real lj idol | week 33, prompt 1 | 1225 words
Chairman Ed McMahon: TV personality and longtime co-host of the Johnny Carson show.
Danielle Steel: a highly prolific and often formulaic romance novelist.
Jonathan Kellerman: psychologist-turned-mystery writer, specializing in stories featuring a glorified version of himself.
James Cameron: movie director of The Titanic, The Abyss, and Avatar.
Guy Ritchie: movie director of Sherlock Holmes and various heist/caper films.
Yanni: self-taught world-touring new-age musician of the 90s.
John Tesh: former Entertainment Tonight TV show host who left the profession to pursue his dream of composing and performing feel-good pop and new-age music.
Thomas Kinkade: a hugely popular mass-marketed American landscape painter, who specialized in greeting-card-style cottage and country scenes.
"Hi-yo everybody, gather round," Chairman McMahon said.
He ushered Yanni and Danielle Steel away from the pastry corner and over to the conference table, and took his place between Guy Ritchie and John Tesh. "We've got lots to do this afternoon, so we might as well get started. Mr. Kellerman, would you take the notes for this meeting? And Mr. Cameron, if you could just run the overhead projector, that'd be great, thanks. All right, is everybody ready? Then let's bring in the first person. He's an artist, likes to work in oils. Mr. Vincent Van Gogh, please show your work to the committee."
Van Gogh bowed before the group table. "Hello, everyone. Pleased to meet you. I have four paintings to display. The first is The Potato Eaters, a study in minimal contrast. This next one is Starry Night, then Sunflowers, and finally, a Self Portrait. These offer a broad representation of my talents."
"Huh. The dude with the headband seems kind of out of place," John Tesh offered.
"The bandages were necessary after I cut off my ear. This is a depiction of my true state, afterwards."
"Excuse me," said Chairman McMahon, "you're missing an ear?"
"Yes, this one." Van Gogh turned his head to the left. "It was a very difficult time."
Danielle Steel wrinkled her nose. "That's certainly lurid. And distasteful."
Yanni pointed to one of the middle pictures. "I don't really get the point of the curly clouds. Or the halos around the stars."
"Yes, and the Sunflowers are rather crude," Guy Ritchie added. "You've glopped so much paint on there, the whole thing's a bit bumpy and curdled-looking now."
Van Gogh frowned. "I like to work with texture. Do you see how the flowers appear to be coming out of the canvas? Just so. They are nearly three-dimensional."
"Please," said James Cameron. "I know all about 3-D. You'll never get anywhere with that Kindergarten-level technique. Audiences just won't go for it."
"He's got a point," said Chairmain McMahon. "Mr. Kinkade, any thoughts from you?"
"Well honestly, where to begin? The first painting is so dark, I can hardly see what's going on. Work with the light, man!" Kinkade said. "And when you consider the dull colors and the hideous people, you might as well forget it. That one's completely hopeless. The starry one is kind of pretty, though not at all realistic. The Sunflowers are colorful, but the colors are garish. Soothing pastels, that's what people like, not those horrible oranges and yellows! And the last picture, well… I will simply say that it lacks artistic interest."
"If you really want an audience, put some cleavage on those canvases," Danielle Steel added.
"Okay, then," Chairman McMahon said hastily. "Mr. Van Gogh, I think we've given you enough to work with. Good luck! And remember, we're here to help."
Van Gogh muttered his way out of room, as the Chairman read the summary for the next person on the list. "He's a guitar player, and he says he likes Rock and Roll. Folks, meet Jimi Hendrix."
Hendrix walked into the room and nodded at the committee, then plugged his guitar into the outlet and demo-amplifier. He stepped into the light, brought his fingers to the strings and—
"Hold on, what's happening with that hair?" Yanni burst out.
Hendrix lowered his arm. "You've got to be kidding me," he said.
"No, I agree," John Tesh nodded. "It's really distracting. People will never notice your music with a look like that. The clothes are pretty out-there, too."
Hendrix looked pointedly at Yanni's outrageous mustache and burgeoning locks. "If you say so." He positioned his fingers once again, and began. A burst of static and amp-fed distortion screamed out with his opening notes.
"God, my ears!" James Cameron howled as he dived under the table, bumping into Guy Ritchie. Ritchie was crouching down below and attempting to wrap his entire head inside his leather jacket.
John Tesh teetered in his chair and his eyes watered a little bit, but he nodded encouragingly as Hendrix kept playing.
"—while I kiss the sky!" Hendrix sang, articulating through a series of crunchy, sliding notes.
Jonathan Kellerman waved his arms. "Stop already, just stop! I can't even think, with all that racket going on!"
Guy Ritchie spoke up from under the table. "Yes, and the lyrics don't quite make sense, I'm afraid."
Yanni was staring at the wall with a shell-shocked expression, while Thomas Kinkade nervously smoothed his button-down shirt. John Tesh cleared his throat and drummed his fingers. "Well, I can see that you have a lot of ... enthusiasm for music," he finally said. "Have you thought about something with broader appeal, like pop music or even working as a lounge musician?"
"This is bullshit." Hendrix yanked the cord out of the amp and strode out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
"Well." Ed McMahon worked his way upright again. "That was certainly… something. For a moment, I thought my pacemaker had stopped."
Danielle Steel looked dazedly at his lips. "What?"
"You don't even have a pacemaker," James Cameron remarked.
"You're right. Though I think that's probably even worse," McMahon said.
Yanni finally tore his gaze away from the wall. "I don't think we got through to him," he said sadly.
Danielle Steel's eyes shifted in his direction and she squinted at him in confusion. "What?"
Chairman McMahon looked down at his roster, and tapped it with his pen. "All right, let's move on. This next person is one of Mr. Kellerman's referrals, a writer by the name of Melville. Jonathan, can you give us the overview of his current book?"
"Sure can. The way he described it to me, it's basically the story of an obsessed weirdo and a giant whale."
"Okay, definitely unusual," Chairman McMahon mused. "What else?"
"That's it. The whole book. Over 500 pages, so far."
"You're kidding. That'll never sell on the open market!"
"Exactly," Kellerman said.
Guy Ritchie glanced at Danielle Steel, who was still out of commission. "Is there a lot of action, or is the main character at least charismatic?"
"I don't think so," said Kellerman. "Herm said the character was suffering from a tragic flaw, whatever that means. Sounds completely overblown. You need characters with tiny, insignificant flaws at most, or you'll alienate the readers. I don't know what Herman's thinking."
"All right," McMahon sighed. "Bring him in, and we'll get started."
Kellerman got up and went to the door.
"Might as well have everyone else out there come back tomorrow, while you're at it," McMahon added. "We've really got our work cut out for us with this one."
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