May 31, 2012

it won't be long

5/31/12

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May 2008

I don't think many families have mastered the art of the Video Chat for Video Chat's Sake like we have - pretty much since the day it came standard on a Mac laptop, we've been yapping at each other with terrible lighting and dubious sound quality for an average of 15 minutes too long each time.

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Lucy, especially, has grown up with the video chat being de rigeur when either Tessa or I happen to be away, which is a fair amount. I like to take a screenshot when we do them, which means a lot of pictures like the ones attached to this blog entry.

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January 2010

The very idea of seeing the person you're talking to - while considered "magic" to those of us raised on rotary landlines - is so second-nature to Lucy that she will leave the room for minutes at a time, abandoning me to a still life of her carpet, with the goddamn dog passing through every once in a while.

But this casualness belies her strong desire to have us all together... and when I got waylaid by this lower GI nightmare and had to stay in NYC, she was Not Happy™. And if you know her, you know she rarely has, um, unexpressed emotions.

Lucy occasionally goes on these kicks when she calls various extended family members at all hours, eyes lit up like a teenager with car keys. As I've spent the last few nights recovering, I've been the recipient of a few choice ones. Because they are so unbelievably sweet, Tessa thought I should post the last three voicemails Lucy has left me.

1st Voicemail from Lucy 5-30-12.mp3

2nd Voicemail from Lucy 5-31-12.mp3

3rd Voicemail from Lucy 5-31-12.mp3

Oh, my, god. It's almost painful what it does to my heart. And my "butt boo-boo". What could anyone possibly say to that? Boarding pass... take me to my daughter! NOW!

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May 29, 2012

and I do appreciate you being 'round

5/29/12

The time has come for a personal reckoning, and since I have this little slice of the internet to bleat on, you - the reader - are going to be my witness to my testimony.

After this weekend of another health emergency, I've had it. I'm drawing a line. I am putting myself back together after a year of falling apart.

Just so it is in one place, I'm going to indulge in a laundry list of what has occurred over the last eighteen months. Feel free to turn away at any point; this will be the blog equivalent of a burning car on the freeway by which you are both compelled and repulsed.

• In February 2011, I get the worst kidney stone of my life, taking a week of my life away while we were moving, and going beyond pain into psychological terror.

• I get strep throat for my birthday. In all, I get strep throat four times.

• In addition to strep, I test positive for both flus despite having the shot, leading to four sinus infections. My otolaryngologist looks at the chart: I've been on 18 antibiotics in four years.

• In September, random metal dust from a Dremel embeds in my forehead, giving me a staph infection that bloats up my face like an alien.

• After Christmas, I get a stomach flu while also having strep.

• In Hawaii, we are tortured on a boat for three hours and then I follow it up by ruining my own vacation.

• I finally have deviated septum surgery that turns out to be far more dreadful than I imagined.

• With a slight spring in my step, we come to New York for my birthday last weekend, and without going into any details, I end up in the hospital getting emergency colonorectal surgery.

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my amazing surgeon today: "tell your wife you impressed us, and we're never impressed."

Bored yet? Oh god, so am I. I'm worse than bored; I'm demoralized, scared and numb mixed together in a froth of unending tedium.

Every single event above was a MOTHERFUCKING TEST OF MY ENDURANCE. During all of them, I kept saying to myself "just another five minutes, anything is bearable for five minutes" before spiraling off into delirium. But that shit stops NOW.

I am not content with merely surviving. I am not "thrilled just to be here." I want my fucking life back. Like Greg H. sang, "I want to love and hate and kiss and kill" and I just don't want to think about this shit anymore.

Yes, there are people suffering through much worse, and many of our close friends are going through things I can't imagine. But this is my only vessel, and it has long since gone past ridiculous.

The worst part is the lack of self-sufficiency, the lack of manhood, the feeling that you would disintegrate were it not for the kindness of the world around you. I need to thank you. I need to thank Lars Lucier, and Monica Nordhaus, and Jamie Block. I need to thank my brother Sean, and my sister Melissa, and my mom. But most of all, I need to thank the Lulubeans for being such a stalwart little soul, and of course, my wife Tessa - no words can capture her spirit, her patience, nor the size of her heart.

How did I get to be among such people? How do y'all put up with this crap? Perhaps Julie Andrews got it when she sang the second-worst song from "The Sound of Music": "maybe in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good."

I need some sort of silent, fundamental shift. I will point in a slightly better direction.

I will not fall apart.
I will not fall apart.


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May 28, 2012

what happens when you're not looking

5/28/12

A huge hearty THANK YOU to all the birthday wishes out there - it was really awesome. The farm was brilliant, and to celebrate the true hot beginning of summer, allow me to present...

THE MOST BORING TIME LAPSE NATURE VIDEO EVER!!!

That's right - I stuck my little camera on a ledge looking westward from our barn on January 3rd this year, where it took a picture every day at 2:30PM and cobbled it into a movie. I was hoping to catch the usual insane 6-foot white-out blizzards... and of course, we have the least interesting winter on record.

Feast your eyes on all 15 seconds of this true measure of nature's spectacle. Feel the cold sweep of one (1) light snowstorm. View it full screen for the true magic!


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May 23, 2012

now to our list of conversation starters

5/23/12

Have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day, and see you all on Tuesday (if not sooner!)

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Posted by Ian Williams at 11:52 PM (Permalink) | Comments (2)

May 22, 2012

take your hat off boy when you're talking to me

5/22/12

Yes, I get it - the blog I'm about to write is a tremendous cliché, worn thin by years of parents going through the same motions, but it doesn't make it any less of a bummer that our sweet, long-lived goldfish Hank has died.

In 2007, I wanted to teach Lucy about "taking care of other beings", hopefully leading to "empathy", since she was 2 years old, and therefore completely insane. On a blazing hot day when she was quite sick, we shook things up a bit by going to an aquarium.

On my shoulders, she was psyched but delirious (and probably febrile) as we roamed the selection of fish. Without hesitation, she pointed to a gold fantail and a telescope-eyed black moor and announced their names were Hank & Ankle.


the fish in October 2007

I like to do the research when it comes to these things, so I took very good care of them, and Lucy followed my example. Ankle was a little too delicate for Hank's rough-and-tumble ways, and so was Ankle II - so by 2009, Hank was a solo goldfish.

For five years, he relaxed my thoughts late at night, and during the day, he was a source of constant fascination for all of Lucy's playdates. Bringing a crying 18-month-old to the tank usually resulted in a kid with wide-eyed wonder.

He'd had a rougher time of it since this winter, often retreating to the bottom of the aquarium, listing to one side, and getting some of the old ick, but he still recognized me when I came into the room, bolting skyward for food.

A few weeks ago, when Tessa had just returned from caretaking over a good friend's death, dealing with the news that one of Lucy's closest friends had a possible tumor, with me away and Lucy herself running a fever of 101, our helper Laura came into the room and said, "Señora, yo estaba pensando que Hank esta muerto" ("Ma'am, I'm thinking Hank has died".)

At the end of her tether, Tessa looked up from Lucy's thermometer and half-barked "Tell Hank he is NOT ALLOWED to die today!" Apparently the three of them went to his aquarium, where he was lying crooked face-down in the gravel. They spoke to him, starting to say goodbye, when suddenly, he twitched, righted himself, and swam over to see what was wrong. For this alone, I know Tessa will always be thankful.

Hank was suffering from something, but showed more will to keep going than most creatures I've seen from the animal kingdom. While it's true goldfish can live for 20 years, 90% of them don't make it to a year in people's homes. Hank may now join our family's Cadre of Ridiculously-Long-Lived Pets, from the sedentary puffball doorstop Zooey to the sexually-ambiguous Chopin.

When Lucy got home from school today, she found out what I'd known for hours: good ol' Hank had swum off his mortal coil for good. Dolefully, but with the intensity that comes from any of her art projects, she made a coffin out of a printer ink box, and acted as sole pallbearer outside.

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I dug a spot next to our peach tree, currently being guarded from lascivious squirrels, and we said a few choice words, then sprinkled dirt on top, and closed the grass over him. We chose that spot because now Hank will feed the tree, and we can always think of him when we pick the fruit for years.

