Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
The Michener Center at Texas, my friends, is one of the most selective MFA programs in this good US of A. Few slots, lots of applicants. Texas is attractive for several reasons: you don't have to teach, the professors are quite good, and the stipend is absolutely unbelievable. Plus there is an excellent screenwriting program that I could basically 'minor' in.
The University of Illinois
Illinois is still in the 'up and coming' category as far as I know. They are one of the programs from the 'Big 10' that have cropped up in recent years and instantly made a splash. I feel like I stand a better chance here than Texas, but they are still fairly discriminating.
So that's it for now. Only 12 more programs to submit applications to. Easy as pie.
Monday, November 30, 2009
When Max saw himself he looked like a knight from his favorite TV show and his Dad didn’t know what it was. It was called ‘Kamen Rider’ and when Max saw what it was he knew what it was. It was called ‘Strike Knight.’ When Max saw his Dad his Dad looked like ‘Thrust Knight.’ When they saw different cards, Max started to look like his Dad. Then Max started to look like his brother Finn, who was ‘Sting Knight.’ Max’s Dad started to look like his son Leo who was ‘Wing Knight.’
When Leo and Max did ‘Kamen Rider’ training, Max won and Leo hit his back on a wall and erased away. Then guns came drifting down from the sky that go on ‘Torque Knight’s’ shoulders. Max’s Dad decided to keep them.
Something drifted down from the sky. It was ‘Siren Knight’s’ sword, and Max decided to have it. And then something else drifted down from the sky. It was ‘Siren Knight’s’ staff, and Max’s Dad decided to keep it.
The ‘Dragon Knight’ that Clem is, is red. There was another ‘Dragon Knight’ that wanted to fight Clem. This one was called ‘Shadow Dragon Knight.’ They had a surprise. Four of the decks had persons from inside and first came Finn, Mom, Clem and Leo. Then they started attacking Max and Dad. General Zaviax tricked them. General Zaviax made them come back. When they got General Zaviax out of Kamen Rider Ray, they put him back together in his regular Kamen Rider form. And then when they started fighting four of them they tried and tried and Max and Dad won! When they erased away again the older son knew how to bring them back and they all attacked General Zaviax and they put him back in his home.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Things are going fairly well for my MFA application process at this point. The GRE is over and done with, I have two out of three people I need to recommend me, and I'm actually staying on top of the process. I have two stories I like and am working on a third. All of these are good.
However . . . I am constantly having to pray about the subjectivity of MFA admissions. You can write an excellent story, but if the wrong people don't like your stuff, you're out of luck. In a recent article in Poets and Writers Benjamin Percy (an excellent writer, in my opinion) mentioned that one of his stories was rejected for publication 39 times. Once it was finally published, Salman Rushdie picked it as an honorable mention for Best American Short Stories. That was a happy ending for Benjamin, but my mind keeps going back to the strong possibility that I won't have a 'Salman Rusdie.'
I suppose it's a good thing that these thoughts move me to pray, but I think it would be better to just not be anxious. "Be anxious for nothing" and all that. I think the anxiety rises from a few sources:
1. I've never been this uncertain about applying for anything. I was quite certain I would get into my undergrad schools and seminary. But for MFAs there are so many applicants and so few slots nationwide that the percentages are against me.
2. I've never wanted something as much as I want this, career-wise. This is the path I want to take, so not getting into the MFA would be a blow.
3. I don't have a good solid idea for what I would do in the immediate aftermath of 14 rejection letters. I reckon it would involve a hasty retreat to West Virginia, but what then? Apply again? Distance programs, maybe? What do I do in the meantime? I can teach, but how many jobs are there available for chaps like me?
All that said, I do have good reasons not to be anxious. I believe God called me in the direction of writing. That doesn't mean that I'm guaranteed an MFA slot, but it does mean that God is taking care of me. God surprises us sometimes (surprise, Paul! You've been bitten by a venomous snake!) but then he surprises again with his deliverance (the venom won't harm you. Surprise again!).
