Discuss unto me: art thou blogger, or art thou base, common, and popular?

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Hello and good morning!  Welcome to another Thursday and—almost, but not quite, by definition—another episode of my (usually) weekly blog post.

First, let me apologize for missing last week without a word.  I ate something that really didn’t agree with me* early in the week, and for most of the rest of the week I was quite ill.  I considered getting online last Thursday to jot out a quick message to the effect of, “Hey, I’m sick, so I’m not making a formal blog post this week,” but I didn’t even have the gumption for that.

Again, I apologize.

I haven’t been completely idle over the last few weeks, however.  In fact, I’ve been rather absorbed with creating/producing/performing my latest—and probably best so far, at least in production quality—song.  It’s called “Like and Share”, and I’ve posted it here on this blog, and as a video** on Iterations of Zero, and on YouTube here.  As the name no doubt suggests, it’s a song that deals with social media, and as my nature no doubt suggests, it deals with the dark side of such media.

Sorry; I am who I am.

Though I always say words to this effect, this time I really, really, REALLY would like to know what you think about the song, so if you have a moment, please take a listen.  It doesn’t sound dark or anything, in case you’re worried.  Apparently, it’s got something of a sixties feel.  My sister—to whom I owe a tremendous debt for listening to various drafts and letting me know about balance issues and clarity issues and whatnot—said that if George Harrison and Pink Floyd had made a song together, this would be it.

Now…she’s my doting older sister, so she’s going to tend to be generous; I don’t want you to get your hopes up unreasonably based on her statement***.  Still, I do think it’s pretty good as far as it goes.  But I am needy, in my own weird little way, so if any (or all?) of you could take four minutes and thirty-seven seconds’ to listen, and then a moment or two more to make a comment either on my blog(s) or on YouTube or on Facebook (it’s also posted there), I’d be deeply grateful.

Seriously.  I’m begging.

As is usual when I’m in the final throes of making one of my songs, I’ve missed about two or three days’ worth of editing on Unanimity, but I’m back to it now with a vengeance.  It’s coming along and tightening up nicely.  I’m not yet getting bored of it, and most importantly (to me) I still like my main characters a lot.

It’s very hard to enjoy a story, even a good one, if one dislikes the characters, especially the protagonist(s).  I think the closest thing I know to an exception to that rule is The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever.  Though I find Thomas Covenant at least somewhat sympathetic (some of the time) and almost always interesting, I am by no means surprised when some people say they absolutely loathe him.  However, essentially all the other characters in the books are so moving and inspiring—especially Mhoram**** and Foamfollower—that even if you passionately hate Thomas Covenant, you can still really enjoy the books.  Also, the villain of the series, Lord Foul, is probably my single favorite bad guy of all time.  It doesn’t hurt that he speaks so eloquently that you might think him to be channeling Shakespeare himself.

It doesn’t hurt that he actually speaks, come to think of it.  The one serious dissatisfaction I’ve always had with The Lord of the Rings is that Sauron isn’t really a character.  I know, I know, that makes him all the more menacing—like a force of nature, rather like Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones.  Just imagine if we were able to read a conversation with Cthulhu!  Probably his voice alone would drive an interlocutor mad.

And indeed, in LotR, when Pippin interacts with Sauron via the palantír, we’re told that his laughter is like daggers, and I don’t think it’s meant metaphorically.  Still, Lord Foul achieves the unquestionable status of absolute worst guy in his universe, and a definite force of pure evil, even though we meet him as a character—a person—very early in the books.  Just take this, one of my favorite quotes from the end of his initial interaction with Thomas Covenant:

“Do not forget whom to fear at the last.  I have had to be content with killing and torment, but now my plans are laid, and I have begun.  I shall not rest until I have eradicated hope from the earth.  Think on that and be dismayed.”

Yes, a character can use the proper objective form of a commonly misused pronoun and still be fundamentally evil.  Actually, there are probably those who think that anyone who uses that form is evil, but who would entertain such nonsense?

Anyway, before I go off on too many tangents, I think I’ll wrap things up for today.  Thank you for reading, apologies for last week, and I do hope that you’ll take a bit of time to listen to and comment on my new song…and even, if you’re so inclined, to “Like” and “Share” it.  This is not straightforwardly ironic, perhaps, but given the rather negative attitude the song conveys toward some aspects of social media, perhaps it really would be ironic to do so.

I think that if you can achieve real irony in any given day, then surely that day hasn’t been wasted.

TTFN


*It thought, for instance, that Shakespeare was a mediocre writer and that mathematics and science are boring.

**As usual, the “video” portion is just a static image of the IoZ logo (see below), so don’t get your hopes up…or, alternatively, don’t be afraid; you won’t have to watch me singing.

***I personally get a sort of Simon and Garfunkel vibe from it, but that’s mostly because of the harmonization.

****I quote Thomas Covenant himself here: “You’re making a big mistake if you ever assume that Mhoram is helpless.”

 

ioz

“Like and Share” – a song

© 2020 by Robert Elessar All rights reserved

 

Words and music by Robert Elessar

Performed by Robert Elessar

Produced by Robert Elessar

 

Can you be what I can be?

Could you be as cool as me?

Commonness is misery.

Like and Share if you agree.

 

Do you think you’re special, too?

Am I as unique as you?

Every other point of view

Seems to be the same.  Could that be true?

 

Look at all my pretty pictures.

Don’t you wish that you were me?

You don’t know the half of it.

You don’t know what you can’t see.

 

Do you believe what you can see?

Pictures of a life so free,

Edited for quality,

Empty of reality.

 

You can’t feel what you don’t know;

You see only what I show.

Just that superficial glow,

Not the darkness that lies below.

 

Look how perfect my world must seem.

Don’t you wish that this was you?

Don’t you wish your life was so fine?

God know, God knows, God knows

I do too.

 

You can’t like what you can’t see.

You can’t see the actual me.

This is all illusory,

Even if you don’t agree.

 

Do I see what you can see?

Are you dead inside like me?

Every flaw is agony.

Like and Share

Like and Share

Like and Share

If you agree.

Breaking Me Down (rebuilt)

 

(c) 2019 by Robert Elessar

Words and Music by Robert Elessar

Produced and performed by Robert Elessar

I sit alone at home sometimes and want to go berserk
But doing that just never seems to work
The shelves are stacked with books but I don’t feel that I could read
While all around a thousand phantoms lurk

I drink a little wine; I eat a little meat
I wonder why I’m shivering in such infernal heat
I feel a little tired; my head’s a little light
I wish that I could close my eyes and block my inner sight.

If you could see me now, you’d probably wonder where I’ve been
But I stand and I fall
And I listen for your call
While hiding out inside the dragon’s den.

I wander ‘round through my internal night
I travel back and forth throughout the town
But if you ask, I’ll tell you I’m all right
My nervousness is just breaking me down.

I listen to the sounds of everybody having fun
I can’t join in ‘cause I don’t have a gun,
They’re scattering their ashes all along the motorway
Then scampering like rabbits on the run

I bounce off all the walls; I turn out all the lights
I always want to hit someone, but I never get in fights
I feel a bit confused; my thoughts are incomplete
There’s tingling in my fingers and there’s swelling in my feet

If you could hear what I hear you would deafen both your ears
But I can’t, and I know
That no matter where I go
I’m followed by the grinding of my gears.

I stare around in paranoiac fright
While grinning at my heartbreak like a clown
So don’t come in, and don’t turn on the light
It’s just my past mistakes breaking me down

I look at all the colors of the pictures in my mind
They’re all so dark, I might as well be blind
The path laid out ahead of me is so filled up with smoke
I think that I’d prefer to just rewind

I roam around the house; I drive around the town
I don’t know if I’m back and forth or if I’m up and down
I dive into the sea; I look into the sky
I try to understand them, but we can’t see eye to eye

If you could see inside my head, your own head would explode
But I nod, and I grin
At the end where I begin
And I smile, and I wave
When I pass an open grave
And I slump, and I sigh
When we have to say goodbye
I’ll see you at the ending of the road

I wander through the wasteland struck with blight
I make my Hell to wear an earthly crown
I smash all mirrors, I can’t stand the sight
Of everything that is breaking me down.

You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout till you have drenched our teeples, drowned the blogs!

Rain

Good morning, everyone!  Though “good” is relative; I was severely rained upon by a thunderstorm on my way into the office today, so I’m pretty much soaked to the bone as I write this, and I will probably be damp all the way up to quitting time.  Still, if that’s the worst trial I encounter today, I’ll be justified in considering myself lucky.

Today is, as I’m sure you know, another Thursday.  It’s also the first day of August in 2019, and this is my usual, weekly blog post, but as those of you who’ve been following will know, I’ve posted other items since my previous formal posting.  At the end of last week (ish), I released my song Catechism on Iterations of Zero and on my YouTube channel.  Then, earlier this week, I put a video version of it here on my main website, though I haven’t yet put it directly up on my Facebook page.

