The catch-all for items related to and/or inspired by the music that shaped me.
Music has played a role in nearly every situation of my life. This is where I'll be collecting items inspired by those moments- poems, lyrics, blog entries- the soundtrack of me. |
I may also contribute blog-style entries here from time to time:
And this month, I've decided to take part in...
"Choose a Famous Birthday for today and tell us why you think they should be celebrated."
Yo yo yo!! What's up y'all! This blog is telling me I haven't posted an entry since March 12th...and most of y'all know life's been crazy on this end since then a few months after then. I could sit here and talk all day about how my first WDC Give it 100! attempt became a published book, but that's not what I'm here for and I'm getting enough social media promotion now that I'm worried about Norb fatigue.
So, what am I doing here? I have had the urge to write for the last couple days now, but not in my Wordpress blog or in my poetry notebooks (although I have recently posted some old and new ones in "World By Design" , which you can catch up with more easily at "Note: You guys!! It's been s..."). It's time to hang out for a short spell with some old friends again, back in my old haunt. Props to the blogging gods and Jingle Dragon's on HOLIDAY! , for having the energy to do this today and the given prompt which I feel comfortable working with.
Today I'm going with a television legend and a comedic icon, or a television icon and comedic legend, Johnny Carson ...born on this day in 1925. A game show and variety show host, he became the standard in late-night tv viewing...Carson set the template eventually for every late-night talk/comedy show that followed:
short comedic skit (or interlude)
First celebrity guest, usually talking about a recent movie or tv role
Second celebrity guest, usually not as famous or important but still hawking some current project
Musical or comedic performance closing the show
When I filled up my first or second blog (I can't remember) and I was writing for different blogging groups (many times both in the same day), and I was accepting that people liked and enjoyed what I wrote, I made a powerful decision that impacted what I did and how I went about blogging...
I wanted to be the Johnny Carson of blogging.
No bullshit...I'd seen so many of his shows and how his predecessors and his influences operated, and I wanted to bring that feeling into my world with what I was doing. And you can see that in "Who do I still think I am??" and "Still Figurin' Out Who I Think I Am" , just in the layout alone. I'd answer a couple prompts after a short intro, throw in a song clip, end it with a few random ha-has, and after I signed off with my signature GOODNIGHT NOW!! I'd toss in another short semi-hilarious yet relevant comedy clip. That's the format that works for me, and that's where the formula came from. There are a few times (like today) when I veer from that, but sometimes that's necessary to fully get out what you want and nothing else seems to fit the script.
I can't tell you how many times I've been asked "What makes a good blog entry?" The question stumps me...the winner of several "30-Day Blogging Challenge" rounds, eventual runner of it, and multiple WDC Quill Award winner for blogging while doing that. The best advice I can give is Make It Yours. It's yours from the beginning, and in order to be good, something needs to stand out from the rest of the pack. Two-to-three sentence answers don't make for a good entry. Prompts that can be answered basically by a yes/no response require more work on your end than that. Relate to your audience, once you learn who that audience is...and take advantage of the newsfeed and "The Blog Board" . Talk to your other friends through blog comments and IMs...build your own community within the community...the "30-Day Blogging Challenge" has been bringing people together in unlikely ways for years! Those are my best hints...other than "I know what I don't like!"
For real though...Johnny Carson is a legit influence on my life. I remember falling asleep to his show on a tiny b/w tv with foil on the rabbit ears after homework and a little studying in high school, like many people. It remains the best way to end my day...falling asleep to late-nite talk shows (or cartoons, depending on the time...but I try to time my bedtime so I can at least catch the Seth Meyers desk monologue and A Closer Look ). And I'm ok with this...in a world full of hatred and destruction all around, sometimes you need the comfort of laughter to get you through the rest of your night.
With all that said, my friends...this isn't my typical blog entry. Just wanted to give y'all an update and share some thoughts with my people. Thanks to Emily and Jingle Dragon's on HOLIDAY! today, and to everyone who's supported me for buying a copy of my book. Mad love to all y'all. GOODNIGHT NOW!!
This is what the best WDC blog comment sections
should look like.
"What are you looking forward to?"
What's up you guys? Double-banger today, as I try to finagle a "Pursue the Horizon" entry along with a "Blogging Circle of Friends " prompt...and in my haste of settling on one, I realized the basis for doing the other was totally wrong because I saw #NationalNappingDay trending on Twitter and instantly mistook that for Prosperous Snow 's prompt . That's on me y'all...for gettin' too far ahead of myself in this on a day when I wasn't planning on exerting my blog-stench muscle(s) .
The whole idea of me doing this came together when a Gord Downie tribute account on Twitter posted a screenshot of the singer kicked back on the lake, napping with a book. After reading the thread, I learned the pic came from the video for "Chancellor", off his first solo album. Initial pressings of that album were accompanied by a poetry book bearing the same title, Coke Machine Glow ...and I honestly don't remember seeing the video before (although I may have): sometimes his solo work outside The Tragically Hip is harder to track down on YouTube. The book not only contains the lyrics to the songs on the album, but also a body of work that blows open the idea of "Canadian Rock Singer" into something more personal and diverse than his previous works suggested...it laid the foundation for him later being nominated for high Canadian honors and consideration for Ontario's Poet Laureate award being named after him (and yes, I'm confusing details and too lazy to look up actual citations. but these are real things you can also look up as per your own interests...I'm an unpaid blogger, not a journalist ).
Anyway, while there aren't many obvious love songs in Das Hips catalogue, Gord's solo work definitely contains a few with slightly less-veiled references...and really, writing a decent love poem nowadays (in my opinion) involves quite a bit of veils (not the matrimonial kind) and finding the right balance of obscurity in the metaphors (but not too much, because no one gets all the inside jokes that might go into the meat of the wordplay). The music accompanying the words is also a stark contrast...your basic blues-rock band that doesn't often steer too far from the middle of the road, versus tamer (and often acoustic) settings scaled back with the gentlest of sometimes awkward touches.
"Chancellor" -Gordon Downie
"I'm discovering uses for you I thought I'd never find.
I could've made chancellor without you on my mind."
Are there better songs on the album (and better poems in the book)? Sure, but don't ask me about them right now...this is what I came here for today, so this is what you're getting . Again, Google .
I knew I liked the slow, smooth mellowness when I first heard this, and probably had thoughts on the lyrics too...but that was practically a generation ago. I do, however, remember walking to one of the local grocery stores last spring after coming home from a week of cleaning out my brother's bedroom- where he'd had hidden away approximately half of my cd collection (including all my Hip/Gord discs) out of spite for grabbing as much of my shit as he could from the house my ex and I shared- and this song came on the trusty ol' iPod for the first time. I should've been pissed that he lied to me when I'd asked him if he was sure my cds were gone, but no...caught up in the wave of way too many other things still in processing, I focused in on rediscovering what I thought might've been lost forever.
At a first glance or listen, the lyrics might lead you to the sacrifices (no matter how big or small) we make for others, especially those we're in the tightest quarters with physically and/or emotionally. I mean, I could probably annotate this song (and many of Gord's lyrics) with personal anecdotes that don't, in his words, "serve the song" . And the word "sacrifice" itself seems so...holy, or something; wholly ghostly maybe, or some other batch of words I don't feel like rearranging right now.
Seconds from pajamas I must
First open all the doors and the windows
And invite the vampire in to be one of us
Then in the guise of cool air
In the softer hours he's there
Sitting talking in the voice of your mother
About leaving one good party for another
And the night of a thousand missteps
And the loss that made him dogged
Or it could have been the doggedness
That caused the loss in the first place I guess
I'm discovering uses for you I thought I'd never find
I could've made chancellor without you on my mind
Crazy daisies and wooden stars
The threat of oxygen on Mars
Marching armies in the night
Smiling strangers riding by on bikes
Children smoking, sloganeers on mics
Just a few things most vampires don't like
I'm discovering uses for you I thought I'd never find
I could've made chancellor without you on my mind
Before the dawning's first light I must
First close up all the doors and the windows
And try to trap that cool air in to be one with us
I'm discovering uses for you I thought I'd never find
I could've made chancellor without you on my mind
But in repeated readings, you see things in yourself and in others that get lost in the idea of sacrificing. Sure, there's the idea of "someone else keeping you from being something you could've been, but you're ok with that because the greater goal together is bigger than your grand plans" and in some respects that's pretty sweet and romantic. Deeper in though, especially the second verse, you're confronted with the reality of everything you're letting in when one door closes and another opens. People like to call that "opportunity" in their favorite workspeak jargon, but no one ever really talks about the downside of what's behind that new door when one's been slammed behind you. In fact, no one talks about what kinds of houses all these doors are opening and closing on people are like...which is bullshit, and people need to stop talking about other peoples' houses in such general, garbage terms .
