Songs I Sing When I’m A-Lonesome (A List)

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These are the stories that writers do not tell.  Some weeks the words do not want to come to you.  You cup your hand and beckon; they shy away.  So, you write your way into their presence. Read on, Reader!

Instant Bluebird! Make the Song Go Bang! (A Quick Lester Bangs Primer)

Startling hand drawn album artwork for Lester Bangs and the Delinquents "Jook Savages."

No single rock critic had more lifelong enemies or more posthumous admirers than the infamous Lester Bangs. He is rock’s most polarizing figure. Maybe that’s why I love him so much? What’s your take on Lester Bangs? Read on, Reader!

Bathing in the Flames of the Fire I Built

 
 
 
Proud as...
 
 
 

One of the singular pleasures of my life is laying up in bed with the lamp on, reading a book. 

I’ll read anywhere I’m put.  

But my first instinct when I have a book in my hand is to get horizontal— floor, bed, couch— any flat surface will do me.

I’ll even take a bench if that’s all there is, and I’ll tuck my elbow behind my ear to keep from getting one of those hard bench headaches.
 
 
 

Two or three days ago, I found myself horizontal and sideways on the bed and reading— with a stomachache.  I pulled up my knees and yanked up the sheets.  One hand absently rested above my abdomen. 

The book on the bed that day was Flannery O’Connor’s Mystery and Manners:  Occasional Prose.

I don’t know what you’ve read by O’Connor, but she’s an American writer from the South— one of the writers who got lumped in with the New Gothic Fiction crowd back in the 1940s.  

As a further insult, she got lambasted for about everything you can think of that doesn’t sound useful.

Critics took her down for being too Southern, too grotesque, too darkly comic, too religious (She was Catholic.), not religious enough, too accessible, and too inaccessible.

Oh— and mean.  The critics loved to call her mean.

Nobody was thrilled with the fact that she was a woman, writing, either, but in those days, being a woman was an ongoing insult no matter what you did.

Besides putting up with critics, O’Connor had lupus, early, hard and young. (She died at the age of 39.)

That gal really couldn’t win …. Read on, Reader!

Mash Note Dept. : Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson at the height of her writing powers

Women writers are given a lot of dumb advice, but the worst advice ever is this:  You cannot be a great writer and have children. (Of course you can.  Men do it all the time. )  Writer Shirley Jackson broke this mold for the best of us. Read on, Reader!

Merry; Not So Bright

 

 
 
This list/ list-poem is an homage to one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets, Michael Ondaatje.

His poem is called “Elimination Dance,”** and is based on a game (that I think he made up) in which something is called out that could happen, and anyone who has experienced the scenario must sit down.

The last one standing wins.

Anyone who has recently plugged in a set of ancient Christmas lights only to experience an electric shock so bad, it resets your clock.

Anyone that is a family member of the shocked Christmas light-checker who spent the rest of the day reminding your stunned relative that it hasn’t been 1981 for at least ten years.

Anyone who drinks eggnog straight from the carton every year without fail, and who also unwittingly walks around for an afternoon with a creamy mustache that smells like nutmeg.

Anyone who has ever laughed inappropriately at a very sad rendition of a popular Christmas song by Ernest Tubb.

Anyone who has sung a terrible version of this song.

Anyone who, in a fit of pique, roughly Scotch-taped a holiday present into an ugly red and green hobo baggie from the last of the holiday wrapping paper and then immediately regretted it.

Anyone whose last name sounds like a play on a holiday word, such as Merry, Kringle, or Bright.

Anyone whose witty parents thought it would be hilarious to name you something festive to go with your Christmassy last name— (e.g.– Holiday Merry; Christian Kringle; Light Bright).

Anyone who once undercooked or overcooked the Christmas dinner because you were exhausted from dealing with the relative who plugged in the set of crummy Christmas lights, a relative that tried to eat the children’s homemade ornaments, twice the night before, and once, today.

Anyone who has cried over the tree the cat knocked over the night before your family is due to arrive.

Anyone …. Read on, Reader!

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