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Me and Sylvia, smiling for the camera (August 2005)

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Can you win anything better than the useless rewards of a fantastical imagination! Is there any greater honor?

Moominpappa


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Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Let's Listen to

"You'se a Viper" by Stuff Smith Harlem Hamfats [wow! I always thought this was originally a Stuff Smith tune! He was covering Hamfats] -- this is Dale Burleyson and the 4th St. NiteOwls performing a truly spectacular cover version. Dig the washboard, dig the pedal steel and clarinet solos -- fast forward to 20:30:
Or really, don't -- watch the whole concert, get a "Viper" treat midway in. This is the NiteOwls performing a year ago at Barbes -- tonight Ellen and I are going to see them at Tierney's. Can't wait! They are opening for Ruby on the Vine, whose new album is included in the admission.

posted afternoon of June 30th, 2012: Respond
➳ More posts about Songs

Lauren* and Peter (morning)

I want to think about this story (or poem, or poem-story) I am trying to write, without actually working (right now) on writing it -- analyze what I have, what I'm looking for, how to get there, whether it is worth while. Suddenly realized this morning that this blog would be an agreeable venue for such a project -- a journal is the right place for thinking about the writing process. Maybe I'll come up with something useful, maybe not. What I have right now, what seems like a well-crafted kernel for a SOPOPS -- a lovely fun, sing-song meter that is reminding me a bit of "The Raven" and occasional rhyme; two characters Lauren and Peter in a stable, complex relationship, living together, maybe not connecting with each other quite as much as they'd like to, needing and not always finding each other's support; I have the setting as a smallish town, maybe upstate NY, maybe Maryland, and the house they live in, not far from the commercial district of the town. A garden, the the street they live on is not really described yet but I have a vague picture of it in mind -- small houses, the lots are not super-wide but not cramped either. When the story opens it is early morning on a Sunday late in Spring, still pretty dark out but getting light in the east, streetlights are still on. Peter can't sleep, he is walking down the street wishing something was open in town, a shop where he could buy a pack of cigarettes, longing for a little human contact -- and this longing is strange because after all his (wife? long-term girlfriend?) Lauren is back at home, realizing he's not in bed with her, (and the understanding here is that this has been a habit of his, insomnia, not being around early in the morning). Scene changes are kind of loosely spaced here, she's in the bathroom, she hears him downstairs, hopes he's making coffee, then they are both downstairs in the eat-in kitchen with a coffeepot, he's not meeting her eye.

But so now what happens? I'm thinking there was some transaction between them in the last day or two that made the two of them uncomfortable, drove them a little apart, but I'm not sure what it was, quite, and anyway that is more scene-setting, what needs to happen is a plot of some kind that will unfold over the course of the day. Structurally it would be nice to have three chapters, named maybe Morning, Afternoon, Evening, with maybe a Yesterday in between the last two. Hoping the result of whatever happens in the story will be Lauren and Peter feeling a bit more of a connection in the last scene, where they are going to bed Sunday evening, here I could see putting a short bit of conversation, just a couple of lines, and a pleasant visual description of the shadow on the wall by their bedside, possibly even hinted-at hanky panky. So no earth-shattering revelation in other words, just a day in the life, a minor resolution of a minor clash. (Yeah, still nothing in focus, but at least the sense that there is an image there to come into focus.)

* Is this the right name for her? I had "Laura" for a while but last night came to believe that it did not sound quite right. I guess she could also be named "Kathy"... Her husband (or long-term boyfriend) Peter is definitely named Peter. Not sure why but it seems to fit him like a glove.

† The newly-dubbed genre of Story (Or Poem, Or Story-Poem)

posted morning of June 30th, 2012: 1 response
➳ More posts about Poetry

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Morning

Lauren's wishing Peter would just
Drop this false persona, would just
Break this patterned silence
Where he's built a lonesome castle. Now she
Cries out in the morning when she
Wakes and finds him gone. She wishes
He'd reach out and touch her, wants
To hold him in his grief -- she wants to
Have back these long years that
      she's been waiting for his voice. Peter's
Walking in the garden, where his
Winding paths are laid,
Blooming crocus in the springtime, blooming
Hostas in the shade, he wanders
Down the road to town, but nothing's
Open Sunday morning, now he
Rubs his eyes and wonders if he'll
      ever find his home.

Expectation conquers knowledge and the
Evidence of senses; what I
      see and hear and feel
      I'll never grasp, I'll never find;
For all I cogitate and pray I'll never
Sit beside your bedside, seeing
Gauzy patterns traced out
On the page of wounded time.

