Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pointless inner self-criticism leads to completely anti-climactic not-so-much-a-resolution

It's not so difficult a task--to scour a stack of CDs for pre-licensed mini-edits or stingers in order to buffer/add flair to the intro & outro of my project's very first audio "cast." The generosity of the teams and individuals with which I work is astounding, and when I asked for some music to cushion Gary Barth's excellent rendition of the script I wrote, tongue-firmly-in-cheek, I was greeted this morning by 23 CD cases, many of which are double-disc editions of songs, edits, stingers, and loops from varying musical genres: Urban Drama, Funky Soul, Garage/Pop/Punk/Rock, etc.

Yet I struggle, every genre with potential casting an entirely different, apperceptive ear towards the tone and thus the trend of the project itself. Currently I lean toward a 60s groove funk reminiscent of B-line spy flicks a la What's Up, Tiger Lily?, but there are also some great guitar riffs and elegant beats that conjure contrasting aural experiences.

And here I am, expressing an abhorrent, perfunctory display of anxiety over what should be and truly IS a fun and exciting process leading to an eventual decision. Now I've made that decision, and I'm entirely happy with my choices, and perhaps it was the breath of a deadline breathing down my neck and the perfectionist in me unwilling to sacrifice the finer details for the rush of corporate exactitude, along with emails from "risk assessment" because the ergonomic situation at my desk (of which there is none) has been leading to increasing quantities of pain in my shoulder that forced me to leave work early on Friday...and all the further technical corporate jargon that befuddles me when all I want is an ergonomic keyboard and a sliding, under-the-desk stand for it (which I'm forbidden to purchase and bring in myself).

Maybe...maybe I'm just smothering in layers of stress I've yet to resolve individually...but that could pertain to most things in my life. I suppose.

Monday, May 18, 2009

"Things My Typewriter Taught Me"

Sitting at my typewriter, the force of my fingers banging away the loud click-click-clack of the keys, thoughts form in tiers of heavy, rounded letterforms, errors are common and, in this age, even quaint. Backspace on a 1929 Remington portable lets me type over the wrong letter until I bleed an illegible mess on the page. There is no automatic return, so the page twists up and to the left every time I start a new line. No exclamation point, the apostrophe hidden in the powerful effort of shift8, and the ribbon turned upside down in response to my sudden demands after years of nonuse.

The tips of my fingers prance discordantly, striking ‘9’ instead of ‘o’, ‘4’ and not ‘r’ or ‘e’ or ‘t’, and so accustomed am I to the automatic response of “delete, correct, continue” that I plow through half a page before I realize the gibberish I’ve been concocting. I lean over the carriage to glimpse the wreckage and ponder its results.

Where have all the errors gone?

We live in a world without mistakes, shiny and new with plastic coating and car wax to hide the dull unsheen of time. The soft whisper of my fingers on computer keys, squared and silent, lets me drift back over a misplaced letter or spelling error. We airbrush pimples, fat, redeye and other unwelcomes from our photographs, painting time with perfection so our lies become transparent.

But the world is not without mistakes, so where then do we err?

We’ve come to treat every interaction of our lives with the same disposable correction as the devices that communicate, transport, wash, fluff, dry, dice, slice, and shred. Working on a typewriter you’re forced with the unretractable forward thrust of intention and consequence. White Out may rescue a letter or two, but forget a single word and the entire page must be rewritten. Surely, this is seen as a good thing—a time-saver, salving our patience with convenience and editability.

I’m afraid there’s more to it than that.

Typewriters were built in an age like most other things were built—to last. If it breaks, you fix a knob or replace a spring and it’s good as new. If the computer malfunctions inside your new flatscreen TV, you have to buy a new one. Not a new part for the internal computer, but an entirely new television. What happened to the time when you fixed things that were broken? Where we had an inkling of consequence because errors were so common, such an inevitability due to a misplaced pinky finger striking ‘9’ instead of ‘o’.

If it can’t be fixed today, we throw it out. So where do we err? Everywhere else. Without the mundane to trip up and force us toward caution, we only have the rest of the world to destroy with our distorted view of simplicity and self-entitled amenities. Filmmakers and photographers don’t have to work to get the perfect shot because of digital’s infinite opportunity. Anyone with two fingers and brain enough to use the ‘delete’ key can write a novel these days.

We’ve lost the rite of passage, the threshold guardian that protects integrity because doing something and doing it right is supposed to be a pain in the ass. It’s supposed to be time-consuming and dangerous, with a consequence every time you hit that ‘9’. It may be more democratic with an access free-for-all (and how else would an illiterate cokehead make it to the White House?), but it’s just not as good.

In fact, it downright sucks.

So I’ll stick to my typewriters, bungling along with an appreciation for manual dexterity, until arthritis cripples me or I succumb to the cancer of convenience.

"some kind of love story"

my favorite verb and I are sitting together
on a bench in the park
(this doesn't mean, however,
that my favorite verb is 'to sit')
we speak, hold hands,
it runs its infinitives through my hair
and I sigh, knowing all too well
this can't last
familiar as I am with
action's whimsical nature -- one second
in the present and, before you know it,
we're speaking in past participles
when all I ever wanted from it was the
future perfect.
but I'll enjoy the moment.
my verb and I in this discreet act of
exhibitionist wordplay, then its
final consonant drips off my tongue
and leaves me a mere pronoun,
singular and
searching for my adjectives.

