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Throwback Thursday – Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti

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This week marks the 40th Anniversary of the release of Led Zeppelin’s double album, Physical Graffiti, the iconic band’s sixth release overall. The event on Tuesday was also marked with the release of a remastered special deluxe edition, part of a process begun last summer to reissue the band’s studio albums after undergoing extensive digital processing to enhance the recordings in a way more suitable to the modern market. Having listened to the newest version of the album, a three CD set that includes seven never before released tracks that are earlier or alternate versions of some of the elections on the album, I highly recommend it as an addition to any Led Zeppelin fan’s collection.

Even if you have not been fan of the band since the 70’s you should give this one a listen. Compared to the material released in February 1975 the vocals and guitar work feel more prominent giving a better spacial image in stereo even when compressed into a digital format. You’ll want to listen to the 40th Anniversary Edition on headphones, seriously. The remastering has transformed the music in a way that, regardless of how many previous times you’ve listened to the music, it’s like hearing the songs for the first time.

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Most people have heard the guitar riff from the song Kashmir, one of the longer selections on Physical Graffiti. It features guitar virtuoso Jimmy Page playing his Gibson Les Paul with violin bow giving the song a unique quality. Rapper P. Diddy, a.k.a Puff Daddy (Sean Combs), recorded Come With Me for the soundtrack of the 1998 movie Godzilla along with Jimmy Page performing the guitar riffs of Kashmir.

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Physical Graffiti is a collection of blues oriented rock music for which Led Zeppelin is well known. By the time of album’s original release Led Zeppelin had already attained superstar status. The album appeared on Led Zep’s private label, Swan Song Records, for example, giving the band a level of creative control over their work afforded to only a few bands at the time. They were playing sold out stadiums and arenas all over the world. Hardly anyone of my generation didn’t know who they were and also, barely a person did not have some opinion of the band and their music.

Physical Graffiti has the feel of a culmination effort, showcasing the talents of each of the band’s members: Jimmy Page on guitar, Robert Plant on vocals, John Paul Jones on bass and keyboards, and John Bonham on drums. As musicians they fused their individual talents to create an album that, from start to finish, defines who and what they were together. I have always felt that Physical Graffiti was an inflection point for the group. They released several albums after, and many of the songs yet to come were great performances, but for me this always felt like it captured the band at their peak. Having purchased the album shortly after its original release in 1975, at the time I was a Freshman at Purdue University and played it was on a pair of Infinity 1001A loudspeakers in my dorm room. Listening to the remastered version last night was almost like experiencing time travel in a way.

Although I was a fan of Led Zep since the release Whole Lotta Love off the band’s second album, I did not own every one of the band’s albums until after the release of Physical Graffiti. As my tastes had matured to a greater appreciation of blues I was prompted to discover the band’s early work on the first and third albums. Houses Of The Holy, the band’s fifth album, had been my previous favorite, with Over The Hills and Far Away second only to the fourth Album’s Stairway To Heaven as my favorite Led Zep song. Rock and Roll and Black Dog, also from the fourth studio album, and D’yer Maker, from Houses Of The Holy, tend to be the other Led Zep songs most people know. But Physical Graffiti marked Led Zeppelin’s experimentation with a variety of musical styles and recording techniques producing a collection of tracks that, from start to finish, prompted me to dub the entire album onto my reel-to-reel so I could listen to it straight through without having to flip to the over side of the disc. Yes, do you remember having to do that with LPs?

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Page’s guitar work on Physical Graffiti is reason enough to get this updated version of the album, but his is hardly the only great performance. As a bassist I’ve always loved John Paul Jones’ work and it’s difficult to be a bassist and not key on the percussion. John Bonham’s style was always driving and lent the signature, often times counter-rhythmic, backbeat to the music. Plant’s vocal work on every song delivers.

The bonus tracks on CD 3 feature Brandy & Coke (An initial rough mix of Trampled Under Foot), an early version of Sick Again, an initial rough mix of In My Time Of Dying, a rough mix of Houses of The Holy, Everybody Makes It Through (In The Light) – an early version of the song In The Light, the Sunset Sound Mix of Boogie With Stu, and Driving Through Kashmir (a rough mix of Kashmir). The previously unreleased material is interesting to anyone who wants to hear how the music evolves during the recording process. Also, Plants vocals are a little more up front on some of the tracks than the release versions.

