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Showing posts from May, 2007

Mother

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I have seen my mother weep. I have seen her sob and wail. Life has affected my mother and I have witnessed it. You can be surrounded by good people, those you love, and still be battered by life. There are any number of things at play against you, time and love not the least of them, and if we knew what was ahead of us, we wouldn’t ever step forward; if we kept a record of our hardships, we’d read it and doubt our survival.

My father is the unbowed governor of his life. My mother has a favorite image, that of a lighthouse, an aged and weathered monolith beaten by the rain, the sea, and the salt, but unchanged, commanding until the day it collapses in a heap of broken stone. My father’s strength is outward and necessary, sure footing for a wife who would climb to the extremes of her being for him, for their children.

If I learned all of life from my father, it might have seemed too easy. My mother has opened herself to the scalding hot and frostbite cold, the depths and heights of life. …

The Wild One

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I was in a telephone conversation with a girl a few years ago. She worked for a storage company, one of those places that rents closets and garages for people who know the value of stuff—that it shouldn’t be released—but place no personal value on it, except the cost of giving it to someone else to hang on to until either they become a junkyard sculptor or they die, at which point that stuff falls to someone else, a ramshackle legacy.

I had a more everyday use for the space. I needed a locker, a place to store everything I owned, which wasn’t much, but too much to fit on a motorcycle. I wanted something like the proverbial bus station locker, but a little more secure, less likely to be cleaned out every two days. I needed a place I could visit nearly everyday and pick out my clothing for the next day, drop off my laundry, keep food dry and available.

I asked the girl if I could do this. It was an odd request, but worth a try. She told me that her company didn’t operate like that. The st…

Try Not To Love Anyone

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I came across these at Boing Boing. This happens to your heroes, I suppose. After their deaths, Fred Astaire sold vacuum cleaners and River Phoenix worked for PETA. But if you could pick four guys who would never pose for a shoe ad, you found them. (Well, maybe Sid Vicious would have done it.)

I've been booted in the head by idiot crowd-surfers too many times (first time was at a Nirvana concert) to have anything but extreme distaste for Doc Martens. Unless that police state comes and over-priced combat boots become a necessity, I wouldn't even consider their vegan versions.

Your snakeskin suit and your alligator boot
You won't need a launderette, you can send them to the vet!
I get good advice from the advertising world

--Joe Strummer

Seconds

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I have nearly tired of my Tetris addiction. I don’t have anxious dreams of falling blocks anymore, although sometimes, in my daydreams, I find myself playing the game, fitting the tiles together for as many as thirty moves. It is one of my genius moments, when I imagine myself like Dustin Hoffman counting toothpicks. It is reassuring, a fallback skill; if all else fails, I can train myself to be a human computer, able to perform complex computations and discover improbable patterns, except, unfortunately, those of the human heart. I would save the world, but lose the girl.

Apollonia says we watch too much TV. Not the she can do anything about it. She’s goofy for David Boreanaz in Angel. I’m cool with it; I’ve long maintained that it’s perfectly healthy to fall for fictional characters. It’s hero worship, and it’s what makes us better people. I know David Boreanaz is a dweeb in real life, and few people on this planet resemble his immortally tortured vampire detective. But it gives me a…

Caché

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I am not dead. I am not even as miserable or depressed as my last post may have suggested. I am merely deflated. And I am exhausted, as exhausted as one can be without accomplishing anything.

I have taken on a lot of projects and I mean to complete one or two of them. Of course, they are all undertakings without end, and I cannot say when I will not feel the way I currently feel. I am overwhelmed, and the way I deal with it is by playing Tetris and watching TV.

The format of this blog will change. It has changed for all the time I’ve had it—there is no format. But I will be contributing looser items, fewer articles that require a lot of research or time. I need to manage my time, and for the moment, I cannot dedicate as much of my life as I have to this venture.

This is not that post that comes in the life of every blog—the one saying it is too much work and there is too little motivation, whether it be readership or financial rewards. I do enjoy writing here and will continue. I see tha…

Reilly Owens's Journal #1

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I am visited by the dead these days. They come as heavy, water-logged ghosts on stormy afternoons, when the sun fails and we sit in spheres of orange incandescent light in our apartment transformed by the unnatural dark. We turn lights on before we enter rooms because this gloom is not ours, not like the ordinary night when the windows are open and a breeze blows in, bringing with it the sounds of a deathless city.

Sometimes they come in the sunlight, bright aching flashes of light that trigger the unconscious cinema, and the senses are tricked into hearing lost voices, smelling forgotten places, seeing the flickering traces of an old and unmistakable movement: my mother’s head turning to profile above me; a once-seen girl’s carefree laugh that was the short-lived promise of an everyday grace.