"problem solving"

like figuring out which way to turn
on a business trip you've traveled ten times before,
but you still can't get there without a map or, better,
the tracking device on your dashboard driving you
into the river that says it's a bridge but
you drive into the river anyway because, damn it,
it says "continue forward" and
"turn left" gurgling through the water
gushing in the vents of your climate control
to cause a moonroof eclipse.

you might have survived if
you'd rolled down your window, if
you'd remembered there was actually air out there
and that a plummeting ravine
was not a bridge after all.

"I’m Not a Knight Who Says..."

I don't get topiaries
all those circular and rec-
TANGular masses, like steps
or stairs or shaved pregnant bushes.
How are these awkward masses
ever attractive?

Once, I suppose, at a French Chateau,
there were some shrubs shorn
like mossy bolts of lightning,
but with curves formed to fit the earth --
those, I suppose -- those were OK.

But my neighbor and his giant
graying green ball and the nice folks
across the street with their admittedly
greener green ball and smaller green
balls gaining on it --
what the hell are they thinking?

And what of the shrubs themselves?
Do they beam with pride, heralding the
grinless grimace of a reindeer or tyrant-
osaurus? Or do they shudder at
their fate, somewhere deep inside
dying to shrivel up, to lose a limb,
to become the first amorphic, leprotic rebel
on the block to scream, "I'M UGLY AS HELL.
but in tones so subtle as to be raked up,
lost in the depths of a mower bag
(for lawns are as pointless as topiaries),
only to be heard
by the blind.


Skin slits like continental drifts
from one limb to another
as she falls, once, and next
wakes in a night terror
of her dark stained
oxide ocean.

I roll her arm with gauze,
thick like a mummy
all the way to her wrist.
(She's been giving her organs away early,
so the scavengers can't have at her
at the end -- I got a kidney and
part of a lung. She's saving her heart
for last. Who'll that go to?)

I cover the new land of
Minnilako with ointment and
layers of padding like a football player.
I hope the sediment will settle
this time.
I hope the oceans will stay
off the shore.
I hope she'll keep that heart
a while longer.
I keep her kidney and half lung next to mine
so they won't go bad
just in case, you know,
she ever wants them back.

something about time

17 minutes to go
it took 15 to spell my name. funny,
i always thought i had one of
the simple ones, but it ends up
always mangled, sometimes
diane, sometimes shang, someone
once wrote esmerelda, i think,
and i think i laughed too
or i would have laughed had someone once
written esmerelda instead of danielle.
pessoa possesses me today it seems.
small speaker crossed out mutes handlebarred
jarring images of rigs and young men
cabled to their deaths i can't hear don't watch.
14 minutes left.
there's a train passing someplace and
an ambulance passing and i
know it's an ambulance and not a firetruck
because of one fine demonstration one day by
one fine young boy who said
"fire trucks go WHEERRWHEEERWHEER and
very subtle difference you see, says the train.
ah yes, whaars the ambulance in reply, how you
recognize my finer attributes. 12 minutes.
then 10. 2 passed in silence. birds chirping. fingers
in respite and a sip of water to calm the waiting
in me. 9 minutes, roars the airplane from 12,000 feet,
traytables still in upright and locked positions.
i have to go i have to wash the octopus dander i have cats
i have to clean my totem my friend and i only have 7
minutes to do it in oh shit. but i really only need 3.

something about angst

watching the bare half hours of the
in between shows
waiting like i'm heading to the gallows or
something else at least
sort of monumental
but i'm really not really
just counting down hours counting
down time minutes between
half hours of shows
until I can leave to go
not to be hanged not to be
nailed to anything, no
just to claim my pain like
a dirty gringo washed up at the embassy
"i lost my passport but you can see you can hear,
i am an American see!"
do i even have these invisible credentials?
have i forged proof enough?
fingerpainted skulls, gee...
complaints and talking points, i see you watch
the news, young lady.
55 minutes. meaning, 25 minutes left
in this show then the topheavy 30
of the next and then
i can go and then i can
drag on the road miles and miles
and then i can say, look here, mr. degrees-on-wall,

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Plea for Pleasantries

Most likely in line with those that know me well and perhaps in contrast to those that don't, I'm an exceedingly friendly, polite, and unassuming individual, especially to strangers. I truly believe that, by default, every human being should be treated with kindness and respect, and I almost always smile and/or say hello when passing someone on the street, in the supermarket, waiting in lines, be they a businessman or an elder couple or a parking attendant.

This behavior is met with varied reactions, from being ignored to disdainful glares and sometimes the occasional nod of recognition. Once in a great while, even, the other person will say "hello" in return.

Unfortunately, over the years I've had to curtail this instinct of mine due to some unwanted--and sometimes dangerous--attention. Because most of the rest of the world ignores the average everyman on the street, my acknowledgment is sometimes misread as romantic or sexual interest, and I've had to evade numerous advances, pick-ups, even stalking.

This pisses me off.

I don't like ignoring someone who says hello to me, but I like even less my greeting being returned by an invite to **** someone's **** in their **** ***. Ignore this request and I'm called a **** or a **** *** ******. I've had to stop frequenting particular stores or parking garages because my friendliness is returned by incessant and frightening doggedness--it's amazing how much information someone can attain by knowing your license plate number or full name, and the possibility that you can be followed home is more than a mere concern.

So please, people--just be nice. Be nice so everyone can be nice without fear of reprisal. I'm tired of making up stories about my Champion UFC boyfriend and Sheriff of a father. I'm tired of assuming the posture of unaffected bitch so I can maintain a sense of safety when buying a gallon of milk or parking downtown. Everyone DOES deserve respect; a nod and a smile can go a long way in this world.