M i l M a n i a
The Official Newsletter of WWW.ARTISTINSANE.COM
Welcome Again To The Now Monthly Mil Mania!
Volume 2, Issue 1, Jan. 2006
First, thank you once more to everyone for
Ravings of a
This column corresponds with the Mad Ravings On section of www.artist-insane.com, and is dedicated to selected reviews of movies, television and books… most of which are unlikely to represent “the latest” in any of these categories, but rather a random selection that represents a new and/or noteworthy discovery to me.
In the interest of space, it’s doubtful any single issue of Mil Mania will contain both a film and book review...and having reviewed a book last time around, this month I’ll be commenting on… a book! Again, I must remind you that the title of this column speaks for itself with regard to unpredictability. As a result, the following paragraphs share a few of my thoughts concerning On The Road by Jack Kerouac...and indeed concern is a key term with which to preface them. Be that as it may, again I’ve therefore added a couple new film reviews to my website’s “Movies’ section, so you can click here to check those out as well.
Back to “hitting The Road” with Kerouac (and, yes, to “hit” this Road — i.e. smack it on the coffee table while screaming “Blockhead!” at its author — was admittedly a temptation), I must start by reminding all readers that my “reviews” are solely my personal opinions and that opposing viewpoints are indeed not merely welcome, but encouraged. And, as I have encountered numerous people (more in recent months, strangely, than in all my years before) who list Kerouac among their favorite authors, I already look forward to the indignant, even outraged, feedback likely to spring from his legion of “beatnik” fans.
I also must confess that this book took me (about 2 years) longer to read than any other I can think of in my lifetime — including the 1026-page Gone With the Wind, which I breezed through (I realize a rather staggering) 11 times in junior high. The reason for this, of course, is that I kept abandoning this more “modern” volume in disgust, finding it simply too incredulous that any reasonably intelligent, even ostensibly somewhat sensitive, post-teenage male as its narrator, Sal Paradise, could be not merely drawn to such a completely unappealing loser as Dean Moriarty, but actually idolize him as a “hero” he might wish to emulate.
“Normal people worry me.”
Thanks for reading this issue of Mil Mania! And, remember, this is a work in progress, subject to many and varied changes — all adding up to a new and improved publication...so I hope! Please drop me a line to let me know what you think, including any and all suggestions. And, if you’ve enjoyed this bit of e-news madness, please encourage your friends to subscribe today! Thank you!!!
All Content © Mil Scott www.artistinsane.com
NEW!!! Temporary Insanity
In the interest of assigning some modicum of order to this ongoing document of literary madness, I’ve created this column to serve as a catch-all area for the various one-time topics that may appear in Mil Mania, as well as recurring ones such as the aforementioned, “Pet Peeves and Paranoia”, which occupied this spot last month.
This issue’s entry here is a humorous (?) essay composed for a writing course I took a few years back, and for which I simply never found what I deemed an appropriate “home” to present it — until now. Here in this celebration of quirks, oddities and downright craziness, however, it seems I’ve at last arrived at the perfect place to share this particular lament!
If You Think Names Don’t Matter,
My name is Mildred and I am socially inept. You may think those are two completely separate points, but I do not. Having carefully considered the matter during moments spent alone -- and being socially inept I have a lot of those -- I've decided that the first, my name, is for the second essentially to blame.
I come from a family of many names that are either unique or simply out of fashion today. For example, my maternal grandfather’s dad was Morris, and his mother Bertha Mae. He had a sister-in-law named Ada and a sister who went by Mim but who was also really another Mildred (the circumstance of her likewise seeking out an alternative moniker all those decades ago, incidentally, strongly makes me question whether the now clearly accursed “Mildred” truly ever was in fashion). Aunt Mim's husband was Augustus, who wisely salvaged a better existence by going through life as Bub. But then again, weighing Bub against Augustus, I'm not sure just how great his life was after all.
In saying all of this, I realize, of course, that I’m hardly the first person in history to contend with the discomfort of a less than beautiful name. For example, in his book Why Do Catholics Do That, Kevin Orlin Johnson lists a string of "remarkable characters" known as Abbo, Benzo, Boso, Lioba and "the man with the most unfortunate name in history, Wipo. It was pronounced Veepo,” Johnson points out, “but somehow that doesn't help."
