Defeating the villain was (seemingly) the point of the previous chapter, but we still have 3 songs left. What’s next? It’s about to get weird…
Just like the song says: “Love on a budget doesn’t make much sense anymore.”
A simple line, I embraced the second half of that lyric here—but that’s not how it used to be. The first draft of “Love On A Budget” was one of the first sections I wrote out of order for this project, way back in the NaNoWrimo 2014 initial phase when I thought it would be one short story per song ala episodes of The Monkees and not a proper novel with an overarching plot. The original was deep in play by play, Abbott & Costello zany banter land riffing on the love budget. Fun in the creation phase, but not really an appropriate place to resume the C & Benji buddy comedy stuff after taking down Evilon. (Heck, I didn’t even know Evilon was going to show up when I wrote that version.) The chapter could start in the classic C & Benji style, but had to quickly move to something else entirely. Something that didn’t make much sense…
Now, as a whole L Extreme draws on situations and names that populate Benji Hughes songs and mashes them into an original plotline featuring characters inspired by the music and the muse. But Evilon was different—he’s an actual character in the outer space frame story setting up the brilliant LILILIL concept album. I was reluctant to go too much into Evilon’s backstory beyond the tiny bit of canon found in the original source recordings. but I also didn’t want to leave everything completely hanging regarding Evilon & Frank’s motivations. I especially felt a need to reveal who Frank really is—another tie to LILILIL.
During a session attempting to let the business card scraps spell it out, a better way struck me. In Alex Garland’s novella The Coma, there’s random sets of ALL CAPS TEXT screamed by a loud, jittery voice to signify the narrator losing his mind. But all is not as it seems. Taking the first letter of each capped word forms a sentence expanding on the plot of the book. The technical term is an acrostic, a form of hidden message popular in the middle ages but less common today.
C gets struck by Lon magic once again, this time making his seemingly nonsensical ramblings spell out secret messages. The hint is when he yells out LOAB—an acronym for this chapter’s namesake song, “Love On A Budget.”
(And yes, this whole blog post contains a paragraph level acrostic confirming something suggested yet not explicitly stated in the novel…)
- Every draft included “Can’t Buy Me Love” here, but L & Frank weren’t always present.
- But the original also had a cool Mathnet reference, yet frankly the darling needed killing from square one.
- “Elvis & Costello” was a deleted recurring joke where C would refer to the old comedy team erroneously.
- Now we reach the fifth list in the book, this one outlining the budgetary love items from the song. In the paperback the font is based on the handwriting of Benji Hughes.
- Jive like “Give me numbers. Get to the point” paraphrases Squeak the robot from LILILIL.
- In using the pencil, only the Haywood Park Hotel Soap is left from the trick-or-treating haul of handy items.
- “Side effects of Lon magic include dreams, memory loss, hallucinations, musical television crossovers, acronyms, or gibberish…” in Frank’s disclaimer should have replaced acroynym with acrostic had I known the term before writing the above intro.
- Likewise learned today: a completely alphabetical acrostic (like the narrator has here) is an abecedarius, created in tribute to “the sacred nature of letters and the mystical significance of these types of arrangements.” Works for me.
Insider Bonus: Here are some deleted secret messages from prior drafts:
- LILILIL love: “I think maybe I’m going home tonight. Beyond enjoying bent ear nomad jittery idealistic setbacks, by equal suggestion the wall of regret kills.”
- On LX: “Better eleven to ten erstwhile readers to hear a narrator than hundreds in shambles because of our keen formulaic optimism ruining scenes under regular evenings.”
- Next level meta: “Far reaching and now knowledgable, creators often need to react on lessons so you’ll offer understanding. New original works. He only wants direct input during yearly outdoor utilization for initially named doors to help identify some meaningful example symbolism such as genius enables.”
Enjoy L Extreme
Stupendous live performance video: