blog

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 20 other subscribers

Steven R Leonard

TAINTED CONFESSIONS

9:46 pm
November 10, 2014

“I don’t have

Money on my mind

Money on my mind

I do it for
I do it for the love”
Sam Smith

BEGGING STRANGERS FOR ART MONEY

Technology has never been my BFF. I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, and for several years our low-income family shared a party line with another family for our home phone. When I wanted to call a friend, I picked up the phone and if I heard another conversation going on I was supposed to hang up immediately and try back later. However, most of the time I quietly listened to the conversation hoping to hear salacious details of an extra-marital affair, or some nefarious activity like a bookie threatening to club kneecaps and skulls with a Louisville Slugger if money wasn’t paid by the end of the week.

Most of the boring conversations I heard consisted of recipes for brownies (two sticks of butter is preferred), or exaggerated accounts of the church picnic when the local priest drank too many beers and had to be driven home by a conscientious parishioner. Not once was I shocked by a story so juicy that I felt compelled to repeat it to anyone else. We felt richer than the Rockefellers when we could finally afford own our own landline.

Take that Standard Oil!

In 1971 my father bought a used small air conditioning unit that he clumsily attached to a kitchen window. On hot summer days we’d splurge and leave it on when we went grocery shopping so when we returned home the cool breeze of the a.c. unit would welcome us home.

Our house feels like we stuck our head in the refrigerator!

Months later we heard a loud bang, crash, kaplong! – the entire contraption had fallen to the ground into several pieces and it hissed like an angry rattle snake preparing to strike.

Oh no, heaven is broken!

Technology has changed the world so much in my lifetime that now I can register on a website like Indigogo and ask strangers around the world for money to fund animated videos from humorous stories in my memoir The Easter Duckling That Couldn’t Swim. What’s next – jet packs for everyone? – oh, wait, I was promised that as a child. As a writer I’m amazed by the variety of tools online available with a single click of my mouse and a valid credit card number.

Indigogo is an established crowdfunding platform and a wonderful website for aspiring artists and do-gooders that want to contribute to various art projects around the world. My goal is to raise $29,990 to fund more animated videos for my book and website stevenrleonard.com. This is my virgin attempt to secure money for any endeavor I’ve been involved with – please be gentle and generous.

My talented animator, Joel Heaton, would crawl naked across the Gobi Desert if it meant he could spend the next several months locked in his office laboring over his drawings, narrating words from each chapter in my book. Trust me, the world is a better place with a fully clothed Joel subsisting on caffeine and adrenaline working to create art that entertains and amuses.

If you appreciate animation and the mind-numbing time that goes into each frame check out his work on my website and visit our interesting project on Indiegogo. There are several worthy enterprises in various stages of funding, and I encourage everyone to contribute to any project that moves them in a way that only art can. The world has changed dramatically since I was a child, but the power of giving never goes out of style.

Ciao belli lettori.

Steven R Leonard

TAINTED CONFESSIONS

3:22 am
November 3, 2014

“I got a bowling ball in my stomach. I got a desert in my mouth.” Tori Amos

STALKING TORI AMOS IN A ROUNDABOUT WAY

In September, 1994 I attended a Tori Amos concert in Boulder, Colorado. I owned her first two albums on cassette tape, so I was excited to watch her perform when she came to town. My friends mocked my interest in a female pianist/songwriter.

“Tori who?”

“Is she opening for Van Halen?”

“I didn’t know the blonde girl from Beverly Hills 90210 played in a band.”

“DON’T buy me a souvenir t-shirt!”

I went by myself and bought a scalped ticket in the parking lot. Once I found my seat, I looked around and was shocked by the one-sided demographics of her audience. Fifteen-year-old twin sisters whose mom gave them a ride to the show were next to me, and I didn’t see another guy in the entire section. I was surrounded by excitable estrogen.

I feel old and out of my element – where’s a hot dog stand when I need it?

Tori bounded onto the stage in bare feet to the tune of Son Of A Preacher Man (her father was a Methodist pastor), and the crowd squealed with delight.

“We love you Tori,” yelled nearly everyone but me.

I had never seen an artist resonate so passionately with their fans before, and I was stumped by the intensity of the connection.

Unbeknownst to me (pre-internet), she had been sexually assaulted and a couple of her songs spoke to that experience. Months earlier, she had placed the ceremonial first call to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) to champion that organization. When Tori whispered the intense lyrics to Me and a Gun the sniffles and tears in the building made me angry and sad.

During the emotional encore, the twins asked me if I was going to meet Tori after the show.

“Um, sure, I guess.”

“Then follow us.”

I obeyed their command and we hurried out of the auditorium and ran behind the building. There was a long line of fans queued up to meet Tori. Again, I was the only male in the area except for two beefy, no-neck security guys organizing the meet-and- greet session.

Every female in line held flowers, poems, or some item they wanted to give Tori or have her sign. I felt like the boorish dinner party guest who hadn’t bothered to bring a bottle of wine for the hostess. In my pockets were the keys to my battered Isuzu Rodeo, some sugar-free gum, and my wallet.

Maybe I should hand her my maxed out Visa card – she’d never use it, and I wouldn’t look so stupid.

The line moved slowly as Tori spent considerable time with each girl – hugging them and whispering in their ears.

Think, Steven, think!

As I stepped closer to Tori, her bodyguards eyed me cautiously. I knew what they were thinking: who is this out-of-place middle-aged guy doing in line? Is he a stalker?

I rehearsed different lines in my head to impress Tori, and to make her apes smile before they kneed me in the groin and called the cops.

Stay calm.

The twins handed the singer roses and the three of them hugged like old friends. I was next.

