Saturday, September 6, 2008

Where the devil hangs his hat

I'm finding with prodigious speed -- okay, I found out aeons ago after only a few pages, but I wanted a decent opening; I knew I should have gone with the scantily clad babe -- that writing fiction is a Dick Cheney's basement of a lot harder than poetry in certain respects.

Why didn't any of you bastards tell me?

Sure, fine-tuning a few short lines into the perfect -- ha -- snapshot of the exact shade in the vast spectrum that even a single emotion contains is nigh impossible, but it can drive you to drink copious amounts of booze be ruminated upon with delicacy and thoughtful care over intermittent gaps in time. Au contraire for some inexplicable reason, I feel I can't go too long in between bouts of composing the next batch of paragraphs with something this large or I'll lose, I don't know, the narrative flow (even as it goes off on various tangents), the vibe (dull melodrama sex! drugs! absinthe! rock and roll! um, street musicians! is about the most apropos description). And since it's historical, I have to deal with the omnipresent problem of research.

Research, as one could plausibly assume, can often be tedious -- combing through piece after piece of utterly useless or merely inapplicable bits of background detail whose only power lies in cluttering an already overloaded, bloated and run-on hunk of crap -- or frustrating -- waiting weeks for an uncommon volume that you hope holds what you've been searching for, all the while assuming whether it does or not might turn out to be moot because it's in a language you're a rank amateur in, praying to Cthulhu, as us atheists do, that it's not as empty as McFossil's --

You said that you wouldn't blog about politics today.

I'm Evil Randal, dumbass. Evil.

Then let me finish the post.

By yourself
? Fine, you're boring as hell anyway. I'm gonna go chat up some of the ladies. They dig twirling my moustache, if you catch my drift.

Anyway, research can also be quite enjoyable -- no, really, hear me out -- and rewarding in ways both obvious and inconspicuous. I'm a sucker for footnotes and endnotes -- you know, those bits of documentation that Regnery authors never use to back up their outrageous claims and blatant lies, thereby proving the truth since only candyass lie-bruls need to reinforce their feeble words in their pointless quest to feel good about their inadequate selves -- because a single volume can open up new vistas of information and imagery.

I know what you're thinking, "Randal, you stupid fucker, I had to use those goddamn things on papers all throughout high school and college when I actually went to class because I wasn't usually hungover on Wednesdays and sometimes Thursdays, so shut the fuck up." Mellow out, people. Give Nunly a call, maybe she's got some extra in her stash she can comp you. My point being that I've come across some of my favorite, or at the very least, highly enlightening, works through these unfairly cursed scholastic requirements, and no matter where you find your details, these particulars will lend a further gravitas to your work. Even if your reader may not initially, or ever, recognize that the crumbled-up cookie things they gloss over without a second thought are real or merely figments drawn up while sprawled out on the couch or careening over an endless chain of potholes as the bus bobs up and down like a drunken sailor fallen overboard, their presence can only help augment the atmosphere you're trying to create because you know they're legitimate, and if we don't write for ourselves, then what's the point?

Concerning research's shadowy, ninja-like aspects -- I miss playing Ninja Gaiden. But man, did those fucking birds give so many cheap deaths -- the wealth of information you've gleaned from your sources, whether they be maps, official documents, historical non-fiction, novels, music, art, cannot help but trickle, through the kinetic energy they inherently possess and fluidly display in those of us who enjoy learning and can't keep our brains on one thought for too long before jumping to another, into the writing itself. Now this doesn't mean an overt placement of an item by our subconscious, but simply the flavoring of the prose. Think of it as a palimpsest we access while writing. Sure, we might be using text A, B or C but the tenebrous remnants of X, Y and Z of a related subject continue to haunt the creative process beneath the surface, informing the words and phrases we pick without knowing it, choices we might not have otherwise made.

