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It’s December 10th


I’m avoiding Christmas Carols like the plague.

Yeah, I know, it’s a very curmudgeonly attitude to have.  All this “Bah-humbug” around Christmas.  But there are reasons for this, I can assure you.

From 1989 to 1998 I worked in broadcasting.  Five years of that as an on air announcer.  Also known as a disc jockey.  I wanted to be Dr. Johnny Fever (WKRP In Cincinnati reference).  Needless to say, I became more akin to Les Nesman (one of my news jobs even had tape on the floor where walls would be).  But, that time while I was an on air announcer, there was many a Christmas of late night and weekend afternoons filled with multiple versions of Jingle Bell Rock, Rockin’ ‘Round the Christmas Tree, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, and various other Christmas songs which could work on Adult Contemporary, Hard Rock, or Country format radio.

I will admit, I loved Twisted Sister’s Christmas album, that was awesome.  But one can only take hearing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer before threatening bloody murder if the song comes up again for the 50th time in a day.

Many people might not know this, but the average length of time for a Christmas song for Adult Rock, Hard Rock or Country is about 2 minutes in length.  In an hour, that’s 30 songs.  With talking and commercials, maybe 20.  Keep in mind, this is late night and afternoon weekends.  Six hour shifts.

Which only got worse the closer to Christmas you got.

The format was as follows.  December 1 to December 7: One Christmas song per day.  December 8 to December 14: One Christmas song per shift.  December 15 to December 20: One Christmas song per hour.  December 21 to December 23: One Christmas song per quarter hour.  December 24 and December 25: No other songs except for Christmas songs exist, play nothing but Christmas songs.  December 26: Never play a Christmas song again.

For me, a lot of times I was the guy who had to work Christmas day.  Which meant an 8 hour shift, not a 6 hour shift like usual.

So, I have my reasons for my “bah-humbug” attitude with regard to Christmas songs.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2014 in Fun, Life, randomness

 

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That’s So METAL!


This is partially going to go hand in hand with my NaNoWriMo and the fact I’m writing about superheroes as they might exist in our world.  It’s a tale that starts in the 1970s and keeps going right up to present day.

A big part of that includes the changes in music, and I often get the feeling that the music is being played by a particular band in this universe (named Blanc Noir, but could be changed to Seven Years of Blood because that sounds way cooler).  The band is unorthodox, because it doesn’t really fit into what might be considered the mainstream metal norm.  Unfortunately, the mainstream metal norm often includes bands like Metallica, Megadeath, Iron Maiden, and even Van Halen (which could be considered pop metal).  Even bands like Amon Amarth might fit that more mainstream feel.

Here in North America, we often think of a metal band being something akin to Bon Jovi, Poison, Warrant, Metallica, Megadeath, Van Halen, Helix, Kick Axe, or Guns ‘n Roses.  But metal has a wide diversity.

In Europe, artists are marrying metal with symphonic and operatic sounds and coming up with things like Nightwish, Within Temptation, or even Amaranthe.  In Japan, there’s Baby Metal, combining the bubble gum sounds of pop with gothic death metal.  And then there’s the metal bands which could be considered mainstream but are often forgotten by the mainstream for one reason only.

Those are bands like Living Color, Wicked Wisdom, and even Sevendust, all of which are either fronted by or are completely comprised of African American musicians.  It’s still the same kind of metal, but with a bit of a different twist.

It’s combinations of these that I’ve put together with this fictional metal band in the Heroic League Project.  Three of the band members are costumed crime fighters themselves, two of which are the daughters of former heroes and have taken up their parents’ (or aunt’s) former code names.  The band plays a huge part in this universe, a gothic metal band from Montreal that’s completely bilingual and records many of their tracks and even performs in Quebecois.  Four of the members are women (which is a call back to the 80s glam metal group Vixen).  Two members, brother and sister, are Haitian Canadian (rhythm guitar and lead vocalist). one is Jewish (drummer), one is Metis (lead guitar), and one is Dakota (bassist, who is also blind).  The lead vocalist is male, everyone else is female but performs vocal duties as well as their regular addition to the band.  Two of the members are lovers (lead guitarist and drummer), who also happen to be costumed crime fighters, as is one other (bassist).  All but one (bassist) are from Quebec; the fifth member is from Saskatchewan.  One former member was from Nova Scotia.

