Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Moving Polaroids - Michael Myers and Deadly Fireworks

"That what you fear the most could meet you half way."
- Crazy Mary - Pearl Jam

Whew. Pretty damned dusty in here. Sheets on all the furniture. Feels like I'm revisiting an old cabin I haven't seen in ages – familiar, but a little disturbing as well. 

A lot's happened since I last visited. Wrote a new novella, "The Last Firefly of Summer" and released it at Scares that Care convention over the summer. My live reading there scared the hell out of the audience (and I enjoyed that immmmmmensely), and the reviews on it at Amazon are still coming in hot and heavy with praise. I'm glad people are enjoying the tale.

I'm still working on the sequel to Samson and Denial and the title for that is The Crimson Sisters. Feedback on what's done so far has been promising and I think you'll all really enjoy what Samson has been up to since leaving the City of Brotherly Love.

I've got pages and pages of notes on a new novel that... is going to be extremely disturbing to say the very least. I've got a title for that one too, but I'm not sharing publicly yet. But it'll be worth the wait, I promise. Your nightmares will thank me for it later.

We're in the season of Halloween and all around, the leaves are already starting to turn. The air is brisk and the chill gets under your skin and into your bones, whispering that it's going to be a cold winter. 

I recall an October when I was young – probably about 11 or so. I was still at the farm I grew up on in Maryland and it was night time. My father had gone out hunting that night with his hounds and my mother and I didn't expect him back until 11 or so. It was long before smart phones and weather apps and there was an impending storm that none of us knew about. (Guess my dad didn't catch the weather that night on the evening news either).

So, like any loving mother with affection for Halloween and horror movies, we sat down in the living room and she (well... I suppose my mom didn't sit down just yet. This was pre-TV-remote era, so she probably stood or kneeled and changed the channel to do the surfing) found the movie Halloween. Not wanting to miss any of the movie, my mother avoided popcorn - there was only Jiffy-Pop back then and that shit takes too long to make. I'm pretty sure she ran downstairs to the kitchen and brought back some kind of Little Debbie snacks.

My mother and I had yet to see the movie and was pretty damned excited about it, even though I knew being aired on TV would edit out the "good parts". 

So there we were, curled up on the couch in the living room, watching the horror Jamie Lee Curtis was dealing with unfurl on the mammoth floor set TV and my mother and I were in our glory. This was some good shit as far as horror went.

Jamie was getting the shit choked out of her by Michael Myers and she grabs a crochet needle and stabs him, blood spurting out of his neck. HOLY SHIT! My mother and I were on the edge of our seats when...

All of the lights went out in our house. Power knocked completely out.

As you may imagine, this real life event coinciding with what we were in the middle of watching couldn't have been more perfectly timed. I think both of us made a yelp in the darkness. 

But then, from outside, we heard loud, angry sizzling. There was snapping and fireworks going off at the end of our driveway and though it was clear now, we hadn't realized the storm had hit full force. The electric lines had been hit and a line was down, spitting fire and hell as it wriggled with a deadly, raging life of its own. 

Dad got back home and not long after, a group of repair trucks from the power company were lined up along the road. I was ushered off to my bedroom that seemed much darker than I remembered it ever being. I watched through my window for a long while before crawling beneath the blankets and drifting off into a sleep void of Michael Myers and electric lines trying to kill people.

The next morning I remember standing at the end of our driveway, waiting for the school bus. There was a shallow hole about the size of a dinner plate completely burned out of the old asphalt there. Even young, I remember being completely amazed that was even possible. The air still smelled crispy and burned and I could hear a new humming noise from the round electrical box at the top of the pole.

I back-stepped to the other side of our driveway, keeping my eyes on the line in case it decided to jump free and attack me.

It was a few more years and a move to Pennsylvania before I ever got to watch the rest of Halloween with both of my parents and somehow, in between seeing the first part and finally the ending, the movie had lost a bit of magic in there for me. Maybe it was because of that damned electric line. I think, looking back, it was because that real life thing could kill me. Myers was just a made-up fear on screen. Don't get me wrong... it wasn't that I didn't enjoy watching it. It's just that real life fear outweighed the fabrication of imagination. 

