Am I boring you yet? Yeah, well, it’s the holiday season. I have a zillion things to do, as I am sure you do as well. So, if nobody reads these…no worries.
Yay! A series…of blog posts…about why I write and a snapshot of the journey that brought me to this point
I still get asked that question. “Why would you want to write for a living?” Being a writer is not a conventional career choice. It is heavy with uncertainty. Also, everything you write is up for criticism. There will be people who think you are the best thing since sliced bread, and those who state rather emphatically (and repeatedly) that you should never put pen to paper again (or fingers to keyboard such as it is).
Christmas Music is one of my guilty pleasures. So, on this Thanksgiving Eve, I am going to break the seal a day early–I am not trying to minimize the wonderful holiday that is Thanksgiving, but all the radio stations will start in tomorrow, so I just wanted to share this.
Yep, it’s that time again. This is the time of year when lists start coming out of the woodwork. I realize that the over-commercialization of the holiday season has ruined Christmas Music for many. And there are those who want to gouge their ears out when they hear that first Christmas song before the Halloween pumpkins have even been tossed out. Personally, I can’t wait for November 1st, so I can crank up my Spotify “The Cool Christmas Collection” playlist. (You can search for it under that title and become a follower so that the playlist is available to you.)
I know there are some out there who HATE Christmas music. I am just the opposite…I can listen to it in July and it had nothing to do with the holiday…I just dig the music. Personally, Christmas was never a favorite season of mine when I was young for personal reasons that would just be a downer to read, so we will skip it. Yet, the music has always really done it for me. And now there is just some VERY COOL stuff. I know these lists are subjective…so share yours.
I had to really think it over to narrow down MY top 10. (And most if not all of the can be found on my Spotify playlist “The Cool Christmas Collection”.) Here they are in no order, but if forced to pick a favorite…it would be Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses. I seriously never tire of that song.
But before I get to the list, just can’t forget this song that was perhaps one of the largest gathering of Pop Stars who wanted to make a difference:
#9 Dino! The man was awesome!
#8 Bing & Bowie…I actually watched this special that spawned this classic…
#7 This was hard to put at 7..I like it WAY more…but it gets tough from here for me.
#6 I never miss this…and will NEVER grow tired of this classic.
#5 Okay, I cheated here…I know it is three songs, but it is MY list.
#4 Today’s female pop tarts got nothing on the original Cat Woman!
#3 Karen Carpenter was my FIRST crush!
#2 I am a sucker for the instrumentals…
#1 The guitar work simply blows me away and the power behind this piece is amazing!
Now…I have to include a couple of “honorable mentions” just because they are fun.
Yeah. This has always been known as the “cold and flu season” by the makers of such remedies. I’m calling this, Holiday Sickness 2017. Not that I plan on making this an annual event, but I want to be clear…sick is not a thing I do. I have friends that are always battling illnesses, and like the mindless git I can sometimes be, I would always see those comments and just think, “Just power through it.” That was easy to say just a short time ago. Then…I got pneumonia. Can’t say I’ve ever dealt with anything so debilitating before. Sure, I’ve had kidney stones. But those are more about pain management. This has been an entire different monster.
I tried to ignore it and do what I always do when something hits, but this whole Holiday Sickness 2017 situation has knocked me to my knees. Here are some of the reasons I don’t have time to be sick right now…first EVER Thanksgiving with my sons, organizing the First Ever Estacada Food Bank Music Crawl., wrapping up multiple audio book jobs, trying to finish DEAD: Suffer the Children (Book 3 of the New DEAD series) to have it ready for Christmas.
I’ve even been receptive to what I call “Snake Oil” medicine. I had a suggestion for a poultice including ginger, honey, olive oil and a few other things in a packet that you attach to your chest to break up the congestion. Imagine my amazement when it actually worked. So, as I battle Holiday Sickness (not to be confused with being SICK of the holidays…which I am eager for this year), I will do my best to balance getting things done, to recovering.
Also, with the holidays now upon us, I will be bringing out some classic posts to share with you for the holidays as I will be doing family events (as I am sure many of you will). It will be a mix of some of the multiple-part series that I have shared and my Christmas Zombie “classic” titled Yes, Rindy, There is a Santa Clause.
Okay, it is a slow snowball rolling, but it is gaining speed and mass. Some of you might know that I am putting together a little music/food drive event in Estacada. To that extent, let me proudly announce the First Ever (Annual?) Estacada Music Crawl. The beauty of this little town I call home is that it is small. While it does have a “downtown” with a main strip, that is really all there is to it, and traffic is non-existent. That allows me to bring in a couple of local establishments to host the event’s music acts. Barrels will be out to gather up your donations for the Estacada Area Food Bank.
