Tag Archives: Alice Cooper

Is it a breakthrough, or a breakdown?

Our best laid plans didn’t work out. I figured a party on the Basque block would make for some good blog fodder. The appeal, for us, was the paella. This is a saffron rice dish made with clams, chicken, and chorizo. The pan they use is large enough for several adults to slide down a snowy slope. I own a paella pan that could hold a fair deep dish pizza, for comparison sake.

My wife got a text from a friend. The line was two and a half blocks long, and it was over 100 degrees in the shade. We went to one of our favorite little dive places for beer and a steak, and air conditioning. I may have to make my own paella if I can find the correct rice. You have to use the right kind.

This is a long winded way of saying I need a different topic today. I decided to make it about writing, in a round about way. I’m going to talk about Alice Cooper again. You can substitute your favorite balladeer.

Music is a great source of inspiration for me. I find ideas everywhere, but rarely talk about music. I grew up about the time disco became popular. My friends and I all hated disco music. We owned copies of Aerosmith Rocks, and every album Kiss ever put out. Alice Cooper was always my personal favorite.

After the concert Tuesday night, I downloaded a whole bunch of Cooper’s music. These are the album cuts I loved when I was younger. My vinyl, eight tracks, and cassettes are long gone. I may still have a CD lurking around somewhere.

Cooper was fortunate to work in an era where the album was king. Several of his albums tell a story from start to finish. This isn’t possible in our one-song-at-a-time era. In fact, From The Inside may be one of the greatest albums of all time.

Listening to this music as a writer puts a whole different spin on the music. Sure, Cooper has the advantage of sound and chords to inspire different emotions. I have to add emotion in different ways, but I get more words to tell my tales.

When I listened to the song The Quiet Room something struck me. This album is about being inside an insane asylum, and was based upon an alcohol rehab stint Cooper lived through. The lyrics are: How long have I been gone? Did winter kill the lawn?

It hit me; this is all about character. Who asks if winter killed the lawn? It tells me a ton about the character without having to go into incredible detail. Five words and I’m completely sucked in. Now I need to figure out how to do it myself.

Another song is called I Might As Well Be On Mars. It’s about a man who loves a woman who rejected him. He’s on the roof of a building looking at the stars. He looks down and sees cars. The setting is magnificent. What will he do? Is he a jumper? He spots the woman through the window of her favorite bar. I’ve been that guy. I was enamored of someone who never knew I existed.

There’s a lesson here about more than setting, which was great. It relates to me on a personal level. I’ll bet almost everyone has been in that situation at one time or another.

It’s a blog post, so I’m only going to touch upon these two songs. Sure, Cooper is all about dark humor, and there’s plenty of that in other cuts. The guy recorded with Vincent Price before Michael Jackson knew what a zombie even was.

I heard that good stories are all about delivering a powerful emotional experience. (PEE) I’m the kind of guy who has to see it happen before I really get it. I may be on the verge of a breakthrough here.

Emotions can be any kind as long as the reader gets sucked in. It isn’t only about love. Rage, fear, pity, disgust, lust, and depression are all emotions too.

Okay, one more. There is a love song called Millie and Billie. These two are batshit crazy, and they know it. Cooper presents the tale from deep point of view. (Think dialog mostly.) They know they’re crazy, but don’t understand why the things they do are wrong. There is no authorial intrusion, it’s all from the character’s point of view. No preaching allowed or needed. It’s a boy and a girl, I can relate, I follow along. I don’t relate to what they did to her husband, but it’s too late to back out now. I think this is good storytelling.

Note: I also had an epiphany. I hadn’t heard this song in twenty years. I may have borrowed a line from it in one of my upcoming short stories. The difference is I used Mason jars instead of baggies. I’m going to leave the sentence in place. Those of you with an advance reading copy can search “Mason jars” and find it.

I don’t know if the lesson is about a great hook, a PEE, setting, or what. I feel like I’m about to have a writing breakthrough. Maybe I’d better turn on my music and let Alice take me to Hell again.

How about you guys? Is there a lesson here? Is there more than one? Weigh in, maybe you can clarify my breakthrough.

33 Comments

Filed under Writing

Welcome to My Nightmare

Last night fulfilled a bucket list item for me, kind of. I’m not a huge believer in bucket lists, but I’ll just say I’ve wanted to do this for a long time.