I think I'm still trying to get that back, though I don't know if I ever will. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Dime-Store Shaman at 44

I turned 44 on the 26th of June. Man, one more trip around the sun, huh? 

Some days, I feel about nine years old, but more and more lately, I'm feeling about a thousand years old. Time. I forget who said it, but time is a beast you cannot reason with. 

It's not that I'm feeling any... heavy thoughts of mortality. Hell, we're all dying from the moment we're born, but we're all living too. 

Well. Some of us are. 

Things have been out of alignment for too long. Stars not lined up. Constellations out of whack. Streams flowing backwards. Haven't been too sure how to rectify that. It's easy to look at other things and know just the right tool to use or the right thing to say to fix it, from the outside looking in. It's a much more difficult thing to fix it from the inside. 

I recently read Brian Keene's Sundancer. He gave me a copy since I didn't have one, and told me I'd damn well better have one since the book was dedicated to me. I read it and felt a surge of sad nostalgia for... something. I don't know what. 

I'm still not sure I know. But there's, at times, an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia that leaves me feeling maudlin and empty. 

Been through a hell of a lot of job changes over the past year. Had to leave a place I really thought I'd found a home in, but hey, shit happens, right? Went to a place I knew was temporary but was sad to leave some of the people there. Arrived at a place that, as it happened, lined up when everything else fell through - some of those things against all favorable odds, which still leaves me scratching my head in confusion.

But sometimes, that's how things are. 

Haven't been writing much and I know that's a problem. Muse has been chatty in my head but she gets drowned with a lot of other things in there. Mind's been a cobweb filled attic lately and getting the whispers of stories she wants me to tell has been impossible, but not for lack of trying. I've got around 10,000 words down and know the words of the story (for the most part) that remains, but putting those words down in the right order... not so easy lately.

We'll see how this new year for me turns out. Much like my brother, Geoff Cooper, I don't really buy into the whole New Years Resolution attitude or trying to line things up after a birthday with "it's a new year" kind of thing. Much like him, I always thought it was rather pointless to do that. Each day is not a clean slate. You have the past but it's just that. We all have the future but not a single one of us know how long that is or if we'll have one. The only thing we can focus on - the only thing that makes sense - is the present. 

Best we can do is try to get those stars back in alignment and make sure those constellations shine as brightly as we can.


Friday, October 10, 2014

7 Questions For Robert Ford

Considering the other fiction you write - horror, crime noir, what made you write No Lipstick in Avalon?

It's no secret I've always been drawn to horror fiction. I grew up on a steady diet of The Twilight Zone, Tales from the Dark Side, and In Search Of, and when the Book Mobile came to my school, I was always the kid clamoring to get to the front of the line so I could buy the newest Daniel Cohen book about monsters and myths. 

So yeah, I've always been drawn to horror fiction, but I've never described myself as being soley a horror fiction writer. The ideas get sent in from the Muse and they either keep itching like poison ivy on the brain until I write them down or they stop and fade away. This one didn't fade away. 

Have you faced any challenges since this is your first venture into the chick-lit genre?

A little. It's tough to break out into a different genre than what you're known for. I know there are fans of mine waiting for what's next in horror and I also understand No Lipstick in Avalon is something entirely different than what they expect from me. We'll see how it rolls. Over time, I hope it might catch the attention of the kind of audience it was intended for. The reviews so far (and yes, I know you're not supposed to be pay attention to that stuff), are all very good, so readers seem to enjoy the novel a lot. 

Right now, I'm working on the sequel to my novella Samson and Denial. It's coming along and fans should really enjoy the return of Samson Gallows and the Crimson Sisters.

After that's finished, I'm not sure. There's a novella idea I've been kicking around for a long time that is the same horror/crime vibe as Samson. So while I'm in the mindset, I might tackle that one. After that, there's a straight fiction novel I've had the idea for. It keeps raising its hand in the back of my mind, asking for attention, so we'll see.

Some writers use pseudonyms when they break out into other genres. Was there a conscious choice to not use a pseudonym on this release?