So, this year, the First Ever Estacada Music Crawl will be featuring (so far) one half of Poison’us, Will Barnes and Andrew Losli along with members of RPM are performing as The Food Bank Band in The Mason Jar. And in Fearless Brewery, will be Suburban Legend. That said, I would love to snag a wandering minstrel. A solo acoustic guitarist would be ideal. Anybody interested?
So, mark your calendar. December 9th. 1-2:30PM. Downtown Estacada. Bring food.
The Reason: Estacada is a rural town outside of Portland. As a part of Clackamas County, it sits at the end of the bus line. The local Estacada Food Bank serves not just the people of Estacada, but also a few of the small satellite communities as well. This time of year is when the coffers are stretched thinnest. Donating a few items will go a long way in helping people who are struggling. I hope to see you there.
I’m talking to you.
Seriously. If you know any aspiring film students..or maybe YOU ARE an aspiring filmmaker…or maybe you know somebody who wants to shoot a web series? Seriously. Do you? Then you may want to send them here to read this post.
This will be the last swing of the bat for me on this particular topic when it comes to the setup. And it will be short and sweet. You know the drill.
December 9th. Estacada, Oregon. What I need are a few of the musicians to come out for a couple of hours and volunteer your talent. I am working with a few of the local businesses to set you up for an acoustic set while we try to bring people in and donate food for the Estacada Food Bank.
In addition, I will need a couple of people to join me in manning the collection bins. It is a one day food blitz. I would like to solidify it this week and start pushing the hype with hard info.
I am keeping it short because I just want to get a few people wrangled into this. I have spoken with a few of you directly and I appreciate each of you whether you are able to be a part of this or not.
Okay, not as good as chocolate, but here is a treat for my reader-type friends. Here is a little nibble that you should be able to devour during the average coffee break. Enjoy.
A Little Bite
By: TW Brown
“…and law enforcement officials remain baffled by this third death in as many days—”
Tomas switched off the television and tossed the remote on the table cluttered with unread magazines and a smattering of cards and envelopes addressed to OCCUPANT. Well, he thought, time to move again. The question was…where? There were some definite plusses to the over-burgeoning population problems of the modern world.
Tomas peeked out his curtains to the courtyard below. The shadows of evening were growing larger and would soon fill the interior of this square apartment complex with darkness. The glow from several televisions could be seen in numerous windows as residents of the Emerald Pines Apartments settled in for the night. Empty food wrappers swirled in the eddies of the night breeze along with the last few leaves that had clung stubbornly to the pair of ratty trees in the courtyard; neither of these trees were ever emerald in color, nor were they pines.
One of the residents emerged from the breezeway and scurried to his darkened apartment. The glare of numerous hundred-watt bulbs blazed from within and then the door shut.
“These silly people,” Tomas mused as he went to his bedroom and began to dress. “Always so anxious to hurry home from meaningless jobs and camp in front of the glowing idiot box to be told what to fear next. If it isn’t the stranger next door…it’s the newest sniffle or cough. These sheep have no idea what real evil or true sickness are about. Vlad…Genghis…Caligula…those were killers. And the Black Plague…now that was a sickness that thinned the herd.”
No, Tomas thought as he shoved his feet into his boots, they don’t have any idea how good they have it. He pulled on his gloves, enjoying the smell of the well-oiled leather, stopping at his bathroom on his way out just long enough to grab the bottle of blue-tinted mouthwash and swish around a perfectly measured capful, spitting it into the toilet. Why, the advances in dentistry alone were so epic that many of Tomas’ friends—enemies too for that matter—probably owed their lives to said advances. Things had come a long way from shredded twigs and salt.
Of course, not all of the technological advances were good. Nowadays, everybody carried one of the numerous so-called “smart” phones. And don’t get him started on the advances in forensics. Getting away with murder was becoming almost impossible.
Murder. He saw it more akin to cleansing. What he did was practically a public service. People were multiplying so rapidly that poverty and hunger no longer registered on the social consciousness. The only people who even pretended to care were often vapid Hollywood-types, or musicians that wanted to cater to a bunch of hemp-loving wanna-be environmentalists, who would stagger away from a three day outdoor music festival leaving the park looking like a landfill starter kit. That…or politicians.
One of his favorite hobbies was to go downtown and hide in a shadow where he could watch some poor, grungy sap marinating in his filth while asking for change. Or…worse yet, holding a sign. Today’s beggars were too lazy to even beg properly, but that was an entirely different issue. Anyways, watching folks walk by and pretend not to see the wretch…absolutely priceless.
This sort of thinking always made Tomas nostalgic for the “old” days. But, to a vampire, “old” was a rather subjective term. At almost nine hundred years old, he wasn’t the youngest, nor was he the oldest. However, he had been around long enough to have earned a certain amount of respect from his peers.
