Archive for January, 2020

© 2020 G.N. Jacobs

I get strange ideas. All fifty of you wonderful readers have already grokked this truth. This next one was worth a few giggles – embedding journalists or scribes into dungeoneering parties. And now I wait for the shoe to drop when you figure out that I mean in-game.

At the meta/player level everybody with an average command of English boasts and posts about that time with the drunken ogre rampaging just down the street from a peaceful night of drinking at the Golden Harlot. Okay, there aren’t any peaceful nights drinking at any SF, Fantasy, Crime, Western or Military genre bars, especially one named the Golden Harlot, if the GM just wanted the Mysterious Stranger to launch the mission the players will start the fight themselves about half the time. But I digress.

Anyway, I’ve yet to wander by a game where a character slew monsters with the intent of informing the home audience about the grisly death of the latest batch of orcs. Lazy? Failure of imagination? Too much hassle? It is, of course, up to individual GMs if they want to tolerate the practice and a guy who spends more time whining about not being in a game than playing shouldn’t throw this rock.

How would embedded scribes work in a game? First, do the scribes have to announce themselves like modern war correspondents? We’ve all seen the feeds from the front where the reporter has a vest on and helmet brightly marked with PRESS and an absolute prohibition on weapons due to the other side’s soldiers likely to mistake a pistol for an officer, aka sniper bait. My understanding, journalists are officially protected but ask the average medic how many times they get shot at.

There is one class of journalist that isn’t subject to these rules, combat correspondents. These guys are soldiers with the extra training to write for Stars and Stripes or Army Times and they take their gear along with the lightest rifle in the inventory into the fray. Rent Full Metal Jacket; try not to be offended by the nasty comments about Ann-Margaret at the assignment meeting and enjoy.

In my mind’s eye when I started going off on embedded scribes as part of the dungeoneering team, the combat correspondent model made more sense. Adventuring parties are small, too small to give space in that three-meter stone hallway (based on most GMs traditional use of four squares to the inch graph paper and an arbitrary scale of ¼ inch = 10ft) to some useless git hanging back in the hallway until the clanking and dust settle. Pretty much hack now, scribble later.

The combat correspondents in the group don’t have to announce themselves with any obvious markings on the clothes. It helps to have the extra sword, spell or healing blessings in the party. And a properly written account as it happens can help settle any street cred issues when the party is back at the Golden Harlot waiting for either the next Mysterious Stranger or rival adventure party with which to rumble. And title of this post aside, perhaps it doesn’t actually say SCRIBE on the vest.

Which is a good moment for a digression about the title. A good friend whose mind, experiences and general zaniness I routinely plumb for all kinds of reasons teaches school. He tells me a story that at a previous campus where shit got real; he gets pissed off at the drug dealing across the street and the local cops can’t or won’t do anything soon enough to make a difference. So, he calls another friend I haven’t met…a Federal Agent.

The story as originally told included a raid with my friend going along in a borrowed vest as the last guy through the door. Most raids have the minimally happy ending of drug merchants in cuffs. One of the dealers mouthed off to my friend for some reason. The reply – “you see this on my chest, says POLICE? Well, it should really say TEACHER like on that show where the guy has his vest saying WRITER (see photo), because I’m a teacher across the street and if you guys keep selling, we’re gonna keep raiding.” The amended story said he actually bought the TEACHER vest, because it was that kind of school.

What gaming mayhem comes of having a character in the party writing for the Minas Tirith Herald or my favorite imaginary fantasy setting news outlet, The Obsidian City Defender? Like most concepts the GM may employ, the answer depends on the curious interplay of the player, character and the in-game reason for why the home audience needs to be informed about the doings of adventure parties.

Does the fighter-scribe character come to the party with an agenda?

In Lawrence of Arabia, for instance, an American reporter somewhat based on the real journalist Lowell Thomas is asked by the Hashemite prince played by Alec Guinness why he is so interested in Colonel Lawrence. The answer – “Your Highness, some of us in America are concerned about our standing in the world and that in order for us to take our place we’ll need to enter the war. Part of that involves finding stories that show the excitement of war. And with things on the Western Front bring what they are, here I am.” The reply – “Then Lawrence is your man.”

