I had a pretty good weekend. I made some videos, and I wrote some fiction. I went to go see Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in 3D. I even almost missed writing reviews. Almost!
I feel liberated. Liberated from what? Myself – my own obsessions and hangups when it comes to music and writing. For example, in the past when I’ve seen a new movie (such as Eternals last year), I raced home and wrote it all up while the film was still fresh in my head. This time, I came home and had a nap! Who cares what I have to say about Black Panther anyway? You’re either going to see it or not see it the same as you would have with or without me.
I will say this. The 3D was unnecessary and blurry. A movie that was designed in 3D like Avatar is a completely different beast. Something like Black Panther is usually converted to 3D afterwards. It could have been used more effectively. I did not need to see it in 3D. Little was added to the experience. I did need to see it in the V.I.P. theater because damn, those parmesan truffle fries were the star of the show. I reclined in my chair and nearly fell asleep, I was so full and so comfortable! The film itself was very emotional. The whole thing was a love letter to Chadwick Boseman, and that added layer of meaning really hits you.
So there you go, that’s all you get for a review.
Instead of coming home from work and listening to something that I am playing just to review, sometimes twice in a row, now I’m coming home and listening to things that I want to listen to. Tonight it’s the Black Sabbath Technical Ecstasy remix CD. And I’m not listening with studious intent, picking apart the details. I don’t have five browser windows open, looking for credits and release information for research purposes. I’m just…writing what I’m thinking right here right now! And it’s awesome! Or to quote Bill Ward on the song playing right now, “It’s Alright”.
There’s so much more. I don’t feel competitive, like I’m trying to get as much exposure as possible on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I’m free from promoting myself. I’m free from giving a crap. I realize that giving a crap in the first place was my own fault, but habits are hard to break. Freedom is a hell of a drug.
I do love doing the Friday night show. Writing fiction is a blast. Since Harrison can only do art for one Tee Bone Man episode per month, and we wouldn’t want to do an episode without his art, I’ve branched out. I’ve now written two spinoff chapters called the Writer’sRoom that is tremendous fun and easy to do. Harrison calls it the “Extended LeBrainiverse” and it keeps growing. The latest addition is The Adventures of Edie Van Heelin’. Any time I feel like writing fiction, I have an outlet without having to put more pressure on Harrison. Fiction, or at least short stories, are so much easier than writing reviews. And just as rewarding, if not more so.
Less than a year ago, as a way to thank Tee Bone (the real guy) for all his help with my show (he refused all offers of gifts), I created Tee Bone Man and Superdekes. And I wanted to share that creation with the community. Today five different authors write Tee Bone Man which is exactly what I wanted to happen! It has turned out better than I hoped! Then shortly after that, I met California Girl, and with her I’ve created Edie Van Heelin’. It took a few attempts to get Edie ready for her public debut but her stories bring me the same happiness as Tee Bone Man. Having all these creative outlets is a wonderful thing!
That’s it, that’s the story for today. As I finish up this incredible Black Sabbath album, I get ready to go and watch last night’s American Dad and chill on the couch. Not a bad life.
Some clarification. Any time I post some old reviews that I wrote back in August, I inevitably get the same comments.
“I thought you weren’t reviewing anymore!”
“I thought you gave up on writing!”
“When are you reviewing the new Kiss box set?”
I’ll give you the same answer that my psychology professor gave us when we asked when he would have all our term papers marked: “On the 12th of Never.”
To be clear: I am no longer writing reviews.
Anything I am writing now is personal; nothing to do with trying to review anything. If whatever I write has something to do with music, great. If not, I don’t care. I am done with it.
Why bother? I get the same amount of views (or more) for copying and pasting a press release about a Loudness video. Or a Coney Hatch concert. Why should I work for two hours, three hours, four hours, on a review that gets as many views as something I copied and pasted from a PR company? I am burned out. That’s the blunt truth. Burned right out.
For the very best in original music reviews, I suggest you head on over to John Snow at 2loud2oldmusic. He works diligently every day to bring you music reviews and lists.
On the other hand, if you want to know what I am up to, what I’m watching on YouTube, or how I’m dealing with mental health, then you can stick around. I had a pretty good run. My reviews have been complimented by stars such as Dennis DeYoung (my childhood hero), F. Lee Harvey Blotto, and Dave Bidini. They’ve been criticized by others such as Kenny Hotz, Regina Banali, and David “D-Funk” Faulk. I’ve achieved a lot of what I set out to do 10 years ago.
Welcome to this “Behind the Scenes” instalment of Record Store Tales! Just a quick update on music, writing, and other assorted goings-on! The soundtrack for me writing this is the new Marillion album, An Hour Before It’s Dark. Great album.
Things are rolling on, and we are enjoying our summer. Together. Jen and I have not spent this much time together in years. I’m happy to report that we still enjoy each other’s company. I have to tell you, I don’t miss the show. The LeBrain Train – remember the LeBrain Train? Instead of broadcasting to YouTube every Friday night, we’re enjoying the sunset. I’m sorry if that’s hard news, but I don’t miss it. I can’t help how I feel. On the other hand, as many of you know, I tend to get depressed in the fall and winter. I like to have strategies to cope with the depression, and for the last two years, that has been the LeBrain Train. So, I am certain that when winter rolls in, I will need the show back. It won’t be the same — I want to keep things fresh. The Meat Man and I have been discussing ideas. We will be back at some point in time. I know that because I know my depression will eventually return. The show, and you the viewers, help me cope.
Be patient. It’s not time yet. I will know when it feels right. Summer is short in Canada. We only get so many weeks, and before too long the days are short and the temperatures cold. I know some of my pals, like my good buddy Aaron, love the winter. All I can say is there are times I’m envious.
I’ve been posting daily, keeping a steady pace, but don’t be surprised to see “filler posts” pop up now and again. Kind of like this one. For me to sit down and spend two hours listening and writing every single night — it’s just a hard pace to keep up. You’ll know the filler posts when you see them! I was thinking of doing a “Sheik Week” – an entire week of posts dedicated to the tweets of the Iron Sheik.
Views are down, comments are down, but I keep on keepin’ on. Music and writing. It’s what I do. What I have done for most of my life. I’ve been branching out. Fiction is refreshing. The ways the words flow so easily when I write fiction, it’s remarkable! Writing a music article is hard work. Finding out the facts, confirming the details, describing the music…sometimes I feel like I am running out of words. I don’t have that problem with fiction. It’s so refreshing. You have already read The Adventures of Tee Bone Man, we have seven chapters now, and we are building the story into something huge. You’ll see. In my spare time I have also been writing “sexy fiction” that is not for public consumption. I have been inspired and the words flow easily. It keeps things fresh. I enjoy writing fiction. I need to find more ways to incorporate fiction with my musical writings here. I will figure it out!
In the meantime, I will be continuing to report from the lake with fantastic photos, rocking videos, and stories of our musical roadtrips. Jen and I met 17 years ago and I’ve never felt closer.
It has been a great summer. And it ain’t over yet.
RECORD STORE TALES #881: The Return of the Record Store Tales
A minor announcement, but an announcement nonetheless! As of this chapter, for all of my stories going forward, I have decided to retire the name Getting More Tale. I am returning to the original moniker of Record Store Tales.
It’s really always intended to be considered one body of work.
One of the most important parts of the original Record Store Tales was the “ending” — quitting the store in Part 320. That series of events was one I was really anxious to tell, so when the time felt right, I got it done and wrapped Record Store Tales up in a lil’ bow. I then broadened the scope of my stories with the “sequel” series Getting More Tale (title suggested by Aaron of the KMA).
Getting More Tale has often dipped back into the Record Store days for subject matter, as well as childhood, and the 15 years since I quit. I’ve also told stories about technology and historic records. The sky was the limit when I changed the name to Getting More Tale…but I have always identified as a “Record Store guy”. Even if it has been 15 years since I last worked behind a counter…once a Record Store guy, always a Record Store guy.
The 12 years I spent in the store were 12 of the defining years of my life, from the highest highs to the lowest lows. But to quote a song, “It’s My Life” and calling the whole she-bang “Record Store Tales” feels right. Even if roughly half the stories have nothing to do with working in a store, “you are what you is”. Today I may be a guy who works in the steel industry, but I will always be a guy who managed a Record Store, and proud of it!
So there you have it; the lines shall no longer be blurred. The ongoing story of Mike LeBrain, former Record Store manager, obsessive music collector and all-around open book, shall henceforce be known once more as the Record Store Tales.*
The content is not changing one iota. I have the next 10 chapters locked and loaded, with subject matter covering the whole gamut. Childhood musical flashbacks, working behind the counter in the glory years, school daze, old tech, bad dates, toys, and maybe even some controversy. I continue to be excited to bring you stories that you seem to enjoy! It has been been over six years since I “wrapped up” Record Store Tales. There was backlash to the ending. But that only emboldened me. My writing has improved ten-fold since. I’m proud to fly the flag of Record Store Tales again.
Thanks for reading all these years! It has been an organic experience and for nine years you have been an integral part of it. Let’s go forward, shall we?
To be continued….
* I won’t be going back and re-naming anything, I will just be carrying on the numbering system will the title Record Store Tales.
At the conclusion of Record Store Tales (Part 320) I remember thinking “That was fun but I could have written another 320 chapters about the shit that went down there.”
As the sequel series Getting More Tale evolved, I expanded and incorporated a lot of Record Store stories into it. This allowed me to explore some backstory elements that I really should have included in the original Record Store Tales. As time went on and I found my groove, Getting More Tale became a little bit less about music and retail, and a little bit more about me. Thankfully you have hung on for the ride despite my indulgences.
Here we are at #640, the point at which Getting More Tale and Record Store Tales are of equal size.
It’s a potential crossroads. Should I shut down Getting More Tale and that numbering system? Music will remain the primary focus, but could the chapter numbers be a turn off to new readers? Or do they entice people to go back? Should I come up with a new name for this? Getting More Tale became a catch-all for virtually anything I wrote that wasn’t a review.
I put it to you. If you’ve been reading along, you know what I write.
Leave your comment below.
1. Should I shut down Getting More Tale & the numbering system and re-launch as something new?
Writer’s block? I’ve got it. Can’t tell? That’s because I have built up a backlog of posts ready to fill the gap when needed. It’s called planning ahead. Being prepared for the inevitable. Writer’s block strikes when it wants to.
Staring at giant piles of CDs…over 3000 of them aching to be listened to, reviewed, discussed, and appreciated.
“I can’t find anything I wanna listen to.”
Collecting music for over 30 years. Selling it to the public for 12. Managing a Record Store for 10.
“I can’t think of any good stories to talk about.”
Fuck you, writer’s block! Can’t be inspired to write about anything? Then I’ll write about you, writer’s block! Take that, you asshole.
There are ways around just about anything – especially when the only thing stopping you is you.
It’s absolutely incredible that I can be sitting here with over 3000 of my favourite pieces of music and can’t be arsed to put two thoughts together. What’s the deal? Well, I’m distracted. Distracted by real life, by loved ones who are more important than words, and by sheer exhaustion.
Take a break? I am on a break! See above note about backlog and try to keep up!
Writing is one of my great joys. Music is another. Combine the two together and I have the most enjoyable, rewarding creative endeavour. It’s work, but it doesn’t pay very well, so in reality it’s pleasure.
It’s a pain in the ass when my brain refuses to be inspired. That’s life. It could get worse before it gets better. Sometimes, the heart lies elsewhere. Family comes first, as it should. Life happens whether you like it or not.
I love putting an article or review together. The process of polishing and finishing one is actually even more enjoyable than the writing. Coming up with accompanying photos, replacing old tired words with better ones – it’s all fun and invigorating. Seeing the finished published product and reading the comments are all things that bring me great happiness.
