Monthly Archives: April 2014
I remember hearing Loser just before Spring Break in 1994. It was a bass heavy ear bug sung by a mush-mouthed genius, and I wasn’t the only one who rewarded his smart-ass anthem to self-evident nerds everywhere.
I played it for my then fiancé along with another cool song I found called You by Candlebox. Jennifer much preferred the funny and random Beck song to the layered and emotional You even though I maintain that it remains one of the greatest rock songs ever recorded by a relatively underrated band.
We’ve picked up Beck’s albums over the years and they’ve been hit and miss for us. His 1996 record, Odelay, which sponsored a few big hits for him (Where It’s At and The New Pollution) was a fantastic follow-up to his debut, but then he lost us for about a decade.
Sure, we got his other CDs, including his weird little quasi-blues album, but they never lasted long in the car, and were traded for the likes of Toad the Wet Sprocket and The Presidents of the United States of America.
His 2005 album, Guero, got Jennifer’s attention and with songs like Black Tambourine and Go It Alone, I was on board at once. We were even treated to a re-mix album, Guerolito, later that year and it was almost as good as its predecessor.
He released his most intriguing record less than a year later. For starters, The Information has a do-it-yourself album cover and booklet. The CD comes with blank pages and a wildly inventive sticker sheet that you may use to design your own album. (I wish I had this one on vinyl).
This would be a great gimmick, but since the music is progressive and fun, it becomes epic art. Beck finally manages to get all his personalities to play on the same tracks, and the result is not the jumbled mess that one might expect, but a harmonious and whimsical journey through funky and fragile pieces. One most noteworthy, a three movement opus called: The Horrible Fanfare/Landslide/Exoskeleton, is a song that would fit in on the AWOLNATION album, Magnetic Symphony.
I was actually working at a radio station when his next album came out. It was only two years later, (2008) and I played three songs liberally even though none of them made if far up the charts. Modern Guilt is a funk friendly introspective album and the trio of tunes, Youthless, Walls and Soul of a Man, are some of the finest songs Beck has ever penned.
Then he took six years off…
Like from 2008 to 2014…off…
We picked up his latest album, Morning Phase, and it’s surprisingly beautiful. Gone are the silly lyrics and the bass heavy riffs. This record is filled with strings and samples of birds chirping. It’s soothing and so startlingly sure of itself that I hardly miss the old Beck at all. (Rumors say that side of him is far from buried and he’ll actually have a more Beck-ish album out soon).
Morning Phase is a concept album for sure, but it’s quite nice late at night (in the bedroom) as well. One song blends into the next in a tapestry of dream fueled images that make me feel like I’m back in a time when music was the mood altering drug of choice.
Though not as good on a road trip as Odelay, Beck’s newest (and only) offering in six long years is ultimately worth the wait. Now that I hear it, I see that he had to go get inspired by Iron and Wine first, and that’s just fine with me. I like profound songs that don’t try too hard, yet include a modern touch. Not many artists can hit all those points at once but I only need a few. Having said that, I hope he really does come out with another album soon.
This past weekend, Morgan and I appeared on the La Literati online radio show.
We discussed our upcoming book release, played a round of the Newlywed Game and answered a few random questions. We had a wonderful time on the show and look forward to another appearance after Exposure is released.
If you missed the interview, you can still listen to it here:
Many thanks to Tosha and Niles for inviting us on their show and for making us feel right at home.
Stay tuned to our blog for more updates about Exposure’s upcoming release. We’ll have some exciting news to share with you very soon.
This month’s Random Fan is Tosha, who has her own online radio show called La Literati. It is a show about poetry, books and creative, inspiring people of all kinds. Morgan and I were honored when Tosha asked us to appear on the show. You can listen to our interview live on April 27 at 6:00 pm Eastern time. In the meantime, if you’d like to know more about La Literati, be sure to visit at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/laliteraticarpelibrum.
Many thanks to Tosha for signing on for this experiment with us.
Morgan and Jennifer: How did the La Literati online radio show come about? What do you enjoy most about the show?
Tosha: I’ve always had a passion for reading and writing. Authors and poets are truly my heroes. I wanted a way to pay tribute to the creative mind. La Literati was born out of that idea. I asked my dear friend and fellow bibliophile, James Dennard, to come along for the journey. He graciously agreed, and the rest is history.
The best part about doing the show is connecting with writers. It’s always exciting to hear their creative process. We want La Literati to not only be a platform for established authors, but also for up and coming ones.
Tosha: It’s an honor to be your fan of the month, but why not fan of the year? Can you tell me a bit about your upcoming book?
Morgan and Jennifer: Sure, thanks for asking. This summer, we will be publishing our first novel with Omnific Publishing. The book is called Exposure and is a contemporary romance set in present day Hollywood. We decided to write it together after Jennifer shared the story idea with Morgan over a date night dinner. We’d say it leans more toward the comedic than the dramatic, but there is a dastardly villain to elevate the tension and there are also some pretty steamy love scenes.
Morgan and Jennifer: Was there a particular book or a series of books that inspired your love of reading and books? Where did it all begin?
Tosha: It all started from C.S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia. As a child, I used to spend endless hours trying to travel through my wardrobe. 🙂 I also loved Dr. Seuss and The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner.
Jennifer: Your answer takes me back, Tosha. When I was growing up, the boy who lived next door to me was considerably older but whenever his parents babysat me, he would read to me from the Narnia books. When he graduated high school and went off to college, he gifted me with a set of my own. And my third grade teacher read The Boxcar Children to my class. Those were some of my favorite moments in childhood.
Tosha: What do you feel is the difference between male and female points of view?
Jennifer: One of the reasons I asked Morgan to co-write Exposure with me was because I had a very specific male villain in mind and I was determined to write him correctly. I knew Morgan would be more likely to tap into that male energy and help bring the character fully to life. Not to say that he strictly wrote the male characters or that I stuck to the female characters, but his input on certain reactions for the male characters in our novel was instrumental.
Morgan: Jennifer’s passes on the manuscript brought out more and more emotion and tone. The characters were well-drawn, but not yet colored and she filled them in. Once we both saw what the other was adding to the process, we both gained the ability to find places to boost the necessary aspects important to a particular scene.
Jennifer: When I’m asked a question like this, I always rely on my experience as a parent. I have a son and a daughter, and I would say there is only one major difference I’ve noticed between the two. My son tends to be frustrated or annoyed by situations. As his mother, I realized early on that if I could successfully distract him from the situation that was upsetting him, he’d quickly forget about it and move on with his day. Not so with my daughter. My daughter always becomes irritated or angry at the person(s) she feels is responsible for causing a disagreeable situation. Her reactions are always more personal than situational, and as such she usually needs to find her resolutions by discussing her feelings with the people she’s been upset by.
Tosha: You discover a beautiful island upon which you may build your own utopia. What are the first three rules you put into place?
Morgan: Everyone gets a vote. Everyone gets a chance. Everyone gets a chalupa.
Morgan and Jennifer: What author would you love to interview on your show that you haven’t had the chance to yet? Why?
Tosha: This is a tough question. There are so many!! I’m going go with Morgan and Jenn Locklear. I’m told there will be candy if I do. 🙂
Morgan: Would you settle for a chalupa?
“I had my own idea of grief. I thought it was the sad time that followed the death of someone you love and you had to push through it to get to the other side. I am learning that there is no other side. There is no pushing through anything, but rather, an absorption. Adjustment and acceptance. Grief is not something you complete, but rather endure. Grief is not a task to finish and move on, but an element of yourself, an alteration of your being, a new way of seeing and a new definition of self.”
~ Gwen Flowers, Wings of Hope Living Forward
Ten years ago, I was 30 years old and carrying my second child. I arrived at an ultrasound appointment, fully expecting to hear that our child was healthy and hoping to learn whether we were expecting a boy or a girl. Instead, I was informed by my doctor that after 21 weeks of pregnancy, the baby had passed away.
On the morning of April 20, 2004, my husband and I arrived at the birthing center of our local hospital. I was admitted and induced into labor. That evening, with Morgan at my side, I delivered our child – a son we named Eric Jacob. I struggle to describe that day with any one word. Those who came to offer solace had difficulty hiding their fear and concern for me. The day was agonizing and sad, but it was also precious. I can’t bring myself to call it the worst day of my life, although I doubt anyone would slight me if I chose to say that it was.
The unexpected loss of our son is likely the deepest grief we will ever endure. It would have been tempting to surrender to it, but we were already parents to a 7-year-old son. Before we returned home, I spoke with my husband. Together, we decided we would find a way to move forward with life. We didn’t want our son to shoulder the burden of our loss. In the days and weeks that followed, we did our best to return to a normal routine.
It wasn’t easy.
My physical recovery was hampered by emergency surgery, followed by a bout of pneumonia. Emotionally, I struggled with depression. Many nights, I had trouble sleeping. Outside of work, I found socializing more of a chore than a pleasure. The people in my life offered sympathy and kindness, but it was clear that they were navigating unfamiliar waters. While I was struggling to accept my grief, they were struggling with how to treat me. At times it was obvious that people didn’t always know what to say or what to joke about or what to do when I was around. And I found it mentally exhausting to maintain a brave face.
A few months later, on a Friday afternoon in August, I was working in my office and realized I needed a file from a cabinet behind my desk. Without thinking, I spun in my office chair and rose from my seat to approach the cabinet. Almost immediately, I became lightheaded and the room began to spin out of control. I froze in my stance and rode out the incident, hoping I wasn’t about to hit the floor. When I recovered from the dizzy spell, I quickly understood what it meant. I was pregnant once again, and whether I was ready or not, life was moving forward.
The following April, just days before the first anniversary of Eric’s loss and after a pregnancy free from complication, we returned to the hospital. After twelve hours of labor, our daughter was born. She was in perfect health and she completed our family. Some believed this signaled the end of our grieving process, and I wish I could tell you they were right. But nothing is ever quite that simple. However, our daughter’s birth was the most important and tangible milestone in our recovery.