So, in my head, as the story unfolds, there’s almost like a backing soundtrack of a modern day metal band that’s performing in my head, almost as though accompanying the story with music to fit.

 

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Morning music


I had three songs going through my head this morning.  So here’s the morning play list.

An odd mix, I know, but these are the things I wake up to.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2014 in Fun, randomness

 

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Blue Jean


While yesterday, and the day before, there was a definite song that greeted me as I woke up, this time there was something akin to radio static.  Like twisting the radio dial up and down the band and only getting snippets of songs or talk.

I heard the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  I heard the Tragically Hip.  I heard Chris Berman play calling the Toronto-Hamilton Labour Day game.  But finally, the dial settled and I finally got a full song.

And the mood for today…

Snapshot_20140904

A little better than yesterday.

ADDED BONUS: Here’s the Red Hot Chili Peppers tune that I heard a little bit of this morning.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2014 in Fun, Life, randomness

 

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This one goes out…


Yesterday, I discussed morning music.  Yesterday I woke up with Arthur’s Theme in my head.  This morning, a song not so soft sounding.

And the present mood I happen to be in as described by a picture of my face.

Snapshot_20140903

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2014 in Fun, Life, randomness

 

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Morning music


I’m sure everyone gets this.  Wake up, there’s a song playing in your head for no reason.

I’ve had this happen a lot.  I especially had this happen a lot when I worked in radio.   Sadly, most of it was hurtin’ country or the “new” country that was being produced at the time (Travis Tritt, Marty Stuart, Garth Brooks, Suzy Boggus, and some Reba McIntyre).  This even happened when I used to have a radio alarm clock.  Sadly, the only station that I could get with any consistency was a Saskatoon country station or the CBC.  In that case, it was again hurtin’ country or something by Vivaldi.

It’s been a few years since I had my radio alarm clock.  I mashed the snooze button too much, and was resigned one fateful day to get a new one.  It just has an annoying, shrill beep.  This is often followed by my smartphone going off (which also has an annoying, shrill beep with an underscore of some techno beat).

But every so often, I’ll wake up with the weirdest music in my head.  I’ll think to myself “why the hell is that in my head”.  This morning was no different.

At one time, it would really bother me, because I know the piece of music, but I just can’t identify it.  Fortunately, I can search for it now.  Like this morning.

I don’t know why, but I had Arthur’s Theme by Christopher Cross.  It was part of the movie soundtrack for Arthur, which came out in the early to mid 1980’s.  The 80’s are usually associated with pop and hair metal bands, but the 80’s also produced a lot of soft rock stuff as well.

There’s no reason why that particular song came to mind this morning.  None at all.  It was most likely filed away in the back of my mind with the vast collection of albums, CDs, cassette tapes, and 45s that would make the CBC’s music collection look like a drop in the water.

In reality, I find it interesting why we have this happen to us.  Why, when we wake up, do we have these long forgotten pieces of music stick with us.  I tried to connect it to the dream I had, but it didn’t fit.  Considering I had a dream about Star Trek (probably because between playing for a couple of hours in Star Trek Online, I also watched a few episodes of Star Trek: Voyager).  So, it’s mostly random chance that the jukebox in my head picked that song to play as I woke up.

These are the things that I sometimes think about early in the morning.

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2014 in Life, randomness

 

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Musical Tastes: The Go Go’s


The Go Gos- We Got the Beat (by <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LD1BWcf8vhE”>Josh Rosa</a>)

The Go Go’s was a band I remember growing up.  It wasn’t until later in life I learned about the behind the scene stories of the drug abuse, alcohol addictions, and sex that the band went through.  How each member began hating each other from what began as five friends who wanted to put together a punk rock band and become rock stars.

The interesting dynamic between the Go Go’s and all male bands is interesting.  News reports of the band’s break up added into the fact that it was an all girl band.  But much of what they went through wasn’t any different than what bands like the Rolling Stones or the Beatles or even Van Halen went through.

Durgs, alcohol, sex, massive parties.  For men, that’s the norm, that’s all a part of the rock star life.  But for an “all girl band”, the Go Go’s had to put on this “girl next door” facade in order to sell records.

