Wednesday, October 05, 2005

iPod Silliness

Via my agent's secret blog (not my secret agent's blog) and the "Shuffle Songs" function. It's like the Magic 8-Ball, only much more expensive and enigmatic!

1. What do you think of me, iPod?

"Every Day Should Be A Holiday" - The Dandy Warhols

Yeah, yeah, I know I get cranky sometimes. Sorry about that.

2. Will I have a happy life?

"Flash Pan Hunter" - Tom Waits

Tough to interpret this one, but the fact that A) it mentions "elaborate telescopic meats," B) has a guy named Wilhelm cutting off his fingers, and C) was co-written by William Burroughs lead me to believe that my iPod expects that I will have an interesting but not particularly joyous life.

3. What do my friends really think of me?

"A Shot In the Arm" - Wilco

You changed
Oh, you’ve changed

4. What does my S.O. think of me?

"Do-Wacka-Do" - Roger Miller

There's really no need to try and explain this one. (Except that the S.O. role is currently casting.)

5. Do people secretly lust after me?

"Nine Pound Hammer" - John Prine (traditional)

I have no idea how to take this one. On the one hand, the lyric is "This nine pound hammer/It's a little too heavy." On the other, I'm reminded of Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer," and we all know what that song is really about. (Note: if you do not know what that song is really about, it is not my place to tell you.)

6. How can I make myself happy?

"You're No Rock 'n Roll Fun" - Sleater-Kinney

I like this. The way I've always heard this song, it's about the conflict between making "serious" art and art that makes people boogie (at least in the metaphorical sense). And the tension between those two things is something I struggle with in my writing.

You're no rock 'n roll fun
like a party that's over
before it's begun
You're no walk in the park
more like a shot in the dark
with clues left for no one

And all the boys in the band
know how to get down
fill our Christmas socks
with whiskey drinks
and chocolate bars
And when the evening ends we won't
be thinking of you then
Although the best man
won't hang out with the girl band!

Nice answer, iPod. I'll work on it.

7. What should I do with my life?

"Little Red Rivi Airhead" - Junior Brown

Um. I'm supposed to buy a sports car, find a woman who's "not that smart" but has the same car, and have kids with her? Strike one, iPod.

8. Why must life be so full of pain?

"Johnny Sunshine" - Liz Phair

That's not an explanation!

You took the car
It was my favorite one
A little white Dart
And drove it to Idaho
You took the horse
It was a thoroughbred
Saddled it up
Out on the interstate
You kept the cat
Put it in antifreeze
Dumped in the trunk
with the rest of the cattlefeed
You took the house
You went and changed the locks
Now I am stuck
Living out of a box

An illustration, maybe. But not an explanation.

9. How can I maximize my pleasure during sex?

"Carolyn" - Merle Haggard

I'm supposed to go out and hire a hooker?!?

10. Can you give me some advice?

"Revolution Year Zero" - Poster Children

Start the revolution. Check. Anyone know where I can get a black beret?

11. What do you think happiness is?

"On Earth" - The Sundays

A song about heaven on earth. Works for me, at least in theory.

12. Do you have any advice to give over the next few hours/days?

"Graveyard Shift" - Uncle Tupelo

Seize the day? Is that what you're trying to tell me?

13. Will I die happy?

"High Water" - Bob Dylan

I got a cravin' love for blazin' speed
I got a hopped up Mustang Ford
Jump into the wagon, love
Throw your panties overboard
I can write you poems, make a strong man lose his mind
I'm no pig without a wig, I hope you treat me kind
Things are breakin' up out there
Highwater everywhere

Sounds all right to me.

Monday, October 03, 2005

First Lines

I feel like I did this not long ago. I don't have a lot of stuff in the works at the moment, but I have a few things in various states of revision that I'll share:


The Baker says he is a political prisoner, and we nod in solidarity.

"Grandma Charlie and the Wolves"

Grandma Charlie was outside gutting mackerel when Jean-Paul arrived.

"Proof of Zero"

I'm touching myself in front of my office window with the lights off while the blacktop below gives back the heat it absorbed during the day.


Untitled story germ:

Eventually Oma Dortchen grew so fat on all the stories that she sprung a leak.

Twig on Top of the Wayle (A children's book I may be writing for a school project):

Twig lived in the Wayle with his Great-Maw, his mother and father, and 255 cousins.

That's all there is.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

And We Were Sharp

This article from the current Chicago Reader is a disheartening soldier's-eye account of the war in Iraq. It's a profile of an Army interrogator who found himself up against a military mindset that would rather incarcerate every Iraqi male than take the chance of letting the innocents go free. We're talking quotas, here. It's an excellent article and I encourage you to read it, despite the stupid format it's posted in (a huge .pdf file with all the uneccessary ads and other stuff from the pages). F'r instance, there's this:

[O]ne of the interrogators on his team had an approach that he felt left much to be desired. She would shout and swear and try to humiliate suspects, calling them pieces of shit, calling their mothers and sisters whores. There was no nuance to her style, not psychological insight. She yelled so loudly the other interrogators could often hear her through the walls. The terps complained to Jake about her and one even threatened to quit, he says, so he sat her down and talked to her about her approach. "Giving her criticism was extremely unproductive," he says. "She threw a fit and had to take three weeks off."

After "Jake" was transferred out of interrogation because of his resistance to the quota system, a fellow member of his national guard unit working in an administrative office says "the two highest ranking officers in her midst didn't hide their feelings about Jake.":

"They weren't very fond of him." Tran says they made a bar graph comparing the number of releases [Jake] recommended to the number recommended by the woman who shouted at her charges. "They knew she would give them the numbers they wanted," says Tran. "They knew he wasn't going to change his values and morals just to please a few officers."

The overall implication is that competence is less valuable than compliance. The military wants reality to bend to their numbers and their needs, and anyone who's not willing to reflect that is undesirable. Sounds like the Bush administration, doesn't it? No wonder there's a crisis of competence.

As We Go Up, We Go Down

I know it sucks, but I've had to enable that bullshit "Word Verification for Comments." I just don't relish spending 5-10 minutes a day cleaning out comments spam. Maybe in a couple of weeks I'll try taking it off again, but right now I seem to be a target.

In the area of content, I mean to post this a while ago:

The ethnically divided Bosnian city of Mostar has agreed to erect a new symbol of unity -- a statue of kung fu legend Bruce Lee, worshipped by Muslims, Serbs and Croats.

Hell yeah. Good choice, Mostar.


A group of high-profile soccer players from Zimbabwe has caused a media frenzy here [London] and in Zimbabwe by failing to return home last week after a match in northern England.

Happy Sunday!