Not In The Past

Looking forward from 30

Archive for the tag “In A Silent Way”

Commentary on some of my older work

Since starting the five-minute free write on the blog, I’ve been thinking about using this place to post original work in addition to my regular blog entries and free writes.  I also wanted to at least post links to some of my earlier pieces, and offer a few comments on them.

Celebrity Hungry Hungry Hippos: A few years ago, I wrote a review for a fake celebrity game show called Celebrity Hungry Hungry Hippos.  My main inspiration for that was watching DVDs of WKRP and St. Elsewhere and thinking that it was better for Jan Smithers and Sagan Lewis to leave the business with some dignity instead of lowering themselves to appear on some reality show to extend their careers.  I thought it would be funny to have Lewis be kind of a weirdo and maybe somewhat like what one would write for Christopher Walken on SNL.  By contrast, I wanted to have Smithers be tough and the dominant one in the whole affair.  The kidnapped blonde guy from the background of the Mary Tyler Moore episodes (whose real name is J. Benjamin Chulay, and now a film editor) was chosen more for the arbitrary desperation I would imagine the show would have in trying to get people.  Frank Cady from Green Acres was chosen because I needed another male who would fit the show, and I decided to have him be the one guy who was actually excited to be on the show.  I wanted the host to be the easy target, and make the contestants have comparatively more dignity, so I chose Dave Coulier as the pathetic emcee.

As I note in my introduction, this was originally supposed to be written in sketch format, and I had posted this on a Saturday Night Live message board with a fan sketch section.  I struggled with the dialogue and figured it would work better as a review, but  I still had the roles cast in my mind: Kristen Wiig was Jan Smithers (I see a resemblance between the two, and Wiig reportedly is quite shy as well), Casey Wilson was Sagan Lewis, Bill Hader was Frank Cady, and Will Forte was Chulay.  I think Jason Sudeikis would have been Coulier as well.  That ultra-violent suggestion at the end was actually taken from a list of activities my friend came up with ten or eleven years ago to make fun of a class he didn’t want to go to.  I had a few other CHHH installments planned in my mind: one would have had the kid they added to Who’s The Boss? when it was clear Danny Pintauro was getting too old to play the “cute kid”, an unnamed “nurse from M*A*S*H” that would change actresses between shots (a reference to how many different generic nurse characters with names like Able, Baker, Charlie, etc. were on the show), and one of the girls from the Waltons who Coulier would constantly call by the wrong character name.   I can’t remember who the fourth hippo was, but the game would end when Creed Bratton from The Office would walk in, look at the camera and declare “I’m famous!”, and walk off with the game board.

Sappy Reflections: I had conceived my old blog Huckleberry Masks (title taken from The Fall’s “In The Park”) to be my outlet for my writing.  It didn’t really come to be; most of what I posted there were scraps, old ideas and random incoherent writing, but I did put a few formal pieces on there.  Sappy Reflections was my attempt to write at length about my feelings during a weekend trip to Sackville, NB for Sappyfest in 2010.  It is mostly autobiographical with a handful of changes and embellishments to add drama and avoid real names.  I only managed to complete my writeups about Friday and Saturday; I have a draft for Sunday that’s mostly completed, but I’m unsure whether I should post it here or there, or even post it at all.  All the photography in the posts is mine.

Miramichi: This was largely done as a way to vent my frustrations with living in Miramichi, New Brunswick, a city that perpetually seems to be on the losing end of unemployment and population bleed.  In the last 50 years, we’ve lost a university to Fredericton, a CFB base, and several mills.  We’ve been hit especially hard the last five years.  We’re getting some federal government jobs but I really don’t think that will be enough to turn this place around.

In A Silent Way:  I had tried to use a dream as basis for a story before (I eventually posted about it here) but this was a fresh dream that had made a vivid impression on me one night last year.  It’s mainly a collection of scenes and images, but I was trying to convey the feeling I got in part of the dream.  I still wonder if it meant anything.


In A Silent Way

This is based on some images and emotions that came to me in a dream I had.  It’s not a self-contained story or anything but more of an excuse to log these impressions and sensations, and to get writing again.

I was in Baggston at the beginning of the school year.  This was the first time I had gone there since I graduated and there were students in the dorms all so much younger than I was; rather than be a creeper I decided to make myself as inconspicuous as possible.  I was just going to drop the package off and get out.  Dodging out of the way of baby-faced co-eds, I headed through the basement of a large building: the office waiting for me was at the end.

I was supposed to get this done quickly but there wasn’t really anything I was in a rush to get back to.  Heading back home would mean a lack of space and a lack of privacy: reality also seemed to offer various other punches in the crotch there and little hope of escape.  One carelessly placed magazine here or there could break whatever tenuous hold I had on lifelines out of this dead state I kept feeling while there.  I was also out of money aside from the funds needed to get me back home.

I kept running into people as much as I tried dodging out of the way, so eventually I decided to walk down to the south point.  There was a big mall there and I could kill time like I normally do, browsing the video rentals and music stores for things I’d eventually like to buy and hear.  I could see a pile of salt outside and a few workmen mulling about around it.


I knock a few DVDs over.  I get up; suddenly I’m at this party and all these people from different parts of my life are gathered around my friend Gene, who’s commandeered the CD tray.  Rose petals are sprinkled about over the stereo as the second side of Miles Davis’ “In A Silent Way” starts playing: I get lost in thought as I listen to John McLaughlin’s gentle guitar melody, the shimmering keyboards and Miles’ mournful trumpet.  Alice leans up against me and I start touching her hair, which is now unfamiliarly thick and chestnut waves that brush against her breast.  I hear drums come in and the familiar six note keyboard vamp that mark “It’s About That Time”.  The saxophone seems sadder and funereal this time around.  We kiss and murmur things to each other in comfort; anything else that we try seems purely mechanical and guarded and we both are aware of the lie it would be.  I quickly cover up and refocus on the music, which has died back down and gone back to the guitar, keyboard and trumpet dirge, and I rest my head.

Outside, it’s suddenly the dead of winter.  I walk along a cleared path; there is a building at the edge of a river and about eight people are staring at the flow, an androgynous woman identifying the fast-moving sludge as mostly fecal waste from the town.  I think I’m somewhere in Minnesota.

Inside the building there are a bunch of half-empty boxes with cassette tapes spilled out.  I see one of them is “The Hissing Of Summer Lawns” by Joni Mitchell.

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