Methodists of Nashville, Help!

Where can my parents go to a Christmas eve service?  Preferably on the north/east side.  I’m having a bear of a time finding any Methodist Christmas Eve Service information.  Do y’all not use the web?  Or your own church signs?

Anyway, ignore my mild criticism!  Help!

In Which I Devise a Plan

Oh, god, folks I am just floundering here.  I can’t even tell you.  I don’t know if it’s the holidays or the lack of sun or what, but damn.  I’m through the wringer a couple of times.  In times like this, it’s best to try to figure out something to do, to plan, and to move forward with, so that you can take your mind off whatever it’s churning.

Yesterday, I planned my herb garden.

Today, I’m planning my bottle tree.  As you recall, the Butcher has chopped down all of my suitable dead trees, so my new plan is to get a post and some long nails and make one myself.  I’ll talk Dad into going with me to pick out the post so that I can put it in his van.  Otherwise, I don’t think I have room long enough in my car.

And then I’m going to stick it where the scrub pines were.

I’ve decided, too, that I’m going to stick hollyhocks in that bed, because even if the peonies all come up, that’s only four and that’s going to be somewhat bare.  And daisies!  And sunflowers!  I want that to be a mess of flowers.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve got.

Who’s Watching Out for Us?

There’s quite a bit that’s appalling about this story and S-Town Mike covers it ably.  But might I point out that people who are afraid that their water may be contaminated from coal sludge are being told to boil their water?!

This would be hilarious if it wasn’t putting people’s health in danger.  Folks, boiling your water kills living organisms.  It doesn’t do anything to protect you from any non-living contaminants in the water; it just makes them hotter.

Is it too much to ask that our state government maybe advocate for us to not be poisoned by the stuff in our state?

Just wondering.

Hurray!

Some of my best friends in the whole world are only five and a half hours from arriving at my house!

I hope Plimco brings her camera, because if there’s anyone in the whole world who will appreciate a creepy greenhouse, it’s her.  And I cannot wait to hear about Dr. J’s new house and new job and I have to ask the Queen how that Jack Daniel’s commercial got all that snow anyway.

Hold off, rain!  That’s all I can say.  Hold off, rain!

What Chris Said

Sometimes, the best thing about blogging is that you’ll be struggling to figure out how to say something and just when you’ve given up, someone will come along and articulate it.  So, today, in the threat about Rev. Warren being a big ole fat slob over at Shakesville, Chris Clarke says (among other things) this:

What the fat insults say, when it comes right down to it, is that those of us who are fat are on notice. We can escape mockery and condemnation by our supposed allies as long as we behave the way they decide is correct and appropriate, but as soon as we veer from strict agreement with and support of those “allies,” it becomes open season on our fat asses.

And lord knows I don’t want to reopen that whole other can of worms, but I hope it’s obvious that this is more broadly applicable (which, when you think about it, is a fitting pun).  You can read through and change all the “fat”s to “girly”s and see how it works when we’re discussing women’s place in progressive politics.  And, actually, anyone’s place in progressive politics.

God Gets All in My Business

Blah blah blah.  Everything I’ve thought to write about today can best be summed up as “there’s a bunch of stupid shit going on and people are getting hurt.”  I just can’t bear to write about it.  I’m in a funk and surrounded by this cloud of sadness.  I keep walking into it, like a spot of too-warm water in the pool.

I have this dream that a short woman speaks a language I don’t know–which doesn’t matter because I can’t hear her anyway in my dream–and she’s trying to tell me something to tell… I don’t know… someone and I can’t understand her and she can’t make herself understood and it makes both of us weepy.  So, I don’t know.

The God thing continues to be an issue this lovely visit from my parents because my dad is convinced that his life is so great right now because he’s being repaid for being a faithful servant of his god.  We were driving from Christmas party to Christmas party talking about the new house and I was saying how funny I found it that folks have asked me if I have any regrets about buying the house, as if being frozen in regret is just a natural thing that happens in the first couple of months after you buy a house and my Dad is all “You should have used that as a chance to tell them that you didn’t have any regrets because you know God led you to that house.”

