tumbled sky

Hello, readers.

It is Wednesday. The Margate sky is some kind of blue I might best describe as gemstone. Did you know that sometimes gemstones are tumbled and these are known as tumbled stones?

In other news. My sister sent along this link to Neko Case’s appearance on Substack. It is called Now Entering the Lung, and there is adult language and also much joy.

It’s a whole big thing now. Substacks. I’ve been traveling along in creativity with Jeff Tweedy and Thao Nguyen for a while, now, in their newsletters respectively titled Starship Casual and For the Record. Here is an article from March 9th of this year about what a musician is doing on Substack, called What’s A Musician Doing on Substack?. It is an article written by Thao.

Here is an extensive quote which I have pulled much in the way of a mime pulling a rope in that I have not really pulled anything at all.

I am one of so many for whom 2020 was a great saboteur, but also a great clarifier. Until recently, making records has been quite harrowing for me. Almost everything I’ve made over the last several years has been a very personal excavation, heavy things that needed to be carved out and released. It was necessary for me to write those songs, but the processes were painful enough to compromise my relationship to making and releasing music. But now! Through the tumult of last year, I am freer and lighter and want to talk about, practice, and share music as I never have before. I aspire to be more like those prolific writers and composers who are always creating and releasing art, not because a deal dictates they should, but because they do not hamstring themselves with over-analysis, preciousness, or perfectionism. I want to be far less pensive and participate at a speed that is well beyond my proven pace. I want to make songs without knowing whether or not they will end up on my next album. For the Record is an exploration of what kind of artist I want to be moving forward.

Speaking of artists that do not hamstring themselves, here’s a reminder of that one time Japanese Breakfast published a song everyday for the month of June. This project was called June.

During the pandemic, I made up a prompt and wrote to that prompt a flash sort of fairytale everyday for a few months. Here is one such tale. Enjoy.


Prompt for this tale: Write a 200 word story about smartphones, a forest, and a bear.

In the forest was a bear. The bear was not like other bears. The forest was not like other forests. The bear was an accountant. The forest was a city. The bear accounted for what was by others lost and found. The bear did not in counting what others had found and lost feel either found or lost. The bear watched tv and the bear looked into its phone trying to be found and trying to be lost and the bear found that the feeling of being lost or found felt more and more like a dream, and, so, the bear decided to stop accounting for things. The bear decided to stop watching and looking.

The bear decided instead to dream.

So, the bear went into hibernation.

And the bear slept for a long time.

And the bear dreamed many dreams.

After a long winter of sleeping and dreaming, the bear came out into the city that was a forest and everyone was like and not like themselves.


Happy Wednesday, readers.

ttfn.

p.s. The Most Unusual Gems You’ve Never Heard Of

getting ziggy with it

Hello, readers.

It’s Tuesday. A couple days ago it was a different day and Dean Stockwell died. He was a large part of my childhood. My sister had a big crush on him. We used to watch Quantum Leap every week with my parents. It was a show like a lot of shows at that time in which a traveler went around helping people. Shows like Highway to Heaven, for example, or Touched by Angel. I suppose Doctor Who also fits into this category. But not Lassie. That dog had a home. In this genre, I’m afraid, the person helping others has to themselves be lost. That’s the kicker.

In other, more interactive news, I enjoyed this strange video advertisement for a future book from Avery Hill described as an interactive graphic novel.

Also. Lists.

For example.

This list of criminally underrated crirme films by Matt Koelling. I’ve only seen a couple on the list. Out of Sight and Bound. I love those two movies so much that I’m excited to check out the rest.

Or this list of books from NPR what will demonstrate the shifting nature of science fiction in this most recent past decade.

Is Quantum Leap a science fiction show? A crime show? A biblical epic? A perfect anthology series? Yes.

Thank you for visiting. Have a good Tuesday, readers.

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then you think

Hello, readers.

It’s Monday. Have you seen the moon lately? I saw it the other day low over the ocean and it was pretty exciting. Just this huge rock floating in the sky. It’s crazy.

In other news, some things.

Thing one. I enjoyed this one segment of On the Media’s episode, “The Science Fiction Origins of the Metaverse,” in which many wonderful science fiction things were discussed in a conversation about the science fiction habits of certain CEOs such as you might imagine given the title, Mark Zuckerberg. Featured guests included Annalee Newitz, Jill LePore, and Gene Seymour. There’s some good reading suggestions in there, as well.

Thing two. I really love the title of Jeff Tweedy memoir. It’s called, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back). The book is also awesome. And, if you enjoy listening to your books, Jeff Tweedy is the narrator. He has an excellent voice. He should think about starting up a band.

