GloPoWriMo: Day 3

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Album Titles for Boy Band

(You make me) Feel
Like a unicorn, baby

(Feel)
the Grace

(Of the beautiful)
Paper sky

Eat it!
the Dance
the Day
the End of Night

My maknae
(Snowflake)

Oppa aegyo
Come on, hyung.

Let me be
(Your bias)

Daily Prompt: Write “a list poem in which all the items are made-up names,” from Na/GloPoWriMo site.

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S-Boys: Episode 13 – Dating Ban

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The boys started developing real chemistry–not like ammonium nitrate and powdered aluminum, kaboom! More like crushed rose petals and water, sweet! A grooving solution.

They started sounding good together, too.

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Wouldn’t be long, and I’d start giving them some 72 hour missions: quick covers we’d video and release on YouTube as teasers. We’d record their preparation, too, so our early fans could get a taste of how they worked together.

Akira clearly was the leader–everybody followed him. He led them into riff on one of my old tunes, Fiddle Up a Creek.

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Tony called me over when they finished.

“Miss Sierra,” he said. He’d taken to calling me that, like a schoolboy. It caught on with the other guys, too. More as a joke, than anything, but underneath the joking was a liner of respect, so I didn’t object. “I like your song,” he continued. “I just can’t get the base line right. Sing it with me?”

I took the melody. He beatboxed along, and then launched into a low harmony.

Like a fiddle up a creek

Mama, make my knees go weak.

When the devil’s got the bow

Got some trouble we could sow.

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“That was great, Tony,” I said when we finished. “That beatboxing is really helping your rhythm, and your base line is just fine.”

“Thank you, Miss.”

It was autumn. We’d been training for six weeks. So far, it started looking like each of the guys would make it through the three-month clause.

I headed out to rake leaves. We coulda hired a gardener–we coulda hired twelve. The boys could chip in, and they sometimes did. But I found that the garden work kept me relaxed, and there’s nothing like repetitive physical labor, i.e. raking leaves, to develop focus.

I was planning the covers for our 72-hour challenges. We’d do unit groups, I’d decided.

“Sierra?”

I turned to see Akira walking towards me.

“Akira! You sounded great in there. What’s up?”

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“Been doing a lot of thinking,” he said. “It’s pretty obvious what we gotta do.”

“And what’s that?”

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“We need a dating ban!” he said.

A what?

“Akira, we’re not JYP,” I replied. A three-to-four year dating ban was customary with most K-Pop companies for groups in the years leading up to and after debut. But I wasn’t sure how it’d translate over here. I knew our schedules were tight, and we demanded discipline, but a dating ban?

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“It’s the only thing,” he said. “Keep our focus. Keep us on track. Channel all that energy into our music. We just don’t have time for messing around with people outside the group. Friends, maybe. For mental health. But more? No way. Not for five years. A five year dating ban.”

“I don’t know, Akira. It sounds so Draconian.”

“I already talked to the guys,” he said. “They’re all for it. We’ve pledged.”

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I couldn’t stop them from adopting a dating ban, if they chose it. But I wanted them to be clear it was their choice, their decision. This was not something that Summer Production Company was forcing on anybody.

We had a chance to test their commitment at an upcoming photo shoot.

We went to the city for its annual Romance Festival to get photos for album liners, posters, teasers, calendars, and fan give-aways.

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On the ferry, I overheard the boys talking about the dating ban.

“Anything for the band, I’m up for,” said Vee-Jay. “For art! I’d give up breathing for music because music is breath!”

“But you gotta breathe to sing, man,” said Joey.

“It’s a metaphor,” said Vee-Jay.

“Yeah, we have met afore,” said Joey. “How could you forget this face?”

But at the festival, the gravity of their pledge sunk in.

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Five years. No dating. Not even inside the group. No romantic complications. No distractions. All music. All dance. All the time. Focus. Concentration. Dedication.

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It was too much for some of these romantic souls.

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But I noticed Joey didn’t seem too phased. I don’t think it was that he didn’t care about dating. I think it was that he didn’t care about rules. More power to him, within reason, of course.

We got through the festival, and I got some good shots. I ended up liking the love-worn expressions the boys gave. We could package it for the fans, like “Missing you.”

“No love without you.”

Slogans like that.

“We don’t need to date when we’ve got a cat,” Akira said the next morning.

