable holiday hit on the album, this Christmas classic serves as a bridge for the entire soundtrack, bringing the pop crowd over for a listen – and everyone will be better for it. A great way to introduce Top Ten fans to all these other great songs.
“Is This Christmas?” (Radio edit)- The Wombats Another song that should be on everyone’s holiday playlist. Great party shout along song. There’s even a middle part for the really drunk partiers to go “dododododo” before exploding into the chorus again. Down the shots, here we go!
“I Want an Alien for Christmas” – Fountains of Wayne For those who have everything, this song explains the perfect item for your Christmas wish list. Smile-inducing and goofy, this can be perfect as you shop for presents or as a catch-your-breath song after the rowdier party tunes on this album.
“Here It Is Christmastime” – Kevin Bacon & Old 97’s A great slow song, a dance-with-your-date-before-an-argument-starts gem, a get-all-them-feels-about-the-holiday tune, Kevin Bacon and Old 97’s bring this collection to an admirable close, one that kinda makes you wanna press play all over again.
Gunn gave us a fun holiday special to watch, and like everyone’s favorite uncle, backed it up with a second gift in this collection. Give it a try, and by the third listen, you’ll feel like these songs have always been part of your holiday tradition.
So this is Thanksgiving, And what have we learned? Another year older, And Charlie’s ego just got burned…
While we welcome the idea of annually getting together to celebrate our gratitude, in theory anyway, negotiating the potential minefield of actually being with family can be tricky. Try as we might to avoid awkward conversations and toxic topics, not everyone plays by the same rules. So here’s a few suggestions for what to do if toxicity comes your way this holiday.
The Sadie Hartman (Mother Horror) – The elegant Ambassador of Horror has given us a perfect technique for avoiding the unwanted inquiry. Out of respect, we go to the source:
The Joey Tribianni – When toxic relatives lumber your way, a great move comes directly from Friends’ best feaster. Just head for the food and stuff your face. If an ugly question is asked, crunch that celery!
The Toast – Can’t avoid that toxic relative? Toast them. Instead of engaging in an offensive discussion or answering a horrid question, lift up your glass and give a pleasant, slightly loud, tribute. “Here’s to Aunt Mabel, everyone! HappyThanksgiving!”
The Tryptophan Maneuver – Used by holiday veterans around the nation, this move may only be applicable post-meal, but it never fails. As the awkward commentary begins, slid down at the table or on the couch, so when the repugnant rejoinder gets verbalized, you are already “snoring” lightly. You can even stir, and say, “Must be the tryptophan. I’m need to go splash me face.” Boom. Out of there. If the bathroom is near the coats, you might even be able to execute an Irish Goodbye.
The Classic Saved by the Dog Move – When all else fails and the holiday is starting to take a dark turn, give your traveling companions the nod, rise, and announce, “We have to go feed the dog.” No one can really argue with you on this because they’ll sound like animal haters, and once you release the escape pods, who cares whether those remaining grumble because you’re safe.
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. I’d stay and chat but this handsome fella needs to, uh, go for a walk. Yeah, can’t be avoided. Well, see ya next holiday….