I should fight with him about this, but I’ve lost as fire for it lately.  I mean, he knows what my beliefs are.  He knows how much I hated and resented being roped into supporting his ministry while he was still active.  And yet, here we are, back again at this place where his assumptions about who I am and how the world works are just the defacto truth.

I don’t know.  I could go on about it, but it doesn’t do any good.  I just want to be seen by the people that love me as myself.  And the Butcher drives me crazy, but he’s the only one who does see me, I think.

I just really don’t want to do God’s work.  I don’t want to hear about Him creeping around my life rearranging things behind the scenes to work out in whatever way depending on His mood at the moment.  I want to be left alone.  I want things to be where I left them.

Anyway, the word is that my nephew’s mom is divorcing his abusive asshole stepdad.  I hope it actually happens.  This is, of course, proof that God answers prayers.  No word on why God would stick a defenseless kid in a house unprotected from a guy who beats the shit out of him and his mom, but I guess there’s always some reason–the nephew will do something later in life for which God is already punishing him; the kid would have been doing some really crappy stuff right this minute if God had not stuck him with these trials; whatever.  God has his reasons; God is good; so it’s all His fault, but not really, please don’t be mad at us, God, but anyway, there’s nothing we can do.

My brother still does not know for sure where his other kid is.  But we have to trust that God will keep him safe.

To bring this back to full-circle, I feel kind of lost lately, like the stars to navigate by are too dim and the paths I’m most familiar with take me places I can’t stand to go again.

In other news, here’s an owl.  (courtesy of Chris Clarke)

Coyote or What?

So, last night we were pulling out of my driveway on our way to Red Lobster…

Oh god I know!  Every time my parents come down we go to Red Lobster like we’re pretending to be Republicans.  But folks, try to understand, Red Lobster is our classy restaurant, the place we would scrimp and save to be able to go to on our birthdays when we were little and no amount of realizing now its inherent shmuckiness is going to take it away from us.  We go.  We behave like buffoons.  (Summary of our conversation last night.  “How is your friend with the weird blood condition?”  “Pissed off.  At the least, she’s going to be on medication for the rest of her life.”  “I saw on her Facebook page that she said her doctor was a penis head.” “See, you just don’t want to be going around calling your doctor a penis head.  What if you have to eat your words?” “Dad!” “What?  I’m retired.  I can make blowjob jokes in public.” “Oh my god!  Not unless you’re going to order a stiff drink so I can roll my eyes at the people who are staring right now and make like you just can’t behave yourself when you’ve had a couple.” “Maybe it’s just the Methodist minister in me, but I just can’t abide by people putting that poison into themselves.” “So, the Methodist minister in you stops you from drinking but not from loudly talking about blowjobs?” “That makes sense to me.” “Yes, thank you, Butcher for encouraging him.”)  We feel like we’ve done some mild social transgressions and eaten.

But where was I?

Oh, yes, coyote or what?

So, we’re coming out of the driveway and we see an animal coming out of the woods next to the across the street neighbor’s, walk across their yard, and trot behind the other neighbor’s house.

And then we had a big fight over what it was.  The Butcher thought it was a wolf.  I didn’t think we had wolves in Tennessee.  (Though I look now and see the red wolf has been reintroduced out east.)  My dad thought it was some kind of Husky, but it had really long skinny legs in proportion to its body and I didn’t think it was furry enough considering that it’s been cold enough for our animals to all put on a winter coat.  But the Butcher thought the body looked too full to be a coyote, but I said that, if coyotes get a winter coat, that could make it look fuller.

The main reason we all came to conclude that it wasn’t a coyote is that it seemed to be completely unconcerned about coming out of the woods, trotting through the stream of our headlights, and around the house and at dog speed.  The only other time I’ve seen what I knew was a coyote was back in town, coming out of a neighbor’s yard and heading back into the gulch where the traintracks are, even though it wasn’t in a particular hurry, it seemed to cover more ground than this animal did and was more stealthy.

So, I don’t know what it was.  I’m leaning towards strange looking dog.

True Enough

I’m so glad to see William K. Wolfrum bringing this up, because I admit to being too stunned by it to say anything (and I have to half done posts in Drafts to prove it).