For about two or three months before my brother died, I'd been taking some online classes through the local career center. They were boring but it was alright, and I was disciplined enough to complete some Office Management requirements, but the process wasn't going to get me as far as completing it in part because the local liaison for the program loved to pretend she gave a shit about my concerns. Still, I was rollin' right along until we lost Doug. After coming back from my mom's and getting resettled for a bit before going back for Christmas, it was just hard recapturing my discipline and dedication to the courses. My ability to pay attention had waned, drastically. There was no focus left...and with that went my ability to pursue a renewal of the software license I had once it expired, without the help of the same liaison between the employment center and the software company. She wasn't easy to deal with...in part because her job involves setting people up for this program- that the center pays for- who wind up ditching. I tried to keep in touch with her, but it wasn't enough. I got my dates wrong and had to rely on her, even after getting her word that I'd been doing so well from the get-go. I thought she had my back and became more understanding than she was, but that's on me for trusting her...although what was I supposed to say? In retrospect I should've advocated for myself better and been up-front with why I'd missed classes and deadlines...but I also didn't want that to be dismissed, as if I were searching for any ol' excuse this lady had likely heard a boatload of times already (making her job and therefore her own miserable-ass self more miserable in the process). I tried, but it was some "too little, too late" shit on my end (thanks, anxiety ). Now I've got a flash drive full of class completion certificates for a program most employers are probably gonna stare at me like "You made this shit up, didn't you?" and then I'll have to tell them that I proudly did not because I'm not that computer-programmingly gifted and also because I couldn't handle my second attempt at college when I was like 40 and from there, well, you can imagine all the maniacal spaghetti meltdowns your fork could go into and spin and turn and yank up from there.
What a fucking mess of a left turn this entry took, huh.. Wasn't even gonna mention my brother. Or my little-known third collegiate failure (my second was kinda a big deal especially to me, but that's around the time Cinnamon Fruitcake and Charlie both went back, and when I bottomed out from that I kept expectations for the third time level next to nothing). Guess it's these kinds of things that pop up in my mind when I'm planning trips back home...and a WDC Mod gives you a nonsensical review (legit thing...no names or titles mentioned but if I'm not mistaken I believe Cinnamon Fruitcake ...you had a row with her awhile back too and it baffles me how some people...never mind...I'll catch up with you about it later probably, cuz goin' at it here isn't my style). But that's the vampire of life, isn't it (getting back to the original point of this entry, finally...the fucking song )? Eventually you've gotta let things out to let others in, and vice/versa. Take the hard truths along with the misconceptions. Know that sacrifices aren't a one-sided proposition...which is something I still struggle with, from both sides.
And sometimes, when the light clicks on you just gotta open up and roll with it . Especially when you don't have a plan. 'Cept now it's too late to look forward to the nap I originally planned on taking as my response to the "Blogging Circle of Friends " prompt...and that's gonna mess me up in other ways cuz now I don't feel like cooking or eating either, which means the even lesser-thought-thru plan of waiting for the cds I bought as part of Kittiara 's birthday gift to come in so I can send them off (which is more "inside info" that should stay between us, but here I am, saying nothing by saying...nothing) is my answer to what I'm waiting for, since I'm no longer requesting of myself a nap and will probably wake up at stupid o'clock again tomorrow because time changes change everything .
Thanks for putting up with me today! I've had a day besides all this wordiage, so it's great you came. Hope all y'all are swell...peace, it could have been the doggedness, and GOODNIGHT NOW!!
Hey friends! Well, I've sufficiently been inspired enough to convince myself that today's as good as any to add another poem to my "Pursue the Horizon" experience this year ...and although I haven't looked back into past entries for today's selection, I know I've talked about this guy before in some way or another, so I'mma do it again.
I don't remember if I'm allowed to say this or not, but a few years ago after going on a Saul Williams-related diatribe in another blog, my wonderful friend Lyn aka Hecate sent me a few of his books that I no longer owned because life. And I'm happy to say that today I went into the closet with all the books on the shelves (y'all really have no idea how amazing the closet space is in this apartment ), pulled out his books, and started flippin' through 'em...'til I remembered this one fact about his work: he doesn't title his fucking poems.
Nope. They're a graphic designer's dream I guess (especially , said the shotgun to the head , which was my introduction to him during my first stint at Waldenbooks in part because the shape of the book made it stand out from all the others in their poorly-themed and [and stocked] Literature section). The books themselves use little symbols or pictures to break up separate pieces, but they're largely without any other identification...making them read more like novels and forcing you to study the individual concepts as part of a greater whole.
And here's me, bored with the idea of reading right now ...I settled on She (another graphic artist's dream, in title alone: it's basically S -square root symbol- HE, and the site I use that has all the ALT-key codes indexed doesn't have one for "square root"...furthering my hypothesis that mathematics shouldn't be that big a part of poetry anyway ). I fanned open the book, flipping the opposite side of the spine through my fingers like I was shuffling a deck of cards, and wound up on the same page of the poem printed on the back cover...
my feminine side
she cut the stems
and placed them gently
down my throat
and these tu lips
might soon eclipse
your brightest hopes
Even without the context of the poetry leading up to or following this bit, there's a lot going on in these nine scant, precise lines. Every woman likes flowers, until you meet one who doesn't (and suspects you did something wrong upon receiving them, rather than appreciating a nice romantic gesture from out of nowhere). Women like sensitive men...until you date one who doesn't understand why certain songs can make you cry. And everyone involved in a relationship wants the same good things from that unification...but then roles become more defined, and attitudes develop and change with circumstances, and reality overtakes and diminishes the aura of happiness in favor of but now this. Without question. And you know this, man ...because it's happened to every one of all y'all muhfuggahs in one way or another, from both perspectives (the flower-giver, and the flower-eater).
People say things like "Most relationships fail because of arguments over money" or "You need to have the same backgrounds for things to work" and I say that's all bullshit (but what do I know man...my life's roadmap is dotted with questionable relationships attempted and failed). I think power is an often overlooked and definitely underrated cause of failure, because too many people value it for some sort of unrelated validation. Showing someone something that can be mistaken as or perceived as weakness can get you eaten up alive, especially if the other person is coming at you from a position of "I need to make this work for me" before saying "We need to make this work for both of us". Might sound like some lame-ass bullshit Dr. Phil routine, but you know it's true, especially if it's happened to you (and maybe to a lesser extent if you're a narcissistic twat-waffle playin' cuz she don't get played...annnnnd I'mma reel this back in before my entry turns into an episode of Jerry Springer ).
Anyway, back to Saul Williams...his books are captivating. If there's such a category in all of literature as "poetic page-turners that you can't wait to see how they end, just like novels, but it's poems! " then he's the god damn President/Prime Minister/Poet Laureate of that country. There's a lot of good poetry out there, and a lot that doesn't rely on tropes of love and heartbreak and loss and recovery to tell you about those same things. If I'm being honest, he made writing fun for me again after one of the many lulls (you and) I have been through. His non-traditional books shook up my ideas of what it meant to be published; the presentation was far different than the stale, institutionalized form that smells like decrepit library books past the due dates last stamped on the insides from 1973. And of the more recent poets I've read, it kinda sucks that they haven't done more of what he did as far as design goes, but...indie poets need backing and have to bend (usually to colleges who put them on some kind of mentor nonsense), while Williams was an old Def Poetry Jam vet who worked his talent into having more resources at his disposal for publishing purposes and parlayed some fame into bigger projects. Basically, check him out. If you're as dismayed by the stereotypes you attract, inhabit, encourage, and display, as I am, you'll find he's pumping new life into you from a different angle.
"The Sunday News! This week, Martin Shkreli cried in court as he was sentenced to seven years in prison for his part in federal fraud charges. You may know him as the smug Pharma-bro with the punchable face who jacked up the price of a life-saving HIV medicine from $13.50 a pill to $750; I prefer to remember him as the douchebag who made a mockery of his purchasing the single copy in existence of the Wu-Tang Clan's album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin (there's still time to save us, Bill Murray!! ). So this week, my question is "Why should we feel sorry for this guy?", along with "Why are people with access to hedge funds controlling our pharmaceutical industry...instead of, ya know, like, doctors?""
BAHAHAHAHAHA nope. I do not feel bad for this asshole one bit.
I try not to let my personal feelings intrude upon the 30DBC prompts I send out too often, but sometimes it's hard not to. And really, I'm sorry to have to say this, but if you think he deserves an ounce of compassion then maybe you're reading the wrong blog and kinda maybe go rot in his jail cell with him. Pisses me off that he didn't go to jail for raising the costs of a pill that is meant to be a part of giving people who are suffering from an incurable disease a better life, but that he misled investors...basically, he fucked old rich white dudes outta money and that's why he got stuck with seven years, while the sick and poor they all profited off of got dicked hard into the fire. Who needs a Hippocratic Oath anyway when it's the banks and insurers and shady-ass investors deciding on who gets to live or die? I'm not one to wish death or harm upon anyone (I believe strongly against it, actually), but I hope this asshole gets gang-raped in jail and they can't figure out who gave him any number of infections and STDs. To paraphrase multiple Twitter commentariats on the topic over the last coupla days, I hope someone bottles his tears and tries to sell them at a 5000% markup. Dunno what they'd be good for, because they won't cure AIDS. Or prison overpopulation. Or the healthcare industry.
