Lyrically Writing – More Than a Feeling

11 Mar

I usually write about real life stuff, but I have dabbled in fiction a few times with one post about an aging rock star and another post about a man walking into a bar. Fiction hits me at strange times, and those times are rare. However, an idea has come to mind about how to get more fiction out of that same mind. It is simple. Just take lyrics from a song and write a more detailed story out of it.

This is my first attempt. The song is “More Than a Feeling” by Boston.

He laid in bed and stared at the ceiling. There were cracks and a stain from an old leak. He studied them with the help of a streetlight shining through the window. He had no idea how long he had been staring at the ceiling, but he knew that it was time to start the day.

He looked out the window and saw nothing but the streetlight. The sun was not up. Nothing was moving. It was just him, the light and the cracks in the ceiling.

He walked to the bathroom and slapped the button on the radio. It was already set to the oldies station. When did the songs of his youth become oldies? He knew the answer as he looked at himself in the mirror. He was also an oldie. Lines spiderwebbed from his tired eyes.

As he studied the map of life on his face, another song came on the radio. It was a song that brought memories from a lifetime ago. It brought recollection and regret. He closed his eyes and listened to the words. Somewhere in the melody, he slipped away.

What was that feeling? No, it was more than a feeling. It was a dream. It was a nightmare. It was heartache. Standing in that cold bathroom with his eyes closed, he saw it happening all over again.

It was a hot summer day. The sunlight glistened in her blonde hair. Hers eyes were swollen with tears as she told him that this was it. She could not do it anymore. It was a moment that he thought would never come. She was done. He was unable to move as she walked away. At that moment, a car drove by with the windows down and the radio up. The song on the radio drifted over him as she disappeared from his life.

He sat in his cubicle as the song played in the chambers of his mind. To make it stop, he thought of the women who had been part of his life. Some of the memories were clearer than others, but there was one certainty. As the years went by, their faces faded further and further into the back of his mind. At some point, they would not be there at all.

However, there was one face that he would never forget. It was a beautiful face etched into his memory. It was also a face of sadness and regret. It was her face as she turned to walk away. It was her face on that summer day when he knew that his life would never be the same.

The day was at a close, and darkness returned to his apartment. He slapped the button on the radio. It was already set to the oldies station. Usually, the music made him forget another uneventful day. This time, it brought her back into his dreams. This time, it brought back that feeling. Wait, it was more than a feeling.

It took him back to a certain time and a certain place. It took him back to that summer day when he did not close his eyes to sleep. He closed his eyes to her love, and, with those closed eyes, his watched her slip away.

 

 

 

Call Me the Over Analyzer

6 Mar

My wife just read my last post, and she was not happy with it. She says that I ruin sappy movies by over analyzing them. She is probably right. I tend to over analyze movies.caution

Jeremiah Johnson is one of my favorite Westerns, and I critique it because it is not a true portrayal of  mountain man life. They never show him doing his job, which should be trapping beaver for a fur trading company. That is what I loved about The Revenant. It actually showed the bloody and grueling work of mountain men. Of course, they also filmed a movie in the Canadian Rockies even though the actual story took place in the Dakotas. Those are two places that do not look the same.

There is a long list of movies that I have over analyzed, but there is one that I could not get my head around. In The Bridges of Madison County, Meryl Streep watched her husband and kids leave town to show a cow at the state fair. Then, Clint Eastwood shows up and sweeps her off of her feet. Most people walked out of the movie thinking about this love that could never be fulfilled. I left the movie thinking about her poor husband showing the cow at the state fair. He would never know that his wife was screwing around while audiences cried over her heartbreak.

Anyway, I guess I am bad about over analyzing movies. I look for the inconsistencies. Heck, I have my classes watch movies based on historic events and make them write papers about how wrong the movies are.

Maybe I am taking this movie thing too far. I expect movies to tell me what really happened, and movies are not going to do that. Many of them are going to be entertaining. Many of them are going to be thought-provoking. A bunch of them are going to suck. I just need to understand that they are rarely going to be realistic.

 

Blind Sided

27 Feb

The Blind Side is a movie based on the real story of Michael Oher, a young African-American who is adopted into a wealthy Memphis family. Through their support, he blossoms into a great football player who goes on to success in college and the National Football League. It is a movie about the goodness of people and about what can happen when someone gets a little help along the way. It is a movie that makes the audience feel good about the world. It is a movie that everyone in my family likes.blind-side

Except me.

That situation has led to arguments. It has led people to think that I am cold-hearted. It has led to statements like “How can you not like The Blind Side?”

Well, let me explain how.

I was initially turned off by the main character played by Sandra Bullock, who hates the University of Tennessee. Why would I want to watch a movie where they talk smack about the team that I like? That makes no sense to me.

For a long time, that was my reason for not liking The Blind Side. However, people did not accept that, and my argument had to be strengthened. That is when I started looking into the story a little more carefully.