Of course, many of these people were native European members of tribes first encountered by St. Benedict in the 6th Century. And although they were then barbarians whom the "civilized" invaders had been unable to dislodge, those named above became monks and nuns who went on to become highly respected members of the Catholic faith.
What accounts of these individuals fail to mention, however, is that both before and after their conversions, they were a people set apart from the "normal" citizens of the world by their antisocial behavior. And while both stages of their life may be passed off historically as a circumstance of their own choosing, once more I remind you of the link between my own social ineptitude and the manner in which someone else chose for me to be addressed.
Maybe their names weren't wholly responsible for the places these people occupied in the world, but I'm pretty certain of one thing: they didn't help.
Anyway, to return to the 20th Century and my own experience, let's look at my father's side of the family. His name was Charles -- or so he said, which would make it by far the most normal of the lot, but his father was Cyrus, his mother Idolyn and although from what he told us it seems his siblings all had regular names like his, the fact that he never contacted them during my lifetime has me convinced he gave them aliases and avoided them just because he didn't want to admit relation to Tiberius, Hortense and/or Albertine...
My mother is Corrine, a variant of her mother's mother's Cora. My mother's mother, a third cousin (whose husband's name was Melvin if you can imagine) and who knows how many other female relatives lurking in her family tree were also Mildred, and so it was my grandmother's influence that won me the blessed awful luck of being afflicted with it, too. Of course, her attempt to counter what I suspect she as well considered a misnomer was to dub herself Midge. But, in considering Midge better than Mildred I refer you once again to my assessment of the differences between Augustus and Bub.
Moreover, since misery loves company -- which is probably the real explanation behind the great number of Mildreds to precede me -- I suspect as well that adding yet another sufferer to this distinguished sorority accounts in greater part for my grandmother's use of her influence in “gracing” me with the name than does any hope of achieving her own immortality. However, having done so, I assure you that at least as long as I live she will never be forgotten.
But, of course, in my case this whole name business in general prompts little more than mild dismay. In other members of my family, the misnomers have caused full-blown depressions. For example, look at poor Hundley, who wasn't technically a relative, but sort of an adopted son of my mother's dad. He killed himself when I was eight and I asked if the reason he'd done it was his name. My family looked at me in pretended shock and stoutly asserted no. I still think they lied.
I think all the years of people trying to find ways around it finally took their toll -- years of being known as Hun or summoned as "Hey Hundl" or deciding Bub was useless. Whatever the specifics, my family can cover all they want. I know.
But until I went to school I didn't and it was really all okay. After all, for whatever the reason, there were plenty of other Mildreds in the family and when they introduced me that way nobody ever blinked an eye. Only then I got on that big yellow bus that took me to the prison-like brick building where a very fat principal with a very smarmy smile waddled over and called me Millie. I wasn't yet old enough to know what the vulgar expression "dumb-blonde" meant, and besides my hair is brown, but either way I knew he was addressing my face and body but not me. I spent the next six years mostly avoiding him.
Then came junior high and German class where everyone got assigned an appropriate German name -- generally the equivalent of theirs in English. That idea seemed okay -- in my case maybe even good -- right up until the moment that I got assigned Mathilda. The same day I switched to French. Apparently the French teacher knew why, and he called me nothing but Mademoiselle the whole rest of the year. Boy, I loved that guy. Maybe that's why I married a man named Andre.
Anyway, after high school I thought all the name stuff was behind me. I was entering the real world where things like names didn't matter. Adult to adult, I could introduce myself however I pleased and it would be respected. And with this newfound sense of almost giddy freedom, I decided to become Mil -- short, easy to pronounce, no-nonsense.
I tried it a few times. "Pleased to meet you, Gail. I'm Mil."
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that -- hope you feel better tomorrow. But what's your name?"
"Mil," I calmly repeated, my voice wavering ever so slightly.
A blank look.
"It's short for Mildred," I added in a mumble.
"Oh! I see," she laughed. "I thought you said you were ill!"
A faint chuckle. A brief smile.
"I am now."
In A Nutshell
Lest you need a brief escape from the “depth” of the Asylum column above, this section is dedicated to a lighter literary side— hmm….a brevity of levity!
“I loved it! I have to say that the story of Molly and the boys really threw me for a loop, but what a story it is. The photos are wonderful.”
“Your rat babies are adorable....and good sports!!”
“I love your fairy tale rodent story. It's beautiful!”
Comments from Mil Mania readers on
Mil The Leap to Limbo (tentative title),
Once more Josh found himself striding through the airport, this time to bid Brian farewell – a bit of mixed up déjà vu from his own arrival there just three days previously. Three days. Christ had risen from the dead in that span of time. Josh, on the other hand, had become buried so deep in the darkest aspects of life he felt he would never rise again.
Today, rather than his bandmates, however, it was Josh’s friend and fellow musician, Chris who stood with them, near the gate marked “Departures”. As with so many formerly innocuous, barely noticed “signs”, the thought flickered through Josh’s mind that the word itself bespoke some ominous foreboding inherent in its relation to “the departed”. Funny how one suddenly notices syntax and subtleties of language and tone only after everything has already been said – or left not. Maybe all of life hinged on a single word. “Oh yeah,” he thought bitterly -- “Death.”
Determinedly turning away from the offending organization of letters, Josh turned back to Brian wearing the mask of determined calm he’d been cultivating for the past 36 hours or so. No sense falling apart on everyone forever…he’d already done enough of that in front of Brian since returning from San Francisco. Somehow Brian, by contrast, had dealt with his own grief quietly, offering Josh a willing ear and countless active expressions of support. Yes, he was Julie’s brother, all right, Josh realized anew. And, though Brian’s presence throughout this time had indeed been hugely comforting, here Josh found himself facing yet another thought that wasn’t. Yet another reminder of “the departed”. Yet another circle of guilt and confusion bringing him back around to where he’d started…the gate marked “Departures” and the need to say goodbye.
“What flight number did they just say?” Brian asked, as a mumbled announcement competed with the press of people and the noise of luggage being transported back and forth throughout the terminal.
“I think that’s you, bro,” Chris answered, as they simultaneously checked the ticket in Brian’s hand.
“Give Annie my best, and tell her congratulations and all that…”
“I will. And, we’ll both see you…both?” Brian trailed off, glancing between Chris and Josh as he continued, “in June?”
“Yeah…see you, man,” Josh responded, with a final wave as Chris came to stand at his side. “Travel safe.”
They watched as Brian disappeared around a corner, unmoving for a few moments, each lost in his own thoughts – or more accurately, delaying the thought of leaving the airport and the past three days of at least somewhat scripted action. Meager consolation to be sure – the rituals of funeral, etc…but still something common to man. The uncharted course of an individual life and whatever might be to come once Josh left that airport, by contrast, seemed a daunting and uncertain mission indeed.
“You want to grab a burger or something,” Chris asked as they made their way to Josh’s car.
“Nah, I’m good. But, we can stop someplace if you want. Fine with me.”
“I wouldn’t mind hitting a drive-thru.”
“You got it.”
“So, you have any kind of timetable for starting this record?” Chris asked as he started digging into a fast food bag and began crunching down French fries.
“No,” Josh answered, as he pulled away from the drive-thru and back out onto the roadway. “Tommy was supposed to talk to somebody from the label today, but…”
“‘But what?” Chris asked.
“I don’t know,” Josh answered vaguely. “I’m just not sure about that whole thing right now… I kind of – ah, I don’t know.”
“Don’t know what exactly?” Chris pressed.
“I don’t know if I’m ready to go start putting in a lot of hours in the studio right now. And, I’ve only got about half the material we need, anyway. I mean…”
“You mean you don’t exactly feel like singing these days. Yeah, I hear you there.”
“Hey, you gonna send any of those fries over here, or what?” Josh suddenly asked, clearly anxious to change the subject, and feeling unsure how to explain that he could pretty much count on one hand the number of hours he’d slept since learning of Julie’s death – not to mention how far from productive he was feeling in general. Beyond that, how does one move on with the biggest, “brightest” career opportunity of one’s life when every opportunity for someone so close to you has permanently ended? It didn’t seem fair. Julie’d been such a huge source of encouragement and support, and he had little doubt all of that had strongly contributed to bringing him and the band where they were now. “Huh,” Josh spoke to himself the words he couldn’t say to Chris. “And, maybe I contributed strongly to where she is now.” Funny. He’d heard the abstract term “survivor guilt”, and its textbook definition of one person having made it through some “big” tragedy like a plane crash or the Titanic or such an event where others perished. How different, really, was this six-year-in–the-making catastrophe he too had experienced – maybe, God forbid, somehow even partially engineered?