That had taken a century or two…that respect. His turning was initially done as a joke. Whoever said that vampires lacked a sense of humor was gravely mistaken. Tomas chuckled at his own mental pun as he stepped outside his apartment. After checking his series of locks exactly five times—these days they called the behavior OCD, back in the old days is was simply being cautious—he went out into the night.
A short while later, he arrived at his destination: one of the many parks that dotted the Seattle landscape. This one in particular had been in the papers and on television lately: “Man exposes himself” and “Child avoids abduction.”
Climbing onto one of the swings, Tomas began to casually pump his legs. His eyes could see perfectly in the evening gloom. At the moment, he was sharing the park with a family of squirrels, two dogs—whose owners had obviously ignored Bob Barker’s pleas—and a wino passed out under a cluster of bushes near the concrete building that housed the men’s and women’s restrooms.
This was certainly an inexact science, but over the years, he had learned that man was nothing if not a creature of habit. And with all the wonderful gains in technology to “free up time,” they actually seemed to have gotten worse, not better. It always amused Tomas when little hiccups in things like electricity, cable/satellite, or—heaven forbid—their precious cell phones occurred. Mankind skewed towards frantic when their routines got a little hitch in them. It threw their patterns off…and they hated that.
Movement from the opposite side of the park snapped Tomas from his musings. The soft glow of a living being drew his focus and shifted him into instant predator mode. The thought of ‘what could be’ if he’d guessed correctly made his fangs extend into their feeding position.
Why don’tcha have a seat, Tomas heard the voice in his head. He was willing to bet that if he were to host one of those Catch a Predator television shows, those sick bastards would shape up in a hurry.
He continued to swing, trying to be sure that his face stayed shrouded by his hoody. He glanced down to see which one he was wearing and smiled at the image of the robot that could change into a truck splayed in bright colors.
The person took his time getting closer. He was making sure that there were no witnesses. Excellent, Tomas thought, it’s always nice when the sheep do the work for you. Just as he’d hoped, this sick pervert was preparing to take his sickness to another level. There was probably a windowless van parked nearby.
The sheep was close enough to smell the heady mixture of anticipatory sweat with just a mixture of fear. Even in his excitement, this twisted freak had that little nugget in his brain that was afraid of getting caught. If he only knew—
“You okay, son?”
“M-m-m-my mom went out with her new boyfriend again and didn’t even make my dinner first.” Tomas thanked the fact that his voice had always maintained its high, tinny pitch.
“That’s terrible,” the man’s voice almost seemed to tremble with excitement. “Well, how about I take you to get a burger or something?”
“I’m not s’posed to go with strangers.” Best not to sound too anxious, he didn’t want to spook the sheep.
“That’s pretty smart,” the man’s voice oozed with false praise. “My name is Bill. What’s yours?”
“Well now, Tomas,” Bill—if that was really his name—said, “now we aren’t strangers. So, how ‘bout that burger?”
“I guess.” Tomas dragged his feet in the sand below to bring his swing to a stop. He could smell the excitement and added adrenaline dump into the man’s system. “Will you take me home after?”
“You bet, sport,” the man-who-might-be-named-Bill assured. He reached down to Tomas for his hand.
Tomas flipped his hood back and fixed the would-be predator with his gaze. The man’s eyes went wide with shock.
“You’re a little person!” was all the man managed to say before Tomas’ hypnotic gaze froze him.
“Kneel,” Tomas commanded. With a flash, his fangs sank into the man’s jugular.
And that was another thing, Tomas thought as he fed, this whole politically-correct garbage, he’d been a midget for centuries. What in the hell was this society’s infatuation with labels?
We all have them. When I was in high school, I was part of the rocker genre. Judas Priest, KISS, Van Halen, Ozzy…you get the picture. That meant it was NOT COOL to listen to groups like Thompson Twins, Duran Duran, and Flock of Seagulls. This was when MTV played video, kids. Yeah, you probably don’t really even realize that the “M” in MTV stood for music. So, while I NEVER missed an episode of Headbanger’s Ball, I also had a dirty little secret…New Wave was one of my guilty pleasures, if you will.
I was a closet fan of those groups I mentioned earlier…along with Devo (they have songs that are way better than “Whip it”), Mister Mister, The Outfield, and Missing Persons. Of course, now it all falls under the category of “Retro” but when I was in high school in 1983, it was just music. Retro was music from the soundtrack to “The Big Chill”. I am now officially old enough that the music of my high school days are considered “classics”.
I was reminded of this recently when one of my friends posted some amazing footage of being back stage as he prepared to get behind the drums for the Flock of Seagulls. It made me think about some of those dirty little secrets we have now. What are some of your current guilty pleasures.
I will start the ball rolling with a couple. One…I LOVE Christmas Music. I start playing my Spotify Christmas Playlist on November 1st. Heck…sometimes I play it in July just because. My other is that I am a sucker for the Hallmark Christmas movies. So, what are some of your dirty little secrets and guilty pleasures?