I must officially issue a caveat:  the “video” portion of the post consists merely of my Iterations of Zero icon.  I promise you, no one wants to watch me performing a song.  In any case, since I played all the several parts myself (recording them at various times before mixing) it’s physically impossible for me to do it.  I suppose, with a little work, I could do a music video that cut between shots of me playing different instruments and singing along with the recorded song (lip-syncing, keyboard-syncing and guitar-syncing, presumably), but I have no good location in which to do such a thing, and the software required to do it well would probably require significant money.  In any case, I’m far from photogenic enough to make it worth anyone’s time to produce such a video.  I know I don’t enjoy looking at my ugly mug, and it’s hard to imagine that anyone else would, either.

The song, Catechism, on the other hand, is not bad to listen to, and I’m a reasonably good singer.  The production/mixing are certainly better than my previous attempts, which leads me to the strong temptation—to which I will no doubt succumb—to remix Breaking Me Down, and probably to redo some of the parts from scratch.  I’ve discovered already, with a bit of tinkering on the original, that by taking the tempo up from 90 beats per minute to 100, I could not only shave about 40 seconds off the piece,* but also make it peppier, which would be good considering how dark the lyrics are.

I’ve also—somewhat frustratingly, though in a good sort of way—found myself driven to begin writing chords and formal music for another old song I’d sort of made up a long time ago.  I imagine this is a little like being a drug addict…as soon as I’m done with the last fix, and despite heartfelt promises to myself and others, I immediately begin working my way toward another one.  It’s a compulsion.  Still, if this is my worst vice,** I can consider myself not only lucky but actually blessed.

Still, my primary addiction remains my writing, and in addition to the musical release, I was true to my word about my latest story.  Free Range Meat is now available on Amazon, in Kindle format only.  For those of you who strongly prefer actual, hard copies of stories to read—and I sympathize with your preference—I can only say that this and all my other Kindle-only “short” stories will eventually be collected into Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, which will be available in hard copy.  I don’t know, though, how long it’s going to be before that happens.  Free Range Meat might well be the last story to be included in it, but I might decide to finish my novella (tentatively titled Escape Valve) first and include it as a never-before-published treat, if treat it will be.

But for the time being, my authorial energies will be focused entirely on Unanimity, which is a good thing, since I’m not even three-quarters of the way through its second editing run-through.  No matter how ruthlessly I cut, it’s going to be a long book in its final form.  I still like it, though, which is always a pleasant discovery.  Most importantly, I like the characters, even the “bad guy,” and I hope that readers will like them, too—even the bad guy.  It can be fun, of course, to find an antagonist you really hate, who’s just irredeemable and horrible, so you can feel real joy when (and if) the villain finally gets his*** comeuppance.  But it’s often even more fun to have a villain with whom you can at least empathize and maybe even sympathize, and—from time to time—with whom you can find yourself agreeing against your own will.  Who among us hasn’t occasionally secretly wished that Hannibal Lecter were around to punish certain severely rude people?

Maybe that’s just me.

Well, that’s my weekly update, and it’s been a busy week indeed, marred slightly by a virus of some kind that I’ve been enjoying since Saturday.  I wouldn’t call that a very high price to pay for getting done what I have in the last seven days.

As always, I’d enjoy getting any feedback you might feel like sharing, whether about my story, or about my song, or about anything else that strikes your fancy, in any of the venues which I haunt.  All I ask is that you try to be reasonably polite.

After all, how certain are you that Hannibal Lecter isn’t out there watching?

TTFN


*which is currently longer than Hey Jude but with nary a “Na, na na nanana naaaaah” to be found.

**which I doubt.

***yes, most of my favorite villains are male, which I think is consistent with the real world, though perhaps I’m being sexist.  I tend to like strong (but not quite villainous) female characters, as is probably obvious especially from Mark Red, but also Son of Man, and even The Chasm and the Collision.  This pattern will not be broken in Unanimity.

Catechism

A Song

 

Words and Music by Robert Elessar

copyright 2019

Produced and performed by Robert Elessar

 

The day is coming, can you hear it?
Night is falling, do you fear it?
The ship has sailed, now can you steer it?
Do you know what’s going on?

The moment’s passing, do you know it?
What’s your secret, will you show it?
When your chance comes, will you blow it?
Can you be relied upon?

If you can answer all these questions right,
You just might make it through that falling night.
But if these words just serve to turn your head,
The coming dark will bury you with dread.