Even though I currently “can’t find anything to listen to,” I have no intention of stopping. I’ve slowed down in the past – 2016 had fewer posts than 2017 – but this is far too much fun.
Fuck you, writer’s block. Writing about music isn’t a chore, it’s just the opposite. I won’t let you stop me.
Bon Jovi wrote “While My Guitar Lies Bleeding in My Arms” about writer’s block
We don’t need no preamble! If you have ever wanted to know how to write the most unique music reviews that this planet has ever seen, then you need to read on as we pick the mind of the one, the only, Mr. 1537himself. He is one talented music writer that deserves all the praise you can heap.
M:It is a pleasure to speak with you, Mr. 1537. I understand that anonymity is important to you. It would matter to me too, if I had any sense. How would you like us to address you in this interview?
1537:A simple ‘sir’ would normally suffice, but in order to seem a bit more user-friendly ( I gather the masses tend to like that) you can call me 15 strictly for the duration of this interview.
Actually I sort of ballsed up the whole anonymous thang by using my name as the blog domain; oops, back to spy school for me! I don’t do any social media at all beyond WordPress and I am basically a needlessly secretive dude. I admire folk who can bare their souls in their blogs but that’s not me at all, I let bits and pieces of my life seep through the cracks sometimes but not very much.
M:As opposed to me, who built a cottage industry on the minutia of working in a record store. Now…Lego. You’ve managed to incorporate Lego in your articles’ artwork, in a simple yet innovative and endlessly entertaining way. How long have you been a fan of Lego, and is that longer than you’ve been into music?
15: Well, the Lego came first, my daughter got the Lego DJ figure and on a whim I thought it would look good on the circle of the Flying Lotus LP Cosmogramma, then Sleep Dopesmoker and then I started to look at the possibilities of making relevant figures for relevant LPs. I had a Blogspot thang where I’d managed three reviews years before, but I gradually realised that if you gave people something to look at they might stop by and read my Mighty Rock Words of Power (MRWoP) too.
It took me a while to hit my stride and then when people actually started reading it … wow, it really is the best feeling.
Oh, Lego. Yup, I’ve always loved it, way before I was conscious of music – although I grew up in a very music-oriented household. I used to make elaborate Star Wars games and fantasies up through Lego, way before they had brought out space Lego. You used to have to improvise weapons in those days too, because Lego didn’t believe in promoting weapons as toys for kids.
M:That’s right, you used to have to use the “bullhorns” as guns, until Lego started introducing actual guns in 2005. You seem to have a Minifigure appropriate for every single album review you do, no matter how bizarre or obscure. Presently how many figures do you think you own?
15: I have a couple hundred Minifigures, which is not all of them by a long way, I’m not obsessive about collecting them and there are plenty of gaps in my collection. I love it when they produce a new line and one strikes me as perfect for an LP I haven’t done yet.
A lot of the fun is improvising and putting combos of different figures together. I’ve also drawn on a couple duplicates I have to make an Alice Cooper, a Scott Ian and a Ziggy Stardust; oh and I have also added cleavage to a figure or two along the way; that’s normal behaviour for a 44 year-old isn’t it?
M:I’m not one to judge. What drives your review? Do you start with the text or the visuals?
15: Always the text. I think wordaciously, not visually. I’m a slow writer because I edit it all as I go along, most reviews take me at least 3 hours, with another 40 minutes or so on top for the pictures. If you add in the demands of family life, a really demanding job, a little socialising and even, hey, listening to music sometimes, it all adds up to why I don’t produce as many as I’d like to. There are never any ‘in the can’, I tend to write them, hit publish and go straight to bed, as it’s usually 1am by then. I like waking up to everyone’s comments.
Q:Do you use any fancy-pancy camera or lighting equipment? The images are always very crisp and vibrant, much better than I’ve been getting with my BlackBerry in my home office.
15: Absolutely not. Everything I do is done on my iPhone (the model before the last one – 6 is it?), I’m not particularly good at it, I just take a lot of photos. Shiny, shiny covers are the bane of my life.
