ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem was written outside the prompt calls. Musician and band name are by Trevor Edwards. It also fills the "road trip" square on my 1-2-14 card for the [community profile] trope_bingo fest. It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. This poem belongs to the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Dr. Laser and the Nocturnal Emissions"


Hugh Buchanan taught particle physics
at Bouchet College in Bluehill, but
his real love lay in gizmology and zetetics.
He took strange devices captured
from the labs of mad scientists
and retro-engineered them
for mass-market production.

So far his favorite invention
was a flash badge made of
dexflan embroidered with capery
that ignored its wearer's superpower
but would light up if anyone else
used superpowers nearby,
more sensitive than the old ones
with simple on/off displays.

Hugh got excited when he received
a rifle that fired laser beams.
If he could duplicate this,
it would have wonderful applications
in search-and-rescue and forestry.

Then a disgruntled colleague
sabotaged his experiment,
and it blew up in Hugh's face.

Hugh was left with wounds
all over his front, especially
on his face and his hands,
which healed into livid scars
that stood out against his pale skin.

It took a lot of rehab
to stretch the thickened tissue
so that he could move normally again.
He felt self-conscious about the scars,
but there was therapy for that too.

To regain his dexterity,
Hugh picked up the guitar that
he'd hardly touched since high school.

Then life sprang another surprise on him.

It turned out that the rifle was not
a gizmo after all, but a super-gizmo,
which could not be retro-engineered
and which put a superpower
into a mechanical object.

Hugh developed laser eyes
that emitted beams of coherent light
in red, green, or blue.

At first they were no stronger
than a common laser pointer,
but they strengthened slowly,
so that he invented
a gizmotronic visor
to keep the beams contained.

That was when someone
at the hospital asked him
if he could design a visor
to protect light-sensitive eyes.

There was a girl, a good five years
younger than Hugh's thirty --
he'd seen her in rehab --
who always seemed to do better
after dark than during daylight hours.

"She's biologically nocturnal,"
the doctor explained.
"Just being awake by day
is hard on her, and direct sunlight
or other bright light makes it worse."

"Isn't she a supervillain?" Hugh asked.
"I heard that she got hurt in a fight."

"She was a supervillain," the doctor said.
"She's getting out of the life now, thanks to
the Olivians. Will you help her?"

"I'm a particle physicist, not a doctor,"
Hugh pointed out.

"You're a gizmologist too,
and that's what she needs."

Well, he couldn't argue with that.

So Hugh met with the girl,
whose name was Jeanne Waller,
"But call me Nightshade," she said,
and he could see why.

It wasn't just her midnight hair
or dark chocolate skin.
It was the way she played
with shadows, weaving them
between her fingers like black thread.

Hugh adjusted his visor
and showed her a few tricks
with his laser eyes.
He'd done enough science shows
to know how to play with lasers.

"So that's why they call you Dr. Laser!"
she exclaimed.

Hugh rolled his super-powered eyes.
"I think sounds silly," he said.
"It's not like I'm in a band."

"You play guitar, though," she said.
"I've heard you practicing."

"Rehab," Hugh said.

"I play electric violin,"
Nightshade offered.

Hugh felt like a jerk,
because here she was
trying to make something
better of her life than it had been,
and he wasn't being very friendly.

"There's a thing on the signup board,"
he said with a sigh. "Some therapists
are putting together a talent show,
trying to convince people to take up
hobbies and socialize and stuff."

"Nobody wants to talk to me,"
Nightshade said. "Can't blame them.
My own parents dumped me
when this grew in."
Shadows furled around her hands.
"They didn't want a soup in the family."

Hugh certainly could blame people
for ostracizing her, especially
if that played into her path
to the life of a supervillain.

"Sign up with me," he said.
"We can do a song together.
I know a lot of classic rock;
there must be something
we'd both know how to play."

Nightshade shook her head.
"My lessons were classical,"
she said, "although I listen
mostly to jazz and blues."

"Two songs, then," Hugh said.
"You learn one of mine,
and I'll learn one of yours.
What's your favorite classical song?"

"I like nocturnes," she admitted,
which wasn't at all the kind of thing
Hugh would have guessed. "How about
"Chopin's Nocturne for Violin and Piano?"

"I can play the piano part of that,"
Hugh said. "It's not too hard
to transpose piano music for guitar."

"Okay," said Nightshade.
She hesitated, then added,
"I can sing too."

"Do you know the song
'It's the End of the World as We Know It'
by R.E.M.?" he asked.

She laughed and nodded,
then turned serious again.
"Was it like that for you too,
when your superpower came in?
The end of the world?"

"In a way, yes," Hugh said.
"I don't think I can go back to gizmology
and zetetics and teaching, not like this.
I can forget about getting tenure,
and I'm having second thoughts
about retro-engineering anyway."

"But you'll still make the visor
to protect my eyes, right?"
she said, her voice turning anxious.

"Of course, I promised,"
he assured her.

It took a while to design something
that dimmed the light and looked decent
and was comfortable for her to wear,
but in the end they were both satisfied.

They met for practice,
and discovered that they sounded
quite good together, despite the fact
that music wasn't a primary skill
for either of them.
It was coming back just fine.