I’ve been reading those “Ha, ha, Warren’s a fat-ass” posts and just being gobsmacked.  I mean, is it really so hard to understand that if you don’t want to be singled out for shitty treatment because of some characteristic you have that singling out someone–even someone you see as your enemy–because of some personal characteristic of him is not only wrong but morally vacant?

Plus, I’m not on Warren’s side, but it does piss me off to read people who are ostensibly on my side using “fatty” or “glutton” as a way to denegrate him, like there’s something so disgusting about the characteristic I share with him that of course he should be ashamed of it, shamed by it, so, I guess, should I.  And that makes me less excited about hearing their message.

The Pile on My Floor

Oh, People of Earth, if there’s one thing I can give you for Christmas, I hope it’s a picture of my parents sleeping in a big pile of mattresses, blankets, dog, and cats in the middle of my dining room floor.

I will try tonight.  Wish me luck.

We spent today delivering presents and shopping.  Now we’re watching football and then trying to de-cardboard box my front window by swapping out the blinds.  They had Christmas tree-shaped rosemary on sale at Lowe’s for fifty cents.  I wanted to buy them all but I just got one and repotted it.  I’m just hoping I can keep it alive until we put together the herb garden in the spring.

Last night I dragged my parents from Christmas party to Christmas party.  I think they had an okay time.

They’re dragging us to Christmas Eve services because we owe God.  We owe God, but we’re eating ham for Christmas.

Ha.

I’m Still Reading the OA Until They Ban Me from Doing It

Someone, and I won’t mention who, for fear that Smirnoff is going to start challenging folks to duels next, told me to skip ahead to the Grant Alden piece and it’s thought-provoking.  The stuff he writes on music criticism and what the role of a music critic does is extraordinary.  And then, as you might guess, from the tone this whole conversation has taken, it turns to a discussion of how the internet is ruining everything and writers who write on the internet are basically the cause for him having to work at a coffee shop.

And, of course, I both feel for paid writers who feel that way and am a little angry about it.  Does it suck that it’s harder for writers to get paid because so many people are giving it away for free on the internet?  Yeah, I think it sucks for writers who need to eat.

But I wish that we could talk about that without putting down people who write on the internet.  I mean, when I write about music, I’m not sitting there being all “Bwah ha ha!  I hope this means that Grant Alden’s children have to eat generic Pop Tarts!” and twirling my gigantic moustache.  I’m writing about music for the same reasons kids play stickball in the streets, because I love it and I love seeing people do it, and I want to share in that.

It’s hard to see what you’re doing because you’re inspired by the writing of someone like, say, Grant Alden or Marc Smirnoff, derided by those same people as somehow ruining what they’re doing.  Spoiling it for them.

I mean, who wants to be told that you’re fucking it up for the people who inspired you in the first place?

But, on the other hand, the world is changing.  Even if we all stopped writing and just left it to the people who have decided that it’s their turn to be the taste definers, the way that information is transimitted has changed and all the complaining about the internet in the world isn’t going to change that.

My True Blood Soundtrack

NM asked what kinds of music a person who didn’t watch True Blood should think of when she hears “The music of True Blood.”  Here’s the True Blood Soundtrack I’ve compiled, based solely on songs that intrigued me from the show.

1.  “Play with Fire”–Cobra Verde.  This is a Rolling Stones cover, and it sticks with you, whether you like it or not; it’s damn catchy.

2.  “Bones”–Little Big Town.  Can Fleetwood Mac sue for impersonation?  I’m not sure.  Basically, if you like Fleetwood Mac, but you don’t like Stevie Nicks’ voice and wish it were a hair more country, this is your song.

3.  “Stumble and Pain”–Joseph Arthur.  I haven’t listened to this song enough to decide what I think of it.  But it would seem as at home in the imaginary good sequel to The Lost Boys, so I’m calling it a good song for anything about vampires.

4.  “The Dreaming Dead”–Jesse Sykes.  I still can’t decide if I like this song, but it haunting.  I don’t know if it makes me think “Southern,” exactly, though.

5.  “Strange Love”–Slim Harpo.  I love this song, but I love songs that make you say, “What the fuck is happening here?!”  Can a person have a banjo voice?  Slim Harpo has a tragic banjo voice.

6.  “Y’all’d Think She’d Be Good 2 Me”–C.C. Adcock.  This song is so generically southern that, if you didn’t listen to it too closely, you’d think you’d already heard it a million times.

7.  “Good Times”–Charlie Robison.  Ha, I love Charlie.  I swear, he could fart at the table and I’d find it awesome.  Anyway, the song delivers what it promises.

8.  “Red Eyes and Tears”–Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.  I always feel like I should like these guys better than I do, but I don’t.  This song is like the alt.country version of Godsmack’s “Voodoo.”

9.  “Jack Me Up”–jeff laine.  I feel cheated by every day of my life that passed without this song in it.  “But holding the love of a woman is like holding water in your hand.”  That phrase right there is so beautiful that I sometimes just whisper it to myself to have the feel of the words fill up my whole mouth.  It seems at first listen just a song that is an ode to getting laid, but holy shit, it’s the best poetry about getting laid.  “Don’t worry about the rest of your life.  It’s going to happen anyhow.”

If you knew about this song and didn’t tell me about it, you’re on my shit list.

10.  “Brand New Cadillac”–I love Wayne Hancock so much.  And this song is a good example of why.  Hancock sings like he’s only got an inch-high slot to squeeze his voice through, or like you’re only going to hear him on a distant AM radio station and so he’s just given up on everything but the high whine.  That and the boogie.

11.”Cold Ground”–Rusty Truck.  This song is growing on me.  It also has some kind of country/Fleetwood Mac harmonies, which kind of cracks me up.

12.  “Sweet Jane”–Cowboy Junkies.  I don’t guess I have to say anything about this.

13.  “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me”–Mildred Anderson.  There’s an organ!  And lovely organ playing.

14.  “Walking the Dog”–Rufus Thomas.  There’s clearly a dance you do to this.  I don’t know it.  But, if I did, I’d be obnoxious about doing it, so it’s probably for the best.

15.  “Bad Things”–Jace Everett. You know the song.  It’s like if Chris Issak and Dwight Youkum had a baby who inexplicibly decided mid-song to make it a poetry reading.

I think we can call this music more “Evoking a feeling of vaguely Southern foreboding” more than “Southern Vampire music.”

True Blood v. the OA Southern Music Issue

I have decided that my dream article to read would be the people in charge of the music for True Blood and the people in charge of the music for the OA Southern Music Issue talking about what they’ve decided is “Southern” music.  Are you trying to invoke a feeling of the South?  Are you featuring artists from the South?  Are you trying to set a mood that others will recognize as Southern?

It’d be interesting, for sure.

The True Treat of the New OA

I am slowly making my way through the magazine, hoping to find at least little tid-bits about why these songs (which reminds me, the guy who wrote the Fitzgerald piece is Walton Muyamba) and I was about to have to set fire to the magazine after reading Donn Cooper’s piece, which should live in infamy as exactly the kind of writing that drives me cracy about the OA Southern Music issues–you have here a song that you hear on the CD, “Divorce Decree,” which is a song about a woman who had a fine marriage which descended into shittiness and that shittiness is never going to accurately be reflected in this here piece of paper, but hallelujah, this here piece of paper is her freedom.

And you don’t hear many songs that can be summed up as “Hallelujah, I’m divorced.”

So, I was hoping that the article would at least touch on that, but no, instead it’s all about Cooper’s search for the singer–okay fine–and all on about how she made these terribly sad songs.  And I’m all like “Fine, except the song on the CD, which you have not talked about at all.”

Possibly, I want different things from music writing than music writers want to give me, but I’m hearing all this new stuff.  Help me through it.  Tell me why you love this artist, this song.

Anyway, this is just a long tangent to say that what I found at the end of Cooper’s article delighted me so much I about can’t stand it–a couple of poems by Patricia Spears Jones.  From “My Angel #1”–“He’s a ‘he’ which I find ironic/ but then, to be spiritual in an age of religious/ fanaticism is to be ironical.”  I’ll be thinking about that all day.

Maybe I just need poetry more than usual, with those big pauses like the quiet after a too-large meal in which you let your body work.

But to me those two poems about angels said more about what we need writing and music for than anything I’ve read all week.