Gambling is fun, I guess...for those who're into it. Wanna try your casino hands at the stock market? Sure...good luck homie. But the marriage of corporations and health is just flat-fuck wrong, yo. You're gambling on people getting sick and dying (or barely keeping them alive) just to make money in the long run. I don't think you need me to tell you how sick and twisted that is. Sure, doctors and nurses need patients to have jobs, but it's not like people are gonna stop getting sick or hurting themselves. No matter how many times you ram into someone's brain activity all the various thinkpieces around "Don't drink and drive!", "See this dying smoker's lungs!", or "Fast food is bad for you...like, really bad!" , people are gonna do whatever the fuck they wanna do. Sorry...had to go piss out a beer and have a smoke while memorializing all the healthy people I knew who've died unexpectedly from heart attacks and cancer and car accidents. Where was I?
Yeah, investing in businesses that may or may not last is one thing. Turning quality healthcare into a roulette table isn't cool or funny or, like, a good look...even if your brand is basically you just being a dick. Search Martin Shkreli on YouYube, and then watch any of Ghostface Killah's videos responding to his bullshit...be it the price of HIV pills or the mysterious single-copy $2 million Wu-tang album. Don't tell me Martin doesn't look like someone you'd punch in the face after about 20 seconds of conversation...I don't think you even need to hear him speak to make that judgement. I do not feel sorry for him at all. And I'm not in the business of telling people what to think or holding their views against them, but if you have any shred of forgiveness toward him, I'm gonna hafta feel a lotta shame toward you and for all the right reasons. If you're in an industry that relies on making life harder for people who cannot afford quality medication, you should promptly get fucked. Don't try to moralize money with me, and don't bring up right-wing hypocrisy nonsense either...summa y'all dorks with that noise will trip over your own dicks defending some pretty crazy bullshit in the name of nothing that'll stand for you or matters to you when your own life matters. You need to learn how to play for different teams in different sports during the proper seasons, and that's all I'm gonna say about that besides ...something I knew I wanted to add but got distracted and now can't remember .
It's Sunday, which means it's a good enough time for me to share another Saul Williams project here with you that I've prolly copy/pasted a buncha times before...from the album he put out with Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails, as the producer) is this gritty and slightly bombastic U2 cover, complete with a spoken-word interpretation at the end. The visuals can be stark and antagonistic at times (but isn't that the point of poetry?), and when you wonder why a lot of great poets your mind likes don't read in public often or record themselves, you have to consider if it's because things like this make them think they're not as capable. Hell, I already know half the time saying out loud some of the things I write is almost impossible . And "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is a pretty easy read anyway...but if I were to cop a similar demeanor on top of that? Bitch please, I'mma amateur .
"Sunday Bloody Sunday" -Saul Williams
"This many lost, but tell me who has won?"
Some notes while waiting for the weekend to end, ushering in the arrival of cool new things, and...oh wait:
Smaller local banks are cool for many reasons, but they can eat shit when they lock your debit card down from online purchases. I'm appreciative of "Fraud Protection" measures, but sometimes they're really ridiculous about that. Do I need some restraint? Perhaps...but I also don't need iTunes telling me after x-amount of dollars spent my business is no longer welcome there unless I use some kind of "better than shopping from the comfort of your home" money, which is why I thought I had a debit card to being with! But what do I know? I haven't actually had money to spend on randomness in like almost a decade. Can't win for losin', or something someone said that I may have misheard once or several times and misunderstood, because people are dumb.
Really great that I could finally afford to buy an actual pair of sneakers I wanted for the first time in six years that wasn't a birthday gift I settled on because my neediness got the best of me, but fuck me for wanting black shoelaces for my Adidas Superstars and making me go to Walmart to get them because no one sells flat black laces anymore. It's easy to bitch about things and claim life is "criminal" because you can't get what you want when you want it, but if FedEx can show up at my door at 9pm-ish on a Saturday then I shouldn't hafta go across town for some fucking shoelaces that I will spend more on in bus fare than the actual laces them-fucking-selves, for real.
And finally, as a result of my negligence regarding "Note: New stuff! So...MB CHALLENGE...", I've decided to enter "Abandoned By Myself" into this round of "Shadows and Light Poetry Contest" . It's not what I would've entered, but had I paid attention to the rules I might not have needed to crowdsource a decision anyway. Oh who the fuck am I kidding? I still might've done it, but at least maybe I'd have come up with a different answer .
Alright you people- all of you- I have food to make and a nap to take and I'm done with this and you for a little while . Come for the poem, stay for the music, get slammed on the head with a political-ish opinion on your welcome way out...I think that's how this works. I dunno...the blogging landscape is volatile and always changing and what works one day doesn't work five years later when you decide to reconnect . Time to for realsies go figure out what to fatten my carcass padding up with...peace, how long must we sing this song, and GOODNIGHT NOW!!
'Sup yo? Back for another foray into "Pursue the Horizon" , in part because I enjoyed the experience of writing the last entry but also because I wanted to reread some Richard Brautigan and well...here we are.
But first, some background (even though I've probably already talked about this/him several times before). Between 1997 and 2002 I was gainfully employed by a local electronics retailer based in Western NY, Stereo Advantage . I cycled through various positions at the company in general and at one point was banished to the Video department of the flagship location due in part to some sketchy behavior (undeservedly) attributed to me which also coincided with me having the nerve to actually want to use my vacation time during a slow month so I could move into a new apartment. But that's another story for another time, I guess.
During my time at the now-shuttered 5195 Main St. store, I got to know and become friends with a lot of the staff...prior to that, as a co-manager of one of the area mall stores, I was only required to be there for one shift and one meeting (maybe two) a week, so I didn't really have much pull in the building until I moved over to there full-time. For some reason, being a regular part of the staff at 5195 usually carried more weight everywhere than being a manager of one of the offshoots. But whatever.
One of the guys I got to know well was Bink. He was the brother of the manager and ran the Audio department...and on the side he was a drummer in a local band. When I slid over to my demotion/not-demotion at 5195, we'd hang out sometimes. When I needed a ride to work, he'd swing by on his way if we were working the same day. And if we closed the store on the same nights, sometimes we'd head out for beers if he wasn't playin' a show. We'd go to this little local mainstay down the street, Loughran's , and bullshit about the company while playing the jukebox and gettin' sauced. While still dressed in our company attire, usually ...cuz when you work for The Advantage, you're basically gold in those parts.
And so in the course of one of our many conversations, it came out that I wrote poetry. He asked me who I'd read, and at that point the list was very small. I was maybe 25 or 26 by then, but hadn't accumulated enough knowledge outside of my own works to speak of besides the basics that most everyone who writes has read by then...Kerouac, Poe, whatever nonsense junior high crammed down your throat, etc. He suggested Brautigan to me and showed up the next day with...somethin', but I don't remember what. Might've been his copy of Trout Fishing in America/The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster/In Watermelon Sugar ...or something else, but that's what sticks and maybe that's because I owned a copy of it as my first real Brautigan purchase. While In Watermelon Sugar remains my favorite Brautigan read (and easily an all-time story fave), The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster sits between the two in sequence as a poetry collection, and in this version it opens with "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace" .
All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace
I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
like pure water
touching clear sky.
I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.
I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.
For being basically a bitter, womanizing drunk-turned-hermit more or less, he was ahead of his time. Not in the way he turned plain stuff into fantastical re-imaginings. Not because he invented some crazy form of poetry or adhered to certain values in the name of something sacred. Not because his curiosity turned him into something of a strange-famous hybrid. The Pill was published in 1968...computers were still in a prolonged infancy, and the connectivity we've come to associate with them wasn't even a slobber-drop of dollar signs in the eyes of a Jobs, Gates, or Zuckerberg yet. Like, yo...Brautigan called it here (and if you need further proof, one read of In Watermelon Sugar is all you need to convince you, being that it revolves around a place known as iDeath...long before there was an i-anything).
The self-deprecating optimism is trademark Brautigan, evident in most of his work in one way or another. He doesn't take himself too seriously, but he knows he's gotta be on to something here. Whatever the reasons the internet as we know it as was created for- and in part it was meant to resemble something like his description, at its basics- it's a true shame he wasn't around long enough to witness the rise of online dating, cat gifs, and porn websites. As traveled as he was, he woulda loved that shit. And I would also be interested to know his thoughts on all of it...or what a 21st Century Brautigan has in his/her omniscient mind for the 22nd. Hey, if you can wonder what so-and-so or such-and-such in your hero world of choice would do in this day and age as opposed to the setting they were scripted into, it's fair to let me have this. Let me have this!!
“'It is hard enough to remember my opinions, without also remembering my reasons for them!' -Friedrich Nietzsche. Are you always aware of the reasons for your opinions and the way you think? And what do you make of Nietzche’s quote?"
I will readily admit that there are times when my opinion on something overshadows the very reason why I formed it...but I also think that's natural.
Opinions are like assholes, everyone's got one over time turn into our own little facts...the very facts that make us who we are. And sometimes those opinions were forged from facts...hopefully. Debunking a childhood myth isn't a great experience, for example. It can leave you cold and untrusting for awhile, but you've lived your life for so long believing something and living a certain way because of an opinion that it's become your truth...be it about you or pertaining to your personal history, or Santa Claus, or speculation over whether or not a fictional character in something written hundreds of years ago is gay. And some are easy to move on from with new knowledge in the back pocket, while other times it shakes you to a death of sorts in the core of who you were up to now.
I have opinions, because I'm like a grown-up age. These are facts. And I try to base my opinions on facts, because that is crucial currency when it comes to things like personal integrity and another thing I can't think of the word for but there's a word I wanted to use, believe me. Guess that's the thing I'll wake up to well before I'm sposta tomorrow morning .
Truth is, most times the convictions (hold up...that might've been the word ) giving birth to the opinions almost always become long-forgotten in the grand schemes of our histories. We may know why we hate wearing the color red, but do we really remember the terrible red ensemble we put together that in retrospect never should've been on any store's hangers let alone our bodies? Hellllll nawwwww man. Sometimes we just need to block out the horror, and after awhile it's so ingrained in our inner being that we're like "Nope, can't, cuz it's red...but why don't I like red again?"
Nietzsche is alright with me, if only because I see his name and think of an old football player of the same last name, and anyone who says that name like "Nee-chee" and not "Nitch-ski" gets props, especially if I'm totally butchering it based on personal preferences. I forget what I was goin' for here...musta been sidetracked. It happens.
I guess, the facts that wreck us also shape us, and it's good to keep them in a card catalog of sorts that gets sniffed on occasionally. Being required to always know the whys of something I feel strongly about would send me into crippling panics, and I'm not that adult yet where I can absolutely defend stupid decisions from years past without caring about consequences or doubts. Opinions are kind of our "this is where we are right now" statements. Sometimes we care enough to school/get schooled, and change them to fit our current needs/wants/haves. Sometimes we grow out of them only to remember why we have them years later. Life moves at rates too intermittent to be held into one opinion for so long, especially when you're finding yourself on the wrong side of history (past or present). If you educate yourself on the opinion in question, taking into account information from sources who won't always tell you just what you wanna hear, you'll be alright in the end...when you've got the credible info (fuck...that might also have been the word I was looking for earlier in this entry ) and you can stand behind it against the lesser-informed, who use their opinions as a shield against the reality, what's there to worry about? That's less fear you're sleeping in, amirite?
To tie this entry into a big fat bow, Bink also got me somewhat into The Flaming Lips (part of working for The Advantage was that we all had nicknames; mine was Bert because it was short for my full name and apparently much cooler than my real name). He threw some songs at me and while I'd already known they were interesting in a way, I just never had anything else to go by (again, back in the prehistoric Internet ages).
"All We Have Is Now" -The Flaming Lips
"As logic stands, you couldn't meet a man who's from the future.
But logic broke; as he appeared, he spoke about the future.
'We're not going to make it;' he explained how the end will come,
'you and me were never meant to be part of the future.'"
It's habit for me to think of Bink when I do anything Brautigan or Flaming Lips. Like, that's my center in those Venn Diagram circles. Great guy and one of a few I truly love and miss from that era of my life.
While wondering why a bus can smell so amazing and disturbing at the same time...
I know this is only of importance to me, but I'm really impressed with my discipline as it pertains to only eating the food in my fridge. Specifically, not going to the Pita Gourmet in Cortland. Like, I've been dying for a gyro w/extra Feta for so long, but no...clothes and music and apartment stuff came first on my list of things to spend money on, while also being responsible about food. But my gawd I'mma need me some of that soon.
Speaking of which, it's well-past dinner time here and I need to get me some...food. From my fridge. Smartly, so's I don't feel like a rock the rest of the night. Boring day otherwise, best believe that. Peace, all we've ever had was now, and GOODNIGHT NOW!!
The sounds alone seem to mean we're doomed...
just as nature intended.
What's up you guys! Welcome to, like, my annual "Pursue the Horizon" entry . I say this not because it's something I never feel like doing; it's just that blogging takes more energy for me now than I'd care to admit, and I still don't feel totally comfortable talking about poetry (even though I've read a couple really good books in the past few months that discuss just that). Like, ask me on a whim about poems from a favorite author and I'll struggle to remember a title, let alone what I thought about it. I just don't retain information that well anymore (if I ever did, to be honest). This same logic applies to me sitting here trying to figure out which poems from same favorite poets I'd wanna share, in part because most of the personal library I'd acquired through the years never survived my transition from Buffalo to Cortland...so it's not like I can wander over to a bookshelf and crack a worn spine into its preferred position, ya dig?
But I wanna feel like I'm participating somewhat. At any given time I've always got a couple books out from the library...usually a poetry collection, something non-fictiony of some sort of specific personal interest, maybe a fun-looking graphic novel, and randomly a biography or fiction work that catches my eye while I'm comin' through. I've been slowly making my way into Ted Kooser's Flying At Night ...I'd remembered his name from another book I read last summer; a collection of essays written by a poetry critic for I think the New York Times, and it turns out Kooser was also once the Poet Laureate Consultant to the Library of Congress. From that same blurb on the book's back cover: he's won a shitload of awards I've never heard of (unsurprisingly) named after people I'm not aware of (same unsurprisingness), and still more people I've no clue as to who they are have spoken glowingly about this collection and of Kooser in general (totally not surprised at all...what're they sposta say? "Don't read this dipshit's nonsense!" ).
So I'm probably about three-quarters through this, and so far it's pretty meh...unless you like poems about old people living out their last days in rough shape, or barns. Either I'm not reading this well enough, or I'm not that smart (very possible), or he's just not for me (very likely). He's not terrible; I'm just not relating to them very well. And sometimes he's just really simplistic...to the point that it falls flat against my dead ears screaming to see something vibrant and the dying space between them. I'm sure he had reasons for writing his poems, and how I'd react to them was the least of his concerns...until I read "A Buffalo Skull" this morning, and finally found my mind wandering inwardly because of the poem and not outwardly away from it.
A Buffalo Skull
No fine white bone-sheen now;
a hundred hard years
have worn it away, this stump
washed up on a bar
in the river, its horns
like broken roots,
its muzzle filled with sand
and the thin gray breath
of spider webs. Once,
they covered the grasslands
like the shadows of clouds,
and now the river gives up
just one skull, a hive of bone
like a fallen wasp’s nest,
heavy, empty, and
full of the whine of the wind
and old thunder.
And I know what he's referring to really isn't what it evokes in my head upon reading it...I'm making it into something probably far too literal for my own good. But just as we often want to see what really isn't there when we read a poem or hear a song, the same can work in reverse or something. Which is probably a garbage way of me trying to analogize what I read, but you'll have that with me.
Every few months when I hop on the ol' Greyhound to visit my mom, the station closest to her is in the heart of downtown Buffalo. Fields eventually turned into a one-time mid-major metropolis, if you will, that has seen various stages of decline and reconstruction of many fashions over the subsequent years. The city's highlights- the shopping centers, theater districts, entertainment options- run through their useful life cycles, sit in abandonment afterward for well past their "Serve By:" dates, and then another generation comes along to reshape the landscapes back into fruition of a different flavor. I think because I'm not seeing them as often in person anymore, it's almost easier to picture what used to be in some of the dilapidated neighborhoods than if I'd been there to watch them wither on a daily or weekly basis. Your memory can plug back in the functional past after prolonged absences, because it's not rewriting a film in real time.
I'm well aware that this isn't some phenomenon that's exclusive to Buffalo or some crazy new concept. In the five-and-a-half years I've been in Cortland, their downtown district (albeit a paltry maybe five or six blocks in comparison) has undergone many changes...including the loss of several multi-generational businesses that made visiting Main St. worthwhile. And most of them are still vacant, months and years later, waiting for their rebirth. The animal is dead; long live the animal!
The surrounding neighborhoods- the whine of the wind that made the distinct sections of Buffalo what they were when they served as home bases to the families that worked in the steel mills, auditoriums, and malls- remain largely untouched by the hands that served to populate and/or give life to the industries that moved on. A few blocks off the NFTA bus schedule maps in any direction from your attraction of choice probably isn't somewhere you'd care to visit unless you've been there before...the way nighttime makes even the most idyllic surroundings appear sinister to the uninitiated, and their inhabitants just stumps washed up at favorite corner bars since the fancy newfangled places uptown have priced them out with wasps' nests of greed and spider webs of local wannabe hipsters.
Yet it's home, even if I don't live there anymore and it's not the same home to the people who still do...and that's where this particular Kooser poem took me more than any of his others I've read up to that point. That perhaps it's us who are the skulls, living with memories of places time has moved on from.
