31 Jan 2007, 12:31pm

Classic Country Music

Funny how perception shifts.

I used to love The snakes crawl at night because as a little kid I thought yah! snake biology and heard only the music and chorus. I figured the man in the flower bed must be checking for garter snakes. The rest was boring and confusing.

Coming across the song again as an adult I was blown away. It was a smug self-justification of a man doing a double murder over his premeditated suspicions that his wife (aka possession) was cheating. (Maybe that was why my parents shushed me when I sung it at full-lung?)

I got another surprise to revisit Merle Haggard’s The Fightin’ Side of Me; I heard wrong. I always thought it was yah, rural power as in “when you’re running down the country-man, you’re walking on the fighting side of me”. What it is is the nationalism of pro-war and a xenophobic anthem of be like me or get out of my country, capped with “when you’re running down the country, man, you’re walking on the fighting side of me”. Huh.

When I first heard War is Hell on the Homefront I registered aching loneliness, romantic angst, fade to black. Now I see suggestion of an underage boy fantasy (in either interpretations of the phrase), and a cougar soliciting.

Even the song Lord I Hope this Day is Good feels totally different after a few years away. It has a sense of being helpless to fate and the notion that situations grant you only one course of action. You don’t go out and make a good day or make a solution, no, no. Future is something out there that you are handed.

Stories I have told myself are in part lyrics I have sung to myself. Pays to revisit sometimes.

Beyond the lyrics there is the musical structure itself, which unlike Jazz or classical cannot improvise very much beyond tempo, although through more cross-pollinations, other styles are coming. Basically it is high repetition and closed form.

We gravitate to certain music that culturally resonates or makes us feel something. Music reinforces and creates world view, world view causing more gravitation. In cultural poverty life is perceived to be harsh and people powerless, having a life station. The music is appropriate, or at least, reflective of expectations. Remember the 1992 study that led to the Ig Nobel? The Stack study on country music/suicide link. Was that ever duplicated by anyone else?

Are people drawn to what reflects them? Are they made by their own reflections? Or drawn to things that are distinct? All, but which carries the day in a good long-term direction?

Light Vid Link: Dad’s Barn Show of a man who has a funny laugh that sets off other people. [via Present Simple]

Glad Game: The hopefully well-placed confidence that I will figure out what I did with my health card, last seen I realize about 6 weeks ago.

No, that’s not gladness. Another go then: The sharpness of sunlight that makes a shadow so crisp that each whisker and hair and fibre of sweaters stands out distinctly on the wall. That’s pretty.

Glad to hear why I haven’t heard from a cousin for about a month. New place, new town, new job. That’d do it.

Glad for a wonky shopping cart that lurches to the side because it works my obliques.

Glad to remember to slow down enough to write my list legibly.

Glad to have access to iTunes.

Glad to toddle off and do something physical.

30 Jan 2007, 12:17pm

Link Dump: Poetry, Women and Art of Blog Comments

A mixed bag of links that have caught my eye:

5. I won’t leave a comment on your blog because your posts sound too authoritative, are too boring, too argumentative, you force me to login, you never responded to my previous comments, or you shot me down the last time that I offered a different opinion.

Shall I continue (as I pause to catch my breath)? Answer: Learn to write in a style that is non-confrontational, lively and conversational. Don’t be an arrogant know-it-all and write to entertain, not drain. Above all, make it easy to leave comments, be courteous and try to respond to commentors that took the time to write. Cultivating a community spirit will do wonders for increasing your traffic. — Blog Bloke via Steve Remington

Liz Straus gives 10 reasons why people don’t comment, including the sort of things like no replies, discourages more responses. The whole list is rather useful.

On another note….Now this was amusing…

You have fallen off the internet. You need to get back on.
Click Stuffucanuse Messageboard and normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.
We apologise for the inconvenience, some lackey will get a whipping.

I think I came across it via a chain of links from The Daily WTF of IT people’s stories.

Quote: “The great question is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with failure.” — Chinese Proverb

Event Link: CHIN radio is having a monthly free world music showcase live. Here’s a single page pdf dates and locations — the next is February 9th.

Video Links: Pink — Stupid Girl and Tomboys: feisty girls & spirited women

[Aside: sometimes I think I’d love to methodically study the history of feminism, but it would be like giving a hypochondriac a medical dictionary.]

News Link: We need an Old Girls Club to antholgize women writers and seed them into popular literary culture?

Humor Link: Body language instructional video [via Neatorama]

Trivia: In the episode of City on the Edge of Forever the set used for New York City in this episode (called “Forty Acres”) is the same set used for The Andy Griffith Show. If you look closely while Kirk is walking with Edith Keeler, you can see them pass the courthouse and Floyd’s barber shop.

Poetry Link: Triptych Haiku is interestingly unconventional, such as scifabulaiku or this.

btw, I’ll be posting but won’t be replying to comments, or visiting around for a few days, but glad you came by…ttys.

29 Jan 2007, 6:27am
Books General

Ann the Word: Book Notes

Have you heard of Sharrack Ireland? He heard a Methodist sermon and was convinced that he was told by God that admission of sins to God thru him made a person perfect and, being sinless, being pure temples of the spirit, therefore that person could be abstinent *and* still sleep with the leader, i.e. him. Should any children result, they were ‘holy children’. (Ann the Word, p 163)

Good gig if you can get it, I guess. That was in the 1750s America. After he died, the new charismatic of the Shakers sought out members of his flock to gather them into their fold.

