by Andy Capp

The KELO radio tower rises majestically some 2,000 feet over the countryside just south of Sioux Falls. It's a big stick - a twenty minute ride up the elevator threaded through the middle, then however more minutes it takes to scramble up the last 100 feet. Yep, it's big -- and slippery as hell standing there in December.

I'm not sure what brought me here. Maybe it was too many last second Christmas specs. Maybe I had finally convinced myself that my creative well had irrevocably dried up. Whatever the reason, here I was, 1,900 feet in the air (was another 100 feet gonna make much of a difference at this height?), freezing, gathering the courage to go ahead and..."Jump!" I almost did when I heard it. After a second of tower hugging, I looked over my shoulder at the elevator I had supposedly just taken a solitary trip in, and there was, "Tom?" Our General Manager. "What are you doing up here?!"

"I'd ask you the same question, but I found this." He waved a piece of paper at me. It was the same piece of paper I had penned my goodbyes and forgive me's on. Odd though, I had sealed it up and mailed it to my wife.... "Before you came out here? Andy, haven't you learned by now that we General Managers can do anything? Now get in this bucket so we can ride down and talk about this."

"There's nothing to talk about, Tom! I've lost the touch. I can't produce anything creative anymore! How can I support my family like this?! I wish I had never been in radio!!!"

Tom sighed. "Well, looks like we'll have to do this the hard way." With that, he stepped out of the elevator...and off the tower!

"Damn! This was MY death scene," I thought, as I dived to catch him...and landed on the sidewalk in front of KELO's studios? Tom was there too, brushing frost off his trench coat. "Okay, Andy, let's get moving. I have a power dinner in an hour."


"Hold on, wait a minute! You're not doing another Christmas story send-up are you?"

"Well, I was planning on it but..."

"And Tom is some kind of mystical being who teaches you wonderful lessons, sort of a Production Director morality play?"

"Yes, but...hey, what's it to you?!"

"You did that in last December's article."

"No, I did Scrooge last year."

"And what's it going to be next year, the magic hat lands on a snowman and he becomes Frosty the General Manager? You're in a rut, pal."

Look, I don't mean to be rude, but I am in the middle of an article here and, frankly, it's none of your business."

"BZZZZZZ! Wrong answer! Anything you create is my business -- or it was before you gave me the big send-off."

"I'm sorry, I don't remember, your name was...?"

"How soon they forget! Allow me to reintroduce myself. I am you, or at least the creative part of you. I'm the well, the inspiration. I am Muse and I write the songs, or as Readers Digest might put it, I am Andy's Muse."

"I thought a Muse was some kind of being."

"What did you expect, some warrior from the Bronze Age turned spirit guide? You've read too much Shirley Maclaine."

"Oh, man, I do drink too much coffee!"

"Look, Andy, I know this seems strange but, hey, imagine how strange it seemed to me after we had worked so well together for so long and then you locked me out!"

"Locked out?! Come on, I'm always talking about going to my 'creative muse' for ideas."

"And like many creative people, you aren't walking your talk."

"You're saying all creative people give up on their muse?"

"Not all, but some. Look at the Wright Brothers and their muses. Together, an airplane, but get cocky and give up on the Muses and do you think they could come up with any other history changing inventions?"

"You give the Muse a lot of credit."

"I'm not bragging, but as a Muse I am your memory, your vision, your interpretation of the world, and your contribution to the world."

"You want a medal or what?"

"No, I want to help you do what I do best again -- create."

"We've never stopped! I mean, we've been writing and producing a ton of work!"

"No, you've been writing and producing a ton of work. Together, we created a ton of work. You've been going through the motions, re-working the same ideas over and over. Together, we invented original ideas."

"Okay, I have felt a little stale lately. But where have you been? You said I locked you out?"

"You did. The second that the workload got too big, when you decided to settle on good enough, that's when you slammed the door in my face."

"Jeez, I'm sorry. But you're here now, let's get to work."

"Not so fast! You have to be willing to stretch out to me, to shut down your left brain and play around in that place where I live, where anything is possible."

"Like I have time to play..."

"You did when we worked together in the past, and have you noticed that you actually have less time now, wasting time struggling for an idea? Oh, one more thing, I'm starving here. How about some brain food? Do some fun reading, do some puzzles, do a TV show or movie or any entertainment you wouldn't usually do. This is the kind of food I need to stretch, to shuffle and invert and twist and shout memories until something new comes out."

"All right, I'll play. I'll read. I'll grow, but right now the Sales Manager needs his laptop and RAP needs a fax, so can we finish this puppy?"

"Yep, but one more thing: never stop caring about your work, and your Muse will always make sure the finished project is right and creative."

"Amen. Now hang on, we're shifting back to non-italic..."

...So there we were, the whole staff and my wife and kids in the lobby of the radio building singing Auld Lang Syne when the fax machine kicked in.

"Look Daddy, teacher says every time a commercial order is faxed, a General Manager gets his wings."

"You're right, honey. Merry Christmas, Tom! Merry Christmas, Muse! Merry Christmas, Everybody!!!"

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