Thursday, June 16, 2022

Three June 16ths

June 16, 1893: According to the Awe-Manac by Jill Badonsky, “On this day in 1893, Cracker Jacks were invented by R.W. Rueckheim."

Friday, June 16, 1995, Sevilla: We took a bus tour of Sevilla, then visited the Spanish pavilion of the American-Iberian Exposition. A Spanish dog attached Courtney’s shoe. Next we visited the Alcazar, a park surrounded by Moorish and Gothic palaces. We saw the Giralda, the bell tower (formerly a minaret) of a cathedral (formerly a mosque) with a giant, revolving sculpture on top, called the Giraldillo. 

After that bit of sightseeing we went into a department store. I bought some castanets and a copy of Alicia en el Pais de las Maravillas. We had strawberry ice cream. Outside, some street musicians played guitar and sang, and I saw lemons growing on trees that lined the streets. 

In the evening, we took a boat cruise down the Guadalquivir River. While the boat was docked along the riverbank, we were entertained by flamenco dancers. Once the boat was in motion, the auditorium became a dance floor and there was a floating disco.

Saturday, June 16, 2007, South Bend: After lunch, a nap, and some writing, Tit and I went to the Chicory Cafè for open mic night. I read a poem, one I wrote for Friends Writing Group. It wasn’t a great poem, but I also got to talk about my books. 

Before, I had ordered a decaf with coconut syrup. Afterward, we both got gelato. I picked the tiramasu flavor with crumbled-up ladyfingers in it; very delicious. Tit used the purchase of gelato to flirt with Alison, the joke-telling barista.

The most entertaining performer tonight was a poet who had been in prison and who wrote poems about Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Eve, and the all the great female singers and rappers who inspire him. 

Oh, and I saw a streaker in downtown South Bend, running down Michigan Street with his bare ass hanging out. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Throwback: It's 1995, I'm 18, and I'm in Spain

I've been working on a time-themed project, so have a little peek backward in time: 

Thursday, June 15, 1995: The tour group and I left Madrid and went to Córdoba. This was a long drive, but along the way I began to see palm trees, which I had never seen in nature before. Then we were in Andalusia, the region that Federico García Lorca loved so much. 

I made a niche, Spanish valentine for Valentine's Day 2022.

We visited the Mezquita-Catedral, a gorgeous example of Moorish architecture that was once the Great Mosque (Mesquita) of the city but was then claimed by the Catholic Church and is now technically known as the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. It was amazing, absolutely amazing. 

The tour group stopped for lunch. I had calamari and a Coke, which I ate while watching Nirvana on European MTV. We then got back on our tour bus and went to another Andalusian city, Sevilla. Our hotel in Sevilla seemed really nice. Some other American girls were hanging out of the windows, passing American candy to our Spanish peers. 

At 10:30 we went out to a disco. Spain has no minimum drinking age, so we bought beers and danced. A good time was had by all. Then when we got back to the hotel, we had a bit of excitement because our chaperone Mrs. Sullivan and her friend Sonja had a lizard in their room. A boy named Alex came and caught it in a cup.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

I Saw Neil Gaiman Last Night

My husband and I were lucky to see Neil Gaiman do a live reading and question-and-answer session on the Butler University campus last night. Now I feel like a Victorian lady must have felt after she saw Charles Dickens on one of his American tours. (Except Neil Gaiman is an English person who lives in the United States; I don't think Dickens ever moved here.) 

Mr. Gaiman began the evening by reading a short poem about reading to children, aimed at some friends in the audience whom, he knew, had their young child with them. Secondly he read us "Chivalry," a delightful short story which you may remember from LeVar Burton Reads.

Someone asked him how he came to be so obviously fascinated by myths. He said, in a deadpan tone, "When I was four, I was bitten by a radioactive myth." I suspect the sincere answer has more to do with an autobiographical story he told later about asking his parents to leave him at the local library all day, where the librarians would treat him, a child, with respect and use inter-library loans to get him almost any book he could think of. 

Later he read "Click Clack the Rattle Bag," a funny/scary horror story, and then a short story that was sort of a sequel to "Chivalry," about the woman who releases the genie from the silver lamp, but doesn't want any of his offered three wishes. 

Neil Gaiman talked about his children a lot. He was quite adamant that he can't be happy unless they're happy. He especially mentioned Holly, because she was the inspiration for Coraline, and Maddy, but he also mentioned the time Michael became frustrated with him because, Michael said, "You make things up." He didn't mention Anthony by name, but again I stress, he can't be happy unless all of his children are happy.

