Music Monday: “Everything Is Awesome” By Tegan And Sara (Featuring The Lonely Island)

This song was not what I was expecting to post earlier last week, and maybe not the best choice for a dreary Monday in Winnipeg featuring the return of goddamned snow, but as the week went on, I found myself getting more and more excited about a family get together involving some childhood Lego…so you can see how we ended up here.

Embarrassing as it may be to admit, the Lego movie really worked on me. It worked on several levels. Certainly the nostalgia factor was at play, Lego was one of my favourite childhood toys. My old Lego (especially my Legoland Space sets) is the only toy I regret not still having in my possession.

How well did the Lego movie work on me? On the day the movie released on DVD, I ran out and bought some Lego to play with while I watched it again.

I love that there are Lego versions of movie trailers. I love that there is Lego for whatever my nerdy obsession might be (Star Wars, Marvel Comics, Ghostbusters…everything gets the Lego treatment these days). I love that there are tons of Lego videos floating around on Youtube. I wish I had the patience (and enough Lego, to make one myself).

There has been some talk (instigated mostly by me) of getting Wendy and her sister to divvy up their childhood Lego. I joked that I should be entitled to a third of it, no such luck. Anyway, I got to sit in while the two of them dumped this box out on the floor in order to begin the division of New Bricksburg.

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It didn’t look like that much, heaped in this box–until we dumped it out and started to separate the pieces.

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Everybody sorted into their own bins by colour and weirdness.

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Even the old catalogue hit me right in the nostalgia feels. I could point out exactly which sets I’d had. Damn, I miss Legoland Space. Have I mentioned that I miss Legoland Space?

SPACESHIP!

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Which brings us to the real point of the post: this week’s earworm!

Everything is Awesome might not be my favourite song, but it is fun and catchy, and I was definitely caught humming it to myself a time or two, as anticipation grew for Lego night. So this was what was stuck in my head. How about you?

Build high!

Write on!

 

Flick Attack Friday: Tango & Cash!

Every now and again, I end up with no pressing deadlines and the house to myself, and even more rarely, those two things coincide on a Friday. I’ve been trying to decide all day which “classic” action movie I would rewatch tonight to scratch the nostalgia itch, so I posed the question in a Twitter/Facebook poll.

The options:

  • The Last Boy Scout
  • Harley Davidson & the Marlboro Man
  • Tango & Cash

Tango & Cash won in a landslide. A distant second was all three movies. There was one write-in vote for Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

So Tango & Cash it is. Join me on the twitters tonight, 7:30pm Central to love and mock. If we have fun maybe this will become a more regular thing.

Music Monday: “Vagabond” By Wolfmother

Australia’s sent a lot of music my way, AC/DC, Jet, and somewhat more recently, Wolfmother.

I got into Wolfmother in a round about way because of Guitar Hero. I don’t play a lot of video games, but after a long day of Dungeons and Dragons, the gaming group guilted me into giving Guitar Hero a try, with the promise that we’d all look like idiots, not just me.

Grimace Musically

Bloom County has a pretty good artistic rendition of how that might’ve looked…

Wolfmother’s song “Woman” was the first one I remember really nailing, and it was fun to play (and it gave me a chance to grimace musically) even if I was pressing buttons instead of strumming chords.

Anyway, I love Wolfmother. They are fucking fun. They sing songs about wizards and witches, thieves, and jokers, dimensions, and look at the cover to their debut:

wolfmother cover

This is Frank Frazetta’s piece “The Sea Witch”. I love how she is totally in control, and dominating the frame. You just know she is totally trashing an armada all on her lonesome. Frazetta’s art was also a staple of all those Conan the Barbarian books I checked out of the library as a kid, and giving their album an immediate fantasy feel was a great way for Wolfmother to convince me to pick it up.

