Saturday, April 30, 2011

Of Jellybeans and Klutziness...

This past Thursday, one of our technicians, an older lady who is a certified curmudgeon and grumbles a lot, but whom I rather like in spite of the grumbling, brought in a big jar of jellybeans to share this week. “They suck,” she explained, “but if anyone wants them, go ahead. I’m not gonna eat ’em.”
Her friend who also works with us, further "encouraged" us by saying, “Try the red ones. They really suck. Try one, and you’ll see what I mean.”
I was game for a little something sweet, so first went digging for black ones – there were NONE – then settled for a modest handful of the other colors. The red ones were not totally awful, just tasted a bit like cough medicine.
“So, what flavor do you think that is?” the friend asked me.
“Robitussin DM,” I replied, happy that they kept my jaws occupied whilst two of my male co-workers bickered about politics, and who was interrupting who. I thought about how pleasant it might be to knock their two thick heads together, and fervently wished that the monologist of the two would take up smoking and go outside for a good portion of our break, or at least stop eating lunch at my table. I even thought it might be better to listen to the other expound about American Idol (FEH!!!!) than to listen to the monologist.
So, how desperate was I for decent conversation? Enough to be happy with crummy jellybeans, my knitting, and a nostalgic wish for some talk about music, even if it wasn’t MY sort of music. Something. Anything.
Alas, no amount of wishing made it happen, and when the bell rang, I thought, “Damn it, I need a reward for sitting through that.”
Juggling my knitting in one hand to free up the other as I passed the table where the jellybeans had been left, I reached for the jar. It was heavier than I anticipated, and the lid had not been screwed on tightly. Oh, sh*t.
There was no way to be discreet about a heavy jar rolling off the table, with jellybeans exploding around the room, bouncing off walls and windows, and rolling under tables and chairs. Busted!
Everyone in the next room heard and started laughing. “You wanted them all for yourself,” someone yelled.
“No,” I called back, “I didn’t. I wanted to sneak a few, but I guess God punished me for having mean thoughts.”
More laughter. My face turned five shades of purple, and the usual post-lunch hot flash came on with more of a vengeance than usual as I crawled under tables and picked the damn things up. There are a LOT of jellybeans in a one-pound jar, and I managed to spill the entire f*cking lot of them. And in our place, no one believes in the five-second rule. It’s just not a chance anyone would willingly take, so into the garbage those jellybeans went, and back to my bench I went, staggering under a load of Guilt and Remorse.
We have so few pleasures in our workplace, and even jellybeans that suck make folks happy. We take what we can get.
Still red in the face and hot-flashing like mad, I sat down and picked up a cable, and promised, “I’ll make this up to you guys. I’ll bring in some Jelly Bellies tomorrow.”
“Aw, you don’t have to do that,” the giver said. “Those other ones were sh*t. I don’t care.”
“Yeah, they sucked,” her friend agreed.
But my mind was made up. I brought in some Jelly Bellies yesterday, and a good time was had by all, and I did NOT end up throwing them all ’round the cafeteria again.
Needless to say, I will never attempt picking up any kind of container one-handed again.
And it was true, anyway: those other jellybeans DID suck, AND there were NO black ones!
There WERE a few black ones amongst the Jelly Bellies, however, and I was able to secure a few of those for myself. Naturally, I thought of Harpo Marx as I savored them, and realized my little mishap with the jar could have been worse. It COULD have been a five-pound bag...
P.S. -- I still don't give a rat's arse about Ryan Seacrest, whoever he is...

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I thought I would go out of my mind at lunch today. The same co-worker who informed me last week that Black 47 blows has now informed me that my life is out of balance. Why? Apparently, for the simple reason that I do not watch enough TV to know who Ryan Seacrest is.

To (sort of) paraphrase Ayn Rand and add my own withering commentary:

Who is Ryan Seacrest? And why the f* ck do I care?

It is very bad, I was told, to be so uninformed as I in regard to current events (which includes American Idol, of course). Why, the end of the world could be coming, or the Revolution, or the Bilderberg Group is about to really take over the world for once and for all, and I, who can't abide television and never watch the news, would have no idea.

I am out of touch with reality. I need balance in my life. I need to watch television every minute I am not at work.