That's a tough one, and yes, I tossed around the idea of a pen name for some time. I thought it might be easier to separate my horror fiction from this release and not confuse the readers. Pretty sure it would be a bad thing for a reader who loved No Lipstick in Avalon to pick up a copy of The Compound and read a scene where a prison guard gets his dick chewed off.

But in the end, I decided on keeping my own name. Hell, I'm no Michael Crichton by light years, but that guy... hell, he's written everything from medical thrillers to Jurassic Park. He's never pigeon-holed himself into one specific genre. 

Was it difficult to write from a woman's point of view?

As many will tell you, I write slowly. Painfully slow. I do a lot of mental groundwork before I get rolling and part of that work is really finding the character's voice. The first chapter of No Lipstick in Avalon was written several years ago. Hit me out of nowhere as snips like that sometimes do, and I wrote it all down, set it aside and moved on.

Last year, Sara's voice came back to me and it was incredibly strong. When a voice like that has such power to me, things tend to gel together pretty rapidly and it was time for me to write her story down. First person is one of my favorite things to write in because I think it just pulls the reader into the character's head in such an intimate sort of way. But Sara's voice led me to first person... I didn't have much of a choice this time.

I can't say it was difficult to write from a woman's POV, though there were times I rewrote things because a male perspective was getting in the way. I had a reader ask me recently if I thought all women thought about was drinking and sex. I don't, though I'm sure some of them do.

The old adage write what you know comes to mind here because the characters - all of them - are so incredibly believable and vivid. And after reading the dedication, I take it the characters were based on women you've known?

They were. All of the characters were this strange sort of amalgamation of different women I've known during my life. Little things they might have said or done, as well as me writing a particular scene and imagining how they would react in that situation. 

In No Lipstick in Avalon, one of Sara's biggest regrets is running away from her self-described "Ice Cream Boy." Any regrets in your life?

I think unless you live in a padded room and are getting a steady stream of Thorazine, you've got regrets in your life. Yeah, I certainly do, but that's the rub, isn't it? You have regrets. You either live with them or you don't. Best you can do is try not to let them chew you up inside and some days that's easier said than done.

What's coming up next?

Well, like I mentioned earlier, I've got an idea for a horror/crime novella called Big Stakes Jackie. I posted a piece of it on my blog some time back and if you search for it, it's still there. That's another one of those moments... that little snip hit me and I ran with it but had no idea where it was going to go. Little pieces of the puzzle would come to me here and there and I'm pretty sure I know where most of the story goes. It's definitely enough to get me rolling and allow some surprises to happen as the character comes to life on the page. I do know, looking over some of my notes, there's some scenes that are pretty repulsive but make complete sense in the context of the story.

The other novel idea I mentioned is for something I'm calling Domino right now. I don't want to get into too many details as I'm superstitious and avoid that like the plague if I can. But I'll have to do some research into segregation and would really like to interview some people who have lived through that era of American history.

The story has a lot to do with racial divide and how the purest among us – even during that time in our country's history – didn't see skin color... they simply saw a person, no more, no less. 

Thursday, September 04, 2014

No Lipstick in Avalon

A few years back I had some sort of brain purge from a character's voice that hit me out of nowhere. What spewed out onto the page was the first chapter of my newest novel, No Lipstick in Avalon, damn near exact—word for word—to the first draft I put down.

I had no idea what it was at the time (that's not uncommon for me at all), only the realization I had to get those words down right then and there.

So I did.

And it stewed. It fermented. Until it was time.

This year was the time to get the rest of Sara's story down on paper, and this novel was one of the fastest projects I've ever worked on. I know when that happens, the character's voice in my head is very strong and while I work, it's a lot less like writing than it is dictation... typing as quickly as I can to get the words down.

The thing with this novel is it's about as far away from what I normally write as you can get. There are no monsters in it. There are no creatures waiting to pounce in the middle of the night. 

But there are demons, oh yes. Demons of human nature. See, No Lipstick in Avalon is a novel about being pretty low in life... and realizing you can overcome whatever shit storm life throws at you.

The original title for this book was The Ice Cream Boy, and then for a while, I flirted with the idea of calling it Lucy in the Sky. But as the story was developing in my head, there was one title that kept coming back to me... No Lipstick in Avalon.


