NEW WAVE?

I wrote the following nearly forty years ago. I’m not sure where I was going with it but like most of my writing from those olden times I must have had a premonition that one day I would look back and wonder. It is what made me look back that interests me.

I wish I could remember what blog I was reading recently that referred to the “new wave” of young indie-authors for I would certainly provide a link. It was one of those writings that, like jalapeno peppers, comes back and bites you long after consumption. I appreciate it when something that someone has created can do that. They plant a little seed in your mind and after sufficient germination the message blossoms and you realize that what was written has become a part of your thoughts. I would however hasten to add the word “current” to the term “new wave” because as far back as I can remember there has always been a new wave of sorts, whether in music, art, or writing. It also applies to science, technology and life in general. What was “cutting edge” a few years ago has long been forgotten, replaced by new ideas and products from new wave thinkers and designers.

Waves are like that. There’s always another one on the way.

The writer of the blog questioned why there seemed to be more of these new creative voices today than ever before. While I was surprised he didn’t provide the simple answer I considered that this might have been his way of making me think about the question. The internet has provided a platform and for good or bad anyone can now publish their message. Everyone has a voice and everyone has something to say.

All you have to do is listen.

I’m pleased to be a part of this community and who knows…one of my books might just be the one to ride it to shore. Like Brian Wilson said…catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world.

Unicorn

Within the shadows, without the light, unicorns prance while pan-pipes lay a bed of hushed harmony.  Fragile butterflies flutter between stone turrets resting only briefly amid rich ivy as they flit their way across sunlit castle walls.

Within the light, without the shadows, there is honesty and truth. It is called ‘reality’.

Some say it needs no creative process to survive. Simply put, all that is experienced is all that there is. There are no unicorns.

Between realms there lies a better world. A delicate blend of truth and dreams where fabled creatures, when called upon, may exist. A mixture of warm imagination and cold reality. Sprinkles of hope and guidance spiced with seasoned knowledge and understanding. Gently stirred and mixed yet somehow keeping separate the shadow and the light. This delicate blend of truth and fantasy…of realists and dreamers. Each needs what is unique to the other. Reality requires the elasticity of imagination to stretch boundaries and expand horizons. Creativity needs reality to temper dreams into possibility. Without the other, each suffer.

Where once they sailed the ocean blue, today they sail through darkened space, one daring to dream and one daring to try. Together they have reached the stars.

Reality lasts a lifetime.

Unicorns…forever.

Mike Grant is the author of three novels. “White Wolf Moon”, “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon”, and “Fergus”. Visit his Amazon page to find out more.

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IT WAS FIFTY-YEARS AGO TODAY….

It was a time of uncertainty. The Cold War lurked in the shadows and visions of ICBMs criss-crossing the globe were burned into our young minds. JFK was still more than fresh in our memory and in general the world around us seemed dark, cold, and bleak. Then came that Ed Sullivan show.

As White Wolf Moon is less about wolves and more about 60s music/culture and this is the 50th Anniversary of that Beatles appearance I thought I’d share a small bit of my Beatles collection. Working at CJCA radio in Edmonton, Alberta back in those days I was fortunate to get some of these 45s after they’d been replaced with new copies so they aren’t in great condition but it’s still cool to have them. By the way Del Shannon’s “From Me To You” is included as it was the first Lennon & McCartney (credited McCartney – Lennon) song played on North American radio, before the Beatles’ version.

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I remember that night so vividly. I even wired my reel-to-reel tape machine to the speaker on our television so I could record the audio and listen to it over and over…which I did.

I remember going to school the next day and everyone was singing Beatles songs and although I didn’t realize it at the time I know now that I was there for the ‘change’. The kids seemed happier and there was more activity in the halls. Scuffles broke out between the Beatles fans and those that pretended they weren’t Beatles fans just so they could scuffle in the halls. There was a different ‘feel’ that day…the day it all changed.

The Beatles changed me and the rest of the world. They inspired me to try to learn how to play guitar and, after 50 years, I’m still trying. John Lennon inspired me to write and to look at the world through different eyes although my visions were not necessarily welcomed by English teachers.

