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guest blog: alesana’s shawn milke on “The Adventures of Paul Minske starring Me Not Me”

Sitting in: A small cafe attached to the venue on a really soft couch
Listening to: “The Decade of Statues” by Between the Buried and Me
Time of day: 6:00 p.m. PST
Day of tour: 19
Hours left until I play: 4 hour and 40 minutes

Writing can sometimes be torturous. Don’t get me wrong, it is a very rewarding and highly relieving form of art. But there are those days when I open my computer and simply stare at a blank screen for what seems like hours. I have written as many as 50 pages worth of material only to slam my computer shut, scream at the wall, and the next day erase every word.

My writing background is primarily cemented in creative writing. I have written several short stories, co-written some small graphic-novel prose in college, and am currently working on my first novel. I have also done a fairly good bit of freelance “fact-spewing” pieces in the form of band biographies, movie and album reviews, and press releases. However, none of these have proved to be as challenging as simply writing about myself. I have definitely acquired a new found appreciation for those who write autobiographies.

It seems it would be simple to write about myself. After all, I am the one living my life and it should be an easy task to regurgitate the happenings I have experienced. The problem that presents itself is determining the things that are worth talking about. Why should people care to read about me? When I am writing a story, the options are endless. I can take my characters on whatever adventure I please. When I am writing a press release or a review I merely state the facts, albeit with a little sugar and spice.  This is an issue that has been weighing on my mind all week in preparation for this piece.

After hours of brainstorming I came up with a fun solution for this week’s blog. I will tell a story about a man named Paul Minske, and he will be portrayed by the stunning and talented Josh Hartnett. C’mon, you cannot honestly tell me that you have never seen Lucky Number Sleven? Epic. I also figured that if I was going to replace myself with a completely fictitious character, then why not replace other places and things in the story with completely random, non-sensical places and things? This is creative writing, people. Let’s have some fun!

To make the story easier to understand I have created a glossary of six important terms to help you along the way.  Enjoy.

1. Paul Minske:  noun. Me (played by Josh Hartnett)
2. Machete:  noun. Guitar
3. The jungle: noun. The stage
4. The Oneders: noun. Alesana
5. Jupiter: noun. Michigan
6. Potato chips: noun. Crowd of people

Chapter One:  The Only Chapter

My head still aches from last night. No, it is not what you think, I am not hungover. I guess the room is still spinning because of the blow I took to the head last night, courtesy of my own hands. I know, I’m an idiot, there is no need to remind me. I keep replaying it over and over again in my mind and I still cannot determine why in the world I did what I did. Machete swings are not difficult for me, at least not anymore. In the beginning they were a nightmare. I probably hit myself in the head at least a dozen times before actually completing one successfully. However, none of them stung like last night. I guess I should have thought twice before attempting such a ridiculous stunt in Jupiter, notorious for crazy potato chips and dangerous jungles.

The show must go on, as they say. Lucky for me, I found some superglue. If only the machete had hit me at the end of the set, then I could have just walked out of the jungle, pushed through all of the potato chips, and out into the crisp Jupiter air to search for proper medical care.  But let’s be honest, how rock and roll would that be? Smart, yes. Safe, absolutely  Rock and roll?  Not at all. (Disclaimer: If you ever injure yourself badly, ignore this stupid story and get help right away. It is not cool to wound yourself and not seek help. Please and thank you.) Unfortunately for me, my blunder took place about midway through our performance. Similar to the times in the jungle when I had strep throat, a dislocated kneecap, and laryngitis, I simply had no choice but to press on: I do not like disappointing our potato chips. Much to my chagrin on this particular evening, we departed the jungle and every potato chip still standing in the sweaty and foggy room in Jupiter erupted with chants of “The Oneders, the Oneders, the Oneders!” On any other night in any other city, I would be elated. But my machete wound was becoming increasingly more painful by the second, and it was a wonder that I was even still standing. I took a deep breath and asked myself three questions. Did Matthew in Wicker Park (also portrayed by Josh Hartnett...I told you, he’s a stud) give up without a fight in his search for Lisa? Did the Beatles throw in the towel when Pete Best was replaced?  Did people not watch Back to the Future II simply because Claudia Wells was now Elizabeth Shue? The answer to all of these questions is clearly and unequivocally “no.”  Paul Minske does not back down from a challenge. Carpe noctum, seize the night.

OK, I know, this story is ridiculous, but I’m trying to make a point. Life is full of challenges, both big and small; waking up in the morning after getting no sleep, running a marathon with a stomach cramp, getting the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube, driving in the snow, changing the channel when American Idol is on, finishing the calzone at Pagliacci Pizza in Seattle. The world of art, whether it be music or writing, drawing or filmmaking, is no different. Writer’s block is awful. But does that mean it has to win every time? The trick is finding another way into the building, so to speak. If the front door is locked, try the back door. If the back door is bolted shut, find a window. The only time we lose is when we give up.

This silly story was my way into the building. Is it true? Every word. I did a guitar swing in Michigan while running across the stage and clocked myself right below my left eye. I bled profusely all over the stage, my guitar, and myself. Did I finish the set? You bet I did. Did I clean off the wound with baby wipes and squeeze it shut with superglue? Yes. Was that a good idea? Absolutely not. But, I’m still in one piece. I guess Paul Minske is a pretty lucky guy.

Stay tuned next week for Chapter 2:  “I Lied, There Is More Than One Chapter”