Before I get into that, there is something else that I need to explain. I am not a fan of any movie that takes real people and turns their story into a simple fairy tale. There are a ton of these movies out there, and they all make the same mistakes. Humans are complicated, and they have complicated stories. Turning those complicated stories into simple “feel good” narratives is not fair to the people being portrayed, and it is not fair to the audience. I am all for “feel good” movies. However, they are better told in the fictional world.

This does not even take into account the criticism this movie faced for being part of the “white savior” narrative. Those are the movies where white characters find out something about themselves by helping people of color who, according to the narrative, cannot help themselves. Some other movies that fit this are Cool Runnings, Dances With Wolves, Glory Road, Lawrence of Arabia and McFarland USA,

Now, here is the complicated tale of Michael Oher and the Tuohys, his adopted family.

The movie portrays Michael as a big poor kid who did not know how to do anything. Then, Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy took him off the streets. That is when his football talent emerged.

In reality, he was an all-state football player and one of the top linemen in the nation who lived with several foster families. The Tuohys were one of those families, and they adopted him.

This is where my cynicism shows through, but first I will say this. I am sure that the Tuohys cared for Michael. After all, they are real people with real feelings. However, it did not hurt that he was a great football player. Why did that not hurt? Because the Tuohys were huge boosters of the University of Mississippi. Mr. Tuohy played basketball for Ole Miss and worked as an announcer on basketball radio broadcasts. Mrs. Tuohy was a cheerleader at the school.

This is where the arguments ensue. Others say that his football ability had nothing to do with the adoption. I say that I have seen a lot of crazy stuff in Southeastern Conference football recruiting. Adopting a great football player is a good way to pass benefits to the player in a legal way, and some people will go to any length to do that. Heck, Memphis is one of the most notorious cities when it comes to questionable recruiting tactics.

Anyway, huge Ole Miss boosters adopt one of the nation’s top high school football players, and he ends up going to Ole Miss. It caught the attention of the NCAA.

Members of my family read this blog, and this post may lead to more heated discussions about The Blind Side. So, why am I bringing it up? Here is why.

This week, the NCAA announced that Ole Miss lacked institutional control when it came to football recruiting. There are violations after violations. People are wondering what punishment they will receive. People are also wondering what will happen to Hugh Freeze, the head football coach who oversaw some of this activity.

Do you know where Hugh Freeze used to be the football coach?

Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis.

Do you know who was one of his best players?

Michael Oher.

Do you know how he got into college coaching?

He was hired at Ole Miss 20 days after Michael Oher signed the papers to play at the school.

I am sure that The Blind Side is a good movie about good people. Heck, Sandra Bullock won an Academy Award for her portrayal. I am also sure that Michael Oher would not be where he is today without the influence of the Tuohys. However, there is more to the story than this simplified version, and I wish that was the movie that had been made.

“Travel America” and Me

20 Feb

The other day, we were flying to Arizona, and I picked up a magazine to read on the plane. Travel America lists over 250 places to visit in the United States. As I skimmed through the pages, I began to count all of the ones that I have visited. I have been lucky enough to travel to all 50 states and have seen some great stuff. This is a list of places that Travel America and I have in common.

Wait, here is a picture that I took on the trip to get you in the mood. It is in the Superstition Mountains.img_2279

Massachusetts

Paul Revere House

Old North Church

USS Constitution

New York

Central Park

Madison Avenue

Statue of Liberty

Empire State Building

Broadway

Niagara Falls

Pennsylvania

Independence Hall

Liberty Bell

National Constitution Center

Rhode Island

The Breakers

Florida

Walt Disney World

Kennedy Space Center

Everglades National Park

Miami Beach

South Beach

Georgia

River Street

Buckhead

Georgia Aquarium

World of Coca-Cola Museum

Kentucky

University of Kentucky

Louisiana

Garden District

Lafayette Cemetery

French Quarter

Louisiana State University

Mississippi

Ground Zero Blues Club

Delta Blues Museum

Natchez Trace

North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Biltmore

South Carolina

Harbour Town Golf Links

Tennessee

Beale Street

B.B. King’s Blues Club

Graceland

Ryman Auditorium

Country Music Hall of Fame

The Hermitage

Union Station Hotel

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Alum Cave Trail

Cade’s Cove

Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Washington Monument

Lincoln Memorial

Arlington National Cemetery

Old Town Alexandria

Mount Vernon

Illinois

Michigan Avenue

Indiana

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Michigan

University of Michigan

Missouri

Gateway Arch

North Dakota

Badlands

Fort Mandan

Ohio

Progressive Field

Warehouse District

Oklahoma

National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

Cattleman’s Steakhouse

South Dakota

Badlands National Park

Wall Drug

Mount Rushmore

Crazy Horse Memorial

Custer State Park

Saloon #10

Mt. Moriah Cemetery

Arizona

Tombstone

Mission San Xavier del Bac

Grand Canyon

Canyon de Chelly

Goulding’s Lodge and Trading Post

Sedona

Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

Montana

Billings

Pompeys Pillar National Monument

Little Bighorn Battlefield Indian Memorial

Beartooth Highway

Glacier National Park

Going-to-the-Sun Road

Nevada

Death Valley National Park

Luxor

Excalibur

Venetian

New Mexico 

Carlsbad Cavern

Palace of the Governors

Inn of the Anasazi

White Sands National Monument

Texas

Sixth Floor Museum

South Congress Avenue

Sixth Street

River Walk

The Alamo

Utah

Bryce Canyon

Temple Square

Wyoming

Snake River

Grand Tetons National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful Inn

