2017-05-02

sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
My poem "Twenty Seventy-One" is now online at Uncanny Magazine. It is among other things a ghost poem for George Orwell.

Late in January of this year, [personal profile] gwynnega linked an article about the spiking sales of Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) with the comment "Meanwhile, Zombie George Orwell has risen from his grave and is rampaging through the streets." I responded that I thought he was probably on a bar crawl, being incredibly depressed by how closely a real-life American president of the twenty-first century was hewing to his fictional playbook of twentieth-century totalitarianism. She said there was a story or a poem in that image. As usual, it was not entirely the one I thought it would be. I finished it very late at night; by the time I got up the next morning, the president in question had signed an executive order to build his wall against Mexico and the details of the first Muslim ban had been leaked to the press before being signed into law three days later and last weekend I was marching for science against the lie of facts having alternatives; here we are still. When Julia Rios accepted the poem, she said she had been hoping "it would magically stop being relevant." All of us and the ghost of George Orwell, too.

I am back to exhaustion, having (pleasantly!) overexerted myself this weekend: I made it out to Brookline Booksmith last night to hear Jeff VanderMeer read from Borne (2017), but bailed on dinner afterward and had a hellacious time getting home in the not quite rain and the aftermath of a game at Fenway that all piled onto the train at Kenmore. TCM had Bells Are Ringing (1960), so I showed it to [personal profile] spatch and he remarked astutely on how much Judy Holliday reminded him of Madeline Kahn, unfortunately right down to the dying of cancer at an unreasonable age. I hadn't seen the movie in decades. I never think about it being directed by Vincente Minnelli because I saw it for the first time before I had any idea who he was; I never think about the hero being Dean Martin ditto. I almost certainly saw Frank Gorshin's Marlon Brando impression before I saw Brando himself in any of his Method roles. Holliday is wonderful, goofy, quick-change, beautiful—anything for a laugh, but the joke is never on her—and it should not have been her last film. Her real-life partner Gerry Mulligan has a small role as part of a blind date that goes so badly, it literally goes down in flames; it made their physical comedy adorable in hindsight. I have so many things to catch up on. How did sleep become one of them again?
sovay: (Viktor & Mordecai)
I was browsing tonight in the basement of the Harvard Book Store ([personal profile] spatch was buying seltzer in the CVS) when a girl came down the stairs. I registered that she had earbuds in and a backpack and I think a jacket over her arm, so chances are good that she was a student. Mostly I noticed that she thought she was alone in the basement—she had not been looking in my direction when I saw her and then there were shelves in between us—and she started singing. So come to me—come to me now—lay your arms around me— She was doubling the vocal line of the Decemberists' "This Is Why We Fight." After the song proper ended, she started doubling the vocal line of the folksy scrap of field-recording that takes up the rest of the track, a woman's voice accompanied by banjo and harmonica singing about a dog in a field with burrs in his toes; when she didn't know the words, she vocalised them. She had a thin, true voice, not much resonance but expressive. I wouldn't have been surprised to hear that she sang in a chorus, but I wouldn't expect more. She was singing the way people sing in the shower. I didn't even want to pick up the tune from her in case she heard me and stopped. I waited until she was down at the other end of the basement from me and then took my copy of Dorothy Baker's Young Man with a Horn (1938) and moved quickly up the stairs. She had gone on to something wordless I didn't recognize, I assume the next track on the iPod. I hope nobody disturbed her.
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