Feel Good Friday is Listening for Your Footsteps and Your Knock upon the Door

This is my all-time favorite Monkees’ song ever, ever, ever.  When I was little I used to watch repeats of The Monkees like they were going out of style–which, I guess they were.  My cousin M. and I used to sit in my parents’ trailer and play like we were married to The Monkees.  When I was little, I loved Davy Jones the best, of course, but as I got older, my appreciation for Mike, Micky, and Pete grew.

The Professor has this friend who looks just like Micky Dolenz from back in the day and I just don’t know how she can stand it.  If I weren’t throwing myself at him all the time, I’d be running up behind him singing this song.

A Riddle of Catly Weirdness

So, the Butcher was out in the yard with the dog and the tiny cat, just horsing around and watching the tiny cat rub all up on the dog as is her way.  This is not what’s weird.  What’s weird is that the tiny cat was, simultaneously, in the bathroom watching me poop.

Which means that either the tiny cat can break the laws of physics and literally be in two places at the same time OR, and frankly this is more baffling to me, there’s another cat in the neighborhood that looks just like our tiny cat (plausible) who is very friendly (plausible) and who likes to hang out in our back yard (again, plausible) and who has discerned that the dog is cat friendly.

How would that happen?  How did our dog befriend a strange cat to the point where, when the dog comes outside, the strange cat comes running over to her and rubs all up on her in a greeting?

I find it easier to believe that the imposter is the one in the bathroom watching me poop.

But consider the real weirdness of the situation.  We have an orange cat and we have the tiny cat and we have the tiny cat imposter.  There is a good chance, with as friendly as the tiny cat imposter seems to be, that the tiny cat imposter has probably come in and out of our house a number of times and eaten our cat food and carried on as if she were our cat.  In fact, she is so comfortable with us that she either loves our dog or wants to watch us poop.

Do we have two cats or three?

Sun, Sun, Sun

This time of year is hard enough when the only sun you get is that brief time between dawn and when you get out of your car.  But there’s been no sun in the morning all week and it’s been damp and closed in and I wake up in the dark, go inside, spend all day under the long-tube lights, and go back into the dark.  I feel closed in and bothered.  It’s hard to say by whom.

But I miss the sun.  I miss waking up to light slipping in the windows and across the floor, the bed, my face.

I’m having a hard time of it latelyand I more than anything want to be left alone and them am irritated when I am.

But then I come home and I stick my nose in one of the squares I have done and it’s all Kool-aid-y and clean-smelling and it makes me happy.  It smells like hot days without much to do.

Two Things

1.  Soon enough, everyone even tangentially related to your healthcare will be able to weigh in on it.  For fun, I’m going to stand in the aisle at Walgreen’s right in front of the condoms and knock them out of the hands of people trying to buy them and shout “Baby killer!!!!”  After all, who are condom-users to decide which, if any of your sperm, lose the opportunity to take a shot at an egg.  I mean, it’s not exactly baby killing, but it’s only a step back from what Plan B does and they can refuse to hand that out of they think it might be an abortion, so let’s just have some fun with it, you know?

2.  I know I should be outraged, but I just can’t work up the effort to give a shit.  There shouldn’t be ministers invoking or benedicting or praying or asking some god’s blessing at the inaguration period.  I don’t care if it’s some rabidly homophobic jackass like Rick Warren or some old guy who looks like a peanut M&M like my dad.  Does it grate that there’s going to be some homophobic zealot jackass speaking for and to his god at the inaguration like the difference between homophobic religious zealots who want to control women and everyone else is just a difference of opinion?  Yes.  But why is any minister there in the first place?  Wake me up when we’re having that discussion.

If you’re outraged, point and laugh while he talks.  That’s what he deserves.  But he sure doesn’t deserve to be at the inaguruation.  No minister performing his pastoral duties does.

Ain’t No

When I was an English major back in 1833 (or whenever, I can’t remember) we were in the middle (or at the end of) a long discussion about whether there was a canon, if there was a canon, if that was a good thing, and whether we should do away with the canon or expand the canon or what.  I don’t know what they ever decided.  Probably nothing.  I don’t guess the resolution is the important part–it’s the questioning and trying something new that has the value.