At the talent show, they performed
the two songs they had practiced,
and the audience applauded
with enthusiasm.

Afterward people mingled,
everyone calling him Dr. Laser,
so that Hugh gave up trying
to convince them to quit it.

Then someone joked that
they should start a band,
wondering what it should be called.

"Dr. Laser and the Nocturnal Emissions,"
Nightshade drawled, and the room
roared with laughter.

Dr. Laser noted the strength
of that response for future reference.

They kept practicing together
because they enjoyed it,
and frankly Dr. Laser liked
being able to relax around someone
who wasn't nervous about his superpower.

It was Nightshade who suggested
incorporating their powers into a performance.
"I mean, why not? You said that
you've done laser shows for science fairs
and things like that. This would be cooler,
especially with your lights and my shadows ...
assuming you're not too chicken to try it."

He was too chicken, in fact,
but she kept at him until he relented,
and then it was a lot of fun.

People enjoyed listening to them,
even if they were just practicing
or idly jamming together.

The therapists asked them
to put on a little performance
to show how musical instruments
could help with recovery.

By then they had a modest repertoire
of classic rock and jazz.
Nightshade sang first
the haunting "Strange Fruit,"
then the sweeter "Moonshadow."

Dr. Laser sang "Imagine" and
"Blinded by the Light"
(the Springsteen original,
not the later, better-known cover).
Laser beams and shadows
danced in time to the music.

After the performance,
the Rescuer came up to them.
Dr. Laser recognized him
from his volunteer hours
at the hospital, not a superhero
but an ordinary man who
did some of the same work.

"Listen, I know this kid,
his name is Bryan Callahan
but he goes by Soundwave,"
said the Rescuer. "I want you
to take him for your soup band."

"There is no band,"
Dr. Laser said.
"We're just fooling around."

"There could be a band.
You sound great together,"
the Rescuer insisted.
"Soundwave is a good kid,
he just gets into mischief
when he's not working,
and he's a mover so there are
peaks and lulls in demand."

"What's his superpower?"
Nightshade asked.

"He can control sound,"
the Rescuer said.

"What instrument does he play?"
Dr. Laser asked, curious
in spite of himself.

"He's a drummer,"
the Rescuer said,
"and he composes too."

"We could do our own music,
instead of just covers,"
Nightshade said, turning to
Dr. Laser with a hopeful look.

Soundwave was a sturdy teenager
with a mop of auburn curls
and densely freckled skin.
He was eager to tell the story
of how he'd gained his powers,
pushing up his right sleeve
to reveal the silver tattoo
of staff music wrapping his bicep.

"I got drunk with some friends,
and we all wanted this flashy new ink,"
he said. "Everyone else had
these horrible reactions to it, but
I wound up with sonic powers instead."

"Let's hear what you can do,"
Dr. Laser invited.

The kid was good, a little raw yet,
but clever on the fills and
capable of keeping a steady beat.
His superpower let him
modulate the sound
in fascinating ways.

A month later, they had
their first original song,
a whimsical little number
called "Soup and Salad."

They premiered it at the open mike
in a local coffee house,
Jack & the Beanstalk.

The crowd clapped politely
and nobody threw anything
even though they were all soups
and people weren't always
very nice about that.
Dr. Laser counted it a success.

"I like your band,"
the Rescuer said afterwards.

"There is no band," Dr. Laser insisted.
"It's a fun hobby, but in order
to be a band we'd need a bassist.
I'm our only guitar player --
Nightshade won't touch one --
so unless you have another musician
up your sleeve, this is as far as it goes."

"Funny you should say that,"
the Rescuer said with a smile.
"I know someone who's looking
to retire from counseling because
his empathic power is getting too strong.
He happens to play bass guitar."

That was how they met Santeri Hale,
also known as Heartthrob,
who was twenty-four and a bit pudgy.
He was also left-handed, which meant
that he and Dr. Laser could stand
shoulder-to-shoulder with the necks
of their guitars pointing opposite ways.

"I heard you're forming a band,"
he said, and Dr. Laser nodded.
They started with cover songs,
then added the original ones,
and Heartthrob followed along fine.

There was something relaxing about him
that made Nightshade and Soundwave
settle down beautifully, and Dr. Laser
wanted as much as he could get of that.

Heartthrob's bass work was steady
and compelling, his power just
a subtle hint that rode with the music.

They went on the road, then,
piled into the back of a van.
It was convenient having a member
with experience as a mover;
Soundwave taught them all
how to serve as their own roadies.

At first they played open mikes
and street fairs and other places
where they could put out a tip jar.

Their sound evolved into a fusion
of rock and jazz, with a bit of classical
and a techno edge from their powers.
The electric violin added a unique flair.

They developed a message of self-acceptance
and making the best of what life brings you.
They sang protest songs against problems
and softer ones for comfort, customarily
ending each set with a nocturne.

Dr. Laser and the Nocturnal Emissions
began to get paying gigs -- science shows,
schools that wanted a message of tolerance,
weddings for soups or queer people
or handicapped couples who had trouble
booking an ordinary band.