He spoke lovingly of his Good Omens co-creator Terry Pratchett, who apparently was a wonderful friend to talk to over the phone, a bit prone to calling out of the blue. He also spoke lovingly of Stephen King, relaying an incident in which the King family offered to take Mr. Gaiman to dinner after he finished his 4 p.m. book signing. The Kings sat impatiently in their car from 7:30 to 8:30, still waiting for Gaiman to finish signing things, when Joe Hill (approximately 22 years old at the time) came in sheepishly to let him know they were going back to their hotel, where Mr. Gaiman was welcome to join them after the signing. Which he did, at 10 p.m. It was a very long book signing line. 

Neil Gaiman mentioned the bucket list he wrote when he was around 10 years old, which included writing an original musical, which he still wants to do. Some of his works have been adapted for the stage, but he hasn't written anything original specifically for musical purposes yet. I had to chuckle, because Tit Elingtin and I had seen Something Rotten! at Footlite Musicals on Sunday. The plot involves an Elizabethan soothsayer predicting that musicals will be the next big thing in theater. 

The presentation ended with two poems, both written collaboratively with input from the Twitterverse. The first was about how to stay warm, and was part of a project aimed at collecting money for some the world's estimated 65 million refugees, from Afghanistan and other conflict zones. The current number of refugees and internally displaced persons in the world is believed to be the highest it's been since the end of World War II. 

The last poem was written expressly to be part of an unnamed person's full-back tattoo. Mr. Gaiman agreed to take part in this project not imagining that the illustrated who provided the art would also say yes to the project...but he did. 

Lastly, my beloved Tit Elingtin braved the book line to get me several pre-signed copies of Neil Gaiman books. They'll be a prized part of my book collection. I'm sure they were all signed with his favorite writing instrument, the fountain pen.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Very Specific Associations with Very Specific Songs

I'm back, and I'm very curious to hear other people's thoughts on this one, especially other writers and people in creative fields: When you listen to certain songs, do you have very specific stories you associate with them? Do you associate a song with a book, a fic, a movie, or fictional characters of some kind?

There are some of my Very Specific Associations for songs I listened to often in 2021.*

"Already Gone" by Kelly Clarkson. Remember when "The Broken Man and the Dawn" was my favorite RPF? Well, whether one does or not, that particular story has a plotline that involves a couple who's lost a child having a painful but overall rather amicable breakup. Although Clarkson famously wrote this gentle breakup song for her ex Justin "Little Sweet from the Dr. Pepper commercials" Guarini, in my mind it's about that breakup from "The Broken Man and the Dawn." 

"Girl Crush" by Little Big Town. I made a whole post about this one by itself; it's one of my songs for the fictional couple Destiel.

One of my other Destiel songs is the Deftones cover of Sade's "No Ordinary Love." 

"Runaway Crush" by Stella Soleil. This one is both super-specific and a mishearing. The actual line in the song is, "I'm feeling the soft of your skin," but before I looked up the lyrics I always heard it as "I'm feeling the SALT of your skin." Granted, salt doesn't have a particularly nice feel (it's just grainy), but I liked to imagine ocean-dipped Mediterranean skin which, when kissed, might taste quite nice. 

I rediscovered this gem of a song at roughly the same time I developed my Baron Helmut Zemo fixation. My association with Zemo and salt is this Tumblr post by a native Russian speaker. Daniel Brühl is famously multilingual; he acts in German-, Spanish-, and English-language films and also speaks Catalan and its cousin French. Apparently, though, his Russian accent is less than ideal and when Zemo has to utter the command phrase "soldat," he sounds like he's either saying "soldier" in a baby voice or asking, "Want some salt?"

Thus my runaway crush is a Sokovian war criminal. (It's ok, he's fictional.) 

If you want to fall even deeper into the salty rabbit hole in my brain, you can listen to this episode of Cult or Just Weird in which a self-described alien contactee says the aliens always give him salt as a parting gift. 

"Send My Love (To Your New Lover)" by Adele (Adkins). Like many people who spend too much time on Tumblr, I had a BBC Sherlock phase. I imagine this song is what Sherlock says to John when John marries Mary. 

"Watching You Watch Him" by Eric Hutchinson. I mentioned this one years ago, but this song enjoyed mild popularity when I was reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Thus I experience this upbeat ode to jealousy as being from the point of view of Jose, witnessing the early stages of Anastasia and Christian's relationship.

"Water Under the Bridge" by Adele (Adkins).  In my mind, this is another Johnlock (BBC Sherlock), but this time from John's point of view, upon his learning that Sherlock was not actually dead. 

*I'm trying to learn some new music for 2022. Here are a few current favorites:

  • "Boyfriend" by Dove Cameron
  • "Celebrity Skin" by Doja Cat, a cover of a Hole classic
  • "Chocolate Cake" by Melissa Etheridge
  • "DFMU" by Ella Mai
  • "Flamin' Hottie" by Megan Thee Stallion, which samples "Push It" by Salt N Pepa
  • "LOUD" by Sofia Carson

Anyone, at any time, please feel free to tell me your Very Specific Song Associations. Even if you stumbled upon this post in 2032.