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I wasn’t so sure Joey and Rylan agreed. I had the distinct feeling they were redefining the word “date.” And maybe even the word “ban.” Is it a date if you don’t leave the house? And does “ban” mean, like, for not at all?

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S-Boys: Episode 4 – House Rules

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One of our nearest neighbors, Supriya Delgato, stopped by on contract-signing day.

“Hi,” she said. “I noticed you have some new people moving in?”

“Yes,” I said. “It’s business.”

“Oh?”

“Right. Remember I mentioned I was a producer? Well, I’m producing.”

“OK, then.”

“OK. See ya! Kinda busy, but be sure to stop by anytime!” I waved to her back as she walked off.

I was more than busy. Each of the guys was arriving that day, and as they did, I had to go over the house rules with them, make sure they knew what they were getting into, and then see if they were ready to sign the contract.

“So, Tony,” I said to the Living Statue. “I take it you’re no stranger to discipline and hard work.”

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He thought a moment.

“Not hardly,” he said. “Takes a lot of fortitude and dedication to freeze in a pose for well on an hour or more.”

“That’s what I figured! Great! Then you’ll have no problems with what’s required to be an S-Boy!”

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I laid out the expectations. They all got Sunday off. Easy! As for the rest? Six hours a day, six days a week, they would dedicate to singing practice, dancing lessons, some form of body culture (yoga, swimming, basketball, exercise machines), and maintaining their social media presence.

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“Sounds awesome!” said Tony.

On top of that, we’d have two to four hours of rehearsal six days a week and time for creative–which involved writing songs, composing music, creating art for liner notes, writing poetry to share with fans, that sort of thing.

“So, basically, we have no life?” Tony said.

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“Well, no,” I replied. “You have a life. It’s just that your life is the S-Boys.”

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Then there was the three-month clause. The contract lasted for a year, with the plan that we’d begin production on the first album in six months, after the intensive training season. But at three months, we’d revisit the contract. We’d each be given the option to be released from it at that time, if we felt that, for any reason, it wasn’t working out. I knew that everything rested on the chemistry of the group. We’d know in three months if we had it. And if we didn’t, I needed the freedom to juggle members at that time. And as for the guys, they might discover that band-life is not for them. I didn’t want anybody feeling stuck, because if they made it past the three-month mark, they were in. Hopefully for the life of the band. Which, hopefully, would be for a good long time. Six comebacks, at least. Maybe more. After the six-month mark, they really wouldn’t have a life beyond S-Boys.

Tony sat very still. Like a statue. I showed I could out-statue him.

“What do you say?” I asked stoically. “Can you handle it?”

“I can handle it,” he replied, just as stoically, back.

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To my surprise, every one of them agreed. Even Joey, the cute bartender. And, even though it was Sunday when we signed contracts, Joey didn’t waste his free day. He got right to work on the wall. Guy’s gotta keep his assets looking good!

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I’d explained about the cameras. It was spelled out in the contract, but I wanted to make sure they understood. Every room except the bathrooms was equipped with cameras. The cameras in the bedrooms could be switched on or off at their discretion, so they would always have a private retreat at hand. The cameras in all the other rooms were always on, and any footage from them could be used in live-streams, youtubes, snapchats, or any other social, promotional, or documentary outlet.

Publicity. Promotion. Public exposure. It was all part of being in a boy band.

We got some great footage from the first day.

*****

Tony: Hey, you into this, Joey?

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Joey: The ATP’s flowing. I’m feeling pretty high.

Tony: Yeah, great work-out gear, man! Tell you what, you show me around the climbing wall, I’ll show you around the punching bag! Is it a deal?

Joey: Yeah, OK. I guess.

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*****

OK, so maybe on its own, the footage isn’t that great. But when you think about the future context, the setting-up of the moment, I had a feeling, even then, that this would be one of those clips shared in every fan mixup. “First meeting between Joey and Tony!” #S-BoysDayOne! #S-BoysFavoriteShip!

Supriya dropped by again later that afternoon, on the pretense of delivering some apples she’d picked from their tree.

“So, let me get this straight,” she said. “The band is living here?”

“That’s right.”

“And they’re all guys? How many?”

“Five,” said Akira.

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“It’s a boy-band,” I said. “I mentioned I was a producer, right?”

Even though it was Sunday, moving-in day, and the day off, Tony found the home gym upstairs. He spent a few hours working out. I knew, even then, that we were going to really appreciate his dedication and intensity.

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It provided a good counter-balance for the others, who knew all-too-well the meaning of “easy.”

All right, so Joey had snuck in a bonus work-out on the climbing wall. And moving was exhausting under the best conditions. I’m not one to begrudge a Sunday afternoon nap,  especially when I thought of the labor that would start in earnest the next day. But if half of the future-ship was napping, I felt a little relieved that the other half was upstairs working out.

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S-Boys: Episode 1 – Can’t be Taught

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The enterprise begins at Waterside Warble, on a sunny Sunday morning. I’m dressed for the part, I’ve got my confidence going, we’re doing this thing!

I’m Sierra Summer. You probably know me as a washed up former folk star. But baby, you don’t know what’s coming!

I’ve pulled together all my royalties, divested all my investments, pooled all my resources, and I’ve been reborn, reinvented, revisualized as Hi-Glam Producer of none-other-than the next upcoming boy band, the S-Boys!

What, you’ve never heard of them? Just wait. Six months from now, they’ll be top of every pop chart like a hot breakfast pop tart!

And you, since you’re here now, before they’ve even begun, you’ll get to say you “knew them when.”

You know them before there even was a them.

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I posted on Social about the auditions. Even promoted a few posts and took out an ad or two.

But there was no line of cute teens waiting to try out.

No matter. I was not fazed. I took the nearest empty room, in purple, nonetheless, my all-time favorite color, and warmed up the joint. Oh, yes. I can still sing.

You make me feel… 

After I finished serenading the empty room, I headed to the juice bar, ordered a lassi, and waited. And waited.

And then, the first guy showed up. Vivaan Rameesh.

Lucky thing I brought my drink with me.

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Luckier yet I asked the juice-girl to spike it for me.

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This guy was terrible.

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I mean, terr-i-bull!

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Oooh-ew! Chile… 

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Something was sour, and it wasn’t my spiked mango lassi.

Thingzer gonna git eezier…

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Yeah, no.

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I mean, he couldn’t hold a tune!

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Thingzer gonnagit briiiiiter!

He had no sense of rhythm.

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Ooooh-ew, chiii-aye-ald… 

He had no concept of phrasing.

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Lemme love you… 

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If you love me… 

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But he had something.

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And we’ll happy be…

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He was creative. Innovative, even.

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Oooh-ew, chile, lemme love you brighter!

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He was actually kind of adorable, in a geeky, awkward, one-of-a-kind way.

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I could actually kind of see it working.

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I mean, anybody can learn to sing, right?

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And, with enough work and coaching, anybody can learn to dance.

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But to make up lyrics? To throw your heart and soul into a piece, even when you’re struggling like a pup in the deep end? To have that kind of endearing, indescribable, oblivious charisma?

That can’t be taught! A person is born with that!

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He finished as suddenly as he started and we both drowned in the momentary silence.

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“Oh, God,” he said. “I am so sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

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He closed his eyes. He couldn’t even bear to look at me.

“Vaneer,” I said, my voice breaking the quiet, “I think you’ve got something.”

“It’s Vivaan.”

“What?”

“My name. It’s Vivaan. Vivaan Rameesh.”

“Oh. What do you think of the name Vaneer? Never mind. You’ve got something, Vivaan!”

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“Yeah, I don’t think so,” he said. “I dunno what I was thinking. I should’ve stayed home today.”

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“I’ll admit, your singing can use some work. And your dancing can use even more. And it might not hurt to learn about rhythm. And pacing. And phrasing.”

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“But you’ve got a quality, Vaneer!”

“Vivaan.”

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“Frankly, you’re adorable.”

He didn’t look like he believed me.

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“And adorable can’t be taught!”

He cracked his first smile.

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“See what I’m saying?” I said, and he showed me his dimples. “I think you’ve got what I’m looking for. What do you say we get together and go over a contract and you can see if this thing might work out for you, too?”

He clapped. See what I’m saying? You don’t learn that in any school of rock. That’s just pure, unabashed, adorableness.

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I think we’ve got our first S-Boy!

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Author’s note: Yup! We’ve got a new series, Sierra and the S-Boys! Inspired by Got7 (especially, the Got7 Eat series), this will offer a light interlude in-between Puppy Love and Lighthouse chapters, which I’ll still be updating regularly.