the modern age

Hello, readers. Felicia Day periscoped herself watching herself in Supernatural. She expressed it thus, “I’m alone in a hotel room sharing a live video of watching myself on TV. This is the modern age.” Another fantastic element of our modern age is William Boyle. He’s a human, through and through, and sometimes titles his blogs, ‘death in the world’ and also he has appeared on television, even. We shared a few drinks in our time at City Grocery, and, one day, we will again. Here’s us and Barry and the gang. 1908385_10203729754668614_3777624354595359285_n He also writes wonderful things. His stories punch you in the heart and ask if you’re okay and then hug you and punch you and that’s how it is with life. He just did a reading at Oxford’s Off-Square Books for his new collection, DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY, that I wished I could have attended but oceans. Alas. Feel free, though, like me, to compensate for your lack of skills re:traveling through space and time (the modern age has connected everyone and still we end up so far apart) by reading all the wonderful things on the internet related to my faraway friend. Here he is at largeheartedboy, taking part in Book Notes.

Death Don’t Have No Mercy” is an early story, written in 2007. I pretty often take a title of a song I love and play off of it. I was listening to this obsessively back then. I knew I wanted to write about bad luck and trouble and the meanness of the world. The lyrics hit so hard. No matter what you think, there’s death waiting at the end of everything. Shut up and put your ear to the floor. Here comes big bad death. It doesn’t care what you know or don’t know. It’ll cut you down blindly.

Here he is in an interview with Nerve.

You can understand a lot about a character by knowing what he listens to. I’m not trying to make a character listen to a certain type of music to make him seem cool. Or to make me seem cool. Music can be a lonely occupation. A character in one story makes a mixtape for a girl he’s slept with. I can remember staying up late at night making mixtapes. It was a lonely experience and kind of wonderful. Cassettes are sad, too. There’s another character in the story “Poughkeepsie” who still listens to Alice in Chains. He’s stuck in that moment from the ‘90s. And I understand that. I have great empathy for those people. I understand that feeling of nostalgia for hearing something for the first time. Or associating what you heard in the past with the only time you felt good in your life.

Here’s a link to a Spotify playlist Bill made for DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. Fantastic. Music and film and tv and Whedon played a large part in many of our talks. He’s a damn fine fellow and you should go buy and follow him. I am. Happy Thursday, readers.   ttfn.

stillness

Hello, readers.

The last ice storm I remember (other than those featuring a young, pre-ringbearing Elijah Wood), occurred in 1994. I was thirteen. We had a landline. Possibly a rotary phone. When you went for a walk everything was quiet except for the sound of everything slowly breaking, ice melting in the sun, refreezing at night, branches and wires unaccustomed to the weight bending, bending, and then, at last, falling. It was wise not to walk under things during this time.

School was cancelled for a week. I don’t remember doing anything much different than what my sister and I did a few weeks ago, sled and play video games. Sometimes kneel and look at frozen things. Leaves, blossoms, paint brushes. Stillness in unexpected places.

Something else that happened in 1994 was Friends.

I watched the pilot yesterday. It reminded me of that year and of being thirteen and of fearing stillness and sex and not always understanding what the people on tv meant when they said things but wanting and trying to understand the world through this box with the people. What’s amazing is how looking back sometimes feels like looking forward. I can see myself in episodes of Friends looking forward to who I am now. I can see myself wondering when I will date and when I will kiss and when I will fall in love in such a way as to warrant standing still in the pouring rain full of unexpected hope.

So. I watch. And I wave to myself. Hello, I say.

Nice to see you after all this time, I say.

Dear god, my past self says, this parachute is a knapsack.

Chandler was an early role model.

ttfn.

the invention of me

Hello, readers.

There’s an excitement in the air, or possibly the soil, or maybe the clouds, and there’s a question for you, are the clouds a part of the air? Is the wind? Are you? Once, there was a book called THE INVENTION OF AIR, which is a great phrase as phrases go. I wonder if the author of that book would say he was made up mostly of air, or clouds, or heart. I wonder if anyone’s ever written a book called THE INVENTION OF ME. If they did I bet it would have to go back a long way. Probably before television, but after the big bang. Sometimes I also think about the first person who ever thought. Not about anything in particular. Just thought anything at all. Right now my other wonder is whether or not the invention of me came before, or after, the invention of you, or if it was concurrent. Concurrent being a cool word we should all use more because once you accept the fundamental interconnectedness of all things, it’s not a big leap towards accepting the fundamental concurrentness of all time. Except, sometimes it’s too late. Which is sad, but probably for the best. If everyone was always on time for everything then a lot of things would probably never get invented. It’s the things that steal our time and take our air away that generally invent who we are and sometimes that means we miss out on other things. I’m not sure where this is going, but here we are.