It has now been 10 years since our son’s loss and the anniversary falls on Easter Sunday. I’ve been thinking about this weekend for some time and mulling over the significance of observing this milestone on this particular holiday. I’ve reflected on where I once was, what I’ve been through since that day, and where I find myself now.
Today, I am 40 years old and a full decade beyond that moment of tremendous loss. I’ll be honest … thinking about Eric can still bring tears to my eyes within seconds. The sadness over his death has been absorbed as best as I think can ever be expected. I have fully accepted that it will always hurt me to think about our son. Regardless of this, my life is a good one. And if there’s anything I want you to take away from this post, it is this – I believe that many of my happiest days have occurred in the past 10 years.
Overall, we are content. Our son is now in high school, our daughter just celebrated her 9th birthday, and our marriage has thrived. When Morgan and I committed to moving our family beyond our grief, we also discovered a deeper connection to one another. In the past 10 years, our bond as husband and wife has only grown stronger. Despite the shock and pain of what we went through, we fell even deeper into love. Several years ago, we discovered a mutual passion for writing and through this we have found great fulfillment and happiness. We discovered an incredible online community, developed strong friendships with people from all around the world, wrote and shared some fun stories, and together we will publish our first novel this summer.
What is important to us now is to assist others who are enduring their own loss and grief. Locally, we became donors for our local hospital, primarily allocating our gifts for the benefit of women and children in our community. Online, we have become dedicated supporters of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, a charity based in Colorado. The mission of the organization is “to introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with a free gift of professional portraiture.”
When we lost Eric, this was not a service available to us. Knowing how fleeting those moments with him were, we understand how important it can be to a grieving family to receive this opportunity. Our experience also taught us that people often feel compelled to help a family after the loss of a baby, but they don’t always know what can make a difference.
If you have ever wondered how to help a family, Morgan and I strongly encourage you to become involved with this organization. You can donate, or you can help bring their services to your local area by raising awareness in the community or by connecting a photographer and your local hospital to the charity.
We encourage you to look more into NILMDTS, by visiting any of their sites:
“Time is ungovernable, but grief presents us with a choice: what do we do with the savage energies of bereavement? What do we do with the memory – or in the memory – of the beloved? Some commemorate love with statuary, but behavior, too, is a memorial, as is a well-lived life. In death, there is always the promise of hope. The key is opening, rather than numbing, ourselves to pain. Above all, we must show our children how to celebrate existence in all its beauty, and how to get up after life has knocked us down, time and again. Half-dead, we stand. And together, we salute love. Because in the end, that’s all that matters. How hard we loved, and how hard we tried.”
~ Antonella Gambotto-Burke, sayinggoodbye.org
Have you ever been reading a book and the author says the exact same thing two sentences in a row? Sure, they change some words around, maybe reverse the observational order, embellish it a little, but essentially repeat themselves. It’s just a natural instinct to be understood completely and there’s scarcely an author living or dead who hasn’t been trapped by literature’s version of the double-take.
I don’t know why this is such a subconscious temptation and even though they’re far easier to spot than typos, we let them slip by time and time again. No author wants to be pedantic, but writers are somehow blind to their existence even after the editing process. Even readers allow a certain amount of repetition, (did you notice that the first two sentences of this paragraph basically said the same exact thing)?
Reminding readers of certain facts throughout a novel is necessary, but what I’m talking about here is those horrific instances that occur right next door to each other, (or at least in the same neighborhood). Some of my absolute favorite authors fall victim to this more frequently than I would prefer, but I don’t really mind and I certainly don’t blame them. But I want to make sure I keep it under wraps in my own writing and I have a plan in place to succeed.
I have said many times in these Wordslinger posts (ironic in this moment, I know), that authors can get too close to their work and miss things. Getting other people involved to review your work, especially if they have different focus goals, is the best way to clean and clear your fiction.
Film directors and producers have long known that movies exist in three forms: the written version, the shot version, and the edited version. They recognize that these processes build on each other like Legos (SPACESHIP!) They have their individual merits, but the combined efforts and talents of people over time make the finished product.
Not surprisingly, many directors have learned to love the editing process because it allows them to change everything from tone to pacing without sacrificing the material. The same can be true for a novel. First you write it, then you re-read and re-work the entire piece, (what I call a squeegee), and finally you turn it over to social or professional editors who will begin rounds of magnification that will really start to bring out the essential soul of the book and polish the pivotal moments.
Have I ever mentioned that my wife and I read our stories out loud to each other? I hope I have because I can’t say enough how different things sound to my ears than they look to my eyes.
Even if you have betas, and editors, it is shockingly easy to miss instances of double dipping so you need to assign yourself or someone else, to look for this specifically. I’d encourage you to just spot and eliminate them as you are writing, but again I have to acknowledge the hypnotic power they have to go unseen at the time of conception.
At least when you do find them, you get to pick your favorite to keep.