I also realize how fortunate I was to be around in those days although these damn birthdays that keep creeping up on me are a bit of a pain. I was there and part of the ‘mania’ and it’s something I won’t ever forget. I don’t think there’s been anything since then (except for perhaps Michael Jackson) that has impacted the music scene that much (oh puhleease don’t infer that Beiber is any more than a dust speck on my “White Album”).

I have every Beatles lp (12” round vinyl thingies in cardboard covers), their eps, (7” round vinyl thingies in picture covers), and most of the singles (7” round vinyl thingies in various covers). I have two and three copies of some of their albums but these duplicates are mostly European releases which were hard to get in those days. I didn’t get as much into the merchandising as to me it always will be about the music and the atmosphere of the times…something you can’t put into a book or a cd collection. Yes I have the anthologies and the re-mastered cds but honestly I listened to each of them once. You can take all your current audio technology and put it back on the shelf. I’ll drop “Meet The Beatles” or “Sergeant Pepper’s” on the turntable and crank it up and remember how I felt when I first heard both of these milestone albums.

Tonight I will watch the special. Tonight I’ll shed about fifty years and just let everything else go.

Tonight is for yesterday.

OF MUSIC, LIFE, AND DEATH

Such an interesting and emotional day today. We’ve been under the threat of heavy rains since last night but so far there have only been a couple of showers. It’s coolish, dark, and damp…grey clouds surround me. I was going to spend the day on the laptop hopefully to get close to a wrap on the sequel to “White Wolf Moon” but my characters aren’t doing anything of interest. Marie is taking advantage of the dull day to clean the kitchen. Evan and Danny are in Evan’s study working on a new song and Ginn (the wolfdog) is stretched out in front of Evan’s desk taking up about a quarter of the floor space. Carol is lying on the couch “reading” although her glasses are on the end table beside her and the book is nowhere to be seen. It’s probably tucked into the small space between her and the cushioned couch back. Jenn and Matt? I’m not sure what they’re up to…perhaps preparing for their trip back to Edmonton. There’s really nothing that any of them are doing that can add to the story-line so I decided to let them be for the day.

I went downstairs to the basement to begin a thorough clean of my collectibles room (almost a warehouse actually). On the way to this room I stopped and put an old Bob Dylan lp on the turntable. I didn’t make it back to the room. I sat and listened to “The Times They Are A Changin’” and began a walk down memory lane. When I was much much younger I shared a house with five friends (my characters are based on these people) and we’d occasionally head out to a cabin and spend the weekend cavorting and playing music. Chris was our resident folk singer and this Dylan song was one he’d always do. He had an interesting voice, rough and graveled due to an accident that resulted in his throat being impaled on the branch of a tree. His parents were told that if he recovered he’d probably never be able to talk. He recovered and sang like a bird, albeit a gagged crow. I turned off the record player and picked up an old guitar that I leave downstairs just for times like this but I couldn’t remember how to play that song. Most of the others we played on those warm Alberta nights around the fire came back quite quickly but not that one. Chris passed away about ten years ago and I still can’t listen to that song without thinking of him. It’s so incredible how music can bring back so much. As I sat strumming those old chords I thought about those others that have passed on in my life. As well as my grandparents, dad, mother, and sister there have been countless (literally) friends and co-workers that have left me over the last sixty-something years. Then I remembered something Evan had thought in “White Wolf Moon”:

They were all dying now, those he grew up with and worked with through the years. He guessed that part of the natural order was for those left to accept each passing with less emotion. He and Jack had been close at times and had Jack been the first to go Evan would have been devastated. But death had now become almost routine.

There was something wrong with that.

Then I realized that I had touched on the same scenario in the sequel, this time with Jenn and Danny:

“Marie told me about Carl. How are you doing with it?”

Danny shrugged his shoulders. “And another one bites the dust. I’m fine. I’m going to miss him but I’ve reached that age where it’s just a part of the deal.”

“That’s sad.”

“That’s life.”

My previous blog was titled “Will It Go Round In Circles” and that blog didn’t…I should have saved it for this one.