They started dressing for the stage
in uniforms of black dexflan
instead of street clothes,
the designs gradually evolving
as each member developed
their own unique style.

In Urbanburg they played at The Thrash Can,
a back-alley theatre in a neighborhood
known as Bitty Bohemia.

Not long after that, a music demo arrived
from someone who had seen them
performing at the theatre.

The keyboardist was short and skinny,
all wild dreadlocks and blue-black skin,
moving with exuberant energy.
Denzel Ray, read the name on the envelope,
but the tape said Jolt with a little drawing
of a lightning bolt beside it.

"We could use a keyboard player,"
Soundwave said. "Just imagine
what he and I could do together."
Soundwave had attached
a Roland SPD-30 Octapad
to his acoustic drum kit, but so far
that was all they had for electronic effects.

"We haven't got a horn player for jazz
or a rhythm guitarist for rock,"
Nightshade pointed out.
"A good keyboardist can cover those."

So they invited Jolt for an audition,
and he felt like a comfortable fit,
lifting the energy of the whole group.
His superpower was controlling electricity.

"It's not much," he said. "I can't throw
lightning bolts like some of the guys at the
Super Power Organizational & Operational Nexus
but I can run a few musical instruments
even if the power goes out."

"How did you get it?"
Nightshade asked.

"My baby sister stuck a screwdriver
in a light socket and almost died,"
Jolt said. "I pulled her loose,
burned my hands some, but
the paramedics said I saved her life.
Then I found out I could do this."
Blue sparks arced between his fingertips.

Jolt added a lot more versatility
to the band's sound, especially
when his big happy family decided
that his over-the-shoulder keyboard
wasn't enough and bought him
a bunch of additional gear.

They added more original music including
Nightshade's nocturne "Dreampillow" and
Jolt's jazzy number "Blue Juice."

The keyboardist grumbled that
he would have preferred playing
the more complex Manfred Mann
version of "Blinded by the Light."
"Nobody but you even likes
the Springsteen one," Jolt said.

Dr. Laser just shrugged and said,
"The lyrics come through clearer.
Besides, it's a song about light
and wouldn't make sense for both
me and Nightshade to sing.
We'll find other songs for you
to showcase your skills."

Their road trips ranged farther afield,
playing Easy City in the south
and Onion City in the north.

They chased the setting sun
across the great plains
and over the mountains,
finally winding up in Westbord,
the vast metroplex along the coast.

In one of the coastal gigs,
their cantankerous fog machine
died halfway through a set ...
but the fog didn't fade away
and the laser beams remained
perfectly visible in the haze.

"I think we had a little help
from someone backstage
or out in the audience,"
Heartthrob said afterwards.

He was good at making friends,
Dr. Laser was good at networking,
and Soundwave had couchsurfing skills.
It took them a while, but finally
they worked through the local soups
until they found Misty Morn.

Melissa Birke had been a secretary
until she got lost on a camping trip
and returned four days later
with no memory of what happened
but with a new ability to control fog.

"After that, people got weird at work,"
she explained, "so I gave up and quit.
I do some odd jobs at the concert halls,
but that's all I've found so far.
Hard to believe I'm twenty-two and
scuffling again without a day job."

"Sometimes you gotta quit your day job
to get where you're really going,"
Heartthrob pointed out.

Misty laughed and said,
"I should set that to music."

"You play too?" Dr. Laser asked.

"A bit of rhythm guitar, not lead,"
the blonde said with a blush.
"Mostly I write song lyrics
that nobody wants to sing."

Playing for themselves,
the band had no set schedule,
so they hung around that part
of Westbord for a while.

Soon Misty brought them the lyrics for
"Sometimes You Gotta Quit Your Day Job,"
which laid out how the arrival of superpowers
had affected each of the band members.

They loved it, and they invited her
to join them on the road.
She accepted.

By now they had uniforms tailored
to each member's own design:

Dr. Laser dressed in black with
lines of multicolored rhinestones
trailing toward the hems;
Nightshade in pure black, down to
the scatter of rhinestones;
Soundwave in black with wavy
horizontal lines of white rhinestones.

Heartthrob sported black with a
red rhinestone heart on the chest;
Misty Morn black at the center but
fading to gray on the sleeves and legs,
then white at the cuffs, all sprinkled
with white rhinestones.

They got an interview in Soupçon,
a Parisian magazine that started out
following the exploits of Savoir Faire
and later expanded to feature other soups.

Dr. Laser and the Nocturnal Emissions
weren't the first superpowered musicians,
but they were the first band composed
entirely of members known to have superpowers.

The journalist also explored
their choice of instruments and how
it reflected the unique nature of the band.
Every one of them had chosen something
a little outside the ordinary --

Dr. Laser's Dean MAB1 Speed of Light electric guitar
had a rainbow-colored custom graphic;
Nightshade's black Bridge Lyra violin
and Heartthrob's left-handed red burst
Schecter Hellraiser Extreme-5 electric bass
both had five strings instead of the usual four;
Soundwave's gray metal PDP Double Drive
acoustic drum kit had extra drums.

