Posts Tagged ‘experiment’

Listening to Music to Write Books

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

So it’s winter and it’s horrible outside and I’m writing a new book that’s keeping me out of the cold. It’s consuming work, which feels good, but because of the workload, I need tools that help me along. Some of those are secrets and I won’t say anything about them. (You’ve got to keep some of your magic tricks to yourself or else they stop being both magic and tricks.) What I want to talk about here is rhythm.

This new book is really upbeat, violent, and rowdy. To keep the pace and energy going, I need a good steady sense of rhythm, and I get it by playing records while I work (which is kind of like listening to a click track when you’re recording a guitar part.) Music with prominent lyrics doesn’t work, unless the lyrics are incomprehensible (e.g. hardcore, noise, foreign language music) and/or sparse (see Yume Bitsu below). And there’s got to be some variety to match the variance of the human experience (if you’re writing about the human experience.) The best thing, I’ve decided, is to have a few good records in your quiver, records that you know well enough to match rhythm to story. Here’s what I’m working with right now.

1. Yume Bitsu Golden Vessyl of Sound (K Records) I usually stick with the first side of the first record on this double 12”. Later on it dips into some strange chaotic waters, but the first side is slow and steady and works well for dialog chapters and any internal or introspective stuff. There are vocals, but they’re hazy and opaque and stretched out into these long vaporous chants and drones. One downside is that while the space jam stuff fits the mood of the place I’m in (winter in Portland) it doesn’t fit the story I need to tell. Besides the very appropriate seagull samples (new age!), if I need something like Yume that feels more like the place I’m writing (San Diego) I go with:

2. The Album Leaf In an Off White Room (Troubleman Unlimited) This one sounds like San Diego, or at least the San Diego I’m writing, which is all dusky late-afternoons, dust bunnies on maple hardwood floors, and blushing crimson sunsets over Golden Hill. It’s a 10”, which ends quick, so if that doesn’t go the distance I’ll use…

3. The Album Leaf One Day I’ll Be on Time (Tiger Style) While not my top Album Leaf pick, this one’s a workhorse double-12” and serves the same purpose. Because I’ve had this forever, I know it front to back and I know which sides work for which stories. This one’s perfect for writing mellow chapters full of dusty sunlight coming through plastic window blinds, rosy half-asleep mornings, and big sighs of resolution after nasty drama and existential horror. Speaking of which…

4. Ornette Coleman Double Quartet Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation (Atlantic) This freaky 12” is my hero when I need to divine some murderous danger, reckless fun, and/or general disobedience.

5. Dave Brubeck Jazz Impressions of New York (Columbia) This was released in 1964 as the soundtrack to a TV series called Mr. Broadway, which I’ve never seen. Melody and improvisation. Big swarming, bustling city vibe. Very 1950s American. Good muscle for straight long-haul work when you need to sit down, grit your teeth, and tap out a 10-page chapter of linear physical action. Good for describing places too—if that place happens to be downtown San Diego at night when all the bars have let out and fog is rolling in over Harbor Island. I know nothing about jazz and I know less about Dave Brubeck. I don’t even know how this record came to me, but it did, and I’m happy with that.

BIO: Adam Gnade's (guh nah dee) work is released as a series of books and records that share characters and themes; the fiction writing continuing plot-lines left open by the self-described "talking songs" in an attempt to compile a vast, detailed, interconnected, personal history of contemporary American life. Check out recent writing here and songs here. Contact: adam@asthmatickitty.com

Twilight Script Pages

Monday, January 7th, 2008

Term Paper/Self-help Pamphlet Topics for Sale

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

Power Point: Blame Shifting in the Age of Digital Media

Information Policy: Conservation and Redundancy Reduction

Ping Pong: Dynamic Gaming Caligraphy

Slow Sweat : Love and Dirt in the Films of the 70’s

Social Networking for Fame and Fortune: How to get off the internet
and get into a pool of cash!