The final tour for Motley Crüe came to Boise, and my wife wanted to go. I moaned about the ticket price, and the fact that I’d already been to one of their concerts. She said, “But Honey, they’re on tour with Alice Cooper.”

That was all I needed to know. We bought our tickets about six months ago. Last night was the night.

Waiting for the show

Alice Cooper was phenomenal. I first stumbled across him in the early 1970s, and my eight track player was always loaded with one of his tapes. I’ve always heard that he put on the best, and most theatrical live shows. Until last night, I’d never seen one.

I Googled it, Cooper is 67 years old now. I wish I had gone out of my way to see him sooner. It would have been worth a trip to the coast, or Phoenix to take in his show.

He’s had a long career, and the show was a mixture of older and newer music. He chose well. I still lamented the songs I didn’t get to hear.

I never got to play with the Black Widow, or Go To Hell, there was no help from Nurse Rosetta, or a trip to the Quiet Room.

There are just too many songs for him to cover them all in the scope of a concert. I still knew every song, and had a great time.

His choices ran the gamut from oldies like Under My Wheels and Eighteen, to his newer hits like Poison and Feed My Frankenstein.

 

How could he not include Frankenstein. It just screams to be part of a live show. This included some cool electrodes, and a fifteen foot monster running around stage chasing the band members. My picture is crap, but that’s Frankie behind the band members. That ought to give you an idea of scale.

I may have been to over a hundred concerts in my life. I’ve seen everything from country to acid rock. There are some things that become staple items. I’ve seen fog, lasers, fireworks, and all the usual things before.

This show had swords, straight jackets, electrodes, a working guillotine, and a fifteen foot monster. (Did I mention the monster?)

I am one happy dude today, and I bought the tee shirt. I’m going to spend a portion of my day downloading those songs I didn’t get to hear last night.

Oh yeah, and Motley Crüe played last night too.

31 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Slacker!

I skipped my normal Sunday post this weekend. It isn't that I had no topic, we were just busy. It didn't even involve writing related stuff.

My wife earmarked the spot where my deceased apricot tree was removed. She's also a sucker for a good promotion. A local nursery gives away what they call “bucks” during the Spring and early Summer sales period. If you save these bucks, you can use them after the season winds down to purchase items they didn't sell during the rush. (I was thinking tools perhaps. Silly me.)

It's a great business idea. People who don't care where they buy petunias go out of their way to shop where they get bucks. They return toward the end of the season to spend bucks on junk the nursery could not sell.

This time, we got lucky. My wife picked out a magnolia tree that was over $100. We paid less than $40 because she had so many bucks to spend. That means I got to plant a rather large tree on Sunday. Our soil is rocky, and this takes a bit of effort. I even screened the soil to remove the rocks before it went back in the hole. (I didn't need dynamite, but it was close.) (Also, can I get some bucks for a back massage and some muscle relaxers?)

Immediately after finishing it was time to clean up, and dress up. We made a mad dash to The Morrison Center to watch The Book of Mormon. This is the Broadway play that was put together by the fellows who brought us South Park. We wound up getting there about fifteen minutes late because a stoplight was out.

Sometimes even I get lucky. So many patrons were blocked by the light that they held up the curtain. All was well. The play was hilarious. We grabbed a sandwich and a beer on the way home, and that about did it for me.

Tomorrow, we have tickets to the final tour for Motley Crüe. My wife is way excited, but I saw them live before I ever met her. They will be excellent, and I'm not worried about being bored. I'm looking forward to Alice Cooper who is also part of the bill. I've never seen him perform, and always wanted to.

We almost never buy tickets to the big stuff. It's kind of once per year, or less. It just so happens this year we have tickets to two events in three days. If I consider the play as last year's event, and the concert as this year's event, can I go to something fun again next summer?

Oddly enough, I need a tie for work tomorrow. Sunday, I went from shorts and a tee shirt to putting on a tie for the play. Tomorrow, I'll rush home to get rid of the tie and pull on shorts and a tee shirt.

So I was a slacker in blogland. I may have missed a post or two that I should have read. I didn't write, edit, or promote a darned thing. I had a pretty good time though. I may even see some interesting people to make up stories about tomorrow.

25 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized