Friday, August 31, 2007

The First Single

Not that I want to, but I can't stop playing the first cut from the new Springsteen album. "Radio Nowhere" is a flat-out adrenaline rush.

Like any great Bruce song, I hear a bunch of different musical influences in there (REM and even a bit of Blue Oyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) the Reaper", for starters), and still I conclude, with its nearly perfect lyrics and its references to cars, radio, and highways, that only Bruce could have written it.

The song is an instant classic. Just a lyrical stunner. Vintage Bruce paired with a raw, almost distorted rock and roll sound.

My first thought was that this is a full-blown seventies rocker... but listen to the distortion. It's wrapped up in a little 90s grunge, no?

As if you'll need any more proof that this is a spectacular Springsteen song, on par with anything in his canon, I offer you my three most favorite lines:

" I want a thousand guitars
I want pounding drums
I want a million different voices speaking in tongues"

You tell me... if you saw those three lines on paper... could anyone else have written them? I suppose we'd forgive you if you shouted, "Bono!" But honestly, if you read those lyrics, you'd say, "Bono or Bruce." Right away, without even needing Option C.

To top it off, there's a reference to "Mystery Train." And, in the exact spot where you'd expect it, Clarence has a short, driving sax solo that punches the afterburners and sends the song hurtling into the stratosphere.

I downloaded the song free from iTunes. It's been my sole soundtrack since Tuesday, and here's the thing, I just can't help myself. As soon as it ends, I play it again.

I find myself wondering aloud what the late, great Nick Alicino would have thought of this one.


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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fourth and Goal

I just finished the fourth draft of my novel. I need to do one quick read-through to make sure everything is coherent, and then the book goes to my agent.

I was afraid I wouldn't have the luxury of one final read, but the timing worked for me because my agent has asked me to e-mail the manuscript instead of my usual snail-mail. With the long weekend, that buys me several more days. Plenty of time to rip through the leaner, meaner version.

More later.



Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Magic in the Night!

I've been waiting for this announcement since Fenway Park in 2003. And now it's official. Backstreets is reporting, through an exclusive interview with the man himself, that Bruce Springsteen starts a 31-night tour on Oct. 2 in Hartford, the same day that Magic is officially released. And yes, Thank you, God, it's an E Street tour!

For those of you more or less in my neck of the woods, in addition to opening night in Hartford, they hit Albany on November 15 and Boston on November 18. For my Norwegian friends, there's an Oslo date in December.

Let the ticket scrum commence. I now return to my regularly scheduled manuscript edits.



Monday, August 27, 2007

Proving Motive

I'm most of the way done with this latest draft. I'm thrilled with the edits. As usual, my agents suggested some very good fixes, and the book is better for it.

One of their suggested edits involved the motive for the central murder in this mystery. They were right: the original motive sucked. And now, finding a new motive is my last plot clot. I'll get this thing back to them by the end of this week, I think. The only problem is that I would have liked to have mailed it back last week.

I'll have more on this later. Hopefully, I'll be able to report to you at the end of this week that the manuscript is once again on its way to New York.

In the meantime, Oldest Son has returned from the Cape, Middle Child has already begun third grade, and Daughter still believes she's in charge of the household. She's certainly in charge of we who possess Y Chromosomes. The Saint has figured out Daughter.

The Saint, by the way, is still a rock star. She's preparing for another year, taking on an honors-level class in addition to all her other stuff. She's not terribly wild that I post about her here, but blogging about her is a lot more fun than blogging about my novel. Don't you agree?

Now that I've made that disclosure, let me mention that my college roommate, the first person not named Nick Alicino with whom I really discussed writing, married a woman (I also knew her in college) who grew up about four blocks from where I live now. We finally visited the other day. We'd spoken and e-mailed quite a bit, but we hadn't actually seen each other since Oldest Son's baptism, almost fourteen years ago. Of course, seeing each other again (the brief description, for each of us: significantly less on top, slightly more in the middle), we felt like fourteen seconds had elapsed instead of fourteen years. Nice having friends like that, right?

Finally, you might see a few vicarious travelogues here in the coming weeks. Seems my parents have decided to visit Italy. Best Man and Godfather has gone to Vegas. And Cousin Matt is in Merry Olde England.

I had a motive in writing all this, but I seem to have misplaced it. Oh, well. Back to my edits.


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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pure Magic

Once these edits are done, I'll be looking for Springsteen tickets.

According to this story from Backstreets, backed up by a nice, official press release, Bruce and the E Street Band are set to release Magic on October 2. Can a tour be far behind?

I haven't seen Bruce in concert since the end of 2005, and I haven't walked down E Street since September of 2003, so I'll be pulling out all the stops to see every show I can hit.