Sara Larson has recently separated from her husband of twelve years and her life is quickly turning into a streak of bad luck. But when she comes to the realization she has great friends and amazing qualities as a person, Sara starts to understand she can dig herself out of anything she wants to.

She sets her mind to doing what needs doing—reinventing herself along the way and creating the life she wants, putting to rest old ghosts, making new memories, and learning what happiness means again.

No Lipstick in Avalon is available at in ebook and paperback. I hope you enjoy Sara's tale, and if you do, please do me a favor and leave a review at Amazon—it's great appreciated.

Click here for Kindle version

Click here for trade paperback


Here's the first chapter of No Lipstick in Avalon:

Chapter One
Pondering Stilettos and Emotional Piñatas

Dana blinked at me with her perennially leaky eyes, forever appearing on the verge of sneezing. She looked like a Siamese cat with bad allergies.
She gave me a Queen Elizabeth wave and sipped her morning latte as I stepped in line behind her.
“Good morning, Sara.”
“What’s so good about it?”
“You’re a pocket full of sunshine this morning, aren’t you?” Dana searched for something in her knock-off Prada purse and came up empty-handed. “It’s not going to be like this forever, Sara. It’ll pass.”
“You want to know what I did this morning, Dana? I cried. Not first thing, though. No, first I went downstairs to the coffee pot, half awake because, let’s face it, I’ve been sleeping for shit in a cold without the warm body next to me I’ve become used to over the past twelve years. So I get to the coffee pot, and I see there are two mugs. I’d done it the night before without thinking. But no more morning coffee buddy for me. No more Maxwell House Moments shared in bed over a Sunday morning crossword puzzle. Those are all gone for good. So I walked back upstairs and got in the shower.”
“Hot shower’s always good for the soul.” Dana blinked her glassy eyes, full of sunshine and greeting card goodness.
Dana is one of my best friends, but I chewed my lip and considered how hot her Starbucks latte was, wondered if it could melt her like that Nazi in Raiders of the Lost Ark. 
“Oh yeah? Not so much when you’re bawling your eyes out.”
Dana flinched.
“Want to know why I started crying? What tipped me over the edge this time?”
Dana suddenly looked extremely uncomfortable. Part of me felt sympathy, as I watched her mentally curl up into a ball so I could use her as an emotional piñata. She was my friend and I knew she meant well, even though I was pretty sure the last time she’d been laid, Clinton was still in office and she hadn’t been in a relationship in general since I don’t know when. But that other part of me? The part that’s been woken up by all this recent bullshit in my life? The part of me that’s nothing more than a high riding, stiletto wearing, leather corset and bullwhip bitch. That part shouted in my ear Fuck it! She’s not the one feeling like her heart’s getting ripped out. Tell her the truth and let her have it.
“I started crying because when I grabbed the soap there weren’t any of my husband’s pubic hairs stuck to it.”
Dana looked like she was shriveling like a dandelion past its prime. I started to wonder where I could find an oxygen tank to revive her if need be. My conscience almost kicked in again and made me stop my rant, but I stomped it down again.
“He’s been gone long enough that I had to change the soap, and there’s no evidence of him anymore. Ican’t smell him on the pillows. I don’t hear the little things he used to do at night just before bed, his little routines. He’s gone, Dana. He’s...”
And then I felt it well up inside me like a geyser of emotion, Old-fucking-Faithful on a late thirties divorcee. That scared little girl came right back up, threatening to make my mascara run in inky black rivers down my cheeks right before my Tuesday morning staff meeting.
If my life got any more awesome, I wouldn’t be able to stand myself.
But then something happened. 
It was really sort of funny. Kind of like those old Bugs Bunny cartoons where Wile E. Coyote was plotting and a light bulb went off over his head. I stood there with tears in my eyes, watching Dana wrestle with her fight or flight instinct and a wonderful realization came over me like warm summer rain.
I realized I had a choice.
I realized I was still strong.
And beautiful.
I was funny and smart.
And that part of me I told you about? That part of me that’s nothing more than a high riding, stiletto wearing, leather corset and bullwhip bitch?
That part of me said I was done hurting. That part told me to pull my shit together because today’s not over and tomorrow’s booked solid. 
I was done crying. I was finished hurting.
I was done mourning a death that didn’t have a corpse.
I took a deep breath and exhaled. I gave Dana a smile and she cautiously smiled back.
The storm had passed.

