Some Thoughts about Nathan’s Reply – A Blog Post about Forced Creativity

by Chris McGinty

I don’t have any overarching plan or reason for this. This is just me proving that I can write about anything. In this case, I’m going to write a whole blog post about a reply that Nathan made to a previous blog post I wrote about pretty much nothing, and here’s the kicker. The reply wasn’t really all that consequential to anybody’s lives – not even mine or Nathan’s. I’ll get into that in a moment. I want to start by talking about another reply for a moment.

Bonnie Raitt – Something to Talk About

A long while back, I wrote a blog post about an overarching issue that Miguel and I had with our creative partnership. This divide was probably more prevalent in causing us to no longer work together than even his getting married and becoming a father. The simple version is that I’m the type of person who believes that you should find time to be creative… probably every day if possible. Miguel believes that creativity only truly happens when you’re inspired. More about this in a moment.

I was a bit taken aback that Miguel wrote all of that into a reply rather than writing a response blog post and linking to it in the comments. In Nathan’s case, it was the correct use of the comment section. He had a couple of pieces of errata that just didn’t live up to an entire blog post. But once again, more about that in a moment.

I’m really good at taking a germ of in idea, a crumb of trivia, a scintilla of not knowing what the fuck scintilla means, and turning that little bit of nothing into something that almost feels like I had a point to make. That’s kind of what my blog post about Nathan’s trip to the “Goodwill Bins of Cobbling Together a Scintilla of Useful Stuff and Turning it into Some Major Scratch” was really doing. It was one of my not patented, but only because it’s not patentable and because I hate paperwork anyway, blog posts where if you wanted to examine everything that I embedded and linked to you could spend hours listening, viewing, and reading. It feels more epic than it probably is. By the way, up until this moment I thought there was a song called “Scintilla” by The Strokes. Either, I was thinking about “Reptilia,” or this is another instance of the Mandela Effect.

The Strokes – Reptilia

Here’s the thing. I’m probably only good at writing these kinds of hodge podge blog posts… nay, not even just at writing them, but conceiving of them in the first place, because I don’t hang out waiting for inspiration. The inspiration for this post was simply, “I should reply in a post with thoughts about his reply to my post of my thoughts about his post.” It just seemed kind of funny to me. I had no angle except to do it. The direction for the whole blog post only came about because I sat down today and said to myself, “I’m going to write that reply blog, so I need a way to start it.” I remembered giving Miguel shit about using a reply rather than writing a full blog post, and here I was off to the races. That’s what I mean by giving yourself enough time and space to be creative as frequently as possible.

Let me step away from that for a moment. I want to talk about Nathan’s reply for a moment. As he pointed out, the “gift card” had no balance on it, so my links did him no good in this case. If there had been a balance, it’s likely that the card being expired wouldn’t have mattered, but he may have had to go through hoops to get the balance. But that’s not what I’m worried about. I’m more worried about that pizza bag. He said it was in somebody’s cart already. Ok, big man. Did you ask them if they really wanted it? Did you leverage a low key threat like, “That’s a nice jigsaw puzzle you have in your cart. It would be a shame if a piece went missing. By the way, what a nice Papa John’s bag!” Did you go full on Cabbage Patch Kids with the fucker who had my pizza bag, Nathan!? Ok, to be fair, you never go full Cabbage Patch Kids. If I’m being honest, I probably wouldn’t have forced them to give up the pizza bag either. But did you follow them until they left to make sure they didn’t change their mind, Nathan!? Did you!? By the way, if you go read Nathan’s reply, you have to imagine it as if Nathan sounds like Matthew McConaughey when he replies or texts.

You can get an explanation of why I believe Nathan sounds like Matthew McConaughey while texting during the first minute and a half of this video. It’s not as interesting as I’m suggesting it is by giving it this much attention.

In the follow up blog post that I wrote about Miguel’s reply, I said that I would probably get into other aspects of his reply later. I think it was mostly because he got a lot into how The Beatles created, since I brought up Lennon and McCartney in the original post. But let’s deal with something else that he said here, since this seems to be somewhat, a reptilia if you will, about responding to replies. Miguel said, “But when there’s the added social pressure of having to get something done in a specific setting and you’re not necessarily on board with the idea that’s on the table it wasn’t something I necessarily had the experience or requisite craft to deal with.”

First of all, if you remember a song called “Scintilla” let me know in the comments. But don’t bullshit me. If you bullshit me, you’ll be responsible for Nelson Mandela dying a third time.

“Nelson Mandela 1918-2013” by Howdy, I’m H. Michael Karshis is licensed under CC BY 2.0

2013? Yeah, in this false timeline that’s when it happened. Ask the Berenstein Bears.

Second of all, Miguel’s statement is probably the naked truth about why people have so many issues with group brainstorming sessions. Essentially, you have a bunch of people who don’t understand that there is truth in the phrase, “There are no bad ideas in brainstorming.” They’re afraid to embrace that truth because they realize that others probably don’t understand it as a truth, and they fear someone saying, “That’s dumb.” I’m just not that person. Maybe it’s why I do ok to sit down to write for hours even if I don’t have a single good idea. Third of all, and I wish I could link to the “Sniffles (sniff) Theme,” I would argue that when properly motivated Miguel had the ability to do exactly what he says he didn’t have the ability to do. Let me tell you about how the public access show Miguel and I did got its theme song. If any of us ever gets the song uploaded somewhere, I’ll come back and link or embed it.

Miguel and I needed a theme song for our public access show. We were up in his bedroom and I picked up his guitar. I just let my fingers move for a bit. I wrote two super simplistic blues based riffs and said, “That’s our theme song.” Miguel didn’t object, so all I had to do was to remember those two riffs. There was no crazy eight hours of trying out every single riff I could come up with and failing horribly. I figure that if along the way I’d come up with something better that I might have asked him which he liked better, but the simple idea sort of stuck.

Where the forced creativity came in was that we were down to the wire on getting the song actually recorded. I don’t think either of us wanted the theme to just be my clumsy playing on an electric guitar with no accompaniment. We’d recorded songs on Miguel’s 4-track recorder before, so all we needed was the time and space to record. We had plenty of time and since Miguel had access to the practice booths at his college up at UNT, we had the space. We didn’t need real drums, as he had once used a plastic Double Bubble container to good effect on a track we recorded.

He knew a drummer though, a guy named Mike Fonseca. Mike was happy to come over and pound out a drum track; I believe it was on a practice set that belonged to the school. I showed Mike how the track went. I can’t remember if I played with him or if he just counted out the measures, but he did the thing that someone who plays frequently becomes good at doing. He improvised, and after one take we had our drum track.

For the rest of the evening, we made my simple two-riff song sound pretty good. I recorded my guitar track, which was made up of the simple riffs. Miguel recorded a second guitar track which followed the two riffs with a little bit of flare added. Then we recorded a piano track with one of the available practice pianos to further fill out the sound. I believe that Miguel played the bass line on the piano and I took the higher keys.

I know that we didn’t have to come up with anything amazing that would stand the test of time, and the main riff we were riffing around had been written for months. The point is that the theme song, and in a lot of ways the entire show, came from one or both of us just showing up and creating something. At times, depending on what we needed, it was actually day in and day out. Then when we stopped working on a schedule, the line on the graph of our output looked like a cliff side that you might be able to roll down and survive if you landed right, but it was nonetheless a severe drop off.

Once again, I might later get into some more of his reply – no need to waste any part of the Slow Animals.

The Strokes – Slow Animals

But in the meantime, I think this is all I’m going to do for today. I got three pages out of a thought I had no plans for. I think that’s quite enough.

Chris McGinty is a blogger. Miguel isn’t. I’ve written four blog posts since I woke up seven hours ago, as I’m trying to schedule my posts out three weeks in advance. I haven’t even yet gotten to the idea that I had before I went to bed to get started on when I woke up. I mean, Miguel has blogged when he’s been inspired to write something, but Chris is a blogger. I’m just saying.

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