Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Poetry Wednesday


there is mercy
in our relation to the sky,
the waking each day

to smallness

to a coldness that comes so

and finds the ways in.

(we have grown old.
the snow is falling on our skin)

Annnnnnnnnnnd something not-mine that I love:

Morning at the Window
by T.S. Eliot

They are rattling breakfast plates in basement kitchens,
And along the trampled edges of the street
I am aware of the damp souls of housemaids
Sprouting despondently at area gates. 

The brown waves of fog toss up to me 
Twisted faces from the bottom of the street, 
And tear from a passer-by with muddy skirts 
An aimless smile that hovers in the air 
And vanishes along the level of the roofs.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Intuit: Ramona Falls

In general, I don’t like reading music reviews before I listen to an album, and, as usual, I didn’t find Ramona Falls through a review (though the Pitchfork one is SPOT ON), or look for one before I spent time listening. And I’m so glad. The thing about Ramona Falls is that you have to let the full force of the layering that’s happening hit you without anybody else telling you first that it’s going to happen.  I know that this post completely contradicts what I’ve just told you, and I might be better off just posting links to the songs, but the music is so incredible that it might be worth spoiling it for you just a bit in order to make sure you experience it. This stuff is absolutely like nothing I’ve ever heard before, and I listen to a heck of a lot of music.
Brent Knopf comes from the Portland-based band Menomena (also really good, with some of the same weaving of unexpected instrument combinations), striking out on his own in 2009 with Intuit. I don’t know why he hasn’t become famous, but thank goodness, because now I get to surrender to that one completely ridiculous hipster behavior in which I shamelessly indulge: claiming obscure musicians as my very own, and getting really, really fussy when anybody else claims to have discovered them. Oh yeah. 
I’m not going to say any more about the music, other than that it’s gorgeous, and that the emergence of each “impromptu choir,” each surge of electric guitar or violin, brings the listener to an all new level of ecstasy that can’t possibly be surmounted, until, of course, it is. As Pitchfork writer Joe Tangari sums it up, Ramona Falls is “a combination of Where the Wild Things Are, a fever dream, a pagan woodland ceremony, and a notebook doodle.” Check it out.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Poetry Wednesday

To the girl who asked me why I love the water:

A boy who drifted
in the shallows each day, waiting
to be stung by the jellies there that
worshipped him
(he did not know he was their king)

Annnnnnnnd something not-mine that I love:

The More Loving One
by W.H. Auden

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Great Pumpkin: A Rochester Update

Now that my first semester as a graduate student his half way over, I’m realizing that this 5-year adventure is going to go a lot more quickly than I had imagined. It was almost five months ago that Moody and I were unpacking all of our stuff and hanging out in a bathtub full of cold water for hours at a time to escape the 106° summer heat. But it seems like no time has passed at all!

I feel like a little bit of a black sheep in my program, because I’m 5 years younger than the next-youngest person in it, with many of the other PhD-seekers well into their thirties and even forties. In some ways, it’s not as weird as you might think (I don’t know what’s in the water here in Rochester, but none of these 30-something-year-olds look like they could possibly be older than 25). But I think there’s a certain level of resolve needed to go after this degree, and it’s expected to come with age and experience. As a result, I’m not always taken seriously. If I were a dude, I’d grow a beard and look oh-so-distinguished. Problem solved. Moody’s been growing a prodigious beard, and, just yesterday, he bought a toasty grandpa cardigan from Banana Republic. When beard and cardigan join forces, I’d put him at about 65 years old. Lucky duck. Anyway, I've decided to embrace immaturity for just a bit longer. Abusing graduate privileges can be oodles of fun. For example, there are a number of lounges and study spaces on campus that are devoted to phd-seeking people, and it's great fun to go in there and eat an apple as loudly as possible. The physics and engineering phds, in particular, get super enraged. Cookies work as well.

Halloween is coming up! Sadly, I don’t think we’ll have an occasion for dressing up, but we had planned an excellent corny couple’s-costume: Moody was going to be the Doctor, and I was going to be the TARDIS. As it is, I think we’ll probably have a beer and candy-fueled double feature movie night. We keep buying big bags of candy to put away for the holiday itself, but can’t manage to leave them unopened for more than a day or two. I’ve been in a Sour Patch Kids-induced semi-comatose state for about a week now. And I’m ok with it.

We jumped the gun a little on buying our pumpkins. We picked one up two weeks ago on our weekly Wegmans trip, but, failing to remember that a pumpkin is a fruit and, like any other fruit, needs to be kept cold, woke up after a few days to find a big soupy pumpkin mess in the middle of our living room. In case you didn’t know, rotten pumpkins smell terrible. Now we’re biding our time and praying to the pumpkin gods that we’ll be able to find what we need a litttttttle closer to Halloween. Moody hasn’t ever carved a pumpkin before, which I consider a crime. Soon to be remedied.

Wanderlust: The Wind on the Bridge

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Loïe Fuller in "Danse Serptentine"

We watched this dance in one of my graduate classes to get an idea of how Futurists conceived of movement without figuration. I thought it was so gorgeous, so I'm sharing:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Poetry Wednesday


       the old house
and the greygreen thing at the bottom of the closet
where i left it/was a sweater or like one
with no pieces of furniture/i broke in and
there was no sign of me/
the walls were             disappearing, (yellow) there
was chalk
on the floor and arrows      i
picked it up and i
put it down

 /it wasnotmine and
  //you had been there.

Annnnnnnnnnnd something not-mine that I love:

Fever 103°
by Sylvia Plath

Pure? What does it mean?
The tongues of hell
Are dull, dull as the triple

Tongues of dull, fat Cerberus
Who wheezes at the gate. Incapable
Of licking clean

The aguey tendon, the sin, the sin.
The tinder cries.
The indelible smell

Of a snuffed candle!
Love, love, the low smokes roll
From me like Isadora’s scarves, I’m in a fright

One scarf will catch and anchor in the wheel,
Such yellow sullen smokes
Make their own element. They will not rise,

But trundle round the globe
Choking the aged and the meek,
The weak

Hothouse baby in its crib,
The ghastly orchid
Hanging its hanging garden in the air,

Devilish leopard!
Radiation turned it white
And killed it in an hour.

Greasing the bodies of adulterers
Like Hiroshima ash and eating in.
The sin. The sin.

Darling, all night
I have been flickering, off, on, off, on.
The sheets grow heavy as a lecher’s kiss.

Three days. Three nights.
Lemon water, chicken
Water, water make me retch.

I am too pure for you or anyone.
Your body
Hurts me as the world hurts God. I am a lantern——

My head a moon
Of Japanese paper, my gold beaten skin
Infinitely delicate and infinitely expensive.

Does not my heat astound you! And my light!
All by myself I am a huge camellia
Glowing and coming and going, flush on flush.

I think I am going up,
I think I may rise——
The beads of hot metal fly, and I love, I

Am a pure acetylene
Attended by roses,

By kisses, by cherubim,
By whatever these pink things mean!
Not you, nor him

Nor him, nor him
(My selves dissolving, old whore petticoats)——
To Paradise.