Music for doing what needs to be done

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Website

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Website

Like the other members of the Zeitman family, Alex finds that music helps him do the extraordinary things of which he is capable. To me, this is merely interjecting a bit of realism into the plot. Music helps me stay awake late at night when I am driving. Music helps me get out of bed and face a tough day, thanks to the fact that I have an alarm tied to an mp3 player with a special selection of wake-up songs. I play one kind of music when I am cooking a big meal or doing a chore that takes extra energy, and other types when I am stressed and need to relax. I think most people use music, the right kind of music for them, to bring out their strengths and to help them do what needs to be done.

Because Alex can slow time down, it is natural that he gravitates to songs that tie into this talent.  When he slams his car door only to realize that he has hit the lock button already and has left his keys on the seat, he turns to the great Diana Ross of the Supremes to help him.  Please check out this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Tribute to the Supremes, and enjoy the video of “Stop! In the Name of Love” here.

Stop! In the Name of Love

And that’s the way it is…..

I’m old enough to have once been a fan Walter Cronkite, whose calm and mostly objective delivery of the evening news earned him the title of “most trusted man in America.” Today, I grab my news from my email provider and supplement it with Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” which is often great fun but technically neither objective nor news. I know this but I consider it my news source anyway.

Has life gotten better since the days of Walter? Or worse? In the spirit of Cronkite, let’s take a look at today, April 9th.

In 1241 the Mongols defeated the Polish and German Armies.  Seriously. On April 9.  After that it appears that there was a whole lot of fighting by a whole lot of people, although on this date in 1454 the city-states of northern Italian signed a truce that lasted for almost 50 years. Go Italy. And on  April 9, 1865 Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant and ended the civil war.

Click to visit the National Film Preservation Foundation

Click to visit the National Film Preservation Foundation

It was 74 years ago when  the Daughters of the American Revolution decided that Marian Anderson’s ancestry made her unfit to sing at Constitution Hall. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR as a result, and on April 9, 1939, Marian Anderson sang instead on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before a live audience of seventy-five thousand and a national radio audience of millions more. Click on the image to see the video.

Today we had stabbing attack on a campus of Lone Star Community College, easily within twenty miles of my home.  Fourteen people have been injured, several very seriously, and as of last report no one has any idea of why.  I sit on my front porch blogging and waiting for more news to make it on to the internet.

And that’s the way it is, on April 9, 2013.

Latitudes and attitudes

oil spill from space

oil spill from space

Three years ago this month, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the  Gulf of Mexico. Eleven people were killed and it took experts three months to stop the flow of oil onto the sea floor. Those living along the gulf suffered significantly, and t shirts saying FUBP were selling well in New Orleans. You could see the oil slick from outer space.  We held our collective breath at the unexpected experimenter in what 5 million barrels of oil discharged rapidly at on ocean depth of 5000 feet might do to the world’s ecosystem. Those of us who write science fiction in our heads all day came up with plenty of possibilities.  None of them ended well.

fubp

Best Seller

It was a significant to me for more reasons, however, than concern and outrage. My day job is in the oil business. I consider myself a pragmatic environmentalist. Over the years I met people who worked for BP, and they were as reasonable and ethical any other group. The fatal combination of cost-cutting, bad decisions and eventually bad responses was tragic, pointing to the need for better regulation, better enforcement, and far less hubris when we pit ourselves against nature.

The novel z2 takes place during 2010 and Alex, the hero of the novel is married to a geophysicist.  When I wrote z2 I let his wife Lola express some of my own concerns on the subject.

Alex was used to listening to Lola fret about items in the news, and had long ago accepted that she took world events to heart in a way he simply didn’t. But tonight she was especially distraught. A drilling rig called the Deepwater Horizon had just exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, apparently killing eleven workers and leaving undetermined amounts of oil spewing out into the sea.

“Geez, those poor men. Their poor families. You know, I’ve stood out there on the rotary floor, feet away from these guys. Alex, those roughnecks are amazing.” She thought for a second. “I could have been out there.”

“But you weren’t there,” Alex said calmly. He knew that Lola’s fervor was only partly fueled by her concern about the injuries and deaths. Nigeria had a horrible history of largely ignored oil spills, and Lola was passionate about her industry’s need to operate without such destructive mistakes.

“These are my people,” she said sadly. “Most of them want to do things right. But they just f**ked-up big time.”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself here,” Alex tried to comfort her. “They’ll probably have it plugged back up by tomorrow and everything will be fine. “

I wanted the book to also present another point of view. Each of my books includes links to nine songs that serve as a sort of “soundtrack” and reflect the different tastes of each novel’s protagonist.  Alex likes pop music and one of the songs I chose for z2 was Jimmy Buffet’s “Changes in Latitudes.” I like to link to a video, and I was able to find a great version of Jimmy Buffett performing “Changes in Latitudes” at a concert in Gulf Shores, Alabama on July 11, 2010 designed to raised money for those damaged by BP’s ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a great counterpoint to Lola’s perspective.  Please enjoy it here.

Surviving and Strong

61DxiskibfL._SL500_AA280_Alex, the hero of z2, is a strong man in the classic sense in that he is big and athletic. But he is also wiser than most, and he knows that true strength comes in many types of packages. Over the years he has coached a lot of students, some talented and some less so, some with easy lives and many with serious obstacles to overcome. As he gets to know the new transfer student named Xuha he recognizes that along with the boy’s unusually short stature is a strength that is both physical and mental.

When it comes to music, our hero Alex has a fondness for oldies and as he hits tennis balls with Xuha (pronounced “schwa”) he hears the Jerry Butler hit from 1968 in his head. Check out this video and if  you enjoy it, consider a purchase here. It will have you swaying in your chair, humming along and feeling just a little stronger yourself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Na0_KxRFK-M

 

and the winner is ….

February is music awards time and the novel z2 begins with hero Alex Zeitman sitting dejectedly in a hospital room watching the 1981 Grammy Awards.  Alex likes his music uptempo and he’s rooting for Fame, made famous by Irene Cara, to win song of the year.  He’s just torn his ACL and his dreams for playing professional basketball are going up in smoke, and to make the evening even more miserable Christopher Cross with his soft rock sound of “Sailing” ends up winning in every major category. Christopher Cross even beats out Pink Floyd for album of the year.  What is the world coming to?
Check out this video to see why Alex was cheering on the song “Fame.”
Purchase the music to Fame here.

Alex Zeitman is, of course, made up of a good bit of Sherrie Cronin, as are all my characters, the sympathetic and the less so.  My tastes in music run more towards stirring lyrics and less towards rhythm than Alex’s tastes do, but I think that he would join me in cheering for Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”.  It’s a haunting two-sided song yet it has that mesmerizing tempo that Alex loves.  I was glad to see it win record of the year, and to know that in spite of Alex’s concerns thirty-two years ago, good music has hardly died!