Thursday, May 05, 2011

Why should the Devil (Friday's Sunday's Poem/Hot Actress, 80)

Triolet on a Line Apocryphally Attributed to Martin Luther
by A.E. Stallings.

Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
The booze and the neon and Saturday night,
The swaying in darkness, the lovers like spoons?
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes?
Does he hum them to while away sad afternoons
And the long, lonesome Sundays? Or sing them for spite?
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
The booze and the neon and Saturday night?


About the Poem:
I got this poem sent to me on a card that was included with a Poetry magazine solicitation. I didn't order Poetry, but I did read the poem and keep the card, which makes me a free rider of sorts, I guess. But I liked the poem, and liked it even more once I realized that I could relate it to a TV show I watched this week, the show being Tosh.0, in which he joked that Church music is terrible.

So, poetry and a web-clip stand-up comedian show: that summarizes the level of my intellectual development. Plus, it rhymes!

About the Hot Actress: I asked Sweetie for a nomination and she picked Jenna Fischer, who I noted had been the Hot Actress about 87 times already. (Or twice, plus once being the good luck charm for a sports post.) So she went with Sofia Vergara, who, in retrospect, seems oddly fitting for this post, and who, oddly, had never made the cut before.

It's kind of a twist ending! (Life With Unicorns)

 Looking for a post? It's been removed and can now be found in my book "Life With Unicorns." Look for it on Amazon and Kindle. Click here for a list of all my books.

Monday, May 02, 2011

A cliffhanger ending to a portion of a book review? Yep, that's right. (The Rum Punch Review of "Virgin Territory" by Patrick Dilloway, Part 2)

What's a Rum Punch Review? Click here to find out.

Part 1 of this review is here.

I've been pondering now, for two days, whether or not to ask The Two Philosophical Questions that this book caused me to ask myself, and I've decided to just go ahead and do it.

But not yet.

After setting up an improbable premise with a bunch of questions lingering in the air, as I said -- weird loner guy, small town with quirky characters, mysterious girl with amnesia washed up on a beach -- Dilloway immediately grounds the story in minutiae, lending an air of believability to what started as a mystery or thriller type story and quickly settles into an unusual relationship story. He sends his characters not off to shadowy offices or other mysterious locations, but to a lunch counter and babysitting: Andrea, the main character/amnesiac begins settling into a life with Gary, the protagonist, almost immediately, moving in with him, going shopping at a thrift store on some of Gary's hard-saved money, helping out with a local friend.

That shift doesn't throw the story off, but deepens it a little; after all, the set-up to the story is somewhat preposterous, and might only get worse from there, but it seems as though Dilloway is not as interested in the Grisham-esque aspects of his characters.

It's interesting sometimes to look at a story you're reading and wonder how other authors would have handled it, what the same premise would serve as for someone else, and the set-up for Virgin Territory is such that it's easy to do that. So I did:

In Grisham's hands, Gary would not be a self-isolated accountant who hides from the world and keeps himself in a state of arrested adolescence for long; he'd quickly decide that he needs to support Andrea (as Dilloway's Gary does) and get to work for an accounting practice, where he'd soon uncover a nefarious scheme that would lead him further and further into shady dealings, where it would turn out that Andrea's amnesia was drug-induced by the very people Gary is now uncovering, and that if he cures her, he'll unlock memories that would be helpful in a massive trial now unfolding, and Andrea would again be targeted by hitmen.

Stephen King, I expect, would have gone a slightly different route: Andrea after Andrea would have washed up on the beach, each one a slightly different version, until Gary's life was overpopulated with amnesiac women who he tried to hide from the town, growing more and more desperate until he finally had to start killing them -- and the Andreas turned on him.

Jonathan Franzen would have...

... well, you get the point. As the Virgin Territory story lingered around in Dagger Lake, with Gary and Andrea settling into a more-or-less normal and mundane existence, I kept waiting for Dilloway to drop that other shoe, but he didn't, not right away: Instead, he threw out some subtle little clues that not all was right here.

As I noted, Gary lives in a state of arrested development: he's hiding out in Dagger Lake; that becomes clear soon enough, but it's not clear what he's hiding out from. There is a mention of a previous Andrea (who I thought was his wife at first) and some troubles and a few references to Gary's working as a part-time accountant just enough to get some money to scrape by. There is some talk about Andrea wanting to find her past and how unusual her amnesia is.

But that's it, for a while, until one day Gary decides that he's going to help Andrea find out what happened by taking her to go look around other parts of Michigan, to find her past. The two set out on a road trip that quickly goes bad in yet another mysterious way: Andrea gets sullen and upset and Gary gets into some minor trouble on a college campus in an episode that I had trouble, at first, figuring out how it fit into the story -- I thought at first it might be another clue to Andrea's, or Gary's, pasts, and it kind of was, but it also helped propel Gary and Andrea to Gary's parent's house, where Dilloway lays on the backstory and explains a good deal of what's happened...

... to Gary, and the first Andrea.

That's where the story takes the first twist, and with that, I guess, I'm going to go ahead and ask those Two Philosophical Questions, which are these:

1. Can you tell people that there's a twist ending in a book without in fact ruining the twist ending,


2. Can you ask people whether or not telling them that there's a twist ending in a book ruins that twist ending anyway, by giving away the fact that there's a twist ending, thereby doing what it was you'd hoped to avoid doing in the first place by asking the question?

and, for good measure, a bonus question:

3. Are you, meaning me, completely insane?

All fair questions, and I'll answer them next time.

