Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Winter Concert: Musical Warmth Takes the Chill Out of the Air

As per Plato..."Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything." When I read something like that it reminds me of my husband who can sometimes speak so deep about things. That's one reason this blog came into existence; after meeting him, before we were even engaged, I wanted him to co-author a blog with me because I loved the way he spoke and wrote.

I love listening to music too. I love almost all kinds of music - one thing that me and the husband have in common. I believe it is also one thing that my son had inherited from me. But my love for music didn't reach to the point where I was interested to play any musical instrument. So, I was surprised when our son showed an interest to join the school concert band. And I was more than happy to oblige, to give in to his whim and support what interests him. My goal...for as long as it makes him happy and for as long as it is good for him and for the community, I go for it. And it delighted my husband. He's played the guitar since he was thirteen but he was also in his high school's concert and marching bands.

Last week, they had their first concert, the Winter Concert, and it was a success. For a first time performance, it surely was very impressive. Listening to them play Christmas carols brought more Christmas spirit into the air. Not to mention, it gave me goosebumps the whole time.
They all really did a great job. And I felt really proud watching our son play the trumpet like a pro. Like it was an easy-peasy job. I'll bet all the parents were as proud as we were.

They had a rehearsal before the concert and in between songs was our chance to take photos.

And there's our little trumpet boy. This was after the concert. He was happy and proud himself of what they had accomplished. He was so happy he was in a hyperactive mood until we got home. (",)

Their next concert will be the Spring Concert in March. Now that is definitely something that we all look forward too.

How does music play in your life? Does any of your family members play a musical instrument?

Monday, December 15, 2014

What's in a Name? Ask the Late Richard Bachman - AKA Stephen King

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose..." - Shakespeare at his eloquent best. In the instance I'm going to speak of, the phrase would be That which we call an author. When you say Stephen King, the first thought is of suspense, horror and the supernatural, though he has touched upon many more areas in his writings. And by any other name, we would automatically think of the scary dark and mystical side of the creative universe horror authors live in. In this case, however, things go a bit askew because when King chose to publish under a pseudonym, the world he presented us, except for one volume, was entirely different than the one we've become accustomed to viewing through his eyes.

My well-read, now out-of-print, original copy of The Bachman Books

In 1985 The Bachman Books, sub-titled Four Early Novels by Stephen King, was released. And two of them were of an extremely early nature. But I've discovered two references that contradict the time-line facts. In the preface to The Bachman Books, titled Why I Was Bachman, King stated that Rage, originally titled Getting It On, was begun in 1966 when he was a senior in high school. However, in the Wikipedia article about The Long Walk, it states that this was the first novel he wrote while a freshman at the University of Maine, 1966-1967. Still, both were begun in 1966 and speak of the early beginnings of his literary journey that has since traveled many a mile.

The Bachman Books were released after King was outed as Bachman due to his name being on the copyright forms of one of the books. And, of course, it made its way to The New York Times Best Seller List. One example of the power of what's in a name. Over the years, many authors have used pen names such as Erle Stanley Gardner of Perry Mason, fame; two of the three Bronte sisters, Anne and Emily; Ed McBain, who wrote The Blackboard Jungle and the 87th Precinct crime series as Evan Hunter; Gore Vidal; Benjamin Franklin; Ray Bradbury; Isaac Asimov; and there was Theodor Seuss Geisel who was a childhood favorite of many of us known as Dr. Seuss. And so many more that I don't dare try to list them all; I'd run out of room.

The four books by Bachman/King were Rage, The Long Walk, Roadwork, and The Running Man. Published together in hardcover, they were first released as paperback originals, the kind of book you'd find on a revolving rack in a drug or grocery store or in a bin with dozens of other such books at the back of a book store; best-sellers not! Still, within them was a precursor of greatness to come.

I'll not get into the spoiler role; if interested, you'll seek this book out and discover what the words share with you. So I'll just give a brief synopsis of each to whet your appetite.

RAGE: This one delves into the psyche and angst of high school teens, one of which takes a gun into the classroom. And even though fiction it has became a sad-but-true part of the age we live in. Unfortunately, unless you can find a used, original copy of The Bachman Books, you'll not get to read this one; at King's request to his publisher, it has went out of print due its content, following such real-life incidents where three perpetuators actually had copies of this book. King later on really delved into the culture of high school bullying and clickes in his first novel as King, Carrie.

THE LONG WALK: A contest that pits 100 entrants against each other in a walk that begins on the Maine/Canada border heading south towards no definite finish line, with the winner being the last man standing who then receives anything he desires for the rest of his life. The kicker is, the extreme rules of the game and what happens to the 99 losers.

ROADWORK: The story of one man's stand against the powers that be in the industrialized world of continuing infrastructure development that we live in, digging deep into the pains of life that constantly assail us all at some time - loss, despair, unfair treatment and how we deal with the human condition.

THE RUNNING MAN: Over the years, we've been inundated with TV game shows, but never one like this one, where there's never a winner. The prizes are $100 per hour that the contestant stays alive avoiding capture while on the run, $100 for each lawman or game show Hunter he kills, and a grand prize of $1 billion if he survives for 30 days, the prize being awarded to his survivors. Not exactly Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy.

Rage and Roadwork take place in a world familiar to us but The Long Walk and The Running Man take place in future dystopian societies that could come to be. A scary thought that is, but knowing that folks sometimes find their back against the wall with no hope, who's to say that one wouldn't be willing to bet it all, life itself, on a chance to overcome all odds and come out a winner if things ever came to the point that we lived in such a dark, police-state militaristic society?

The Running Man was later made into a movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, though it was loosely based on the book; see the movie after reading the book and you'd hardly recognize the book. I find it surprising that The Running Man is still in print considering the ending which could touch upon the nerve of the post 9/11 American psyche. One can't help but wonder if bin Laden had a copy of The Bachman Books in his locker alongside his Koran, just as those school shooters had which caused Rage to go out of print.

A later Bachman book, Thinner, the last one published before King was found out to be Bachman, was the one volume that engaged in the supernatural and horror themes that Stephen King has come to be known for. Initially, Thinner sold 28,000 copies before King was discovered to have been the author. After his Bachman alter ego died, Thinner went on to sell 280,000 copies, proof positive that "what's in a name" is bunches of moolah! It, too, became a movie, and it was more true to the original plot.

And though Bachman died of, as Stephen King put it, "cancer of the pseudonym", he was resurrected in 1996 when his so-called widow discovered a manuscript in a trunk which was published as Desperation at the same time the mirror novel The Regulators, penned by King, came out; two books with many of the same characters living in parallel universes. Only from the mind of Stephen King could such an idea be born, and being one of his "Constant Readers", as he so fondly calls us, I can hardly wait until the next bloom grows out of the fertile garden of his imagination.