Interlude of Realization
Sometimes I used to watch Bill, late at night when he was sleeping, or early morning when the sunlight was just starting to come in through the blinds. I’d study his body, try to memorize all the curves, the way the shadows fell across his face. The curve of his collarbone and the way his chest raised and fell as he breathed. 
Bill was never GQ material, but he was a handsome guy, sexy in his own way.  I used to think that was why I studied him at night—because I was so attracted to him. But no.
It took me a really long time, much too long to admit the truth to myself. But I finally did.
I stared at Bill like that, trying to memorize everything because deep down—if I’m going to be honest with myself–it was because I was scared, terrified really, of when the time would come when he wouldn’t be there anymore and I’d have to be happy with only the memory of him in my life.


Thank you all.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Whites, Blacks, Jews, Muslims, Gays, Lesbians, American Indians, Rednecks, Illiterate Soccer Moms, and Jerry Springer. Why I hate every single one of them.

THAT got your attention, didn't it?

We live in a cynical world. Hell, I've been in the advertising business for 25 years, I bathe in cynicism every day. Maybe it's just my perception as I get older, but I've become increasingly disgusted with certain things.

And yes... this is going to be a rant, so buckle the hell up.

In the mornings I turn on CNN and watch Robin Meade dish out news segments that are almost verbatim to what I can read on Facebook. Instead of hearing about what's going on with Fukushima and real news, we hear about Kanye West and Justin Bieber. I find myself turning to other news sites to hear the real facts and figures and information that impacts the world instead of what hot topic Entertainment Tonight or the Hollywood Reporter will be discussing.

And the hatred... I've become less and less tolerant of people's hatred of things for no good reason other than to hate.

I have hate for the upper echelon of white people. White people with their sterling credit and their yes-you're-approved-car-loans-and-mortgages. You think you're so smug pulling into your paved driveways in your shiny black Humvees and walking into your less-than-ten-years-old development house with a wine-cooler and the Keurig coffee pots waiting on you as you walk in the door. Looking down your noses at the little people you've climbed on top of to get to the top of your ladders.

You whites. With your privileges and mutual funds and your I'm better than thou attitude. 

And Blacks. How DARE you! Taking advantage of the government system and the minority advantages they give you. Leeching off the system. No wonder everyone thinks of you the way they do.

Jews. Why are you all so.. Jewey? Gold-grubbing, money-stashing pack of thieves you are. Can't even take something to a pawn shop without worrying whether you'll steal us blind because it's wired in your DNA.

And Muslims. Wired up around your ribs, explosive wearing martyr sons of bitches. How dare you come into our country of freedom and preach your beliefs and keep us in fear of our lives. How DARE you?

Bible thumping Christians, shoving your opinions down everyone's throat, preaching the Savior is the only path and dousing holy water like warm summer rain, blessing everyone in your path.

Ohhhh.. and you gays. You gays and lesbians. You damned Satan-worshippers you. You think you can just go around loving anyone you FEEL like it? You think you can just go around being... non-violent? And... well.. loving anyone you feel like it? Damn you. Damn you all to hell.

American Indians with your casinos and whiskey-drenched reservations, getting revenge on the white man for all they've taken away from you.

Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey reading, 5th grade education level reading Soccer Moms, spreading the low level favoritism of poorly written literature so you can find a few hours of mental escape from your Nascar loving husbands. Great job! Thanks for sinking the IQ of the American public down a few notches.

And Jerry Springer. You asshole. What happened in your lifetime to make you want to host a show with the inbred scum of guests that come on stage and talk about the trials and tribulations of degenerates?

We see news of hate crimes all the time. A person of color killed for no other reason than their skin is a different shade. We read about young gay people taking their own lives because their secret came out and they would rather kill themselves than rise against the ridicule and shame from their family and friends. More people have been killed in the name of God and religion than anything else, and will continue on until the last sunset falls. Each and every day we see persecution and judgement and hatred for no other good goddamned reason other than hate itself. 