Jolt had started with a black sparkle
Roland Ax Synth Shoulder Synthesizer
for jamming with the guitarists, then added
a Hammond SK2 Organ with a Leslie speaker
and a Roland Jupiter-50 Synthesizer on stands
with a Dynamic MIDI Pedal on the floor.

Misty Morn had acquired a silver sparkle
Gretsch G5566 Jet double neck electric guitar
that played standard and baritone.
With lead vocalists in such different ranges,
it allowed her to switch quickly and easily
even at her low skill level for handling chords.

"We're different," Nightshade said with a shrug.
"There's no point trying to pretend that
we're normal when we're not. Of course
we all gravitated to unusual instruments!"

Dr. Laser and the Nocturnal Emissions
became something of a fork magnet,
attracting bigots who hated all soups
regardless of their behavior.

The band got picketed more than once,
and some radio stations refused
to air any of their music,
but they didn't let that stop them.

SPOON hinted that it might be easier
to avoid the forks and other discrimination
if they worked in something less public
than entertainment, but honestly,
crimefighting wasn't any quieter
and none of them wanted to do that.

"We want to do our thing,"
Jolt explained in another interview,
"not somebody else's thing.
We want to show that it's okay
to use your superpowers
in all walks of life."

Misty put words to "Soup or Salad,"
then wrote a showpiece for Dr. Laser
called "Light the Way" and followed that
with the more communal "Change It Up."

They weren't a big-name band,
but they were becoming
something of a cult hit among soups
and other people who felt like outcasts.

They weren't the best at technical skill,
but they made up for it with passion
and a message that spoke to people.

That was enough, they agreed,
to set the stone rolling.

* * *

Notes:

Dr. Laser (Hugh Buchanan) -- He has straight black hair, black eyes, and pale skin. He's letting his hair grow now; so far it has reached his shoulders. He is tall and slim, with long elegant fingers. Due to the scars from the accident, he feels self-conscious about his appearance and typically dresses to cover as much skin as possible, also drawing attention away from his face except when he uses his Laser Eyes. He is currently in therapy trying to overcome that sensitivity, because he doesn't want it to undermine his entertainment career. His hometown is Bluehill and he is thirty years old.
He serves as the lead guitarist and male vocalist in Dr. Laser and the Nocturnal Emissions. He plays a Dean MAB1 Speed of Light electric guitar. He provides the leadership and vision. The band is becoming a cult favorite with soups of all kinds, given their message of self-acceptance and making the best of what life brings you. They also perform at schools where people want to send a message of tolerance, some science shows, and they've even done a few weddings for soups, handicapped people, or same-sex couples. They promote the idea that everyone has a right to be themselves, even if it's not what people expect of you -- just because you have superpowers doesn't mean you have to fight crime. Or cause it.
Their style is fusion: mostly soft rock, some jazz and techno, a little classical in the form of nocturnes. The electric violin and the super-powered special effects give them a unique sound. Although not the first super musicians, they are the first band in which all members are known to be soups. Popular songs include "Change It Up," "Soup and Salad," "Let's Make Lemonade," "Dreampillow" (nocturne instrumental), "Blue Juice" (jazz instrumental), "Light the Way," "Make Some Noise," "Shadowplay," "Little Cat Feet," "Bleeding Hearts," and "Sometimes You Gotta Quit Your Day Job." They started out doing covers including "The End of the World."
Origin: He used to work in retroengineering, and was attempting to build a new kind of laser inspired by a super-gadget. A jealous colleague sabotaged the testing, an experiment blew up in his face, and he wound up with laser eyes. The accident left him with a lot of scars, worst on his face and hands but also much of his front. During rehab, he resumed his old practice of guitar as a way to regain dexterity. Then he started experimenting with using his new power as a laser show. He decided to retire from physics and become a professional musician.
Uniform: Matte black dexflan jumpsuit studded with multicolored rhinestones making straight trails toward the ends of the sleeves and pants where they become solid bands, with white leather boots also set with rhinestones. He wears a visor of dark crystal to control his Laser Eyes. His swag t-shirt is black with multicolor glitter streaks.
Qualities: Master (+6) Particle Physicist, Expert (+4) Gizmology & Zetetics, Expert (+4) Intelligence, Expert (+4) Musician, Good (+2) Adaptable, Good (+2) Networking, Good (+2) Stamina, Good (+2) Tai Chi
Poor (-2) Disfiguring Scars
Powers: Average (0) Laser Eyes
Limitation: Laser Eyes require a gizmotronic visor to control. They aren't strong enough to do much, but they make a terrific light show.
Poor (-2) Minions: The five Nocturnal Emissions are Dr. Laser's band. Each has one Average (0) superpower and Good (+2) Musician plus other Qualities.
Vulnerability: Fork Magnet. The entire band consists of soups and they are becoming well known, although not really "big name" performers yet. This attracts negative attention from people who hate soups. Their shows have been picketed more than once, and individual members have been harassed.
Motivation: Reach people through entertainment, education, and enlightenment.