It was early in the day for me- maybe 10am-ish- when I'd read "A Buffalo Skull" and thought to myself "Well, maybe I can pull something out of that for "Pursue the Horizon" today. And then of course I went on to do other little things here and there and cast the notion aside...then I throw on some tunes to relax and take care of other online stuffery and this comes on and I'm like "Yeah, ok, this all was supposed to happen then..." .
"I Cut Like A Buffalo" -The Dead Weather
"You should try to take it easy on me
'cause I don't know how to take it."
A few personal notes while I ponder why I don't do this so much anymore and why I should...
I need to buy some GPs to fund some personal endeavors I may have spoken of around the last time we got together like this. I won my SSI appeal (the hearing was in January) and got my first payment the other day...a hell of a lot sooner than I was led to believe I would. When the struggle is real, the struggle is worth it, or something...that's how close I'll allow myself to becoming a motivational speaker as I'll get. Today . It's not an Earth-shattering amount and it won't make me rich, nor will it allow me the same level of comfort I had when I was actually employed/employable, but it's certainly a level of comfort now that I haven't had since I moved out here. Like, "buy a slice of pizza" or "buy a stick of deodorant" is not a choice one should ever have to make. But all (or most of) y'all have no idea the weight that's been lifted off these shoulders. I mean, my shoulders are still physically shitty and can't handle more weight now that there's less of it on them, but at least I was able to purchase a new hoodie for them to cover up in rather than relying on the same ol' battered-ass ones I've got (or dealing with thrift stores, and the trouble of saving up for "such a special purchase" like used fucking clothes).
Since this is an entry about a poem for submission into a poetry-sharing forum, I'm gonna suggest you guys check out Jill Bialosky's Poetry Will Save Your Life: A Memoir ...looked interesting in the library, read a few reviews on it since I was unfamiliar with her work, finally got my hands on it, and enjoyed it. She relays her life story up to now through poems she's read over the course of her life, and I'm gonna admit that I'm jealous...if only because I don't remember much more than a few percentage points' worth of pieces I've read that I could say were relative to me becoming, uhhhh, me. Let alone feel like I could publish a fucking book about it that people would read . It's good though...like poems that got you through dating in college (I never lasted in college long enough for that), or how your first two pregnancies resulted in, ummmm, not ending with kids (I am not a parent and at this point will probably never be one), or 9/11 (wrote one thing about that shortly after it happened but I was karaoke-bar hungover and it never survived early-WDC membership lapses and port-trimmings), or sibling suicide (yep, got that in spades now, thanks). Glad I checked it out, because it's definitely helped me learn a little about talking about poetry and how you feel about it can work in conversation (like I said at the top of this entry, it's not my strong suit). Not that I'm any bit more one to talk now than prior to reading her book...I'm still not the intellectual's intellectual. But ask me about early 90's Emo and I'll hold my own .
And finally...I'm tired. Wasn't prepared to write a blog entry before I started writing it, so I've got nothing more to add here other than support your fellow writers here whether it's through on-site fundraisers or emotional struggles or just droppin' in unannounced on whatever WDC stuff they're doin' once in awhile. And I get it... yeah, it's all things I'm not good myself at doin' consistently anymore, but I do what I can when I can. I talk a lotta shit I struggle with backin' up...I'm behind on some commitments, and I don't pump tires in the newsfeed like I used to because even that takes work. But yo...some of your friends need you in the "Mental Health Writers Alliance" . "The Daily Poem" can always use more of your words, along with one of my personal faves, "Shadows and Light Poetry Contest" , for you poets without boundaries. Plug and support...that's how communities work, thrive, and sometimes even function without having one person foot the bill for everyone else's enjoyment. I need to get better at doing this, and if I'm saying this then there's a chance you need to be too.
Alright well, now that I'm about over food making my body feel terrible I suppose it's time to jam more food into it and see what happens. It was nice visiting you all again but unless you're gonna take your shoes off first let's not make this a habit (especially if you're gonna get all pissy about me not taking my shoes off ). Peace, can't tell when I'm jokin', and GOODNIGHT NOW!!
I hope none of these people survived the Blizzard Of '85.
"Write down a list of observations from scraps of dialogue you overheard, images you encountered, and thoughts that crossed your mind. Shape your observations into a poem, story or simply your blog entry."
What's good, people? I'm afraid I'm taking the easy way out today, and forming my observations into the shape of a blog entry, for simplicity's sake. Which doesn't sound very interesting, but I'll try anyway.
I had an appointment this afternoon with my Mental Health doctor. No biggie; just a checkup regarding a med change from last month. This was the second time I've seen her; my previous doc left this office because he wanted to work closer to home and took a position making more money. Good for him...I got along really well with him, I trusted him, and I felt comfortable talking to him and listening to him.
This lady? She's nice and all. Certainly means well, I think. But she's...a little dippy? Can I say that about someone? I said it so whatever. I can overlook certain things about people given their situations, and she's been overbooked because Cortland County didn't really give a shit about filling the vacant MH doc's position for months on end. And she's more of a Nurse Practitioner, trying to figure out why my previous doctor has prescribed this or that and what for. My medical history is slightly complicated I guess, but I'm fairly open-minded so I'm willing to see things through with her for the time being.
I waited a half-hour past my scheduled appointment time. It's bad enough I get anxiety about waiting around all morning for these things and I usually show up early because I hope that means it's the start of the whole process ending. I'm glad I didn't show up early today. She comes out and meets me in the waiting room, squinting down at a piece of paper going "Robert? Robert, right?" Those of you who know me know that is not my name. I politely corrected her because my only other default setting might have been nervous assassination on the spot. We proceeded to go upstairs to her office, and along the way she began introducing herself and why she was there in a manner that suggests she's never seen me before. No less than twice did I tell her we met last month. Nervousness and annoyance is not a pleasurable cocktail, my friends...but I'm keeping it together because otherwise I'm gonna get shouty and stupid real fast, and I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt.
My main reason for being there? I needed one of my insomnia meds refilled. I placed an order through the online patient portal a couple days ago, and now I'm totally out. Otherwise, I may have just cancelled the appointment because my anxiety has been making me fucking trip lately and I was in no mood to put on a performance for anyone...I was content to just wallow. But let's not worry about me...this is about her. After about ten minutes of jibber-jabber and her asking me if I remembered why she cut my Ritalin dose in half and me fucking panicking out of not remembering right away why, she finally snapped and was like "Ohhhh, now I remember you!"
Why is this an issue? Because I truly believe this fucking woman has no clue how any kind of technology works. She hasn't looked at my chart or file or whatever because I don't think she wants to admit that she can't use a computer. Half of my two appointments with her have consisted of her seriously mock-typing on her keyboard like a Muppet and then muttering how there's "something wrong with the system" and it's not "letting her in", but she "probably saw my request and probably approved it earlier"...which is bullshit because "the system" alerts me when the request I make is sent to prescriber and when prescriber has sent request to pharmacy. And actually, this is a step up from the last visit, when she looked at me like I was asking her to shove the business end of a hammer up her ass upon my mentioning that I use the office's patient portal for medication refills. Don't fucking ask me what that is, lady, when there are signs all over the doors and reception area touting the portal.
To recap: this woman, who isn't even really maybe not quite my mom's age, doesn't remember me and is technologically deficient...and also, I had kinda no reason to be there when I especially didn't wanna be there but kinda needed to go anyway. And thank fuck I did, or else I probably wouldn't have had much to go on regarding observations for this entry. Also, still no confirmation from the clinic or the pharmacy that I'll have one of my insomnia meds refilled by the next time I'll need to take it. Sweet .
"Talk Tuesday! In Sally 's entry "Jan 8th Writing" , her use of the term 'writing kit' had me intrigued. Do you have a physical set of tools you rely on (certain pens/pencils, notebooks, etc.)? Different websites you rely on for particulars? Maybe even mood-setting accouterments like music or candles? What's your scene?"
I ask because I'm curious, and I know that to probably most of us blogging is a side-hustle when we're not writing stories or poems or drawing or taking pictures. And like most athletes have certain brands of gear they prefer or carpenters stick with a specific tool-maker, so do we have our own things we like to keep around when we're doing this thing.
Awhile back some of us participated in a WDC Live -type of conversation that we forgot to record where we took turns reading a poem that featured plenty of words that have multiple pronunciations (I forget what it was but I'm sure Elle or anyone else who was there remembers and can link it), and it made for some hilarity. And like these things go, we spent some "off air" time bullshittin' around and chatting with each other...at some point I had a mini freak-out on I think Gaby about notebooks and the amount of them I have within arm's reach of my laptop (answer: a sick number ). I'm not one to just stare at a computer when I'm ready to start anything (I did that once and ended up with "The Computer Age" , which isn't bad but it's not my preferred way of working). I need the physical hard copy first. Let's start with pens, because I'm a nerd.
These are great pens from Staples (they're a big-box office supply store in the US, for the unfamiliar). Nice grip, writes smooth. I'm pissed cuz the Staples in Cortland closed, and I don't remember if the one in Ithaca is still open but at least we pass by it on the way back from my mom's. I'm probably not gonna be pleased if I have to resort to buying them online once I go through my current stash.
