gardens in unexpected places

Things that I want:

Okay so I always want more Beauty and the Beast romance retellings… but so many of the novels we have take “Beast” and make classical external ugliness and turn it into internal ugliness instead so that the hero can still be painfully attractive to the heroine.

And I dig that. I do.

But also how about this: 

A “gentle giant hero” whose size, and rough, dark features cause him to be bullied as a child, and mocked as an adult. High Society, to which he rightly belongs, might pander to his face because of his name. But behind his back gossips call him “The Beast of Balmore” and baseless rumors about a violent, monster like nature start to spread. Mothers hide their daughters rather than put them in his path as potential wives. Better a live Countess than a savaged Marchioness.

 Heartbroken, and alone, he finally retreats to his country estate, convinced of his own monstrousness.

So when a young man is caught poaching on his lands, and his sister braves “the monster’s den” to plead with Balmore to drop the charges (he was just trying to feed their family, who are clinging to a crumbling house and little else on a small, failing estate nearby) Balmore makes an unforgivable offer. 

Marry him, and she and her family will never want for anything again. She could ask for the stars, and he would pull them down. All she has to do… is say “I do”.

And really, what other choice does Helena have? But as word gets out about a hasty secret wedding, and society watches with fascination to see what happens when a beast takes a bride, Helena begins to discover something amazing. A house full of unexpected beauty, gardens hidden behind stone walls, and a in place of the monster she thought she agreed to wed: a man with gentle eyes.

So…. that was supposed to be a lot less specific when I started writing it - but you get the point! More gentle beasts! 

*cough* Also now I have to go write a thing when I get home from work.

These are the things I have learned from playing lousy folk guitar:

1) There are apocalypses in the damnedest places. Like “Garden Song,” and “Redemption Song,” and “Amazing Grace.” The world ends every time you turn around.

2) Nobody except Art Garfunkel can keep up with the shit Paul Simon does with meter.

3) The 19th century was full of people dying of syphilis and writing songs about it.

3a) It was also full of murder ballads that make FARGO seem like competence porn.

3b) Alcohol may have been involved.

3c) Snark is not a modern invention. The bit in “Duncan and Brady” where the women go home and put their party dresses on for the funeral is classic.

4) You can turn most Tom Waits songs into rollicking feel-good ditties by capoing a little higher.

5) The narrator of “Greensleeves” is a creepy stalker, as is the narrator of “The Lily of the West.” And the narrator of “Leaving on a Jet Plane” is a lying douchebag.

6) Gordon Lightfoot is more self-aware about toxic relationships than John Denver.

7) Bob Hunter and Jerry Garcia are smarter about narrative than I am. Also, it took me five years to figure out the narrative structure of “Brown Eyed Women.”

8) Lindsay Buckingham is really smart about how the music supports the narrative, but I spot it faster.

9) The People’s Key is “B flat.”

10) Pete Seeger.

11) Woody Guthrie.

12) Steal from the best. Really pretty songs are still really pretty no matter how bad you suck. This is why there are eleven thousand cover versions of “Hallelujah.”

12a) And nobody can hit that high note in “Hallelujah.” Except for k.d. lang, and she can only do it sometimes.

12b) Leonard Cohen.

13) Gillian Welch keeps writing songs that I think are traditional. Until I look them up and realize they were written in 2003.

14) Emmylou Harris knows a lot more chords than I do.

15) And some people can write amazing songs with almost no chords at all.

16) It is impossible to be so bad at guitar or so intoxicated that you can’t play “Horse with No Name.” This is what “Horse with No Name” is for.