Part Three coming soon.

Click here for more Rum Punch Reviews.

Short people live in the future, so the Babies! are very advanced... and other thoughts I just had now. (Awesome Covers Of Already Awesome Songs)

Just so you know, not everything in my life revolves around the song "Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk" by The New Pornographers, although you could be forgiven for thinking that because I mentioned the song not that long ago, and I actually listen to this song a lot, even though listening to it is hard to do because I haven't yet bought the album, so I have to go to Youtube and play the video for it, which I do quite frequently, making me happy that I live in the era of smartphones so that I can, while driving home, look up "Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk" on Youtube and play the video, listening to it on my headphones.

Keep that in mind: It's illegal to text while driving, but not illegal to look up New Pornographers' videos while driving.

Along the way, I found an alternate version of Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk, a cover version of it by The New Pornographers themselves. Here it is:

And I'm posting it now because I have several things to say about that, and they are:

1. When I try to listen to this video on my phone using headphones, for some reason, it comes through as lispy: The sound doesn't quite synch up so that I hear all the "s" sounds as "th" sounds, which is really quite annoying to me.

I had been wondering why that was, and then, reading The New Yorker last night, an article about a scientist who studies perceptions of time, I found out that when watching movies and the like -- including, presumably, videos on Youtube -- engineers don't try to make the sound match the image perfectly, because our brains edit what we're seeing to make the sound match the image -- provided that the gap isn't that large, our brains automatically edit it out.

That was explained and then expanded on by the scientist noting that we quite literally are living in the past: our brains are always a tiny amount of time behind what we're doing, as they gather up information about our surroundings and piece it together, and that lag means that what you're seeing right now actually happened a few milliseconds ago.

Your whole life is a tape delay.

And, weirdly, short people are less delayed. So Sweetie, who is 9 inches shorter than me, is actually living in my future and I should ask her what things are like so I know what to expect when I get there. And the Babies! are clearly way ahead of us both... as evidenced by this actual picture of Mr F, taken last Friday just after he got home from school:

P.S. All that stuff about time and short people is all true. You can read about it here. Expect me to blather on about this article a lot until I read something else that catches my attention.

2. Remember, I said I had other things to say about this song. So I also will note that I got Mr Bunches to like this song by playing this video, in which you can see them playing the instruments. Mr Bunches is into instruments now; his three favorite things in the world at this moment are airplanes, musical instruments, and climbing on things:

and when I wanted to stop watching his videos and instead play my music while I cleaned up, I played the video in this post for him and pointed out all the instruments, so now he loves this song, and when he watches it, he goes to get my guitar and sits and tries to play guitar in time to the music, which is both cute and extremely encouraging because I never even considered that he might someday be a rock star and I could live off him that way, so it just goes to show you that 90% of parenting is simply "making sure you listen to your music." (I'm like Dr. Spock for the 21st Century.)

3. Finally, I'll get a little (more?) philosophical with this post and point out that you, like me, probably at one point wanted to be a rock star. Sure, maybe you didn't try out for a rock band when you were a freshman in college, and maybe you didn't sing a bunch of songs rewritten as law-school-related parodies like I did in law school, and maybe you didn't with your high school friends invent a fictional band that you were all part of called "Critical Mass," a band that never existed except in your minds, but even if you didn't go that far you probably wanted to be a rock star at one point.

And you probably wanted to be a rock star because they're rich and get to travel and have groupies and own islands and do all those rock-star-type things, but when you considered that you never considered whether the actual being a rock star was as cool as it seems, and when you look at this video, you get the other side of being a rock star, which is this:

It must be godawful boring playing the same songs all the time. Watch that video again: Look at their eyes. Most of them look like they're standing in front of a copying machine or getting ready to work an assembly line.

Their job is playing music for a living, and they look less excited than I get when I see that there's a new case dealing with illegal repossessions. (Okay, I know I'm weird.)

So think about that, the next time you plan on being a rock star or wish you were one: Is it any better to be bored, playing a viola, than it is to be bored sitting in a meeting?

Aside from the whole "owning islands, being rich, etc." part, I mean.

Also, if you still want to be a rock star and think you might become one some day, find a really short person and ask them whether, in the future where they reside, you became one.

Oldest is celebrating her birthday! (Quote of the Day)

"So you won't have to face God,"
-- Me, to Oldest.

It's Oldest's 24th birthday today, and to celebrate, I'm posting this as the Quote of the Day. I'd post an actual quote from Oldest, except that Oldest's talks with me tend to be limited in nature, because I am way older than her and don't watch Jersey Shore and therefore I am lame.

This quote actually comes from about two weeks ago, when we let Oldest know that as she was still technically part of the family, she was also technically required to go to Grandma's house for Easter Dinner, which we were having the Saturday before Easter because Sweetie and I have a strict "Let's not actually go anywhere on an actual holiday" policy which lets us celebrate all major holidays by (a) sleeping in (b) watching reruns of sitcoms we like, and (c) wearing sweatpants.

Oldest, after learning this trip was mandatory, called me and said "Are we going to church with them, too?"

I said that since we were going up there on a Saturday night, it was unlikely that we'd end up having to sit through a Mass, at which Oldest let out an audible sigh of relief, which she immediately tried to mask by saying "I mean, I was just wondering," at which point I let her know that this particular Saturday wouldn't be her own personal Judgment Day.

click here for more Quotes of the Day