A Colorful But Awfully Flimsy Story

Some stories coalesce properly, their meaningful themes presented intelligently, their aims met, their pacing expertly handled. Such stories have a powerful reason for being.

And then there are those stories that don’t have any good reason for being at all, such as the one I’m attempting to bang out right now. Holy crap, sweat beads are pouring from my brow, straining so hard am I to create product out of the thinnest threads of inspiration. My editor, Edgar Reewright, whom you possibly might recall from his previous appearances on these pages (click here and also here, for instance), couldn’t believe how low I was reaching when I tried to convince him that it didn’t matter if I published a pretty pointless article, considering that an infinitesimally small percentage of the human population ever reads anything I pen anyway.

“Edgar,” I said to him over the phone recently, “I’m shit out of decent story ideas. But I have to publish something, you know. Can’t let too many days elapse between articles, right? Right.”

And then I quickly summarized for him what I had in mind. I was met with dead silence for 15 seconds after I stopped talking. Finally Edgar spoke.

“Neil, you’re out of your friggin’ skull if you green-light this piece. It’s ridiculous. It’s dumpster-worthy. I want no part of it. You’re on your own with this one, cowboy.” And he hung up. Brusquely.

I took a deep breath. Tried to steady my nerves. And decided that, yes, the next day (February 11) I would proceed with my plan by beginning the writing process. Which is what I’m doing right now, as today indeed is the 11th. On what date I’ll complete the opus and punch the Publish button, I can’t say yet. But it will, of course, be well before Hell freezes over, unless that event occurs within the extremely near future.

The saga began a few hours before I dialed Edgar’s phone number. I was sitting on my living room sofa, trying to come up with something to write about, when I picked up The Philadelphia Inquirer’s sports section and began perusing the box scores of the previous day’s National Basketball Association (i.e., professional) games. In the distant past, when I was one of the way too many sports fanatics stomping around on our blue planet, I not only read the box scores every day during the pro basketball season, I also knew who just about every player was. My fanaticism having dissolved long ago, these days I’m familiar with maybe one out of six basketballers. But I continue to read the box scores nonetheless. What, like I have anything better to do?

Lo and behold, when I reached the final box score on the page, a synopsis of the February 9 game between the Houston Rockets and the Denver Nuggets, my eyes were drawn to an oddity in the Houston listings. What the listings contained was something I can’t remember ever coming across before during the countless hours I’ve spent in my life studying box scores from various sports. To wit, the final three surnames listed for Houston, meaning the gentlemen who were the last three to enter the game for the Rockets, were Green, Black and Brown. Wow! Three colors in a row! I had no idea who the players were (it turns out that their first names, respectively, are Gerald, Tarik and Markel), but that didn’t matter. What did matter was that I, story idea-wise, now had something to work with. Colors would lead me to good places I naively assumed.

Maybe, I mused, I’ll package the green/black/brown coincidence with a discussion of my favorite colors then and now (yellow when I was a kid, blue in my adulthood), some thoughts on the insanely huge numbers of colors described and displayed in Wikipedia articles (click here, here and here to see them), and somehow bring the proceedings to a tuneful conclusion with entertainment by musicians whose names are those of colors.

But on second thought all of that seemed too much, too ungainly. What, after all, do I have to say about the infinity of colors out there? Not a whole lot, except that it’ll drive you crazy when you’re trying to decide which color to choose for your living room or bedroom walls. Too damn much choice, as is the case with nearly everything nowadays.

And so I was left with music. Poor, pitiful me. Down to the dungeon I lumbered. It is there that I store my vinyl album collection, not to mention my world-class collection of pet spiders. I’ve got about 1,000 albums in all. And about 700 spiders. I’d decided to search for color names among the vinyl platters, which hold a nostalgic and esthetic spell over me, rather than from my sizeable trove of CDs. That’s because vinyl album covers have a whole lot more charm than their CD counterparts.

On the way down the stairs I further decided that I wanted color names that were surnames, not first names, in order to continue the pattern established by Monsieurs Green, Black and Brown. And I didn’t want to duplicate the colors already taken by the basketball guys. Thus, Red Garland (jazz pianist) and Pink Anderson (blues singer and guitarist) were out, as were James Brown, Jackson Browne and Al Green.

Patient readers, let me cut to the chase. I found only three musicians who met my goofy criteria. I selected one album by each. The musicians were jazz artists. I use the past tense because all of them, sadly, are gone. Only one (Horace Silver) is fairly well-known to the general public. The other two, Don Cherry and Michael White, decidedly aren’t, especially White. Silver, a prolific composer and hard-working band leader, played straight-ahead jazz. Cherry, one of my musical heroes, was an adventurer. His trumpet forays often would blister the atmosphere. White, who wielded an electric violin, possessed a mindset somewhat similar to Cherry’s. As a side note I’ll add that Horace and Don were major talents. Michael was good, but certainly not great.

Here then are three YouTube videos. Each offers a track from one of the albums whose front covers I’ve ever so lovingly photographed for this article.

A basketball box score. And three weirdly-chosen musicians. Yup, that’s what this story is all about. Don’t say I never did anything for you.

(Don’t be shy about adding your comments or about sharing this story on Facebook, Twitter and their ilk. I thank you.)

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51 thoughts on “A Colorful But Awfully Flimsy Story

  1. lievelee February 17, 2018 / 2:58 am

    Very amusing… What to do when the writer’s muse deserts you… but in all honesty, you managed to spin it out into a rather long and witty yarn… I never realised there was so much mileage in colours!!!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 17, 2018 / 11:28 am

      Hi Lieve.
      I suppose that colors have worked their way into quite a few of my pieces. A definite theme!

      See you —

      Like

  2. Cristina Crawford February 17, 2018 / 6:08 am

    Wowza! You lost me at spiders. 700? Surely you jest! And yes, I agree with Andrew: Bricks from straw is the sign of a true writer. :-).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Artist's Child February 17, 2018 / 6:48 am

    Brilliant! You have come up with a truly original post with some great music by being highly observant when reading your daily paper. I love random connections and they should be used more often in decision making.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 17, 2018 / 11:34 am

      Hello there. I’m a fan of randomness too. It can make life more interesting at times.
      Thanks for adding your thoughts. Have a great weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Alyson February 17, 2018 / 7:05 am

    Posts can come from nowhere but still educate and entertain – This one a case in point. Has to be vinyl doesn’t it, nothing else has come close in terms of the whole tangible/visual/listening experience. You’ve got quite a collection there and these three “colour-inspired” picks are great.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 17, 2018 / 11:36 am

      Hi Alyson. There’s something about vinyl. My vinyl collection means a whole lot to me, even though I play the platters only now and then.

      Like

  5. joyce hamilton February 17, 2018 / 8:48 am

    Finally got to the clicks….thanks. Wow 1000 albums…..they are coming back. Best Buy will be selling them again as well as record players

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 17, 2018 / 11:37 am

      Hello there, Joyce.
      It’s amazing how vinyl has made a comeback. Ten years ago nobody would have expected that to happen.

      Like

  6. eden baylee February 17, 2018 / 10:16 am

    Vinyl brings back great memories, no matter name or colour. I still have all my 45s.

    You’re reaching with the subject matter, but isn’t that what original writing is all about?

    Enjoyed,
    eden

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 17, 2018 / 11:40 am

      Thanks a lot for dropping by, Eden.
      I wish I’d held on to my 45s. The vinyl albums I kept. But the 45s are long gone.
      See ya’ —

      Liked by 1 person

      • eden baylee February 17, 2018 / 12:22 pm

        Mine are in pristine condition, although some of my choice of 45s were, um, questionable. It was the disco age, so …

        Still, one of my first purchases was “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder, not bad for a pre-teen, right?

        Liked by 1 person

  7. C C Cedras February 17, 2018 / 11:36 am

    Somewhere I have a box of LPs, but unless you count Chuck Mangione, no jazz in there.

    One of the oddball jobs I worked while in college was typing box scores called in by REAL reporters who worked for the Rocky Mountain News (a morning paper, so lots of late nights). I’m not even sure if I had an electric typewriter to use. Plus, I had to hold the phone receiver between ear and shoulder while I typed. Is it any wonder I have a stiff neck even now?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. cmwriter February 17, 2018 / 12:32 pm

    My favorite? Manhattan Cry – and all the colors of emotion and surrounding it invokes!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 17, 2018 / 12:43 pm

      Hi Carol.
      Don Cherry was a fabulous musician. He played “free” jazz, such as Manhattan Cry. And later he got into various sorts of music from around the world and incorporated all of that into his own music.

      Like

  9. Kevin Brennan February 17, 2018 / 2:16 pm

    Fascinating! I’d have thought there’d be some colorful jazz names. I guess Nat King Cole doesn’t quite make it, eh? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 17, 2018 / 3:28 pm

      Hi Kevin.
      I looked thru all my vinyl (jazz, rock, folk, etc.), and the only ones that I could find that met my selection criteria were the three musicians that I wrote about.

      Thanks a lot for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 17, 2018 / 3:30 pm

      You’re right.
      It’s more than amazing. Who’d have ever thunk it?
      Thanks for dropping by, Lynette.
      See ya’ —

      Liked by 1 person

  10. jimreyno2013 February 17, 2018 / 5:55 pm

    Thoroughly enjoyed this. I lost it when I got to “Down to the dungeon I lumbered. It is there that I store my vinyl album collection, not to mention my world-class collection of pet spiders.” Bang on!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ann Coleman February 17, 2018 / 6:46 pm

    See, if you just start writing about what is on your mind at that moment, you still come up with something good!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Janet Sunderland February 17, 2018 / 7:01 pm

    I, too, am at that point where I need to write something, have mounds of books at my side table for research, and am not. Writing. That is. However, I am laughing. Our loud. At your essay. I liked it a lot and you’ve lightened my mood. Laughter does that…. cheers!!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Fictionophile February 17, 2018 / 10:06 pm

    The sign of the true writer is that they can write about anything. You’ve proven that.
    By the way Neil, I thought I liked you until I learned you collected spiders. LOL
    Yours truly,
    The aracnaphobe
    Lynne

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Carmel Bendon February 18, 2018 / 3:18 am

    This post got me thinking. Around Sydney harbour we have the suburbs of Blue’s Point, Rose Bay, and Lavender Bay; away from the harbour, we have Blacktown, and further out there is Blackheath, and then the world heritage Blue Mountains, then the rural city of Orange; and further still there’s White Cliffs, and of course the Red Centre. And no doubt there are more in every state. You’re onto something here! Your editor was wrong this time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 18, 2018 / 7:08 am

      I hope that my editor will be back at the job for my next article. Otherwise I’m in trouble!

      Thanks for your colorful thoughts, Carmel. I appreciate your stopping by. Take care.

      Like

  15. sniderjerry February 19, 2018 / 9:28 am

    A little late for valentine’d day, but how about a funny story about Red Buttons, Red Skelton and Redd Foxx – bet you’ll come up with a winner. Good work as always and have a great day. Jerry

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 19, 2018 / 10:27 am

      Hi Jerry. Thanks for the Red thoughts. The guys you mention were very talented.
      Enjoy the day. I’ll be seeing you.

      Neil

      Like

  16. selizabryangmailcom February 19, 2018 / 11:36 am

    Lol. You remind me how ignorant I am where jazz is concerned. Never heard of these guys. Only know the really famous ones. But I’ll keep this short; I know you’ve got to go and feed those 700 spiders…and that’s gonna take a while!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 19, 2018 / 12:32 pm

      Hello there, Stacey.
      Horace Silver is the most famous of the guys I wrote about. I think you would like his music. He composed many, many real good tunes.
      Thanks for stopping by.
      Be seeing you —

      Like

  17. America On Coffee February 20, 2018 / 8:44 am

    Obsessive compulsion: a recruiter and commuter to a state of insanity. I have just witnesssed here how some people are driven. /-%

    Liked by 1 person

  18. cathleentownsend February 23, 2018 / 7:20 pm

    Sorry, I know this is tangential, but now I’ve got this mental image of the seven hundred spiders playing your vinyl collection when you’re not home. Would they vote on which album to play? Or would it turn into a jungle where only the strongest get to choose the playlist? Or would they have gladiator-like contests where only the winners get to choose the tunes?

    What can I say? Now you know why I’m a fantasy author.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 23, 2018 / 9:06 pm

      Cathleen, you raise some interesting questions. I’m certain that they would take a vote. They’re into democracy!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. cincinnatibabyhead February 26, 2018 / 2:48 am

    Music saves the day again. Great cuts. Know the Silver one. Love Cherry but had never heard ‘Manhatten Cry’, fantastic.. Michael White I know as a sideman on a few albums I have. This is going on the rotation. CB is a violin guy. Great stuff Neil. 700 spiders, that’s a lot. On the color theme, Ken Nordine has the ‘Colors’ album. I’m sure you’re onto that one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 26, 2018 / 6:50 am

      Morning, CB.
      I think I’m going to haul out a bunch of my Ornette albums (the ones that Cherry is on) and listen to them go at it.
      You know, I don’t think I ever heard the Nordine album.

      See you —

      Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead February 26, 2018 / 1:26 pm

        Loved that Cherry cut. I looked it up and Pharoah Sanders is on it with a lot of other good folk. Really good stuff. I like all that Ornette out put.
        I think you’d get a kick out of Nordine.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Vinyl Connection April 1, 2018 / 8:44 am

    Might have gone Lenny over Michael, but splendid, nonetheless. And it netted a gig at Harvard? Fine result. Hope it goes well.

    …Pink?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 1, 2018 / 11:31 am

      Hello there. Thanks a lot for stopping by.
      Who’d ever have thunk that Harvard and me would be mentioned in the same breath?
      See you —

      Liked by 1 person

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