Thanks, God. I feel better.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Honestly, I do think the stories I've written are good. The fact that not everyone agrees highlights the subjective nature of reading fiction. That's what makes me nervous about MFA applications. I can't be guaranteed a spot by just getting a certain score on the GRE (which I still need to take). I've been recently that I will just stop worrying about others opinions (within reason) and write what I believe God is leading to write.
The good news for today is that I finished the first draft of "Miracles for Americans." It needs a lot of work, but it's good to actually get to the end of a story. It's my longest story so far, coming in at 19 pages and around 7200 words, but I'm hoping to lop a bit of that off. So I'll be editing that and taking another pass at "Come on, Casper" to look over some changes I made a month or two ago. Hopefully I'll be able to communicate the humor I intended in"Miracles." I haven't had a lot of experience at humor writing, so we'll see how that goes. It'll never be a laugh riot, but I think it will have a lighter tone than "Casper."
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I've been waking up at 5:30 am this week. On purpose. Mary Ann and I have been struggling to find a good time for me to write these days, and I think this is the best solution. I've tried to do the late night thing; it seems the more 'writerly' thing to do, right? Writers are supposed to stay up late to drink and be tortured by their demons. Unfortunately (?), my demons kept standing me up, so Mary Ann and I broke with our 1-2AM tradition and started hitting the sack at 11:00. Since then things hve gone much better in the writing department.
Monday, August 17, 2009
But back to the show: Typical. Really. I don't mean Arrested Development was typical. What's typical is that it was cancelled after three seasons. Good shows don't make it much longer than that. Mary Ann and I are joining the chorus. Arrested Development was quite hilarious.
For those of you who are slow to take recommendations like me, now is the time. Outside of 30 Rock I doubt there's a show that even approaches Arrested Development's level of hilarity. Quirky characters can get old quickly if poorly written, but the cast of Arrested Development, while quirky, never fail to surprise.
If you watch the show now, you can see how much of the writing and direction has pointed the way for comedies currently on the air. If you promise to watch the show that started the trend, then I promise to stop reviewing shows that have been of the air for six years.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
But, as you might predict, my efforts were fruitless. My finger tore through that fragile box top as though passing through the air unimpeded. My cereal is compromised.
And THAT, my friends, is how you know that General Mills hates you.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Monday, July 06, 2009
Finn's oranges, juice
and pizza revolt, dripping
down in my pocket
My Steeler's T-Shirt
Piled high with half-gnawed foodstuffs
The Superbowl one
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Besides, I'm not sure what I'd write right now. I can always do VFO, but Rex is alerady working something I sent him a few days ago so I feel kinda 'caught up.' It's a dangerous feeling, but I'm going with it. I'd like to do some short story work, but I don't want to do any more editing on "Come On, Casper" until my group of readers give me their feedback (Thanks for yours, by the way, Mary Ann and Rex. You were both quite helpful). I could try and figure out a title, but I don't want to spend two hours on just that. I can brainstorm for titles while I clean at work tonight, or do my security runs.
I have a bunch of story ideas, but I don't want to work on another story where the protagonist is a jerk. I'd like to do something with a pleasant lead character, but I most of my ideas involve bad things happening big jerks. I do have one idea, though, that might fit the bill. But I've started on it before and it didn't feel right. All I have is a fairly bare concept. I guess I could work on plotting that story . . . I don't have to jump right into the first draft of the thing.
I think that's what I'll do. Thanks for helping me figure this stuff out, guys.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
One great thing about this summer is the amount of time I've had to actually write--and the fact that I've utilized that time to do so. I've written the first couple of installments of the webcomic I'm doing with Rex Queems, and he e-mailed me today to express his excitement with them. That's always a bonus.
Not only that, but I've actually finished a story. An eleven pager, no less! I know of writers who could weave an eleven pager before breakfast, but nearly everything I've written fiction-wise has been fairly short. There were one or two longer pieces, but they got clunky and are in need of a good trim. So eleven pages is a good length for me. It gets me over halfway to a number of the page requirements for MFA applications as well, so that's bonus number two.