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By the time we got in, Tessa had come home, and Lucy handed each of us a piece of paper. "All three of us have to write a poem about him," she said, "because I'm writing his biography." And all three of us did. It was her first animal; she'd known him from age 2 to 7, what else could we do? As I thought of rhymes, I also realized Hank, as a goldfish - that most quotidian and simple of pets - had done what I asked him. He taught empathy, whose natural offspring is poetry.

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Lucy, Tessa and I write a one-minute poem - click for bigger if you dare


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May 21, 2012

and love will guide the stars

5/21/12

As I have been lying around feeling sorry for myself, getting my brain occasionally sucked out by a straw (courtesy of my otolaryngologist every few days), I have to remember the vibrant, shimmering world that existed before, and exists now, with an unpleasant week stuck in the middle.

So for our friends and family - and for myself - here are a few images taken over the last 14 days, skipping the part in the middle. First, a "1971 Party" celebrating Lucy's school's 40th graduating class:

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I was going for "Failed AMC Gremlin and Pacer Salesman"


Another yearly tradition: the pinkie planting of the seedlings for the summer garden, something we've done together since she was two:

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This year, we've got 12 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes, from the ostentatious Large Pink Bulgarian to the fitful Zogola and the schemin' Dr. Carolyn. Last year's experiment ended poorly, so this year we're going with a heat mat/thermostat and treating 'em like royalty:

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Put any song on the sound system, and our daughter will appear from whatever project she is doing, dressed in something insane, to quickly redo the room with dance. I put on Ayesha's Dance from Khachaturian's Gayene ballet (listen to it!) and we got this:

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Not all of Lucy's projects require extensive pre-production. She noticed the bubbles from her bubble bath drained into a vaguely-familiar shape, so she made sure it did not go unnoticed:

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Using the ol' Solar Eclipse Viewer technique perfected by years of shoeboxes and decades of virginity, I taught La Luce how to make a pinhole projector to watch the much-anticipated solar eclipse due Sunday evening before sunset. We made three sizes: Small, Better, and Monstrous!

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They worked pretty well - this pic makes it look small, but it was taken over Tessa's shoulder into the viewer:

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One of my favorite memories in Chapel Hill was the day we got a partial eclipse in 1994. I was walking all over town, and noticed the sun piercing through the leaves was making millions of these tiny pinhole projectors, leaving the campus awash in tiny, wooshing crescent shadows. It might be one of the most wondrous things I've ever seen.

I was hoping we'd have a little of that here, but the sun was so low in the sky... then, for a few minutes, I saw the hundreds of crescents projected on our neighbor's house:

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We had to go to Lucy's children's chorus show, so we packed up our eclipse gear, got her dressed, and hopped in the car. And when we pulled out, I saw the mist moving in for the evening, and remembered my third grade science teacher saying "some people want a cloudless sky, but when you get a good layer of fog over an eclipse and can look straight at it, then you're the luckiest astronomer in the world."

The entire city suddenly got very dark and eerie, like the green and purple air you get in Iowa before a tornado. And this is what we saw:

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click for bigger

A little closer in:

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We made it to Lucy's concert, and as I watched her sing "Seagull, Seagull" with her eyes wide open at the conductor, I realized I was already the luckiest astronomer in the world.

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Lucy (middle) believes someone should probably get back in line

Posted by Ian Williams at 11:49 PM (Permalink) | Comments (35)

May 20, 2012

get your white shorts ready

5/20/12

Okay, world bursting at the seams... what's your plans for this weekend?

Me, you ask? Flying to New York to quickly frolic at the farm!

YOU?

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HOT TUB!

Posted by Ian Williams at 11:03 PM (Permalink) | Comments (24)

May 17, 2012

i'll take common poisonous houseplants for $800, alex

5/17/12

A quick thank you to everyone who has helped me out this week - I even got flowers! I haven't received plants since my last surgery at the age of 5:

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that ceramic dog on the bedside table holds a philodendron I was quite proud of

What's supercool is that I can actually smell the flowers, which I haven't done with that intensity since, well, the age of 5. Another odd thing: I can hear the sound of air going through the right side of my head. Those passages have been closed lo so many years that the sensation is jarring (but awesomeballs).