It seems to me that someone else's life is just as far out of balance in a direction completely the opposite of mine. Too much television, too much paranoia, too many conspiracy theories, and too much belief in American Idol being the litmus test for true talent.

Oh, puh-LEEZE!

I don't even want to get into any of the political discussions that go on at my lunch table.

I'm annoyed with myself, because I'm too nice to be rude and just up and leave. I have no wish to offend anyone, but the offenders feel no such obligation to me. Shouldn't that nullify my obligation to them?

I suppose if I did not bring knitting to do, I would get up and walk out, but...I have my knitting, and the latest project is one for which I must follow a chart, and pay close attention row by row. It helps me shut out some of the bullsh*t. Not all, but some, which I suppose is better than nothing.

I am weary of being called "Mrs. Hüsker Dü" every time I walk into the cafeteria. It's really getting a bit tedious, especially since I am merely a friend/fan of Grant Hart's, and I delved into Hüsker Dü because I wanted to hear more of Grant's work. That I dig all the music of Hüsker Dü is simply icing on the cake. I wish I could find a really abrasive video of them doing Grant's fabulous-but-short song "What Do I Want?" Instead, here are two videos from Grant's recent concerts in Europe. The first is "Awake, Arise," which is from his upcoming "Paradise Lost" project. This is easily the most powerful version of this song I've ever heard him do. If I had to guess, I'd say this is the prologue to the work, but I could be wrong. Still, it's an amazing performance. He just looks like he's calling down some kind of Power from Above, and I love his fleeting little smirk at the end, when he's through with the words and the guitar is just sustaining on and on with that final chord. He done good, and knew it, or more likely, he reached the high standard he set for himself that night, and was pleased with that accomplishment.

Next up is "Remains to Be Seen," another favorite of mine, and once again, an amazing and passionate performance.
American Idol? Feh. If one likes cookie-cutter music, fine. I guess it serves a purpose. Not everyone can be as intense a music geek as I am. I overanalyze absolutely everything I listen to, with the possible exception of songs like this next one. Romanian Disco at its finest, and one of the happiest, funniest songs I know, even if I haven't a clue what the words mean.
For something a little deeper, here's one that has been haunting me for awhile now. I "won" a copy of this CD by making a donation to WNHU. I wanted to help keep Mr. Tent's Wild Ride going strong, and for a $20 contribution, I got two CDs from their archives. Mr. Tent chose this XTC album for me, along with Devo's latest. I've been enjoying both, but this song, "Rook," really tweaked the old melancholia in a good way, especially: "If I die and I find that I had a soul inside, promise me that you'll take it up on its final ride." God, how that moves me!
None of these songs would make it on American Idol, no matter who sang them. "Numa Numa" is just silly fun, but Grant's songs and the XTC song have way too much substance for diehard American Idol fans to digest.

Don't get me wrong. American Idol serves a purpose, and lots of people enjoy it. But why am I made to feel like I'm suffering from some sort of deficiency because it fails to speak to me? Ever heard the expression, "To each his own?"

I would rather hear Grant while he's fighting laryngitis than an American Idol singer at his or her peak.

Or Jello Biafra ad-libbing his amusing tale, "Night of the Living Redneck."

Or Larry Kirwan chanting about Bridie and the "Funky Ceili."

Or Rory Gallagher wailing out "I Fall Apart."

Or Joe Bonamassa oozing pain and loneliness with "Sloe Gin."

Why have a Fluffernutter when you can have a good, hearty bowl of stew? The stew will keep you going longer. The Fluffernutter? Well, doesn't it leave you feeling hungry again in fifteen minutes?

I rest my case.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Europa Sweater

It's finally done, and awaiting the recipient's final approval of the design. I sure hope he likes it. Otherwise, it's back to the drawing board...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

There's Nothing Like Music... comfort an aching soul. Grant's music kept me sane while I filled out that nursing home application last night, and enabled me to shed a few needed tears. "She Can See the Angels Coming." "Flexible Flyer." "Signed DC." The worst of the pain and sorrow flowed away with those tears.

Today was easier, though I'm still very glad I stuck to my guns and insisted on being driven to the post office the moment the envelope was sealed. I still don't want to send my mother to a nursing home, but there is no other choice at this point. Friends assure me I'm doing the right thing. I'm slowly accepting that truth. The ball is now in the nursing home's court. They will need to evaluate my mother, and if they agree she's ready for their place, she'll be put on the waiting list, and in the interim, I will continue managing her meds, and hope she doesn't mess them up too badly.

I came home from work to find that I had an empty house all to myself, so after a quick snack, I got down to business. The Tascam is becoming more manageable, in that I'm actually beginning to remember all the steps I need to follow in order to successfully make a master I can transfer to the computer. Once I've got it transferred, I have additional audio software to further enhance things. This one came together very quickly, and I'm probably way prouder of it than I have any right to be, but...

This is all me, folks. I played the two guitar lines, sang the two vocal lines, and drummed on my djembe. I love the heartbeat the drum adds. It seemed especially appropriate for this song to have such a heartbeat.


Dancing Barefoot

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I've Done All I Can

I went to my mother's place as usual to take care of refilling her pill containers. Many of them still had pills in them, that she had not taken, and on the counter she had the "Tuesday" bottle next to her water glass.

It's Wednesday, and I told her so. She insisted it was Tuesday.

I went home and took the nursing home application from the place where I'd tucked it away, hoping I would never have to send it.

I filled it out. It's in an envelope now, stamped and ready to go. Hubby and I are going to the mailbox in a few minutes. If this envelope does not leave my hands tonight, I may well lose my courage completely.

I feel like a traitor. A murderer. An all-round bad daughter.

But she has no desire to be well, and fights everything that might help her every step of the way. I've done everything I can to try and help her, and there's nothing more I can do, except to put her into the hands of people who can manage her.

I am fortunate to have a very good facility down the street from my house. The problem is, they are so good, there's always a waiting list.

At least now, if my sister happens to call and ask, I can answer truthfully: the application has been mailed, and the ball is now in the nursing home's court.

Grant is singing Flexible Flyer on the stereo now, and there are tears in my eyes.

"Soon you will know that you just grow, you're not growing old."

From your lips to God's ears, Grant. Please.

I am so scared that someday my mind will turn to mush, too, just like Ma's has been doing these last few years.

Oh, help.

11:15 -- The application has been mailed. The process has begun.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Proof Positive...

...that Black 47 does not, in fact, suck. They may not be everyone's cup of tea, but they are certainly my cup of tea...with a good shot of Jameson's Irish whiskey thrown in for good measure.

This band changed my life. I'm not kidding. The people I've met, the places I've all began with Black 47, in the year 2000.

I hope I have as much energy as Larry Kirwan does when I'm in my 60s!

Friday, April 8, 2011

My Art in Belgium!

OK, it's true, he's wearing it inside-out, but...check out the link!

I actually rather like way this hat looks inside-out, but am very thankful I paid close attention to how carefully the ends were woven in!

Many of you saw me working on this hat...or, rather, on its fraternal twin last winter. (That one was lost in a fire. This is the one I made to replace it. Same yarn, but a different dye lot, so it's not got as much blue in it as the first one.)

Grant, if you happen to peek at this blog...dunno if you do, but on the off chance that you might sometime...

You sure do look beautiful in that colorway. The only problem with still photos is I can't hear you singing, but it's nice to see pictures, anyway. And also nice to see that no matter how far you travel, my Art is keeping you warm.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

No Commercial Potential...

...and PROUD of it!!!!!

I'm feeling every bit as stubborn as I felt yesterday, and am thinking I may start bringing a book with me to work, as I was doing for awhile last summer, and hanging out at my bench during morning and afternoon breaks. I would rather spend a quiet 10 minutes with William S. Burroughs messing with my head than be a silent audience while People Expound and Pontificate. If I could actually converse and have an even exchange of ideas instead of enduring attempts to convert me to thinking along the same paranoid lines as some of my table mates, then I might reconsider. But the constant one-upmanship and my complete inability to get a single syllable in edgewise is really beginning to get to me.

At lunch, The Expounders so dominated the "conversation," I never made a sound throughout the entire half hour. I ate my sandwich and knitted, and was very thankful I had the knitting, because without it, I might have just started ranting loudly. Knitting keeps me peaceful.

From now on, taking my morning and afternoon breaks with Burroughs or Bukowski will help keep me peaceful, too. Or perhaps I could get back into Milton, now that most of life's crises seem to be past and I could actually concentrate on what I'm reading, and retain some of it. I'd really like to be able to discuss it intelligently when Grant and I have a chance to catch up again.

That performance of "Awake, Arise" I posted yesterday is totally awe-inspiring. Grant was channeling something very powerful, no doubt about it. I need to save the video and convert it to an mp3 so I can put it in my player and listen more closely.

I played guitar for awhile tonight, though I felt pretty brain-dead. I worked on one original, and a whole passel of songs "American Idol" devotees wouldn't recognize in a million years. If I keep practicing as much as I have been, I'll be in good shape to record, if I'm ever alone in the house long enough.

Next up for consideration are, not necessarily in this order: "50" (my own original song), Dancing Barefoot (Patti Smith), I Hope That I Don't Fall in Love with You (Tom Waits), Hanky Panky Nohow (John Cale), Green Eyes (Grant Hart), and Apeman (The Kinks).

After I've accomplished all that, I have three more originals I need to re-do.

Where will this get me?

Big fat f*cking nowhere, but I don't care. I'm content to make a pleasing noise, and know that I do not sound like I've been homogenized, or had the life pasteurized out of me. Yes, I'm mainly doing cover tunes, but I am doing them my own way. I'm making them mine and owning them, albeit in a small way. And no one is "pulling my strings." (God bless you, Jello Biafra!)

Some anti-TV sentiments:

"We lost our faith and prayed to the TV. Oh, we should've known better." ~Sting~

"And when you're the object of complete derision, I'll make you a star on television." ~T-Bone Burnett

"I'm the tool of the government, have you guessed me yet? I'm the slime oozing out from your TV set." ~Frank Zappa~

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Grant Hart in Granada

This incredible song, "Awake, Arise," is from Grant's "Paradise Lost" project. The performance is utterly mind-blowing. I'm still reeling...

Artistic Integrity -- RANT!

This afternoon when I went into the cafeteria for my coffee break, I was greeted, quite unnecessarily, with the statement, "Black 47 blows."

"They do not," I replied, trying to maintain a semblance of calm.

"Yes, they do," persisted my co-worker. "Black 47 blows."

"Stop that right now," I said, a little more sharply, "or I might have to defenestrate you."

What I really wanted to say would have been a stream-of-consciousness, run-on rant along the lines of:

American Idol sucks * Simon Cowell is a pompous twat * I hate television * I never watch TV if I can help it * do not ask me if I am familiar with such and such a commercial * I DO NOT WATCH TV!!!! * money does not equal talent * boobs are not more significant than brains * no, I do not want to discuss politics or conspiracies * this subject does not belong in the workplace * since when is literature not "real?" * it's people like you who never read a novel that force me to work in a f*cking FACTORY...

...and so forth.

As far as music goes, I have no intention of ever dressing fancy, putting on make-up, getting contact lenses, or wearing foundation garments that will make my boobs stick out further. It's about my words and music, NOT how good I look, or how many Simon Cowell types I can impress if I play the game. I ain't playing. Period. F*ck that sh*t. If I have no integrity as an artist, then I have no right to BE one. To mine own self be true, dig? Like it or lump it.

Jello Biafra has it right, and I grinned like an idiot as he fanned the flames through my headphones this afternoon. "Pull My Strings" is f*cking BRILLIANT!!!!! But if you're looking for a G-rated song, DON'T click on this video. It's quite naughty, but to me, delightfully so.

As far as writing goes, I want to write novels I can still be satisfied with after publication. If it doesn't mean something to me, why bother? Chances are, it wouldn't mean anything to anyone else, either.

I may vanish in obscurity, but by God, I will NOT go to my grave with a big brown stripe running the length of my nose. I may not have a fortune to leave behind, but I will go with my artist's soul intact, knowing I have stuck to my guns and maintained a high standard.

So, put that in your pipe and smoke it!

And here is Mr. Hart, to further bolster my resolve...