Brett's Books

Inspirational Stories

It's Art when you let someone else watch you at play.

Do we need rules? Listing out the inspiration would become tedious. So, I guess it won't be possible to play along at home. On the other hand, I like the idea of Dreaming Now and Listening to a Song Later.

{Clearly, I list out lots of inspiration. And just so it is clear at the start, The Game was to select a handful of Music CDs (mostly) and Other Media (not so much) and create a story, dream, fictional interaction, or whatever I felt like doing, while using the Cover Art, Liner Notes, Song Titles, and Whatever Else as points of reference along the way.

How one plays with my game is, of course, entirely up to them. But might I recommend figuring out which Artistic Works I reference, obtaining a copy for oneself, deconstructing my interaction, and (finally) having a direct interaction of one's own.

Or if you don't like that, it's (primarily) a Poetic Based Review of Media Packaging and (often) has very little to do with the underlying work.

M.A.S.H. (a Television Show) and Full House (another Television Show) in my mind (considering only the show titles) yields a man, quite pleased with his luck after slamming the last hand in the weekly Poker Game that he plays with his friends (landing Aces over Eights). Happy Days (the last Television Show that I shall mention) are upon him as he decides what to do with the winnings. And here, I will leave it to you to decide which Television Show would work best (or first comes to mind) so as to continue the story?

In short, this isn't really about the Underlying Artistic Work.

It's more like Word Play mixed with Album Cover Art Play.}

Italics denote the Artist and Title, albums mostly... mostly.

But in italicized comment sections like this, they will be underlined.

Danger Days: I could not be more explicit. I see two boys (childhood friends), born and raised in a desolate town. They keep spiders as pets. You know the progression: first as webs, then as feeders (for lizards and such); until finally, they are caring for something poisonous... and much more deadly. Who knows what sort of Trippy Sh!t this awakens? Drugs? Sure! In the end, it's some sort of Chemical Romance, My.

I was going to move on to cars. But that's not the only type of Kill Society, The I now imagine. I mean, why give them cars? Besides, I (already) know Death awaits. So, Mortal Combat! Spiders & Snakes. You see, we've moved on.

But then, what fun are animals? After all, the fur-less ones are the best. So, a girl. Could be a child... little sister. The picture I'm looking at is pretty sexy. But things don't always go as planned. Playing with the neighbor boy, older brother... and they trick you... bitten... stripped bare. It's the poison, of course, coursing through her veins. The pain! Reality crumbles in the pain. But I would be lying if I said there was nothing but the pain.

Does she hear the name of the Gods? Anamanaguchi: that's what they call themselves. Whispering in her ear... talking... singing... laughing. What is a girl to do, caught in this Endless Fantasy? I mean, I could pull out of the story, listen to that CD. But that's never going to happen.

I like to imagine the girl draws power from this experience. A week later, it is over. The pain has subsided. But then, there is a pain that lingers. And though... what's his name? He? They? It? They never speak to her... only they do. It's like Brain Salad Surgery. Whatever that is supposed to mean. Impressions... out of the corner of her eye... hidden meaning in rocks... and that formation on the outskirts of town, edge of the desert. Karn Evil 9 that's what they call the place. And she goes there to listen to the classics... Emerson Lake & Palmer, mostly... as scorpions crawl through her hair... and the stars dance and twinkle, as far away as the light in her eye.

Not bad, I'd say. I mean, I'll edit it later... maybe months later. But for a start... for my heart in the moment... it feels good.

Oh, and for those who like clues, the italics reference the works, whose covers and packaging inspired this foray. Paragraph breaks indicating the switch from the one to the next. {This comment not being so much a repeat, as where this convention was originally decided. This was my first play-through at this sort of game, after all.}

I have little by way of the story... little continuation. There is a cave in them-thar hills. And the cave has bats. I can see the girl laying by the entrance, staring at the colored clouds, just this side of sunset, as the bats go streaming by, into the night. And I can see her losing herself into the music... perhaps in the halls of high school. But that last is a cheat. As of late {and especially as all these CDs pass through my hands}, I see more and more characters losing themselves into the music. It's an easy escape. It's an easy character trait. {And a cheap narrative trick, considering the nature of The Game at Hand.}

Lastly (far from Story Land), I can see the appeal of music snobbery after listening to ELP's KE9. There is no hook, no sell out, no desire... just a group of musicians playing, having fun, reaching for the stars... the kind that reside in The Mind's Eye.

Hopefully, my luck is just as good on the 'morrow.

Also, I should note, the game shifted slightly. This is where I start italicizing songs, as well... and where I feel the need to qualify that errors (in format, proofreading, spelling, interpretation, and exceptions to the rules) are bound to occur. There will be no end-of-project fact checking. Once an error, always an error.

{Furthermore, this is the project where (is this the project where) this sort of Media Inspired Story started (for me, anyway). So, please forgive me if I repeatedly go over the rules and repeat the nature of the game. I doubt I will bother as much the next time I play, as I will know the deal going in.

Oh, hey. Are you used to this convention of mine? The curly braces indicate notes added after the fact, during editing.}

Starting with the song this time, listening to ELP led to The Who's Eminence Front, which begs to be interpreted as some sort of Con Job (in my so ever freaking humble opinion) so, let's see where that leads, what album covers I choose to select in support of that notion, starting with one or two by The Who, but of course.

From The Who, we get Tommy as the name of the lead character. What else can we say about Tommy, but Who Are You? Born poor on September 5th {I could not begin to tell you why I chose this particular date} with a younger sister who likes disco (I'll leave it for you to pull up the album, {a note which leads me to believe I should have italicized disco... September 5th, as well}), I'm guessing a child of the 50s, coming of age, at ground zero for the Summer of Love.

Though, really, is that accurate? A bit of a health problem, a bit of a Weezer, kept Tommy away from The City and The Beach (no Surfer Dude, here), but not The Mountains. Settling in the town of Pinkerton, he became a bit of a loner, depressed. In truth, I wonder if he ever had sex. Meaning, Tommy doesn't... or if he does, it comes late. So, what was the call of this town? Some butterfly? A rare species? No! He saw it in his dreams.

Pink Floyd! Man, those discs were prominent! Took me forever to find The Who. And on top of that, I didn't know if I should look in T (for The) or W (for Who)? But Floyd (Tommy Floyd, clearly) was easy to find. The boatsman calls to a Mountain Stream. But it is the beds {on the covers} that capture my attention. What does a young man do in The Mountains? Catch up on their sleep, sure. But it was a butterfly that brought us here. So, clearly, Learning To Fly forms part of the goal. Code words, but of course.

There are plenty of albums today. (I'm looking at all albums today. There was one book in the mix, yesterday). And this next is more esoteric, call him Mr. Invisible... even if that's just one of his parts. In my mind, dodging the draft has always been a possible rationale {for why Tommy fled to the Mountains}, given the timing of the story and the place. But we will go with a post war veteran... looking to be reborn. Man, with a name like Thank You Scientist, he must have a bum leg, fake leg... or a wheelchair, it is. So, he dreams of walking (The Somnambulist, don't you know), but finds something else. I Need More Input. But then, rather than a {militant} revolutionary, I know what I am hoping to find... some sort of Cult Leader or Idealist; in short, The Hero of the Movement.

I don't feel like citing sources, so I will not {but clearly, for the most, I do}. So without mention, I'll call back to that sister (younger) back at the start {i.e. disco}. She's in some commune, Tennessee, ways. No. The Way The Whole Thing Ends is with some Dark Turn of Mind.

I mean, you hear what I am saying... everything must go. But then, I don't see an ending there... only despair. We're not going to go to the last mall. He's not going to write the green book or become some sort of preacher, some godwhacker. No. I see him as an artist, living with his sister (Gina, not a full reference, so no italics), maybe going down to the beach (blues beach) every once in a while. But mostly spending his time working on pixeleen, you know, what he calls his latest collection of work.

The last are a bunch of steely dan references. And I might have to listen to him/them, tonight. Broken Warrior turned Artist. I guess for me to like the story, it has to end with good old Tommy Floyd focusing on butterflies... or beautiful women of the pixie kind. So, you know, if I can't stand the dan (slaughterizations being excepted from italicizing, if you'll recall), I'll switch to the Pixies... and see where that leads.

The Pixies are smooth and mellow... not close to being strong enough to blast your mind to oblivion. Thus, I pronounce it Melodious Surf Punk. I think I'll start my next session with Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys (you know, if I remember) and see where that takes me.

Back in (The Real and) my misspent youth, I worked fast food. As I cleaned the dining room, The Beach Boys would play in an endless loop. I never knew which album. Turns out it was Pet Sounds. I wonder if I would have appreciated the soundtrack more if I knew of the mystique surrounding the album? Probably, not. Without a doubt, it was the worst job I ever signed on (my apologies to the Sloop John B.).

{This is a New Story, just in case that is not obvious.}

They are hardly comfortable with the animals, the boys, they are... not. Starting there, it must be some sort of animal based Get Rich Quick Scheme. As in, Wouldn't It Be Nice. But then, that is not how these kind of stories go... you know, the ones that go this way (instead of that way). A Hedgehog, which for some reason I wish to call a Groundhog, spent two nights with me, a few days ago (another Real World reference). They're worth $100-150. So, a person could breed them profitably. But I'm going to assume that wasn't the case with my (story boy) breeders.

They, whoever they are, were most definitely not breeding lions. I only say this on account of lionsong being on vulnicura the next album in my (not quite) play-list by Bjork. Yeah, it's a crappy sentence. Even worse, I don't have my Lead Character, as of yet. I will crown them a Demon. Who cares how they originate? They (the plural?) originate here... in my need... and the album's cover art. That said (and having nothing to do with my perception of Bjork's music), I like the liner notes, the lyrics. Maybe, I shall give her a listen. But so far (story wise) all we (or should that be I) have are Demons (a singular whole).

GammaRay seems to have a problem with an Empire of the Undead. And in this, I think I have my plot, my situation, my start: a child who feels guilty about the death of a pet... or maybe it's one of those breeders. I forgot about those breeders. Scratch. Rewind. Revisit. For a hobby (and extra cash), a Married Couple breeds... snakes... no cats... so, let them be dogs. And the mother dog (there's got to be a better word for that) dies in childbirth. It's a simple thing. They breed some weird type of show dog, push the mother too hard, get her pregnant (again) too soon, and she dies in childbirth. And there they are, the Married Couple (wouldn't it be nice to breed dogs, it's such an easy way to make a few extra bucks), having to hand-feed Seven pups, of which one is the Demonseed. I wonder if you can see it? Master of Confusion? Does that say it all. Seven is too many. The wife (the sweet little miss) takes one under her hand... one to replace her favorite, the one that was lost. And hubby (dear sweet overworked hubby) takes care of the other five, hand feeding the lot. And as to The Seventh... you can count, can't you? Well, The Seventh goes a bit feral.

Palaeozoic, I believe is the word, from the more formal invocation of The Ocean Phanerozoic I... a little used phrase, which if I remember correctly means to go crazy with the synthesizer. But I would have to listen to their music (which I am increasingly convinced that I shall) to be sure. In short, the dog goes crazy, mad, and/or insane. And although I would have guessed that death and destruction await, the album cover shows tracks {animal tracks, I would guess at this remove} returning to nature (or at least, that's how I shall interpret it {and who am I to second guess myself}). Thus, the dog, Seven, the one they never even bothered to name, merely runs away. It is rumoured that he sired the best of the line, you know, the best of the breed. But without papers, that means nothing. And thus, in the end, this is merely the story of the one that got away.

Yeah, not a great story... maybe, not even a good story. Or then, perhaps, others will disagree. It makes no matter. I have my music for the night: Bjork and those Cambrian, Explosion, Rainforest Collapse Metal Collective Guys.

And, yes. Beyond Art (is it art, if we must ask, I think it must be), it may be best to think of this project as a pain-free way for me to walk (rather randomly) through some new musical selections. Why The Ocean Phanerozoic I? Well, why not? Also, I like the cut of their jibe, their packaging and aesthetic. And as to Bjork, her lyrics stood out. Still, I hope the next 'story' is a bit better.

As I listen to The Stone Age Psycho Boys (hey, use a simpler name and I'll repeat it next time), I can't help but imagine my story continuing, as Seven makes peace with his rage... and the slavery of (I mean, it does take a bit of effort) freedom.

And now, if you'll excuse me, the rest of the album, awaits.

