Short Fiction

Week 423: Tributes, An Easter Eve Recap, and the Book or the Film?

A Weird Al Tribute Band Will Herald the End of Days

I do not know if it began with Elvis Impersonators or the Beatles, but I’ve noticed that there is a big business devoted to “tribute bands.” All the major groups have at least one, some have many. The Stones, Queen, Led Zeppelin, the Supremes and so on. And some are better at doing the songs than the original artist. The name of a tribute band is usually a song or a phrase associated with the adored object; stuff like “We Will Rock You” and “The Song Remains the Same.” The only difference I see between a tribute band and a cover band is the singular focus of the former.

Locally, we have one called, “Helle’s Belles,” an all girl group that plays AC/DC. And I guess there must be money in this; casinos and theaters often book the acts.

I, however, don’t get it. I was involved with a cover band for two years ( a tribute of sorts to running up a bar tab larger than the appearance fee). When we started I wanted us to do original music. I said I did not learn how to play the guitar just to perform someone else’s material. But I was out voted. We had a playlist of thirty or so, of which twenty-seven were covers. Of which maybe a half dozen featured more than three chords and were not in the key of A. Our lead singer sounded like a cross between Janis Joplin and Bonnie Tyler, but we never played music by either. It was the 80’s and hair metal was popular. Alas, a Chimpanzee can be taught to play any chord line “written” by Poison. I was not consulted much about the list (or anything else)–but I did work up a punk version of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues. Got the whole thing done in under a minute and ten seconds. One-oh-two was the record. Certain substances can speed things along.

“Personality issues” led to my retirement from music. This personality admits to hurling a mike stand at the lead singer’s personality on account of something she said about my brother, who was doing his best at running the PA, but was also so drunk he couldn’t do anything more complicated than being there. Happened on stage, in front of sixty people or so. Although it was by far the most entertaining thing we ever gave the world, a secret vote taken soon after, also without my input, ended my music career in the nick of time. I only regret that my aim was poor.

Some of my ex-band mates still play live to this day; they perform Skynyrd and such in taverns. The idea of covering Gimme Three Steps for decades in front of a few dozen drunks on a Friday night gives me the heebie-jeebies. Glad I escaped. It’s the sort of thing they make you do in Hell.

This all drunkenly leads me to a tribute/cover band form of writing called Fanfiction. The way I understand it, Fanfiction is “borrowing” characters or mythical realms created by a beloved author and writing your own stories based on such. To me it sounds like something a nine-year-old might be interested in, but maybe I am being unfair.

Fair or otherwise, I see Fanfiction the same as wearing someone else’s underwear or even finishing the last of that other person’s beer. Of course it’s none of my beeswax, the dorky gags people get into. Hey, if you are happy drinking Tolkien’s backwash, knock yourself out, Billy Bob Bilbo–but please do it far enough away so people won’t think we know each other.

Most damned of the damned, I cannot imagine doing something like that. It mystifies and it bears more than a passing resemblance to plagiarism. Jesus Christ, isn’t there enough Harry Potter in the world already?

I believe that genuine performers and writers, no matter how nice, or evil, or self effacing, or self loathing, must have confidence or even an ego that can be seen from Neptune, to be any good. And that isn’t a bad thing at all; it doesn’t mean you are a rotten person (even though you might be), and it doesn’t mean you have a license to be rude, but it does mean you have your own unique point of view and the desire to express it. Admiration is one thing, but the idea of wanting to be buried in the same coffin with JK Rowling, well, frankly, embarrasses the hell out of me. Then again I have a history of emotional responses out of proportion with the situation, so my opinion might be suspect.

Sigh. I can see it now. I, by sharing an honest observation, may have offended someone. I do so miss the days when people were less sensitive, a bit more fuck you too, then over it as long as you stand the next round. But If I have offended anyone, don’t let it get you down. You can cross pollinate two known authors and have Professor Moriarty bury me in the Hundred Acre Wood.

Easter Eve Recap

After hunting eggs this weekend (don’t forget the one under the couch, like last year) please take the time to read this week’s collection if you haven’t already. This week’s stories are not Fanfiction, though they are plenty good enough to inspire such. Three of our finest writers returned and we had a pair of excellent debuts. Topics covered the past not being as dead as you might hope; a sensitive vignette from the worst event in the 20th Century and perhaps ever; the downside of giving a machete wielding maniac an even break; a heart rending tale of loss and remembrance and a neat gotcha’ to close the week. Happy Easter to all, especially the overworked Chickens.

Frederick K. Foote has fearlessly and often bitingly appeared on the site over eighty times. A Casual Abuser is his latest effortless, penetrating look into the foibles of being human. As always, Fred is all things wry and observant. And the voices spoken by his characters scream authenticity.

‘Will They Remember Us?’ Little Ignaz Wonders? By Antony Osgood is yet another one of his beautiful works of first rate, narcotic flowing prose. I get a great sense of floating in the air when I read Antony. The children of the Holocaust probably understood it as well as anyone–for it remains incomprehensible at every level of knowing. (An aside, I watched a documentary in which a daughter of a survivor claimed that she, the daughter, born well after the war, suffered from some sort of disorder caused by being brought up by a survivor. I turned it off. That sort of thing describes the unfortunate climate of the world we live in.)

Newcomer Caleb James K lightened the mood on Wednesday, in the way that only a whacky psychopath can (not to infer the author is such, but then again I don’t know the guy). Dying to Hike is flat out funny because it joyously defies all the rules.

The great Tom Sheehan appeared once again with The Lady’s Photo. Despite what must be millions of words written by now, Tom still manages to be fresh and alive. He knows the best ways around working a tale and anyone who would want help in that area should consult his work.

Our second debut author, Tom Matthews closed the week with proof that the unexpected gotcha ending is still attainable and will always be a moment to treasure when it comes as a reader, and even more so as a writer. I obviously cannot say too much here for reasons to be understood by the people who have yet to look at it, but One of the Good Ones is aptly titled.

Now before the closing credits roll, I will finally remember to push our Sunday features. Please consider submitting an article about a writer or a book that reached you long ago, a rerun of one of the stories you have read on our site or something you have written (a brief something) that might not be a short story but you like any way (neither op-ed nor poetry, if you please). More information can be found on our under-visited guidelines page.

Book or Flick

For ages Hollywood has excelled at attempting to hammer round pegs into square holes. Not succeeding, just trying. It took a long time for producers to understand that there is novel writing and film writing–and although both are writing, they are two entirely different items. Still, it sometimes works out, but usually it requires a huge transformation that makes the film indistinguishable from the original work.

For instance, in Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffanys, the novel, the male character was obviously gay, but in the film he was Holly Golightly’s love interest. Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath concludes with a mother whose baby was stillborn nursing a dying man with her milk. The movie ends with some hokum spouted by Ma Joad (who, regardless of that scene, was brilliantly portrayed by Jane Darwell). I can understand those, considering when they were made. But there is no defending the happy ending tacked to Wuthering Heights or the one affixed to the play Our Town.

I now present ten novels I’ve read and have also seen the film version. These are listed by the novel name and the film in parentheses. Five I like. Five not so much. One appears in both categories. Audience participation is encouraged.

The Good

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck (film 1939) (Hard, but not impossible, to mess this one up.)

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (film 1962)

Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh (film 1996)

The Shawshank Redemption, Stephen King (film 1994)

The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson (film called The Haunting 1963)

The Other Side of Good

The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne (horrid Demi Moore flick 1995)

The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson (The terrible 1999 remake) (it is now a series)

Pet Sematary, Stephen King (film 1989); (Maximum Overdrive, which a coked-up King directed, might be the worst film I saw in the 80’s, but it is based on the short Trucks. Pet Sematary is flat out boring, even though Herman Munster gets whacked)

The Godfather, Mario Puzo (film 1990) (The original is brilliant, the sequel was just fine, but three? Well, as the late great Mr. Loaf sang, don’t be sad, two out of three ain’t bad.)

Naked Lunch, William Burroughs (1991 film) To be fair, this thing is unfilmable. The words are what make it work in print. Not so much image wise.


14 thoughts on “Week 423: Tributes, An Easter Eve Recap, and the Book or the Film?”

  1. Greta Post. I remember being really puzzled coming out of the cinema after watching Breakfast at Tiffanys. My nomination for ‘the book, not the flick:’ John Fowles’ The Magus. Somebody (Peter Sellars?) said that if they could live their life over again, they do everything same except that they won’t bother to sit through The Magus (1968, starring Michael Caine).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good post. For some reason, I can almost hear a punk version of Folsom Prison. And for some reason, I don’t hate it. Probably the lyrics. I’d add to the good book and film list, two by authors you mentioned: Grapes of Wrath and In Cold Blood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you David

      Ah the late Robert Blake’s finest hour (save for getting away with murder). He was born to play Perry Smith. My only objection was the pseudo-documentary approach also used in the Boston Strangler with the oddly cast Tony Curtis.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, Michael

    Sometimes I bet the big ideas that sound great in meetings go sour when all involved realize that what works lin the Fowles’ book, or in something like Moby Dick cannot be duplicated on film, but by then it is too late to go back.


  4. Excellent post and I feel I know you just a little better now I have the mike stand to imagine!!! Film against book – well any of the Bond movies that were made from the originals. I like the movies but the books were gripping and thrilling in a way even Sean couldn’t quite manage.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you Diane

    I actually read a Fleming book long after first seeing the films, and they are so well thought out and had a different tone from the series, though both are very good.

    Thanks again


  6. The Few Philip K. books that I have read all made me say to myself “WTH?”. Somebody wants electric sheep? Huh?

    It is hard to imagine anyone not inducing projectile vomiting singing “Sometimes When We Touch”. If I’m not mistaken, something that admirable country Canada produced which is a national tragedy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello and thank you, Doug

      Ah, the legend of Morris Albert. And to think we was successfully sued for stealing the melody.
      Odd thing, he’s a mega star except here. A Brazilian Slim Whitman.


  7. Hi Leila,
    Excellent post with a lot to think on.
    You made me think on one of the best, not tribute bands but cover bands, I’ve ever seen called Big Licks. They did a cracking version of ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ and even a very fair attempt at ‘Parisian Walkways’ They used to play regularly in what was ‘Jonesy’s’ in The Nile Court.
    I have to say, I do quite like Bret Michaels voice!
    I love your section on your personality issues, that made me laugh.
    Fan-Fiction is a bug bearer of mine. It’s lazy at best and I wish the real writer would either sue or pay the Scary Men to pay a visit!
    Books – Here are the ones where I loved both:
    King’s ‘Salems Lot’ (Both were eerie. A floating Ralphy Glick was described as seen!)
    Welsh’s ‘Trainspotting’ was the original truthful portrayal of drug taking.
    And his novel ‘Filth’ – The structure of the book was as messed up and brilliant once you realise what it is! And the film – Best opening scene ever!
    ‘Sleepers’ by Lorenza Carcaterra. I saw the film first and when I realised there was a book, I had to read it. I expected an epic novel but it was very short. Not a word wasted mind you. Everything in the film that made me think it would be a long book was in it.
    The two that I hate both, one is one of yours ‘Maximum Overdrive’ that humped the big one! And weirdly another King book, ‘The Tommyknockers’, it was awful as was the film!
    Brilliant as always Leila.


    1. Thank you Hugh
      Ah, the Tommyknockers–I tried to watch a TV movie (or maybe it was a miniseries) about it but it was so damn bad I had to give up. I believe King wrote that while drunk, and it sort of shows.
      Now, I wouldn’t hurl a mike stand at Lucy (her real name) nowadays. I’d settle for something lighter and more accurate–a tambourine or a fuzz pedal. Easier to hurl but still heavy enough to get the point across.
      Thanks as always!


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