It's quite nice. After failing to write anything in the early months of this year I've made serious headway on a couple of long-standing projects. It's really a lovely feeling. I'm seriously reconsidering my love affair with procrastination.
"It's not you, sweetheart. It's me."
I like the sound of that.
Sunday, June 07, 2009
I liked it, though.
Except for the bit from Hair. I mean, I get it. Hippies were the greatest people ever. Can we move on now?
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Still, it's nice to get this thing going after about a million false starts. I think it just needed more time to percolate. I'm not saying it's ready for drinking yet, to continue the metaphor, but we're closer now than we've ever been.
Friday, May 29, 2009
My goodness, it feels good to sit down at the computer and write. Blogging is fun and all, but I'm not passionate about it like I am about fiction (as evidenced by this being only the fourth post this month). It has been sooo sweet. So sweet, in fact that I'm going to describe it to you.
I got a bit of a late start in the morning. Still working out the kinks in the schedule. Still, I sat down and worked on VFO. I actually sat down and worked on Vintage Furniture and Oddities for the first time in ages. It was all character background and concept development, but it was a lot of fun and it's pushing me in the right direction. I don't want to start a project like this without understanding my characters or having a decent plan as to where I'm going.
As an aside, I think that's been one of the problem's I've had with VFO. It started as a writing excercise I gave myself. I wanted to write 500 words and make up the story as a I went along. That became a problem once Rex Queems and I talked about doing VFO together. It was no longer a thing I could play with whenever I want and with no pressure. But those days are over! Developing the concept in more detail was nigh unto exhilerating.
Then I ate lunch.
After lunch, Day One took a downward turn. I worked for a couple of hours on the stuff I want to use for my MFA writing sample. HORROR. I couldn't write a word. "Come On, Casper" didn't flow at all. I actually tried my hand at a bunch of the stories I have unfinished on my laptop. Nothing. That was a discouraging afternoon.
I decided to do "Come On, Casper" in the morning this time, hoping that my mind would be a bit more fresh. What I didn't realize, though, was that the 'freshness' wasn't the issue. The issue was that I was so worried about theme and structure that I got stymied. I've been reading John Gardner's On Becoming a Novelist, and it really helped remind me that I was primarily doing this to tell stories. After that, a new direction for the story emerged and I worked happily through the morning.
More VFO in the afternoon, and it just kept getting better. I got a handle on something that will be integral to the storyline; something that will provide direction and (I hope) suspense as the strip continues. Hopefully I'll be able to actually get to some of the writing soon. Anyway, day two was excellent.
Day three was a bit of a problem because I had to do some work this morning. That meant the morning session was out so we could get school and everything in.
The afternoon was truncated as well because I had a work meeting, but once that meeting ended I got right to it. I decided to go with "Come On Casper" rather than VFO because I wanted to keep yesterday's juices flowing. Happily, the story continued very well. I'm not cranking out tons of pages, but the story is moving along and I like the language and the direction (right now at least . . . ask me again tomorrow).
Tomorrow will be DAY FOUR. I'll miss the morning session again, but I'm looking forward to another couple of productive hours tomorrow afternoon. It'll be VFO, I think, so I can keep things moving.
Creating makes me happy. Doing that for a living . . . that would be a beautiful life.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Anyway, I added a new feature to the blog. Anyone who loves me should 'follow' my blog by clicking on the little widget on the right of the screen. After you do so, you will receive your 'Joshua Duncan' decoder ring and t-shirt in 8-10 epochs. Absolute proof of identity is required, so don't use a pseudonym, unless I already know you by said pseudonym.
Again, if you TRULY care for me, follow my blog and forward this message to ten friends.
