Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Mix Tapes: You Wear Smug So Very Well

My brother sent me “Logan’s Loop” by Andrew Bird this past weekend. And as I sat in my Logan Square apartment listening, having only moments before, actually driven around the circle in Logan Square, I was so utterly delighted I clapped my hands with joy. And then listened to it five more times.

It’s his song, “Pulaski at Night,” though, that I want to share here. As with “Logan’s Loop”—and most Andrew Bird songs—again, the word that comes to me as I listen is delight.

“Greetings from Chicago / City of / City of love”:

Spotify really is a wonderful thing. Along with the delights from Andrew Bird that my brother shared, today, my friend Brad sent me this song by Poliça. His message with it was “All the feelings.”

As usual, Bradley, you are correct. I actually didn’t really pay any attention to the lyrics on my first five listens or so (because yes, I’ve listened to this at least 10 times today). But I’m paying attention now, and damn:

You’re pushing me away and then you’re pulling
You wear smug so very well
If you were in love with me I could never tell

It’s time for you to go
But I’ve glued my feet to your floor
It’s time for you to leave
But I’ve wrapped my hand around your leash
It’s really quite confusing

Speaking of all the feelings, like most of America, I saw "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" this weekend. So let’s listen to a song from the soundtrack! Here’s Sia being fucking rad like always, with a little help from The Weeknd and Diplo.

Happy almost-Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Like Fire Balloons in the Sky: The Inspiration, The Courage, to Share

"I see me, my eyes filled with tears, because it was all over, the night was done. I knew there would never be another night like this.
No one said anything. We all just looked up at the sky and we breathed out and in and we all thought the same things, but nobody said. Someone finally had to say, though, didn't they? And that one is me."

— Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

My fixation with Zen in the Art of Writing has probably spiraled out of control, into a strange place. (Not probably, clearly: after all, inspired by said book, I’m writing things like THE LAMP and THE MOUSE.)

But lately, I keep opening the book, in a desperate search for some inspiration, and keep feeling drawn back to the passage above. Out of context, it can mean anything and nothing. To give you the actual context, though: he's describing a final memory with his grandfather, lighting a fire balloon and releasing it into the sky on the Fourth of July in 1925. It's incredibly beautiful. It even inspired him to write a story called "The Fire Balloons," many years later. Bradbury also wrote about that night, and about his inspiration for the story, for The New Yorker:

But I could not let it go. It was so beautiful, with the light and shadows dancing inside. Only when Grandpa gave me a look, and a gentle nod of his head, did I at last let the balloon drift free, up past the porch, illuminating the faces of my family. It floated up above the apple trees, over the beginning-to-sleep town, and across the night among the stars.

We stood watching it for at least ten minutes, until we could no longer see it. By then, tears were streaming down my face, and Grandpa, not looking at me, would at last clear his throat and shuffle his feet. The relatives would begin to go into the house or around the lawn to their houses, leaving me to brush the tears away with fingers sulfured by the firecrackers. Late that night, I dreamed the fire balloon came back and drifted by my window.
Fire balloons or no fire balloons, I'm still drawn to this idea from the passage in Zen, of sitting quietly, looking up at the sky and relishing the moment. Not sure when, if at all, to say something.

It's like how I feel about writing; how I feel, specifically, about this blog. As I've strayed from posting on this blog—even neglecting my beloved Monday Mix Tapes for months, gasp!—I found myself losing inspiration in general. After only publishing a post here and there every couple of months, it's easier to think, maybe this blog has almost run its course. I don't know. But the more you wonder when is the right moment to say something (to write, rather), the more you continue to merely sit quietly. (In my case, this means getting an idea, thinking about it, and watching Frasier instead of writing, and sharing it.)

Maybe, like many things, this blog, and what I get out of it, is just not quite what it was before. And that’s okay. Maybe it’ll just be exactly what it is. Whatever that may be. Ultimately, though, I hope to never lose the inspiration to write, and to share, however that happens. And wherever it goes on the Internet, or even if it just stays in my journal.

Would releasing a fire balloon into the night with his grandfather have remained such a poignant memory for Bradbury, had he never written about it? Probably. But luckily he shared it, so we could see, if only for a moment, the way he saw it, looking up in the Illinois sky in 1925.

I’m certainly no Ray Bradbury, but I like the idea of saying something. There may never be another night like this, after all.

Like he wrote:

“And, after all, isn’t that what life is all about, the ability to go around back and come up inside other people’s heads to look out at the damned fool miracle and say: oh, so that’s how you see it!? Well, now, I must remember that.”

Monday Mix Tapes: You Never Could Have Been a Good Lover

I'm pretty sure I was in love with this new Blood Orange by 15 seconds in. And while Dev Hynes could pretty much be singing about anything, and I'd still think he sounded great, these lyrics in particular fuel my obsession. They're hilarious and awful and true. ("You never could have been a good lover/ Watch what you say/ Could never mean a word and still hurt you")

Oh, Dev Hynes, you're good enough for me (but my standards were low anyway):

Then, fitting with my love of all things Alice in Wonderland, I stumbled across this weird, beautiful little gem (via disco naivete). Looking forward to hearing more from Mononoke after hearing this:

I'm a little late to the game with the latest Arctic Monkeys album (it came out in September, so in Internet time, I'm YEARS behind). But damn if I'm not listening to the whole thing, and this song in particular, "Do I Wanna Know?" on repeat. My bf Sam Smith also does an incredible cover of this, making me suddenly start to think being in limbo with someone must be the most wonderful, sexy thing in the world.

"(Didn't we both know) That the nights were mainly made for saying things that you can't say tomorrow day"

Do I wanna know? Ooof. I'm not sure if I do. The whole damn album is packed with questions. But I love it:

Happy Monday! (Did you miss me? Do I wanna know?)