Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Multi-Part Post In JIVE Format

By Any Other Name

The other night for inspiration I turned, as I have so many times in the past, to a book given to me by the late, great Tom Shannon. It is full of knowledge, history and truth; in times of low mood it will help pick me up. Its message is both thought-provoking and profound.

I am of course referring to the Dictionary of Slang and Euphemism. It delivers all it claims on the cover, where it proudly announces that it encompasses: oaths; curses; insults; ethnic slurs; sexual slang and metaphor; drug talk; college lingo; and related matters. New worlds may thus open for the reader.

I will frequently pick it up and open it at random, many, many times before I am ready to put it down. Often I will find myself skipping to some recommended corrolary term (foaming beef probe: the penis in an act of copulation. For synonyms, see YARD).The lists of synonyms are not always where you might expect them, but once found, will probably hold your attention for a while.

The prize for favorite discovery of the previous evening goes to: canyon yodeling. By the sound of it, this could be a reference to several things, among them chundering (AKA the technicolor yawn); but in fact it lies squarely in the province of my dear friend muffy diver, the cunning linguist.

Slang And Euphemism is by Richard A. Spears and is highly recommended.


"Daddy, Play...'Roar!'"

So says Lulu when she requests that I play her "Adventures Of Forever and Nowhere". The first time she did it, I was very surprised and definitely moved. Why be moved by my 2 year old's request to hear my music? Because she really does have her own taste, regardless of her age. She knows what she wants to hear, and if you don't play it, she complains. She hasn't taken to "Rivers", even though I played that for her first. She seems to prefer the more rock-oriented stuff. It also probably doesn't hurt that there's a dinosaur on the cover.

She's recently been introduced to early Bee Gees, ('67-'69), and requests that pretty frequently. I'm surprised she liked it, so much of it is minor key and sad-sounding.

But the big surprise for me, as far as music not made by her daddy, was Ginger Baker's Air Force. Or, more specifically, "Aiko Biaye", which she calls "Gobi Yayay!". She's been requesting it a lot lately.

That's my girl!

Dementia 13 And Other Recurring Themes

The other night I was taking Lulu up to bed after tub time, and Chrissy called me into our bedroom to see what was on TV. She said, "Do you know what this is?" I smiled and said "Of course", because I recognized "Dementia 13" immediately. After I got Lulu down to bed, Chrissy and I watched the last 5 or so minutes. What a great film. Decapitation, girl hung on a meat hook...what can I say? Ya gotta love it. When Chrissy was in nursing school, she had to take a unit of Psych, and for her term paper she analyzed this film, after we'd watched it together. The paper went over well. Yet another place for this movie to slide neatly into my life. I can remember seeing parts of it at least twice when I was four; once when I had the flu and was pretty much incapacitated, and left to watch TV in the tiny bedroom I shared with my parents; and again in that same room in the middle of the night. That time I was asleep on my little folding cot when I was awakened by the noise of my parents fooling around. As usual, the TV was on- it usually was, day or night, and I'd learned to sleep through it, probably from the time I was brought home from the hospital. That particular night, I was awakened by my parents making what sounded like distressed sounds, and it scared me. I asked what was wrong and was told, in between laughs and annoyed sighs, that nothing was wrong, I should go back to sleep. No, those sounds weren't bad things, mommy and daddy were fine. So as I'm trying to fall back asleep- or more accurately, look like I've fallen asleep without really doing so, so I could hear more- "Dementia 13" comes on, with that creepy harpsichord music and the sound of the drowning radio. Now there was no way I was getting back to sleep, and not even much chance of faking it. I knew what the movie was, and I was both spooked by the sound of it and absolutely drawn to watch it again. So much for keeping my eyes closed. One of my parents noticed my eyes were open and they demanded to know why I was still awake. I said it was the TV, which was at least partially true, if not terribly accurate. Yeah, it was the TV, because I wanted to watch it. I told them they could leave it on, it wouldn't bother me, but my mom then insisted on turning it off. I think I killed their mood, and I seem to recall a later advance in the dark by my dad being rebuffed by my mom, who insisted they should just go sleep. But instead, the TV went back on. I snuck more peeks at the movie, when I could. "Little fishy in the brook...Papa's caught you on a hook..."

It's funny that around that same age was when I had my introduction to "Carnival of Souls", which also has popped up repeatedly in my life. Most importantly, it was the date/makeout movie at the place I lived, the night I hooked up with Chrissy, and Steve Shaw hooked up with Kate, who was the mutual friend of Chrissy's and Emily's who provided the all-important link. Emily was then with a fellow named Mark, who was also there, and soon enough no one was watching the movie. We might as well have all been teenagers instead of 30-somethings. Unlike teenagers, the two on the rental agreement had seperate rooms to go to, so all three couples had space to explore possibilities (Steve and Kate got the living room). The rest of course is history: Steve and Kate got married, as did Chrissy and I. Emily moved on and is also happily married today. And we owe it all to quality low budget horror. Well maybe not all of it, but it definitely didn't hurt things.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Strange Unconscious Strikes Again

Had a bizarre dream last night; told it to Chrissy and she suggested I make it into a blog update, which I thought was a great idea. What's more, she handed me a notebook and said "Here, write down some notes so you don't lose it". And she did this right at the beginning of breakfast! Let's hear it for pro-active support!

So....I'm in a large music store with Mark, and we're looking around the drums and percussion section. Mark picks out something he's going to buy- I can't remember what- and suddenly the sales in the store pick up, it creates a buzz and now everyone feels they ought to buy something. It's even said by someone, can't recall if it's a customer or one of the sales people, "When Mark buys, everybody buys!" It's said with admiration and excitement. (Non-dreamtime Mark will no doubt be very amused to hear this.)