What sort of agendas might the wizard-scribe bring to clearing out dungeons? Many campaigns are exactly like the fantasy novels that spawned them. A McGuffin features prominently. Is the home audience desperately in need of heroes to retrieve/destroy the Pen of Great Peril in order to secure the city until the next great McGuffin rears up to threaten the peace of the community?

Is the scribe coming to the adventure with the subversive agenda of ratting out the worst practices of adventure parties? Shine a light on the strangeness that in most fantasy settings the cash poor medieval society keeps itself afloat by sending out parties of independent contractors on a slay and keep the treasure basis? Dead monsters mean fewer muggings of farmers just minding their own business and the adventurers getting to keep the lion’s share of the stray treasure hordes helps/distorts the local economy because adventurers buy mead at the Golden Harlot. Someone with an agenda might want to become the local version of Hunter S. Thompson (famous for creating an interesting verb, monstering…a coincidence?) to tell all as it happened.

Depending on how much thought the GM gives to the campaign there are endless answers to why one or more characters has the side gig of explaining the doings of the adventure party. Is the home audience simply bored with the gladiators in the arena and eagerly awaiting the next town crier to speak the report of how the plucky band of brothers cleared out the Castle of Cringeful Curmudgeons?

That last scenario suggests that the party’s embedded scribe would write in the style of a sportswriter. Lots of stats. Forty orcs slain. Two hundred copper pieces lawfully appropriated on a Killers Keepers basis. Heads that fly across the room in slow motion. The emotional toll upon such stalwart heroes. The GM that adds this element can go anywhere, especially in a bread and circuses kind of society. Certainly, HBO’s show Rome taught me, control the criers control the mob, but I digress…

I suppose the last question the GM should answer is one scribe per party or everybody writes for a different outlet? News competition being what it is, it seems to me that if everybody had their deadlines for The Mirkwood Daily, or The Lonely Mountain Gazette the GM just turned the game into a Paranoia session…where characters cheerfully shoot each other in the back.

Anyway, I’m running out of give a damn about embedded scribes in adventure parties. It was funny for a minute and a half. Anyway, enjoy the nutty and do what your campaigns need.

© 2020 G.N. Jacobs

Jingle Bells! Batman smells! Robin laid an egg! And Joker got away!

Of course, these joke lyrics come to mind the minute one of the DJs on KUSC chose to tell me about the fuzzy history of the Jingle Bells Christmas carol, while also casually dropping in that the song is The Joker’s favorite holiday tune. We’ll leave all commentary about the better than even chance I sang the joke lyrics in the car, at least a half octave flat (I only believe I can write the music, Ducky) for our sister column, Composer’s Counterpoint…or never.

But, it is a good segue for discussing the literary trope of the one villain that consistently gets away. Four examples immediately spring to mind: Joker, Wo Fat (original), Professor Moriarty and Murdock. There are others I haven’t used my library card on…yet. In the most reductionist sense possible, where tropes, clichés and metaphor live they’re perhaps the same villain…until they’re not.

Joker gets away. The unnamed murder clown bedeviling Batman’s easy path through Gotham’s underbelly of crime either gets away or figures out how porous the security arrangements at Arkham Asylum really are. A pop stand with paper thin walls that can’t seem to hold the top five members of Batman’s Rogues Gallery, so I suppose I could do this post asserting Riddler Got Away, but for the song tie in.

One of these days, I’m really going to have to pitch this geek fight at my comic book store – “so if Arkham Asylum can’t actually hold whatever villain the current writer chooses to have break out and they keep appropriating to fill in all the tunnels, dimensional cracks and other means of physical egress that don’t involve scary good lawyering, why is the facility still open?” A good question that I’m sure has already been asked but not by me. Rooted in a couple real world examples.

