Sunday, May 23, 2010

Strangely Appropos

Ahhh... Dionne prior to Psychic Friends... and Bacharach. The best combination ever.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Where I outbark the Aardvark

Was yesterday an Aardvark fail?

Or was I being particularly - and egregiously - obtuse?

For the past four or five months, I've been answering random questions (they're only nominally reference-y in scope) on Aardvark - which Google picked up about a month ago. At first, it was really fun. Some of the questions were Yelp-like: best location for X in the City, doctor recommendations, etc... And then there were the host of students trying to get homework done in about 100 characters or less.

But I think, in hindsight, I went a little crazy with this poor guy from California yesterday. X asked:

Rome was so successful for so long and,why is it that great civilizations,like Rome, seem destined to fail? I ask this question, in reference to the United States of America.

Something about the question just set me off. I mean, how audacious is it to be the arbiter of US failure? As far as I know, I still live in the United States of America. Nor do I recall seeing barbarian hordes raping and pillaging (metaphorically?) the landscape during my morning commute. So I responded with this:

I think that is a very wide sweeping generalization on civilizations that are extremely distinct in composition. The idea of something "destined to fail" presupposes that there was a master plan inherent in their foundation (if, in fact, "destiny" exists at all). This is not true of either Rome nor the United States.

X responded with:

You are absoltely right I was new to aardvark and was more interested in asking a question than actually thinking to ask a intelligent question. Thank you for your answer.

Which made me feel like a first class heel. And a bad librarian. Siggghhhhh. So I'm trying to make it up to X from California with this:

In hindsight, I think my answer was a little obtuse ;) There are many, many reasons why there is no longer a Roman Civilization - although the US is still chugging along. Was there a particular facet that you wondered about: bureaucracy, food logistics, barbarian incursions, etc...?

Hoping that the use of an emoticon will reveal that I am actually a nice librarian... hopefully.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

[Not Quite New Music] Where Dan Seals is a Prophet

I had the realization yesterday that Dan Seals is (was, apparently!) a prophet. And not the alien variety who inhabit the Bajoran wormhole.

This might, topically, seem like blasphemy. Owning to Danny Wayland "Dan" Seals being a sweet, guitar toting country western star whose fame lay in the wasteland of the 1980s with no particular religious calling that I can discern. Which under normal conditions is a prerequisite for prophethood.

I'm not embarrassed to admit that I shed a tear when I learned he had PASSED AWAY upon boning up on his discography on Wikipedia this morning! Apparently I was smoking a great deal of crack in March 2009 to have missed this. Dan Seals was an integral part of my childhood. Back when I listened to a piped in version of the Grand Old Opry (on AM, since FM had long foresaken such awesomeness for the obviously more pertinent NKOTB) and knew exactly who was referred to when someone mentioned the "Redheaded Stranger" or "Beaucephus."

I "met" Dan when my Dad received a tape of his The Best (1987) and promptly left it somewhere, still under plastic, to be lost in the sands of time. Fortunately for Dan (and me), I have really sticky fingers when it comes to unprotected music, so I pocketed the 4" x 3" of plastic and magnetic tape and hid in my room. Little did I know how the lyrics would shift my reality (hrm... perhaps there are wormholes involved afterall?)

So, Everything that Glitters (Is Not Gold) is - after Toto's Africa - one of my favorite songs of all time. When my Dad died and I uploaded hundreds of his CDs on my iPod (in between crying my eyes out and cutting down wild blackberry bushes in my mom's backyard), I was sitting in DTW when it cued up:

But oh sometimes I think about you
And the way you used to ride out
In your rhinestones and your sequins
With the sunlight on your hair
And oh the crowd will always love you
But as for me I've come to know
Everything that glitters is not gold

The sentiment behind it is the reason I've been obsessed with Haley Bonar's Big Star (off 2009's Big Star) since downloading her Daytrotter Session. Particularly the lines:

i'm gonna read your stories
spend springtime in the gardens
tell my children all about the days

but i can't make you happy
i can't make you money
i can only fold your laundry

But Dan's All that Glitters isn't the only bit of lyric work that occasionally takes up space in my head. "...Believes without a doubt, that I could move a mountain and someone to tell it to..." (One Friend). "And they rage on some how searching for the answers/In the night like shadow dancers before their time is gone/They rage on..." (Rage On). "But you still move me/Though I'd never let her know/There's a place inside of me that just won't let you go..." (You Still Move Me). Siggggghhhhhh.

Danny Wayland "Dan" Seals (1948-2009) American Musician, Amateur Prophet, integral part of my childhood and sometime resident of my brain, you are missed.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

[PoemADay] No. 5 (although this should be No. 18)

I am the biggest slacker in the world. Thankfully, I'll just be minding one library as of next Monday. And maybe my thighs will recover from the AIDS walk NY last Sunday. Fresh from my crazy mind (and having read the Wikipedia entry for glitter (I was curious as to what it was made of):

No. 5 [all that glitters...]
my stupid heart hurts

the part of me that wants to hear you say: stop! wait! I made a mistake

needs to die
like ...
right now

because your words are a dime a dozen
cheap and shiny

I thought you were gold, but you were just glitter

just glitter
reflecting light in a sparkling spectrum


Friday, May 7, 2010

[PoemADay] No. 4

I realized recently that I completely suck at writing a poem-a-day. I'm already in debt for three poems as it's already the 7th and I only just wrote a fourth poem. I'm kind of in awe of my 17-year-old self who could toss out lines like nobody's business (of course that facility might have been predicated on dressing in black and reading Camus, smoking clove cigarettes and drinking vermouth - to steal from Stephin Merritt).

No. 4 [Adam's Party]

How easy your scorn
sibilant and quick off the tongue
a serpent's quiver
slippery and quiet:

apples and breasts
and sin

And at this party of Adam's
after dogs and cattle and sows -
an afterthought
after thoughts of lying with beasts
(perhaps attempted and rebuffed)
his final and greatest creation (fiction?)

a single rib
for a scapegoat


This was inspired by this strange guy I've seen on the Downtown 2,3 a couple of times. Surrounded by plastic bags and weighted down by a thousand pins. He always reiterates the same sing-song tune: "Adam had a party, Adam had a party..." with the precision of a music box. I usually ignore people on the train, but I was perturbed by his memorized rhetoric. Obviously Victoria's Secret's being usurped by an Apple store was highly symbolic. Of course all that symbolism to this strange man was distilled down to the fact that women are the root of all evil.

And I thought, "What a terrible deal. All the blame for a single rib."

And thus my poem.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

[PoemADay] No. 3

Bluebeard [No. 3]

i was not always a laughing girl,

pleased with the sun and sky
and the brown silk of your skin

for i once had it in my head to marry a man
whose secrets were dark and deep
though I did not know it then

he said,
do not look into my closet, girl
and all that is mine will be yours

and i did not

i wore the key to his house on my ringfinger
a wealth of emeralds and diamonds
too heavy for my hand
too heavy for anyone
let alone girls who had tasted laughter

we will not talk of darknesses
or distances that have passed
because they are past
they have no power here

enough that I found the strength to open the door of his closet

where I found a laughing girl
crouched low along the floorboards

i wondered:
how many like us in this closet, girl
weighed down with gems?

who had forsaken the sun and sky
and happiness
for the wealth of emeralds and diamonds

i was not always a laughing girl,

pleased with the sun and sky
and the brown silk of your skin

but i am now


Sunday, May 2, 2010

[PoemADay] Nos. 1 & 2

My new initiative for the month of May is a Poem-A-Day. I was belatedly inspired by April being National Poetry Month. And the wonder of how likely most of these poems will be about zombies.

These are going to be bad. They're going to be awkward and stumbling and first drafty. But I really need to be more creative and don't have time for writing more substantial pieces right now. Even if the character of Yuuki sprung wholecloth into my mind this past week, along with the images of orange peels on a white sheet and zombies and Lyra Falamoun's Crewe. Yessss.

Since, in true Melissa Fashion (tm), I am getting a late start here are Poem No. 1 and No. 2:

Poem No. 1 (for Dad)
through my fingers like grains of sand,
the grit of your hair and
and heart
in a child's sand bucket
i carried through the surf foam

every step gone as i made it

the perspiration of the bottle in
my pocket, heavy against
my white thigh

we are all pieces of you
hair and
and heart

every breath gone as we make it

someday a pearl

Poem No. 2*
I am yours
for the taking,

should the taking be more than my desire
coloring you like the electric down of
light through my window

I am yours
for the taking

I want your body to smell like my body,
my mouth to plumb the wet heat of your mouth,
swallow your secrets
and make them mine

this is hardly original


I am yours
for the taking

* Where I might have inadvertently stolen the sentiment of Neruda