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This one I remember--we were supposed to do a villain POV.

Nothing. No time. Only the one. )
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This exercise was based on a selection of pictures that one of our writers' group had downloaded from the Net and printed out. I can't remember the exact picture I chose, but there was a guy wearing goggles of some sort and toasting an empty chair across from him.

Evgeny Ohagan punched his request into the replicator and waited while it processed his order. )
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This one is from so long ago that I don't remember if it was a writing exercise, or what prompted it. It may even be from before the age of cell phones, so keep that in mind.

Gilton looked up briefly as McKinney entered the apartment. )

Exit Light

May. 27th, 2011 11:12 pm
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This is probably another writing exercise, but apparently I've forgotten the exact challenge. Perhaps something to do with a dark and stormy night?

On that dark and stormy night, when the lights went out, Conrad was ready, even if nobody else was. )
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This was a writers' group exercise in "raising the stakes". It amused me to try to incorporate as many possible ways of interpreting that phrase as I could.

Halvard opened the carved wooden door, closed it behind him, and sat down at the table across from Braxton. )
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I've fallen off my steady posting pace a little recently, for which I blame a busy weekend and my attempt to start a reread of Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series over on WordPress. Anyway, this is my newest writing exercise for the Cult of Pain, and it was based on one of the prompts for the 2011 Whittaker Prize writing competition, supplied by one of the Cult's members.

"Bollocks!" )

Franchise

May. 14th, 2011 04:28 pm
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I think this assignment was "write a story that has something to do with food".

Arlen Waller sat in the exclusive dining room of the Fine Blessing and sipped his tea. )
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Another one of those lost weekly prompt stories. Full disclosure--I have never been to Paris, nor even to Europe; all of the details in this story were gleaned from Google, Wikipedia and/or Mapquest. Also, this story does not really have a whaddayacall ending.

Luc Perrault gasped for breath, but he dared not slow down, not yet. )
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Another one from the series of weekly prompts, and again, I don't remember the prompt. So, here's a little story.

Desmond Thayer took a last glance over the month's accounts. )
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One month our writer's group were trying to do a story a week. I think we managed to get through three of them. I can't remember what the prompt was for this one, but I'm quite pleased with it, except perhaps the ending...

The music came to an end, and all the couples on the floor gracefully came to a stop, the gentlemen bowing and the ladies curtsying. )
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The exercise this time was based on a page which served up random selections from the Evil Overlord Advice List and other related lists. And, because I do like me some random, I also used the Random Pirate Name Generator.

"It is just as you predicted it, Master," Hashi said to Master Kenyama. )
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This story started as another writing exercise, a vague one to do with creating an addendum to the Ten Commandments. The best I could come up had something to do with the sanctity of the guest-host relationship. Which made me think of vampires...

Ganis woke up suddenly to the sound of knocking. )
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This was a "decathlon" exercise, exactly a thousand words long, where every hundredth word, as well as the first one, was specified before the assignment.

Decompose more slowly, I told my body. )
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This story was based on this "Movie Plot Generator" book I found at the library. It was a "Mix & Match" book where you selected three "plot" elements, a little simplistic, but there were some funny combinations. This was one of them...

Crimebot had a lot of time--5.36 minutes--to think on its way down to the lake, as it spread-eagled itself to minimize its terminal velocity. )
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Found this handwritten in one of my clipboards. I think I did it at a writer's group meeting, perhaps as part of a timed exercise or something; I don't remember anymore.

"Damage report?" Lord Zarkon asked. )
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Another writing exercise, from a couple of years ago now. For this one, the various members of my writer's group were given specific assignment to write in a genre they were unfamiliar with. In my case, that was the sports story. This one is dedicated to my dad, who took me to a bunch of Edmonton Eskimos games when I was a kid.

As soon as Johnny Shuster kicked the football out from under the hand of the holder, Mike Boston, he knew that it was going low. )

Exchange

Apr. 21st, 2011 11:02 pm
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You know, I see the esteemed [livejournal.com profile] hwrnmnbsol and [livejournal.com profile] crisper doing this "Write Every Day All Year" thing, and one part of my brain thinks that would be fun, while the rest of it reminds me how much I like playing Sims 2 and Dungeon Lords and watching TV in my free time, and it would be like an entire year of NaNoWriMo. But, still, I've got a few writing exercises and the like sitting around that I could start sharing with people... So here's the most recent one from my writer's group, The Cult of Pain. The assignment: "a college story".

