Day: May 9, 2008

He came from somewhere back in her long ago.

Haven’t been saying much here lately, because my sleep has been completely out of whack. To become a vampire, or not to become a vampire? That’s the question.

The sleep seems to be in the process of half-ass fixing itself, so I’ll see what happens. I’ll either return to a somewhat normal and productive state in the next few days, or I’ll end up looking like a zombie and my vocabulary will be limited to sounds like urgh, grak, and other such indeterminate grunts.

I did at least manage to remember a dream song from the night before last — sort of a jaunty ballad on acoustic guitar in waltz time with a refrain of, “I have nothing invested in you, darling.” I always find it interesting what melodies and lyrics will come in dreams. They’re not often things I’d think to play or sing in the waking world, and sometimes the songs are pretty simple when stripped of the dream’s context, but they all tend to be pretty catchy.

Played my second show with Adam at The Room tonight. I’d never been there before. It’s a nice place. I wasn’t really that nervous at all this time out, which surprised me. I thought it would take a bit longer before I started to feel comfortable about the whole live performance thing after such a protracted break from that world.

Alas, the sound onstage was a big ambient mess by the time we played, thanks to a dying patch cord that shorted out our main monitor. Again everyone said it sounded good and balanced out in the audience, but I couldn’t hear what I was playing half the time and had no idea how loud I was. On top of that, the rented keyboard I was playing tried to screw itself up in the middle of one of the songs and I had to figure out how to get out of “edit” mode without much light to see what I was doing.

Adam surprised me by suggesting we play a bit of “What a Fool Believes” between songs. I played it for him on the piano yesterday after figuring out the chords, joking that we should play it live. I never expected he would actually call my bluff. I only played the first verse in truncated form because I thought it was a joke, though in hindsight we probably could have done the whole song. We harmonized on the chorus and it was pretty hilarious, both of us singing like Michael McDonald. Adam nailed those high notes, while I took the lower harmony. The audience seemed to enjoy it, too.

It’s strange getting compliments from people when you couldn’t really hear what you were doing so you have no frame of reference for what they heard. Stranger still to have people you’ve never met telling you how much they like your music when you haven’t put out a new album in what feels like an eternity. It’s beyond flattering, but it boggles my mind. How do they even know who I am? I haven’t exactly been a social creature in recent years, and I was never allowed to be a vital part of the local music scene even when I tried.

In any case, fun was had. Maybe someday I’ll even play a show where the sound onstage doesn’t suck and I can hear what I’m doing for a change.

Since my sleep has been a mess, there hasn’t been much to do over the past few days aside from messing around on the computer. The other night I spent a few hours watching clips on YouTube from General Hospital, circa 1995-1999.

I can’t believe I just admitted that, but there you go.

I used to be kind of addicted to that show. I was never sure why exactly. I watched other soaps once in a while, usually for the eye candy when I was going through puberty. I followed The Young and the Restless on and off for a while, to the point that some of the characters still show up in my dreams from time to time. Victor Newman and Brad Carlton seem to pop up most often, for whatever reason. But for the longest time I just watched soaps because I didn’t have anything else to do, mostly during summer vacation at my stepfather’s mother’s house when I was a kid.

I think the first time I ever saw two people kiss and felt it make some impression on me was while watching an episode of General Hospital, with Mac and Felicia locking lips. I remember thinking, “People do this? Really? Why?” It looked to me like their faces were made of wax and they were melting into each other in some strange way.

It was the summer of 1997 when I really got into GH, as the faithful tend to abbreviate it. I was on my summer vacation, having just finished grade school, waiting for the ominous blur that was high school to begin. Aside from improvising songs and recording them on cassette tape, I didn’t have a lot to do with myself most afternoons when I was home alone, so I took to watching TV and got sucked into General Hospital.

I still remember the episode in which “Hold Me Now” by the Thompson Twins played a pivotal role. I think Lucky and Elizabeth were playing pool. They were a cute couple, especially when they were dancing to a Bryan Ferry song. I couldn’t believe my ears when that happened.

Back then it wasn’t all about Sonny Corinthos and his criminal empire, with everything else just glorified fluff taking up space around a single semi-plausible, meaty storyline. There were other stories to tell.

Then they killed off Lucky in 1999, only to reveal the death was staged and he was being held captive by Cesar Faison as part of some murky revenge plot against Luke (Lucky’s father). And then they re-cast the role with some cardboard cutout pretty boy when they brought Lucky “back to life”.

That was the end of the love affair for me. My heart was broken. I mean, Jonathan Jackson was Lucky. The actor they replaced him with had no screen presence at all. Changing the angle his head was tilted at to show off his cheekbones was about as much emotional range as I can remember him demonstrating. The chemistry between him and Elizabeth was gone.

It was the same thing when they replaced Sarah Joy Brown with some other pretty face. Tamara Braun was pretty good, and she looked enough like Sarah that there was at least some semblance of continuity there, but after that it’s been downhill all the way. No one has come anywhere near injecting the character with the kind of pathos Sarah brought to the table.

Over the years I’ve caught a few episodes here and there, but it only serves to hammer home that the writing isn’t what it used to be. The combination of several more roles being re-cast with inferior actors and some absurd instances of SORAS (Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome) conspired to kill whatever made GH unique, and now it’s just like any other soap. Fluff. There’s nothing there to make me want to go out of my way to watch it anymore. I can’t even remember the last time I tuned in.

I’d be curious to see how Sarah fares in her new role on the show, at least. Apparently she’s back after an eight-year hiatus (not as Carly, alas). But I’m not sure I’m curious enough to actually turn the TV on at three in the afternoon and check it out.

Anyway. The other night I was going through clips that aired back when I was in the deepest throes of my addiction, catching some bits I missed back then. It struck me again why I watched the show so often during that time. The writing was pretty damn good back then, with some surprisingly witty dialogue. Most of the actors could actually…well…act, on a level far above most other soap opera actors. And the plot twists, while sometimes a little absurd — okay, more than a little absurd — were at least genuinely surprising and fun to watch unfold. The writers and the actors were able to sell it.

One of my favourite bits of dialogue came when Lucky was apparently killed in a mob-related explosion. Luke blamed Sonny, who offered a quiet apology, to which Luke responded, “Well, that makes all the difference. I mean, what’s a dead son between friends? The important thing is you’re sorry.”

And then there were exchanges like this:

FELICIA: I remember the last time we were on Helena’s yacht.

LUKE: Yeah, when that boy-toy got skewered like an over-ripe chunk of green shish kebab.

FELICIA: Oh, you just have this way with words! It sort of turns me on a little bit.

When do you ever hear dialogue like that on a soap now? Man. Talk about a guilty pleasure.

Watching some of this stuff on YouTube again, I felt like a little kid slipping into my favourite pyjamas and finding they still sort of fit me. I would seriously buy a few years of that show on DVD if they ever released it. Although, given the way soaps work and the sheer number of episodes, it would probably cost five thousand dollars and be a 2,500 DVD set. I’ve learned some people sell “edits” that concentrate on particular characters and story arcs, but I think I’d rather have the full episodes. You’d think the editing would get a little jarring at times if entire chunks of them were being excised.

I guess anyone who reads this has some dirt on me. Now you know I was once a pretty serious General Hospital fan, when I was thirteen or fourteen years old, and for a few years thereafter. Take up thy stethoscope and walk. Roger Waters commands it.