fools rush in [notes]

Unhitched chapter notes …

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Did you know that Chris Diamantopoulos who played Clark “Should Have Crawled Back in There, If He Knew What Was Good for Him” Ingram was voicing Mickey Mouse while filming Hannibal?

Isn’t that just a fun fact?

Has the poster for “Get a Horse!” been shopped like this yet? If not, consider it my gift to the fandom.

Moving on to story time, I asked my loyal team of 1970s experts to come up with something weirdly 70s to set the tone of this chapter, and the resounding answer was: “Wasn’t everyone doing yogi or something? I remember lots of brown leotards and all that crap.”

Thanks, Dad. He meant yoga.

By the way, you can thank my old man for all of Hopper’s asylum talk from a few chapters ago. I don’t think I ever mentioned our conversation so I will briskly sum it up below because it’s Father’s Day. Some background: My dad is sort of a rock of a man, both generous and steadfast. He has a degree in biology, is hard-working, used to run track, and was once scouted by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Before I start, here’s my old man with a tumbleweed circa 1979. He was 25 years hairy and apparently in love with that tumbleweed.

“Did I ever tell you about the time your grandparents had me locked in the nuthouse after I fell off a truck?”

Um, what? WTF. No. You never did.

“I was eighteen and goofing off in the back of a friend’s pick-up. We were headed up the mountain to a party. You remember my buddy, Jeff? He fell out too and landed on top of me and we sort of slid down the road. He was fine, but I lost all the skin on my back – had to get grafts off my ass.”

Oh, my god, Dad! What the hell?! I didn’t know that!

“Oh yeah, it was bad. I didn’t really feel it, though, I was too drunk and high. A few weeks later, I sort of went crazy – started hearing things after the accident. Tried to kill a burglar with my crossbow. I was convinced he’d locked himself inside my dad’s gun safe. They opened it up and there was no burglar, so they sent me to North Warren to calm down.”  [I want to note that he rolled his eyes at that comment.] “They gave me a couple spinal taps and everything. Now, I want to tell you something: that shit is fucking painful. Some giant woman who took no shit from anyone had to hold me down. It was brutal.”

Jesus, Dad! What did you do?

“Well, I wasn’t violent or anything, but I wasn’t medicated either, not like what they did to your grandmother … Those hospitals were really boring because they never gave you anything to do. It’s like being in a drunk tank, but they never let you go because you don’t “sober up”. It was weird being around all those sick people, too. It was pretty scary for a kid. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, so I played cards with some guy who seemed normal, but he took a lot of meds, you know – lithium, I think. Everyone was on lithium.”

Good lord. How’d you get out?

“Well, Jeff was pissed because with me locked up, he lost his drinking buddy, so he broke into the asylum one night with a six-pack of beer and after we finished it off, he decided to bust me out. We lived in the woods for a few days until the cops stopped looking for me.”

Holy mother fucking shit. XD

I guess, what are friends for? (I suddenly have a new bunny for a teen Hannigram one-shot.) Also, so you can picture Jeff: imagine Tommy Chong from Up in Smoke. Even now, in his 60s, Jeff still sounds like a stoner. He’s amazing.

“Ah, it was the 70s,” said my dad, all nonchalant. Apparently, that was the style at the time.

Anyway, my mom confirmed all that, adding bits and pieces that were just as fucked up, then my Dad proceeded to tell me what went on in the basement after he went back to visit North Warren a few years later. You don’t want to know, and honestly, I don’t want to repeat it.

So back to Unhitched … there was some sort of obsession with Indian culture in the 70s so I ran with it. There was something quite enjoyable about dropping Franklyn at the front door, dressed in his gauzy swami-wear and eventually eating cheese.

The Carnatic style of playing the violin is an Indian technique which I’m sure you’ve all heard, though you might not know it.

I then sent everyone on a little visual journey to India, too, because I wanted you all to imagine Mads in a white suit and hat. No reason. I was just reading a lot of Rudyard Kipling when I wrote this. What’s he have to do with anything? Well, he wrote a lot about India and, naturally, mongooses, and with the current issues in my home country of The United States of What the Fuck is Going On, I’ve been listening to Donovan’s 1970s classic “Riki Tiki Tavi”. Give it a listen. You’ll like it.