"Fredrick? May I be speaking to you?" )
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Drove up to Beaverlodge--well, to my stepdad's apiary, Kamisak, which is in the country nearby--for Christmas.

Checked the oil on the way up. We don't do that as much as we should, really, mostly because we often don't drive far enough to get the oil churned up enough to measure accurately (or so I'm told), so I bit the bullet and lifted the hood while we were gassing up in Fox Creek at a self-serve Husky station with startling antiquated gas pumps--I mean, no pay-at-the-pump or anything. Not even a digital display. I couldn't even read the level on the dipstick, and there was no convenient "fill line", but from the dark colour of the oil I decided it was probably time to top it up. According to the oil-change place sticker on the inside of our windshield, we're a month and a half overdue for a change, but the little "Change oil" light on the dashboard hasn't gone off yet, and I'm sure I didn't take as long to reset it after the last oil change as I did the first time, so we're ignoring it. The whole quart (or whatever) of oil went in without overflowing, so I don't know what that means about the quantity of engine oil we've been using. I'm sure our superintelligent car would have lit up another dashboard light if it was seriously low, though. First time I've checked the oil myself in years, though.

My mom has a nice wood stove in her "sun room", which I like to keep fed on our winter visits. I'm very careful to open the stove door using the little handle wrapped with the wire that somehow never gets as hot as the dark metal at its core, and to use the poker or pieces of wood to manipulate the wood I insert, or want to rearrange inside. The first day, though, I absent-mindedly pushed the door a little further open with my left hand, and instantly wished I hadn't. My mom has lots of first-aid equipment, since mishaps are not unknown around the bee yard, and smeared some silver nitrate on my left middle finger--in retrospect, this was probably the stuff that they used on my forehead after I second-degree-sunburned it at the athletics championship back in the summer of '01, that they told me would turn black in sunlight. I wrapped it with a huge bandage, since I wasn't sure what precisely had been burned, but by the next day it seemed pretty clear that what I had was a big blister near the tip, but the rest seemed to be okay. I've been keeping it bandaged since then, though using smaller and smaller bandages since. Hope it goes away soon. My mom gave me a "finger cot" to wrap it in while I had a shower--a tight plastic shield that you roll down over your finger, sort of like a condom--and that worked well enough that now I want to buy some of my own.

We got the boys a Wii for Christmas, which makes this the first gaming console I have ever owned. The first one I ever played, of course, was my friend Jeremy's Colecovision back in the 80's, and the Wii is probably the second. I've played it at Graham and Nancy's, of course, mostly Rock Band, but I love Rock Band, so I was on board with it. The boys have played it a lot at Sharna and Nick's, so they were familiar with the Sports and Sports Resort games, as well as the Star Wars: Force Unleashed game. The boys got Force Unleashed II, which they played a lot. I haven't tried it yet. The boys beat me handily at Swordplay in Sports Resort, but I held my own in Archery. Nicole has informed me that Rock Band, or some version of it, is her Christmas present to me, but neither of us really knows what version I should be getting (or Band Hero, perhaps?), so she didn't want to buy it herself, so I'll try to do some research and then head out with some trepidation to face the Boxing Week crowds. Plus the boys have asked for another nunchuk thing so they can do the Duel mode in Force Unleashed.

Started a 1000-piece puzzle based on Escher's "Waterfall". Was still not done when we left. Decided that Escher should have used more colours. We did most of the darker bits in the middle, the actual waterfall and based, leaving the lighter surrounding bits. Nicole craftily disassembled it in strips and laid them in the box, so we can resume work on it here without having to go back to the beginning.

Went to see "Tangled" on Boxing Day. We weren't about our plan when we discovered that it was snowing as we drove in to Grande Prairie. Also some trepidation about possible Boxing Day crowds at the new (to me, at least, still) big box stores near the new multiplex on the west side of the city. The theatre was pretty deserted, though we were confused by the fact that the box office was unmanned. We had a gift card from who knows how long ago, as well as some movie passes we got for Christmas, but we ended up letting Elmer buy our tickets. Only then did we discover that you could buy your tickets with the popcorn at the concession stand. Well, whatever. We used the gift card to buy the popcorn and drinks, as well as the free Smarties that we ended up accidentally leaving at the counter because of disorganization. The movie itself? It was pretty good, nice to see a good treatment of the Rapunzel story. The inn-of-villains scene was a bit too reminiscent of the ending of Shrek the Third, and a little improbable, and Rapunzel's eyes seemed just a little too unrealistically huge (but what else is new for cartoon princesses, I guess), but overall it was a good movie, even the songs. Welled up at the floating lantern scenes. Also, don't understand why they're making a sequel to "Cars", but then, I didn't understand why they made the first one, either.