Yellowstone Lake

Old Faithful

Lower Falls

Yellowstone River

Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Alaska

Glacier Bay National Park

Denali National Park

California

Universal Studios

HOLLYWOOD sign

Grauman’s Chinese Theater

Walk of Fame

Rodeo Drive

Golden Gate Bridge

Chinatown

Redwood National Park

General Sherman Tree

Sequoia National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Falls

Pacific Coast Highway

Hawaii

USS Arizona Memorial

Lanikai Beach

Volcanoes National Park

Waimea Canyon

Oregon

Haystack Rock

Columbia River Gorge

Mt. Hood

Historic Columbia River Highway

Crater Lake

Washington

Mount Rainier National Park

Finally, the Definition of Final

2 Feb

This week, I gave tests and noticed a peculiar phenomenon. One of the questions as about the final version of the Fort Laramie Treaty, and, in every class, students asked what that meant. Did it mean the treaty as it was originally agreed upon? Or, did it mean the treaty as it ended up?

I always answered, “Final means final.”final

This issue has been running through my mind. Was the question not clear? Were the students just making sure that they were reading the question correctly? Was final the right word?

I looked it up.

Merriam-Webster defines final as:

1
a : not to be altered or undone <all sales are final>
b : of or relating to a concluding court action or proceeding <final decree>
2
: coming at the end : being the last in a series, process, or progress <the final chapter> <final exams>
3
: of or relating to the ultimate purpose or result of a process <our final goal> <the final product>

Do any of those fit a question that asks about the final version of the Fort Laramie Treaty?

Anyway, it has been bothering me that several students asked if final meant final. It has also been bothering me that the word final is tangling up my mind. To get rid of it, here are some things that are final.

Final Four (March Madness)

Final Exam (which will not have a question about the final version of anything)

Final Countdown (the movie starring Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen about a modern-day aircraft carrier that goes back to Pearl Harbor in 1941)

Final Countdown (the song by Europe that was inspired by the movie)

Final Fantasy (a video game that I have not played)

Final Destination (a movie series of which I have only seen the first one)

Can you think of anything else that is final?

Finally, the word final is out of my head, but I may never figure out why so many people asked what I meant by final.

Rambling Ruminations While Watching a Movie

29 Jan

It was a dark and stormy night. No kidding, the movie we are watching is currently showing a dark and stormy night engulfing two people operating a lighthouse. It is a romantic movie with deep undertones that my wife wanted to watch.

Other than the light from the television and this computer screen, it is also dark in this room. Luckily, it is not stormy.

Until now, the movie has featured the happy vibes of two people falling in love. The storm has brought on the serious part of the story with depression, anger and other feelings that take place on an isolated island. On top of that, the storyline is about to get super complicated.

Speaking of storms, they say that it is going to snow tomorrow. However, the weather app on my phone says the temperature is not going to get below freezing, and I have yet to figure out how it is going to snow with temperatures above freezing. I suppose that is one of those great mysteries of life.

Speaking of mysteries, my favorite is the story of D.B. Cooper. Who was he? What happened to him? It is simply one of the all time great unknowns. For those who have never heard of D.B. Cooper, you need to look him up.db-cooper

While no one knows Cooper’s true identity, it is known that he hijacked an airliner on November 24, 1971. My third birthday was celebrated the next day. Here is what else was going on that day.

“Theme from Shaft” by Isaac Hayes was at the top of the music charts.

CBS aired The Carol Burnett Show and Mannix.

NBC offered up Adam-12 and McCloud.

Black Beauty was released in theaters.

Man, it has been a long time since November 24, 1971. If we have not solved the mystery of D.B. Cooper by now, then it will probably never be solved. I guess that is what happens when you jump out of an airliner on a dark and stormy night.

 

On Top of the Tornado

24 Jan

The other day, the Atlanta Falcons won the last football game to be played in the Georgia Dome. Since then, tornados have swept through Georgia. These stories brought to mind an experience from nine years ago. A tornado hit the Georgia Dome, and I was there. This is a post I wrote several years ago about that night.

SBI: A Thinning Crowd

Storms swept across Tennessee today and left some destruction in their wake. Tornado warnings and watches were all over as the map turned green, orange and red. Thankfully, not much happened around my house, but it reminded me of a time that I found myself on top of the tornado. This tornado to be specific:

In 2008, my girlfriend of the time and I traveled to Atlanta for the Southeastern Conference basketball tournament. We hit the afternoon session to see my favorite team, the University of Tennessee, win a close game. As it ended, fans from all of the teams filed out of the Georgia Dome in anticipation of the night session and more excitement to come. However, we had other plans. Dinner reservations at the restaurant on top of our hotel, the kind that slowly turns so patrons can get a panoramic view of the city. After dinner and a…

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