Why? Does it make you feel better to hate? 

I've heard people say if they found out their son or daughter was gay, they would disown them. Would you rather they be a murderer? Would you love them then? How about if they were straight but bombed an elementary school? You'd choose to disown your own child because of who they choose to love?

You're the one losing out... not your child.

I've heard people make racial slurs and cluster entire groups of people together, judging all of them... for no other reason than they grew up learning that mentality and are continuing the cycle. 

People are people, simple as that. Judge them on whether they're assholes or not - should be easy enough, shouldn't it?

You want to hate something? Hate your narrow mindedness. Hate your thin view and perceptions of the world, created by the blinders you've created yourself. Hate how you've missed out on opportunities of discussion and learning new things because you refused to talk to people who are different than you somehow. Hate the lost opportunities. Hate that you don't have a more varied and richer life because you are the one making it that way. Hate that manners and politeness have been tossed out the window by a large portion of society. 

But stop hating people for nothing other than stupidity. Stop judging entire segments of the planet because of stereotypes.

I've had the pleasure of meeting a lot of people over the years. Straight people, gay men and women, people with skin color of every shade under the sun, young and old. And without fail, my life and mentality was the better for meeting them - with the sole exception of the people who carried around so much hatred because someone was different than they are.

You can all go back to learning about Kanye West's new CD or something.

*Disclaimer, just to be clear. I don't really hate Whites, Blacks, Jews, Muslims, Gays, Lesbians, American Indians, Rednecks, and Illiterate Soccer Moms.

I'll admit to hating Jerry Springer though.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas - 1978

It was the Christmas of 1978. I was  seven years old and excited as all get out about Christmas morning. At the time, I still lived in the northern part of Maryland, on the farm where I grew up. I had yet to lose a part of innocence of my youth and was still completely enwrapped in the wonders of the world.

I still had an enormous unrequited crush on a girl in my school named Ruth. When I wasn't exploring the woods surrounding the farm, or making hay forts in our barn, I was listening to my mother's old 45 records like Lobo's Me and you and a Dog Named Boo or Sam the Sham and the Pharoah's Hey there Little Red Riding Hood.

It was the era of In Search of with Leonard Nimoy, and Fantasy Island (maybe THAT'S where my obsession with midgets started?), and the Incredible Hulk with Bill Bixby.

And I wanted nothing more for Christmas than a new bike.

When I grew up, we definitely went through a poor period. I had a lot of second hand clothes (and a pair of purple, flowered jeans... maybe the last dregs of the flower child years?), and a bike with a banana seat that had the American flag on it. I grew up loving yard sales and thrift stores because if you dig hard enough, you can find treasures like old comics or paperbacks with tattered covers that let you escape for a while. 

But this year, things were started to look up a bit. As kids sometimes do, I woke up in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve. I crept downstairs, trying to avoid all of the many creaks and cracks the old farm house held, and peeked into the living room, across the hall from my parents bedroom.

I do believe, at 7 years old, I mouthed the words "Holy shit!" when I saw the Christmas tree. There were packages there - a lot more than I'd seen when I went to bed - and a suede leather coat and an M&M candy cane sticking out of my stocking and the tell-tale bulge of a book of Lifesavers and some action figure dude with white hair and a clear chest (and is that blood pumping in his chest? How freaking COOL!) and...and... oh, for the love of St. Nick... a stallion. A glistening, gleaming, polished, beautiful thing.

A brand new black and red Team Murray bike, parked by the right hand side of the tree, its handlebars cocked to the side, waiting.

I have no idea how I fell back asleep that night, and to be honest, I can't even recall if I did or if just went back upstairs and looked at the ceiling until the morning light started coming into my windows and it became an "acceptable" time for me to come downstairs and wake my parents up.

The first time I put my hands on the grips of the bike was magical. I'm thinking it's the equivalent of an adult getting their first new car. It was unblemished. Untouched. Unridden. 

And mine... all mine.