Whigs to Weave: A History of the Symbolic Use of Toupees

Optional Horizons: Flatening the Psychogeographic Landscape

Altered-Wax: Transcendent Psychological States in the Music of Hip-Hop

Scratch and Rewind: Structuralism as seen in Dub Reggae, Stan
Brahkage, and the Muppets

Informing Ourselves to Death: Crosswords, Blogs, and the Medium as the Methage

Ghost in the Attachment: Viral Paranoia and the new Digiparanormal

Mobius Baseball: Horizontal Aesthetics in the Great American Game

Huggin’ Asphalt: Lowriders and Ruff-Ryders

Key to Success: Eliminate Interpersonal Relationships

The Bus as Cultural Medium

Elvis: The King o Syncretism

Discussion Room Pilgrimage: Liminality in the Age of Chat

Bad Comedy: The Rise of Psychological Slapstick

Monster Truck Politics: Reagan and Company

The Post-Industrial Mirage: Plastics and Pet Dependency

Unpopular Culture Collection Development

Crop Circles, Corn Syrup and the Mitchell Mafia

Making a cookbook

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

This past year was a good one, but the better it got for me, the deeper into debt I fell. Being on tour supports itself, but when you’re on tour a lot, it makes it hard to hold down any kind of day job off-tour. So as the holidays roll around, I’m hurting for Christmas funds. I wanted to give my people something with substance, something good and solid that would tell them, “Yes, I still love you, even though we never see each other anymore. I love you so much I’m giving you this great, personal, heartfelt thing that’ll make up for all these months of me being distant, grumpy—or just gone.” I wanted to say all that in a present, to really knock the ball out of the park and prove that I’m not such a bad friend after all.

So I’m making a cookbook zine. I’ve been writing all my recipes down with notes and stupid little anecdotes and inessential instructions (“Bring water to a rolling boil. Do a shot of tequila. Toss broccoli in the pot. Do a shot of tequila” etc) I made up this great recipe for homemade corn chips with fresh grapefruit instead of salsa. There’s my modified Honey Slides recipe and my black bean cilantro tofu soup (which’ll turn you into the Incredible Hulk). There’s butternut squash/zucchini soup—and that’s where it ends. I am, at the moment, stuck.

So I’m forced to get experimental. I’m thinking I’ll have one “stolen” recipe I find in a real cookbook and just photo copy it in, do the layout as a parody of Found Magazine. Probably do some drink recipes, because I’m a pro at that. Also, if anybody out there has a recipe you want to contribute, email me through my myspace.

BIO: Adam Gnade's (guh nah dee) work is released as a series of books and records that share characters and themes; the fiction writing continuing plot-lines left open by the self-described "talking songs" in an attempt to compile a vast, detailed, interconnected, personal history of contemporary American life. Check out recent writing here and songs here. Contact: adam@asthmatickitty.com

youarebeautiful

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

I’ve been conducting an experiment. Inspired by the anonymous urban sprinklings of the “You Are Beautiful” collective, I’ve been trying out the phrase while in public. Looking at any stranger, I silently intone, “You are beautiful.” And a strange magic happens. The person, no matter how homely he or she may have seemed, becomes lovely. The uniqueness of face, of body, expression and style, rise to the surface, and the part of that person that may never believe such a thing about her-him-self actually becomes the most endearing part. I will admit that this magic does not work the same way with each person. Someone who is conventionally attractive might have a funny force field that ironically, initially bounces the phrase away, as if looking for a candidate in greater need. But with small persistence, that familiar I-am-ugly feeling can usually be caught right there under the surface, and rendered null for a moment by my incantation. The toughest customers are those whose hardness and bitterness ride the helm. The easiest are the unassuming, the average, the plain, the awkward.

Trying out the process with people I know well—friends, family, husband, sons—is also a different scenario, since I can say it with a deeper knowledge of who that person might be. Like shaking a jar of stones, beauty takes the top strata, and I say, with real conviction, “Yes, you ARE.”

Because most of us go through our days feeling anything but beautiful, such a simple encouragement has caught on with a fire that might only be rivaled by the Obey Giant phenomenon. See www.you-are-beautiful.com to view installations worldwide and read more about the project. And, hey: you are beautiful.