Waffled about whether to leave on Monday or Tuesday. We did want to be home on Monday, even though we hadn't finished the Escher puzzle, because, well, we like to be home. But after the Boxing Day snowfall, we weren't sure about the weather or the roads. We didn't pack on Sunday night, and the first thing I did when I got up was check the weather report and highway conditions. Became annoyed that by 8:30 there was still no road report more recent than 6:00-something, but decided that since it was supposed to snow Tuesday morning as well, there wasn't much advantage in staying.

Found out when we were about to leave that my cell phone battery was dead. My mom, who also had a Samsung phone, had a car-lighter charger, but it didn't fit. With the roads and weather possibly dicey, we didn't want to be without it, so we charged it for like ten minutes before we left and set out for Grande Prairie. There, we stopped at London Drugs, and I found a car-lighter charger for my phone. On the whole trip, we only used the phone to call my mom and let her know that we had bought the charger.

Just before Valleyview, the roads started getting sloppy, and everyone who passed us sprayed dirty road guck on our windshield. We tried to use the windshield washer, but nothing came out, and the wipers just smeared it more. This was in the middle of the First Nations reservation which is the only holdout of non-divided highway on the entire stretch of Highway 43 between Edmonton and Beaverlodge. Nicole declared that she couldn't see well enough to drive any more, so we pulled over onto the snow-covered shoulder and put the hood up. I dug out the windshield washer fluid from the back of the trunk behind the suitcases and bags of presents and books, with less effort than I had expected. The washer fluid tank turned out to be missing its cap, but once Nicole confirmed its location from the owner's manual, I refilled it. Still didn't work. With cars zooming by at what felt like insanely ludicrous speeds a few feet from the driver's side door (where the tank opening happened to be), we elected to wait until Valleyview to check it out. We washed the windshield by the simple expedient of having me splash some washer fluid direct from the jug (probably quite wastefully), and managed to make it to Valleyview. For some reason, Valleyview is short of decent restaurants, at least ones near the highway; this time we elected to stop at the diner next to the Esso gas station near the south side of town, in case we needed to get the whole wiper system fixed at a garage and stay at a hotel in Valleyview overnight while they did. Once we got the car parked with the hood up, and Nicole tried to wash the windows again, I saw the problem: there was a leak in the hose, which sprayed the fluid under the hood instead of letting any get to the actual wipers. We ate at the diner (I had a cheese donair, with no tomato, which was not at all bad), and then I found some duct tape at the gas station store next door. Simon assisted me while I tried to tape up the leak; it sort of worked, but that, and another leak which had also been duct taped previously (possibly even by me), still leaked a little bit. Didn't matter; enough came out of the wipers that we could actually clean the windows, and we promised ourselves that sometime in the next week or two we would definitely take the car in and get that little hose completely replaced.

Got the whole week off, which is nice. Will try to fit in "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" with Nicole and Simon, a blood donor appointment, and maybe one or two other things. We'll also try to find a couple of movies on Telus TV that we missed in theatres to watch on New Year's Eve. 2010 was not as unkind to us as to some other people we know, but we're hoping 2011 will be better nonetheless.
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I can't remember if I do this every year, but I am beginning to ask myself what the point is of writing on my NaNoWriMo novel.

Tonight, this is coming to a head because I decided I would go to a "splinter group" write-in being organized at the Sherwood Park library. I find myself more productive at write-ins, or, more to the point, they allow me to do my writing quota and be done before 9:00, so I can spend the rest of the evening not writing without feeling guilty. So I set off with my GPS, because I've never been to this particular library before, and it leads me to...a big mall. Okay, lots of libraries live in or next to malls. So I drive around. And I drive around. And I park and wander around inside. And I drive around some more. And finally I drive off, never having been able to figure out where the fucking library is. And being unwilling to look foolish by trying the door of the wrong building, it must be admitted.