John Oliver interviewed this amazing human at one point in time and I watched both parts this morning and this is part of my excitement.

This weekend, EG and I met up with a girl whose initials are IY and I will use those initials because it might stand for I & You, even though it doesn’t, though that’s pretty close to you and me which we were talking about earlier. We met up at a coffee shop over near Bloomsbury. It didn’t have a bathroom. It did have some lovely peppermint tea and a coat rack on which to hang our heavy, London in December coats. While we were there, one of the baristas looked at EG’s sketchbook and made happy noises. The three of us talked about our books and our futures, which is a way of saying we talked about the things we were hoping to invent, things that none of us could see, but we were happy to imagine how we might pull them out of the air and make them real and read by others. I have been working on my book for a while, and not saying much to EG about it, keeping all the excitement to myself, putting it on the page, and it was nice to take this get-together as an excuse to talk a bit about it and listen to their thoughts and this is part of my excitement, too. I don’t have a link to this excitement, though. Not yet. Just wait. You’ll read it one day.

The sun’s already setting. It’s a London in December sun. It rises late and goes to bed early. December 21st is coming up, though. Almost to the mid-point, the solstice, halfway out of the dark.

Happy invention, readers.

ttfn.

why are there so many clowns here

Hello, readers.

I’m writing this on a particularly cold and grey Tuesday afternoon in London. Over against the exposed brick wall, cloaked in dim light, two men–one young, dark of head, dressed all in black and one older, silver of head, dressed all in flannel–discuss things over a glistening computer screen the way one supposes that on the dark afternoons of some other century, people discussed things over candlelight. Across from me, a woman eats her coffee with a spoon. I’ve heard of this but have never chanced to witness it. Oh! There she goes again. Mug held up like a bowl. Spoon scooped through and up, then slipped between her lips. People. Fascinating creatures.

Of late, there has been much talk in our flat–and in pubs, and restaurants, and the occasional cafe on some dark afternoon–about how, over time, I might experience many more Tuesdays in London without having to resort to hiding with the toshers. We’ll work it out, I’m sure. It’s simply a matter of time and effort. Applying for a visa does have the unintended effect, though, of making one feel like a criminal. Possibly, that’s silly. It’s very possible, after all, that this effect is not at all unintentional.

Recently, a small gathering of lovely people gathered at our flat to eat a ridiculous amount of food and discuss important things such as clowns. This was a past Friday evening. It wasn’t December yet. Nor was it particularly cold. Nor were there women eating their coffee with spoons. It was a different time. A simpler time, in which friends appeared with wine and dressing and brownies and corn bread and quinoa salads and sushi. Yes. Sushi. People. Fascinating creatures.

We sat around the living room, on couch and chair and floor. We ate and we discussed. Old friends and new. All together, and in our own, smaller clumps of conversation. We learned things about each other and about the world. Among other things, some of those things we learned were:

  1. As mentioned, clown eggs. Apparently, it was, possible is, traditional, in order to make sure no two clowns stole the face of another, for one to visit the room filled with clown eggs and compare and design one’s own face and place it upon a egg such that future clowns will see all of the old eggs, as well as your egg, and no two eggs will be the same. This particular slice of the conversation began with one member of our group describing their travels through London and spying a great many clowns filing out of a building and he wondered, ‘Why are there so many clowns here?’
  2. In Japan, this sort of thing happens. This sort of thing being ‘radio taiso’. ‘Radio taiso’ being the sort of thing where people wake up really early and gather together, in body or spirit, turn on the radio, and exercise.
  3. Shipping. Some people did not know what it meant to ship people together. Some of these people will never again hear the shipping news in quite the same way again.

Happy Tuesday, readers.

love.

also.

ttfn.