Sunday, April 6, 2014

Blues Song: "Count You Down (and Out):"

COUNT YOU DOWN (AND OUT)
By Rainey Wetnight

I've got to count you down, count you down and out, you see.
I've got to count you down - there's nothing left, don't you agree?
I thought you WERE GOOD, but you are NO GOOD for me.

I've got to count you down, count you down and out at last.
I've got to count you down - the love we had is in the past.
I thought you WERE GOOD; you became NO GOOD, and fast!

10, 9, 8, oh, yeah, we started so great.
7, 6, 5, you did deceive and connive.
4, 3, 2, the end of me and you,
And now you're 1, alone. That's why you'll sing the blues!

(Wicked Guitar Solo)  

10, 9, 8, oh, yeah, we started so great.
7, 6, 5, you did deceive and connive.
4, 3, 2, the end of me and you,
And now you're 1, alone. That's why you'll sing the blues!

I've got to count you down, count you down and out, you see.
I've got to count you down - there's nothing left, don't you agree?
I thought you WERE GOOD, but you are NO GOOD,
I thought you WERE GOOD, but you are NO GOOD,
I thought you WERE GOOD, but you are NO GOOD for me!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Short Story: POWER

POWER
By Rainey Wetnight, ©2014

December 18, 6:00 AM

‘Twas two weeks before Christmas, and all through this plant,
The lines keep speeding up, but as for us, we can’t…

“Y’all right?”

I nod. Charlene means me, even though her concern (muffled by her face mask) sounds like it’s for more than one person. Except for her skin being black and mine as pale as death, we’re identical twins. We’re wearing hairnets, safety goggles, the aforementioned masks, navy-blue jumpsuits, and thin latex gloves that sink into every fold and wrinkle on our hands. You’d think they’d puncture, but they don’t. At first glance we all look like doctors or nurses, but none of us will ever have that kind of skill - or pay grade.

We’re assembly-line drones, “rightsourced” as the official jargon goes, in the thick of the holiday rush.

Tech0p0l1s, 1nc. (yes, it’s spelled that way, with ones and zeroes) is both state-of-the-art and dirt cheap. It makes the world’s most advanced robotic toys for children ages six and up, so how come its workplace P&P’s - policies and procedures - are straight out of the late nineteenth century? I’ve been working double shifts lately, which means sixteen hours instead of eight, but I’ll really GO FOR THE GOLD this time.

I hate that stupid plaque, staring right across from me when I’m not powering up robot after robot. It’s not actual gold, but it gleams. Someone actually gets paid to polish it to a high mirror shine every day.

“You sure? You’re looking like a space cadet.” Charlene again.

“Sorry. It’s the new energy pill I took. SILA: One’s all you need.”

She looks at me warily. Hasn’t she seen their ubiquitous ads? I guess not, because with schedules like ours, who has time to watch TV? Fortunately there’s one in the break room, plus Internet access. The pills are made by a Russian pharmaceutical firm, hence their own spelling of the product: СИЛА. I felt vaguely uneasy when I first looked at the label on the bottle, feeling a dim memory of the Russian I’d learned from my grandmother resurface. I couldn’t remember what this word meant, however, in her native language.

Anyway, I’d taken one of the iridescent blue capsules - only one - and now I was raring to go.

“Good morning, everyone,” a calming male voice says, fit more for GPS’s than a factory intercom. “We’re glad you’re here for another day at Tech0p0l1s. Please remember that time is of the essence. Thank you.”

The signature notes of our company’s jingle play, and then after a whirr, the conveyor belt jerks to life.

6:15 AM

It’s my job to plug in each toy and see if it activates with initial power, leaving all the fun of testing to the testers. They’re the ones who get to play with the robots and work out all the bugs, so to speak. Me? I’m the “on” technician, and if the products don’t turn on, I’m supposed to toss them in REJECT bins at my feet. Out of the hundred I’ve plugged in, only one hasn’t made the cut, which speaks well for our assemblers. The conveyor belt is deceptive, as sterile and white as the fluorescent lights in a hospital, but I know better. Sometimes we cut ourselves on the small parts as we build the toys, but we’re supposed to deal with that.

To me, the belt runs as crimson as the sunset with the unseen, and unheeded, blood of tiny lacerations.

I blink. What was that?

Nothing. Come on. You’re just nervous because you’ve never put in a twenty-four-hour shift before. 

I want to rub my eyes, but can’t because of the goggles, and pray the sudden itching goes away.

