CBS Radio Mystery Theater

CBS Radio Mystery Theater

CBS Radio Mystery Theater

CBS Radio Mystery Theater… Aaah, along with the epic Dark Shadows, this was a show that I and my mom would enjoy religiously. The opening intro, deliciously dark and mysterious, featured the sound of an opening door,  ancient in its creak, and the foreboding tones of soundtrack music originally featured in the Twilight Zone episode titled “Two” and written by Nathan Van Cleave. Dark, scary music with stories that crept under the skin before establishing permanent residence in one’s cranium. Good family entertainment.

Check out 1:33-2:10. That’s the portion used as the CBS Mystery Theater theme.

The stories on Mystery Theater featured awesome actors and stories that totally sucked the listener in. The host, actor E.G. Marshall, struck the perfect tone. His voice was old-school but creepy at the same time– especially at the end of the each episode where he said “Until next time… pleasant dreams?” It was amazing that my ADD settled down long enough to become immersed in the various plots offered every week. It was appointment radio (yes, such a thing actually existed!) and the precursor to the greatest love of my imagination’s life, and one of my most enduring Muses, The Twilight Zone (prostrate and worship here).

As I write this, I’m listening to a Mystery Theater episode called “Afraid To Live, Afraid To Die.” It starts sounding mad spooky at 23:00. I wonder if a program like this would even survive in the new millennium? I like to think so, because at the end of the day the story rules, and if it’s good, people will want to experience it. I really wish there was a show, or podcast like this!

CBS Radio Mystery Theater Archives – Hear the archived episodes here.

 

Current Playlist

My current playlist

To answer the question of what’s on my current playlist, I’m listing the most prominent artists on my daily rotation. This list changes as my mood changes and I think you might be surprised at what’s on it today.

These tunes are getting ridiculous play regardless of whether they’re connected to a scene, or character, or not. Many of these songs have a direct relationship to what I’m writing, some of them have no connection whatsoever–at least none that I can see right now. Sometimes, I’ll have music on rotation for no apparent reason until one day it either hits me as to why it’s on the list, or it just starts making sense. Sometimes the characters choose the song(s) and I have little to do with it.

For the record I’m currently writing two pieces: a short story and the follow-up to Blood To Blood.

Current playlist: Santigold

Current playlist: Santigold

Current playlist: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Current playlist: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Current playlist: Green Day

Current playlist: Green Day

Artists in current rotation

Santigold
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Green Day

Adele
Andy Gibb
Muse (of course)

Cee-lo Green
Kylie Minogue
Arcade Fire

Blondie
Alabama Shakes
Class Actress

Weekly Word from Lao Tzu

Today’s Weekly Word from Lao Tzu is brought to you by the letter Y…

A thousand-mile journey begins under your feet. ~ Lao Tzu

So true! The last thousand-mile journey I completed ended when I finally published my first novel, Blood To Blood. That was a couple days ago. That particular journey only took 3 years (but that’s another book). And you know what? I’m ready for the next journey.

How about you? Are you traveling right now? Or did you just complete a journey? Wanna talk about it?


My Muses – Van Hunt

One of my favorite all-time muses is Van Hunt. I interviewed him back in the mid 2000s, but had fallen in love with his eclectic style of music way before then.

Van Hunt

Van Hunt

When it comes to categorizing his style, it’s impossible to squeeze his discography into one genre; he covers everything from soul, to rock, to funk, to pop.

While his music is unpredictable he’s always superior when it comes to creating a specific atmosphere and evoking a mood. “At the End of a Slow Dance” is one of my favorite Van Hunt songs, and continually haunts me years after first hearing it.

 

 

Van Hunt – “At the End of a Slow Dance”

 

 

Van Hunt’s recent album is more rock oriented and has one or two tunes that’s found their way onto my current playlist for the Blood To Blood sequel.

My Muses: Top 3 Muse Songs

Out of all the thousands of songs that inspire my writing, the ones that repeatedly rise to the top come from one band. As a result, several have consistently been the top 3 Muse songs that influenced my work.

Muse

Muse

Over ten years ago when I lived in Los Angeles, the local radio station WKROQ was one of the few that gave this band any love. Since hearing them, I’ve not only been a fan of Muse, I’ve also rabidly consumed every lyric their lead vocalist, and resident mad man/genius, pens.

I could rant about Matthew Bellamy’s brilliance, the band’s amazing live performances, etc. etc. but that’s another post. Right now I’d like to talk about their impact on my writing and share with you the the top 3 Muse songs that helped shape my book.

Top 3 Muse Songs
Invincible

– This song is the biggest musical thread in the fabric of Blood To Blood. It is a rally cry disguised as a love song. Absolutely brilliant. “Whatever they say, your soul’s unbreakable.”

Unintended

-This love song is one of their most haunting songs. It is the inspiration for a couple of romantic scenes in the book.

Map of The Problematique

– This song changed my writing. Seriously. In part, it was responsible for  introducing a level of darkness into the lives of my characters, particularly Justin McCarthy.

There are many more Muse songs that inspired the tone of Blood To Blood. An honorable mention goes to “Bliss” “Cave” and of course “Time Is Running Out.”

My Muses: Cosby Show

Inspiration for the family in Blood To Blood came from what some may consider to be an unlikely source: The Cosby Show.

Cosby Show: The Huxtable family

The Huxtables

Long ago (early 2000s), in a land far, far away (Los Angeles) when I was working on a different project (Star Trek) the idea for a TV show came to me. The family was based, in part and very loosely, on the family from the show, the Huxtables.

Since the theme of family comes up again and again in my work, it’s no surprise that the Huxtables inspired my writing. The series gave us a strong mom and dad who were both successful in the professional world, and managed to translate that success daily on the home front by making their family the priority.