Eventually people got riled up about this new leader too. It was said that the leader had had her tongue pierced by justice system for crimes of blasphemy. Some came to check this out in person and she would stick it out and they found out her tongue whole and her forehead unbranded (p. 266).

What can one say, she tended to polarize people and attract a fair bit of attention. She was vigalante-justiced out of town more than once, in one case even officials coming to inspect her to prove she wasn’t a man. (as in Leader and a woman, bah, impossible.)

In New England, a young teen named Elizabeth Wood declared to Ann Lee’s face that she wished her “shot with a piece of silver” for being a witch. Ann said Elizabeth did not mean harm and was only mimicking what older people said. The girl confirmed that and later became a loyal follower of Ann.

Ann was accused of witchcraft for she did tend to have a powerful affect on people. She could pitch her sale to exactly the gentleness or severity necessary, make astute guesses in the way a fortuneteller can. She led a group of men and lived communally. Her touch was said to be electric, her singing voice calming and inspiring, her commanding voice obeyed even by military opponents and mob crowds who stepped aside at her command. She was known to put people in their place with harsh rebukes. She was a force to be reckoned with.

As a female leader of whom others said she was the second coming of Christ, the Bridge, the Bride, the completion of the Christian God by coming in complementary female form, Ann of the Shakers, middle-aged and uneducated lower class as she was, she was a threat.

She was bucking the norms of her time, and inciting others to follow: As pacifist and British immigrant during the American Revolution, she and her group were encouraging people to set down arms.

They were a somewhat suspect group overall. Their means of worship could be heard 2 to 7 miles away. Their prayers were a sight: Most began prayers with head shakes that led to whole body shakes and perhaps shaking prostration on the floor, talking in tongues and singing, some of the songs including folk-pub songs. (Did you know the tune of the Lord of the Dance was written by an early Shaker?)

Each worshipped in their own way, some chattering, some moaning, groaning, some hopping on bent knees, or one foot, some clogging, some whirling dervishes and some unclothed in mixed company.

Their doctrine was anti-family. Since these were the last days, procreation was obsolete; she preached celibacy out of and in marriage. That was a point of contention when only one partner converted. “Families” were spiritual and children when born to believers were farmed out to break the earthly family ties.

Her story is told by Richard Francis in Ann the Word. He is a lively writer who keeps the text alive. There’s a narrative thread, there are cliffhangers at each chapters and pointing ahead to how this person will re-enter Ann Lee’s life. Chapter after chapter, he keeps the focus tight. Any sidenote shed light on what the reader should know, not drawing attention to the writer’s self-referential own opinions. He can spin a phrase but largely he steps back.

There’s a bias in the book of his world view that she was not actually a Saint but there is no denying that he admires her and is in awe of the lady. She did have a place in the movements of the formation of North America. She was a pivotal figure and as he put it, even though a century passed since the Salem witch hunts “this was an environment saturated with religious enthusiasm, add the arrival of a new cult has chrystalized emotions into eager anticipation or deep unease” (p 159-60). What would be medicated or pathologized (or anthologized) today, was taken as her being a true shamanistic conduit. Ann had visions of ghosts visiting and of people in levels of hell. And with her stage presence and communcative power, she could convince.

I like how the author is respectful of what we know and don’t from this distance in time. He takes direct quotes rather than paraphrasing. He backs up his statements with copious footnoted accounts from people who were Shakers, contemporaries who were against the Shakers and court documents that were all different points of view. As the good critic author Francis gives reams of data not just one side of the story.

There’s enough meat that I can make up my own mind from the rounded portrait of this kickass lady. She was believed by her followers to be the embodiment of the bride of God who would not die. What a dismaying ruckus when she did.

28 Jan 2007, 8:22am
Glad Game Light Poets

Goodness Out There

It’s hard to believe that the weekend is only half over. It’s been chuck full and with guests for two days. I’ll be giving short shrift to all this goodness unfortunately but better that than to pass without mentioning the launch Friday. There was a good-sized, and appreciative, crowd. A few of you reading were there. A few of you could of been there and missed some good stuff. And a few of you should move to Ottawa. :) Lucky for you, either way you can still read it: Ottawater is a pdf poetry annual magazine. It’s got interviews and art and poetry of a range of styles.

The few pics I took were between slightly and spectacularly blurred but this gives some idea of the look of things in Mercury Lounge.

If you’re out west, for Scottish-Chinese hapa Canadians there was a poetry event to celebrate combined heritages: Robbie Burns intersects Chinese influences, a poetry nite vancouver with Gung Haggis Fat Choi is today.

The next big poetry event in Vancouver is the Individual World Poetry Slam. It starts in a couple days.

Odds and ends…

Want to see an offbeat surreal film? The German film Tuvalu is sepia toned and essentially without dialogue.

Mmmm, Walnut Almond Squares:)

Savage Chickens

This Indexed is food for thought in many directions.

Blog Link: Preeminent playback Bollywood singer Asha Bhosle in interview at NPR thru All Forces

Quote: “Smile, it’s free therapy.” — Doug Horton

27 Jan 2007, 9:10pm
Housekeeping FYIs

New Look

Shift from blue to green startle anyone?

The theme is from Theme Viewer.

Is the sidebar actually on the side in Internet Explorer?

Does the RSS feed work correctly now?

Any tweaks or squeaks that need oiling? If comments don’t work pagehalffull [at] yahoo .com

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