She gets up, groggy, runs the water,
Steaming up the mirror, she hears
Peter downstairs in the kitchen,
      hopes he's making coffee,
Lauren's tired out, she didn't sleep well,
Combs her hair and squints and in the
Mirror she can see the look of
      anguish on her face.
She's downstairs with a cup of coffee,
Looking quizzically at Peter,
Peter's solemn face that just
can't seem to meet her gaze.
A question's in the air and they both know it, but the
      heavy silence keeps their lips held tight; keeps
Heavy thoughts drawn back to yesterday.

Still having some trouble figuring out where to take this. It seems like it could potentially make a really good short story in verse; but (a) how fucking pretentious would that be? and (b) I don't have a story, just a setting of the scene and introduction of characters. I guess that's as good a place as any to start at a story, but it's not any significant portion of the whole task.

posted evening of June 29th, 2012: 3 responses
➳ More posts about Writing Projects

Third draft: I love a good coincidence!

This morning, riding the train from Mountain Station, I happened to be looking through a notebook of mine, having a hard time pushing myself to write, so just rereading some pieces I've written over the past year or so and fretting about how they are not good enough... I found an early draft of the poem "Morning", which I really enjoyed reading, was even having a hard time picturing anything that could be changed to make it better -- a nice time reading. (But can also be a bit worrysome, like "Hm, well it is not good enough and yet I enjoy reading it; ergo my taste in poetry is poor.") Happily(?), it did not take too many repeated readings to start hearing missed timings and improper tones...

Then this evening, back home, I was looking at my blog and noticed a referral from Orbis Quintus (a READIN-editorial-favorite blog for interesting links about archæology and more, which has been dormant for a while but is back in a big way this past week or so) to an old page of mine, one which coincidentally features midway down a later (second?) draft of the poem in question. Well! It did not take much to persuade myself that that was what I should be working on this evening. It's getting better, the poem, and it was pretty good to start with I think, with just a couple of semi-glaring flaws that came out to me a little more with each rereading. I will post the version I'm working on now a little later.

posted evening of June 29th, 2012: 1 response
➳ More posts about Projects

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Suicide is Painless

The truth is you already know what it's like. You already know the difference between the size and speed of everything that flashes through you and the tiny inadequate bit of it all you can ever let anyone know. As though inside you is this enormous room full of what seems like everything in the whole universe at one time or another and yet the only parts that get out have to somehow squeeze out through one of those tiny keyholes you see under the knob in older doors. As if we are all trying to see each other through these tiny keyholes.
"Good Old Neon", the fifth story in David Wallace's 2004 collection Oblivion, is just an excruciating story to read. Especially (of course) in light of Wallace's ultimate fate, and especially the last two pages of the story; but even without the author's suicide, even without those last two pages, the story brings the reader unbearably close to the mental process of contemplating suicide and of being driven to contemplate suicide. The act of identifying with the narrator (and of identifying with the author, identifying with his character) is excruciating.

posted evening of June 27th, 2012: Respond
➳ More posts about David Foster Wallace

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Have you seen the well-to-do, up on Lenox Avenue...

Let's listen to Puttin' on the Ritz.

Bunch of versions at the link, mostly brand-new to me. Check em out! Sheet music here.

posted evening of June 24th, 2012: Respond
➳ More posts about Cover Versions

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

New Hat!


on a sunny day in June.Thanks, Ellen!

posted morning of June 23rd, 2012: Respond
➳ More posts about the Family Album

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Coming out

Jose Antonio Vargas asks, a year after his essay for the Times Magazine, "Why have I not been deported? How do you define American?"

posted afternoon of June 18th, 2012: Respond

Original, traditional, cover

Here's the brand-new podcast from Mountain Station,

posted afternoon of June 18th, 2012: Respond
➳ More posts about Mountain Station

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Speaking of Hitchhiker's Guide and LOTR...

He grinned at them particularly because he knew that in a few minutes, he would be giving them one hell of a quote.
I have to wonder if any readers have commented on the similarities between Zaphod's theft of the Heart of Gold, and Bilbo Baggins's eleventyfirst birthday party.

I had totally forgotten this: every time I say or write "This is obviously some strange new use of the word (whatever the word is) that I was previously unfamiliar with" (which happens with nonzero frequency), I am making a reference to Arthur Dent and to the Hitchhiker's Guide. Don't know if Adams was the inventor of the construction but this is certainly the first place I ever saw it.

posted evening of June 17th, 2012: Respond
➳ More posts about The Lord of the Rings

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