Ah. Here, you go. This is why a band might want comprehensible album art. I'm just now finding out the band's name might be (as who can really say) The Ocean.

Bjork on the other hand sounded like a child who'd discovered her father's old mix-tape recording setup. But on the other (other) hand, one song sounded like she was trying to mimic the chaotic dis-fractured sound of thought. It called me back to a wonderful dream I'd had the night before. And well, that's no mean feat... you know, we're talking a special sort of bad... not run of the mill bad... which is saying something... and horribly unfair, as bad isn't the right word for it. But then, I'm reluctant to use the word good.

Between the two, I think I'd seek out The Ocean, again {at least, at first}. But who can say?

{Actually, I can say. As I edit, I remember how much I liked The Ocean. And as such, it might be time to give them another go. Right after I listen to Led Zeppelin's song The Ocean, as that is what my search turned up first.}

Story time is on hold. The next is just a list of possible bands... to listen to... or to start the next search, as I wander through the stacks, whenever that might be.

The Seeds

Ian Hunter

The Paisley Underground

I think I recognized one of The Seeds' songs. I don't know the name. They sang of love... and love lost. Solid sixties stuff. So much so, Farm was recommended next... a lulling psychedelic hillbilly rock, worthy of closing my eyes to... almost taking a nap. I wonder how many riffs they inspired... or stole? Assuming the riffs were theirs, they were on the edge of greatness... or at least, popularity. Odd how things go. I'd have been happy to lay in bed, but the next group (no need to bother with a name) convinced me it was time to get on with my life.

The title of Vodka (a hardback novel) grabbed my attention, as I walked by... as much as anything, because that's pretty close to the name of one of my novels: Oh, Nikolai. Well, sure. Not on the surface. So let us just say, it caught Nikolai's attention. And although he is just smiling, as he sits across from me, cleaning his weapon, Natasha is kind enough to explain, 'It is, perhaps,' always perhaps, as if she is offering a choice, as she is, between death and, 'Time for our inclusion in another story.'

And as Nikolai raises his glass, she adds, 'Da!'


The book is written by Boris Starling, which, perhaps (just perhaps), means precious little. So let us just say, Boris was a fellow agent {of Nikolai and Natasha}, now dead.

'Dead? The bastard defect!'

'Same t'ing darling'kt.'

But this is just so much subterfuge, as Nikolai is the one who did him in.

'You accuse me of murder? Where is your corpse?'

I could go on, but that is not what this particular Story Time is going to be about. Suffice to say, if Boris wrote this novel, which he did, then our friends (Nikolai & Natasha, whom I believe it will be best for all if we do, indeed, consider them friends) have just discovered some secret documents, courtesy of their long dead friend, Boris the KGB Agent.

I care little else about the book. Nikolai had a dog once. As did Boris. Which means, Nikolai has a dog again.

{Gads, this next paragraph is a mess. I'm just going to rewrite it.}

Nikolai is standing over the body of (someone I originally called -redacted-, as in that was the character's original handle, but whom will henceforth be know as) Boris (not the author of Vodka mind you, but Nikolai's friend of old). Boris (who was) had a dog. And the dog's name is (as it is only Boris who is dead) Bread, who happens to be a bloodhound, named after the album Goodbye Bread (so, no resemblance to to anything in the real), who is presently licking Nikolai's hand. I like to imagine that the last words Boris (and/or -redacted-, but using that handle does get tiresome rather quickly) uttered was the dog's name; as in, 'Bread!' The logic is that he was trying to get his dog to attack Nikolai. But as Boris is dead and the dog (Bread) is currently licking Nikolai's hand (you know, the one that will soon be feeding him), it's pretty clear that little ruse did not get Boris very far.

Personally, I'd like to tie (get it... well, you will shortly) Ty Segall's album in further, but how?

'Thinking about it makes My Head Explode,' Nikolai quips, reaching for a bottle.

'I Am With You', Natasha accents, as the record on the turntable turns round and round, a subtle indication that it is unlikely I will ever listen to this music. But then, what do want from an album that was selected based on the dog on its cover.

Nikolai sits and sips vodka, as he pages through a dossier, while the dog licks his hand, and Natasha busied herself with the record collection. Hot Thoughts by Spoon shall be the first selection, the cover calling nicely to the brain scans Nikolai is flipping through, as he turns to the dog and asks, 'Does this mean anything to you, Boy?'

