RJ’s Obsession (Recreated)

315703_298474193496184_1620676423_n
Cyndi and RJ partying like it’s 1999–because it was.

RJ’s Obsession
(Or, seriously, what’s with the constant Cyndi Lauper posts?)

This blog was originally written and posted in 2012 on the awesome Kriss Morton blog Cabin Goddess as part of my Haunting Obsession Book Tour. Through the years, sharing the link to that article would be my go-to answer  to anyone who’d ask me about my “Cyndi Lauper Story.” Sadly, Kriss took down Cabin Goddess and has no plans at this time to bring it back. That article is re-posted here (lacking her graphic awesomeness) with her permission. Tweaks have been made to update links and information.

Since Haunting Obsession features a thinly veiled homage to Marilyn Monroe, and is the story of someone who takes his fandom way too far, it’s easy to assume I’m an over-the-top fan of Monroe. And yes, I do fixate on many things Marilyn. But she is not the person I am most obsessed about.

I also love pop music of all eras. But I am a child of the 80s. I was in the tenth grade in 1983, a couple years after M-TV debuted, so the woman who stands above everyone else in my pop music universe is Cyndi Lauper.

297182_298474253496178_1646960446_n
1997, my first backstage visit. Mrs RJ, me, Cyndi, and my local Cyndi buddy Michelle.

Yes, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, She-Bop, Money Changes Everything, and the most awesome ballad of all time Time after Time. [Edit: I considered linking each song, but come on, kids, Google them. I can’t do EVERYTHING for you.] THAT Cyndi Lauper. Her rendition of Unchained Melody performed live in 2003 in a small Chicago dinner theater is the only time this six-foot four inch man ever swooned. Were I not already sitting down, it could have been embarrassing.

I see you. Yes, you. Hovering your pointer on the back-button, ready to bail out of this post. I know what you are thinking. I will say it for you. Cyndi Lauper. What a kook. RJ’s hopelessly stuck in the 80s. Isn’t she just for girls? See, I’m psychic that way.

I remember in 1983 the first time I heard Girls Just Want to Have Fun. My exact thoughts: “Wow, fun song, too bad it will never catch on.”

Hmmm. . . so much for my psychic powers. Continue reading “RJ’s Obsession (Recreated)”

Whimsy Preview: Fade

DWACOW low rezClick here to see the introduction to this series.

Click here to see the first post in this series: Whimsy Preview: The Assurance Salesman

By the time “Fade” was picked up by James W. Kirk to run in Indiana Science Fiction Anthology 2011, the story already had a long and interesting history.

Fade was directly inspired by an obscure, quirky song by Cyndi Lauper, released on the obscure, quirky album Blue Angel. At the time, the release was difficult to track down (this was the 80s, it’s easy to find now) and I did so only after years of searching. Here is the song posted on YouTube. So inspired, I wrote the story for a college assignment, stuck it in a drawer, and forgot about it for several years.

Cyndi and Mary Kay, with me  unaware I was in the shot, circa 2002.  The envelope under Ms Lauper's arm contains Fade.
Cyndi and Mary Kay, with me unaware I was in the shot, circa 2002. The envelope under Ms Lauper’s arm contains Fade.

Advance to 2001. I met one of the most amazing ladies in the universe, by which I mean Mary Kay Woolsey, not Cyndi Lauper, though I met her, too, because of this. MK was battling cancer, and, frankly, a number of shitty circumstances in her life. Several fans banded together to launch an archaic and labor intensive version of what would now be a Kickstarter campaign, about a decade before the platform was in place to make it easy. For my contribution, I partnered with artists Kathy and Roberto Campus and “self-published” Fade to fans as a “gift with purchase” to anyone who donated $25 or more.

IMG_1106By “self-published,” I mean I took a few sheets of paper, folded them in half and stapled the middle. (Hey, free gift with donation, whaddaya want?) Dig that booklet with snazzy Kathy Campus (now Kathy Sweeny) art. In any case, our combined efforts raised $1,600 for MK (Cyndi herself donated some autographed 45 singles because she’s awesome that way) MK recovered and she’s alive, well, and still one of the most amazing ladies in the universe.

I was fortunate to get Roberto Campus on this project. He has since gone on to rock it pretty hard with mad art skills, as you can see here on his website.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the short version. So anyway, back to why you’re here.

The setup: Anna Blue is visiting her parents over Thanksgiving break. She brings the boyfriend home to meet the parents, and is also hiding a recreational drug habit. Said boyfriend Spencer Blake is floundering about being loyal to her or holding an intervention. During a fight about this very issue, Spencer and Anna literally fall into her father’s basement laboratory.

Image of the original booklet with artwork by Roberto Campus
Image of the original booklet with artwork by Roberto Campus

Her eyes opened. “Ohhhh … what happened?” She tried to rise.
Spencer placed a hand on her shoulder, pressing gently. “Wait. Make sure you’re not dizzy.”
“Honestly, I’m all right.”

He helped her to her feet. She smiled and put her arms around his neck.
“My hero,” she murmured. She pulled his face down to meet hers. He gave her a quick kiss, then pulled away.

“No, you’re not all right.” He pulled her hands apart and stood, separating them.
“What’s wrong? Why are you angry?”
“Why shouldn’t I be?” He turned and glared at her. “This wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for your antics.”

“I’m sorry, okay? What do you want from me? I just needed something to take the edge off.”
Spencer swore and turned back toward the steps.
“Don’t tell my parents, Spence. Please. Just give me a little time and help me.”

He turned toward her. “I’m trying to help you. I just don’t know if I can keep doing this by myself.”
Anna nodded, dismissing the subject. She glanced around the shop, eyeing the tools. He waited for any indication she really cared about herself, that she knew she was in trouble. But instead she simply looked distracted.

“Y’know, I’ve only been down here once or twice. Weird he left it open. He’s usually careful about locking it.”
“If that’s the case, we should go. They’re expecting us, and I don’t think you want to be caught down here.”

“Hey, what’s this?” She reached down and picked up a helmet made of reflective blue metal from the edge of the workbench. It resembled some sort of hardhat, complete with a dangling chinstrap. As Anna shifted the helmet in her hands, Spencer noted some sort of circuitry on the inside casing.

Art by Roberto Campus
She raised the helmet and placed it on her head. Art by Roberto Campus

Seeing her rummage through her father’s private work sent a new surge of anger through him. “Let’s go.” If she wasn’t allowed down here, she was going too far. He considered tossing her over his shoulders and bodily carrying her upstairs.
Shrugging in obvious defiance, she raised the helmet and placed it on her head.
He rolled his eyes at her petulance, and wondered if she’d actually taken some of the drugs before he caught her.

She stared back at him, a silly grin on her face. Maybe she hit her head after all.
He sighed, biting back words of mounting frustration. “There. Happy now? You’re wearing it. It’s too big for you anyway.”

“But what is it? Is Daddy inventing a new game, or a tool to punch holes in the wall—” She stabbed her finger at the drywall behind her. A sharp popping noise assaulted their ears, and a moment later they both stared, dumbfounded, at a wide gaping hole in the wall.

“Oh, no,” Anna squeaked.

Nice! She broke something! “That’s it! I’ve had enough.” Spencer slammed his fists into the work table. Sudden pain fueled his anger. “Screw this. You wanna keep playing games, do it without me.” He stormed up the stairs.
——
Next Posting in the series: Able Bodied
Click here to go to the dedicated ordering page of Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy.