The Tennessee State Library and Archives Tree Has Issues

I can only assume Governor Haslam is somehow to blame. I don’t know why I felt compelled to wander over to the Tennessee State Library and Archives in my back yard, but I noticed it is covered in bugs. Ants, it looks like. But they’re coming in and out of these holes in the trunk. Now, holes in the trunk would make you think a borer of some sort, right? But, like I said, they look like ants.

So, either I have the first batch of boring ants or I have borers and ants. I went to Lowe’s and got some crap that supposedly you only need to apply once a year. We’ll see. I’m prepared to reapply sooner. But it claims to take care of borers.

I got the bathroom cleaned and the kitchen cleaned. The Butcher will have to do the floors. And yesterday the Professor took me shopping. I admit, I’ve been wearing the same four outfits (five when it’s cool enough to wear a turtleneck) since the Butcher lost his last job. Finally, since we’re not in such dire financial straights, I came to terms with the necessity of getting a few more outfits. I really hate shopping, which is why I have to have the Professor take me. She likes to try on things. She’s all “that’s too big, that’s too small” without making you feel like it’s your body that’s fucked up. She even tried on the same shirt in a couple of different colors and we noticed that the different colors fit her differently.

But still, it was stressful. But I got a few cute things. And, the next time I get a little money ahead, I’ll go get a few more cute things. I need to be better about keeping my wardrobe updated. I need to dress like a grown-up at least sometimes.

Fine, Let’s Just See if England Will Take Us Back

We now have to have a special committee of super-powerful congresspeople and booby-traps written into agreements just so that people will do their damn jobs.

In other words, everyone is conceding that we suck at democracy. Well, I guess it’s good that our elected leaders are finally finding some common ground. It just sucks that this common ground is “Democracy is too hard. We need to be told what to do.”

You know, folks are all the time saying how government should run more like a business. I assumed when people say that, they mean that, if someone is found to have lied about his qualifications and his ability to do his job, he’s either fired or allowed to resign quietly. I do not thing anyone means “We should let the nephew of the original owner flounder as the company president until he runs the company into the ground.”

And yet, here we are.

England, like many young people who can’t make it in these tough times, we may need to move back home for a while.

“Frank” is Sad

“Frank” is short and sad and sweet. It may be a little too Dollhouse in the ending, though. I might have to rework that some. We never do end up meeting the Doc, except once in a dream. But a draft is done.

I don’t know what I’ll do with it. Nothing until I do something about the man with a heart in a box.

I had considered maybe polishing “Frank” up and selling him on Kindle for 99 cents, but people have their whole novels up there for 99 cents. Can you really ask someone to buy a 4,300 word short story about a zombie for the same price as a whole book?

God damn it. Publishing these days is fucked up.

I’m just going to sit here floundering around in obscurity. If you need me, I’ll be growing old over by the desserts.

Hurray, Rain!

I’ve been cheering on Don all week, just because we here in the South, even up in Tennessee, depend a lot on tropical storms and hurricanes to keep us from despair in late summer. This, too, probably does something to develop the peculiar regional character–you realize you’re hoping for the kind of storm that kills people so that you can have a break from the heat.

Anyway, we have rain today. It’s not from Don, since Don turned out to be kind of a bust. But still, rain. I could have slept all morning, if not for the number of animals who wanted to let me know they were alarmed by the thunder and the lack of food in their bowls. Of course, when I got out into the kitchen, the cats HAD food in their bowl. Just not the right kind.

The morning storms seem just about done, which is too bad. We could use some more water. But maybe the afternoon showers will be good.

I Will Say This for the Butcher

When you tell him to get you a 9×12 pan because your old one is shot, dude does not fuck around. This pan could bake cakes and carry troops into battle. If I’m ever in a gunfight, I will strap it to my chest. I literally thought it was two pans, it’s so heavy. But no. It is just made of all of the metal in America, apparently.

Seriously, one more pound and that thing would collapse in on itself and develop an event horizon.

When I Feel Like I’m Winning, When I’m Losing Again

I thought we’d talked about “Sundown” but I’m not finding it in my archive searches, so now I’m suspecting that I just talked about it with Elias. But this song… it’s not my favorite song. It is the song that still, every time I hear it, makes my stomach drop, like someone dangerous has just walked into the room. If I listen to it once, I have to listen to it five times in a row. It just hits me in some way I can’t really explain. That line “got me feeling mean” just scares the shit out of me in a way that also delights me.

I have a hard time believing that other people aren’t similarly affected by this song. But just browsing popular music Ionly see this fairly famous cover by Elwood which, really, is good only for scaring you into thinking about 30 frat boys singing along to this song, like that kind of private passionate rageful fucked-up-ness can be a communal activity and for making you consider why U2 has never done a cover of “Sundown.” It’s just not a cover that gets at that feeling of stomach-dropping something-ness, you know?