To which Natasha responds, 'Bread.'

'What?' Nikolai asks incredulously, not bothering to wait for a further response, 'It is brain, not bread.'

'And dog is Bread, not Boy... it says so on his tag.'

'It is stupid name.'

To which what can Natasha do but shrug? Who could argue? The owner is dead, which in a story such as this is the telltale mark of stupidity.

Cells... Dividing, that's what my eyes pull from the liner notes. It leads into my next musical selection quite nicely: all about chemistry by Semisonic.

Nikolai continues to read about sonic vibrations... chemical synthesis... leading to cellular transmutation, multiplication, and division... and so on, it's complicated stuff. I mean, you might understand it {if you are some sort of Genetic Scientist, who specialized in Brainwave Augmentation}. But I'm pretty sure Nikolai {is not; and therefore, he} does not.

'If this where to get in the wrong hands,' Nikolai begins.

'It already has,' Natasha ends.

But that gets us nowhere.

'What does it do?' Natasha asks {picking up the pace}.

'It puts money in our pocket,' Nikolai answers.

So, there you are. What could be clearer? The Chemical Concoction gives one hope, the desire to believe. I think we must assume the dossier's pages were dripping with the stuff.

The Man, of course, will not let them be. After all, nothing is ever as easy as it seems. And for some reason, International Espionage is no exception. So, we have your usual gun fights, double crosses, and exploding cars (hint-hint), leading our friends on a fast passed chase (never the hunter, always the prey) that ends in Portugal where Rich Friends await. Unfortunately, that is a country about which I know nothing. In truth, the words on the screen {talk about meta} might as well be so much Noise Pollution. But then, for this project to make any sense, I must Live In The Moment and Keep On, Keeping On.

Clearly, it is time to move on and catch a train, a One Way Ticket. I mean, it Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time. But I think in the confusion, back at the station their luggage was switched and the formula lost.

'You what?'

'Oh, you blame me, Natasha. I hear it in your voice. I see it in your eyes. But you know Author Boy, as well as I.'

'Author Boy,' she sneers the words, spitting them out.

But Nikolai is over the moment. He has a flask of Vodka in hand, a poorly named dog at his side, and enough residual Hope from the Infusion to last any Fictional Character a lifetime. 'It does not matter.'

'Not matter, Nikolai?'

'Not in the least. We ride this story out into The Darkness.'

'That is all? That is the end?'

'There is no hurry. Author Boy will be back. He can have not story without us.'

'And when he does...'

'A One Way Ticket To Hell!'

But that is not a very satisfactory ending. Personally, I think we need (just) a tad more dialogue, something that shows our loving duo's true colors.

So, 'Get your Knockers over here, Natasha!'

A demand which will elicit a gasp and a smile and that most famous of tag-lines, 'Oh, Nikolai!'

Yes, indeed.

I think we have ourselves a wrap.

A bit long, to be sure. But I am smiling. And that is entirely the point.

Ironically (or whatever), if I recall correctly, the original desire was to imagine the sound of Musical Tracks and/or the object of Computer Games from looking at their covers. But clearly, my mind does not work that way. Thankfully, I am pleased enough with how it does work. Even more so (thankfully wise), I am delighted that the anger that has plagued me for years seems to be on the wane.

For this pilgrim, acceptance of death has led to a renewed interest in life.

'I cannot help but notice you are listening to [The] Darkness, Nikolai says by way of introduction. 'Let Nikolai help.'

Blam! Blam! B-B-B-Blam! Blam! Blam!

'I think you no longer have problem,' quips a smug Nikolai, as he holsters his weapon. 'Though, stereo maybe see better days.'

In short, I found The Darkness to lack what we in the trade like to call soul.

Just to prove I could dance (and was in the mood to presently enjoy music) I loaded Space Lord by Monster Magnet to great success.

And my enjoyment of Farm by Farm (just the other day) shows my continued receptivity to new musical experiences.

I am sure, one of those (or something nearby) will start The Game, the next time I play.

A long while has passed.

I have a fairly substantial trove (9+ jewel cases, some with multiple discs), covering {the computer game series known as} The SIMs (1 & 2). I will never be playing this game... all the more so, since I plan on throwing the lot out, shortly.