#LedZeppelin #JimmyPage #RobertPlant #JohnPaulJones #JohnBonham #SeanCombs #PuffDaddy #PDiddy #Kashmir #PhysicalGraffiti #Godzilla1998 #70sMusic

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What A Difference Three Years Makes

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Hopeless, pretty-much – that was where I was three years and two days ago. I needed to change a lot of things about me and how I was living my life – or rather existing without actually living. You know how people say – usually jokingly – that they have no life? Three years ago I truly had none.

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The way I ended things with my previous employer I was probably destined to be homeless. Over the past three years I have been that, basically homeless. I’ve couch surfed a bit and stayed with relatives long past my welcome, I think, but I haven’t starved to death. I’ve stayed focused on completing writing projects. I have twelve books under contract, now. Imagine that!

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Three years ago this was where I was: I lived in a two bedroom apartment in a part of town that wasn’t exactly the best or safest. I walked to work, though, because the place I worked was that close. My kids were grown-up and moved out. My son still lived close enough that every once in a while we’d meet up for a day’s outing. My marriage was over long before the formalities of the divorce. I really didn’t have any savings but had managed not to fall any deeper into debt.

 

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I’d been working in retail for so long that I believed there was nothing else I could do and, furthermore, submitted to the will of the corporation that abused me on a daily basis. When I was away from work I drank a lot and I wrote a lot, though nothing much that was worth the effort to revise, I’m afraid. Had I continued living that way I’m pretty sure I’d be dead by now, probably from the stress of the work combined with the alcohol abuse.

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Today I don’t drink anything alcoholic. I ride my bike everywhere I go and do that on a regular basis. I work at several jobs for the money but mainly I write full time, which is what I have been meaning to do for all my life – just I let everything else get in the way.

I could go back into management, I suppose. One of my side jobs would provide a track for that, but I’m not interested. I’ve done management. I’m over it. I like talking to customers, the nice ones who don’t have the problems. You see, when you’re in management for too long you begin to think that every customer is a problem because the only customers you ever see are the ones who have the problems requiring management attention. I’m better off with a job that basically requires minimal managerial skills.

The other things I do are related to my writing so that is comfortable enough. I’m working with and assisting other authors. That’s cool. And I write for several hours a day on average. Even if most of what I am writing will not make it onto a printed page, I’m still working at my chosen craft. And a lot of what I have been writing has potential – or at least I think it does.

I wrote a short story the other day, which was remarkable on several levels. First I don’t usually write short stories. Second, I haven’t written anything short since the experiment that produced Fried Windows. Third, the way I write doesn’t lend itself to writing anything short. Despite all that, I knocked out 2,646 words over the course of an hour and a half. I wish I could write that fast everyday. That would be amazing, right? It wasn’t half bad, either.

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Thursday is my next full day off. I have plans, though nothing special or outrageous. I’m going to begin working again on the sequel to Fried Windows which is already about half finished. Alternately I may work on the sequel to Becoming Thuperman. We’ll see. I have to go grocery shopping first thing in the morning. My supply of everything has been depleted. I guess I should knock out the Fried Windows thing first since there are several readers who are waiting for it. A couple of people have asked me what happens to Brent. You know, that would be telling, except, obviously, he is in other books since I’ve mentioned that he is in The Wolfcat Chronicles, right? But technically, those works are set either before or after Fried Windows, depending on your perspective in the cosmos.

Anyway, I’m better off where I am right now than where I was three years ago. I’m not satisfied with everything about my life. I need to complete a lot of things to really get back to where I think I belong, but I’m not hungry and I have a place to sleep and a roof over my head which is much better than it might have been.

#writing #TheWolfcatChronicles #FriedWindows #BecomingThuperman #StarvingArtist

 

 

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The Wolfcat Chronicles Complete

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Friday morning I completed revisions for Book 10 of The Wolfcat Chronicles, which included a major rewrite of the final three chapters. I submitted the manuscript to my publisher. So the series that I have spend over a decade writing and most of my life preparing is one step closer to reality.

