Tuesday, May 29, 2007

the Joys of the Literalist

Oh ESPN dot com editors. you're interesting choice of words left me laughing once more this evening:

hehehe. the poor man. was it a case of spontaneous combustion? At least he managed to get the victory. hehe. on fire. heh.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Neighborhood #5 (upcoming kickass concert)

I am more than a little excited about this Saturday's concert. I haven't been this giddy about seeing a band since Wolf Parade (before that Les Savy Fav [twice] and before that, er, Radiohead, I guess, but that was years ago). Its like I am four years old again and X-mas is just a few days away, but those days pass by like enormous stubborn pieces of glacier-time. I listened and re-listened and re-re-listened to Neon Bible and Funeral so many times these past few days, come up with imaginary set lists, made 'cuts' of the songs that if they really really have to leave out then so be it I guess it would be okay but not really. With only two full albums of work they will likely play a bulk of both albums, the benefit of seeing these guys so early in their careers. You don't have to worry about them not playing your favorite obscure track from an EP released between their 4th and 5th albums or some such silliness. Since my 'perfect' set list keeps changing I suppose I will just list the songs in a 'most wanted' order. The closer to the top the song is the happier I'll be if it is performed. Red for Bible, Blue for Funeral.

1. Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) "The power's out in the heart of man!" This would be an excellent third or fourth song of their performance. Its too rawkus to just come right out of the gates with.

2. Rebellion (Lies). The 'hit single' from Funeral, I still remember when i heard it at the Gap on Michigan Ave and thought "in what perfect pop universe does this radio station exist?"

3. Black Mirror. Now this one they could open with...

4. Neighborhood #1 (tunnels) Still gives me the pop music equivalent of the DTs.

5. Well & the Lighthouse

6. No Cars Go. Croftie is probably sick of me blasting this on the Jeepie Jeepie's stereo.

7. Neighborhood #2 (laika). vampires. yeah.

8. Intervention
9. Blackwave/Bad Vibrations
10. keep the car running
11. antichrist television blues
12. crown of love
13. neon bible
14. my body is a cage
15. haiti
16. windowstill
17. Neighborhood #4 (kettles)
18. wake up
19. Une anee sans lumiere
20. ocean of noise
21. in the backseat.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Horse is a Horse

(of course, of course)

Why do the most abominable things in my life happen in threes? I've already documented the Bathroom Trilogy of Terror. Now I'm smack-dab in the middle of a creepy old man/sexual predator triple header. Bus-stop was only the first example.

Yesterday I got to work and was told to go clean up some books that were returned the previous day--not my job, but the actual person who does this has been sick, so I happily consented. At that early hour of the morning few employees are working and even fewer customers are shopping. Its generally quiet and one can get many things done very swiftly. The large stack of returners was located at the register, a cramped space to begin with. Take said tight space and add a moveable cart, the heap of books, myself and the cashier clerk, let's call her Jezebel, and there's not much room at all.

Jezebel, a part timer who exclusively works the register, is a busy body, an infamous sychophant, and today, rather scantily clad. In her hair is a crown of what appears to be dandelions. She is wearing a white canvas-like dress that has a preposterously low neck-line. Its just all hanging out there for anyone to see. Moveable cart between us, I begin to load the heap of books and bus them out of there when a customer comes in.

I immediately get a very very bad feeling about this. The man is a regular and slightly... off. There are rumors he did a lot of cocaine in the 80s and I'm not going to say I disagree with these assertions. He's a bit of a Robin Williams type, constantly mumbling things, mostly nonsensical, many of them jokes, claims to see leprechauns hiding behind bookshelves around St Patrick's day, does turkey-calls around thanksgiving, etc. The man comes over to the counter and his endless stream of consciousness stammers when his eyes fall on Jezebel. He recovers quickly however and spouts,

"Why, you must be Lady Godiva!"

Jezebel nervously laughs and maybe turns red, I've got my back to both of them and can't say for sure. The cart is loaded up and I turn around only to receive a second salvo,

"And you must be the Horse!"

Now, I am pretty well versed in myths, legends, histories and such things but these allusions failed me. I looked at Jezebel and raised the 'I have no idea whats going on' eye-brow. She smiles and turns away from the creepy customer. I leave her after the man is gone. Hours later it occurs to me to find out just what the hell was going on. When I get some downtime around lunch I wikipedia 'Lady Godiva' and immediately make the 'so shocked they climb up and almost off my forehead' eye-brows. Turns out Lady Godiva has nothing to do with chocolate (my only previous connotation of the name) and is a famous woman who paraded naked on a horse around the streets of some English city for some noble cause or other.

