Music Monday: I might just have to get back into this

I am a massive fan of Sweet Dreams remixes. The original is a darkly upbeat jam with lyrics that are pretty creepy, if you think about it. Of course, it’s a classic, and Annie Lennox’s shoes are not easy ones to fill. And speaking of classics, Marilyn Manson’s is a classic alt-version with a slower tempo that better matches the theme of the lyrics. (I’m surprised to learn that I’ve never Music Mondayed Manson’s version!)

So I am pleased to find a new version to share:

Secret Santa Can Suck It: KSena

This is one of my favorite times of year: the virtual gift-exchange that the Caretaker over at Shadowmanor organizes. If nothing else, it’s a reminder of how infrequently a blog…

The rules are simple: what would I give to my Secret Santa (wait, I’m the Secret Santa, my secret…naughty child…?) if I had endless time, money, and desire to do so.

This year, I got KSena. What I know we have in common is that we’re both readers of Shadowmanor, so I like her already! Continue reading

Closets

I’ve been thinking recently about the closets that we inhabit. Specifically with regard to my beliefs. I’m an atheist, a humanist, a pagan, awestruck by the majesty of mountains, the simple clarity of the moon, the taste of night on my tongue, the smell of winter…

And of course, some of these things are utterly contradictory. I heard recently, “We all have cognitive dissonance.” I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s definitely true for me. I am almost positive that no gods exist yet I feel Their presence. So, my closets are that, with my atheist friends, I’m a closeted polytheist; with my pagan friends, a closeted atheist.

Labels serve the purpose of shorthand—it’s easier to say “atheist” than to explain all the nuances of my disbelief…or belief. But they’re also closets we shut ourselves into; they can become cages, if we’re uncareful.


☯ I use that term, not to co-opt an LGBTQI term but to use a term we’re all familiar with. No offense is intended.

Narrative Techniques via Alt J’s “Breezeblocks”

In spite of the violent content of Alt J’s “Breezeblocks”, I’m intrigued by the storytelling techniques used in both the song and its video. The video starts with a killing, and by going in reverse slo-mo reveals the moments leading up to it. The percussive and rhythmic elements of the song build and release tension, and it’s sometimes whimsical tones (especially the xylophone) create dissonance with the dark lyrics, and perhaps reinforce the contrast with the narrator’s professed love and his desire to “eat her whole.”

I’m trying to figure out how to transfer these techniques into writing. What stories could be told more powerfully in reverse? (Memento comes to mind, but this is also a film). Can you effectively capture a sense of reversed time in the written form, especially when individual scenes typically move forwards in time? I’m also thinking about how we can use words and sentences to create contrasting textures and rhythms, to reinforce the building and releasing of tension in the stories we tell.

Warning: Both the video and the song are disturbing–the lyrics reveal a narrator who is unhinged and sociopathically obsessive, probably murderous. The video’s core theme is violence, primarily against women.

Some thoughts on “Patriot Day”

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So, I’m struggling with the fact that today has been designated, and is commonly referred to, as “Patriot Day.” (most folks leave off the unwieldy “and National Day of Service and Remembrance”, which I think is far more appropriate.)

It seems most appropriate to remember and honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks today, and designating it “Patriot Day” co-opts their memory in service of a nationalism that many of them may or may not have supported.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a patriot is “A person who loves his or her country, esp. one who is ready to support its freedoms and rights and to defend it against enemies or detractors.”

There were nearly four hundred non-Americans who were probably not American patriots. And I would like to think that the courageous people who did risk their lives for others, including the many valiant emergency workers and first responders, did so because they were saving their fellow human beings, and did so regardless of the national origins of those they served.

9/11 happened in large part because people keep identifying primarily by their differences–as members of a nationality, a religion, an ethnicity–rather than by what we share–our common humanity.

Photo link:

Tribute in Light, 9/11/03

Music Monday: It’s Where You Keep the Rooster

Yesterday, the Bloggess posted this, which caused me to go here and read this.