Anonymous, aka 'Josh'
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I started getting back into The Best American Short Stories of the Century before the semester actually ended. I'm still dedicated to reading through in order, and I've only just hit the 1940s. I enjoy getting samples of some of the best authors of the 20th Century in such a quick succession. Somehow it satisfies my truncated 21st Century attention span. You'd think the short story would be more popular these days, but I guess no matter how much you shorten a story it's still not a video game.
Another book I've given a second shot is Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping. I bought it last year at the Trinity Arts Conference because I enjoyed Gilead, but for some reason I got bogged down early with Housekeeping. It fell by the wayside and I moved on to other things.
Later, as readers of this blog are well aware, I began sorting through MFA programs. The list has changed repeatedly, but an early entry was the University of Iowa, where Marilynne Robinson teaches. Like Housekeeping, though, Iowa fell by the wayside. I wasn't sure about funding, so I took it off my list.
Recently, however, a couple of factors combined to put Iowa back on my list. First, I reread The Creative Writing MFA Handbook, and the ever-helpful Seth Abramson wrote that at Iowa they do whatever they can to make sure their students have the funding they need. That doesn't guarantee fully paid tuition and a stipend, but it means that there's at least a chance. So the money question was answered.
The other factor was a brief conversation I had with Jerram Barrs about MFA programs after class one day this past semester. It wasn't a momentous thing; he just pointed out that Marilyn Robinson was the head of the program there and that she was a Christian. I realized I that in the quest for funding I had lost sight of something important: A place for connection. I don't reckon Marilynne Robinson is in the PCA or anything, but there is a definite worldview connection there. I felt it when I read Gilead. I happily added Iowa back to my list.
My renewed interest in Iowa and Marilyn Robinson lead me to a renewed interest in Housekeeping (the book, not the activity). I began reading, and I have had a much different experience this time. I think I must have been impatient with it last year. Most of the fiction I enjoy conjures vivid images in my imagination, but Housekeeping does that less often. I am on chapter five and the images of the characters are still developing in my head. That is usually not the case for me, and it would normally drive me away from a book, but the treasure in Robinson's writing does not lie in the vivid image as much as the beautiful sentence. The story is compelling, but the joy of staying with Robinson is the unusually lovely turns of phrase she uses. It's makes for a slow read, but it's worth the time. Why run through the forest when you can stroll, touch the trees, and smell the growing greenness around you?
So thanks to Marilynne Robinson, for reminding me that there's more to an MFA than funding. And thanks for helping me understand that there's more to reading than the vivid image. Thanks from the bottom of my slightly-less-truncated 21st Century attention span.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
The To Do List:
1. Get a good writing sample ready
2. Take the GRE
3. Find three people to be references for me
4. Write VFO webcomic with Rex Queems
5. Make some rent money somehow
And finally . . .
6. Actually be there when, y'know, my wife has our fourth child
OK, so six things doesn't sound that big, but most of these aren't 'one-off' type things. I'll keep everyone posted.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Of course, Wondermark is exempted from the 'in which' ban because the cleverness of the strip, but also because the 'in which' bits are not featured prominently.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
The stiff-knuckled hand of Death had its bony fingers peeled back; his power melted away while his brother Sin was made bankrupt.
The world was shattered, but the centerpiece of history came into place two thousand years ago--
--when Christ walked the garden in the cool of the morning.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
It's not that great, and the gag has been done, but I enjoyed doing it. I was thinking about taking the colored pencils to it, but I'm not sure if I will. It would help contrast the mountains in the background with the cliff in the foreground, but I'm not sure if I want to take the time. What do you think?
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The first comic I read was Wondermark, a strip by Dave Melki that uses old Victorian-era illustrations to great comedic effect. Start in the 'A Good Start' area and then move on to reading the entire archive. You'll find good laughs with regularity. My favorite strips are, of course, the silliest ones.