Shepard Fairey’s Obey Giant: http://obeygiant.com/

Gala Bent is a mother-artist-teacher living in Seattle who enjoys, among other things, this thought: between thesis and antithesis arcs the ever-loving synthesis. www.galabent.com

Quittin

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

Photo by AdSit

We’re on tour, driving east en route to Salt Lake, when I come up with the idea.

“I think I’m gonna quit cussing.”

No response from the front seat. The radio plays Motown. We race around the bend and down a hill, the road divided on each side by a wall of pine trees.

“I cuss way too much. It’s killing my vocabulary.”

“We all cuss too much,” Jessie says from the front seat. “Everybody does.”

“And I say ‘that sucks’ all the time. That’s just lazy. I need to stop doing that. I want you guys to punch me in the stomach as hard as you can every time I cuss or say ‘that sucks.’ Unless I’m talking about B—. Any cussing that comes from me talking about her is justified. That’ll be my exception.”

“Fair enough about B—,” says Thad from the driver’s seat, “but I don’t wanna hit you, dude.”

“Maybe you should start a swear jar,” says Jessie.

“No, I’m going on will power alone. From here on out I don’t cuss. It’s done.”

That was three months ago. At the time I believed wholeheartedly that my cussin’ and “that sucks” sayin’ days were over.

I held up well for the first month. Second month, I started to fall back on my old ways, but something weird happened; I began feeling paranoid all the time, like when you’re around somebody you’re hiding a big secret from and you’ve got to fight yourself to not tell it. And it digs at you; the chance that you might tell it makes you feel guilty and on edge and silly for keeping the secret in the first place.

I backslid and cussed more than ever any time I told friends about my no cussin’ experiment. In explaining the thing, I was reminded of my vice and set back on the train. I also cussed a lot after my house-mates sat me down and had me watch Deadwood—which is so swears-heavy you stop noticing the F-bomb parade after a while.

If I drank myself stupid (tequila), I cussed. If I was really happy or really sad, I cussed. I cussed in dreams and I cussed (passionately) after frustrating shows on tour. But as much as I slipped, I tried to keep my edge.

It all fell apart, I think, because swearing became what swearing was when I was a kid—something I wasn’t supposed to do and, thus, it felt great.

Last week, I got totally derailed and gave up—really fell off the wagon and busted my head open. These past couple days I cuss almost every sentence. Everything I write is full of filthy, rampant, savage cussing. I cuss on the phone until people hang up and never call again. I cuss when talking to myself. I cuss at animals, kids, trees, buses, clouds, stop-signs, my dinner, the sun, the moon, you name it. Cussing is back in my life like never before. It’s like a mastodon driving a giant Hummer and running over houses and school buses. It’s evil, unstoppable, a force nature.

So, the no cussin’ experiment … I failed, a disaster, flunked right out of the class of Growin’ Up 101. Maybe I wasn’t cut out for the job in the first place. On the bright side, “that sucks” is gone from my vocabulary. Even typing it, like I just did, gives me no thrill. So, see ya later, “that sucks.” Hello and pass the salt, cussing.

BIO: Adam Gnade's (guh nah dee) work is released as a series of books and records that share characters and themes; the fiction writing continuing plot-lines left open by the self-described "talking songs" in an attempt to compile a vast, detailed, interconnected, personal history of contemporary American life. Check out recent writing here and songs here. Contact: adam@asthmatickitty.com

Ode to Future Rapper

Monday, August 6th, 2007

[Listen to Shara rap]

Original text:
Future Rapper knows the deal.
Future Rapper is for real.
You can disbelieve the hype
but you should really take a bite
Cause Future Rapper is the guy
sci-fi from the low-fi
for the tie-dye you could be high
on all the verses he disperses
Leavin out the nasty curses
Not a wacky divinator
aint no psychic fortune teller
He’s a time space travel zapper
He’s the only Future Rapper.

Text remix via outsourced voicemail transcription:
wanna shot out a little wrapped your future wrapper ago so I’m like this teacher wrapper noses deal future wrapper is for real you can just leave the hike but you should really take a bite because future wrapper he’s the guy sci fi from the Lo fi for the tie dye you could be high on all the vs. He disburse is that even out the nasty curses not a wacky given aid ano psychic fortune teller he’s a time space travel that part he’s the only after you would sure rap . . .