Check out singer/guitarist Andrew Stockdale’s hair. Seriously, how much fun could be hiding in there? Lots.

wolfmother

The last track on the international version of the album, “Vagabond”, was on my mind over the weekend because I was travelling. It was Ad Astra weekend in Toronto, which is fast becoming one of my favourite Canadian SF&F conventions. This was the second year I’ve gone, and I’m definitely going back (but more on that later).

I’ve got a good day job, and I love living in Winnipeg, and I miss Manitoba friends and family while I’m gone, but when I’m on the road, and pursuing the writing dream, and doing the writing work, I feel incredibly free.

On that note, the notable lyrics:

You don’t need to know what I do all day,
It’s as much as I know watch it waste away,
Cause I’ll tell you everything about living free,

Live free.

Write on.

Music Monday: “I Am The Resurrection (Jon Carter’s Mix)” By The Stone Roses

Easter weekend has never meant much to me beyond candy and chocolate. But it’s always nice to have a long weekend and I enjoyed spending this one with my family, especially since a growing list of complications had meant I hadn’t seen them since Christmas (and it almost didn’t happen again, as my car battery was dead when I went out to start the car on Saturday. Thankfully, I have a good neighbour who was home to give me a boost and get me on my way).

There were a lot of Easter posts, and Easter jokes on my Facebook wall over the weekend. None of this has anything to do with music though! While I was thinking about what I’d been listening to with great frequency over the past week, and with apologies for one more bad joke added to the pile:

(The Al Jourgensen remix of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Reverence” nearly made the cut.)

Remixes and cover songs. I love them, except for covers of Rolling Stones songs (which, by and large, most of them I wish I’d never heard. The only ones I’ve enjoyed tend to be sung by women. But that’s another blog).

I used to make tons of mix-tapes, and then mix CDs for myself and others, and a good cover was always a great way to draw someone into a mix that they didn’t think they’d like. The familiar spun out in a fresh way that’s more palatable to the potential listener.

When I moved to Winnipeg for university, a lot of the friends I made in second year were really into 90s Brit Pop (you know who are). I wasn’t. It took me a long time to form any opinion on The Stone Roses, Oasis, Blur, The Charlatans, or Suede, and many many more. (Although, I felt I was one of the few folks who really enjoyed The Stone Roses second album–Second Coming. Probably because it didn’t sound like the rest of the Brit Pop I’d been exposed to. It had a 70s rock-riff vibe.) They were all fun to dance to, but I never went out of my way to listen to them on my own.

Anyway, I stumbled across this remix and I wasn’t disappointed. It was one of those cases where a remix made me go back and appreciate the original more.

Lyrics that count:

Down, down, you bring me down

I hear you knocking down my door

and I can’t sleep at night

Your face it has no place

No room inside my house

I need to be alone.

The above are actually from the opening of the original, as the remix only uses “Down, down, you bring me down” but I tend to finish the verse in my head these days anyway. So what’s your favourite remix or cover song, music fans?

Write on!

 

April Goals

March has come and gone (and good riddance, I say. This was the second year in a row that I’ve spent most of the month sick), so how’d I do with my monthly goals?

  • Reread one of my novel WiPs to refamiliarize myself with a work that I’ve been mostly ignoring since the summer.
  • Finish a comic script I’ve been noodling on.
  • Finish drafting that novella I’ve been noodling on.

Not bad. Could’ve been better, but I didn’t count on getting a cold/flu that lingered for over two weeks. I did complete another draft on that comic script, but it still doesn’t feel ready to send away.

The novella was the first thing to get finished in the month, and I’m pretty sure I still want to add a few scenes to it, and flesh some things out, but I like the characters and the weird little made up city they’re running around in. This was the first time I’ve tried writing a novella, but the drafting was relatively painless. It was also one of my more heavily outlined projects to date. Possibly why the drafting went so well. Not enough data points yet to decide whether I want to move away from pantsing a story to outlining first.