Recently a local author named Peter Grauer (Interred With Their Bones – a history of Billy Miner in British Columbia) passed away. I didn’t hear about it until yesterday. I didn’t know Peter as well as I would have liked to…he frequented the bookshop where I worked, gathering research for his new book which will be published soon. We’d talk (mostly I’d listen) about writing and life in general. He always had a twinkle in his eye and a lot of encouraging words for me when he found out I was writing my own book. He couldn’t be at my book signing but he left me a wonderful hand-written note which is the first page in my archive binder. He signed it with the words “Pleased to know you…”. I went back upstairs and read that note a couple of times. Then I thought about my book signing.

It was one of those events that will forever be a special memory. So many nice people came to wish me well, to shake my hand…my fifteen minutes. And then I thought about a couple of local female folk-singers that volunteered to perform at my signing. They were great and the most genuine pair anyone could ask for. They gave me a moment to remember the rest of my life but they gave me a little more than they realized.

The first song they sang was “The Times They Are A Changin’”.

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PREQUEL or SEQUEL?

blogsignI have been rather lax in keeping on top this blog due to foreseen circumstances. I started out writing the sequel to White Wolf Moon but I decided to do a “real time” chapter that takes the reader back to the music scene in Edmonton, Alberta, in the mid-sixties. This introduces the characters as they were and lays out the events that created their current day situations. From the beginning I wasn’t sure how I could work this chapter into the sequel but it was so easy to write that it came together quickly and now I’m kicking around a few more chapter ideas. It was also fun to reminisce. I was involved in that business back then. I worked in radio and I’d also recorded my fair share of music demo tapes and a couple of records so I know the people, places, and how things were. This would obviously be considered the prequel.

The sequel is moving along just as easily. I feel good about what I’ve done with it so far.  It responds to comments and questions that I have received from readers of White Wolf Moon. They want to know more about certain characters and events. I have addressed all of their questions and expanded on the relationships and situations they have asked about.

Here’s my dilemma. The prequel explains a lot about the central characters that, unless you have read White Wolf Moon, you might not pick up in a sequel. The sequel also rounds out the modern day story in regards to characters that aren’t in the prequel (two of which are the most commented on). This has me considering combining the two in one book as two different yet related stories…both prequel and sequel in one binding.

I’ve never heard of anyone doing this, which, of course, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

I’ve also considered doing the prequel as short stories, each one concentrating on just the background pertinent to events in the new storyline but I feel this might be a bit confusing and probably not as easy a read.

So this is my explanation for not being on the blogs lately. At this point I’m treating both storylines as two separate novels which they easily could be, except I have no intention of doing a trilogy.

But then who knows where this will lead?

OLD NEWS BUT BEIBS AGAIN…FOR THE LAST TIME….

Here I am, off topic again…and flogging a horse I thought was deceased. There’s still an occasional suggestion (one just yesterday) that I was unfair with my comments about Justin Beiber a couple of months ago. Apparently I should support him and be proud that the top act in the world right now is Canadian.

Yeah…no.

First…congratulations Justin and more power to ya kid. Live this for what it’s worth. Seize all the opportunities that this life has brought you and don’t let the naysayers grind you down. But I’m still not a fan.

But for me it isn’t all about Beiber…it’s the current state of the pop music industry.

We’re being served mush pie right now and it must be an acquired taste because I don’t get it. Yes I appreciate that it really isn’t about the music anymore. It’s the show, the image…it’s all about the glitz, the dessert without the dinner. Manufactured stars are a dime a dozen, throw them a synthesizer and a neat little app called autotune and voila! I’m not a Gaga fan either but I did watch a television show a year or so ago that made me realize that this woman does have a lot of talent. She sat at a piano and just sang. It was real and back to basics… no glitz, no glam, no fire-towers…and I enjoyed it. Can you see the Beibs doing the same thing? A ballad (no voice effects) backed by acoustic guitar, real drums, and a piano? Dare to dream! On the other hand maybe he could. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt…he’s earned that much.