The world is turning, can you feel it?
The wound is bleeding, can you heal it?
The truth is cloaked, can you reveal it?
I might come along with you.

The picture’s hidden, can you find it?
The tape is jammed, will you rewind it?
I must intrude now, do you mind it?
It’s just that I belong with you.

The world is not so hopeless, is it now?
Is that a statement that you might allow?
Just wipe the tears out of your eyes, won’t you?
To fight the truth, there’s nothing you can do.

The game is set, now can you play it?
The beast is charging, can you slay it?
If all your strength cannot delay it,
Then run away, just run and hide!

The path is clear, but will you hike it?
The cheek is turned, now will you strike it?
The song is over, did you like it?
Forget you heard it, it’s only lied

 

The young and tender wit is turn’d to folly, blasting in the blog…

Hello, good morning, happy Thursday, and—as always—welcome to another edition of my blog.

There’s not much to add today, I’m afraid.  I launched the “final” version of my song “Breaking Me Down” on my Iterations of Zero blog and on my YouTube channel, for what it’s worth.  To the surprise of no one, it doesn’t seem to have been listened to by many people, so far.  I suppose that’s what happens when one puts a song out and no one’s ever heard of the person who made it.  I certainly have no marketing apparatus at my back to try to promote the song, and I would probably rather use such an apparatus to promote my books if I had such a thing.  The song is honestly just for my own self-indulgence, though of course I’d be delighted if anyone listened to it and liked it.

I’ve written only another page or so on Neko/Neneko since last week, and I’ve done a smattering of editing on Unanimity.  Some of this relative dearth of output is due to the fact of my song.  Most of my “free” hours in recent weeks were burned in arranging and playing and singing and producing “Breaking Me Down,” so my usual work—not my day job, obviously—got left by the wayside.  If there exists a person who is actually looking forward to any of my written works in progress—and I doubt that such a person exists—then I apologize.  I can only say that I would be much more motivated to continue working and to go faster if I but heard from you once in a while.  I have accounts on Facebook and Twitter, as well as my two blogs here on WordPress…and, of course, you’re free to leave reviews of my books on Amazon.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Well…I would certainly like to hear from you.

Anyway, that’s more or less all I have to say for this week.  I hope you’re all well, and that you continue to be well, in this most possible of all possible worlds.

TTFN

What is it else? A madness most discreet, A choking blog, and a preserving sweet.

Hello and good morning, all.

I apologize for neither posting nor notifying anyone about my lack of posting last week.  My sister very kindly surprised me by coming in from out of town and visiting, and I spent much of last Thursday enjoying the Miami Zoo, which I’ve never visited before, though I live only a dozen or so miles away.  It was excellent, and there were so few guests at the zoo that day that it felt almost like our own personal menagerie.  At one point, we literally rode the monorail entirely by ourselves.

In some ways, it’s just as well that I didn’t post anything last week, because—as far as writing and editing goes—I’ve been taking a few weeks off.  As I may have mentioned before, I’m working on a new/old song, and the process of putting it together has taken up most of my spare time over the past few weeks, or at least the spare time I would have spent writing.  I say “new/old” because I wrote the original words (about a quarter of which have been changed) and the melody of this song when I was a junior or senior in college, sometime around 1990 or so, I’d guess, but I never did anything with it, and it’s just been floating around in my head ever since.  Of course, it’s entirely possible that, once anyone listens to it, they’ll think that it would have been just as well had it stayed there.

Still, the success (from my point of view) of my composition and recording of “Schrodinger’s Head” and the recording and mixing of a few of my “bad covers” on Iterations of Zero made me think it might be fun finally to make this thing into something actual rather than potential.  Of course, the things I’ve learned while working on this song make me want to go back and redo Schrodinger’s Head, and to make another song that I originally composed in college, and to write a new song about a unique manga character whom I particularly like…but I’ll try not to let all that get in the way of everything else.

We shall see.

In any case, it’s been good to have a little break from Unanimity.  My new song is a long one, but seven and a half minutes of song is quite a bit different from seven and a half hundred pages (and more than half a million words) of novel.  The delay on Free-Range Meat is perhaps less excusable, it being a literally short story, but it can handle the break.  And, of course, Neko/Neneko is a horizon-type project for the moment, in any case.

So, that’s about all the news I have to share today.  I’m juggling many projects that are in various stages of creation and completion, but at least that gives any readers of and/or listeners to my work—if such people exist—much to which to look forward.

In the meantime, I wish you well.

TTFN