Before I move on to other projects, I’d like to reassure all those who have read early versions of the books that the essential story has not been altered. Some of the details have changed here and there in the process of revisions. One chapter was added and, in several other places the dialogue was modified a bit, to make the series connect with Fried Windows in a much more substantive way. Otherwise, it’s the same. I’m sure that as the editing process progresses there will be some other changes, though I expect them to be minor and more along the lines of ensuring consistency between the beginning and the end of the story and giving it a good hair cut here and there. The objective of editing is to trim away those things that do not directly contribute to the story, developing the characters, and advancing the plot,

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What’s next? Well, yesterday morning I did something I haven’t done for a while. In fact I’ve not done it since composing what has since become Fried Windows. I wrote a short story. I’m not sure I’ll do anything more with it. I could, though. There is an opening to expand the tale and I may pursue that – kind of like I did with Fried Windows – and we see where that ended up. But for now it’s a back burner sort of things.

The short story I wrote was my attempt to fulfill a prior commitment to write a piece for a collection with a theme “the seven deadly sins”. My challenge was to write something about greed. I’m not sure if I actually accomplished that with the story. What I wrote was more about wealth, money and large corporations mistreating the little guy. To me that’s practical reality of the sin or greed. However, I also believe that all the seven deadly sins are interconnected in many ways. If you ponder the subject for a while you will eventually get to a place that I am, where you understand how one thing leads to another and so on. Greed, envy, avarice… it’s all connected.

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The next two things I plan to work on are the sequels for Fried Windows and Becoming Thuperman. That leaves the stand alone story of Bongwater Moses still lingering in the background, but I need to finish that one too. Somewhere along the way I also want to revise a couple of other stories about the Brent character from Fried Windows.

Having the major weight of ten books off my shoulders – at least until substantive editing begins – I can work on a number of other projects. At some point I’ll be going through something of a relaunching of Fried Windows as it comes up on its first anniversary and is released in the formats and through other distributors. I’m not sure when that will come about. It’s popularity has been increasing through the free promotions, but it has been a slow process. It’s a bit like acquiring friends for me, growing readers. It takes a while to get to know me but after someone has gotten to know me they tend to be friends for life.

 

Lately I’ve been scheduled to work more hours at my day job. That is largely a result of picking up shifts that other people cannot work and having been cross trained to serve other roles. Hey, I can use the money for buying books to sell at book signings, right? Also I’ve saving up to buy a better bike. One with gears that change and working brakes both front and rear would be a vast improvement over what I have been using. However, it’s hard to justify the expense at this point, as I am getting by with what I have. The tried were placed last summer and have a lot of wear left on them.

My idea is to keep the present bike as a backup in case I wake up one day and my tires are flat on the newer bike I’d be using. You know, kind of like having a second car. As my son leave early for work each day and I tend to work in the mostly in evenings I don’t have the option of asking him to drive me. My options would be to call a cab – which I can’t afford – or hoof it for the 4.5 miles. I’d probably opt for the latter though I’m not exactly sure how long i would take me to get there.

At some point I need a new laptop to replace the one I have that doesn’t serve as a laptop anymore – battery dead, screen doesn’t work. I know I’m going to need portability eventually, especially when I start moving around and traveling again, but at the moment it isn’t a huge priority. I’m using a jury-rigged configuration that serves my purposes well enough. Also, as I refuse to go back to a Windows platform for my working computer, I’m kind of at the mercy for how inflated the prices for Apple computers are. They tend to be very proud of their products, as my dad always said of something expensive for no apparent reason. Yes, I get that Apple computers tend to last longer and are supposed to be built better, etc. I’m not convinced any of that is particularly true anymore, if it ever was. Remember, I repaired computers for a while. I’ve been inside everything imaginable. And since Apple switched to using Intel processors their systems have become more and more like everything else out there in the PC world. Much of the difference is cosmetic except that I prefer the operating system to windows and find it to be generally more stable, with he exception of the Safari browser which has been crashing lately for whatever reason.

Coming up there are some promotions for Fried Windows. As soon as I have resupplied my local stash of books, meaning ordering some directly from the publisher, I’ll be working on some local book signings. So, for anyone in Central Florida, be on the look out for announcements. I plan to tie-in the appearances with pre-release activities for The Wolfcat Chronicles and Becoming Thuperman. I’ll also be participating in some promotional stuff for other authors whether as a publicist or a friend.