6:30 AM

I’ve fallen into a rhythm. In a job like mine, this is critical. New fish on the line start out so worried, fretting about absolutely everything and if they’re doing it right, that someone has to tell them not to think. It’s best to let the simple parts of your brain take over: the lower ones responsible for reacting instead of reasoning. This stuff should become as automatic as breathing, as it has with me, and SILA helps me do it faster.

Next, next, next. I’m already up to two hundred units, and only two more REJECTS. So far, so good.

I’ll make the rent if I pull this off, and buy one more month of begrudged silence from my landlord.

7:00 AM

I…I can’t believe this. My count should only be 300 by now, but it’s 375. Am I actually getting faster?

If this keeps up, I’ll take SILA every day and do this all through Christmas. Even on Christmas.

Not since I was little - I mean, like five or six - have I had this much energy. Robots fly to me and past me faster than I ever thought they could, yet I still find time to plug each one in. I feel no pain, no discomfort from standing on my feet for a full hour, not even the tingling I felt in my eyes before. There’s nothing. More than that, though, I feel something slowly building in me, something wonderful. It’s as if that little blue pill I took this morning - no, not THAT one! - has awakened something in the chemistry of my blood, the meat-machine of my body, to turn it from being thin and spent into something fluid, something malleable yet infinitely charged. I’m literally being refreshed, renewed, with each second that I surrender to work.

10:00 AM

Out of the corner of my eye, I notice people coming on and off the line for their morning breaks. Wimps! 

12:00 PM 

“Lunch?”

Shut up, Charlene. Don’t you know that a “gold shift” is twenty-four hours STRAIGHT? 

The robots are no match for me. I was once their slave, but now I have become their lawful master. The conveyor belt, helpless to do anything but bring more, is nothing but a crazy blur. My count? The big 1000.

So simple and beautiful a cipher, a one and three zeroes, an “on” and three “offs”. Bountiful. Celestial. Millennial. It is this number, more than any other, that entrances me. It is my salvation, in dollars and in the electronic tally that represents how many units I’ve activated. Never before have I reached it so quickly.

Tears form along my parched corneas, but I don’t even notice them until they’re rolling down my cheeks.

3:00 PM

FASTER FASTER FASTER FASTER FASTER FASTER 1800 FASTER FASTER FASTER…

6:00 PM 

This factory is alive, and I don’t mean with people. We’re the most mechanical (or should I say, digital?) things in it. Everything else, from the walls to the fluorescent lights to the plaque I abhor, teems with life.

Some people believe that every form of matter, now matter how inanimate, possesses consciousness. They’re right. Even the dust motes in the air, which land against my face mask like sleepy children’s heads coming to rest on pillows, know exactly where they’re going, what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it. They exist to float, and to remind us that we are like them in every single respect. None of what we call our great accomplishments, not even the ingenuity to come up with the idea of these toys, is worth a whit.

Dust we are, and to dust we shall return, unless we merge with the infinite and the mathematical: 2900. 

12:00 AM

I have learned the truth:

“One’s all you need?” That’s a big lie, because it’s only eighteen hours into my shift and I’m wearing down.

I have to take another SILA, or else the two O’s in GO FOR THE GOLD, shining maws, will swallow me.

5:00 AM

There are a 4, a 5, a 6 and a 7 on a screen in the near distance. What do those things mean?

I feel completely liquid, full of acid. Battery acid. If the pills can’t help me, then I bet something else will:

Two sharp prongs.

As quick as a wink, I roll up my sleeve and stab them into my arm. I feel hot and sizzly-tingly all at once.

Yes. Yes. Yes. YES. 

At long last, I have enough

POWER

~ 3/31/14 ~






























Friday, March 28, 2014

Movie Review: "Terms of Endearment"

I know this isn't a blues song, but I lost a bet with my movie critic friend on Facebook, Susan Wloszczyna. Therefore, here's my forfeit: a review of the spectacular movie "Terms of Endearment".

Terms of Endearment, Terms of Life
By Rainey Wetnight

“Emma, I’m totally convinced if you marry Flap Horton tomorrow, it will be a mistake of such gigantic proportions it will ruin your life and make wretched your destiny.”  --Aurora Greenway

Before the term “helicopter parent” was ever coined, Aurora Greenway (Shirley MacLaine) embodied it. She’s the type of Southern-belle suburbanite, reminiscent of a faded heroine in A Streetcar Named Desire, who longs for ambition, gentility, and a more-than-comfortable future for her exuberant daughter Emma (Debra Winger). While Emma smokes marijuana in her bridal veil, anticipating her upcoming wedding to affable, philandering Flap Horton (Jeff Daniels), Aurora has other plans. “What mother doesn’t, especially regarding a groom with a nickname like that?” one might ask. True, but Mrs. Greenway is, shall we say, different. With her immaculate garden and penchant for wearing sheer 1940’s floral prints when everyone else has moved four decades ahead, fashion-wise, it’s clear why her astronaut next-door neighbor, Garrett Breedlove (Jack Nicholson) appalls her. He’s the grinning Stanley Kowalski to her Blanche DuBois.