Let's also mention that it's winter driving conditions. Probably close to the freezing point, which is amazing considering how far below the freezing point it was for the last three days, so there's probably not much ice on the roads, but far too much of it is shiny with melt for me to be comfortable, because ice looks much the same. And let's also mention that my GPS is leading me on odd roads--on the way there, because it's still set to "shortest distance" mode rather than "shortest time", because I got tired of trying to get me to take the highway last weekend, and on the way back, who the fuck knows. I just love driving on unfamiliar two-lane roads with no streetlights with lots of traffic after dark. I mean, seriously, Sherwood Park? Are you so dedicated to being the largest rural village in Alberta that you can't put up a few more streetlights or something?

Anyway. I got back from there at about 7:30, absolutely seething. The warm temperatures meant that I had been alternately roasting in the car in my winter jacket (after overheating myself stalking madly through the mall in frustration) with the heat on, or turning the heat off and watching the windows fog up from sweat vapour in the air. I had wasted close to an hour on a wild goose chase, where I could have done at least a large percentage of my quota if I'd stayed home that time. I wasted most of an evening where Nicole took the kids for all of it, which I will have to pay her back for. And I still haven't been able to settle down and actually write tonight. I spent an hour playing Empire--and we're talking an ancient text version of 1987 or thereabouts that I can't even play properly anymore because Windows 7 won't run it in a DOS window, and Dosbox screws up parts of the display. And now I'm writing this.

Why am I doing NaNoWriMo again? As I keep telling people, I've done it for ten years now. I've got a bunch of first drafts to show for it, mostly. Before NaNoWriMo almost all I did was short stories. But at least I've been able to rewrite short stories. I've only bogged down so far with my attempts to rewrite my novels. I don't tend to actually enjoy the activity of writing, particularly. It's never as fun to actually do as it is to contemplate. That's why I used to do short stories, because I could stop before it got tiresome.

But it was an achievement the first time, the proof that I could do it. And maybe the second time, too. After that I went crazy and tried to do NaNoWriYe, doing an extra novel and a half, but actually failing at NaNoWriMo because most of that wasn't actually in November. Since then, there's been a lot of camaraderie, social events, fellow writers sharing the experience. That's what's mostly kept me going the last few years. Apart from the stumble two years ago where a promising early start (at WFC, no less) was derailed, mostly by the stress caused by starting a new job at Nexopia and spending like 90 minutes on the bus every day.

Last year I did really well--I started at a write-in at midnight on the 1st, got ahead at the start and stayed that way most, if not all, of the month, particularly because of going to lots of write-ins. I finished a day early. And now I was cocky. Not as much as some people, who find 50,000 so easy that they race to do it in the first week, then go on to 100,000 or 200,000 or 250,000 by the end of the month. It's always been a struggle for me. But I thought that, having done it once, I now had the trick, and I could do it again this year.

Maybe the first omen should have been my computer failing two days before the beginning of November--which resulted in my missing the Kickoff Party--and my replacement computer also failing just before the opening midnight. I shrugged that off and managed 5,000 words, three full days quota, on the first day. The second omen would be me blowing off writing on the 2nd, because of my mom being in town and trying to finish Cryoburn so that I could start Towers of Midnight.

My novel, which I decided at a social event back in October was going to be a sequel to last year's, has not been going so well. I've spent a lot of time floundering, having endless conversations between characters hashing out what they think the villain is doing, because I don't know what the villain is doing. They speculate over the way their world works because I don't know how their world works yet. I've been madly importing characters from my Sims 2 Pleasantview neighbourhood because that's what I did last time, and it worked that time.

But I am still not feeling it.

Part of it, too, is that I have not been feeling the camaraderie, either. I'm not sure if it's just me, or if there's something else to it. Sarah Mackey, who has been our incomparable Municipal Liaison for the last seven years or so, is moving up to working at/with the actual Office of Letters and Light that runs NaNoWriMo. She's accumulated three co-MLs over the last few years, and now they are the ones in charge, with several stalwarts who are in "Camp Counselor" positions. (There's a "Summer Camp" theme this year. Maybe that's part of the problem, too. I always hated camp. I have no good memories of camping. I can only intellectually appreciate the warm fuzzy feelings that they are trying to evoke.)

But all of the events I've attended, apart from the people I've slowly come to know ever so slightly over the last few Novembers, like Cassandra "Joe da Bucket" and Chloe "K. Evil" and Crystal "Shaisukebe", I've felt disconnected. Part of that is my own schedule--I can't just show up at the library at 5:00, duck out for a fast food supper at some point, and stay until 8:30. I have a full-time job that goes until at least 4:45, sometimes longer. I have a wife who likes it when I'm home for supper. I have children who are often a handful, and my wife likes it when I share the effort of looking after them, too.

(Brief interlude while I decide that I am not going to warm up down here. When it was -20 to -30 C outside earlier this week, the basement was the warmest place in the house, because the shoddy insulation causes the rest of the house to lose heat quickly. Now, the cold air has managed to seep down here or something, because it's now colder than the upstairs. I wrap an afghan around myself, since I don't have one of those blanket-with-arms things to put on to write with, and I'm too stubborn to go upstairs and get a sweater right now.)

So I leave the house at 6:30, arrive at the library at 7:00 or so, and get an hour and a half of writing in--usually enough to finish up my quota, maybe a little bit more. I don't know most of the people there, apart from the camp counselors, and most of them don't wear nametags or anything, so I don't get to find out who they are, either. I'm not fond of the "sashes" that we're supposed to wear, made of ribbon and scotch tape--I miss the lanyards we had the last few years. I've only managed to make it to one write-in or so per week, and this week, apparently, not even that. (I was planning to go to Whitemud Crossing for a write-in on Tuesday, but it was -30 C and I was sick.)

I've always found the IRC chat room a bit of a poor substitute for an in-person write-in. After all, on IRC I still have my own computer available, with all of its inherent distractions, as opposed to an elderly laptop that doesn't even have a network cable port on it, let alone wireless, or battery life. The first few times I went on this month it was okay, but the last time, it was almost deserted, with few people I actually knew, there was only one word war, and few people seemed to be actually writing.

So my motivation has been dwindling, and tonight it has come to a head.

Do I really need another first draft? A novel with so many Sims 2 characters in it that it's almost turning into fanfic? One where I just introduced a new major villain at 39,000 words in? I'm beginning to feel about like I did five years ago or so when I did "The Man In The Suit Named Everett", where I had gone so off-track and had so little idea about the ending that I blew up the world in the last ten words. I am at 40,029 words right now. I could crank out 10,000 more words. Hell, I've written over 1700 words so far in this blog post, in about 40 minutes. I could paste them into my story, label than an "authorial interlude" or something, and go to bed. Is that what I want? Do I care that much for a stupid "Winner" icon that I will just put any old crap that I spew out into a file so that I can say that I finished? I could just copy and paste the first 10,000 words into a file and call myself done. I could upload last year's novel to the validator and get my purple bar and winner's certificate right now. But as I keep telling people who ask me what I get for winning--all you get for winning is a 50,000 word novel that you wrote, so what's the point of cheating?

I'm not going to say that I'm quitting right now. I am going to say that I'm tired of staying up until midnight or later, the last half hour or more of that my desperate attempt to wring some fun out of the evening with a game of Sherlock and a couple of chapters of my book. I'm sick, and I'm tired, and maybe the reason I'm sick is because I'm stressing myself out and depriving myself of sleep for this stupid novel. (Let's leave aside the question of how late I tend to stay up other months of the year. At least then the stress levels are reduced.)

I've been posting my word count with my IM account at work, and maybe people will be disappointed in me if I give up this year. I could remind them that none of them has ever written a 50,000 word novel at all. Or I could shrug and say, "I couldn't remember what exactly I was trying to prove anymore."

I'm not as good a writer as my wife is. I'm mostly okay with that. Maybe if I didn't have a full-time job it would be different. But I never came close to approaching her output and her dedication even when she was working a crap job selling western wear at Lammle's or videos at Blockbuster. I know it doesn't mean there's no point in my trying to write at all. I'm almost 40, but still by no means the oldest in our writers' group. Writing is not a young person's game, no matter what romantic portrayals there might be out there.

It's not too late, I know. I can still write 2000 words in a day easily, if I try. Five days of that will catch me up. Tomorrow I'll have to decide if I care enough to do that.

