Sunday, July 27, 2014


This is a poem by Miller Williams, a poet from Arkansas and the father of singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams.  It talks about going down together, and it's got jokes, which is good enough for me.

The Associate Professor Delivers an Exhortation to His Failing Students
Now when the frogs
that gave their lives for nothing
are washed from the brains and pans
we laid them in
I leave to you
who most excusably misunderstood
the margins of my talks
which because I am wise
and am a coward
were not appended to the syllabus

but I will fail to tell you
what I tell you
even before you fail to understand
so we might
in a manner of speaking
go down together.

I should have told you something of improtance
to give at least a meaning
to the letter:

how, after hope, it sometimes happens

a girl, anonymous as beer,
telling forgotten things in a cheap bar
how she could have taught here as well as I.

The day I talked about the conduction of currents
I meant to say
be careful about getting hung up in the brain's things
that send you screaming like madmen through the town
or make you
like the man in front of the Jungle
that preaches on Saturday afternoons
a clown.

The day I lectured on adrenalin
I meant to tell you
as you were coming down
slowly out of the hills of certainty

empty your mind of the hopes that held you there.
Make a catechism of all your fears

and say it over:

this is the most of you ... who knows ... the best
where God was born
and heaven and confession
and half of love

From the fear of falling
and being flushed away
to the gulp of the suckhole and that rusting gut
from which no Jonah comes

that there is no Jesus and no hell
that God
square root of something equal to all
will not feel the imbalance when you fall

that rotting you will lie unbelievably alone
to be sucked up by some insignificant oak
as a child draws milk through straws
to be his bone.

These are the gravity that holds us together
toward our common sun

every hope getting out of hand
slings us hopelessly outward one by one
till all that kept us common is undone.

The day you took the test
I would have told you this:
that you had no time to listen for questions
hunting out the answers in your files
is surely the kind of irony
poems are made of

that all the answers at best are less than half

and you would have remembered
who hung around with God or the devil for days
and nobody asked him


But if they do
If one Sunday morning they should ask you
the only thing that matters after all
tell them the only thing you know is true

tell them failing is an act of love
like sin
it is the commonality within

how failing together we shall finally pass
how to pomp and circumstance all of a class
nobel of eye, blind mares between our knees,
lances ready, we ride to Hercules.

The day I said this had I meant to hope
some impossible punk on a cold slope
stupidly alone
would build himself a fire
to make of me an idiot

and a liar

Friday, July 25, 2014

Plausible Friday Random Ten

Hope you don't mind the odd layout, here.  Accidentally walked into an editing nightmare here.  One of the more plausible kinds of nightmare, which might be why I chose that header, although I'm not sure anymore.

Probably a good thing that it's the weekend.

Fairport Convention - Genesis Hall
Broadcast - Tears in the Typing Pool
Paul Simon - I Don't Believe
Dirty Projectors - No Intention
The Velvet Underground - I Heard her Call My Name
Laurie Anderson - Walking and Falling
Brian Eno - In Dark Trees
The Band - In a Station
Elvis Costello & the Attractions - You'll Never Be a Man
Tito Puente - Lush Life

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Shades of grey

charcoal animation from Alesh macak on Vimeo.

Kind of weird, yes. It would be pretty hard to tease a plot out of it. Of course most dreams are like that too.

The description on Vimeo says it was all done on one piece of paper. Sure used the hell out of that scrap.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A midsummer oops

Sunglasses.  Unless you wear a really luxe pair I think you expect to lose or break them at some point.  So if I misplaced a pair of shades on the bus I'd probably just write it off.  Same thing with a hat, probably.  Hats are replaceable.

This morning, though, I left my backpack on a bus.  It wasn't until the bus was gone and I was grabbing coffee that I realized that.  The bag has an address book in it.  Also toothbrush and toothpaste, because a lot of days I do dental hygiene at work rathter than at home (not counting brushing my teeth at night.)  The real deciding factor was that my partials were in there.  They'd be an expensive pain in the ass to replace.  So I waited for the bus to come up the other way so I could grab my stuff again.

All of which is a bit embarrassing, but we're getting to the part of the year where I can blame the heat/humidity for breaking my concentration.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday Random Ten in progress

Yes, I finally got down to Random Ten business.

Right now am working on another story.  It's at the point where it's all down, basically, but a sprawling mess.  So begins the work of hewing it down.  Which is fun, once you get into it.  Was sort of interrupted today, but expect to get back into it tomorrow.

1. Amy Winehouse - (There Is) No Greater Love
2. Arcade Fire - Supersymmetry
3. Brian Eno - Spirits Drifting
4. Fats Domino - The Fat Man
5. Dirty Projectors - The Bride
6. The Band - Tears of Rage
7. Fairport Convention - Fotheringay
8. The Velvet Underground - The Gift
9. R.E.M. - Can't Get There from Here
10. Diana Krall - You're My Thrill

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

La dame

Take a look at this for a moment.

This is a painting by Leonora Carrington, called La Dame Ovale ("the oval lady")

Carrington came from a somewhat upper crust English background, which she threw away when she ran away with Max Ernst. She's considered one of the surrealists. Over her long artistic career - started in the 1930s and continued until her dedath in the 2ooos - she went back and forth on that.

This painting could certainly be called surreal, being filled with inversions of the natural order. The chained dog has five human breasts. (An odd number, even!) Birds and bats nest underground. Many of the trees have bizarre shapes: fox heads, chess pieces.

What I noticed after looking at it for a few minutes was that nothing could quite be taken at face value. Most of the trees are, when you take the nature of painting into account, natural. So are most of the clouds. But you're forced to keep examining them because of their proximity to the other things. Meaning that art can show you not just new things, but train you in new ways to look.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The 4th

Which brings us to the impossible unity of the Ramones. They all had the same last name. They all wore the same outfit and haircut. All the songs started with “1 2 3 4.” The monolithic, unified roar. And, most importantly, all the songs seem to come from a musical universe that they were the sole inhabitants of. Although their eagle logo and leather-clad image invited dopey imitation in the way all of rock music’s orthodox rebellion does, the Ramones’ original iconography not only illustrated they were tough, but that they were one. For an earlier music generation, the Beatles’ idea of the band as a gang, jumping over hilltops together, was part of their initial appeal. The Ramones were a gang as a band. A few years before his passing, Dee Dee Ramone complained about when he was starting with the band being forced to get a “Ramone” haircut. Having that small part of their image dismantled that way broke down more of the image of the band for me than I anticipated.

It is preposterous to call the Ramones performance art, but is there a more intentional, self-contained creative performance? The Ramones weren’t a band “about something.” While there were other high-concept bands that rival their singularity of statement—like Kraftwerk, the Residents, or Devo—those bands revolved around technology and enigma. The Ramones were self-reflexive: a rock band that was about the idea of a rock band. They took comic book violence and the deadest tropes of Beach Boys lyrics and placed them alongside tales of New York hustling as if it all was one piece. Authenticity wasn’t an issue. Authenticity was a joke.

From John Flansburgh's post-Tommy in memoriam on The Ramones. They Might Be Giants, Flansburgh's own band, occupies a different niche than the boyz from Queens, but he seems to get them.

After only a couple of years, Tommy decided that having been in the Ramones was great, but that he didn't want to keep doing it. Understandable, given the personalities involved. Still, he'll be remembered with them.