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September 17th, 2004

CDs for the day:

Today marks the end of the current stack I have with me. The last thing I have to listen to is WOODSTOCK – Music from the original soundtrack and more – a two CD set.

Let me start by saying, I’m not a hippy. I was always interested in the movement, but I was born slightly too late to have been really involved in it and hit high school right in the midst of the Rock ‘n’ Roll vs. Disco battles. I grew up with the music of Woodstock without the group-groping peace sign totin’ reality of it. Sure, I remember Vietnam, and in fact joined the military in time to get the benefit of the GI Bill from that era. I lost the uncle I was named after – Neil – to that war. He lived through all the fighting and was hitchhiking home when he caught a ride with a drunk driver who killed him in an accident.

I remember Nixon, and Watergate, and I remember shaking Ronald Reagan’s hand at Eastern Illinois University in the late 70s when they called him Ray Gun in the same week I voted in my high school election at Charleston High School, Charleston Illinois, for Gus Hall – the communist candidate, who won by a landslide. No one voted for him because they wanted a communist president – we voted him in because he was the only presidential candidate with nothing better to do than speak at our high school (lol).

Anyway, after all that digression – I grew up with the music of Woodstock, and there were some incredible musicians involved. One such was Alvin Lee of 10 Years after. The Who, Arlo, CSN&Y – Country Joe & the Fish, so many songs I know as well as I know my name. I can’t listen to a CD like Woodstock very often because most of the material has been played until it enters the realm of monotony and is lost forever, but every now and then I pull it out – and I’m glad to hear it again. We learn little from our mistakes, of course. For instance, think on the war in IRAQ and repeat after me…

“One, Two, Three, What are we fightin’ for?” -- it makes you wonder.

Today I will finish reading “The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini”. An amazing man. Now, if you were to just read the book without going further, you might find him arrogant, pompous, not very bright in his public affairs, and incredibly violent. His life is a long string of winning and losing the favor of Emperors, Popes, Kings and Dukes through his high self-opinion and his temper. He flew into many tempers that ended with him hurting, maiming, or killing someone. He was locked in prison and cheated at all turns. Still, he managed to work. He boasted that what he was producing was pretty much the best game in town (or any town). I read most of the book before I went to remind myself (by searching his name on the web) of just how true his words were. My god was he good. His bronze statue of Perseus in Florence is nothing short of magnificent, and is well beyond the scope of size and art that had been accomplished in bronze at that point in time. There are few sculptors, even in Florence, where great masters seem to be a product of something in the water, who could match him on their best day. I guess he was a pretty good example of “If it’s true, it ain’t bragging.”

Anyway – the text is a bit tedious, but well worth the read, I think. I won’t be sorry to be done with it though and on to something more modern. I also think there are some intrigues along the way that would make great movie material. As an example, the period of time where he worked on the Perseus statue, under the patronage of the Duke and Duchess of Florence, would be great. There is lying, cheating, intrigue, and man I can SEE the scenes of the actual casting of the bronze – the roof of the building caught fire from the heat of the furnaces, the bronze caked and congealed and he had to build the fire still higher – all the time storms raging outside and wind and rain threatening the heat of his fires, Benvenuto throwing his pewter dinnerware into the mix and stirring like a madman to make it work --- and then the magnificence of the outcome. I wish I had more time on my hands (sigh). It’s a script worthy of someone’s time, for sure.

I got this quote today in my e-mail from Creative Screenwriting – an on-line magazine I highly recommend to anyone interested in film and scripting.

"Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in a human situation."
- Graham Greene

Another was:

"If you want to understand drama and conflict, go watch it. Talk to someone who's a terrifying person. The streets are a big psychology classroom."
– David Ayer

The latter I find particularly notable. My old buddy, Wayne Allen Sallee, used to correspond regularly with serial killers in prison. He was never really friendly with them, nor did he support them in any way, but he was curious. Wayne wrote some of the most brutally honest and painful prose I’ve ever read back in the early 90s…and continues to write, though much more slowly due to his Cerebral Palsy and a number of accidents he has since suffered. Typing is difficult for him – and often what he published was rough-edged and raw because revision was as painful as the initial creation. Modern technology has helped a little, and I hope we’ll hear a lot more from Wayne.

I wrote a story dedicated to him titled “Wayne’s World,” in which there is a man in a clown suit watching and waiting outside while John Wayne Gacey is about to be put to death. This man has created a house exactly like Gacey’s, using the floor plans at city hall. He has joined all the same local civic leagues, does the same work, and has assumed the clown disguise, all in the hope that he can step into Gacey’s life the second the man dies. The concept by which my character lives is that we all live in tiny, totally separate universes, where we are God. The transcendence of this, then, would be to become sovereign in the world of another.

I wrote that story under the same conditions as I wrote my very well put together and apparently absolutely to be ignored/forgotten by the world series of poems, “Cities of Light and Darkness,” which is still available. Those conditions, as some of you will recall, were myself on a US Navy ship with a shattered elbow, being told it was bruised, subsisting on coffee, 800mg Motrin tablets, and typing with my elbow on a hot water bottle.

That same cruise – with the shattered elbow – I climbed down the side of the ship and went on liberty in France one final time. During that trip I tried something I still blame on docbrite -- I tried Chartreuse – two colors of it. One of them tasted (to me) like the smell of linament. I had to wash it all down with much beer and assorted other liquors and had great difficulty one-arming it back onto the ship. What is good, then, for vampire kids is not necessarily good for the Davester. I do NOT recommend Chartreuse.

Anyway…the point (yeah, yeah, there IS a point) is that I agree with the above quote – the more powerful the personalities and eccentricities of the people you are willing to associate with, at least occasionally, the more you gain for your art. No amount of imagination can entirely make up for the lessons of experience.

Onward…grumbling all the way as for some reason disk 2 of Woodstock is missing (sigh).

Ran 2 miles at lunch again, paced at 9:03 per mile. Not great, but not bad for a tired old balding guy. Walked the second two miles with a commander here who wants to run very badly, and has been running with us from the start, but who has a problem with one foot – something about a tendon (I think) that runs down the back of the leg and the bottom of the foot. If it doesn’t stretch properly, it rubs on the bone. He was in quite a lot of pain, and I doubt he should even be WALKING two miles on that foot, but I went along, so the total output was four miles, but only two at pace.

ATTENTION MUSICALLY INCLINED READERS -- particularly those who read the entire tale of Mephistopheles Doufis and his Olympic dream. Between now and the Winter Olympics I’m going to work on the next story, which will be serialized as well, and I’m going to put up a site for ROZINIA – complete with photos and (if I can get someone to compose and record one) the National Anthem of Rozinia (complete with the chorus of the Sultan’s wives, and the bleating of the donkey). I am also thinking about designing some shirts / etc. with the Rozinian colors…stay tuned (lol).

The Cleansing is advancing slowly this evening, having reached page 74. I expect to get back to it after I post this and work through at least a few more pages. Weekends don’t seem very productive for me these days on the writing front, and I want this proposal done as early next week as possible so I can polish it and work on the synopsis.

White Wolf royalty check arrived today – a paltry 99 bucks, but hey, it’s 99 bucks. Many stories still out without comment from editors…maybe over the weekend.

Anyway, that’s MORE than enough for one day…

Until next time,

From the Shadeaux,

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