Then ya got notebooks...looking around, I see at least four different notebooks and notepads within five feet of where I'm sitting. One's the hard copy of "World By Design" - a CVS-brand college-ruled, spiral-bound thing probably 6"x9" with thicker pages that almost feel like writing on a thin sheet of stone, and one's a little "Fat Book" (no seriously, that's what it's called) from CVS- a 5.5"x4", 180-page more conventional notebook for titles and fragments and whatnot to work from. There's a composition book (those elementary school, marble-colored covers) I use mainly for 30DBC stuff and for other contests and things like that. Then I've got a thin little Moleskine pocket notebook for day-to-day things, like grocery lists that never make it to the store .
Haven't gotten a desk yet- not sure how that's gonna fit in the apartment- so for now I've got my laptop on one tray table and notebooks and various crap on another off to the opposite side of me. Works for now, so there's no urgency in finding a better solution.
When I wanna do this blog thing, I open up all the tabs I'll need in the order I plan to use them...almost as if it were an outline. I get it...it sounds weird and maybe some of you just sorta fly by the seat of your pants and answer the prompt with whatever comes up because that's what works for you, but I can't do that because I forget things and need to be organized and that's my preferred way of doing it. And even then, in the course of my own pants-seat flying, I'll think of like six different other things I wanna throw in, and then I've gotta work those in. I've got two YouTube tabs at minimum up, the Genius.com tab for song lyrics, the Daily Box Score stuff no one reads, plus all the WDC stuff I'll need for an entry. I don't fuck around .
Otherwise, nothing fancy over here .
The thing about most of the "WDC Live" appearances I've made is that they took place in the room I was renting around the corner from my apartment building...big enough for a bed and a dresser and me. You could probably fit about three of 'em in my living room now, and my apartment's not all that big either but at least I don't have to eat on my bed (if I don't want to). But I'm struggling to fill up all the open spaces I suddenly have. I don't wanna have things just to have them, and I don't know how long I'm gonna be here, so I don't wanna have too many things in case I wind up moving again after my lease is up.
Sorta the same with ideas and options. Don't wanna have too many, because "no limit" is often limiting at times. I find it not always easy to concentrate when I'm not organized and have too many things to work from. Sometimes scaling down the ambition is the best thing you can do...whether you're writing a novel or a poem, choosing what to wear for the day, or going on a bank-robbing spree.
"Fell In Love With A Girl/Little Room" -The White Stripes
"Well, you're sittin' in your little room, and you're working on something good.
But if it's really good, you're gonna need a bigger room.
And when you're in the bigger room, you might not know what to do.
You might have to think of how you got started sitting in your little room."
Anyone else use Windows 10? Apparently I saved an article from last year claiming Windows 10 is gonna force users to buy a new computer in early 2018. Something about a block on certain processors that won't accept updates. I got this laptop right when Windows 10 was launched; it's entry-level like the article refers to, and came with 8.1 I think? I don't remember; that was like 2.5 years ago. It still updates from time to time, so I guess that's good. Last thing I need right now is having to go out and get something new.
Passing this along for the freelancers out there, because I'm a little bit of a big fan of McSweeney's Internet Tendency (one of my all-time fave books y'all have probably heard me talk about too much is Created In Darkness By Troubled Americans ): Tips For Getting Published On McSweeney's .
And finally, oh hey Jack White...heard ya got a new single comin' out tomorrow . Thanks for making a commercial for it that's basically a commercial of a commercial.
Done here. Done with you guys today. Tired as fuck. Body feels dead, and it's not the usual dead arms; it's everything. You people are wearing me out . Don't worry; I still love all y'all. Peace, it's really good, and GOODNIGHT NOW!!
"Isabel Allende says in her novel, Maya, 'Our demons lose their power when we pull them out of the depths where they hide and look them in the face in broad daylight.' What do you think of those things Allende calls demons? Are there any such demons you can think of that are hiding deep inside you or in someone you know that could inspire a story, novel, or poem? How?"
"Musician David Bowie, born on this day in 1947, once said 'All my big mistakes are when I try to second-guess or please an audience. My work is always stronger when I get very selfish about it.' How true (or false) is this about your own writing? What's more important: pleasing yourself, or your audience?"
'Sup you guys? I love it when two prompts can kinda be tied together into one seamless entry. Let's see how coherently I can do this .
I have an admission to make...I like David Bowie just fine and all, but a lot of his songs just don't really resonate with me emotionally. By no means is that a knock on him; he's got an immensely enjoyable and deep catalog...it's just that outside of "I'm Afraid Of Americans" (which I've probably written about more than a couple times), he doesn't do a lot for me other than basic entertainment. And there's nothing wrong with that, and maybe that wasn't his intent anyway (and maybe I'm just too emotionally needy and demanding ). You could probably rattle off the names of dozens of others who offer great entertainment value but little in terms of emotional, gut-punching power. Or maybe I'm overthinking everything (which is a real possibility).
I don't think it's a stretch to say everyone has their demons, even on simple levels and terms. Creative types especially. Bowie had his, I have mine, and you know you've got some (whether you choose to acknowledge them or not). He spent the majority of the 70's skiing Cocaine Mountain like it was his own personal theme park. I've got Severe Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety, a difficult-to-tame insomnia streak, and a dramatic off-again/on-again love affair with cheap beer. Maybe yours is chocolating yourself to excess, or your folks left you in a supermarket, forgotten and alone, for an entire afternoon. Demons are part of who we are; the key to taming them is figuring out how to use them to our advantage. That's why we write/sing/paint, or eat 'til we can't feel feelings, or push strangers in front of moving buses. Humans are fun and complex like that.
Putting our demons on display only works if we know what we're after and why we're doing it. Are we asking for help or change that we can't finagle on our own? Are we trying to acknowledge something that plain rational thought can't, in order to shame ourselves back into a correction we're unsure of the way toward? Is "putting them out there" a means letting people know you've got some things you need to work through? There are more reasons for them than demons themselves...no shame in that.
There are probably thousands of think-pieces out there as to why Bowie came up with the Ziggy Stardust persona, and if I've read or seen any interviews he gave on the subject unfortunately anything he imparted hasn't stuck with me. I'm sure he wanted to create something he thought his audience would dig. He sold millions of records, so he did something right whether his audience knew it or were considered as part of the creative process. And much of what I'm trying to work out about myself is hopefully going to be reflected in my current work-in-progress, "World By Design" . Maybe I'll get there, maybe I won't. I know who will probably read my stuff, but I don't know the majority of people who will/might...so it's hard to direct your output with a specific demographic or set in mind, when the reality is that it could be much wider than you'll ever fathom. My audience is the same and as different as we all in the "30-Day Bloggers Group" are, basically. Trying to please every single one of you with each blog entry or poem would be fucking impossible...all you need to know about that is take a look at some of the prompts I'll send out where half of you love it and the other half of you are confused af by it .
Writing is one way I have to make sense of what's in my head while trying to reconcile it with my life experiences. I need to know that I'll be able to live with and stand by the things I say/said before I can put them in front of people. I've found that only time offers the greatest sense of detachment for me...that's why it's taken me years and sometimes over a decade before I'll feel comfortable adding certain poems or collections to my WDC port. I often have to be emotionally ok that my demons won't terrorize you as much as they have me, while also not reliving that same terror myself years after the fact.
"Modern Love" -David Bowie
"It's not really work. It's just the power to charm.
I'm still standing in the wind, but I never wave bye-bye.
But I try...I try."
Like many of you around my age, this is my era of introduction to Bowie...seeing a well-coiffed gentleman making easy-to-dance-to pop songs fit for the early MTV generation. I was eight years old and had no idea the concept of love could be defined as "Modern" (or "Endless" or "Tainted" or "Big" or "Secret" or anything else musicians much older than me sought to color it as). Love was Love...until it wasn't, and you have to go through a lot more livin' to see that when it's not (when it's something more, and when it no longer is), only then do you really know how to talk about it in more specific terms. I don't know what my point is, other than it was around this time I was first warned that love could be terrifying, and useful, and both iterations didn't hafta be mutually exclusive.
First, thanks to everyone who offered kind words and condolences regarding yesterday. I'm not ready to talk about it yet, beyond it being a great ride that not many of us imagined at the onset of the season...we feared the worst, but making it to the playoffs was huge and I'm not gonna let a loss bring down the pride I have in my team and the fan base I'm a part of. #BillsMafia
Funny how once you hear a phrase or learn about something, you're suddenly more aware of how it changes. Like "Modern Love" as a concept (rather than just a song). What it was in the 80's isn't what it was 50 years prior, nor is it the same now. Even the way we change as we get older changes our own perceptions. Like, I'm much more guarded now and keep myself locked up a little tighter than I was in my 20's in a lot of ways (says the man typing into his blog that's available to the general public )...so here's nine ways guarded people show you they love you .