Alcatraz Federal Prison closed after the escape attempt that Clint Eastwood dramatized for the movie. The crumbly concrete around the vents popped open on the way to the roof were deemed too expensive to fix in an old structure exposed to sea air. So most of the inmates went to Fort Leavenworth.

The Nazis pressed a historic schlöss (castle), Colditz Castle, into service as a POW camp. Enough prisoners took their oath to attempt escape as a means of tying down as many soldiers as possible behind the lines guarding prisoners that they cut through serious rock trying to get out. The tunnels still exist despite attempts to fill them in that you can see them on the tour (one of many bucket list items, I guess).

Anyway, Joker gets away. Joker escapes. In my own sporadic fan fiction meanderings with the Batman franchise, I stopped using the Joker as the main villain. Not because I haven’t enjoyed all the actor portrayals of the murder clown over the years, but everybody else reaches for the Joker without trying to come up with something one of the other villains could and should pull off.

My most recent abandoned effort, I had Harley Quinn attempt to dig Joker out of Arkham. They romance in his cot and Joker, like Colonel Hogan, stays inside because he can bust out anytime he likes, but he hasn’t a good plan to screw with Batman and there’s this other fella making trouble. Considering that this story suggests that Batman and Catwoman are about to replay Rear Window, I asked experts for someone who wasn’t Joker, Riddler, Penguin or Mr. Freeze. Answer: Film Phreak.

Joker at a deep psychological level is a little different than the other Always Gets Away villains in this post. Smarter people than me go on and on endlessly that the murder clown represents chaos and a dark reflection of Batman’s own tragic backstory. The clown doesn’t seem to do anything but for to fuck with the Bat. All kinds of dark nasty storytelling ensues, yet when Professor Wurtham lied about comic books damaging kids, he chose to focus on the assumption of Batman buggering Robin to the exclusion of the representation of apparently motiveless evil represented by the Joker. But, I digress.

Anyway, the other villains in this discussion are a little more similar to each other at the level of analysis. They have understandable motives. Making money. Advancing Red China’s cause. Making money killing people. Perhaps Murdock from the reboot version of MacGyver comes the closest to The Joker’s sense of pure evil.

Mac attempts to pose as Murdock with the assassin’s help (cooperation with the court) and blows a meeting with prospective clients – “MacGyver, my job requires a personality that makes normal people’s skin crawl. When you come off as this normal, those nice people needing my help instinctively know something is wrong.” Mac among his other talents (but no guns) is a good actor who takes direction well. The next meeting goes well…

In a general sense, the Always Gets Away villain serves as a device to provide the hero with a sense of still being mortal. Original Wo Fat appears in the pilot episode of Hawaii 5-0 (aired in the middle of the first season) and appears about twice a season until the very last episode. Danno and McGarrett foil the plot, but Wo Fat either hides behind diplomatic immunity or gets on a plane to China just before the arrest can be made. Considering that the team always got everyone else starting with the poetry spouting wife killer in the first episode, you get the sense of the slave in the Roman triumph posted at the honoree’s ear – “remember, thou art mortal.”

James Patrick Moriarty exists as a similar archetype. Sherlock Holmes is too smart for everyone else (paging Irene Adler). So you need someone that can think his way to a draw with the World’s Greatest Consulting Detective.

The most recent film version of this conflict depicted this as a mutual litany of next steps. First, Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) mentally recites his plan. Moriarty (Brendan Gleeson) mentally recites his plan that takes into account Holmes’ plan as if telepathically clueing into the shared ether. They fight and…

…both fall over Reichenbach Falls. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle intended this moment to end the series. But, he caved to fans and publishers wanting more, only to have footmen and cabbies complain about Holmes “not being the same since Reichenbach Falls.” Ah, fans never change…it might blow up the universe if they made sense.

Bringing the thought back around to the murder clown, this sense of the equal and opposite that can’t survive without the other becomes far more pronounced. Joker pulls off some especially dark deeds depending on how constrained the writer feels by the more relevant of the, presently defunct, Comics Code, movie rating or TV rating systems. In The Killing Joke, Batman tells Joker – “Joker, if we keep this up one of us will die.”