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Rose Montague has two books coming out next month, for example one at the beginning of the month titled Jane, the sequel to Jade. There is another coming out later next months as well. More about that in upcoming blogs. I also plan to interview her again. She is an interesting person and an excellent storyteller. Her first book, Jade, was released a little over a year ago. I read and reviewed it somewhere around that time. Her writing is as unique as her subject matter. I highly recommend her books to anyone who enjoys novels that bend reality a bit – stories about shape shifters, witches etc.

#TheWolfcatChronicles #FriedWindows #Becoming Thuperman #NewProjects #Rose Montague #Jade #Jane #Revisions #Writing #Publishing

 

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For the Love of the Dream

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Growing up on a farm in Ohio, two miles from nowhere in a time when TV meant three or sometimes four broadcast channels, depending on the weather, I didn’t know how exceptional my life was. Like other kids I fantasized about growing up and, depending on whim and whatever was current in the news, I wanted to be a police officer, fire fighter, soldier, astronaut, cowboy or superhero. Sometimes, depending on the season, I wanted to be sports star as well.

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Now, in Ohio if you loved football and basketball as much as I did as a kid you were probably a Buckeyes fan. Because I was fairly tall for my age, come winter time, I dreamed of being the dominating center of the basketball team. That was after n entire fall of  pretending to be the star quarterback. But com springtime it was all about baseball and I was determined to be the ace pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds.

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My dad always told me that I could be anything I wanted to be, right?

When I was old enough I played little league baseball, figuring that was the place to start. Trouble was that I was afraid of being bit in the face with the ball. It’s pretty hard catching a ball with eyes close and head turned away.In other words, I wasn’t all that good. I could occasionally hit the ball, though. And so the coach played me from me to time. The trouble with baseball is that besides hitting you have to do something else. Wanting to be a pitcher didn’t quite work out for me because I couldn’t seem to throw straight and even if I got the ball into he general vicinity of home place and the catch could mange to knock it down, when he threw it back to me it was a toss up whether or not I could actually catch it.  Anyway, the coach stuck me in right field which is, as every kid knows, where the worst player on the team usually ends up.

I never really gave up on becoming a pitcher though. I kept practicing, throwing a ball at a tree in the yard. I’d say poor tree, except usually I didn’t hit it so the tree and especially its bark were pretty safe. I got in pretty good shape though from chasing after my errant throws.

Around the time I was ten my family moved to a new house on a farm my father had recently purchased. The house set on a hill an so the back all of the basement was almost completely exposed, giving me a huge target at which to throw a rubber baseball. Even I could hit a whole wall, right? Using some chalk I drew a box on the wall to represent the strike zone. I worked on getting my pitches to hit the wall in that square. After a lot of tries, usually I could do it.

After three years of practicing and having my sister, whose bedroom was directly above my target, complaining about waking her up first thing on a lay summer morning, I was good enough to believe I stood a chance at making my high school;’s team. Anyway, I was determined to try out. Pitchers and catchers reported out a couple of weeks earlier than everyone else, though everyone wanting to be on the team was welcome to come to practice to work on physical conditioning. I was actually pretty good – just not good enough to make the team. But that didn’t diminish my love for the sport. However, it did resign me to the reality that I probably wasn’t going to ever make it into the Majors let alone start for the Reds.

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Kids dream big because that is what they do best. Everyday is a new adventure in a world of infinite possibilities. Most of us don’t achieve our wildest dreams, though. As we mature we realize we aren’t strong, fast or tall enough to be sports heroes. And so we wind up settling for something more grounded, better suited to our particular sets of limitations. Of course, our shortcomings are rooted in self-imge and what we have allowed other to convince us is our truth. I firmly believe that determination to overcome something trumps anything. There are countless examples of those who beat the odds and accomplish great things despite the barriers other have imposed. A lot of our inabilities come from what and whom we permit to control us. Sometimes its better not to know what’s possible until you’ve already learned how to do the impossible.