The second comic is called The Abominable Charles Christopher. I was pretty much made a fan by the title alone, but I found the comic itself was even better than its title. Charles Christopher is a sasquatch who is in the midst of discovering the world. He doesn't quite understand how some things work, and can't quite communicate, but he's learning. The animals who live in the forest provide a healthy dose of humor, while many of Charles Christopher's adventures appear to be leading somewhere more dramatic. Combine that with the absolutely superb art, and you have a comic I'll be coming back to week after week. If you're new to Charles Christopher, start at the first episode and move forward. If you're like me, you'll catch up to this weeks episode much more quickly than you'd like. I could've kept reading for another hour or so.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't point out the link to another wonderful website I've run across. The site just happens to contain the work of Mr. Rex Queems himself, frequent commentor on these pages and excellent cartoonist in his own right. It's only fair that I point out this link, since he was the one who introduced me to both Wondermark and The Abominable Charles Christopher.
Ladies and Gentlemen, follow me to the Illustratorium. Enjoy.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The assignment in question is the one from my Children's Lit class. I'm writing and illustrating a story for my boys and I am thoroughly enjoying working the story out in my head. I don't want to tell the story yet, but it has (of course) given me a million ideas that I could incorporate. I'm going to have trouble keeping the story as small as it should be, I think.
I've done some preliminary drawings for the story as well, and it has revealed some of the deficiencies in my art. In particular, I have trouble with trees. I've always found people more interesting and more fun to draw than anything else: trees, animals, buildings, cars, what have you. This has lead me to attend to the actual trees around campus, and I've found that . . . well . . . they're quite beautiful. I mean, I've always loved springtime its flowers, summer's warm greenness, and the spectacular splashes of color that come with autumn.
But it's winter now. The trees are brown and bare, but they're still quite beautiful.
In the yard by the playground stand two white birch towers, with their branches forked like lightning . . .
Out my living room/office window a shaggy barked tree is lined with narrow branches, jutting out like bony fingers . . .
Near Founders hall are two trees standing like old friends, their tops bent back and branches to the sky in praise of God . . .
I guess I had lived under the illusion that trees are basically the same, but the variety is amazing, even among trees of the same species. What makes the trunk divide in two when it does? Why do the branches bend and twist where they do?
So while anyone can appreciate a tree covered with foliage, I encourage you: don't stop there. Love a leafless tree.
Bare is beautiful.
Thursday, March 05, 2009
I immediately realized I was faced with a problem. Most of what I post here amounts to hand-wringing about the future or attempts at humor that die miserably. I was guessing that S.D.'s crowd of readers didn't want to hear my progress toward MFA applications (there hasn't been much, by the way), nor did they want a one line humor post that likely involved the word 'butt.' So I had to come up with something good.
As it turns out, I had a decent idea percolating in my head. I had been thinking about The Band's song "The Weight" a lot, and I wanted to do a post on the concept of sainthood Robbie Robertson has in the song as opposed to a true Christian one. So I did. It worked out well because I knew I was never going to write a substantive post to put up here. It would be too much work. But for a friend, I would do it.
Go to S.D.'s blog and check it out. I read part of the post, but I find it hard to revisit my own writing once it's out there for public consumption. I see too many changes that need to be made. I've gotten a couple of nice comments though.
By the way, be sure to read S.D.'s introduction. It's probably the better piece of writing on the page and it captures me pretty darn well. Except I was a c-section baby, so I never went through the birth canal.
See, now you're curious. You'll have to check it out.
Friday, February 27, 2009
I'm a big fan of the imagination. I guess that's why I keep wanting to add elements to the story I'm writing for Children's Lit this semester. It began as a straightforward LotR-esque adventure story, but as I've thought more and more about it--and watched a few Miyazaki movies--I've wanted to expand the world. I want to crack open the top of my head (metaphorically) and build a world that amazes. I don't want to populate a fantasy world with elves and dwarves and orcs, though there's nothing wrong with doing that. I want to bend categories. I want to invent critters that hang in the imagination long after you've read their stories. I want to blend the stuff of differing historical eras into one and make it seem as natural as breathing. That, to me, sounds exciting.