(Final count, 2175 words, if I don't count this bit.)
alfvaen: floatyhead (Default)
After having spent years not having seen them, despite being in the same city, I went to see Captain Tractor in concert a couple of months ago. Chris Wynters, one of Captain Tractor's principal singers and songwriters, opened with a solo set, including a number of songs from his then-forthcoming album, which was going to be composed of half original songs and half covers. I'd already heard Chris's previous solo CD, "Skywriting", from the library, and so I resolved to go to his upcoming CD release party, intending to get both CDs. Which I did. Chris performed a set consisting not only of songs from his new CD, but also some other covers that he said had originally been intended for a full covers-CD release before he decided on the half-and-half format.

I should mention here, because I can, that I've known Chris for years. Well, rather say that I knew Chris years ago. My parents and his parents were both involved in the community theatre scene up in Grande Prairie, and so perforce were we--me, my brother Steve, Chris, and his brother James. At least I think James was, though I don't remember for sure. (Perhaps he was another one of the Siamese children in "The King And I" back when we were wee sprats? I'm sure there was something.) I especially remember being in "West Side Story", just before I moved to Edmonton and took a hiatus from theatre; Chris was Tony and I was, well, one of the Jets with half a dozen lines. I've been following his musical career over the years--I still have a copy of a 7" single that he released with an early band called "Six Steps Down", and I've got all the Captain Tractor albums, though I didn't spring for the full "Hoserista" boxed set. Chris is a few years older than me, and was probably a bit more indie-music focused than I was in the 80's--I was a devout MuchMusic watcher from 1985 through 1988, at least, so while I was certainly aware of a lot of the bands that weren't on the Top-40 charts, they weren't the main focus of my listening. Afterwards, I spread out a bit more, filling in as many of the gaps as I could in my musical experience.

So I was, for the most part, quite familiar with the songs Chris chose to cover, and I found his choices interesting. In most cases, if I'd chosen to cover a song by one of the artists he picked, I would not have chosen the same one. Which is fine, of course, because tastes differ, and all that. And, let's face it, I'm not particularly close to recording any cover versions myself, not having a lot of current instrumental skill or anything. Karaoke and Rock band is about the limit of it at the moment. So it's easy for me to second-guess someone who's actually putting the music together himself and making the recording. Nevertheless, I felt like making my comments on Chris's choices and how they'd differ from mine.

The Replacements: Achin' To Be. My brother got me to listen to the Replacements by lending me their album "Tim" when I was in university. Well, actually, before that he'd made up some mix tapes which included, among other songs, "Androgynous", "A Little Mascara" and "Hold My Life". I'd probably seen the video for "Bastards of Young" on MuchMusic, too. Anyway, I wasn't that much into punk back then, but I liked "Hold My Life", as well as "Waitress In The Sky" and "Swingin' Party". I later acquired "Let It Be", which, apart from a few exceptions, I considered too noisy and raucous for my tastes, as well as "Don't Tell A Soul" and "All Shook Down", which I thought were okay but didn't wow me. So if I were to do a Replacements cover, I'd probably pick "Swingin' Party".

REM: Driver 8. I confess I've always been a little mystified at the appeal of this song. I first heard of REM when MuchMusic started playing "Can't Get There From Here", which grew on me; "Driver 8", which followed, was okay, and I ended up picking up the album at some point. I've got most REM albums in my collection by this point, at least up to "Reveal" or thereabouts, with the rest still on my wishlist (with the exception of "Accelerate", which I thought was unmitigatedly horrible), but my favourites would still be "Fables of The Reconstruction", "Document" and "Automatic For The People". On "Automatic" I mostly like the singles "Drive" and "Everybody Hurts"; on "Document" I mostly like the non-singles, like "Fireplace", "King of Birds", and "Lightnin' Hopkins". On "Fables" I like "Can't Get There From Here", "Old Man Kensey", and "Feeling Gravity's Pull". I'm also fond of "Stand", and "How The West Was Won And Where It Got Us" from "New Adventures In Hi-Fi". I remember reading somewhere that out of all of the songs from "Fables", only "Driver 8" made it into their long-term setlist, which just mystified me. What would I cover, if I covered an REM song? I don't know if I could do justice to most of the actual singles, with the possible exception of "Can't Get There From Here". Or I could do one of the more obscure album tracks, like "Fireplace". It might depend on who I had doing the music.