But it still remains an interesting question.  Is there some core set of knowledge people should try to have, at the least so that they can understand and refute what other people are saying?

I was thinking about that this morning because I have “Ain’t No Grave Can Hold My Body Down” by Bozie Sturdivant in my iPod just because I was, at some point, making some effort to know the things that people who know things talk about.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s a song I like, though I think it’s an interesting song.  Sturdivant is doing some interesting things with his voice that make me think more of what you would hear on the radio, not in church.

I wasn’t trying to listen to “Ain’t No Grave Can Hold My Body Down” this morning, though.  I was actually trying to listen to the song that is 9 of 855 on my tiny iPod, not the one that is 8.  Nine of 855 in alphabetical song order is “Ain’t No Sunshine.”  And I mistook one “Ain’t No” for the other at the stop light.

And I would have cleared it up sooner if Sturdivant’s “Ain’t no” didn’t seem so much like Wither’s “Ain’t no.”  Listen just to the opening two notes of each song and tell me if those aren’t close cousins of each other.  And I keep listening to the songs back to back, trying to decide if the echo is intentional, one younger song nodding back to another, wondering what it might mean to find that the two songs were deliberate sonic siblings, and suspecting it’s just the kind of coincidence facilitated by modern technology.

Still, it’s kind of cool.

In Which I Confess I Find the Oxford American Music Issue Unsatisfying

Granted, I’m not through the whole thing, but I eagerly await it every year and I am always vaguely unsatisfied in the same way by the issue itself.

See, here’s the thing.  The music is always so damn interesting.  It’s not always good, but it’s always one after another of “What the fuck am I hearing?”  And, in the best years, once the novelty has worn off, you’re left with some songs you want to hear for the rest of your life, like, for instance, “Grits ain’t Groceries.”  Will there ever be a day when you don’t want to hear “Grits ain’t Groceries?”  I hope not.

So I finally broke down and bought the issue last night because I couldn’t wait any longer and it is apparently never coming to work where I can steal it (though, you know, I say that and it will be here today).  And I sat in the parking lot way down by PFChang’s ejecting CDs from my car stereo while impatient shoppers honked and their cars steamed throught the streams of their headlights all hoping to get my spot when I left, if I left, and finally, I get the CDs in and I pull out and I’m listening.

And I’m thinking “Neko Case?!  What the fuck?  When did she become Southern?”  Which I believe would be the question on anyone’s mind when that song came on and yet, in the magazine, there’s a story about how her red hair is like foxes.  Fine.  And nice and funny about how the author gets self-conscious about writing about hair and foxes.  But it didn’t tell me what I needed to know at that moment, which was the answer to “Neko Case?!  What the fuck?”  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I went along with it, because I’m sure some fool somewhere thinks Tiny Cat Pants is a blog reflective of the life of some particular Southern girl and the blurring of that truth also tickles me.

But, more importantly–and granted, I’m not even through the whole first CD yet–was the bigger “What the fuck?!” moment that delighted me so much I was almost afraid to listen to it again for fear that it might not be true.

Ella Fitzgerald singing “Sunshine of Your Love.”

It sounds like the TSU marching band has crammed into a tiny jazz club and is trying to play nice, but what’s the use of having all those horns if you’re not going to hear the bite of the brass?  And then you have Fitzgerald singing like she might have used to have known all the words to the song ten years ago, but she’s going to have to fake it some.

But her voice!  Oh god, her voice is like smooth ice on a warming lake, just cracking and letting go of the shore.

And so, when you listen to it, it’s the sonic equivalent to that marching band setting out over that ice, which seems solid enough, but it’s March (ha!  March), so you don’t know and will everyone make it to the other side in one piece?

And they do!  And it’s just so fucking delightful.  And I listened to it twice and the whole way through I was like “What the fuck?  What the fuck is this?!”

I don’t know.  I came home and tore open the magazine and the story about Ella Fitzgerald seems to be about some guy and his lost love and there’s nothing about marching or ice or just what it means to listen to that song.

It’s fine writing, beautiful writing.

But, oh my god, it’s not about this song and that just seems like such a squandered opportunity.