Wednesday, November 30, 2011

No More NaNoRiMo

Today is the official last day of the November challenge NaNoRiMo or, National Novel Writing Month, in which  you attempt to write a 50,000 word novel. I guess they're having a big hoo-dang at the Writer's Place tonight to celebrate.

So how did I do? Not too awful bad. I got up to 33,000 and some words. Driving to Pennsylvania and back for Thanksgiving certainly put a cramp in my style. I was not so devoted to my NaNoRiMo project that I was willing to sequester myself in the bedroom and have people shove me turkey and dressing through a slot in the door.

So, after 30 days, do I have anything resembling a novel? Not so much. What I have now are a bunch of scraps of writing that are akin to cloth pieces scattered all over the floor that someone with a lot of patience and imagination might be able to sew together into one big quilt. Someone who could force some kind of pattern and design onto the thing. But I did get a lot of good ideas, that I'm eager to exploit.

I'm not so sure I want to write a novel anyway. I'm envisioning more a collection of stories--related, with re-occurring characters. So that's where I'm going to take this project next.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Big Apples

Several weeks ago, Roger brought home some really big apples from the Farmer's Market. Normally I prefer the smaller ones. He explained:  "The orchard lady said that back when everything was still growing they had a big wind that blew a lot of the apples off the tree. As a result, all the remaining apples get bigger to compensate."

Well, I just thought that was fascinating. Does this mean that if I knocked all but one of the apples off the tree that apple would grow into a ginormo monster apple? The plant world is so badass.

It is November 17th, past the halfway point of the Nanorimo challenge, whereby you write a 50,000 novel during the month of November. So far I have a little over 25,000 words, so I'm a little behind.

For most of these 25,000 words, I've been wandering in the desert, eating sand for nourishment and bashing open prickly pears with the bones of dead animals, in order to squeeze out enough drops of moisture to stay technically alive. There have been occasional shimmers of hope off in the distance, causing me to throw down the bones and stagger desperately towards the oasis of flowing ideas and sweet, juicy stories, but when I got up close, they always turned out to be a mirage. But last night I got a plot idea that was akin to stumbling upon a whole, roaring river. Or so it seems. It will take things in a new direction anyway. I don't want to begin to talk about it, for fear I'll jinx it. But the next 5,000 words should be interesting    

Monday, November 7, 2011

They Might Be Giants. Or Maybe Just Windmills.

They Might Be Giants. Giants in my musical heart, anyway. Their concert Wednesday night was an electro-sea of double-good energy. The audience felt it, and sent the energy back in prototonic waves. A young guy to my left, about 20, was pogo-ing excitedly, singing all the words. People on all sides of me were singing all the words, their heads bobbing. The dial was set on Happy.  

I thought my feet were going to be killing me, because this was at the Beaumont in Westport --so just a big open floor in front of the stage, no chairs or any place to lean. We basically stood in the same spot for three hours. But it's amazing what music can do. Once the band came on, I forgot about my feet and legs, except for when I wanted to move them about in joyous unison with the beat. Yeah!!!

It's been too long....I had forgotten....forgotten how good it feels to be among the young, dancing to live rock music. It was like getting an infusion of powerful youth juju. There were people our age, but the crowd was mostly young and younger, such as the 20ish guy next to us who bounced away the evening. And that is what I love about rock concerts---the people in the audience who are unbridled in their enthusiasm.

We saw Roger Daltrey in concert a few weeks ago. My boss had tickets but something came up and she couldn't go, so she gave them to us. Daltrey did all the songs from Tommy, and then followed them up with some Who classics like "Miles and Miles" and "The Kids are Alright." This was in a much bigger theater, but the fans still made their love known across the vastness.There was a guy in the very front row, front and center, who pumped his fist and played air drums and air guitar, and every so often he turned to face the rest of the audience as if to say, "Isn't this the most awesomest thing ever?!" At one point Roger Daltrey had just finished singing, "Tommy can you hear me?" and even though we were way up in the balcony, someone behind us yelled out, "ROGER CAN YOU HEAR ME?!" I loved that.

At the TMBG concert, we were really close to the stage, and John Linnell was set up with his keyboard near the edge of the stage, which made the energy exchange between the band and the audience seem more immediate. I felt that these good vibrations flowing around me much surely be giving years back to me, and I decided that this would be my path to longevity--coming to see fun, upbeat rock bands in small clubs like this.

John Linnell and John Flansburgh started They Might Be Giants in 1982 and they themselves were showing a little wear --we were close enough I could see the bags under Linnell's eyes and the gray stubble on his chin----but their material was as fresh and creative ever. Linnell grabbed an accordian or bass clarinet when the usual mix of keyboard and guitar just wasn't enough, and both guys surprised the audience with a loopy routine they performed with two sock puppets, who went on a psychedelic journey and then sang a song called "Spoiler Alert" off the new CD.  Flansburgh used a flash light to divide the crowd into "People" and "Apes" and made us chant our identity to prove our domination over the other. The People (our group) won.

Perhaps it was this heady mix of great music and whimsy that inspired the bouncing guy next to us to suddenly yell, "I want to have your babies!" Yeah, that's what I love about rock concerts.

!  Name-dropping footnote:  !

Roger knew the drummer in the band. When he heard the guy's name, he realized he had known him in Miami. The drummer was handing out TMBG stickers to the audience after the show, so we went up and Roger said hi and gave the guy his name, and the guy was like "Roger?!! Great to see you , man. Wow, you haven't changed!"

Roger's brother-in-law from his sister's first marriage, David Cowles, is a graphic artist and created the video for TMBG's song "Mesopotamians."

Oh yes, we know people. Or at least I know people who know people.

John Flansburgh and John Linnell not quite so young but still qetting their quirk on.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Before The Cold Front Comes In

"It's 1:00 in the morning. What's that loud ripping sound outside?"

"Oh, that's just Simone taping up her car. She's gotta cover that broken window with plastic, you know, before the cold front comes in and brings a bunch of rain with it. And nothing holds a trash bag in place better than big strips of duct tape."

I was indeed outside at 1:00 this morning, covering up the de-electrified window of my 94 Corolla with a most sightly arrangement of plastic and tape. A display that surely warms our neighbors hearts. Just getting the old gal ready for winter, now that it's breathing down our necks. But when I stepped outside a little after midnight, it was still incredibly warm for a November night. I decided to take my old car with the broken electric window out for a spin. Since I bought my new Civic she barely gets out, and once it turns really cold it's going to be hard to talk myself into riding around wth the window stuck in the down position, just so she can stretch her legs.

So I hopped in and off we went. It was a peaceful night in suburbia. Mine was the only car on the quiet residential street, and I easily rolled up and down Lamar a few times, through street lights that turned green for me. A couple of houses still had their orange Halloween lights on, just like us. Because my window was open to the night, and because I could drive as freely and casually as I pleased, the sole moving figure on the deserted street, I felt a fleeting sense of possession of the yards and houses, demure against the shadows. Goodbye to this lovely warm autumn, to gold leaves and golden days as mild as summer. We knew it couldn't last.