When dealing with The SIMs (ever since I landed this trove a few months ago), I like to imagine the discs are for some sort of Fully Immersive Virtual Reality World: what I would call a [Dream]. So, the real question in my mind is what do I want to [Dream]?

{Skip Jump!}

Recycling would take too much effort. I will scrap the games when I am done. Maybe, this will wind up simply being commentary on the discs themselves. I mean, the reason I won't play the game is because I want my progress to have meaning. I don't want to simulate relationships, I want to make them.

Sure. Sure.

Bring up Nikolai {a fictional friend, if ever there was one}. But at this point, he is real. So, how to make either the game or my review of the game real?

{My best idea was to post pictures of my progress, much like I have done for CIV IV. But for whatever reason, it felt like too much work for too little reward. And playing a game to show off is a pretty piss-poor reason for playing a game.}

Back in the day, I played Slaughter Quest™. The SIMs would have been a pretty good substitution for that. In the recreating (or re-imagining of those days), I always imagine playing in my basement, at a table, with six or so others. Some sort of Spy Game would work.

'So, we get the role {in the next story}?'

'Do not ask,' Nikolai. 'Say.'

'I be polite.'

'Seems as though our quest is to steal the plans for some sort of Social Simulator,' one of my Slaughter Quest™ players remarks.

'No! I do not play stupid Geek Boy Game!'

'Oh, Nikolai!'

{As follows is just a regurgitation of ideas. There is not much plot, rhyme, or reason to it all.}

It matters not. I doubt there will be a plot. So much role playing was rolling up characters.

'I get the eighteen! I put it in shooting capitalistic pig-dog game-players in face.'

Oh, the House Party Expansion Pack! I sort of see Playing a RPG Game as a House Party.

Ironically (or not), Crazy Train by Ozzy Osborne is played to a Slaughter Quest™ Music Video in my mind.

'You are not telling story, tonight, are you?'

Maybe, in game, the Spies must navigate a Game World on a Computer Mainframe and that is where all of the action takes place.

'I shoot in face.'

'It is no way to act during Superstar Vacation House Party, Nikolai.'

'Give me stack of discs!' Nikolai commands, as he then goes on to talk about himself all third person. 'Nikolai Live Large,' no matter that the disc's title is officially Livin' Large. 'He be Unleashed on the hot date, where he Make with the Magic,' also known as, Makin' Magic. 'Nikolai does does not see what creators have against Letter G.'

And there, I be the thinking, we have the first part of a PassWord.

G12_, because we have just switched over to The SIMs 2.

But I tire of this game.

'No! Nikolai almost has it! One digit to go and he win.'

Fine. You are at the terminal deep in the heart of the mainframe, seconds to go before the scourge of computer games and the associated loss of productivity is unleashed on an unsuspecting nation.

'It be United States Capitalist Pig Dog Nation?'

None other, my good friend.

'Nikolai reach into jacket and pull out flask. Skoal, Natasha. We do nothing. We win.'

I don't think...

'Nikolai do not think pesky narrator remember Nikolai have the eighteen in the shooting him the face. Nikolai draws his weapon.'

And we fade to black, the nefarious Russian Duo winning again.

Time for Crazy Train.

Did they ever make an Official Music Video for Crazy Train? I don't think so. When I listen to it, I imagine (or tend to imagine) that nonexistent gaming table from days of old and a pair of lizards (were they lizards) from one of The Dark One's comic books. I could not begin to tell you which one. It was a Fantasy Western with an Ugly Elven Lass with a Big Nose and a Dragon. After all these years, I don't remember much else. But there was a Train Robbery. And that's likely the connection.

And then, we pull the plug and end it all. I could keep on going. But the project has lost significance... and more importantly, it's place in the line up. I haven't worked on it in several weeks. So, I should stop and proofread what I have already done, before all interest in the words I have written dies out... and I completely forget what I intended to say in the various stories.

I expect to do something else like this soon enough.

But not today.

Today, this ends... the better to make room for other things... like an Imaginary Vacation to Iceland.

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That last segment (concerning an RPG Spy Game) was a bit week. But I enjoyed re-reading the first few stories. I am sure there will be more projects like this one in the future.

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