Will the trope survive except when depicting past eras on the page? All of these villains who keep coming back whether presumed immortal because of the vat of toxic goo, or simply depicted as the equal and opposite to the hero are creations from before the Internet. The Joker gets away waiting for his next vicious inspiration, but he needs to hole up somewhere.

In Gotham set between 1940 and 1990, Joker rents a new apartment/lair and starts drawing on the walls in crayon. Batman and any minions have to call people like every known landlord in the city asking about either gents with evil laughs and clown makeup white skin or people who smell of too much theatrical face paint hoping to look normal. Holmes’ London didn’t even have phones and the consulting detective never had enough Baker Street Irregulars to waste on trying to find the villain before he surfaces for the next plan.

Meanwhile, based on the theory that we use the Internet the same way no matter what we call each ourselves, could a villain get away more than a few times? I have friends telling me they can even break Wit Sec analyzing the data correctly. Google knows everything…

Realistically, the trope will survive. Writers can make most things possible with our usual Step, Kick and Shuffle toe dance. The creativity of the attempt becomes the thing. Enjoy your returning villains…

© 2020 G.N. Jacobs

Once upon a time (about a week from this writing), I kept busy with a crossword puzzle (see post, eventually). At some other point, I’ll go into why crossword puzzles have been so good as distraction recently, where doing several fistfuls at the same time eats up two things the scream building inside and a lot of my blog related writing time. I trust you noticed the recent lack of give a damn on this blog?

Anyway, one puzzle stood out among all the others. And I turn it into a writing prompt to force myself to write prose on a day when holidays and the thing I’m dancing around not actually relating to you all conspired to make my chapter prose have as little give a damn as my blog posts. I see a clue that lands on Wolf in the vertical and dressmaker Vera Wang’s surname across the horizontal.

How do you put wolves and a dressmaker/designer with a niche doing wedding dresses in the same story? I’m sure those of you paying attention already have my answer…

A young dressmaker lets a mysterious gentleman with an exacting order for a surprise wedding dress get close enough for a kiss. Waking up afterwards brings the revelation of her status as Queen of the Werewolves with responsibilities and

And if I toss this setup into the Saga column, I just ended the post. I got an idea. I acted on it. And I told you where I got it so you get to replicate my nuttiness. Let’s get lunch.

But, I have other columns. Counterpoint for one, which exists for two reasons. The much delayed opera and that I sometimes hear theme music when I meet a new character. Frantic snippets of instrumentation that hide once I get a few sentences down on paper. Sometimes, it comes back a bar at a time…

Truthfully, the Power of Suggestion can sometimes guide my hearing the appropriate theme music. In this case, the proposed mugging of the real life wedding dress lady’s reputation by asserting she’s really a Werewolf Queen…in a society just stupid enough for one person to show up at her door with silver bullets. Obviously, a name change must happen sooner than later.

Of course, if Ms. Wang had honked me off in some way, I could keep her name in the text. Make use of the legal principle of ridiculousness as a partial work around for defamation. To wit, Werewolf Queens are reasonably not thought to exist and thus reasonable people wouldn’t believe that Vera Wang, appearing in an obviously fictional novel about werewolves, is one and thus she wouldn’t suffer damage. Just ask the proprietors of the D.C. area pizzeria named by Alex Jones how they like that strategy?

Anyway, the above paragraph comes to me by way of John Oliver and Last Week Tonight’s recent emergence from the gag order levied by a SLAPP-suit loving West Virginia coal baron. Mr. Oliver ended his season with an over the top musical number calling said douchebag all kinds of nasty otherwise actionable things. Ah, contempt and rage as a driver of culture. As for Ms. Wang, I’m not even married to bitch her out over an expensive wedding dress that I’m traditionally not on the hook for, anyway.

But, suddenly thinking about crazy musical numbers opens a switch in my head…my mostly dormant orchestration/arranging switch.