While I've been boring everyone to tears with my ruminations on sinuses and backrubs, the debate is still raging in the comments section from last week about gay marriage. I get so angry so quickly that I've let cooler heads argue better than I would, so take a look (unless you're The Budster, whom my spam filter loathes for some reason... Bud, can you post as "Blanche" or something?)

It's been a week since they cut me open, and it's time to be a real human again. The strength of my strength lies in my wife Tessa, whose superwoman powers never fail to render me mute with tears. And of course, the little girl who wanted diagrams of my septum, nanometer inspections of my IV stent, and watched with awe as I did the neti pot. I love you both so, so, so much.

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Posted by Ian Williams at 11:29 PM (Permalink) | Comments (6)

May 16, 2012

it's so confusing choosing sides in the heat of the moment

5/16/12

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I would like to sing the praises of THE BACKRUB. No, not the massage, and in fact, I'm sick of the whole idea of massages. Because of my precious, petal-like delicacy this week, I splurged and hired a very nice lady to come to our house in Venice to fix my horribly-aching body. After doing the usual deep-tissue massage bit, leaving me again wondering why I keep signing up for such misery, I stopped everything.

I just told her that I'd had surgery, I was sick of feeling like shit, and to just give me a stupid backrub. And she did, and it was awesome.

The BACKRUB is what you get, for free, from the people that love you. It's what you gave to girls in the dorm, the ones you were contemplating kissing while watching VHS tapes of Wim Wenders movies. The backrub does not seek to purify, or to heal, or to "isolate pressure points". You give the backrub with only the vague rule of "if I were on the receiving end, what would feel good next?"

I don't mean to suggest back rubs as a gateway drug to sex, although my brother Sean spent half my wedding roast (nominally called "our rehearsal dinner") speaking of my apparent proclivities in that direction. And it's true, I was a big aficionado of the backrub as means of non-verbal communication; I learned my craft from the best in Hinton James (she knows who she is - Hi Special K!) and coming from my repressed childhood, touching other human beings retained its sense of the magical.

The same thing happened later with the oral arts, having learned those from an equally gifted tutor (Hey Lizard darling!) but I digress. The point is this: why do spas, hotels, and body therapists offer only the "massage", and then further balkanize it, all the way from the boring and twiddly Swedish and Shiatsu, to the muscle-screaming madness of "deep tissue" and Rolfing?

God forbid you get poured into the world of aromatherapy, which leaves you sluicing around in a stew of cold oil, like a tossed vinaigrette salad. Massage music is terrible. And they hardly ever touch your scalp, which is where your HEAD is, as in HEAD-ACHES.

I'm tired of that shit. I want what Tessa does to my arm or neck during a long road trip. I want what I used to do with crushes on the second floor of Spencer Dorm. Quelle dommage, le massage. My apology, reflexology. No thankie, Reike! Nothing's pending on happy endings! BRING BACK THE BACKRUB!


Posted by Ian Williams at 11:44 PM (Permalink) | Comments (6)

May 15, 2012

i can smell for miles and miles

5/15/12

Here you go, A Few Things To Know About Surgery for a Deviated Septum, or The Worst Week You Didn't Actually Know How Much You Needed. Or, in the original German, Nasennebenhöhlenchirurgie.

• I have oft-bemoaned Facebook for a number of reasons, the most central of which is "they shouldn't get to have everything." I've seen the toll FB has taken on some of my favorite things on the internet, and I'm happy to keep fighting that fight as long as I still have the pissin' vinegar for it.

But somehow, in a post-op haze, I blindly groped for my phone and half-saw a picture Tessa took of me after the operation. Through sheer muscle memory, I posted it on Facebook, and then forgot I did so.

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to quote Sean, I "look like the mom from 'Brazil'."

Around 3am that night, waking up from an awful dehydration migraine, I clicked on the phone and saw some of the comments coming in - and in that desperate moment, I was actually removed from pain, removed from that bed, and felt so, so much better. Some were from people who I last broke bread with in 1989, but it didn't matter; I knew exactly who they were, I retained the little memories of their peccadilloes, that sort of "paradoxical intimacy" we had of each other back then, when we knew birthdays but not last names.

In short, it does work especially well for these experiences, and it was tremendously meaningful to hear from you there, and on here.