There are some pretty great acts out there right now. My favorite is GPN (Grace Potter and the Nocturnals). A younger person asked me if Grace was like Katy Perry. That would be another “Yeah…no.” Grace Potter goes old time without augmentation and all the gimmicks. She’s pure in-your-face rock with one of the greatest true voices I’ve ever heard. She can sing anything from classic standards like “Fly Me to the Moon” to blues and country. I watched her on the CMAs in a duet with Kenny Chesney and…no lip sync! Of course country music thankfully hasn’t embraced supportive technology the way pop has.

I’ve also found myself listening to a lot of indie music lately, not necessarily for the rock but for the pure simplicity of it whether folk, rock, or country. Yes a few of these artists dive into the effect pool but many of them refreshingly offer up the real thing.

Then there was the “You dare compare Justin Beiber to the Beatles!!” response. No, I didn’t compare Beibs to the Beatles. What I said was that the Beatles attracted much the same audience when they burst on the scene but musically they quickly grew and took their audience with them. I would hope that Beiber will do the same thing. If he has the talent both he and his music should mature and evolve to gain a more sophisticated and wider audience base but that’s up to him or, dare I say, his handlers. Speaking of handlers…let’s give these new young male pop stars something to hold onto other than their crotch? Microphone in one hand and…I don’t know…cash in the other?

Simply, Justin Beiber was wrong for Grey Cup. I’d have preferred to see Lightfoot for the whole half-time show…maybe Neil Young, Tom Cochrane, Randy Bachman, Chilliwack, Shania…I don’t know…almost anyone else. It’s still no reason to boo the kid. He’s found his niche (perhaps temporarily) and he’s taking advantage of it. More importantly he handled the Grey Cup fiasco with a certain amount of class and maturity which is more than I can say for those low brows that voiced their opinion so enthusiastically.

OUT DAMN THOT!

A thought came to visit me this afternoon but I was busy. In tiny blue canvas runners the thought crept silently into my mind field. It poked at my fertile imagination but I ignored it. I had something else to do.

I was writing a song. It was a folk song about finding love beneath a stone.

The thought waited impatiently…leaning against a tree in one of the forests I imagine when I get tired of imagining the ocean or a theme park in a hot place.

Thoughts are funny things, some of them. Some are smile-funny while others are laugh-out-loud funny. But some aren’t funny at all. Thoughts are like airborne seeds. They come from nowhere then go to nowhere until you consider them and nurture them. They lie dormant in the creative mush at the bottom of that little used part of the brain. Like mushrooms they begin to grow where not much else happens, at least not much that I am aware of. Some thoughts belong to someone else. They just stop by to see if they’d be better cared for elsewhere. Some thoughts are pure, others not so. Some thoughts are fickle. Ignore them and they’ll move on quickly, with no sense of loyalty. Thoughts have no sense of order. They don’t necessarily bear the burden of logic. That’s why I couldn’t deal with that thought at that time. I needed logic, not some flippant thought. I was trying to write a song about love found beneath a stone and I couldn’t find it. Not love…I can find love anywhere. I just couldn’t find the chord that tied love and stone together in a catchy yet complex progression that naked pseudo-hippies years from now would sing around a campfire.

So while the thought leaned in tiny blue canvas runners against my tree with its tiny thought arms crossed and tiny thought eyes rolled toward the skies, I struggled to find the chord.

Finally, and quite theatrically, the thought disappeared. It threw up its tiny thought arms in disgust and stomped forth in tiny blue canvas runners to find a more receptive mind, one that wasn’t quite as cluttered. It didn’t really bother me that it was gone. It had become annoying. Besides thoughts are like busses and we all know about busses.

I looked out across my yard, then across the alley, then into Mrs. Dunham’s yard. Her dog of many colors and questionable breeds was asleep by the gatepost. His name is Bopper. I imagine the other dogs in the neighborhood get quite a giggle when they hear old Mrs. Dunham calling him in for the night.

In about the time it would have taken the thought to get from here to there Bopper opened his eyes. His ears perked up. He stood, walked across the yard then lifted his leg on Mrs. Dunham’s roses.

I’m glad I let that thought go.