Her Hairy Majesty wakes up in her shop to see a mess. Chicken blood. Feathers everywhere. Hunks of stray cat due to her gentleman caller goofing and underestimating her hunger. Every dress on the floor except the one she thought she did for the man’s offscreen fiancé has been ripped in the struggle. He tells her she’ll live longer running away with him to Vegas…

I don’t know. Start off slow with a soft but insistent bell, maybe a D? Wait six bars, a harmonica builds the progression as she follows the line of gore to the carefully protected dress behind the point of sale station.

Will I actually do the above? It was only a few bars misheard after goofing on the necessity to avoid pissing off people who haven’t done anything to me and thinking in probably the single most conventional orchestration method. More importantly, I haven’t gone past this scene on the page. There will be other more discordant notes as we go along.

Anyway, I’ve adroitly turned a thinly disguised brag post about getting an idea that you didn’t into a sort of article about dramatic orchestration. Enjoy the nutty and I’ll be back when I actually know what the Werewolf Queen’s actual theme music is…

© 2020 G.N. Jacobs

In the spirit of Nelson Algren’s Three Rules for Life from A Walk on the Wild Side – Never play cards with a man named Doc – Never eat at a place called Mom’s – Never sleep with a woman whose troubles seem greater than your own – we sometimes expand the list to include fonts of wisdom like, never shoot pool at a place called Pop’s. And my personal favorite, never eat anything bigger than your head. Sounds like good advice…until you set out to do the musical equivalent.

My proposed opera series Tales of the Angel Association stalled about ten seconds after I changed my mind about not doing it. And the stall has little to do with the looming terror of knowing, except for free-styling on the mouth harp, that my last intelligible notes played from a score came from the woodwind section in sixth grade. Before I get there I have a huge writing problem…all kinds of epically large pieces written for other media that might not condense into an opera, movie, radio drama or book. A large steak, indeed.

The earliest pieces come from a novel that I leave unfinished because the circumstances of inspiration have changed. I changed comic book stores (the setting). And a certain woman, the direct sue me inspiration for a secondary villainess filling pretty much the same niche as Milady De Winter (go figure), disappeared back into the ether. But, there is a key element that I didn’t even know I was leading up to when I stopped the book. It must remain.

Negatively inspired by Mark Millar’s Wanted, I set out to show that if superheroes are possible that there will always be superheroes even after the villains kill them all off. Waiting in secret, the spandex gene or curiously radioactive meteor will always strike Earth at fairly regular intervals, shorter than the time between planet-killer asteroids and much longer than the time between dentist visits. The villains can’t murder in their cribs all of the people who could become spandex heroes…can they?

I envisioned a regular guy with more than a little science and chemistry working at a thinly disguised version of my then current comic book store. While beset by the unwanted attentions of a female stalker (at the time non-fiction) who also happens to be the public face hatchet of the secret cabal of spandex villains that had long since killed off or driven into hiding all the spandex heroes in the world, the comic book store guy falls for a young lady that almost wanders into the store by mistake.

The hatchet lady for the Legion of Chaos attempts to kill her rival and a couple other women investigating a dead writer who happened to be a good friend of the comic book guy. The comic book guy finds the techno-magical solutions to save these ladies while they linger near death giving them superpowers in the process. This sparks a covert war between the comic book store superheroes and the villain bosses because there just aren’t any superheroes anymore, Ducky.

And with all good literary universes with too many characters many threads converge into one. The trio of fem-zombie heroines track the villains to a graveyard in Ohio or some such place where the official grave of a former spandex heroine awaits her reincarnation to come and take the spear. But, the villains know about the “wait twenty years and the next version will come” limitation on this particular hero and have set an ambush that caught the next three reincarnations.

But, the fem-zombie trio, the fourth reincarnation that needs the spear, her college roommate, the return of a character that just barely passes the Six Points of Dissimilarity standard concerning the Superman archetype and the actions of two spandex femmes that work to destroy the Legion of Chaos from within all mix it up among the gravestones. Enough force is brought to bear that the ten villain Legion (of which only two villains have been written) is driven from their perch astride ten-percent off the top of the whole world’s economy, global scale protection payments, only to return next week with a new plot on this same Bat-channel at this very Bat-time.