Like I mentioned above, I've probably used the Bowie/Reznor counter-anthem "I'm Afraid Of Americans" in a shit-ton of previous entries, because it's the song of his I relate to the most and has the most emotional resonance with me...here's a great article from last January about its correlation to the Trump presidency . Wish I could say I was shocked about some of the premises and premonitions (if you can call them such) claimed about White, Middle-Class America and "Jonny", but...I'm not.
And finally, this love story between a dog and a cat is maybe all the Modern Love we need in this day and age. I'm not a big "pet person" but dammit, good for these people .
Ok...time for a snack-turned-into-a-meal maybe, a shame nap if that's the case, and then I'm off to see what y'all have been up to. Peace, things don't really change, and GOODNIGHT NOW!!
"Good news! Your blog is being turned into a novel! But the publisher chose this as the cover picture, and it's in your promotional contract so you can't pick another:
Your job today is defending this decision by giving your potential readers the story behind it."
What's up you guys? Ok, lemme get this out of the way...sometimes coming up with prompts is hard even though I've got a cache of them the size of War And Peace. And then, other times I come up with a good prompt and it's not the right time for one reason or another to drop it on the "30-Day Blogging Challenge" , so I save it...only to forget about it for awhile. And this one fell into the "forgotten" pile for months...until yesterday, when all I had to do was find an image just weird enough to go along with it . You know a prompt is good when you get an email reply like 30 seconds after you post it that simply says "The fuck???"
And here again is another example of the creative power the members of WDC share with each other...I don't remember where exactly I saw it (or else I'd cite the source), but there was a thread of convo between I believe Cinnamon Fruitcake and Ho,Ho,Ho,Happy Holidays to All where I made a usually otherwise disposable remark along the lines of "'The 14th Fuck' would make a great title for a poem!" and left things at that, comfortable enough to see where the day would go, but not planning on actually writing that poem.
That is, of course, until I came across the pic you all see at the top...and then the wheels started turnin' and the black smoke began to billow from the chimney of whatever decayed remains in my mind ignited, enough so that there was gonna be a poem for this picture/prompt. Wanna hear it? Here it goes:
The 14th Fuck
We don't talk enough
about how important
the 14th fuck is.
to get stuck on
13 for too long, and
we all know
each given fuck
isn't created equal.
There really isn't
a roadmap for it,
but is that necessary?
You're only using
like a Patron Saint
whose wings you ride
to rid the burdens
from your damned soul.
-"The 14th Fuck" , from "World By Design"
Also, I've come to the realization that I don't use enough image prompts...so be prepared, if you are or become a regular of the 30DBC. You will likely see this prompt again (maybe not in the same round), but with a different picture. I hate that it's taken me this long to figure out that Image Prompts and Creation Saturday were made for each other .
"Man Of War" -Radiohead
"When you come home, I’ll bake you a cake...made of all their eyes.
I wish you could see me, dressed for the kill."
I know I said I would try not to talk about songs I've used before, but fuck it...this is an exception because I've waited like 20 fucking years for this song to come out, and forgot that it did over the summer until last night when I fell down the usual Radiohead YouTube rabbithole I probably find myself in at least once a month or so .
Extended snippets of this song showed up in the 1998 documentary Meeting People Is Easy and was often credited as "Big Boots". They recorded it for the '97 album OK Computer but were never satisfied with it, so they just sat on it. And every time they put out another album, a reworked version of an old, forgotten song would make it...and I was always hoping for "Big Boots" because lyrically it's ominous and paranoid, while musically it shifts similarly (delightfully ominous to menacing paranoia). And when it came time to ready up a 20-year anniversary edition of OK Computer, the newly-retitled "Man Of War" was one of three previously unreleased songs (the other two I'd already had on compilation cds I'd made back in the Napster days ) as part of the package...and we also got a video for it, which is an incredible souvenir from the "freaked out, world is burning" paranoid Radiohead era of the late 90's.
Speaking of Radiohead, I am completely here for this definitive worst-to-best ranking of every Radiohead song officially released ...in case you're looking for me later and can't find me .
Also, I wanna be here for this list of songs about depression ...but it seems like there are a lot of songs by Twenty One Pilots on that list. Not that I don't like them, because I kinda wanna like them, but I saw them on Saturday Night Live last season and...I think maybe they confuse me, if anything? Like, there's two of them; a drummer and a guy holding a guitar. And during their performance he maybe touched his guitar like five times in each song. I know there's tv studio trickery goin' on and all that, but it's distracting af to me when I guy holds a guitar and doesn't play it for longer than like an intro, or 20 seconds during a song. I don't get it.
And finally, since many of us are a little more introverted than others, or care to admit, and the topic of maths came up in I think Charlie 's comments section the other night about how cool it'd be to have some advanced stats for our blog that could track how many times we say "fuck" in an entry, let's start off with some word problems for introverts . Don't forget to share your results...preferably on a dry-erase board in your kitchen that only you will ever ever ever see .
Whew...ok guys, I'm done here. About an hour to go before the NFL Playoffs start, which gives me time to not do anything before I sit in front of the tv, doing nothing . Peace, stop all the taps, and GOODNIGHT NOW!!
"Hi, how's it going? Let's talk about what's happening in your neck of the woods. Here... well guess you'll just have to find out in my blog entry."
Today is straight trash, homie.
People in charge of things not directly involving words shouldn't also be in charge of naming the things they're good at. Like, meteorologists. Apparently, I live in the area that has been targeted by a "cyclone bomb", which is terrifying enough given that I heard that term around the same time Trump was tweeting about "having a bigger button" and taunting North Korea again, but it turns out it's just a name the National Weather Service gave to a pattern of snow brewing over the northeast this week. And I woke up today to find the bomb has been dropped (and is still dropping). No lie: I'd rather be hit every surrounding building in my neighborhood's fallout from an actual nuclear strike than have to go out into a snowstorm.
But nope...shittiest, snowiest day of the week and I've gotta go places. The bank...ok, that's around the corner. Coulda done that anytime over the past couple days, but nope...Greyhound has to start sending the guilting emails that I haven't booked my trip yet that I've been looking at and they're threatening me with the "you're not gonna have a seat" tone. I was low on smokes, so the little bodega I get 'em from is around the corner from there. Fine. And the therapist is just down the street...so everything's kinda in like a three-block radius. Which is fine, were it not for this "bomb cyclone" or whatever other bullshit they're calling it ("snow genesis" is another term I came across)...why does shit have to be like this? When I was a kid and a young adult all we had were blizzards. This is a fucking blizzard. Not an apocalypse. Not twenty fucking adjectives greater than the sum of their parts combined into three words to make all the old ladies believe this is the worst thing they'll ever see in their lives. They'll truck out to the convenience stores, buy up all the bread and milk and toilet paper, crank their heat up to 85°, and go back to watching Murder, She Wrote for the eighteen-evelenty-hundredth time without a hint of panic...weather reports are their Pavlovian bells. Meanwhile I'm over here like "Does my therapist deliver?" .
Winter is bullshit. If my biggest fear is slipping in the shower, cracking my head on a grab-bar, and bleeding out while simultaneously drowning, #2 on my list has to be slipping on the sidewalk that maybe was shoveled/maybe it wasn't an hour ago during a snowstorm, smashing my dome on a fire hydrant, and bleeding out while simultaneously asphyxiating on the snow forcefully being blown all up into the nostrils and gasping maw. I hope everyone who's dying to tell me they miss snow gets punched in the face by several thousands of 1,000-lb. snowflakes the size of nickels, and no one stops to help them up cuz it's too windy out to get out of their cars.
"'If I ruled the world, I'd __________...' Fill in the blank with some whats and whys."
Ya know what? Call me crazy (it's ok), but I'm down with brainwashing. Only for legit, moral purposes though...I swear, I wouldn't use it to my supreme advantage or anything, like convincing some actress on a tabloid cover who's dying to have a baby that I should father it by initial actions only, or throwing sporting events so I can wager on them and win a metric fuck-ton of money. As fun as having that power would be, the guilty conscience I should be continuously medicated for wouldn't allow for that. Instead, I'd like to offer these, because it's bullet point time!
You wanna stereotype people so they fit/don't fit into your worldview? Let's taser that the fuck outta you.
The term "global warming" never happened; you're gonna learn that man has created technologies out of wasteful resources that are seriously altering and obliterating all the data science has collected on weather patterns in general, and not just "oh, well, it's a little hotter now" or "brrrr, snowing, need some o' that good ol' 'global warmin' stuff'". Nope. GTFOH with that.
Cable companies, satellite providers, and internet services are gonna be forced to compete on a more reasonably affordable level. None of this "one or two options in your area" bullshit, where they're all terrible and also ridiculously expensive. This might actually be job #1.
And that's just the start of things. I probably have mentioned a slew of other ideas here and there in other various "King Me!" types of prompts, but the reality is I just don't want the job, and don't punish me for not taking it by giving it to someone gross above me instead. You can fault an "either/or" system as the problem, but really it's because any other third party never has its shit together enough to make any sustainable difference for the better and ends up splintering to appease their desired masses.