My mother made me try on the new winter coat, and though it was the coolest coat I'd ever seen (dark suede with faux sheep wool interior... looked like something Robert Redford would wear), the leather was thicker than football leather and I recall having a hard time actually bending my arms and the coat itself felt like it weighed a good 40 pounds), I wasn't interested in anything but that bike.

My father helped me get it downstairs and out onto the front porch and when I hit the ground, I was gone. I was the Lone Ranger, man. I was Evel Knievel and the Fonz and Captain America all morphed into one.

I've certainly experienced some moments of feeling free in my life. You know what I mean... those instances where you feel light and free and untouchable, weightless and no longer beholden to the moment at hand and the pressures of the world.

I'm in my forties now, but I don't think I've ever experienced a moment as carefree and full of light as I did when I pedaled that Team Murray bike down the long dirt driveway of our farm and felt the crisp December wind against my face. I distinctly remember closing my eyes for a heartbeat or two and just experiencing it for what it was, trying to commit that feeling and capture it.

That was my Christmas at 7, and though that bike served me well over the years, I don't think the new winter coat got nearly as much mileage. (I'm sorry Mom and Dad... you two did amazing on all of my presents but that jacket made me feel like a knight in a suit of armor). 

I hope all of you readers and friends and family have an amazing holiday season. I hope you get everything you want - the tangible and the intangible. I hope you feel the love that you cannot put into stockings and boxes and put a bow on.

But above all, even if it's fleeting... even if you have to close your eyes for a moment to capture it... I hope you all are able to feel free and lifted and enjoy the wind against your face.

love and light, and best wishes for 2014.
Bob Ford

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

With the ever after

"The most important thing is to be able to see who you are at the current time, in the present tense. Because there's just no guarantees. I'm just trying to be as strong as I can for my kids, for my family. I can't see looking into the future. I just want to be alive."
- Eddie Vedder [Interview with Billboard, 10-19-2013]

It's no secret to people who know me that I'm a huge fan of Pearl Jam. Their CD "Ten" was one of the first CDs I ever bought. I've got rare acoustic sets and live concerts and have listened to their music in good times and bad, late work nights and road trips. To a degree, I can look back at a lot of pivotal moments in my life and remember listening to a specific song of theirs during that time. (Hey Stapleton, you remember us talking about the soundtrack to Into the Wild when it first hit?)

One of the things I really dig about them is their lyrics. Write a song with a great guitar riff and I'll happily listen to it and enjoy it, but if the lyrics suck, it's only going to go so far with me. It's why I like bands like The Avett Brothers, The Gaslight Anthem, The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, and The Black Keys. 

Pearl Jam's recent release, "Lightning Bolt" is one hell of a CD. From the opening of "Infallible", I was hooked and when I heard "Sirens" for the first time, I was completely blown away. 

Oh, I could take your hand, and feel your breath.
For feel that someday will be over.
I pull you close, so much to lose.

Knowing that nothing lasts forever,
I didn’t care, before you were here.
I danced in laughter, with the ever after.
But all things change. Let this remain.

Hear the sirens covering distance in the night.
The sound, echoing closer, will they come for me, next time?"

I'm not ashamed to say the song made me glassy-eyed the first time I heard it. And again, for the next several times. I love the impact great music can have. (thanks Doug... you've shown me that time and time again). 

Of all the bands or musicians I've listened to, I think Eddie Vedder is the one I most closely resonate with and can relate to. He's the kind of person I'd really like to pull up a chair, grab a cold beer and shoot the shit with for a while. His outlook on life seems to align with mine pretty closely even though I've never set foot on a surfboard, know and love my father very much, and never played in front of thousands of people (though there's a blog post on here somewhere about me singing live for an audience of several hundred or so as my mother played guitar, but that's another story entirely).

I read his recent interview in Billboard magazine. It was a decent interview talking about the new release and the themes and underlying ideas behind shaping the CD. But the end of the interview... those last words in it by Vedder himself... yeah. I suppose the most important thing is to see yourself in the current time. He's right. There ARE no guarantees.

None except, I guess, as the saying goes with life, that no one here makes it out alive. Guess we should all do the best we can to be strong for ourselves and feel alive while we're still here.