Each member was incredibly talented, but in the end, the each turned on each other.  Fortunately, years later, after battling their own inner demons, finding ways of coping, and even beating (for the most part) drug addictions, the Go Go’s still tour and pursue their own solo projects.  Although, there has still been some infighting.  Not nearly as bad as in the past, but Kathy Valentine and the Go Go’s finally went separate ways in 2013 when Valentine sued the other four members for breach of contract.

Belinda Carlisle had her own successful solo career.  Jane Wiedlin also had a moderate solo career, and had a few acting roles including appearances in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Clue and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.  Being a Star Trek geek, Wiedlin created the band froSTed in 1995 (the capital ST paid homage to Star Trek), and currently she has created a comic book called Lady Robotika.

In 2010, the Go Go’s had planned a farewell tour, but this was cancelled when Jane Wiedlin injured her knee and required surgery.  The farewell tour never materialized, as the Go Go’s continue to tour to this day.

On a more personal note, the Go Go’s have always been a band which has followed me and my own musical tastes for years.  Even working at country stations, I’d have the Go Go’s to fall back on when I was inundated by George Strait, Travis Tritt, Alabama, and Garth Brooks.  From there, I started finding other similar bands like Elastica.  The Go Go’s have been a big part of the writing process for some of the work I’ve done, especially in what would eventually become The Heroic League Project.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2014 in Fun, randomness

 

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Music, music, music


This was originally posted to my tumblr blog, and I thought I’d post it here as well.

Music is something that is pretty heavily involved in my life.  Had I actually kept up with my piano lessons when I was much, much younger, it might have an even bigger influence.  Though, I’ll admit, I’m not dead, it’s not like I can’t go out, pick up a guitar from a music shop, get some lessons and teach myself how to play (with enough motivation, and of course, extra cash).  But yeah, music’s been around my life for years and I often think about music whenever I’m writing.  Music is there when I’m playing video games.  It’s there in the background when I read.  I was even there when I worked in broadcasting as a news anchor.

My mother is a professionally trained pianist and vocalist.  She has her ARCT in voice and piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.  If she had wanted to, she probably could have been with a large music company, performing operatic pieces or accompanying other professional singers.  But she didn’t, because she was happy doing what she did.  A small town piano teacher, who managed to turn heads on Sunday in church and eventually became the choir director for the Conquest United Church.

My tastes in music are decidedly different than my mother’s (though, there is some crossing, such as we both like Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Loreena McKennit, and even Enya).  I don’t think I’ll ever hear my mom ever say “can you play that CD you have, the black album, you know, the one from Metallica”.  If that ever happens, then I’ve definitely stepped into an alternate universe.

I listen to music when I write, and it has as of late, had a lot of twang to it.  But there’s a lot of other bits of music that goes with it.  Coming up with the descriptions of Shani and Wren, there’s been bits of O De’min Kwe Sisters, some Sierra Noble, and even some Natalie MacMaster.  For Pania, there’s lots of Natalie MacMaster, Loreena McKennit, Enya, and even the Corrs.  For Abisayo, there was a lot of the old Gospel songs that were used during the Civil War, plus a lot of traditional Yoruba music (I’m not familiar with it, as I’ve just started listening to many different artists, so I can’t rattle off names as easily as I can with other musical pieces).

One thing I’ve found with each of those pieces of music, however, there’s a lot of percussion, even in the Maritime fiddle, Celtic music, Mohawk, Metis, Yoruba and even in the spirituals.  They actually compliment each other very well.

It’d be cool if those pieces could be mixed in some way; a Metis fiddle player with a Cape Breton piano player, along with First Nations drums and Yoruba vocalists.

That was random, but music just got me thinking of that.

ADDITION: Got a message from failedslacker who said:

Have you ever listened to afro celt soundsystem? It’s a west african/celtic blend and they add electronica into their later albums.

I listened, very cool stuff indeed.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2014 in Life, randomness

 

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It’s still being written


I haven’t posted anything regarding the rewrite to Black Mask & Pale Rider, because it’s a real slow process and I want to get this one right.  But, I thought I’d go into the way back machine and bring back a couple of things that really helped inspire the first part of the original writing.