So that is one thread where this big ass fight in a forlorn cemetery among the barn owls and crickets that has to stay in the opera or at least be sung about as backstory in all kinds of arias and duets.

Next, we get to the other threads to the same hyper-dramatic story of a team of heroes that call Los Angeles home (so sick of how Marvel depicted Los Angeles). Working concurrently with the thread leading to the Excalibur moment among the dead, I also worked on a lighter moment where guided by information on Meetup the new set of heroes that should’ve been wiped out by the Legion including survivors of the graveyard rumble meet about a year later to pool resources and make a team.

This part of the overall mythos exists as an excuse to put six (later seven) spandex people into the same living room to tell their origin stories, drink punch and tap hands to form the Angel Association (they are more than one and they live in the City of Angels, you can only reinvent the wheel a few times per franchise). About four of the original characters exist on paper and for one character at least one attempt to put this same story into a screenplay.

But, there is something missing…a narrator or Doctor Watson. I envision a teenager the single contrast to everybody else either being middle twenties or ageless and just looks that young. Again because most times dealing with 80 years each of mythology and the Big Two comics publishers and you don’t reinvent the spandex wheel, she merges with another teenaged personality to just barely be different from Iron Man.

This character also serves to save the Angel Association from a previous mistake making certain characters be too close to real life. I needed a lawyer protecting the interests of the team and its members and the implosion of another novel (long story, already said too much) deprived the team of its first attorney. So the young lady in the armor-symbiote suit just needs a father who can be the lawyer and I absolutely need to go as far and as public domain as possible from the original mouthpiece as possible.

Marcus Tullius Cicero the Elder (of the Latin placeholder text among other contributions to civilization) is a good way to go, the real guy is safely dead over two thousand years. And, yes, this is the beauty of this kind of writing, explaining how he’s still alive to be a lawyer with a big house in Beverly Hills is sort of my metier – “Rumors of my gruesome assassination at the hands of Marc Antony are greatly exaggerated.”

Adding the daughter of Cicero to all of these extant pieces, the abandoned novel (which might’ve been too closely based on real people, I got lucky), the original stories written in third person and the daughter’s narration in first person, makes for an unwieldy set of books. At least, the latest version of the book has an easy out for the otherwise ugly shift between third and first person – “This next part was told to me by…”

Meanwhile through all of this and my other projects, I’m going back and forth with other media for the Angel Association. Will it be a radio drama? A partial script exists using the story beats from the Metal Goddess-narrated version of these stories. Will it be an opera? Initially, I said no (see post). Now, I say yes.

Why? This huge over the top and completely operatic story with dark villains and many concepts sure to scare kids has over the eight or nine years of sporadic development become my narrative barnacle or white whale. I can’t walk away. I think Michael Corleone would get it – “Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in!”

And so here we are, I’m going to work on the basis for what will be more than one epic scale interlinked opera (at least doing the librettos, ask me in the Composer’s Counterpoint column about the actual music) for a long time. I have very nearly 200 pages of material from all these other sources causing the current problem of shaping the story. Opera aficionados have the same inability to sit still more than three hours at a time, as anyone else.

Clearly, I’ve cut off a steak currently bigger than my head. Now, once I procure the right steak knife and right oven with which to keep the plate warm, I can move slowly and eat well for a long time. More later. Get back to writing, you fellow definitions of personified laziness!

© 2020 G.N. Jacobs

Sometimes, I don’t get to sleep quickly. The mask to deal with the blinky lights on the surge strips and morning sunlight through the window goes on and I’m still awake. I switched over to decaf except when I hunt other people’s coffee out of the house. I exercise when I remember. So most days, I’ve eliminated the usual suspects and still…

Well, to cut through the build up, I think a lot on those nights when it may take a few extra hours to nod off. About story material. Or my own halting attempts at music, which lands these thoughts here in this music column instead of the Scribbler’s Saga. The most recent skull session screaming behind my eyes that kept me awake involved my most recent eschewing of my superhero/spandex characters as the subject for the opera that I have so famously claimed in this column give me ten years, Ducky (see post).

