Friday, February 22, 2008

The benefits of staying up late

The other night I was flipping channels restlessly about 1:30 and thought I'd go back to Conan O'Brien. Once I got there, I literally sat up in bed because I was immediately hooked by the guy with the ukulele on the screen. I didn't even know it was a ukulele, and it took me a painfully long time to come up with the title of the song - I was humming it a while before my brain fed me the words "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Anyway, I was really struck by the performance; I can't put my finger on why. Apparently Conan was really into it, too, though - which only proves my theory that he and I should really hang out.

His name is Jake Shimabukuro, by the way. I had never heard of him, but that doesn't mean anything. Obviously.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Those we reach but can never touch

I read two poems recently that get at, if not answer, the sorts of things I've been thinking about lately, about how people relate to and love each other. I really love the first one, because it's not about a futuristic or even really a modern condition. It reminds me of Wallace Stevens' "Re-Statement of Romance," how the representations (including words) of things are never even close to what you wanted to express. And the phrase in the Rimbaud poem - "neither ardent nor timid" - really resonates with me. That's been true of me and of my life lately, and I feel like I should pick a side.

Science Fiction
by Les Murray

I can travel
faster than light
so can you
the speed of thought
the only trouble
is at destinations
our thought balloons
are coated invisible
no one there sees us
and we can't get out
to be real or present
phone and videophone
are almost worse
we don't see a journey
but stay in our space
just talking and joking
with those we reach
but can never touch
the nothing that can hurt us
how lovely and terrible
and lonely this is

by Arthur Rimbaud
translated by Vernon Watkins

It is rest full of light, neither fever nor languor, on the bed or on the road.

It is the friend, neither ardent nor timid. The friend.

It is the loved one, the fond, neither tormenting nor tormented. The loved one.

The air and the world all unexplored. Life.

-Was it then this?

-And the dream breaks afresh.

Murray poem from The New Yorker, 28 January 2008
Rimbaud poem from

Saturday, February 16, 2008

From today, March is just two weeks away

So I posted this to my profile, because it's music-related, but I thought I'd post it here too. Valentine's Day is over now, I've gotten over the halfway point of this consistently malaise-filled month, and I think this list is kind of funny. I don't exactly think any of these ways about love, but I have at one point or another.

The line in the post's title is not true this particular February 14, but it is in one of the songs on my (highly anticipated) Valentine's Day mix. It's subdivided into sections, because I'm pretentious. This is clearly not comprehensive, also.

Part I: There Is No Love, Only Sex
Fuck and Run - Liz Phair
The Taste of You - Erin McKeown
Sin Wagon - Dixie Chicks
I Don't Love Anyone - Belle & Sebastian
Hey Ya - Outkast
Mr. Right Now - the Nields

Part II: Maybe There's Love, But It's Probably Fucked-Up
Leather - Tori Amos
Mary Kay - Jill Sobule
Lily (My One and Only) - Smashing Pumpkins
Divorce Song - Liz Phair

Part III: I Don't Quite Get Love But I Wish I Did
Last Kisses - the Nields
As Is - Ani DiFranco
February - Dar Williams
Love, Love, Love - the Organ

Part IV: I Want Love (Just a Different Kind)
If You See the One - Rebecca Katz
As Cool as I Am - Dar Williams
Polyester Bride - Liz Phair
I Want Love - Elton John

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I think I'll pass on this one

So, the other day I was looking at library jobs, which I do fairly compulsively lately, and I came across a posting to be a librarian at the US Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay. It's really long, so I thought I'd post a few lines from it. Aside from a lot of standard library functions, there are these requirements:

The Librarian serves as and directs the overall library operation providing mission, education, and quality of life support to all base personnel, their families, and retirees. (Is "mission support" support for missions the personnel are sent on? Or is this more of a "mission statement" of the naval base?)

Monitors funding allocations, meets expenditure targets, and justifies unfunded requirements. (This last phrase intrigues me. I mean, I guess this is what public libraries do all the time, but I've never seen it laid so bare.)

The last line of the posting is:
Occupants of this position must maintain the privacy of official work information and data and demonstrate the highest level of ethical conduct.

Do I even need to say anything about that? I recognize that individuals and government policy are two separate things, but I'm just really curious about the librarian who would both subscribe to the ALA Bill of Rights and take this job.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

That teenage feeling

Last night I went with a friend to see Neko Case in concert at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton. Someone else had told me she had the most beautiful voice he'd ever heard in person, and he was not kidding around. I've never heard anything like it. We were up in the second row of the balcony, and I was pretty much pinned against the back of my seat by this gorgeous wall of sound. And her songs are so sad, and funny, and real - the kind of truth that keeps following you and won't let you forget how uncomfortably close to you it is.

Anyway, it's like waking up the day after prom or something. (I didn't go to prom, but I'm trying to make a metaphor here.) I couldn't sleep; I don't want to do homework or even apply for this amazing job I saw an ad for on Friday. I'm thinking of roaming the greater Boston area with my iPod and being emo.