Now, lemme try and understand this. Was the creepy old man trying to give the young girl a compliment? If so, the horse comment that followed cannot be regarded in any way but sexually. She rides the damn horse for crissakes. Compliment? seems unlikely. So was he admonishing her in some weird literary way? I haven't the foggiest. All I know is that I am glad i didn't know the allusion at the time it was said. Manageable awkward would have been replaced with Apocalyptic awkward. And I can only imagine how this horrible trilogy will be completed...


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Something Significantly Worse than Bus-Stop-Girls

Riding the bus can be an unpleasant experience. Waiting at a bus-stop can be even less pleasant. Stuck out in the cold, anxious about getting somewhere at the appropriate time, and if you are picturing me via Croftie's imagination, you see a young man beseiged by a tide of lustful, impossibly attractive bus-stop girls putting on lip-stick and perfume, each plotting to steal away her man at a moments notice.

On Monday, despite the absence of Croftie's Sirens, the uncomfortableness of Bus-Stop was kicked up a few notches. I was exiting a bus in Hyde Park and saw a peculiar ad on the side of the bus-stop shelter. Normally these ads are for blockbuster movies or face creams or the occassional museum/culture cache. But this ad was different. This ad was made of a series of squares with sides about one foot long. Each square had the image of a place, all dark and gloomy and gray and washed out and scary looking with a word in the center. There was a creepy park bench, a street corner, the area right out front of a bar, the library and I'm pretty sure the image of an oil derrick. Reading the words your eyes visit each terrible place. The individual words spell out something like this:

To the many places you might encounter a sexual predator please add this.

Now I first inferred the sentence to be suggesting that Bus-Stop itself was the final hang-out of the sexual predator. The thought horrified me. Why would anyone make an ad like this? I feel awful enough for young women who have to wait out in the middle of nowhere for a bus full of degenerates and perverts and now they have to be constantly reminded of their unfortunate plight every time they sit down and look to the left at the big scary ad? Then I realized that the last square of the add wasn't gray and gloomy but highlighted and bright. It was a family room of some anonymous suburban residence. The ad was for domestic violence/child abuse.

Far from make me feel better, this realization actually made me feel even worse. What's more? I'll never visit an oil refinery ever again. Nowhere is safe.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

stabbing snowmen where it hurts

so, like most english-heady types with MAs in Lit and other such-type degrees, I'm writing a novel. I've been working on it for 2 years now, and am barely 3 chapters along. Some might call that slow progress. I would point out that slow progress is progress and better than none at all.

the inevitable question that comes after you tell someone you are working on a novel is the dreaded, 'So what is it about?' This is probably the worst question you can ask someone, even though most times the question is genuine, people like to be in on the ground floor, like to share ideas, and if they are your friend, they like to know what you are up to. The problem comes when one tries to answer this question. Any answer one can give is bound to fall in one of two categories.

a) The pompous, 'reaching for great literary themes' answer. Listen. You know as well as i do that i want to write a good novel, something worth reading, something that adds to the avalanche of words published every year in a positive way. So an author answers your question by hoisting out big words, big theories, big air-balloons filled with hot air.

b) The nearly impossible to understand rant of 'well it's about this and that and these and that and this,' because, well, we aren't done writing the damn thing yet. Can't very well give you the back cover synopsis if most of my book is left unfinished now can I?

To a certain extent this second answer isn't entirely true. Of course we know what we are trying to do, otherwise, what's the point? One doesn't just sit down and type. Only bad things can come of that. There needs to be some sort of plan. An arc, or anti-arc or something propelling a few fictiony type folks across some sort of narrative terrain. So enough hemming and hawing and what is my book about then? Well I'll give you as much of the 'back cover synopsis' as I can. Keep in mind we write best what we read, and what I'm working on is a mix of canon-y types and comic-books, I have no pretensions to greatness, but I think its an interesting yarn nonetheless.


The story is a sort of fairy-tale. One day, in the not too far off future, the world gets undone because a single person ceases to believe in it. In that moment 99.99% of the population disappears, leaving behind only those who were not properly 'in' the world at that moment, drunks, the insane, those who are day-dreaming, children mostly, but a few adults also. This new world is incredibly fragile but also maleable, all sorts of strange things begin happening to time and space and physical laws as reality begins to take the form its few remaining inhabitants playfully, and perhaps not so playfully, imagine.

Before the 'Big Sleep' as many of the orphan children come to call it (Most refusing to believe their parents are gone, they've just 'gone to sleep' and will wake up and return very soon) a young man named Edward whose relationship with his young wife has splintered because of the loss of their young daughter, has been on a week-long binge, drinking himself to oblivion. When the world 'skips a beat' he remains, in a city rapidly descending into flame and ruin. A young girl named Sylvie saves Edward and the two make their way across an America that is much changed, with a giant void in its heart. What awaits the two on the other side is a nightmare worse than either could imagine.

So yeah, excuse the more dramatic phrases above, I am in 'back cover blurb' state of mind after all. And don't even begin to ask what I plan on calling the damn thing. One thing at a time, please.