So it is; so it shall be. When the bright light shuts off, I'll snap my fingers and you'll be the bestest version of you you ever imagined, only it'll be the same one everyone wants you to be too in accordance with the common goal of Don't be a dick.
"Live And Let Die" -Paul McCartney and Wings
"You used to say live and let live (you know you did, you know you did, you know you did).
But if this ever changing world in which we're living makes you give in and cry,
say live and let die."
Truth. Call me whatever you want (I don't care at this point); if you can't let people live the lives they want to live, then you gotta go. And chances are, the only ones who'll miss you will be the first ones following you out, if ya know what I'm sayin' .
I've loved a lot of people in my life- friends and family alike- for various reasons...but wasn't it the late, great Maya Angelou who one said "When someone shows you who they are, believe them"? And yes, I know full well it goes both ways and I've said/done things to people who loved me unconditionally that made them question it, but in the end everyone does what they think is best for them. That's why people stick with like-minded others over blood relatives, for good and/or nefarious reasons. That's why you can still love people who hate your insomnia, and hate the person who feels like your only friend because he steals your insomnia meds (true story for another time, although I've probably mentioned it once or twice years ago and don't feel like looking those entries up right now).
It's easy to say "live and let live" when you're young and optimistic and the world hasn't ruined you yet. I believe in the good of all people...but I don't let people get close to me often enough anymore to prove to me they're good or bad; usually they do it on their own (either way). I want everyone to be happy and comfortable, and I'll surround myself with those who want to do the same; I'll align myself accordingly, with as little judgement as possible...but when the judgements start taking on lives of their own and keep piling up and pulling me apart by internal organs dragged by horses, I will cut ties. And I don't cut them with scissors. I will bail strong, hard, fast, and with no sentiment or worry that you'll ever creep back in. When I'm gone, you're dead to me.
Hey! This is always open, never ending, cool as hell, and needs more entries! It's one of the only contests I enter anymore with any bit of regularity, because I'm paranoid and have a fear of new things .
Speaking of which, I entered "I Have Questions." this time...but I also added "Pocket Annie" and "Complications" from the current project. Yes, I'm attention-whoring now.
And finally...OMG today is #NationalTriviaDay and my gawd I'm a sucker for any Mental_Floss article with a header of Lego people in all kindsa regalia just minglin' in peace together with one another, unaware that any single one of them could inflict pain on a gottdamm human being just by being stepped on in the cold, dark night.
Alright you sad clowns from Charlie 's kingdom...party over here, fuck you over there! Amirite? /douchebaggery Anyway, I gotta get outta here so I can go look out the window some more and shake my fist at the sky like it'll mean something. Peace, got to do it well, and GOODNIGHT NOW!!
"What do you think are three things we're going to be hearing about a lot more as 2018 rolls on?"
Man...all I'mma say is y'all knew what ya signed up for, or at least should've .
Existence exists and persists in part because we have to navigate the things that make us uncomfortable. Wasn't sure I was gonna bother writing an entry today...I've felt like shit all morning but it is what it is, and the world doesn't stop just because I don't wanna go, and it's the same with news cycles. Not wanting to be oversaturated by overwhelming news cycles doesn't make them go away; it's how we manage our intake that determines how and to what extent we react (if at all). So I dropped in on a couple entries already (since I was tagged in 'em), and it confirmed at least the notion that what I was likely to lend to this discussion wasn't gonna be much different than what anyone else had to say. On the surface, many of us have similar fears and opinions of the world we're facing. The connectivity we have as a world community makes a lot of what we know harder to avoid. But not talking about things doesn't make them go away; in fact, sometimes commiserating with like-minded individuals over similar thoughts often makes them more bearable. You feel less alone, knowing someone's heard your unique voice on the subject.
There are things we're unfortunately not gonna be able to run away from this year. Remember, in the grand scheme social media is still relatively new and entering adolescence, along with how we maneuver in this climate. It's not the same environment our parents grew up in, where there was no other adjective besides genre-defining ones maybe before the word "media". We have more options, and thus more control over them. Not total power; there'll always be some asshole in the street you can't help but overhear, crying about something he or she knows/understands maybe 10% of but wants you to know they're 125% butthurt by it. And while it's practically impossible to know every slant and every detail on any given topic, ya gotta know something in order to know what to let slide and who to sit beside when everything's as terrible as your fears inevitably lead you to believe they are.
Ok, all that said, here's three things we'll be dealing with one way or another, whether we like 'em or not...
1) President Babyhands will not get off his bullshit. No man has ever craved attention or drawn so much attention to himself as this guy has. He's got the ultimate platform and he's not afraid to use it. Because of his position, the media won't not cover him...the problem lies with our expectations of how a President is supposed to act. Elect a carnival-barkin' con artist, get all the decorum of lunchlady gossip. The news reports things they deem newsworthy; their first job isn't to say what's right or wrong but to inform, and your first job is parsing their credibility with your opinion and going from there. Having a place to start from is crucial to understanding this godforsaken year.
Anyway, Trump is who he is at this point, and many of us tried to warn you, but until he seriously murders someone or gets us all to learn to love nuclear winter, we're stuck with him. He'll say some dumb shit, the news will report it, and millions will be generated in ad revenue from clicks on the thinkpieces that sprout up. Lather, rinse, repeat. And he's not going away (until he is), and the only good thing is when he does how much worse can it get? He's eroded civil discourse and public decency to all-time low minimums...me farting in a pastor's microphone would be a step up at this point.
2) Sexual Harassment isn't some new phenomenon. More names will come out, hopefully in more industries too...and yeah, I said "hopefully" because if this shit's gonna keep happening then people need to start being held accountable for it. Fucking words and actions have meanings. These jagoffs get a little power and a little money, and just can't seem to be content with that, and all the sudden it's a problem when someone won't roll over for them like someone else did...nope. And I get it...it's hard in many industries to know of a true and level playing field, but it's gotta start somewhere, and yes, there will always be those who work harder at trying to get around equality rather than putting in the work and accepting that things don't always go their way. The shitty actions of a few will always, unfailingly, ruin things for others...but until you understand what the victims had ruined for them, is it still going to continue to shock you when more names get named? I don't want this to go away because it's systemically ruined way too many lives for much, much longer than anyone's needed.
3) Things will actually start getting better, in general. I mean, they have to, right? Law Of Averages, and all that happy hoo-ha. As we start getting worn down and fatigued by all the bad things we're consistently being shoveled, our natural tendencies to self-correct will shift us in the direction of good news. We'll search out things that make us feel good, or at least better about humanity...and ideally, we'll appreciate them that much more because of all the dark shit we've seen and tried to run from. Curate your time to finding more positive things going on in the world; think of it as the last minute of the local news (before the weather recap) where they struggle to crap out something heartwarming, like animal adoptions or athletes visiting sick kids. Surround yourself with more outlets like that, and give of your time and energy when you can to promoting them.
Like, the Buffalo Bills made the playoffs this year for the first time in 17 seasons. A lot of things needed to happen going into the last game, including an underwhelming Cincinnati Bengals team beating another outside-looking-in team, the Baltimore Ravens. And yet, the Bengals pulled it off! So how did the legendary #BillsMafia celebrate? They've donated over 170k so far to Andy Dalton's charity foundation (he's the Bengals' quarterback). That's some shit to feel good about...to make you proud you're a part of humanity.
Working out more details of eventually a long-term home for us displaced Soundtrackers (we miss you, Beth), but in the meantime Lyn aka Hecate has stepped up for us. And I'm gonna try to talk about songs I haven't talked about before...like this one. It came up on the laptop while I was waiting for an app to load on the tablet, so it's a good place to start. Sure, it's a variation on a common thought in life: "If you're *obsessing about some bad thing*, then *it's happening right now*"...but it's something I think about on at least a semi-regular basis. There's a lot of shit in life I've resisted out of fear and chaos and pain and uncertainty, only to go through with it and do it and find it fine, if not pleasurable even. Fear and anxiety kill you. They kill your dreams, your ambitions, your future. They rob you of decent, normal day-to-days...selling them to the highest bidder on Craigslist so they can turn around and make someone else's life more miserable (and for a higher profit). But when you stay informed, keep yourself plugged in, and start to understand the whys and hows of the outrage segments of the population might have at different things on the news- educating yourself and having some empathy- then you're already one step ahead toward a solution and one moment saved from dying in isolation.
"If You Fear Dying" -One Day As A Lion
"Why would we ever let a few white Christian fictions
shape our tomorrow following them?
'Cause tomorrow got a gun to its head?"
So, um, welcome to the "30-Day Blogging Challenge" , ♥HOOves♥ ...#sorrynotsorry. Sometimes comments sections like the one in "Crystal Bull" just happen, ending up miles away from where they started. Part of why the 30DBC is consistently the bestest buncha bloggers on the planet .
I...I don't know what else to say. That's all the entertainment I can share with you for now. I can't top that and trying to will only humiliate me, I think . Peace, have the mic or the heater but you can't hold both, and GOODNIGHT NOW!!