I haven't abandoned adult fiction, though. "Come on Casper" is still in the works. It's just not something I'm working on for a class these days. That story is a different kind of challenge. It's more about structure and getting the language just right . . . not giving away too much before the end of the story, etc. Of course, as I typed that, I recognized that children's lit requires all that too. I just don't get to 'play around' as much with "Come on Casper."
Is it less fun then? Yes and no. It's not a blast like inventing monsters and other whimsical doodads, but there's an intense pleasure that comes from actually constructing a story and using structural elements to guide the reader when the subject matter doesn't make reading the story 'fun.' That's what I like about adult lit. Still, though, I plan on incorporating the fantastic into my 'serious' adult fiction later. I just have to figure out how to work it out.
OK. Time to be productive.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
So that's out of the way. The biggest news in my life is obviously finding out the sex of our baby. Most of you probably already know that the baby is a GIRL. That's right! We're having a girl. So many doubted, but we did the improbable.
Now, if we could just figure out a name . . .
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The story, now titled "Come On, Casper" but due for a name change, weighs in at about 1700 words. Much of what I do seems to fall in that range. That total will go up or down depending on how the editing process goes, but I wouldn't expect much fluctuation.
It seems odd to me that I worked on "Keep Thinking, Keep Moving" for one day and it hit just under 1000 words, while I've worked on "Come On, Casper" on and off for a couple of months and it's 1700. I guess I'll never write a 20 page short story. I'm not sure why that is. I'll have to think about it.
Anyway, I think the story has some potential, but it needs a good hearty tweak or two. The structure is basically there, and the thread of the story as well, but it needs shaping and polishing. That's still a new process to me. I never used to edit the stories I wrote. I suppose that's why I never considered them worth keeping. I want my stories to be worth keeping, though, so editing is a necessity. Thanks for reading, and I'll keep you posted.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
From the Journal of Amazingly True Educational Facts
Saturday, January 17, 2009
1. UT-Austin-Austin has five PCA churches: CrossPointe, All Saints, Redeemer, Christ the King, and Choongmanhan. Lots of choice there.
2. Syracuse-No PCA presence. A friend told me that there is an OPC presence, but we probably don't want to move in a more conservative direction.
3. Purdue-Two Cities serves Lafayette and West Lafayette.
4. Indiana-No PCA presence in Bloomington. I may do some research to see if any of the PCA churches are within driving distance.
5. Notre Dame-Michiana Covenant Church is in South Bend
6. Alabama-Trinity and Riverwood serve Tuscaloosa
7. UNC-Greensboro-Friendly Hills, Summer Oaks, Spring Garden.
8. Ohio State-Grace Central Presbyterian Mission is in Columbus.
9. Florida-Gainesville has Faith Presbyterian and Christ Community
10. Penn State-Found nothing in College Park, but again I don't know what towns are within driving distance.
11. Wisconsin-Lake Trails and Madison Sah-Lang
12. Minnesota-No PCA churches in Minneapolis/St. Paul
13. Illinois All Souls in Champaign-Urbana
14. Iowa-One Ancient Hope Mission Church
Of course, even if the town has a PCA church/churches that tells us nothing about the vitality of that/those church(es). That will take a bit more research, and may be best left for a time after I get accepted to one of these programs. If I get accepted.
Monday, January 12, 2009
"Three things a sitcom needs: Razor sharp wit, sparkling political satire, and a cat with a big butt."
Sunday, January 11, 2009
EDIT: And just for the record, I harbor no ill will toward Anderbo. I would submit to them again any day. I was just surprised to receive notice that early.
I'll keep everyone posted.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
-from the Journal of Amazingly True Educational Facts
Sunday, January 04, 2009
1. The Weight-The Band
I honestly didn't even know about this song until the last few years, which is surprising considering how much 'oldies' radio my parents listened to as I grew up. As soon as I heard it, though, I knew why it was a classic.
2. The Worst that Could Happen-Brooklyn Bridge
I'm a sucker for songs like this. The guy is mourning his lost love, but glad that she is finding happiness. I'm pretty sure this was Brooklyn Bridge's only hit.