Believe it or not, this song (and the video) helped begin The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider, the saga of two elven women who traveled from the Union to the Confederacy and back again.

The story telling technique of some country and western songs, such as some of the songs of Big & Rich, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, Reba McIntyre, Dolly Parton, Juice Newton and others, helped tell the story of Shani and Pania as they met up just outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Between Raisin’ Hell and Amazin’ Grace played such a role that the first series of the stories was called Between Raisin’ Hell and Amazin’ Grace. It helped set the tone of a pair of gunslingers who were also adept at magic (as Pania is a bard and sorceress).  I even wanted to create a character that was a drunk preacher that followed Shani and Pania around (I might still do that).

In an odd mix, Big & Rich and Nightwish help mould the tales of the elven gunfighters. And they still help at that, as I continue the major rewrite, hoping to add some representation and historical fact (most gunslingers in the mid 1800s were black or Native American).

This is the second biggest influence for the Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider. You might ask, how does a symphonic metal song by a Finnish metal band help inspire a western style book that takes place in the United States. Because the main characters are elves, and Wishmaster, if you listen to the lyrics, speak about the great fantasy lore of the 20th Century.

That being the Dragonlance novels:

“I’ll be with you soon, my Shalafi”

Which anyone who read the Dragonlance series would know, means master/teacher in elven.  It also is said to be another name for Raistlin.  It also mentions The Inn of Last Home, as in the lyric:

A maiden elf calling with her cunning song
“Meet me at the Inn of Last Home”
Heartborne will find the way

The Inn of Last Home is known in the Forgotten Realms series and within the handbooks and manuals for D&D.

There’s also hints of Lord of the Rings as in the first few lyrics of the song:

Elbereth
Lorien
A dreamy-eye child staring into night
On a journey to storyteller’s mind

Elbereth is a Valar, or a god in Middle Earth mythology. And Lorien is a magical forest of the elves of Middle Earth.
So yes, a country western song and a symphonic metal song by a Finnish band can have a great deal of inspiration in a western fantasy novel.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2014 in Black Mask and Pale Rider, Writing

 

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A trip down memory lane


In June of 1998 was the last foray into that magical world of radio broadcasting for me.  My last time on the air was at Power 99 FM in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.  It all began 11 years earlier, at CJAR in The Pas, Manitoba.

Throughout the course of that time, I had some major ups and downs.  I got laid a lot, forced to grow up a lot, did some really stupid things.  No wonder the last nine years in Outlook were like a dream vacation.  However, over the course of that time period I did have some good times.

A lot of that can be attributed to the music that surrounded me.  For instance, when I worked in Rosetown, Saskatchewan at CJYM, I listened to a lot of the newer stuff that came out.  Stuff like Hootie and the Blowfish, Matchbox 20, Alanis Morrisette, and the Goo Goo Dolls.

Some of those songs may sound a tad dated (they are, really they are), but the also consisted of happy memories that I had from my radio days.  Not everything was rock and roll, mind you (though, I’m not sure if you could say that Hootie and the Blowfish was traditional rock and roll).  There was bouts with country music as well.

CJVR in Melfort, Saskatchewan, CKDM in Dauphin, Manitoba and CJGX in Yorkton, Saskatchewan were all turns at country music stations.  CJVR was the only place where I was a news announcer, not an on air announcer.  Each of those stations played heavy amounts of country music, though in Yorkton they also played some adult contemporary, and they had a rock set in the overnight on CKDM.  Yorkton was also the place where they had the infamous Saturday Night Get Together.  An evening of old time country and good old Ukrainian music.  And me, a Scottish/German prairie boy from the western side of Saskatchewan had no clue what a seven step even was.

I mentioned I got laid a lot, and it’s true.  In about four instances it was at the station while the overnight satellite feed kicked in.  Once while Garth Brooks, Ain’t Goin’ Down ‘Til The Sun Comes Up was playing.

I learned a lot, grew a lot, had some fun, and met some really great people.  I met Richie Hall from the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  I got to interview Roy Romanow when he was still Premier of Saskatchewan.  I met George Fox before he became a well known country singer in Canada.  From politicians to sports figures to musical acts, I did meet a lot of people.

It was sixteen years ago, but it was an enjoyable time for me.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2014 in Life, randomness

 

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