What I am pretty good at now, by trial and error, is editing the pictures, I use a Windows App called Fhotoroom and another called KVADPhoto. I have never ever published a picture I haven’t edited for contrast, colour, or cropped and altered etc. Some of my favourites have been very boring photos before I have messed them around.
M: I crop everything, but I wouldn’t know what to do as far as contrast or colour, so kudos to you sir. A two-part question next: What are your favourite reviews that you’ve done, both in terms of writing and in terms of photos?
15: In terms of the writing I rather like this comparison between Andrew Marvell, English metaphysical poet and a Rhino Bucket song about oral sex – it’s even got my voice on it:
I’m also rather fond of doing interviews, that’s been a whole lot of fun when the right person has been on the other side who is willing to engage properly with the silliness of it all. It’s also a nice way to get to chat to bands when you go see them live too. Spencer from MFC Chicken was my first and favourite:
M:Ahh yes, The Shining was a personal favourite of mine too. I find I often have to listen to an album while I write, and it can’t be the first listen either. I need a fresh listen in order to capture all my thoughts and pass them on to the weary readers. Your reviews are very different from mine, and frankly far beyond what I’m capable of writing. Do you use the “listen as you write” technique or something else?
15: I try to give it a good listen the night before, or on my way to/from work (an hour-long commute doesn’t have to be all bad) and I listen to bits of it as I write, or if I’m happy I know it enough – I might be writing about something I’ve been listening to in heavy rotation for 28 years (Christ, I’m old!), I have an ambient playlist I listen to when I write sometimes.
M:What else do you need to be able to write? I need to be in my underwear with a cold beverage. No bevvies and no skivvies means no review. I suspect you prefer warm slippers and oatmeal.
15: I need quiet, which is ironic given that most of my favourite music involves bellowing and shrieking. I write at a desktop (hate lap-tops) in the room that also has our biggest TV in and so there can be a certain amount of negotiation involved – it’s often why I write so late into the morning, it’s the only time I can.
Other than that my needs are simple, I prefer non-restrictive trouser ware and that’s it. You really write in your undies?
M:Hey, who’s conducting the interview here? I ask the questions! Is there any one band you really really hope reads your stuff?
15: Nah, although there is a fair chance of some artists tuning in because a lot of the LPs I bought in the late 80’s seem to have only sold one copy, to me – I always try to be pleasant because, you just should be. If I can’t write anything too complimentary I always add in my caveat along the lines of ‘These guys made a far better record than I ever have I’m just a loser boy sat behind a keyboard’.
Larry Miller from Uncle Sam stopping by was wonderful (I own an LP he signed and bit for me back in ’91) and we’re still in touch – I even helped get their debut LP re-released, that was a real buzz.
M: Do you have any particular influences in terms of writing? I’ve made no secret that in my early years, I was definitely trying to be Martin Popoff, Jr. Your style is unlike anyone I’ve read, but surely that didn’t happen in a vacuum?
15: I had to really think about this one. In terms of the character I write in, the tone of it, a lot of it comes from Stan Lee in those 1960’s Marvel comics – they knocked me for 6 when I first read my parent’s copies as a kid, the jokey references to himself and his fellow writers and artists in ‘the bullpen’; it was very playful and irreverent, that stuck with me.
You could maybe chuck in a bit of Harry Harrison and Douglas Adams, they were and are still, the only humorous writers I truly like and I do try to amuse.
Other than that there were all those fabulous late 80’s Kerrang! journalists, who were informative and, again, playful in the way they wrote – lots of irreverence and in-jokes, they painted their own little world and made it seem like the coolest place in the world to work. I met Phil Wilding at a gig once and was more excited about that than the band (Dangerous Toys).
Oh and I hope there’s enough self-deprecation in there to show I do write in character and I’m not really a megalomaniac with an omnipotence delusion.
M: Sure, sure. I knew that. Anyway, do you ever worry you will run out of things to say about music? Or do you see “1537” as a long-term project?