Nightshade (Jeanne Waller) -- She is tall and willowy. She has straight black hair, brown eyes, and dark chocolate skin. Her hometown is Eastbord but she has been all over, most recently Bluehill; she is twenty-five years old. She serves as the female vocalist for Dr. Laser and the Nocturnal Emissions, and also plays electric violin. She has a black Bridge Lyra 5-string violin.
Origin: Her parents abandoned her when her powers manifested at puberty. She spent a few years in foster homes, then ran away. A former supervillain, she was injured in a fight. A charity called Mount of Olives helped her change paths. She met Dr. Laser in rehab when he was asked to make a visor to protect her light-sensitive eyes.
Uniform: Pure black dexflan, even the sprinkle of rhinestones. Her swag t-shirt is black with black glitter dots.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Fast, Expert (+4) Hand-to-Hand Combat, Good (+2) Musician, Good (+2) Snarky, Good (+2) Streetwise, Good (+2) Thief
Poor (-2) The Show Must Go On! Even if someone has the flu. Even if there's an ice storm outside and three people inside for an audience. Even if there's a bomb threat ...
Powers: Average (0) Shadow Powers
Vulnerability: Biologically nocturnal, Nightshade suffers a Downshift if forced to be awake during daylight hours, and two if she goes out in daylight. Very bright light indoors, such as spotlights, causes one Downshift. Her visor gives her one Upshift to buffer the light-based effects (but not the daytime waking).
Vulnerability: Fork Magnet. The entire band consists of soups and they are becoming well known, although not really "big name" performers yet. This attracts negative attention from people who hate soups. Their shows have been picketed more than once, and individual members have been harassed.
Motivation: To make something better of herself.

Misty Morn (Melissa Birke) -- She is short and curvy. She has short blonde hair, gray eyes, and fair skin. Her hometown is Westbord and she is twenty-two years old. She serves as the rhythm guitarist and lyricist for Dr. Laser and the Nocturnal Emissions. She plays a silver sparkle Gretsch G5566 Jet double neck electric guitar. Because the lead vocalists have such different ranges, this allows her to switch quickly without having to change instruments, and is easier to do at a lower skill level for handling chords.
Origin: She got lost during a company camping trip, emerging from the sequoia forest four days later with no memory of what happened to her and with a new superpower. She joined the band when they played in her city.
Uniform: Her dexflan uniform is black at the center, fading to gray along the sleeves and legs, then white at the hems, with randomly scattered white rhinestones and white boots. Her swag t-shirt is black to white fade with white glitter dots.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Secretary, Good (+2) Enigmatic, Good (+2) Instincts, Good (+2) Limber, Good (+2) Musician
Poor (-2) The Show Must Go On! Even if someone has the flu. Even if there's an ice storm outside and three people inside for an audience. Even if there's a bomb threat ...
Powers: Average (0) Fog Powers
Vulnerability: Fork Magnet. The entire band consists of soups and they are becoming well known, although not really "big name" performers yet. This attracts negative attention from people who hate soups. Their shows have been picketed more than once, and individual members have been harassed.
Motivation: Soften the harsh edges.

Heartthrob (Santeri Hale) -- He is average height and a bit pudgy, also left-handed. He has sandy brown hair, hazel eyes, and pinkish-fair skin. His hometown is Ruston and he is twenty-four years old. He serves as the bass player for Dr. Laser and the Nocturnal Emissions. He plays a red burst Schecter Hellraiser Extreme-5 electric bass designed for left-handed use. He is the foundation of the band, holding everything together and keeping people comfortable with each other.
Origin: Always sensitive, his empathy recently reached super level and made his former counseling job untenable. The Rescuer recommended Heartthrob for the band.
Uniform: All black dexflan with a red rhinestone heart on the left chest, with black boots. His swag t-shirt is black with a red glitter heart on the left chest.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Counselor, Good (+2) Cook, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Mellow, Good (+2) Musician
Poor (-2) The Show Must Go On! Even if someone has the flu. Even if there's an ice storm outside and three people inside for an audience. Even if there's a bomb threat ...
Powers: Average (0) Empathy
Vulnerability: Fork Magnet. The entire band consists of soups and they are becoming well known, although not really "big name" performers yet. This attracts negative attention from people who hate soups. Their shows have been picketed more than once, and individual members have been harassed.
Motivation: To help people.

Soundwave (Bryan Callahan) -- He has curly auburn hair, blue eyes, and heavily freckled skin. He is average height and weight. His hometown is Bluehill and he is eighteen years old. He enjoys listening to thrash metal as well as softer rock. He is the drummer and composer for Dr. Laser and the Nocturnal Emissions. He plays a gray metal PDP Double Drive 8-Piece acoustic drum kit plus a Roland SPD-30 Octapad.
Origin: While drunk, he and some friends got musical tattoos with a flashy new silver ink. Everyone else had horrible skin reactions, but he got superpowers instead. The Rescuer asked Dr. Laser to take Soundwave.
Uniform: All black dexflan with horizontal wavy lines of white rhinestones, and black boots. His swag t-shirt is black with white glitter waves.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Mover, Good (+2) Couchsurfing, Good (+2) Go with the Flow, Good (+2) Musician, Good (+2) Strong
Poor (-2) The Show Must Go On! Even if someone has the flu. Even if there's an ice storm outside and three people inside for an audience. Even if there's a bomb threat ...
Powers: Average (0) Sonic Powers
Vulnerability: Fork Magnet. The entire band consists of soups and they are becoming well known, although not really "big name" performers yet. This attracts negative attention from people who hate soups. Their shows have been picketed more than once, and individual members have been harassed.
Motivation: To be heard and understood.