I now return to my regularly scheduled manuscript revisions. To keep my edits consistent with the theme of this novel, I've been listening to country music while I edit. Not that I needed an excuse, but now playing on my iPod: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in that September, 2003 concert at Fenway Park.



Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Video From A Troubadour

So, y'all know that my two favorite writers in the English language are not novelists, but rock stars. I may be stretching it a bit to call Kris Kristofferson, Army veteran, helicopter pilot, Rhodes Scholar and country legend, a rock star, but check out this video. The link is on Kristofferson's website, but apparently, it appears courtesy of Neil Young's website.

It's painful, like a great folk song or an Irish ballad, and poetic, like the best literary fiction, but unfortunately, it's all too true. It's the best music video I've seen since Johnny Cash did "Hurt".

"Hurt" goes onto the list as my favorite video of all time.


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Friday, August 03, 2007

Finally, A Party

This Summer has flown by. I mean, it's August 3. Middle Child starts school in less than three weeks. It seems like The Saint has just finished school herself. That graduate course on Shakespeare went more than halfway into July. The Saint earned an A, but I'm sure you've already guessed that.

I'm too tired for a transitional paragraph.

It's 98 degrees outside and our air conditioner is overworked. Tomorrow, we need to install the backup. It used to be in Daughter's room, but water leaked from it through our bathroom ceiling. We think it'll fit nicely in the den.

Again, fatigue prevents a proper transition. That whole thing about the air conditioner, it's relevant because:

Summer cookout season is finally in full swing. We have this group of five couples who all had kids in Middle Child's kindergarten class. Then those same five kids all played baseball together for two seasons. Two years ago, we started having Saturday cookouts, rotating among all the houses. Pretty soon, it was a good-natured competition, every host trying to wow the guests.

This is our third Summer, and we're still rolling along. We all started late this Summer. The Saint had that course, and the kids went away for Grandchildren's Week, and then we had to retrain them. In the middle of this, the Saint and I decided to put in a new bathroom. Have I mentioned that we only have one bathroom? We have very forgiving neighbors, and we also went to the gym at some very strange hours. But now we can show off a new room. Yeah, it's the bathroom, but it's still new.

So now that we have a new bathroom, we're hosting a Summer cookout.

I just made my Velvet Hammer Peach Sangria. It has wine, cognac, peach schnapps, triple sec, fruit juice, fresh peaches and berries. Drink it over ice on a hot day and it tastes like a spritzer, or maybe fruit punch, hence the velvet hammer appellation.

Best Man and Godfather may find this blasphemous, but I used white wine this time, not red. I sacrificed the richness of a red for the lightness of a white. The temperature is supposed to keep climbing tomorrow, and with the heat index, we'll be well into triple digits. The white stuff will taste better.

On the menu as well: jambalaya. I learned the recipe from a dear friend in college who grew up in New Orleans. I served as his sous chef on several batches of collegiate jambalaya. I also traveled to New Orleans with him, twice (and twice more on my own), sampling various delicacies. This version has ham, chicken, andouille sausage, two kinds of smoked sausage, and shrimp. Sometimes I add crawfish and smoked oysters.

There's a little cayenne pepper, and the andouille sausage is spicy, but other than that, I haven't turned up the heat. It's not really kid food, but I don't want those with bland palates (yeah, you know who you are) to have to recalibrate them. As a bonus, if any of the kids do decide to try it, it's free of all allergens. No nuts, no dairy, no eggs.

I've spent the last few hours chopping cured animal products, cubing fowl and peeling crustaceans. When I thought the worst was over, I minced the two largest onions I have ever seen (together, they were bigger than Rhode Island) and then hacked my hands to pieces when I was supposed to be dicing bell peppers (one green, one red, one yellow and one orange because I wanted all the pretty colors). My hands hurt so much I almost yearned for the bad old days of lawn mowing, but Oldest Son took care of that this evening.

Yes, we'll also have traditional cookout fare like hot dogs, burgers and steak tips. But it's our first party in a while, and I was feeling ambitious. I am exhausted. I'd like to edit a few chapters of my novel, but that new bathroom I mentioned? It needs cleaning.

We have a few neighbors joining us, too. I know he's in Montana, but I'm hoping that the Great and Gifted Jamie Ford drops in, with news. Check the comment section on my last post if you're wondering what news I mean.

I also got a new speaker system for my iPod for my birthday, which means there will be tunes. Thankfully, my Manuscript-Necessitated Bruce Exile is solidly in the rear-view mirror. I believe my Fenway bootleg will be getting a workout tomorrow afternoon.

Come on by. We'll have plenty of beer, food and sangria. Don't say I never warned you about the velvet hammer.


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