3. Oh Girl-The Chi-Lites
Another 'lost love' song. Nice and melancholy.
4. Fox on the Run (Live)-The Country Gentlemen
This is probably my favorite bluegrass song. If you'll notice, it also has a bit of a melancholy, lost love element. This was taken from a live concert from their tour of Japan.
5. Old Salty Dog Blues-Flatt and Scruggs
I first heard this bluegrass tune at my Aunt Sue's birthday party more than a decade ago. I loved it instantly, but never put forth the effort to track down a copy. The situtation has been rectified.
6. Sweet Child o' Mine-Guns 'N' Roses
Contrary to what Rex Queems might think, this song has one of the best opening riffs in rock music.
7. Don't Pull Your Love-Hamilton, Joe Frank, and Reynolds
Another one hit wonder, another 'lost love' song. I also really enjoy the harmony in the chorus. This one is very fun to sing along with.
8. With a Little Help From My Friends-Joe Cocker
There are not many Beatles covers that surpass the original, but Joe Cocker does it easily with this one.
9. The Letter-Joe Cocker
Hear me now: This is the definitive version of this song. Don't get me wrong; I liked The Box Tops' version. It's remembered for a good reason. However, Cocker's cover from Mad Dogs and Englishmen is powerful and dynamic in a way that The Box Tops can't approach.
10. Take Me Home Country Roads-John Denver
I'm from the WV, man! How can I not love this song?! Don't give me that "the song's really about Virginia 'cause the 'blue ridge mountains, shenandoah river' line." Almost Heaven, West Virginia.
11. Ave Verum Corpus-London Festival Orchestra
We did this in my 'Wayne Singers' class back in high school. Great harmony and beautiful in a way I don't have the musical vocabulary to describe
12. Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)-Looking Glass
A pure fun song. Great for singing at the top of your lungs in the car.
13. Mr. Bojangles-Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Probably one of the saddest songs I know. A true, tragic, story about a popular culture icon from the early 20th Century. NOTE: Thos ain't true. See comments
14. Sea of Love-Phil Phillips
I vacillated over whether I'd buy this version or The Honeydrippers' version, but I went with the original. I'm glad I did. Both are good, but I just like Phillips vocals more than Robert Plant's.
15. Handle With Care-The Traveling Wilburys
It was a shame Roy Orbison passed away so soon after The Traveling Wilburys recorded their first album. I would have loved to hear more from this most super of super groups.
16. Buddy Holly-Weezer
A '90s classic. One of the most fun songs Weezer ever recorded, though I can't say that I followed their career. Not a huge fan, but I appreciated what they did.
That leaves me with $14.39 to play with. I'm open to suggestions, but my list is going to be very idiosyncratic. Don't be offended if I don't pick songs you like!
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Then there's the GRE. My general impression is that the GRE doesn't matter much for the MFA programs themselves, but the grad schools in general require them. So I'll need to study for that. The GRE has double the pressure, though, because I have to beat my brother's score, and he hasn't left me much wiggle room. Right bro? Seriously, this test is a big deal. There's at least the possibility that my score could be a tie-breaker between me and an equally qualified candidate.
The more I think about it, the more I feel like a high school senior applying to some top colleges. When I applied to college I had no doubt I would get in to my schools of choice. Marshall University and Tri-State Bible College are fairly non-competetive. I was even confident about getting in here at the seminary. Covenant is a good school, but it's not primarily a scholar's seminary. Now, on the other hand, I'm applying to schools that are among the best in the field. That means I'll be up against the best writing students in the nation. If it was just a standardized test, I wouldn't worry about it so much, but writing is more subjective. Add to that the fact that I don't have a good sense of what quality of work I can do consistently, and my consternation increases.
So hopefully in the next few months I can crank out a couple of perfect 10 stories, which will then lead to me getting into every program I apply to. Then I can stroll onto campus as a superstar, and writing success will inevitably follow. That's how it works, right?