These are my ghosts, peculiar to me, that swing out of my past and shapeless future. They are my own collection of moments, my experience of the world, and I will offer them to God at the end of t…

Dr. Teeth And The Electric Mayhem

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The dentist started shouting at me. I had fallen back into my default dental position: eyes closed, feet crossed and occasionally twisting at the ankles—nothing to do with pain, just cracking the joints—and fingers gripping the arm rests, then releasing them as soon as I realized I was in a posture of terror. My mouth was open wide, and, new to my experience, my chin was on my chest, at the dentist’s request. It’s hard to breathe through your nose when you’re afraid; harder still when you’re windpipe is closed.

She was shouting at me, something I couldn’t understand. She had to shout because some of the instruments in my mouth were very loud. I opened my eyes and saw she was holding a drill with some yellow gummy stuff on the end. Was she showing me what she was putting in my tooth? She had four instruments and at least three hands in my mouth. I’d given her my blessing to do whatever current, computer-assisted, Western medical procedures she needed to do to keep me from dying like tha…

Tuesday's Album #3

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Car Wheels On A Gravel Road
Lucinda Williams

The thirteen songs on Lucinda Williams’s landmark album Car Wheels On A Gravel Road lay out a long and lovely heartache that has lasted the singer’s entire life, each love song sandwiched by heartbreaks, every new happiness informed and blackened by its inevitable end. These songs of experience ring true because they’re edged with innocence: the battle-weary can only continue by opening themselves all the way up.

In the remarkable “I Lost It”, Williams makes it plain:

I just wanna live the life I please / I don't want no enemies / I don't want nothin’ if I have to fake it / Never take nothin’ don't belong to me / Everything's paid for, nothin's free / If I give my heart, will you promise not to break it?

Williams is exposed on the record, raw and naked. These thirteen songs are Lucinda Williams, her life in its battered-ain’t-broken glory. She treats songwriting as the most personal thing, a human heart laid bare. You hear th…

The Passenger #4

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Soundtrack

You probably already know this—I’m sure these guys have been on MTV and corporate radio for months—but The Fratellis are just about the best thing going. Loud, brash, raucous rock music that you can dance to, with sing-along anthems made for football stadiums and showers. My mind in the last week has became an echo chamber of melodic choruses and scratching, jangling guitars, like a group of poolroom boys scrapping and chanting in my head.

There’s an energy in British rock ‘n’ roll that is mostly missing in America. It could be that the British have made rock music for dancing for nearly as long as it’s been around, with prime examples being the Manchester stuff in the eighties and nineties and the astounding success of the Arctic Monkeys today. I think, also, there is a rawness in the sound that has been ironed out of the sound of American bands, whose records are so slick you can hear every cello and sigh.

In listening to a band like The Fratellis, you hear the history of ro…

Meantime

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In the early 1990s, a group of comic book artists got together and started talking. There was a lot of discontent among them. There were really only two comic book companies, Marvel and DC, and if you wanted to make any money doing what you loved, you had to work for one of them.

But comics are not that big a business in America, except for the rare newspaper strip that is good enough and original enough for a long enough time to be taken for granted, as if it was always there and would always be there, so that it becomes a brand name and can sell things other than comics (because, remember, there’s no money in that line).

So, Charles Schulz did okay with Peanuts (the name of the strip, although most people know it as “Charlie Brown”, the name on the TV specials) and Gary Larson did fine with The Far Side. Bill Watterson must have gotten by with Calvin And Hobbes, because he managed to stick with his principles and there was never any sanctioned merchandise for his characters. He was pr…

Tuesday's Album #2

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Pinkerton
Weezer

Weezer’s Pinkerton is a raucous hootenanny of a record, a loud and messy burst of pop and emotion—rock ‘n’ roll as catharsis, or maybe only joyful diversion, as inessential and vital as springtime. It’s singer/songwriter Rivers Cuomo’s second stab at innocence: after the playful irony of Weezer’s debut record, he needed some sincerity.

“These songs were written in the dead of winter when I was in a lot of pain and very lonely.”

Cuomo responded to the breakout success of Weezer’s first album by disappearing. He grew a thick beard and started classes at Harvard. He used the time as an opportunity to remedy a lifelong defect: he intended to lengthen one of his legs by use of a medieval-like device.

The unsociable Cuomo found himself unable to make friends and the leg contraption had to be tightened four times a day, leaving him in constant pain. He also suffered some heartbreaks.

In interviews, Cuomo appears to be at pains to express himself. He is an intense person, moving fr…