As you may recall, I didn’t want to do The Tales of the Angel Association as an opera, despite really wanting to see someone do Batman in the style of Siegfried or something. I fretted about the stagecraft required to put a soprano as the girl in the iron suit and a mezzo as the actual suit on the same flying rig. Dark litigious nightmares referencing the ill-fated Spider-man musical froze me in the door. All you need to know is that these fully conscious spitball sessions that happen between Lights Out and Get Up It’s Almost Brunch simply don’t give a shit.

Of course there are trigger cues for spending an unknown number of hours going over and over with what your children will do when you immortalize them in ink. I was at my regular writers group with a couple guys talking about music, including what we like, the resources available and how we learned. I’m pretty much slowly on track to learn the rock star way; pick up a guitar and go.

In the conversation, I mentioned Thomas Adès and Tom Cairns’ opera The Exterminating Angel mentioning and exaggerated the A over High C hit by the second female lead on the Met Stage as a G over High C. One of the guys said something like, “really, and she still has her throat?” And there was an inevitable reference to Spinal Tap that even in the opera world – “Ours goes up to eleven!”

So I get home after the session and I get to thinking about how I need the time asserted in the previous post to make sure I use all my music tools to do the notes up nice. But, Just Another Drunken Dwarf, which at the moment is just a title from story dice, is either going to be an opera or just another goofy idea in my list of ideas. I prefer the former so I get myself asking – “what’s my first step?” The word LIBRETTO promptly flashes before my eyes in red neon.

Ah, right, the same advice I give myself when contemplating a huge in scope screenplay or novel…write the pig and let the producers figure it out. I was just going to start Dwarf with the libretto, easy-peasy, lemon squeezy. But, I haven’t actually seen a libretto. Yes, Google is my friend; I find a PDF online where someone posted instructions for kids probably at music camp or something. I save it as a place to start and go to bed.

And you heard the part about how the night time story session doesn’t always give a shit? I roll to the right. I roll to the left. Am I composing/creating the drinking song that, by definition, defines the main theme of Just Another Drunken Dwarf? Without hitting too much of the obviousness of The Student Prince? Absolutely not. Characters that speak to you in the dead of night don’t take turns or wait in line.

Still, I roll right. And back over to the left. What I see on the screen made by my sleep mask isn’t fantasy dwarves raising steins and slaying orcs. I kept seeing my spandex people. I heard the blended part of Metal Goddess flying around stage; their duet admittedly still running towards the goofy like Kill the Wabbit (it’s early, I have time to shake off Wagner as interpreted by Bugs Bunny, or not).

I straighten out my posture sleeping on top the bed (Southern California during a scorching August, Ducky). I roll over yet again. I see an interesting duet for the secondary characters of Metal Goddess’ parents, a man that used to be Cicero and a woman that used to be Athena’s body. This is a marriage that has lasted a long time and somehow what I’m seeing is a tandem hug and something like Leo Delibes’ Flower Duet (again it’s early, we’ll see).

Finally, I sleep and get to enjoy the regular old and typically forgettable three-reel movies we call dreams. I don’t know how long the session went; I can’t tell time with my eyes closed and my watch on the table. It felt like it could have been hours. I woke up at the same time I would’ve had my spandex characters not shouted at me. I didn’t feel any obvious sleep deprivation. It could just have easily been forty-five minutes on a hot evening fighting for just a little more breeze.

So what does this mean? Did I just cave to the voices and agree to put Tales of the Angel Association on paper as the superhero opera the world seems to cry out for? I don’t know. I do all kinds of strange shit. But, in looking over the PDF for the libretto I realize that I could just write the libretto just in case I never do get my shit together to do the notes properly…

As always, we’ll see when we see.