I only read most of that novel WiP. I reread all of the chapters I had considered mostly “locked in”, revisited the outline, and read the next fifty or so pages of rough drafts, to get a feel for where I’d left off, and where I was going. I did manage to lock in one more chapter and do another draft on the next one, which I hadn’t been expecting to get to. I feel pretty good about this book, so I’m excited to get back to it.

Which brings me to my April goals (no foolin’):

  • Work on my other WiP
  • Revise and submit one of my previously drafted short stories.
  • Get rolling on keeping the rest of my short fiction on submission again (FINALLY)
  • Finish my comic script

Write on!

 

Music Monday: “Hex” By Neko Case

I love music, even if I’m terrible at playing instruments (and the less said about the one time I went to karaoke, the better). I write to music. I make soundtracks for my stories. I almost always have music on somewhere in the background. I think I’m going to kick off a new–hopefully regular–post here, where I talk a bit about whatever my latest earworm is.

So here’s my first kick at the can: Neko Case’s Hex.

It’s very likely that you’ll see a lot of Neko Case turning up on Mondays; I love pretty much everything Neko Case has released. Hex is one of those songs that when my randomizer spins it out, I end up playing over and over several times. There’s been more than a few bus rides to work where this is the only song I’ve listened to. It had been a while since it turned up, but it did yesterday, and now its all I want to listen to.

Hex elbowed its way onto my soundtrack for Too Far Gone. It wasn’t there during the first draft, but I definitely feel that the frequency I was listening to it while I was revising influenced the tone of the story.

The bit of the song that always sticks with me:

When the stars in the sky begin to fade
Do you tell yourself, don’t be afraid
It’s just the night
That’s dying

Love it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go hit play, one more time.

Write on!

Behind the Scenes of The Last Good Look

I’ve liked crime fiction almost as long as I’ve liked fantasy. So I’m really chuffed that my story “The Last Good Look” was selected to be included in The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir.

New Canadian Noir Cover

One of my writing mentors was fellow Ravenstone author, Michael Van Rooy, who passed away far too soon. You should do yourself a favour and check out his Monty Haaviko crime novels (An Ordinary Decent Criminal, Your Friendly Neighbourhood Criminal, A Criminal to Remember) they are all great reads.

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(Photo Credit: Janek Lowe for the Winnipeg Free Press)

Michael has always been a huge inspiration to me, but was especially when it came to “The Last Good Look”.

Earlier in my writing career I was selected to be the Emerging Writer-in-Residence at the now sadly defunct Aqua Books. Michael had also been one of the Writers-in-Residence there. While I was writing in my office, which had been his office, and trying to finish up the as-yet-unsold Tombstone Blues, I had an idea for a rough-and-tumble troll tough guy.

And so Neelak (Neal to his friends) Trollborn, Wizard of Runes was born. I wrote the first four pages of his story and before long, Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues had sold to Ravenstone, and so I had to set Neal aside.

But I never forgot him.

When Claude Lalumière and David Nickle put out the call for submissions I was so excited to have the reason to figure out the rest of Neal’s debut story. He surprised me a lot, Neal did.

Every good noir also needs its femme fatale. Neal found his in one of my coworkers at the time: artist, photographer, and model, Holly Halftone.

I’ve rarely so blatently stolen someone’s appearance, so I asked Holly if she was okay being written into the story and thankfully she said yes. I had used “Halftone” as a temporary name in the text while I was drafting, thinking I’d eventually come up with something I liked better, but nothing else worked as well, and so Holly got to be a double inspiration on that particular dangerous lady.

Holly Halftone by Alexa Lachuta photography

(Photo Credit: Alexa Lachuta)

Pretty stoked to have this one in print. I hope you enjoy it.

Fellow New Canadian Noir contributor, Corey Redekop, interviewed Keith Cadieux and I about our stories (as well as a bunch of the other authors) over on his blog.

It’s still a long way off, but the Manitoba boys in the anthology, me, Keith and Corey will be doing readings at McNally Robinson Booksellers May 27th. I hope I’ll see you there.

Write on!