Thing three. This film Belfast and this great interview with its director, Kenneth Branagh. I don’t know if it’s possible to spoil an interview but spoiler alert here is the last bit of the interview:

I may have discovered, for me at least, there’s nothing to solve. That Beckett phrase of fail, fail again, fail better is maybe one to bear in mind. But who pretends that life is one slowly ascending curve of human development? Most of the time you have to smash into something: the death, the broken relationship, the horrible career moment. Then you think, Well, what matters to me? What do I enjoy? Or even just, I’m still here.

Here is the trailer.

Thing four. Kristen Stewart is cool.

That is all.

Have an excellent week, readers.

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a weather of ecstatics

Hello, readers.

One of the best things about this place called Margate is that sometimes the weather can best be described as ecstatic. That is today. Such wind. Many waves. Stained glass light. A kite surfer trying their luck out near the harbor. A seagull lazing circles around their kite string, showing them how it’s done.

In monthly news, it turns out that while some people name this month November, others have decided that it’s proper title be Noirvember. One of my favorite noir films is a film called The Night of the Hunter. It stars Robert Mitchum and a terrifically impressive amount of psychological terror. It’s also one of my favorite horror films. I think that if this film was a type of weather it would be that moment when the sky in Tennessee turns the color of a coming storm.

Lately, I started watching Long Way Up. It’s the third in what is now a trilogy of long-form documentaries which document the motorcycling about of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. Previously there was Long Way Round and Long Way Down. I used to watch these shows with my mom. She’s not here anymore but I feel like she’s watching this new adventure with me. I think we both had a crush on Ewan McGregor. I think we both enjoyed the mixture of chaos and camaraderie. I don’t know if we both believed in ghosts but probably people believe different things at different times and so there’s no telling where our paths crossed in faith. If Ewan McGregor was a type of weather he would have trouble I think continuing to act in films.

In other news, I drew this small comic after watching Dune.

The Journey of Self-Discovery Has Many Surprises

Feel free to contact me if you need any help translating my handwriting.*

Happy Thursday, readers. Be the seagull.

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*Well. Here’s what the first panel says, “Hooray! The desert! An emptiness in which I can find myself”

wonderium

Hello, readers.

It occurred to me somewhere in these recent years that I don’t really write, and never really wrote, this blog for you. I think, perhaps, the readers to whom each of these blog posts are addressed might constitute something of my own heart’s choir. These blog posts, and all of my writing, perhaps, being the songs that this choir needs to hear. We all have to fill the well, somehow. Now, I suppose, more than ever. It is always now, though, of course. Even in the past and always in the future.

I visited Rome. Here is a picture, among other things, displaying one part of one story spiraling in and out of time. The column is called Trajan’s column. It was constructed about 2,000 years ago. It tells the story, in scenes carved in an upward spiral, of how Trajan mustered many Roman legions and defeated a people called the Dacians. The Dacians made their home in what is now Romania. One of the things that stood out to me about this column is that it was still standing. All around it are ruins of the Roman Empire whose skill at ruining other civilizations is what the column itself is all about. At a cafe I met a couple from Islington. They were named Michelle and Olly. Or possibly Ollie. I didn’t check the spelling. We talked about the magic of seeing all the old things. And it is a kind of magic. I found myself drawn, though, to how unmagical it seemed. Not in the way of being boring, but in the way of being embodied. In some ways there was nothing magic about anything I saw in Rome. But somehow that felt, in its own way, kind of magical. Embodiment being one of the more powerful forms of magic.

History, I suppose, is always within reach. You can touch a tree and be transported back hundreds, if not thousands of years. But to see a story carved in stone. To be able to smell that stone. To be able to stand in contemplation of how some stories last and some stories do not. Let me tell you. It was a thing.

Here is a picture of a foot. It is the foot from a sculpture called The Diver.

Damien Hirst is the sculptor.

Hirst was born in Bristol in 1965. He made a series of sculptures in which he made use of real dead things such as sharks, sheeps, and a cow. Oh my. The place where I saw this sculpture of a diver was the Galleria Borghese. The gallery was full of Caravaggio’s and incredible painted ceilings. Many of Hirst’s sculptures were portrayed as, themselves, being ancient. There was another sculpture of a giant foot and a curious squirrel. That one was also cool, but I will leave it to your imagination.

The thing I liked best about the sculpture of the diver is that the diver appeared to be diving into the artwork on the ceiling. That and the color. And also the coral. There were many things I liked, really.

There was also in this gallery a group of violinists. They were practicing for a later show, and so the main room of this gallery in which there was the ceiling art and the curious squirrel and the diver that appeared to be diving into the ceiling also contained the verve of Vivaldi.

Sometimes things turn out alright.

Happy Sunday, readers. Everything I write is for you. Don’t ever let anyone tell you different.

ttfn.

p.s. Violins

movies for old ladies

Hello, readers.

The other day I stumbled across this movie called I Married A Witch.

It stars Veronica Lake and Frederic March. 

Here is Veronica and her father on a broom.

The plot is that Veronica and her father want revenge on the man whose ancestor murdered them both during the Salem witch trials. It happens through a bit of happenstance that Veronica ends up accidentally in love with this man on whom she is meant to enact vengeance. 

Here is Veronica using the stairs as sometimes witches are wont to do.

Francois Truffaut had this to say of Clair’s films: “Clair makes films for old ladies who go to the cinema twice a year.”

Things I discovered in the aftermath of this film:

Thing one: Veronica Lake’s hair was a whole thing. It was known as the “peek-a-boo” look. It is the look of Jessica Rabbit. 

Thing two: I Married a Witch is based on a novel somewhat by Thorne Smith who, according to the internet, “is best known today for the two Topper novels, comic fantasy fiction involving sex, much drinking and ghosts.” Smith did not actually finish the novel on which I Married a Witch is based due to his reaching a state of death that proved inconvenient. Another writer finished the book without incident. 

In summary:

shrinking lonesome

Hello, readers.

I discovered this series of live recordings called Gems on VHS. It’s put together by a Nashville-based human named Anthony Simpkins. I watched today this video featuring Sabine McCalla singing a song called “Tall Lonesome Cowboy.”

The name of this song reminds me of that famous last shot from The Searchers in which John Wayne walks off in a sad sort of way. Here is a GIF of that scene in case you only understand things these days if they come in GIF format (and also if you don’t mind being spoiled or reminiscing about a thing already seen):

The other thing I have discovered recently is that if you watch a Wong Kar Wai film every night for six nights in a row then you will be visited by memories of your first sensual experiences. I do not have any GIFs of these memories, I’m afraid, and so they will remain inexplicable to a modern day audience.

Here, though, from Days of Being Wild is Leslie Cheung performing something of a re-enactment of one of those memories.

Finally, the other day I thought about this scene from The Incredible Shrinking Man in which the man gets exposed to a mysterious gas. I thought about this scene not because I have been mysteriously shrinking, but because it turned out that from mid-February until mid-May, I was being exposed to a not all that mysterious gas called Carbon Monoxide and its effects can linger on up to 3 months after one’s period of active poisonment has ended. So. You know. Two things.

  1. If my posts these last months seemed to portend one kind of doom or another, don’t worry! You were right. But it’s getting better.

  2. And by mid-to-late August I might be back to my old self. Not that I believe so much exactly in the linear nature of time or a fixed identity. Still. Fingers crossed.

Also. Thao Nguyen, amazing human and writer and musician, has this amazing newsletter and you should know about it and now you do.

Happy Friday, readers.

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anyone at all

Hello, readers.

window in the room of living

It is Wednesday in Margate. It is possible that it might be Wednesday where you are, as well. It depends, really, I suppose. On space and time and whether or not you believe in the naming of days.

Sometimes I fall in love / Sometimes I fall out / Sometimes I’m in love with love / Sometimes I am filled with doubt

Sometimes I think about Kim Boekbinder. Sometimes I think about their album, The Impossible Girl, and sometimes I think about their song, “Anyone At All.” It is an amazing album and a wonderful song and I first heard of this album and this song once upon a time in San Diego. This was a time of stories called Clarion. Many humans of a speculative bent gathered. On beaches. In tilted houses. Festooned across furniture. They talked talk of sea monsters, coffee, and British superheroes. Also, on occasion, of music. The Magnetic Fields. Brandi Carlisle. The Muppets. On the last night, we danced and we drank whiskey and rye.

joss bay, in black-and-white

I once thought that we’d get married / I thought of you as home / Then you said I was your savior / And I wanted to be alone

Kim Boekbinder describes Kim Boekbinder as “Not a boy, not a girl, a fractal of this world.”

I like this. Sometimes I think of myself as enchanted. It seems a good identity so far as identities go. A bit vague, perhaps. No more than Wednesday, though.

It is true, of course, that I also think about you as enchanted.

to the lighthouse, from the margate steps

What makes me run? / What makes me fall? / What makes me so sure, / I don’t want anyone at all? / Anyone at all.

Sometimes it has not been the easiest transition to Margate. It is possible that my flat is haunted. Or, at least, that it is not entirely happy that I am here. Maybe that’s just me, though. Still. It has been here a saga of clogged pipes, gas leaks, shower leaks, and, perhaps, a bit of spiritual leakage, as well. That feeling, do you know it, readers. That feeling when you look at a place in your home and you feel sad because you remember a day, months ago, when you sat in the place and were happy. It is a strange feeling. Not entirely unfamiliar.

The other day I heard someone say that creativity is a process of making as many mistakes as possible. Art, they continued, is the process of deciding which mistakes to keep.

margate sands

I could write a thousand pop songs / And I could live a thousand years / I could live a thousand times / and still not have all the answers

Sometimes everything is wonderful.

Parts of this everything include this exhibition at The Carl Freedman Gallery in which there are fantastic works of art curated by Russell Tovey. You might remember Russell Tovey from such things as Being Human and that one episode of Doctor Who.

One of my favorite pieces in this exhibition was the very first painting of two men lounging with a dog at their feet, all monsoon orange and electric ease. The two men, their bodies pressed tight.

One of these men reminded me a lot of my father and I thought of his ability to play music by ear and also how, long ago in Britain, people sometimes named queer men with the euphemism, “musical.”

The other day I saw In the Heights, the film adaptation of the musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda. When I walked out, whatever I said, seemed to be said in the rhythm of the film. It was a feeling not entirely unfamiliar. It is fun, speaking in rhythm, because you almost always surprise yourself when making sense is less important than making music.

Sometimes I think enchanted is just another word for musical. Enchanted is, after all, just another way of saying something is filled with song.

If it’s true that we never really know what we think we know, then it’s probably also true that we never really don’t know what we think we don’t know. Somehow everything finds us where it needs to be found.

I hope that your everything is finding you, readers, wherever it is that it needs to be found.

Happy Wednesday.

ttfn.

p.s.

sketch of two small creatures in conversation

margate mods

Hello, readers.

It is the end of this particular month of May. We won’t ever see it’s like again.

It’s also a bank holiday. This is what British people call certain days during which banks go on a holiday. Sometimes I wonder what banks do on holiday. After spending all that time housing, or at least pretending to house money, do they enjoy a relaxing afternoon in a hammock? Is there a hammock large enough to support financial situations deemed too large to fail? Or must those banks deemed too large to fail holiday in special YOU ARE SO VERY IMPORTANT TO CAPITALISM resorts for which their size, and significance, are especially accommodated?

Here is a video about a past bank holiday weekend in England, and in particular Margate, which is the name of the place where I currently find myself living. It is an exciting video full of old time announcer voice and that sense of impending doom one feels when hearing an old time announcer voice announce that millions of people haven’t a care in the world.

It is also the sort of video in which people are named UNDESIRABLE and occasional violence is scored by a surprisingly jaunty soundtrack.

Today, on my bank holiday walk along the Margate sands, there were, in fact, many motorcycles and also there were many people. Some of these people arrived by motorcycle. Some did not. You could more or less tell who was who by their habits of leather. I did not see anyone particularly undesirable. I did see many people eating ice cream and one jovial threesome discussing the gravity of speed.

In other news, I read a round-up of Barry Jenkins interviews in which there is much discussion of his 10-episode adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s pulitzer prize winning novel, The Underground Railroad. One interviewer compared Jenkins to Wong Kar-Wai and I love that connection. Both are directors that adventure in, and encourage, sustained attention. I’m excited to see what Jenkins brand of attention brings to Whitehead’s novel. And, as part of that excitement, and in honor of sustained attention, I’ll be taking my time, watching the series one episode per week as God, and broadcast television supported by advertising, intended.

Happy holidays, readers.

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reunions of space and time

Hello, readers.

I started taking a contemporary dance class a couple weeks ago. It is in a small church with brightly colored walls. There are eleven or so of us. We stand an appropriate distance apart. And we move and we move and we imagine that we are hugged by a mattress and we imagine that we are very angry and trapped in a tiny greenhouse.

It is wonderful.

Also. This means that people sometimes now talk to me of throwing shapes.

In other news. I hope to be able to travel to Nashville in August and see Wilco and Sleater Kinney. Here is a video about that which made me smile.

I haven’t watched the Friends reunion. I have many feelings about this reunion. I remember watching the show with my mom and dad and sister. I remember being so invested in Ross and Rachel. I remember standing in the rain with Ross outside the coffee shop. I remember seeing, or perhaps modeling, something of my personality on Chandler. I remember the games that Ross and Rachel and Joey and Chandler and Monica and Phoebe played, on the couch in Monica’s room and at Thanksgiving. I remember craving that casual intimacy with a group of people. I remember being uncomfortable with the boy/girlness of it. I remember being baffled by the wall that seemed to separate them. I didn’t have any language at the time for this feeling. I only recognized that the shows I deeply loved were more full of geekery and less reliant on gender-based slapstick.

I remember thinking one day I would meet a girl and she would see that I was not like a guy on tv.

I remember visiting the coffee shop set of Friends during a tour of the WB lot. Plush sofa. Chairs. Coffee bar. All packed tight. There was hardly room for any sort of human to move.

Time. And space.

That’s all we’ve got in the end.

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