Do you feel how meandering a writer’s mind is? It’s very chaotic.

I was grateful to have my husband’s musical mind for this particular chapter with Tobias. We’ve actually had conversations about who he thinks was the most “underrated librettist” and when I asked him to name a composter that he thought Butcher would abhor, he immediately said Arnold Schoenberg, because everyone hates Schoenberg. I didn’t totally agree that Butch would hate him, but the “atonal orgies” that all his critics call his work was too funny to pass up. Also, Schoenberg had triskaidekaphobia or a fear of the number 13. This is only funny to me because I know how this shit storm ends.

From Star Trek to Paganini, the research for this chapter was extensive but enjoyable. Chordophone, by the way, was the name of Tobias’s shop in the show and means “stringed instrument” of course. If you’ve researched anything about luthiers (stringed instrument makers) you have to know the name, Kevin Lee. That eccentric bastard is a goddamn genius, and I love his YouTube channel. I never got to use this info, but Jakob Stainer, the famous German master luthier, went mad and died on his front porch in 1683 in a straightjacket and muzzle all Hannibal Lecter style. Kevin Lee owns one of Paganini’s medals and Stainer’s straightjacket because, of course he does. He also blows shit up in the desert and carves angels into his violins. He’s incredible.

The research for fics is the part that’s hard to explain to people. Fanfic writers have a million tabs open on their browsers at all times and a ton of bookmarks. We be like, “It’s a one-shot!” and yet our history is all …

That’s not even 1% of my bookmarks for Unhitched. I have even read the DSM I. Why? I dunno. I have copies of all of them so I can stay historically accurate as my Will Grahams are institutionalized through the ages.

About 70% of what Hopper and The Music Man discuss in the workshop is a combination of various philosophical teachings and the musings of Miguel Cervantes in Don Quixote.

“I have lived nearly fifty years, and I have seen life as it is.

Pain, misery, hunger … cruelty beyond belief.  I have heard the singing from taverns and the moans from bundles of filth on the streets.  I have been a soldier and seen my comrades fall in battle … or die more slowly under the lash in Africa.  I have held them in my arms at the final moment.  These were men who saw life as it is, yet they died despairing.  No glory, no gallant last words … only their eyes filled with confusion, whimpering the question, “Why?”  I do not think they asked why they were dying, but why they had lived.

When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies?  Perhaps to be too practical is madness.  To surrender dreams — this may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash.  Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all:  to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”

This is actually an interjection by Miguel Cervantes who was the supposed “translator” of the historical documents that make up Don Quixote. I like the self-referential aspects of the book and made The Music Man and Hopper yell this bit back and forth as they discuss their personal justifications for all that they do.

First-time authors apparently make their main characters bookworms a lot because it’s a habit they’re well familiar with. Stephen King does this a lot, making his main characters authors … I’m not a bookworm though, so I have no idea why I made Hopper an English teacher (I mean he’s a teacher in canon, but … he didn’t have to study English). It’s actually way more work than I expected it to be. He has to feel educated, but a little aloof, and his vocabulary has to be simultaneously refined but also colloquial because he was still raised blue collar. Plus, it’s the 70s, but he was born in the 30s and raised in the 40s and 50s. It’s not actually a story “set” in the 70s other than the little techie and cultural reference bits. Hopper wouldn’t use the slang of the 70s, he’d use the slang he grew up with as a teen in the 50s.

But picture it: teen Hopper in the 50s … are you imagining him in a malt shop? Or maybe he’s a Greaser. Hannibal’s a Soc. Is this a fic already? It better be. “Stay golden, Lonelyboy.”

I have nothing more to add to this. If you have a comment or questions, drop me a line. If you want to be anon, feel free to anon me here on Tumblr with your commentary. Don’t forget to comment on the fic if you’re having a swell time with my boys. It really makes my day.

I’m still working on responding to old comments, but I will get there. Stay tuned for more stuff, readers. I’m not back in the saddle yet, but at least I opened the horse! Er, no, I mean barn door.

If you enjoy my writing, please consider dropping me a comment here or, if applicable, on AO3 or by supporting my hot beverage habit on Ko-fi. Thank you!

—joanielspeak
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