You see, the majority is satisfied to commiserate, consoling each other about their failures and how the odds are stacked against everyone. Misery loves needs a lot company and fortunately there are a lot of miserable people out there. Still a few succeed despite all he nay sayer in their lives  Some are gifted, perhaps, talented in some way that makes doing this thing or that easier. But for most who succeed the secret stems from their refusal to fail – or deny failure the ability to define the future. They pick themselves up, dust themselves off, learn whatever lesson there is to be learned from their miscues and they move on about becoming successful.

A few of us retain the ability to dream and carry it forward into adult life. Sometimes that creates problems for us, though. You see, dreamers are not highly regarded in places where practicality reigns supreme like the business world. Many of those who never lose the ability to dream become artists, musicians and writers. We live out our fantasies vicariously through the pictures we draw, the figures we sculpt, the lyrics we pen and scores we compose or the characters we create to play out all the “what ifs” left over from our childhoods. We experience the contrived reality of our dreams vicariously through the magic of our creativity.

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And so, in my mind it was possible for a couple of eight year olds, a boy and a girl, who are best friends, to become the star pitchers on their little league team while learning about having superhero powers. Throw in a supposed haunted house, a vicious dog, and strange old man and his scary spinster sister who everyone in town thinks is a witch, season it with a lot of riding around on bicycles, playing int he park and exploring wildly vivid imaginations and you have the essence of what Becoming Thuperman, one of my soon to be released books, is all about.

#BecomingThuperman #Dreams #Sports #GrowingUp #Writing

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Throwback Thursday – Alan Parsons Project – Tales Of Mystery And Imagination Edgar Allan Poe

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Sometime in 1974 Eric Woolfson met Alan Parson and a collaboration on many levels began. Woolfson, a keyboardist and and vocalist had written several songs and musical arrangements based not he literary works of Edgar Allan Poe. Alan Parsons was an award winning audio engineer and producer who had achieved critical acclaim for his work with the Beatles on the Abbey Road and Let it Be albums as well as Pink Floyd’s legendary Dark Side of The Moon. With the latter production Parsons experimented with and innovated many studio recording techniques still used today.

Woolfson served as Parsons’ manager for his production work for other bands such as Pilot and Ambrosia. Both men were inspired by visions of creative film directors such as Hitchcock and Kubrick and their level of control over their projects. Parsons’ had grown increasingly frustrated while working with musicians. Often he felt his concepts for how a song or an album could be fell short of potential due to differences with artists over the recording of their work. Woolen and Parsons teamed up to form the Alan Parsons Project in 1975 an, enlisting the musical skills of session musicians and other artists they had worked with, including members of the bands Pilot and Ambrosia, recording the Project’s debut album, Tales of Mystery and Imagination, Edgar Allan Poe. The album was released in 1976 and featured the hit son The Raven which was the first known use of digital vocoder which distorted Parsons’ voice as he spoke the lyrics.

Although Tales of Mystery and Imagination reached the top 40 in the US, and did well continental Europe it did not fare as well in Woolfson and Parsons’ native UK, a trend that would continue throughout the Alan Parsons Project’s career.

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Throughout the late 70’s and early 80’s the Parson’s Project released series of albums continuing to use several different session musicians. Their catalogue includes I Robot (1977), Pyramid (1978), Eve (1979), (Turn Of A Friendly Card (1980), Eye In The Sky (1982), and Ammonia Avenue (1984) – which reached the top 10 in several countries and featured the smash hit “Don’t Answer Me”.

#70sMusic, #AlanParsons #EricWoolfson #Ambrosia #Pilot #AlanParsonsProject

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The Wolfcat Chronicles Revision Book 10 Nearing Completion

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It’s taken most of this month to accomplish and has included some rewrites, adding in a couple of new chapters but the revision for The Wolfcat Chronicles Book 10 is almost complete. Since the last chapter will be virtually scrapped, there are only three more left for me to go through, but I anticipate heavy rewrites ahead. However, I’m still on target to complete the revision before the end of the month.

My day job, such that is is, has been scheduling more hours, which is a good thing because I can use the money, but the downside is that I have less time for writing, revising and doing my publicity gig. On balance it is a good thing, just I have less free time. I’m okay with that, though the time I spend taking Rocco for afternoon walks is impacted. I’m sure he’s not happy about it.

I’ve decided to redefine my social media presence, though it may at first confuse those who know me well and are accustomed to my warped sense of humor and shotgun approach to appreciating life. Despite my hatred for the word normal I am approaching potential readers who are, as a rule, more so normal than me. I don’t want to frighten anyone off.

I’m well aware that at times I can seem completely off my rocker. For the most part, in my personal life, I couldn’t care less what other people think. Those who don’t accept the way I am are probably no people with whom I would want to associate anyway. But it occurs to me that appears less mainstream alienates all but a fairly unique minority of potential readers. As I can’t remove the stick most people have up their butts, at least not directly, I have to appeal to the straight laced as well as all the others who have discovered the imagination driven universe I’ve created in my books.

So my blogs and my social media will be about books in general – those I have written as well as those my friends have written. I have a lot of authors who are my friends, so there is always someone with a book coming out soon. I will also post things about music, because that is part of me and it is integrated into my writing. There will be some humorous things from time to time. And there will be posts about animals, because I love animals, especially pandas, wolves, dogs and cats. Political stuff is off limits unless it is really humorous in a non-partisan way. This of you who know me well know how politically neutral I am in real life – that translates into I hate both major political parties in my country pretty much equally while I also advocate some causes each party supports.

I’m also going to stay away from religious posts because those tend to offend people in general unless they share a certain belief. Personally I feel religious dogma divides people. Also, I’m relatively certain that the God I know is not a religious sort. Things that are done and have been done historically in the name of religion have often times not been Godly acts filled with love and grace. So, if you want to discuss religion with me, we’ll take that private. You are entitled to your personal relationship with whatever you believe and so am I. Enough said.

Most will not see much of a change in what I post. But from time to time I have deviated from what I have spelled out here and it has alienated some friends. If it wasn’t for being an increasingly public person upon which other people have tied a certain amount of business capital, I wouldn’t give two craps. But I owe it to people who had enough faith in me to take some risks in supporting me as an author and promoting my works.

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#TheWolfcatChronicles #SocialMedia

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To All The Other Ideas Popping Into My head

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One problem I have, which may not be much of a problem but a problem nevertheless, is that while I revise one book I have ideas for other books. Generally I spend some time jotting down the random thoughts and eventually pursue them. But occasionally, they never turn into anything more than an idea of strange origin. Still, it leads to wonder whether the ideas might have turned out better had I pursued them with vigor immediately upon having them. You know how ideas fade into the background like the vapors from a dream that seemed so nice at the time.

When you’re a writer you gotta be selective about the ideas you allow to draw your attention, though. At least that’s true for me. I have some pretty bizarre thoughts at times – just ask anyone who knows me. That come’s with the territory, I guess. Writers are notorious for not being normal. I believe every true writer is absolutely fine with that. After all, who wants to be normal?

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As an example of how my writer’s mind works:  this morning I was out walking Rocco, my son’s American Bulldog. A car drove by going a good bit over the speed limit and swerving to avoid cars parked the street, As it was Sunday morning I wondered why the guy was driving so recklessly?

Late for Church? I’m inclined to think that unless you’re a member of the choir or a minister, deacon or something, you would not be rushing for that reason. Churches are places of forgiveness, aren’t they? I’m pretty sure oversleeping would fall into one of the things to be forgiven.

Going to the store? Who i in a hurry to do that – at least from a guy’s perspective? Really – unless it’s a special sale like on Black Friday, or something, when all the crazies are out and about looking for that $100 big screen TV or the $200 laptop computer, a guy would not be driving like that.

Late for work? Yeah, that might be it. Costing money and perhaps a job if he shows up late for work just one more time… I could see that.

Some other unexpected emergency, perhaps. Someone is sick, in the hospital or maybe his best friend is in jail and he needs to post bail.

Who knows? But how many stories could come from those thoughts?

That’s how a writer’s mind works. But in addition to those thoughts here’s how my mind worked this morning:

He’s hell on wheels – which reminded me of a Paul McCartney and Wings song that’s kind of a play on that Helen Wheels. As the chorus of the song replayed through my mind for a few bars it reminded me of a girl I knew back in high school, though she didn’t attend my high school. Her name was Helen.