Lastly, it's just neat when you come across something cool. Okay, maybe this won't be cool to you -- and I won't shun you if you feel otherwise, 'cause I'm gentle -- and perhaps it's not as thrilling as finding and deciphering the Rosetta Stone or the clues to a long-buried crypt complex full of the rarest of treasures and gold doubloons and a crate of mint-condition Action Comics #1, but I wouldn't have minded being at this gig:

2e concert extraordinaire
Le Dimanche 20 décembre 1863, à deux heures précises.


1 Symphonie en la, Beethoven
2 Fragments de la 3e partie de Saisons, Haydn
3 Romance en fa, pour violin, Beethoven
4 Final du 2e acte de la Vestale, Spontini
5 Ouverture du Freyschutz, Weber

Interesting about the tastes of Second Empire Parisians, starting with the main course, and finishing up with the hors d'oeuvres. Shouldn't the foreplay be first and the climax at the end?


Übermilf said...

I hate pop music.

What does that say about me? I'm lazy and non-crafty?

Utah Savage said...

It pays to get up early after all. Only bested by the lovely headless ubermilf. Oh well. Research!!! Research is really for non fiction Randal. Odd how often it is that those who like footnotes also like classical music. Serious motherfucker. And as for your last question, not necessarily. I'll take my hors d'oeuvres and foreplay whenever I can get it--first last or in between.

La Belette Rouge said...

You are not just a heavy metal guy. I am guessing that if musical taste defines personality---or if this blog post defines personality---you are a multiple of personalities. And, you know I mean that in the best possible way.

I think my musical taste means that I am clinically depressed.

Mary Ellen said...

Gee, I was really happy when I read "The study concluded that jazz and classical music fans are creative with good self-esteem, although the former are much more outgoing whereas the latter are shy." because I really do love jazz music and classical.

Then I was confused when I read, "Those who choose to listen to exciting, punchy music are more likely to be in a higher earning bracket, he says, while those who go for relaxing sounds tend to be lower down the pay scale."--because I do love loud music with a great beat when I'm driving....but I'm not rich. Sigh. I guess I'll have to start turning down my music while driving.

But the best line in this entire (wonderful post), "I knew I should have gone with the scantily clad babe -- that writing fiction is a Dick Cheney's basement of a lot harder than poetry in certain respects."...just love that description of hell!

Oh, and I like the real Randal...that evil mustache just creeps me out. ;-)

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

i hate it when i'm gone a few days and come back and there are like fucking gazillion brilliant words,phrases and entendres wrapped up into neat little cadeaus, tied with simple ribbons to make it all look so easy.

I just can't compete.

MRMacrum said...

I know myself. And researching the antics and misdeeds of others eventually leaves me wasted and out of mental breath. Sensory overload creates a gridlock of sorts and I do not know where to bring the tow truck.

So I just meander around the country lane in my mind. Not much there, but man is the scenery great.

Randal Graves said...

übermilf, well that just depends on what other kinds of music you like. Tell us, and then we are free to pigeonhole you.

utah, oh hell no, I need to know which streets had different names 140 years ago, the architectural details, which roads hadn't been finished but end at a pile of rubble, all that good stuff. Footnotes are like the basso continuo underneath, you know?

As for climaxing and foreplay, I'll take anything. You listening dear wife? Pretty please? I'll even cut the grass this week. Maybe.

LBR, I'm the good kind of Sybil! Now there's nothing wrong with minor keys and certainly not with depression, so fuck the DSM-IV. Give me a sad tune over pep any day of the week.

ME, see, now you can put those nagging doubts to bed! You're good enough, you're smart enough and fucking hell, people like you.

Have you tried driving with no music, but screaming the lyrics at the top of your lungs when you're at home?

Don't worry, Real Randal doesn't sport a Snidely Whiplash. ;-)

JNRR, if you'd stop having and enjoying - well, maybe not the Misadventures of Painting thing - a real life, you could be like the rest of us losers and hang on the internets all day.

mrmacrum, I couldn't have said it better myself. My head may not be as purty as others', but it's what I know.