Jolt (Denzel Ray) -- He is African-American with nappy black hair in long dreadlocks, brown eyes, and black skin. He is short and skinny. His hometown is Littleton and he is nineteen years old. He plays keyboards for Dr. Laser and the Nocturnal Emissions. On his feet, he uses a black sparkle Roland Ax Synth Shoulder Synthesizer to jam with the guitarists. Seated, he plays a Hammond SK2 Organ through a Leslie speaker and a Roland Jupiter-50 Synthesizer on stands with a Roland Dynamic MIDI Pedal on the floor.
Origin: When his baby sister stuck a screwdriver into an electrical outlet, he saved her life at the cost of some burns and wound up with superpowers. Jolt sent a sample tape to Dr. Laser, earned an audition, and joined the band.
Uniform: All black dexflan with blue lightning bolts on the shoulders, and black boots. His swag t-shirt is black with blue glitter lightning bolts on the shoulders.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Appliance Repairman, Good (+2) Big Happy Family, Good (+2) Energetic, Good (+2) Musician, Good (+2) Tough
Poor (-2) The Show Must Go On! Even if someone has the flu. Even if there's an ice storm outside and three people inside for an audience. Even if there's a bomb threat ...
Powers: Average (0) Electrical Powers
Vulnerability: Fork Magnet. The entire band consists of soups and they are becoming well known, although not really "big name" performers yet. This attracts negative attention from people who hate soups. Their shows have been picketed more than once, and individual members have been harassed.
Motivation: Make the most of it.

* * *

Black people in physics include Edward Alexander Bouchet, the first black Ph.D. in science (physics, Yale University, 1876).

Bluehill is a small city about two hours away from Urbanburg. It has a manufacturing base and a small college known for flaky research and occasional breakthroughs. Although predominantly white, there is a sizable African-American population and some Hispanic along with a sprinkling of others. Bluehill is rougher than Urbanburg but still maintains a lively folk culture with such things as music, quilting, and street fairs. Bluehill is particularly known for its homebrewing, not just of beer and other alcohol, but also of soft drinks. Azure Cap is a regionally popular bottler similar to Jones Soda, using clear glass bottles with a distinctive blue cap; their logo has a blue baseball hat. Jack & the Beanstalk is a local coffeehouse that hosts an open mike night. The Rescuer also lives in Bluehill. Nearby is Ruston, a smaller town.

Zetetic -- as an adjective, it means "proceeding by inquiry and investigation." As a noun, zetetist means "inquirer" and zetetics means "an inquiry" or the field itself. In Terramagne, this is the field of study which analyzes (or attempts to analyze) gizmos and super-gizmos. It is distinct from gizmology and super-gizmology in that it does not aim to create new devices, but rather to understand and perhaps duplicate existing ones. Zetetic consultants are essential for police, who sometimes gather evidence from labs active in gizmology or super-gizmology.

Ray guns and laser guns are more feasible in Terramagne, although the safety varies.

Scars have different types. Burn scars are particularly prone to causing social issues.

So far, Dr. Laser has Laser Eyes up to the equivalent of Class 3R.

Nocturnal creatures typically have eyes adapted for darkness, so they can be vulnerable to light pollution. There is a trope of dark creatures being weakened by light also.

Mount of Olives is a charity that helps people stop being supervillains, inspired by John 8 where Jesus saved the adulterous woman. The Olivians customarily pair a lawyer with a counselor to provide legal, social, and spiritual support for people in changing their paths.

Laser shows require safety training. Here are some basic parameters for laser safety.

Socializing is important for people, but is harder after trauma. There are tips for socializing more.

Abandonment is a serious problem. Youth abandonment and homelessness has many causes. In Terramagne, soups are overrepresented in the homeless population, .04% instead of .01%. About 25% of soups are rejected by their familes. Around 40% of soups have been physically abused; 24% were either sexually abused or fled a credible threat of it. More than 43% had at least one parent with a substance abuse problem. At least 85% of soups have or previously had addiction issues. Some families are just plain dysfunctional, and the only option is to deal with the rejection.

Dr. Laser plays electric guitar, a Dean Michael Angelo Batio Speed of Light. Learn how to play rock guitar.

Nightshade plays electric violin, a black Bridge Lyra 5-string, useful in multiple genres. Learn how to play electric violin, rock violin, and jazz violin. Electric and jazz violins have a deep history, including the famous Jean-Luc Ponty.

Nocturnes are night music. Listen to "Chopin Nocturne for Violin."
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xc9cpa_chopin-nocturne-for-violin_music

"It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)" by R.E.M. is one of the covers that Dr. Laser and Nightshade perform together.

Notes on piano are the same on guitar, and my be transcribed into guitar tab. Follow the steps to write it out; a transposing chart can help.