Helen was actually from Troy, which a city in Ohio. She was a friend of a girl I dated for a while in my junior year who lived in  Tipp City, a town fairly close to Troy. Both of those towns were over an hour from where I lived, by the way, and how I met them…well I’ll get to some of that later.

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Anyway, I used to call Helen from Troy, Helen of Troy, as in the face that launched a thousand ships. Read Homer’s Iliad if you don’t know that story. Her father was named Homer, which I thought was hilarious when I learned that, not to mention that her mother actually named her for Helen of Troy and her sister was Cassandra. For those who have never read about the war between Troy and Greece over the abduction of Helen, with whom Paris, Prince of Troy, fell in love… Well, Cassandra was Paris’ sister who was psychic and foresaw the Greeks sacking Troy. What could one expect when the beautiful wife of a Greek King is stolen away? I’m not sure how much psychic ability that really took.

So, I’ll bet you’re thinking, what was the name of the mother of Helen and Cassandra? Something like Athena might have made sense and it would make for a better story than the truth. She has a plain old name, Anne. Her friends called her Annie, like Little Orphan Annie. Seriously, that’s how she introduced herself. Now, if I were writing a story about her family I’d make her name something like Minerva, just to make things more interesting. Yeah, I know she was a Roman goddess, but still, I like the name.

After my mind processed all that in about the span of two heartbeats – three tops – I was still considering the reckless driver who, by then, had rounded the corner and driven well out of sight. Rocco, having sniffed out a fine enough place for doing his business, downloaded on a neighbor’s front lawn and, as our neighborhood has a strict rule about cleaning up after dogs, I extracted a plastic bag dispensed from a roll attached to the back of the recoiling dog leash, and used it to pick up the pooch’s poop.

We continued our morning jaunt, Rocco and I, though I was still thinking about Helen of Troy, the girl I knew during high school – not the one in the Iliad – and of course that started me thinking about her friend, the one I dated for a while who lived in Tipp City. Her name was Angela. I guess one of the things guys do – and maybe gals as well – is think about the ones that got away (or perhaps ran away).  She was a cheerleader, of course. That was how I met her and having met her I ended up meeting her friend, Helen.

 

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My school was at a weekend wrestling tournament, the Indian Lake Invitational. Angela caught my eye and, quite unlike me, I ended up introducing myself. She was not impressed or even remotely interested, which was fine. I was used to receiving similar reactions from every girl who caught my eye and I bothered to talk to . But over the course of the weekend tournament, we continued bumping into one another, literally at times. It was sort of funny after the fourth or fifth time and to her mind it could not be coincidence. She accused me of following her around. Not that there wouldn’t have been good reason or that, but I swear I wasn’t. However, I countered, accusing her of stalking me. She laughed. “Why would I do that?”

“You tell me.”

Nothing further happened but about a month later, our teams were at another tournament and I saw her in passing. “So, where have you been?” I asked her.

“Hiding.”

“You do that well.”

“Until now.”

“Yeah, so what brought you out of hiding?”

“I don’t know. I guess I needed to do the cheerleading thing again.”

“Funny how that happens, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, pretty much every week.”

We talked a few times that weekend and learned that we had next to nothing in common. Regardless of that, she told me she was going to be in Springfield the following week for a meet against one of the local schools. I told her if I could make it there after practice I’d come to the meet.

I made it to the meet. We talked some more. We exchanged phone numbers and, as a result, dated for a while. Thankfully gasoline was a lot less expensive back then. Even so, my parents complained, asking me why I couldn’t date someone who lived closer. I don’t know, it just seems like sometimes you aren;t attracted to local girls, you know?

By the time all of that had played out in my mind, Rocco and I had rounded the block and, for whatever reason, he decided he needed to run, jerking the leash from my hand in the process. He doesn’t run away, just playfully goes around circles, teasing me to pursue him. Still, it aggravated me enough that I refused to give him his usual treat this morning. He’s sort of mad at me now.

As for the story about Helen of Troy and Angela, I wrote a book that is loosely based on some of that. I’ll get around to revising that one sooner or later. Until then, I’m sure I’ll have a gazillion other random ideas, some of which I may jot down. My current focus is still Book 10 of The Wolfcat Chronicles. I’m on Chapter 22 of the revision.

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