Interestingly enough, when the Cosby Show first came out, some people were blown away by Black American characters who didn’t display any of the stereotypical dysfunction heretofore marketed to TV audiences. The reality of educated, upper middle-class Black American family life had been unseen on prime time. Millions of viewers became fascinated by a typical American family that was once considered The Other.

It’s the concept of Otherness disguised in the packaging of The Everyday that fascinates me.

As with the other family that inspired Blood To Blood, the element of otherness percolating within the framework of day-to-day life (or, as in the case with Dark Shadows, the ordinary percolating within the framework of Strangeness) inspires me to create characters who deal with the same issues we all deal with, but in a slightly “different” context.

Like most families, Angel Brown’s family grapples with the daily challenges of raising children into responsible adults, making good decisions, living a moral life, etc. The fact that they’re witches and blood drinkers is the stuff that makes them different, but it’s the commonality, the connection to all families, that makes them familiar.

 

 

My Muses: Cocteau Twins

One music act that has influenced my art (writing and visual) consistently is Cocteau Twins, a Scottish 80s goth band. I first got into them through a roommate and almost immediately fell in love with their sound. Although no Cocteau Twins tunes appear on

Cocteau Twins

Cocteau Twins

my Blood To Blood playlist, I still listened to them while writing.

For those of you that don’t know, there were no twins in the group. The lead vocalist, Elizabeth Fraser, is probably best known as the voice on Massive Attacks’ classic “Teardrop.”

They disbanded some time in the late 90s, and I always thought it was a crime that a band with a sound this ethereal never got the recognition it deserved. Many would agree, the music is timeless and atmospheric.

My go-to albums are the darker ones where Elizabeth doesn’t bother to sing real words but somehow the lyrics are packed with life-changing meaning.

Treasure is my breathless favorite and features a number of songs that are on the playlist to the follow-up to Blood To Blood

 

  1. “Ivo” – 3:53
  2. “Lorelei” – 3:43
  3. “Beatrix” – 3:11
  4. “Persephone” – 4:20
  5. “Pandora (for Cindy)” – 5:35
  6. “Amelia” – 3:31
  7. “Aloysius” – 3:26
  8. “Cicely” – 3:29
  9. “Otterley” – 4:04
  10. “Donimo” – 6:19

My Top 3 from this album…

1. “Donimo” always leaves me wanting more. This one song has inspired a number of scenes involving angels:

2. “Pandora” I cried when I first heard this. Sometimes I still do:

3. “Lorelei” – Rather happy but just as ethereal

Very Honorable Mentions:

“Pearly Dewdrops Drops” What human words can describe this song? Surely this is the sound of something Higher.

“Musette and Drums” Sheer brilliance. Best with headphones at the moment when darkness softly devours the last of the daylight:

 

My Muses: Dark Shadows – RIP Jonathan Frid

Jonathan Frid: Dark Shadows

Jonathan Frid: Dark Shadows

I was raised on Dark Shadows. Literally.

My mom loved this show. She watched it religiously, and I sat right beside her watching it, too. I remember the excitement both of us displayed as the eerie music rose at the top of the show. I’d look at her, she’d look at me and then we’d turn to stare at the dark stories unfolding before our eyes.

Real mom-daughter bonding.

The anticipation was the highest during the opening:

It was truly an event.

The funny thing is I cannot tell you anything about the plot. Yeah, I know it was about a weird family, that witches were involved and that the main guy Barnabas Collins was an ancient vampire. But I can’t remember the plot lines or even one episode. I was too young to even understand it much less absorb the story lines.

Nonetheless, Dark Shadows became, and will forever remain, part of the foundation of my creative subconscious. I grew up loving gothic mansions, strange unusual families and of course anything related to vampires.

The show was even an inspiration for Blood To Blood.

So now that Jonathan Frid, the actor who portrayed Barnabas (at the time of this posting his website, www.jonathanfrid.com, was “unavailable”), has passed on, and Hollywood has decided to revisit the show with a major film starring Johnny Depp, I’ve decided that it’s time for me to delve into one of the deepest parts of my subconscious. Thanks to the magic of YouTube and the miracle of Netflix streaming on my laptop, I can explore scenes from the original Dark Shadows and even watch an episode or two.

Maybe, this exploratory activity will uncover something about my writing that I was unable to figure out. Like why it’s always easier for me to write after the sun goes down. Or it might shed light on my personality. Like why images of brooding gothic mansions near cliffs pounded by waves give me the warm fuzzies.

 

 

Lyrid Shower 2012 – Ooohh, Aahhh!

I stayed up until 5AM writing last night/this morning and during that time tried to see the Lyrid Meteor shower. Alas, the sky was overcast all night, but I did find this gorgeous photo:

Credit: AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit

Also check out this cool photo from China DeSpain Freeman:

Credit: Science@NASA

This cool video from NASA explains it all:

Weekly Word: Daily Actions

“Anytime that you notice you’re not feeling well, ask yourself ‘What am I thinking?’ Usually it’s a negative thought.” ~ Jack Canfield

Jack Canfield usually hits the nail on the head when it comes to the how. How to take the law of attraction and make it a practical application to daily life. This installment sees him give some advice on things we can do everyday to change our lives and reach the goals we’re striving for. Good stuff!

Whenever I find myself having “one of those days” I think about my thoughts about what is going on in my life. It would be easy for me to say “Oh, X Y and Z is happening, and that’s why I feel this way blah blah blah.” But the real truth about what’s going on is my thoughts about X Y and Z and the blah blah blah.

One daily action I am working on making a habit is training my mind to work for me and not against me. Yep, it’s hard, but the benefits are immediate.