I go over to a section with all kinds of exotic percussion, and go straight to a set of interesting looking brass hanging wind-type chimes. It has two plates that are cut out in a sort of floppy triangle shape, a bit like the profile of a lemon meringue pie; one is bigger than the other and they hang in series, smaller one below the bigger one, not touching. (Wake-world Mark actually had something made by Ufip that looked something like this, back in the Paper Bag days.) Paired with these, hanging to the left, are a series of plates set up like shingles, all of them irregularly shaped. I take a stick and hit the pie-shaped ones, and they have kind of a bell-like sound. I hit the shingles and they sound trashy. I like both types of sounds, but in this case I'm not immediately impressed. Neither of the paired sets are particularly vibrant- the bells not ringing enough, the shingles not trashy enough. It's just not grabbing me. My inner money manager thinks: no, can't see spending money on these, not dramatic sounding enough to consider. Then I get a little devil's advocate voice in my head saying, give it a chance, maybe it's supposed to be more subtle, and so I start striking at them again. This time there's a sense of something unusual happening; the bell-like sounds are starting to become vibrant and swirling, and I can almost see the sounds swirling around the chimes like little balls of light. The bell sounds and the trash sounds are starting to interact in interesting patterns, weaving a nicely evolving sonic picture.

Just as it's starting to get really interesting, I notice that the strings that have held the whole assembly suspended have gotten tangled up, and I figured I'd better straighten them up before moving on to check out other pieces. I flip them over while trying to decipher which string needs to unwrapped from where, and I notice that on the back, there's a thick, quarter-sized wad of what looks like a cross between bearing grease and old earwax stuck to the back. I'm not sure what it's doing there but it annoys me enough to even see it that I poke at it a little to see if it comes off easily.

The wad softens up almost immediately with my touch, and seems to grow, and more startling, appears to be alive! It seems to be responding to my circular rubbing motion, and to be aroused. Little eyes and mouth form on it and show a face caught up in intense arousal, almost furious and savage.

Needless to say, I'm shocked by this and stop rubbing so I can assess the situation. The little face glares at me harshly and desperately, as if to say "No, no, don't stop now!". I'm even more taken aback by this. But almost as soon as that's happened, the eyes close, the creature appears to die, and the whole mobile sags and becomes like lifeless grey ashy foil, brittle and ultra thin and ready to fall apart. The whole appearance of it as a robust metal percussion instrument is gone.

I am now confused and worried, because whatever it was, I've destroyed it, and will I have to pay for it?

A salesperson sees what's just happened and yells, "We've lost another one!". The manager comes over to see, and I try to object. Why didn't they have some kind of a sign up about it, warning customers how to handle it, or not to touch it at all? I say, sorry, I had no idea it was alive, much less any idea that it was so fragile. He says "It's OK, don't worry about, it happens, we won't hold you responsible. We'll take care of it."

"Yeah, I certainly didn't mean to kill it. It died so quickly. It was weird, it was like it was horny."

"Oh yeah, once you activate it, it's got a short lifecycle and it needs to mate right away, then it dies."

"It creeped me out, it glared at me when I stopped."

"Sure, it only gets to do this once, and you stopped in the middle! You'd die angry too!"He laughed a little.

At this point I woke up, and the dream drifted away as my daughter's waking calls from the other room brought me to consciousness. I got into the morning routine and forgot all about this, until breakfast.

After I'd written my notes down, several things occurred to me. One, I could see a purpose for this creature on the back of the supposed chime. It gave an enhanced version of the sound of the instrument it was supposed to be, one that could operate directly on the listener's mind. It would pull you in and then give you enough psychic suggestions to get you to stimulate it. I never did figure out how things were supposed to work from there, but I imagine I'd have found out had I not stopped. Would it have given birth to additional instruments? As for the shop staff, they were probably keeping quiet about the actual nature of what they were selling and figured that the little critter would snag a lot of customers without their knowing how it had happened. I also figured that the particular one that I'd checked out had perhaps been sitting there too long, and needed to fulfill its life cycle, and so pulled me in all the way. If it had been more "fresh", it might not have pushed things along so quickly, and I'd have bought it and had it at home for a while before getting sucked in and induced to help it mate and die (and so, become useless as an instrument). No doubt these things were sold "as is, no returns".

The second thing that occurred to me was that I'd just recently read a Philip K. Dick story, and that this was very much in the character his work. One of his most common plot elements is the masquerading of living, sentient beings as objects. So...Not too far of a stretch to see where that part comes from. But I do wonder why it surfaced as erotic percussion! Very odd. The circular rubbing motion is self-explanatory to anyone with experience; the disgusting appearance of the creature is totally at odds with my feelings towards (human) female genitalia, which are highly favorable, I am a long-time fan. The orange-brown earwax/bearing grease appearance has nothing to do with any kind of genitalia I'm familiar with, and in fact the only orifice that comes to mind is indeed the ear. Considering it's masquerading as a musical instrument, this sort of fits.

And there is a recent event which corresponds to this. When Chrissy's Dad was in town, we played him Atom Heart Mother and Meddle. After he left, I was looking at the cover of Meddle, which, thanks to living in a slightly less uptight age, had been restored in the US to its original UK cover, which is a picture of an ear, tinted green and orange. Someone at Floyd's label at the time of the original release found the image to be too sexual and insisted it be changed, which is how we ended up with the pink and blue rippled picture familiar to US buyers. So...there's a suggestion of erotic ear-ness.

An odd, but not unusually odd, by-product of my unconscious. It probably means something, but I'm not quite sure what yet, and I may never know. But it's amusing to speculate. Just thought I'd share.

GS, 4/3/10