"Strange Fruit" by Billie Holliday and "Moonshadow" by Cat Stevens are two of Nightshade's cover songs.  Read the story behind "Strange Fruit."

"Imagine" by John Lennon and and "Blinded by the Light" written by Bruce Springsteen, performance by Manfred Mann's Earth Band, are two of Dr. Laser's covers.

A music ensemble consists of several people performing together. Learn how to assemble a band crew and form a band. Pay careful attention to leadership.


Jazz-rock has a history in fusion music.
http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/007297642x/student_view0/chapter13/
http://www.liraproductions.com/jazzrock/htdocs/histhome.htm

Tattoos can cause bad skin reactions due to toxic ink ingredients, especially in some types of ink such as ultraviolet or silver. Flashy new inks often cause fads, followed by a wave of problems. In Terramagne, all kinds of unexpected things can turn out to be metagenic; mysterious chemicals are a leading origin of superpowers.

Soundwave is a drummer. He plays a gray metal PDP Double Drive 8-Piece Shell Pack, with a Roland SPD-30 Octapad. Learn how to play drums.

Heartthrob plays bass guitar, a Schecter Guitar Research Hellraiser Extreme-5 Left-Handed electric bass guitar in Chrimson Red Burst Satin. You can teach yourself to play bass and think like a bass guitarist.

Fusion music combines two or more genres. Jazz fusion is a famous example.

Thrash music lent its name to the Thrash Can venue.

Jolt plays electric keyboard, including keytar. He has a black sparkle Roland Ax Synth Shoulder Synthesizer, a Hammond SK2 Organ with a black Hammond Leslie Studio 12 Organ/Guitar Rotary Speaker, a Roland Jupiter-50 Performance Synthesizer, a Roland Dynamic MIDI pedal. Understand how to choose a keyboard and how to play rock keyboard. It's also possible to simulate a brass section or mimic the style of rock guitar on a keyboard.

Electrical accidents can do gruesome thing to human bodies. In Terramagne, a large surge of power through the body can change someone from latent to soup. Follow electrical safety precautions to avoid this.

Easy City is a metroplex which wraps around Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana and extends into Mississippi: New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Slidell, Picayune, and Pearlington. The Mississippi River has been shunted to drain into Lake Ponchartrain, which makes it easier to manage. Development hugs the high lines, with homes and businesses built on ridges or hills as much as possible. Lower areas are less developed or even returned to marsh. Neighborhood diversity is high, and parts of the metroplex look very different from each other, bringing back the local color of New Orleans' neighborhoods and adding new ones.

Onion City spans the "third coast" around Lake Michigan through Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, Kenosha, Waukegan, Evanston, Elgin, Chicago, Aurora, Naperville, Joliet, Hammond, East Chicago, and Gary.

Fog machines use one of several methods to create a smoky haze. Each has its own disadvantages, and they are all notoriously unreliable, although awesome when they actually work.

Misty Morn plays rhythm guitar, a silver sparkle Gretsch Guitars G5566 Jet Double Neck electric guitar. Learn how to play rhythm guitar and understand the basics.

Fork -- a bigot prejudiced against people with superpowers, usually not distinguishing between superheroes, supervillains, blue plates who use their powers in more ordinary professions, or crickets who hide their powers. They often hate supernaries too, on the premise of guilt-by-association. They use multiple methods of oppression to limit what soups can do. There are ways to fight oppression.

It feels conflicted--

Date: 2014-08-02 03:24 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Very much "in his head" for Doctor Laser, so tightly bound to his viewpoint that we really don't get a full impression of any of the other band members.

That's hard to make appealing, in part because rough-sketching characters hasn't been popular in a generation or more, but it's effective here because it spends more words on the way they play music and interact together, then spirals out from that to describe interacting in the ever-larger communities and venues.

I'm left wanting more views of these characters.

Re: It feels conflicted--

Date: 2014-08-02 05:05 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
I noticed the style of characterization because it's unusual. It's not a huge drawback because it DOES seem to fit the way he thinks, and he is the narrator.

I think I'd like to sponsor at least two things for each character, which is a good way for me to judge how much I like something... I just have other things in the queue clamoring for limited funding, too, which sucks for both of us. (I want more GOOD fiction, blast it, for when I'm taking a break from writing my own! I can guarantee that even when I don't feel COMFORTABLE with something you've written, it's not because it lacks skill or merit, but because it's hitting one of my rough spots.)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-02 04:28 pm (UTC)
mdlbear: (happy-turtle)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
"Strange Fruit"!!! I first heard this on a Josh White album, a long time ago. *chills up spine*

Actually by Abel Meeropol:
The Strange Story Of The Man Behind 'Strange Fruit' : NPR

Do I have to mention that I love this? (Maybe not, but I will anyway.)

I was thinking that super speed would be a good thing for typing, but it would be great for bluegrass too. Any instrument/style that benefits from fast finger work. Transcribing from piano to guitar is *hard*, and good classical guitarists are rare. My inclination would be to pick out the chords and play those -- the left hand part on most piano pieces -- along with bits of the melody. Or you can finger-pick/flat-pick one melody or harmony line. If you're accompanying a vocalist or violinist, they're carrying the melody and the audience isn't going to be paying much attention to the guitarist.