Thankfully for both mother and daughter, they move on in their respective relationships. Emma finds out about her husband’s eye for nubile college girls, and Aurora finds out about Garrett’s…rocket. Despite these new developments, some things never change. Flap and Emma continue to argue about money and moving, and Mrs. Greenway always manages to fit in more than a few digs at her daughter with every telephone conversation (“You have cysts because you haven’t kept yourself up, and never learned how to wash.”) Meanwhile a sinister shadow lurks beneath the surface of this family, and Emma’s skin. When the gut-wrenching revelation hits, all of their apologies and hugs seem like too little, too late. They are.

What is life? Is it something to jump into with both feet and a hotrod, as Garrett Breedlove demonstrates in the Gulf of Mexico? Is it to be approached cautiously, as Emma’s meek banker acquaintance Sam (John Lithgow) does? Is it better to know everything that’s going on with the ones you love, or to have the simple faith of Emma’s children that all will be well? Most importantly, is life something that one can control?

That is the true essence of Mrs. Greenway, and what she yearns for throughout this searingly honest film. In the end, one answer to these many questions is that sometimes, all we can do is give each other sincere love and Terms of Endearment, before we ultimately lose our chance.

RAINEY’S RATING: 4 STARS








Monday, January 13, 2014

I'm a Gambler

I’M A GAMBLER
By Rainey Wetnight

(Guitar Intro)

If riches can’t buy happiness, they sure can buy some peace.
I’m slaving day to day, and hoping not to break my lease.
Yeah, I’m a gambler, and I’m playing with my life.
What else you gonna do - what else you GOTTA do - when money’s tight?

I’ve no renter’s insurance, or any coverage for my car.
If the police pull me over, they’ll surely lock me up behind gray bars.
Yeah, I’m a gambler, and I’m playing with my life.
What else you gonna do - what else you GOTTA do - when money’s tight?

(Slow-Burn Guitar Solo)

I work two jobs already, but they just don’t pay enough.
If I get another one, I’ll sleep four hours a night, and that’s too rough.
Yeah, I’m a gambler, and I’m playing with my life.
What else you gonna do - what else you GOTTA do - when money’s tight?

I shun the doctor’s office, because I know what they’ll say:
“We’re going to bill you later”, but with my soul I’ll have to pay!
Yeah, I’m a gambler, and I’m playing with my life.
What else you gonna do - what else you GOTTA do - when money’s tight?

(Guitar Outro)


Just Another Woman/Just Another Man: My First Blues Song

JUST ANOTHER WOMAN/JUST ANOTHER MAN
By Rainey Wetnight

(Guitar Intro)

MALE SINGER:

I think I’m going to leave you; there’s no need to stick around.
We knew that when we met. Why do you keep dragging me down?
Why do you nag me all day long? Why can’t I get some peace?
Our baby’s not only one who’s wailing. Stop and cease!
We found each other at the bar, and formed a simple plan.
You were just another woman. I was just another man.

FEMALE SINGER:

So now you say we’re over, and you’re headed out the door.
You say that I’m not good to you, but I think you’re just bored.
I knew you were a player, but I’m tired of your games.
There’s someone else to think about. You put our child to shame!
Just like with your last hookup - first you loved her, then you ran.
Sure, I’m just another woman, but you’re just another man.

CHORUS:

(Female Singer)  Just another woman! (Male Singer)  Just another man! (Sung 4 times)

(Wicked Guitar Solo)

MALE SINGER:

You may be my “baby mama”, but it’s all the same to me.
Take the bottles, and the diapers, and the kid, and set me free.
Don’t act like you’re so blameless, with no stain upon your hands.
We both knew what we were after, and it’s called a one-night stand.
That’s the number-one reason I am not your biggest fan:
You’re just another woman, and I’m just another man.

FEMALE SINGER:

That’s how we’re going to end it? I should have known from the start.
I should have gone on “cruise control,“ and never lost my heart.
Of course you think it’s time to go, and finally clear the slate,
‘Cause you think you’re the only one involved. Now it’s too late.
Think you’ll forget us quickly? No, I don’t think you can.
I’m not just another woman. You’re not just another man.

CHORUS:

(Female Singer)  Just another woman! (Male Singer)  Just another man! (Sung 4 times)

(Guitar Outro)