15: No, mostly because of the format I’ve set up for myself, my blog runs on rails to an extent – jokey title (usually), review of record(s), review count at the end, Lego images. I have enough of the little vinyl buggers that I don’t have to write about the same artist too often, which would fox me – the closest I ever came to a series, like you, Geoff and Aaron do so well, was spending a month writing about artists beginning with a ‘B’ – I found that really tough.
Anyway I’ve got 809 more records to review. Not sure where I’ll take it after that, because the whole point of the blog, apart from being an extended diary for myself, was to make sure I took time out to listen to everything I own properly – I have a horror of having stuff I haven’t heard, it makes me feel gluttonous and despicable.
M: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. The agent who set this up didn’t want me to ask this last question. But the interview is going well enough so I think I’m going to ask it. You’re a Lego man — this is clear. Meanwhile I’m into things that turn into little robots. With all due respect, I think we both know that robots > bricks, but that is neither here nor there. If you could transform into something, what would it be, and why?
I know the only reason you feel safe enough to ask me that is that I am currently orbiting earth at a crucial velocity on my space station, so I shall overlook your mortal impertinence this once. I always wanted to be a farmer when I was little and was totally obsessed with tractors, it was all I ever drew apart from digital watches (they were new then). So the obvious answer is a digital watch which transforms into a big kick-ass Ford County 1164 tractor (I always loved their colour scheme).
TRACTOR-TRON 1537 Lego/Transformers crossover set coming soon
Thanks again to 1537 for the chat. We’ll leave you with a suitable music video…”Rockin’ is Ma Business”…and business is good!
You like reading music reviews. You read them for information and entertainment. You can’t get enough music reviews!
But what formats do you like? Perhaps you enjoy a meaty, detailed review with all the nitty gritty details. Some get bored with length, and just want a quick n’ dirty summary. This is why we tried the #200wordchallenge, and why Aaron at KeepsMeAlive enjoys the old-fashioned 80 word “hit and run” style from time to time. And others, such as our friends at 1001AlbumsIn10Years, are skilled at metaphors, and have added innovative graphics and charts to album reviews.
All of these techniques are valid, and the more unique and individual reviews certainly deserve praise for breathing fresh life into an ages-old format. But what about a numeric ratings system?
Some kind of rating is pretty standard for music reviews. Rolling Stone magazine uses a five-star system. So does Allmusic and NME, but Spin magazine uses a 10 point system. These allow a reader to very quickly see if a writer thought an album was any good, without having to actually read anything!
Here at mikeladano.com, we use a loose 5 star system. This originated at Amazon, where products must always be rated from 1-5 stars. Most of our earliest reviews here began life at Amazon, before they were expanded and modified for your edification. Because of this, we imported and have continued with an Amazon-like 5 star system.
Even this is limiting, so we have allowed fractions – you will see many 3.5/5 star reviews here. This essentially makes it a 10 point system like Spin’s.
But it’s not an exact science and that’s where we get into trouble.
It’s fairly easy to listen to an album a few times and decide on a number rating that feels right. A 5/5 feels like a near-perfect listening experience. A 4.5/5 might have some perceived flaws. But when you get into seriously comparing and stacking albums up against each other, the differences can be felt. It’s also worth noting that a 5/5 star jazz album and a 5/5 star Kiss album are going to be wildly different from each other. It’s all in the ear of the beholder.
Taken individually, ratings usually hold up. When compared amongst a band’s entire discography, things get dicey. Our series of Iron Maiden reviews was one such example. They have so many great albums – amazing albums, in fact – that it is quite easy to lay down 5/5 stars to much of their discography. But this ignores minor different degrees of rock excellence. Iron Maiden’s Rock In Rio is excellent. It is a rollicking heavy metal journey exploring Maiden’s history up to 2001. But is it as good as Live After Death? No. Very few things are. Both could easily have received a 5/5 rating, but we chose to lower Rock In Rio to 4.5/5 stars to keep everything in perspective.
If you review 1000 albums on a scale out of 5, you could quickly build up enough fractional ratings to necessitate three decimal places. But that complicates things needlessly. Wasn’t the numerical rating system supposed to be a quick and easy way to say if it’s good or not? We have done 6/5 star reviews, reviews in negative numbers; we’ve done everything imaginable to try to keep ratings in scale. Ultimately it is simply not possible. Like finding an electron in a cloud, you just cannot pinpoint album ratings to that degree of precision.
A numerical rating can also paint you into a corner. There was some Facebook controversy recently over our assertion that Motley Crue’s self titled 1994 was one of the best albums of the 90’s, killing much of the competition. This led to challenges and comparisons with other albums of the period, all great records. How do you rate something “the best” over a bunch of other 5/5 star albums? And how do you know that you will still feel that something is “the best” when you think about it again next month? Putting a numerical rating on an album is like putting it into stone, and that can be limiting, especially when comparing.
We’ve been utilizing the 5 star system (with fractions) for close to five years now. We could stop, but at this point I don’t think it would help. For better or for worse, our bed is now made. And it’s 5/5 stars.
From August 29 to September 2, writers were challenged to write music reviews by the same length rules as old print magazines: 200 words. No more no less. One of us even took it upon himself to take the challenge further with the old “Hit & Run” review style — a hard 80 words! Thanks to rock journalist Mitch Lafon for the impetus for this adventure.
The end result was 30 posts by six writers! Speaking for myself, I enjoyed the experiment. Mitch was right: forcing yourself to adhere to a hard 200 words does sharpen your skills. In addition, the challenge succeeded in bringing Vinyl Connection out of retirement (for now?) so no matter how you slice it, the #200wordchallenge has brought some good to the world. Each writer who participated even contributed more than they originally estimated they would! Perhaps the #200wordchallenge injected a shot of inspiration.
Be sure to visit our friends below, and check out their work. Thanks to each of these talented folks, we had a fun week. And a big thanks again to Mitch Lafon, a rock star in his own right. Click below for the posts, and give them all a hand (or 200 hands)!
GETTING MORE TALE #513: The #200wordchallenge (hosted by mikeladano.com)
Writing is a process of continual improvement. This challenge started a couple weeks ago when I posted my epic Def Leppard review for Hysteria, at approximately 2400 words.
One benefit this writing journey has done for me is put me in contact with some great professionals. Rock journalist Mitch Lafon (from One on One with Mitch Lafon) is one such professional, always willing to offer advice and encouragement. Mitch has a decades-long history with writing, having done many reviews for the print medium before embarking on his current journey interviewing the stars.
“Anyone can fill a page,” he said, “but it’s much harder to come up with a sharp 200 word review.”
Back in his print days, they used to have to adhere to a strict 200 word limit: no more, no less. Not 199, not 202. Mitch encouraged me to try this exercise. “It hones the mind and sharpens the skills,” said Mitch. That’s all I needed to give it a try! “Pithy is king,” he says. Sharp, concise and expressive. (Mitch also told me about the old “Hit & Run” review format – a hard 80 words!)
A few of the budding writers here have taken up the #200wordchallenge, and you will see our work next week. I will post links to all of the #200wordchallenge reviews from the writers taking part. Would you like to participate? Are you up for it? Leave a comment below.
Interestingly, WordPress and Microsoft Word seem to count words differently. My first #200wordchallenge review came up to 194 words on WordPress, but 200 words in Microsoft. My manual count was closer to Microsoft’s, so that’s what I’m using for my word counts. You may use whatever method you like as long as you’re consistent. Title and score do not contribute to the word count.
There will always be a big place in my life for an epic-style review. I don’t think I could have done Hysteria any other way. (I mean, I could have, but I wouldn’t be happy with it.) What’s your attention span like? Can you make it past 200 words when reading a music review? Comment below and let us know your take.
You up for it?
Look for reviews from the #200wordchallenge from Aug 29 – Sept 2. This page will be updated with links.