I'm left-handed, but play guitar right-handed, which makes me better at fingering chords, but makes accurate flat-picking almost impossible.
Edited Date: 2014-08-02 05:19 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-02 05:45 pm (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
You know you're going to have to write the songs now.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-08-03 02:10 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Yay! That would be fun.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-08-05 12:32 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
I can just hear "Let's Make Lemonade" as big-band jazz or blues.

So life hands you lemons
-- WHAT DO YOU DO?
So life hands you lemons!
-- WHAT DO YOU DO?
Life hands you lemons, so
Get out your squeezer,
Let's make lemonade!

Pull up a table,
'Cause it's hot outside!
Pull up a table and
Draw up a sign!
One glass a dollar, kids,
Fun in the sun!
One glass a dollar,
Let's make lemonade!

Add your sweet and your sour
-- WHAT DO YOU DO?
Add your sweet and your sour
-- WHAT DO YOU DO?
Sweet and sour
Makes good lemonade.

Sit on your porch swing and
Wave to the crowd
Show your talent,
Quiet or loud
Sure you got lemons, but
You know what to do.....

(1st verse reprise)

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-08-05 12:43 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
>> Can I just call this one canon? <<

Open fire! ^.^

For whatever reason, I just have this affinity for writing blues-styled music. It's like jazz lives somewhere deep in my soul.
Edited Date: 2014-08-05 12:46 am (UTC)

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-08-05 01:59 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
Usually both, though I'm not good at writing musical notation.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-08-05 02:13 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
Thanks, it's enjoyable when the music flows. :)

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-08-05 02:13 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Ooh! Recording?

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-08-05 02:17 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
I'll think about it. I only have the onboard mic on my laptop, and no good recording venue. I've tried in the past year or so, and my voice keeps failing when I do.. suggests there's a problem I haven't addressed.

But we'll see. Maybe I can get something put together eventually.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-03 05:40 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Love the last line!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-04 12:20 am (UTC)
thnidu: Seven-branched Temple menorah, symbolic of all Judaism, not the 9-branched Chanukah menorah. bethelcongregation.org (menorah)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Funny thing there. I often have at least a slight negative reaction to Christian-named organizations that "reach out" beyond the bounds of Christianity, maybe because of a bad experience with the Salvation Army. But I had no problem at all with your Mount of Olives group even at their first mention.

General question: is the name "Terramagne" used in Terramagne?

And then there's punk

Date: 2014-08-04 01:23 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
The whole genre of punk music is based in political protest and social change, which is why it's so tied to anarchism and outsider culture.

Here's a song the band might like: Staring At The Light (lyrics) by The Living End

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-02 06:13 am (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
HAPPY! !!!

love the way the band comes together .... and five-stringed normally-four instruments <3 <3. ([livejournal.com profile] stealthcello's 5-string Luis and Clark, first of its kind, comes to mind... :)

Hmmmm. If Betsy had a superpower, it would be radiation telated... hmmmmmm...

Thank you!

Date: 2014-08-02 08:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm glad you liked this.

Yes, the instruments were all weird. [livejournal.com profile] my_partner_doug had to help me pick out some of the supporting equipment, and insisted that since the main instruments were already unusual ones, that needed to be explained.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-02 11:57 am (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Calvin Green Lantern)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
Ok, loving this one... crime-fighting is all very well, but these are people [with superpowers] doing their thing! It's more.. I dunno, real..than the whole comic book genre normally gets.

Thank you!

Date: 2014-08-03 07:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Ok, loving this one... <<

I'm happy to hear that.

>> crime-fighting is all very well, but these are people [with superpowers] doing their thing! <<

A majority of people with superpowers aren't in crime or crimefighting. They either hide what they can do, or they use it in everyday jobs like this. I want to explore more of the blue plate specials who use their gifts for entertainment or practicalities.

>> It's more.. I dunno, real..than the whole comic book genre normally gets. <<

That's what I'm aiming for. Conventional superhero comics have a really narrow focus. That leaves a tremendous range open for exploration. Sure adventure stories are fun to write, but I want to do other stuff too. I want to explore the sociological and technological implications of adding not just superpowers but also Gizmology, Super-Gizmology, and Zetetics to a world. They change things.

more world music

Date: 2016-09-28 01:15 am (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
>> People enjoyed listening to them,
even if they were just practicing
or idly jamming together. <<

Hee! Been there, done that... it was a wedding reception, three days after I'd met a Titian haired bard who played guitar and sang SCA and folk songs. She was in town to perform at a wedding, and had joined the nuptial couple at a small, local science fiction convention the weekend before, which is how our paths came to cross... *fond nostaglic smile* I'll definitely get out of a warm bed on a cold night for a good jam session, just about anytime!

There's a local (Rain City) group who writes and performs a lot of original, affirming music along these lines: Vixy and Tony. A couple of tracks from their first album include Ladies Don't Do Those Things, The Collars, and The Girl That's Never Been.

Profile

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
ysabetwordsmith

April 2017

S M T W T F S
       1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30      

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags