The audio commentary continues as we meet the other sidekicks, discuss the Base, and reveal a blooper that made it through the editorial process..
Commentary for Chapter 3 will be following shortly.
Click here to download the audio track
An introduction to the “Sidekick” author commentary track is now available. In this first installment, I discuss the idea of a commentary track for a novel, explain how this is going to work, and give a little background into the story.
Six years before I wrote Sidekick, I co-created another superhero named the Scarlet Knight. Along with my friend Kris Leeds, I wrote and submitted a sitcom pilot called Local Hero for a writing competition held by Bravo. Needless to say, we flopped. Needing a name for the hero when I got the idea for Sidekick, I just stole the name of that rejected hero. (I stole the name of another hero I created as well, but you’ll need to listen to the Author Commentary Track for more on that one.)
The Scarlet Knight of Local Hero was considerably different from the hero of Sidekick. This Scarlet Knight was a hero named Ed Roberts who was forced into retirement when his powers started fluctuating. He finds himself a suburban house-husband, trying to adapt to a mundane existence while his intrepid investigative reporter wife brings home the bacon. The logline for our pitch was “Bewitched, starring Superman.”
For those with morbid curiosity, I’ve made the final revised version of the script, along with the pitch documents and an introduction, available for download. Just a little peek into the writing process, and a concept I hated having to leave behind me. Especially since it means that the follow-up episode Crisis on Infinite Ex-Girlfriends, will never be produced.
In advance of the release of Sidekick: the Misadventures of the New Scarlet Knight, I’m pleased to announce the release of the novel’s Official Soundtrack. If some of these songs aren’t already in your library, links are provided. The resourceful reader will find ways of assembling the entire album.
Many of these tracks were in rotation in my library while I was writing the book. Some of them struck me as appropriate for specific scenes. Some seem appropriate for characters. Some are the kinds of songs Bobby would listen to.
Isn’t that every boy’s dream? “To be the guy that gets the girl and saves the world.” Bobby gets to be the guy that saves the world. Will he be the guy that gets the girl?
This sums it all up in one lyric. “Mediocre people do exceptional things all the time.”
Far too often, guys don’t realize what they have going in their favor. Bobby certainly sees himself as the singer of this song. Guess who the girl is.
Don’t Stop Me Now by McFly.
If they made Sidekick into a movie, this would be the song playing over the scene of Bobby flying out of the Base for the first time as the Scarlet Knight, zipping out over the ocean and the beach. This isn’t available in the US digitally (at least not legally) right now, but it can be tracked down through an import or as the hidden bonus track on certain UK releases of their album Motion in the Ocean. If you have to, substitute the original by Queen
This is the kind of thing I can picture Bobby having on his iPod while wandering the halls of Harbor City High. Definitely a track he goes to when he’s in one of his depressive moods.
Another song Bobby puts on repeat during his emo periods.
Deep down at heart, though, Bobby is an optimist. “There’s nothin’ wrong that you can’t make right.”
“My heart is lying here naked.” Ever been in love that desperately? I’ll bet you have.
Has no connection to the plot; just another song Bobby likes to play while zipping over the City while on patrol.
You’ll know where in the story this belongs. You can’t get to Heaven on the Frankford El ’cause the Frankford El goes straight to Frankford.
Beach Baby by First Class.
This is what runs through Bobby’s head when he sees Sarah coming out of the ocean.
Bobby is a romantic, after all. It’s got to be perfect.
Again, you will know exactly where in the story this song belongs. Bobby may have the heart of a poet, but he has the mouth of an idiot.
…is it always gets worse.
Another track from Bobby’s iPod, this song perfectly sums up his philosophy and his relationship with his friends.
Special Hidden Bonus Track
Superman’s Gone Crazy by Larry Good.
I first encountered this song on the late, lamented MP3.com, and it’s not been widely released since. It was while listening to this song one day back in the summer of 2009 completely by chance that I had the idea for Sidekick. I’ve spent ages trying to track down a link for people to buy or at least hear pert of this song, but to no avail. That’s why it’s the hidden track on this soundtrack. Those of you who are more resourceful than I are encouraged to share whatever links you can find.
Can’t wait for Sidekick to hit the bookshelves? Neither can I.
For those of you unable to wait, here’s a little prologue. Something to set the scene for the story, and get you ready for the action.
I forget what college I was visiting when my life changed forever. It was one I ended up not applying to, anyhow, probably mainly due to the memories of getting the news. It was somewhere in Florida, and I only remember that much because I appreciated not freezing my ass off in the middle of January.
My college tour buddy, improbably, was a junior who lived at the rowdiest frat house on campus, and he’d arranged for me to stay at the house instead of a dorm room. Not being completely unappreciative of the social aspects of college life, and having once been described by someone who didn’t really know me as “viciously polite,” I decided not to spurn his offer. It would probably give me a better look at how the guys on the campus really operated, not to mention increasing the possibility of having something somewhat resembling a good time.
As should have been expected from as stereotypical a fraternity as the one putting me up for the weekend, the booze and other forms of chemical refreshment flowed freely. I didn’t partake myself partially due to my “always on duty” hero training, but mainly because I never cared for them anyhow. I never liked losing control of my faculties, and I’ve found that being the only sober guy in a crowd has its own benefits. Drunk and stoned people can be fun to watch sometimes.
The altered consciousness of my companions that morning, out trying to toss a football to each other and having a singular lack of success at doing it, made me discount the initial shouts of “Dude! Up in the sky!”
Never having had the knack for shared hallucinations, I didn’t bother to look upward. The next bit of description had made me curious, however. “It’s that…that dude! Ya know-the one in the white and gold outfit?”
White and gold? It couldn’t be. The drugs taken by the guys who were supposed to be showing me around the school were creating hallucinations remarkably like someone I knew.
“Yeah, what’s his name. Polygon?”
That was more than I needed to hear. If Uncle Hank (better known as Paragon, but far be it from guys in the state of consciousness my hosts were in to keep track of which word of more than two syllables they were using) was this far away from his home turf and in costume to boot, then something was going down.
I excused myself by saying I was going for a jog, although something told me that my compatriots probably wouldn’t even have noticed if I’d disappeared. They’d probably assume that I had been another hallucination and go right on with whatever it was that they thought they were doing.
I plotted a course to take me away from the frat house and from the other buildings on campus and started off at a brisk pace. This way, if Paragon being in the neighborhood was just a coincidence, I’d look like another jock out to abuse his knees and ankles in the name of physical fitness. And if it wasn’t, he’d stand a better chance of finding me along the road instead of in a crowd. It would also make it easier for him to approach me subtly, which would be vital if he was in costume and I wasn’t.
After a couple of miles jogging along that highway, I could see Uncle Hank in the distance standing by the side of the road. He’d changed out of costume, a cinch for someone as quick as him, and was staring at me. So it wasn’t a coincidence at all; he was in town to find me.
My mind raced through all of the issues I would need to deal with. For one thing, if I was being dragged into action, what was I going to wear? I didn’t have my costume. Hell I hadn’t worn the costume at all for months. Uncle Jack and I had come to an understanding when I’d set my mind on making it into college, and I’d managed to at first restrict and then completely stop my nocturnal activities. If I’d still been active they could have just pinged my signal watch, but having managed to stay out of the long johns as long as I had meant that the only person who would reach me through my watch would be Mickey Mouse, and all he would have to tell me was the time.
More importantly, what was so vital that they would have to call in the sidekicks, including a sidekick who had officially gone inactive? It took me over half of the distance to reach Uncle Hank to realize that the reason he was here was not that he was here to see the Squire, but to see Bobby Baines. And that it was something even more important than a disaster warranting dragging a sidekick out of retirement — something so important that it required a human touch. On top of it all, a civilian human touch.
That meant real disaster, the kind that wouldn’t mean the end of the world in a literal sense, but certainly The End Of The World As We Know It in a metaphorical sense. I poured on the speed, breaking from a jog into a sprint, and Uncle Hank started walking towards me, sensing my newfound sense of justifiable urgency.
I broke my stride and slowed down as the gap between us closed to next to nothing, and was gasping for breath when I finally rendezvoused with Uncle Hank. I somehow found the wind to form two words, which I chose carefully. The look on his face, a kind of profound sadness only someone as good and pure as he could have, told me which two words to use.
“What’s wrong?” I gasped.
He took my hand, in a gentle and caring way. “Bobby, I’m so sorry. It’s Jack.”
He didn’t need to finish the sentence. From the moment you first put on a costume you plan to have someone give this speech to you. Or about you. I wouldn’t have heard Paragon if he had finished, anyway. The numbness was settling in. I struggled mightily and found the lung capacity for four more words.
“Give me a lift?”
The story continues in Sidekick: The Misadventures of the New Scarlet Knight, on sale March 12 from Month9Books!
In the fourth round of edits on Sidekick: The Misadventures of the New Scarlet Knight (more on that later) I needed to add a sentence about how my protagonist was too shocked by the use of strong language by another character to respond properly:
I wanted to tell her that what the hell happened to me was a giant hell-beast coming out of the ocean during homeroom, but I couldn’t get a word in through all my surprise at her choice of language.
As soon as I typed that, I hated it. “Surprise” was too light a word for the emotion I wanted to convey. So I made a visit to Mr. Roget’s Neighborhood and one particular synonym caught my eye:
flab·ber·gast vt \’fla-b?r-gast\
Definition of FLABBERGAST
: to overwhelm with shock, surprise, or wonder : dumbfound
— flab·ber·gast·ing·ly adverb
I love “flabbergast.” It’s such a wonderful word. It’s not too easy to say, but it’s not enough for your tongue to trip over. It also helped that one of my comic heroes, Dudley Moore, used to perform selections from a faux-German opera called “Der Flabbergast” in his stage routines, which were hilarious. “In this number, our lovers bemoan, and bemoan, and bemoan.”
Of course, “flabbergast” is a transitive verb, and what I need here is a “state of being” noun. The easiest way to get one of them is to add “ness” to an adjective. So I took the past participle of “to flabbergast,” added the suffix, and typed “flabbergastedness.” Sounds good, huh?
Nope. MS Word flagged it as not being in their dictionary. So I did a Google search and the only “reference” source I could find listing that form of the word was Urban Dictionary, which is not the most reliable source.
So I started to wonder, what would a proper noun form for the state of being flabbergasted be? From my research these are the forms that might conceivably be grammatically correct:
Granted, all are theoretically more grammatically correct than “flabbergastedness” since they come directly from the infinitive form of the verb instead of through the participle, but this could be a case where the improper form makes more sense and sounds better than the correct form.
If anyone wants to shed some light on this question, or just weigh in with their opinion, it will be appreciated.