I looked Tori in the eyes, put out my hand to shake hers and stuttered like an embarrassed schoolboy in front of the principal. The bouncers inched closer, scowling at me with obvious disdain.

“I admire your artistic sensibilities and applaud your songs with my heart,” I said.

WTF are artistic sensibilities? I’m an idiot!

“Thank you very much – that’s so sweet. Are you a victim of sexual abuse?”

Is that what this line is for?

“Me? No, not that I know of. Bye – keep writing great songs!”

I turned and headed for the parking lot.

On the drive home I chided myself for such a pathetic and moronic greeting. I still admire the talented songwriter and the amount of time she spends with her adoring fans. I’ve seen her two other times in concert, but Tori Amos is the lucky one – I’ve never waited in line to meet her again.

Ciao belli lettori.

clothespins

TAINTED CONFESSIONS

4:11 pm
October 27, 2014

“Oh life is like a maze of doors and they all open from the side you’re on.” Cat Stevens

Writing mimics life. Some mornings it requires a marathoner’s stamina to choreograph one coherent thought onto a piece of paper. Other days you squeal with glee at the breakneck pace in which you complete a chapter you deemed ambulatory the week before.

I love this gig – maybe I have time to climb Mount Everest before happy hour.

Success is a close relative of mediocrity, and a twice-removed second cousin of abject failure. I’ve spent innumerable months completing the first of three humorous memoirs and while I accept “way to go!”s from friends and family, I understand I’ve barely started this murky trek with an unknown destination. Meanwhile, more talented writers who started their career years earlier grind out five quality pages a day on their forty-second novel.

I suck at this – tell me again why I thought this is who I am.

Writing anything – a heartfelt thank you note, to a description of the delicious salmon you grilled last night – takes dedication, practice, persistence, and most of all, a “I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of my work” attitude. I finished a book and 99.9 percent of the people in the Milky Way Galaxy can’t claim that on their resume. Creating compelling art is more difficult than splitting atoms in a high school laboratory on your lunch break.

I continue to write every single day and read at night until I fall asleep with the bedroom lamp on. I work hard at my craft and kid myself I’m improving. I high five the pizza delivery guy when I unearth the perfect adjective that forces a dreary sentence to shine. Sometimes I blame my lack of creative genes on my parents and rant about my weak DNA structure.

Maybe I can purchase a Stephen King cloning kit on the Chinese black market.

Nope – this is what I’ve chosen to do and there is no cutting in line or calling dibsies on an acclaimed agent. You can’t inherit or buy your way to success in the publishing world. Each author on the NY Times bestseller list earned it. By writing for thousands of hours, continually editing their work, and never quitting. Kudos to them and congratulations to every person who dedicates several hours a week to the notion that someday people will pay to read the results of those efforts.

Yes, life is a confusing maze, and it is on those frigid winter mornings, when you force yourself to get up at a blasphemous hour to improve a disjointed paragraph, that the journey is the most rewarding part. Few of us know where we are heading, but it’s up to us to write our way through another closed door.

Thanks for tuning in this week. Ciao belli lettori!

Steven R Leonard

TAINTED CONFESSIONS

1:41 pm
October 17, 2014

“Oh, I just don’t know where to begin.” Elvis Costello

“HELLO WORLD!”

*Steven adjusts tie, turns volume down, makes sure the emergency flotation device is properly inflated, and takes a deep breath*

“Hello world.”

Much better.

My name is Steven R. Leonard and I’m auditioning for your loyal and semi-iridescent attention (fingers crossed).

Thanks in advance for prying yourself away from TMZ’s blurry pics of Amanda Bynes donning a purple wig to spend a moment on my Ebola-free website.

I promise to amuse, irritate, confuse and enlighten you with each blog, and more importantly, throw sometimes-obscure pop song lyrics in your direction on a weekly basis.

I’m a Denver native who just completed the first of my three humorous memoirs, The Easter Duckling That Couldn’t Swim.

What did I learn during this macabre ordeal? Authors who churn out bestsellers every nine months or so deserve special recognition from every organism in the Milky Way Galaxy (specifically the pink fairy armadillos in central Argentina). I’ve discovered it must be easier to start an Internet company in North Korea than do this for a living.

Ring.

“Hello.”

“No, I have no idea how to adopt cute mammals from South America.”

Click.

Where was I?

Right, I was trying to convey the degree of difficulty this project was for me.

Writers (myself included) can be a whiny bunch, but the beauty about our profession is that we all practice it for a variety of reasons.

I told my story because I had to express myself – I didn’t necessarily choose the written word – it held my brain and soul hostage until I completed this book.

Ring.

Hmm, an unlisted number.

“Hello.”

“Hi, I’m from the law firm representing Mr. Costello, and I urge you to cease and desist using our client’s copyrighted lyrics!”

Are you kidding me?

“You’re cutting out – you must be stuck in the Lincoln Tunnel.”

Click.

I’d like to cease and desist your existence.

Anyways, I’m somewhat intimidated by the industry’s mandated social media spectrum (all I want to do is write – not post pictures of things I find amusing or ironic), and the all-important blog thingy – please bear with me as I adapt.

What the hell is a hootsuite? And when did Hooters build motels next to their restaurants?

I’m open to suggestions (I refuse to comment on Kim Kardashian’s booty), constructive criticisms, and restrained puking from my astute and knowing-all readers.

I hope you find the website entertaining and informative. I’m anxious to opine about topics as varied as David Foster Wallace’s brilliance, watermelons (only the seedless kind), the agonizing query process, and Donna Tartt’s yummy haircut.

Ring.

*Steven turns phone off, loosens his tie, and pours himself a glass of red wine*

Thanks for tuning in kids – support your local independent bookstore.

Ciao belli lettori!