TL;DC*:

Mary QoE June 30, 2013 at 1:08 pm
When I first heard the Three Dog Night Song, my girlfriend and I thought the lyrics were, “Eli’s coming in a cocksafe . . .” and we asked another kid, what’s a cocksafe, because we had NO idea (just that it must be really gross and how could they play a song like that on the radio, anyway). When the kid we asked stopped laughing we found out the lyrics were actually, “Eli’s coming and the cards say. . .”

Still. I cannot hear that song without thinking it says cocksafe.

Never having heard this song, I googled it and learned two things:

1. Three Dog Night is not a ’90s grunge band, as I previously thought.
2. This is an awesome song.

Unfortunately, I didn’t hear either “cocksafe” or “cards say” the first time through so I had to google the lyrics. And then I did gospel hands the rest of the day.

*too lazy, didn’t click

“I will not become my mother.”

One of the podcasts I listen to, Women on the Line ended with this poem recently. And I love everything about it.

Subtext
Maxine Clark

(sung):
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
A long way from home

(spoken):
When we say, “I don’t want to become my mother,”
that isn’t an invitation to laugh.
Thinking about your mother-in-law.
And maybe the way she talks too loud
Or repeats herself when she gets excited.

Or maybe you hate
that somehow
your children love her
more than they do you.
‘Cause usually men don’t understand
that to their child,
“that woman” is also their mother.
There is no distinction.

If you listen to us,
you would hear that when we say,
“I don’t want to become my mother,”
what we are really saying is
“I want to be like my mother never had the chance to be.”
Or maybe even,
“I want to be like my father never let her be
or even understood she was.”

Listen hard.

Because when we say,
“I will not become my mother,”
What we are really saying is,
“I will leave you
if you buy me a big, square house
in the ‘burbs
and especially if you present it to me
like we’re a match made in heaven.”

We are saying,
“Who are you?”
and
“Do you even know who I am?!”

What we are really saying is,
“As bad a mother as you may think I am for it,
my children
are just my children.
And not my dreams.”

I would’ve been about seven
the first time I saw my mother on stage.
It took me seven years to realize who she was.

When I say, “I will not become my mother,”
What I am really saying is,

“I am my mother’s dreams.
I can’t afford to fail.”

She was our mother,
I loved that, but damn,
this woman!
she could’ve really been something.

When I say, “I will not become my mother,”
What I am saying is,
“I am going to be.
I will be.
I am.
What my mother was.
Before the world and his dog told that girl to stop.”

And I am saying,
“If you love me,
then when I say,
‘I will not become my mother,’
Listen.
and be frickin’ smart about it.”

It’s from this episode (iTunes link; poem at 25:40) and I copied it while listening to it, so apologies to Maxine Clark if the punctuation or line breaks are all kinds of wrong.

[Belated] Secret Santa Can Suck It: Selfish Santa

The best part of the countdown to the War on Christmas each year is, in my estimation, Secret Santa Can Suck It, organized by the Caretaker over at Shadow Manor. It’s a virtual gift swap which means that money is no object—one is only limited by one’s imagination. And possibly by how well one knows (or doesn’t know) the recipient.

This year I was super excited because I drew the Caretaker herself! (She had me one year and I got a Cthulhu makeover, eeeeee!) I immediately began scheming about what I was going to get her. Muahaha. Continue reading

Music Monday: All You Have to Do is Dance!

[All linked YouTube clips have NSFW audio.]

I have just discovered Macklemore, an extremely irreverent musician who walks the line between hiphop and nerdcore. (I recently tweeted his Thrift Shop, which is simultaneously Ke$ha’s fashion anthem, my approach to steampunk, and an indictment of corporate fashion culture. So…yeah.) I think what I love most about his stuff is that he’s having so much fun!!!, which makes it so much fun to listen to.

[Aside that will be relevant to readers of MoF: Macklemore did an amazing piece called Same Love in advance of the vote on Referendum 74, which eventually legalized marriage equality in the State of Washington. It's a beautiful song: I cried.]

But this song is currently my favorite.
Continue reading

poison gas attack, world war one

A Somber Armistice, Remembrance, Veteran’s Day.

Happy Armistice Day. Today in 1918, we celebrated the end of the slaughter of millions of boys and young men, and non-combatants of all ages. Here’s to the hope that someday humanity will outgrow this children’s crusade. I’ll be commemorating this day with a moment of silence at “the 11th hour on the 11th day of this 11th month.”

I also respect American veterans today. I’m grateful to those who have sacrificed and those who are willing to place their lives on the line. I honor them by speaking out and holding our leaders to the highest standards, so that no one has to lose their life or health or sanity to further the avarice and vain ambition of a few.

Our soldiers deserve our political participation and our unrelenting vigilance–they’ve pledged themselves to defend these. Let’s not dishonor them with our uncaring acquiescence.

Cross-posted at johnremy.net.

Contradictory Beliefs

Much has been made (often by atheists) about the necessarily contradictory beliefs that theists must hold. It may be that the “iron of Calvinism” Catholicism is wrapped ’round my bones, but I still manage to hold intensely contradictory beliefs. I am absolutely an atheist, but it comforts me to believe in the Divine, and so I do. I know I’m wrong, but I believe I’m right. I don’t know if that’s helpful at all, but I ran across this quote recently and I can pretty much get behind every statement in it.


I can believe that things are true and I can believe things that aren’t true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they’re true or not. I can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and Marilyn Monroe and the Beatles and Elvis and Mister Ed. Listen—I believe that people are perfectible, that knowledge is infinite, that the world is run by secret banking cartels and is visited by aliens on a regular basis, nice ones that look like wrinkledy lemurs and bad ones who mutilate cattle and want our water and our women. I believe that the future sucks and I believe that future rocks and I believe that one day White Buffalo Woman is going to come back and kick everyone’s ass. I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicating and that the decline in good sex in America is coincident with the decline in drive-in movie theaters from state to state. I believe that all politicians are unprincipled crooks and I still believe that they are better than the alternative. I believe that California is going to sink into the sea when the big one comes, while Florida is going to dissolve into madness and alligators and toxic waste. I believe that antibacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we’ll all be wiped out by the common cold like the Martians in War of the Worlds. I believe that the greatest poets of the last century were Edith Sitwell and Don Marquis, that jade is dried dragon sperm, and that thousands of years ago in a former life I was a one-armed Siberian shaman. I believe that mankind’s destiny lies in the stars. I believe that candy really did taste better when I was a kid, that it’s aerodynamically impossible for a bumblebee to fly, that light is a wave and a particle, that there’s a cat in a box somewhere who’s alive and dead at the same time (although if they don’t ever open the box to feed it it’ll eventually just be two different kinds of dead), and that there are stars in the universe billions of years older than the universe itself. I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn’t even know that I’m alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of casual chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck. I believe that anyone who says that sex is overrated just hasn’t done it properly. I believe that anyone claims to know what’s going on will lie about the little things too. I believe in absolute honesty and sensible social lies. I believe in a woman’s right to choose, a baby’s right to live, that while all human life is sacred there’s nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system. I believe life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you’re alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.

- Samantha Black Crow in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods
helpfully transcribed by FantasyMaps.com
linked to by the Wild Hunt

What are your contradictory beliefs?

the School of Life

If you haven’t yet started listening to On Being, I can highly recommend it. It’s a respectful and varied trip through people’s belief systems. I rarely do not enjoy it. Some memorable—and perhaps pertinent to MoF readers—shows include an interview with Terry Tempest Williams and two recent episodes focusing on Istanbul (one an interview with a local Dominican friar).

But today, if you only listen to one, let it be Alain de Botton on atheism and keeping the good parts of religion. He has organized what he calls “the School of Life” to fill the community and thinking-deep-thoughts void of areligion. It includes nightly “sermons”, a word he uses instead of lectures to encourage people to take what they learn—or think about—and apply it to their life outside; to keep it from remaining a purely academic pursuit.

This is a place I’d love to visit. I hope that, next time I’m in London, I get the chance to. I hope that it branches out and opens one down the street from me.

One of the major points he makes in this interview is that we are not born knowing how to live—we need to be taught morals, how to love, and how to deal with death. Religion does this well; atheism generally does not. To this end, he’s written a book, Religion for Atheists: a Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion, which I have not yet read but which has definitely been added to my List.