MRMacrum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MRMacrum said...

I liked your comment on Morning Martini - "Healing the planet is sooooo gay." So appropriate.

Sure seems an agreeable alliance in my opinion. Beats drilling for oil while wearing a robe and carrying a staff.

BTW - that is my post that was deleted. Some embarrassing typos and other unattractive stuff.

Beach Bum said...

Country and western fans were found to be hardworking and shy...

Yeah, that seems to be true for me, except that like ubermilf I hate pop music which is mostly what country is these days.

I dig the evil Randal with the goatee and mustache, sort looks like the evil Spock from Star Trek.

Distributorcap said...

randal..... you are starting to look very french

susan said...

Ooo lala! The Snidely Whiplash look becomes you, mon ami.
I'd like to be playing this.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what drugs Professor North is on, but the Metal-heads I know are some of the most angry, angst-ridden people I know. I know. I know. It's only rock and roll. But I like it. Yes I do.

Border Explorer said...

So you understand the split-screen life because you live it, with yours alternating centuries. Cool. Marijuana/absinthe: you've got the best of both worlds.

Dr. Zombie said...

Excellent post, dear friend!

References to Cthulhu, absinth, and unrepentant revelry in the sinful and subservient academic lust that is footnotes! Tthis post had it all...

And I dig the Evil Randal. Although he looks less like Spock from the alternate universe as he does V from V for Vendetta...

Doctor Z: Who are you?

Randal: Who? Who is but the form following the funtion of what and what I am is a man in a mask.

Doctor Z: Well I can see that.

Randal: Of course you can. I'm not questioning your powers of observation. I'm merely remarking on the paradox of asking a masked man who he is...

: )

Dusty said...

Damn, do you know how long it took me to read this post dude?

I am gentle and creative? Who knew? ;)

Personally, I like my desert first btw. ;p

Snave said...

Utah Savage, is your name a response to the 80s pop group Utah Saints? Heh! Just kidding.

I dunno Uber, I don't like pop music that much either. Most things that are so contrived and formulaic and designed to appeal to the masses tends to leave me a bit flat.

That's what I like about L'Ennui Melodieux, it is not contrived and formulaic. Randal, I think your blog is anti-pop.

"Country and western fans were found to be hardworking and shy..."

Not the ones here in the part of NE Oregon in which I live.

And re. country music, I think it was Dave Barry who once said the difficulty of the line dance is inversely proportional to the collective IQ of those performing it.

As for the alter-ego Randal, I think the Mephistophelian look is great!

Alas, poor Stuart Smalley... I laugh out loud every time I think of the scene where he finally gets up enough courage to confront Roz.

Snave said...

Adrian North? Any relation to Oliver, I wonder? And where does he get these half-baked ideas?

My love of indie rock means I "have low self-esteem"? HAH... Death Cab For Cutie gives me untold powers, and listening to The National makes me nearly omnipotent. I will make mincemeat of North and his feeble research. And we will get along fine once he realizes I'm God.

Well, definitely just kidding about that last part, but simply listening to Guided By Voices has caused me to suddenly become a buff, swarthy beast.

DivaJood said...

I can provide you with every verse of "Three Green and Speckled Frogs" if that would suit. No? How about "The Elephants on the Spider Web?"

Liberality said...

"Shouldn't the foreplay be first and the climax at the end?"

in my universe that is the preferred order, I give you that!

Unconventional Conventionist said...

Dude, these are the same frogs who would substitute middle movements of classical concerti, i.e. one of Haydn's middle piano concerto movements INTO the spot Mozart ACTUALLY WROTE a middle movement of a piano concerto.

They drank a lot of absinthe, and were completely stoned, which I admire, however their taste was definitely deuxième as was their Empire.

I can TOTALLY relate why you simultaneously LOVE and HATE French.