“But, it might be a really good thing right now,” Chris went on as he passed a carton of fries over to Josh. “You know, to get back to what you do and start getting past all of Julie’s sh—,” breaking off suddenly as Josh shot him a dark look.
“Oh, Je—s, Josh, that didn’t come out right,” Chris quickly stammered. “I don’t want to sound cold or insensitive to what’s happened. It’s just – hey, I’m not gonna start lying about it now…you know I was never big on your whole relationship with her. I know, I know, I know this isn’t the most tactful time to bring that up, and we’ve already been through it a million times, and it’s not that I really didn’t like her or whatever. You know how it is… I just always worried about you being with her…that it was just gonna end up badly for you somehow. And, now, well….ah sh—.”
“So what was I supposed to do, huh?” Josh returned. “Say, ‘Sorry, honey, you’re whole depression thing’s just bringing me down. I think I’m gonna leave you to deal with that on your own from here on out’? What would you have done, Einstein? And how great would you feel today having done it, whatever the hell ‘it’ might be? Got any ideas? ‘Cause I’m all ears.”
“Josh, come on. You know what I’m saying. I don’t know what I would have done. And, that’s not the point…”
“Yeah, so what is?”
“Look, man, you and I have been working on the same dream for years. And, it looks like you might really have a shot at it at last actually happening. I know the timing kind of seems like some joke of Fate, but maybe there’s another way to look at it. Maybe it’s the best possible time to have this waiting for you -- you know? I mean, what would you do otherwise – just go home and sit around in your apartment staring at walls of regret for the next six months? This is what we do, Josh…this whole crazy chase the dream of having our music make it thing is all we’ve ever done. And, it could be right there for you – kind of like your salvation in all of this. I just don’t want to see you let that slip away because you’re – understandably, God knows – feeling down and confused right now.”
His irritation ebbing, Josh relented, “Yeah, I know. But…”
“But you’d rather sit around and revel in “doom, despair and agony on me” like that old hick show, Hee Haw. Yeah, yeah, I get it.”
Shaking his head, Josh couldn’t help shooting Chris a grin, who returned a broad smile of his own. Then, sternly wagging a fry, his eyes alight with mock revelation, Chris continued, “Hey! Josh – that’s it! Maybe that could work for you...
“Any chance this label you just signed with handles country?”
Writings From The Asylum
As introduced in the first issue of Mil Mania, this column presents the latest chapter in the prose “prequel” to my screenplay, Taking the Fall. While the script picks up four years after the suicide of the main character (Joshua Gray)’s girlfriend, the novel begins with that act itself, and the portion shared here documents the day after the funeral...
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As described last month, while I will continue to include news in every issue to keep readers up to date on the latest happenings with the three acts most prominently featured on www.artistinsane.com, for each issue I will also choose one additional artist — in some cases a new discovery I’ve recently made, in others an individual or group whose work I’ve long appreciated — to make a one-time appearance here. And, of course, as with all aspects of Mil Mania, feel free to offer suggestions.
This month’s featured artist:
Beth Hart —
Third Eye Blind has apparently been traveling well under the radar since the last issue of Mil Mania, as I have not run across so much as the tiniest hint of news or info in recent weeks. Let’s hope the boys are merely hard at work finishing up their long promised fourth album. In the meantime, as soon as I hear anything more, I’ll let you know!
Brian Fitzpatrick has likewise been rather quiet on the musical front of late. However, just days ago he had this to say in a blog entry on his MySpaceMusic page... “I have been contemplating doing a new album soon...I have many new songs I have been working on. Not sure which ones will make the cut as of yet.” So, for all Brian Fitzpatrick fans, good news! And, I’m sure whatever tracks he ultimately decides to go with, they will add up to yet another fine Fitzpatrick work — one I’m already very eagerly anticipating.
Michael McDermott is apparently also in the midst of some last minute decisions regarding a new album (it had previously been announced would be released in early 2006). In response to a sudden burst of creativity, it seems he now finds himself with too many potential additions to this once thought “finished” work to pack it up and send it off without (perhaps more than) a little tweaking. All I can say to that is thank goodness for Michael’s own MySpaceMusic page — and its Monday Morning Madness, which guarantees us all many wonderful new McDermott compositions to enjoy while he sorts out his dilemma — “to release