Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Horrors

I recently stumbled across an amazing web site dedicated to halloween music... including downloads! So I downloaded about one hundred hours of music and started digging in! There's tons of monster movie soundtracks from the Universal days up through the mid-70s plus lots of unique finds.

One nice treasure, for me in particular, is a record my family had called "Halloween Horrors." The first side is a spooky story about an old southern mansion, complete with tons of sound effects. While the adult me finds it amusing the kid me, as well as my brothers, found it pretty creepy stuff! Side two of this album is fifty or so sound effects that you can use to make your own scary tale, including every sound used on the first side. I don't recall that we ever made a scary tale but perhaps we tried and it was such a let down that I've erased it from my memory. It was a blast hearing these again after so many years, remembering things like how we laughed at the kitten sound effect. Ooooo.... scary kitten!

Of note is a snippet of violin music that was strategically used on side one. Years later I finally found out that this was from Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E Minor, a piece that isn't particularly frightening unless Romantic composers creep you out.

The web site? Right here at The links to download the files are in the comments section.


Friday, October 9, 2009

The following is a true story:

Last night I stopped by Pios, a local old timey meat market to pick up something to make for dinner. While I make my way to the counter I overhead a lady ask "Do you want steak tonight?" I look over and she's asking what appears to be a ten year old girl. "Must be nice," I thought. When I was a kid we rarely got steak and even now steak is a luxury. But I'm all for those who work hard and don't begrudge anyone what they've rightly earned.

Except this lady and her daughter and her twelvish looking son in their baggy clothes and greasy hair didn't exactly look like go-getters.

As it is a small store they have plastic baskets to put your food in instead of the giant Walmart-type carts. "Carry that basket up the front so mamma can pay."

"I can't. It's too heavy!"

By this time I'm by the counter and can see a basket overflowing with bundles wrapped in white butcher paper, capped off with a side of ribs. Again, I loves me some good ribs but it's not something I can afford, opting instead of the more affordable pulled pork.

Somehow the basket gets to the front of the store while Neil gets my order together (two and a half pounds of hamburger which I will stretch to feed a family of seven, if you must know) and I overhear the lady approve of the candy her kids have picked out. I take my solitary purchase and walk to the front of the store in time to see this lady pay for her feast of meat with a food stamp card.

I sure was glad that I could help pay for her $84 of meat. This wasn't the first time I'd been standing in line behind someone buying $50 of meat using food stamps while I pay cash for a pound or two of hamburger, sometimes seeing these same people drive away in nice new cars out in the parking lot while I climb into my 1995 Ford Taurus.

What's wrong with this picture?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Generic October Entry

I haven't been writing much here because I've been writing elsewhere. Or rather I've started submitting my short stories for publications. So far I have a stable of five stories (six if you count that I changed one slightly to "Christianize" it for a particular magazine) and and have received five or six rejection notices. YEAH! I'm not taking it personally, though, 'cause volume is the name of the game. Sure, after 100 rejections and not one bite I might feel the sting but for now it's onward ho!

The plan is to write one short story or make two submissions per week. I found an amazing site that lets you plug in the type of publication and it will give you a massive list of on-line and print magazines, how much or if they pay, their criteria, etc. For the most part it seems that my genre is "slipstream", which not surprisingly is a fancy word for "weird and offbeat." Go with your strengths, I suppose.

I also completed the Fruit Bat song... nine months in the making from melodic and lyric-snippet conception in January, hastily sung into a digital recorder to be revived a few months later when I had time to flesh it out. The amazing Greg Flesh, guitarist for Daniel Amos and The Swirling Eddies, laser scientist for NASA and potential Lutheran pastor, was generous enough to add lead guitar tracks all the way from California. Now it's time to work on a song for a Gene Eugene tribute album ("Hide Away") and two cover songs for Melynda for Christmas.