The Cure: In Between Days. This was the first Cure song I recall hearing, and it took some time to grow on me. ("Close To Me", their next song, I hated at first, but now I love it...) I'm still not the biggest Cure fan ever; the two I just mentioned are good, and I love "Lullaby", but apart from that... "Love Cats" is cute, of course, and...I'm not sure what else I'd pick. "Close To Me" could fun to do, though. I might take out some of the horns at the end, though; they bug me.

Thomas Dolby: Onr of Our Submarines. I'm also a big Dolby fan. I'm sure I heard "She Blinded Me With Science" back when it was a big hit, though I don't recall for sure. I remember "Hyperactive" and "Dissidents" from MuchMusic, from "The Flat Earth", though they did play some videos from "The Golden Age of Wireless" as well--"Science", of course, as well as "Radio Silence", "Europa & The Pirate Twins", and "One of Our Submarines". None of them particularly wowed me at the time, but I did end up getting both of those albums and listening to them a lot over the years. (That doesn't mean much--the way I tend to listen to my music, each album once before listening to any of them again, means that the number of times I've listened to it is often directly related to how long I've had it.) Those two are definitely my favourite Dolby albums; my favourite songs from the first are probably "Weightless" and "Airwaves", and from the second, "The Flat Earth", "Dissidents" and "Hyperactive". I'm also fond of the funkier "Pulp Culture" from "Aliens Ate My Buick", "Quantum Mechanic" from "The Gate To The Mind's Eye", and "I Love You Goodbye" from "Astronauts & Heretics", but those albums are much spottier. If I were to do a Dolby cover I'd probably want to do "The Flat Earth", if I could transpose down a little ways, into my vocal range.

Lloyd Cole: Rattlesnakes. Okay, I admit, this one I never really heard at all. My Lloyd Cole exposure has been minimal. I remember hearing "Brand New Friend" and taking an instant dislike to it for some reason. Eventually "Lost Weekend" and "Cut Me Down" won me over, and I was reconciled to the rest of the album "Easy Pieces", but that's really as far as I've gotten into Mr. Cole. I doubt I'd want to cover one of his songs when I have other people that I like better out there.

The Church: Under The Milky Way. I haven't listened to that much of The Church either. I remember the songs "Constant In Opal" and "Tantalized" from my MuchMusic days, and later I picked up "Starfish" and "Gold Afternoon Fix". I can't really dispute this as a good Church song to cover, but again, I'd probably skip them entirely; they're just not high enough on my list.

So what other songs would I consider covering? Let's limit it to the 80's, like Chris did, which isn't too much of a hardship. Of course, there's different reasons to cover a song. It could be just because you like it, you like singing and performing it. It could be because you think you can do it better than those frog-throated losers that made a hash of it the first time; this is, I believe, the impulse behind most Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen covers. It could be because you think it'll give you an easy hit single by invoking nostalgia in the people who liked the song the first time around, or just to save on the songwriting duties, though of course you have to share the royalties. It could be to show how cool you are to know such an obscure and yet cool song in the first place. It could be to make fun of the song, or do something genuinely funny and/or creative with it. Or whatever. Let's pretend it's the first one.

I'd have to stick Godley & Creme's "Golden Boy" in there, as my long-time favourite song of all time. Something by Depeche Mode, like "A Question of Lust" or "Never Let Me Down Again". Maybe Cock Robin's "Thought You Were On My Side", one of my favourite mainstream pop bands of the decade. Something from Crowded House's underrated first album, like "Hole In The River". I'd like to include some Bruce Cockburn, but it's kind of pushing it; I didn't really care much for his albums from my MuchMusic era, except for what I heard on "Waiting For A Miracle". I might be able to sneak in "Coldest Night of The Year" on a technicality. I don't know if I could get away with a Kate Bush or Jane Siberry cover, either. Maybe Suzanne Vega's "The Queen & The Soldier". Then there's Shriekback...I don't know if I could pull off "Malaria" or "Nemesis", but maybe "Faded Flowers". Talking Heads "Road To Nowhere" might be fun. Joe Jackson--either "Shanghai Sky", or maybe I could sneak in something from "Night & Day", like "Real Men" or "A Slow Song". I'd like to include something from The Smithereens' "Especially For You" album as well, even though I'd never cared much for their other albums--"Behind The Wall of Sleep" or "Hand of Glory" would be nice.

It does make me wish I had some instrumental ability (apart from thirty-year-old piano and clarinet lessons), or at least a backing band. Ah, well.
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