• I got a few emails from folks who said that picture made them reconsider getting the surgery, even though they were told they needed it. Let me add fuel to the fire: this shit was WAY more serious than either Tessa or I fathomed, and it's made worse by being SO IN YOUR MOTHERFUCKING FACE.

I mean, with an appendectomy or a colonoscopy, you have some sense of perspective; those problems are "down there" or "over on that side", but when you get surgery between your eyes it's hard not to take personally.

However, I hold faith that everyone else is telling the truth: that it will be a night-and-day difference when it's over. I still have the plastic stint in my head, but already, I can smell the irises downstairs, three rooms away. If it means not going to Hawaii to get strep throat, it will have been worth it. Actually, screw the future imperfect: it will be worth it.

• I remember my 5th year at Carolina, auditing one of Vic Randolph's 1st-year med school classes, where the professor went on at some length about the serious design flaws in the human sinuses. The passages are too small, they run parallel to the same nerve pathways as our "fight or flight" hormones, and they're prone to bullshit.

As such, getting them fixed is tricky... far too tricky to be sent straight home afterwards, as mandated by your insurance company. I was lucky and could afford to stay in an after-care hotel (which was really just a hospital with better carpeting) but if you don't have the extra cash or an excellent caregiver at home, you are shit out of luck.

Often, you need an IV for fluids and pain meds, and if you can't keep anything down, your options thin to the obvious: the otolaryngologist said that patients who don't stay at the after-care center usually end up in the ER. How does that make any goddamn fiscal sense for anybody?

• This whole week has not been painful, really, at all. It has, however, been tremendously and unrelentingly uncomfortable, which takes its own toll. I opted out of the Vicodin very early on, because it was just making me confused, and I thought I'd rather be annoyed than confused. Having done it, my advice is to definitely opt for confusion.

After sleeping in some forbidden Vinyāsa position (you need a mountain range of pillows to slumber propped up) I woke up with one side throbbing and useless like a medieval churchbell ringer, and Tessa made me crack open the Vikes, which is currently allowing me to write this blog.

• At least it was, until...

.......*snurk* ZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz.....
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Posted by Ian Williams at 11:12 PM (Permalink) | Comments (4)

May 13, 2012

no don't shake me

5/13/12

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where I'm at

Posted by Ian Williams at 11:17 PM (Permalink) | Comments (10)

May 9, 2012

september deviant

5/9/12

As you read this, I'll be entering the mental state my daughter has decided to call "torpor" after reading about hummingbirds at night. The rest of the medical community calls it "general anesthesia". I'm getting surgery for a deviated septum, and I find myself vaguely freaked out by the kind of recovery time these things can have.

I probably wouldn't be so torqued and off-put by the surgery if it weren't for the various medical nightmares some of our close friends are going through. This kind of operation happens a thousand times a day, and I've always tolerated anesthesia well (except for the time I woke up and thought I was a frog) but a few drops of misplaced adrenaline have me a little bummed out about the whole thing.

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my deviated septum looking an awful lot like the various phases of Uranus

One nice perk: I get to go to a schmancy "recovery hotel" for a night or two after this, the kind of place that caters to celebrities after they get chin jobs and butt lifts - but like the womb, it's one of those awesome places you go during the one time you'll never remember it.

As I've said before, I got this deviated septum the worst way possible: not from any cocaine benders, but from pushing a trashcan up my driveway during some very dark years in LA circa 1999. The wheels of the trash bin slipped forward, sending the lip of the fucker right across the bridge of my nose.

In a way, fixing my septum will be finally taking care of one of the last horrible remnants of my former life. It will be a small redemption, a loose end tied up, far inside my head. Not long after, I started hanging out with this rad chick named Tessa, whose birthday was Thursday.

They say you replace every cell in your body every seven years, which means I should be remade twice over by now. Somehow this flaw has survived each translation, a false conjugation from the days before everything finally began to make sense - so I have to say, a few frayed nerves is a small price for never having to speak of it again.

Posted by Ian Williams at 11:57 PM (Permalink) | Comments (20)

May 8, 2012

hated for loving

5/8/12

Wow, North Carolina, you sure know a historic anticlimax when you see one. Just when you were poised to become the progressive leader of the New South, entering the future with 10 million eyes focused on things that matter, you went and told homosexuals they were lesser humans. I'm finding it hard to conjure the words of how this makes me feel... Nauseous? Disgusted? Furious? I've always been a proud Tar Heel, with two words mind you, but now I'm seeing the benefit of just staying in parts of the country that treat people fairly.

As a white, middle-class heterosexual person with a blonde wife, cutiepants little daughter, and a newfound love of golf and hot pepper jelly, it is incumbent upon me to take a stand on this issue. In times when the downtrodden are trod down, it's up to the blessed to take on their misery. And so I can say this, loud and clear: I stand with the geeks, the nerds, the chess club, the filmstrip operators. I stand with Hispanics, African Americans, Koreans, Indians, and anyone else who doesn't look like you.

I stand with the twee, the fey, the queens, the fruits, the prissy, the mincing, with Green Day's faggot America. I stand with the godless, the agnostics, the flaky, the unsure, and the morally fluctuating. I stand with them because they have the awesomeness borne of exclusion, and because they are the music makers, and they are the dreamers of dreams.

Fuck your opinions. Aren't you tired of them yet? Your lazy bigotry would be criminal if it weren't SO BORING. You're goddamn hopeless. You react to facts by doubling down on your bullshit, and apparently the only way things will change is for you to die off. Thank god that's happening:

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If you voted for Amendment One for religious reasons, seriously, you can go fuck yourself. I'm past sugarcoating this for the fence-straddlers: if your church believes that certain people should be denied basic human rights, Jesus himself would have wept.

Your pastor, or bishop, or priest or imam say otherwise? They're wrong. If you still believe it because you're relying on some sort of "gut instinct", you should stick your hand down the garbage disposal so you can't vote anymore. Seriously.

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See the states where it's all pink, bright red or dark red? From now on, when Tessa and I visit or pass through those states, I will not say we are married. Because our "marriage" doesn't mean shit in those places. I will love her just as much in New York as I do in North Carolina, but we want no part of an institution that is doled out unfairly.

The day will come when they will wonder why Americans were such assholes to gay people. Those of us living in this era will have the stink of that bigotry whether we agreed with it or not, the way we lump together everyone from the Middle Ages. If you voted for the amendment, you're either diabolically cynical, or painfully unenlightened - and either way, you leave a stain that is murder to remove.


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May 7, 2012

you'll know this blackboard lacks a piece of chalk

5/7/12


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all hail Nik Kershaw

Inspired by my brother Kent's list from yesterday and caveman's Sugarcubes link, today's question is deceptively simple:

Can you name two or three songs that you loved from the past, that are forever locked away on an otherwise-popular album? Last year, we did the secret crush songs entry, but those songs had to have been on the radio. Today's question asks you to name a few songs from a band, artist or album that most of us might know, but the song itself is a little secret gem. Perhaps a song from a record famous for other songs, or a song from an artist known for other work.

I'll do four right now:

1. Motorcrash - The Sugarcubes (1988)

Before Björk was truly Björked to 11, she was in this Icelandic band that threatened to save pop music with equal parts silliness, art and dance. But her voice, oh my god. (thanks for reminding me, caveman)


2. On a Sunday - Nick Heyward (1983) - Having just split off from Haircut 100 (who gave you the luscious Brit ska-ish hits Love Plus One and Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl) Nick Heyward made this insatiably delicious pop record with hook after hook of high-harmony perfection. Should have sold billions, but like most of my heroes, labors in obscurity until someone finds them.


3. Don't Box Me In - Stan Ridgway & Stewart Copeland (1983)

What do you get when The Police break up, and the drummer has the "Mexican Radio" singer to do a song for Coppola's disastrous Rumble Fish movie? 3 and a half minutes of off-kilter genius.


4. Troubled Mind - Everything But the Girl (1994) - Although we loved them in the Carolina dorms as "sophisti-pop" crooners from early on, when they released "Amplified Heart", EBTG achieved that perfect sliver-thin sweet spot of acoustic jazz and electronica. The song Missing became the international hit, but this one perfectly captures the moment... analog strings + house-flavored beat + Tracy Thorn's voice = bliss.

Posted by Ian Williams at 11:27 PM (Permalink) | Comments (56)

May 6, 2012

have your friends collect your records

5/6/12

There's no doubt my generation has been responsible for buying a lot of shitty music - god knows the pop charts between 1988 and 1992 would embarrass even farm animals - but overall, I think our batting average was pretty good. There was always one detail that gave me pleasure: we made the song Who Can It Be Now the Number 1 song in the country.

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Men at Work's first single was a weird, sparse little tune that barely squeaks into a key signature. I didn't even like it that much. It's so hard to pin down that it didn't make it into the 80s Revival™, nor will you hear it on many '80s stations (that honor went to their next song, "Down Under"). But in 1982, we sent that little ditty to the top of the charts, and in a way, I've always been proud of that.

When suffering through "My Humps", Ke$ha or another Rihanna brain-flogging, I'd think to myself - with infinite smugness - "could this generation possibly throw another 'Who Can It Be Now' up the charts?" By god if they didn't do something twenty times better:

Unless you're on diaper duty or keep the car windows rolled up in case somebody else is listening to the radio, you'll have heard Gotye's fucking classic "Somebody That I Used to Know". Built around a classical guitar loop and a clinkety xylophone riff, it's the best breakup song our culture has had in 30 years.

The song itself, with the second verse delivered by New Zealand singer Kimbra, is a spiritual descendent of another song that got a lot of airplay at Club 510 in 1990: Kingdom of Rain by The The. In the The The song (god how I loved writing that) it was Sinead O'Connor going nuts in the 2nd chorus, with the Smiths' Johnny Marr providing the gorgeous guitars, but the sentiment is the same. I swear, there's nothing like a good "he said she said" song, all the way from Don't You Want Me to Gotye.

Pop music of the Hot 100 variety is a very young person's game, not because the songs are all stupid, but because you've heard most of the chord changes by the time you're 35. The first time I heard Lady Gaga's Born This Way, I thought "why is she covering Express Yourself?" When Alanis Morissette put out You Learn, all I could hear was Cyndi Lauper's All Through the Night. Sometimes it's just the feeling... I liked that We Are Young song this winter, but it kept reminding me of Closing Time.

And so it's been a long, long time since a #1 song has hidden in the brush and jumped out to bite me in the ass, so I give thanks to Gotye, Kimbra, and the 14-year-olds of America for giving me faith that weird, emotional little pop songs - sung by a whole country - are not a thing of the past.

Posted by Ian Williams at 11:01 PM (Permalink) | Comments (36)

May 3, 2012

pull the choke, start it up

5/3/12

It's been an especially emotional early spring, as neither Tessa nor I have been in the same spot for more than a few days... she had just returned from helping one of her oldest friends, just recently bereaved, when we got the news that another of our oldest friends has a girl, Lucy's age, with an enormous, complicated tumor in her belly.

Thank god both th' wife and I were in a position to travel and see both of them (albeit briefly), with promises for more. The Lulubeans, in our various absences, got a high fever and hasn't been in school all week - beginning on Monday, when an errant text message reported her fever as 108° (when it was really 100.8°). All of this has contributed to an air of heightened alert, which has left both of us with too much - and occasionally nothing - to say.

Let's try this, then: put out a few positive impulses to get this spring going for real.

• call one or both of your parents.
• leave 2% extra tip for your servers.
• take off your sunglasses for 10 seconds in full sun.
• drive 3 mph slower for 3 days.
• get some chocolate (Ghirardelli's new Sea Salt Soirée is especially good).
• for god's sake, tell that person you love them.


PeachesVenApr2012(bl).jpg
my peach tree in Venice is trying its damndest

Posted by Ian Williams at 11:16 PM (Permalink) | Comments (17)

May 2, 2012

that's one way to lose these walking blues

5/2/12

After thinking about those videos last week and the various objet d'art one uncovers when one is at one's homestead, I've been in a 1986 frame of mind the last two days of planting, which means various songs from Skylarking, So, and Level 42 are being mixed with the liquid fish fertilizer, if you know what I mean.

1986 tends to be my favorite year, pray tell, do you have one? A favorite year of the relatively distant past, that is?

paul-simon-diamonds-on-the-soles-of-her-shoes-warner-bros.jpg

Posted by Ian Williams at 11:38 PM (Permalink) | Comments (13)