But! Wu-Tang Clan.

This is a great example (I think. I’m no hip hop expert) of the aesthetic differences between a cover and a sample. There’s Elwood singing the exact song and it’s missing something fundamental to what gives the song such power. But Wu-Tang Clan is just taking recognizable notes (listen right there at :01 especially) to invoke a kind of feeling of menace. Now you might feel menaced not knowing that they’re sampling from “Sundown” just on general principal, but, if you do recognize it, then you are rewarded for bringing the weight of your feelings about that song into “M.E.T.H.O.D. Man.”

It’s kind of the thing that cracks me up about people accusing rap artists of ruining music, just making noise. The best ones listen deeply to a lot of genres and reward, through the thrill of recognition, listeners who also listen deeply. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is. That’s not ruining music, that’s keeping it vital.

Either a Front is Coming Through or My Head is Trying to Kill Me

Woke up with a headache. Not as bad as yesterday, but enough to get me down about the prospect of walking the dog. So, I went back to bed and got up only when the dog and I would normally be getting home.

I’ve had two scenes in my head for weeks–one is of a man racing up Front Street (now 1st Avenue) to show a box to Dr Macon. In that box is a heart and, for some reason, the sight of the heart causes Dr. Macon to grab his coat and rush off. No idea what, if anything, is going on there. Just letting it simmer.

The second one though, I worked on fleshing out a little last night. It’s about a guy named Frank who works for a doctor who has gone off the rails and conducts experiments on people. I’m not sure what kind. I wrote Frank up a backstory for the long scar he’s got running down his chest but I don’t think it’s quite right. I think Frank may be a zombie in the actual sense and the doctor may be like if Wade Davis had come back from Haiti with some wrong ideas. If that’s the case, then I’ll have to finesse the start of the story a little bit. But anyway, poor Frank, who doesn’t (perhaps can’t) talk much has a rich interior life for a guy trapped on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, his only job to keep the cute blonde also trapped on the ranch from leaving. That turns out to be easier than he could have imagined. Probably won’t end well for the doctor.

So, that’s fun. It’s kind of thematically similar to “The Witch’s Friend” so maybe I’ll save it for October, too. Maybe not. Who knows? The publishing world is crumbling. I may be left with standing near a bonfire in my back yard reading this stuff to the Butcher’s friends.

But it’s kind of fun to write from a man’s perspective. I have to admit, though, I kind of want every other scene to be him touching his penis or peeing or sticking his penis various places. Maybe actually having a penis isn’t that big a deal, but I have to tell you, it was all I could do to keep from calling up a couple of guy friends and being all “Okay, when guys say they feel ‘hard,’ that’s obviously a physical sensation. But is it also a metaphor? Is it just that your penis feels hard to you? How deep is the hard feeling? Like are you hard from taint to tip or from deep in your belly or what?”

But I did not. Because I chickened out a little bit. But I feel like I can get my head around what it’s like psychologically to be a dude. I still have no idea, none at all, what it must feel like to be a male body.

And I’m not sure it’s something, even if you told me, I could exactly imagine.

Which probably makes “Frank” objectively a shitty story, but man, I’m having fun writing it.

That Might Have Been Too Many Pills

By the end of my afternoon, I had a migraine like a full-grown wild turkey sitting on my forehead shitting wild turkey poop right into my eye sockets. Even to drive home, I had to have sunglasses on, visor down, and I found myself putting my hand up a couple of times to block the evil sun. Then I had to sit in the garage and decide if I was going to just vomit down myself or if I could get in the house and… I don’t know. I guess vomit on myself in the house instead of in the car. It’s hard to formulate a plan with an angry, light sensitive turkey sitting on your forehead, angrily shitting in your eye sockets.

But I got in the house and I scarfed down some ibuprofen. I think. Something. How much? I couldn’t actually focus my eyes to see. I don’t remember the last time I’ve ever had a headache… No, I do remember, but it’s been some time.

So, I have to tell you, I had no hope that the pills would actually budge it.

But here I am. And I can tell you that the migraine is still, in some form, going on. Occasionally, I can feel tiny, muted flashes of pain. But I am in a happy, kind of clumsy place above the pain. I feel good. It’s like I can actually enjoy the slightly stoned feeling that comes with a migraine.

I should have waited until just now to send all the emails I sent between the time I got home and just this second. Well, oops.

I plan on spending the next little bit writing a poem about my love of the Captain Morgan commercials.

Ode to the Person in Charge of the Sexy Captain Morgan Campaign

Some people may complain that your commercials are innacurate

and that a general knowledge of history doesn’t even factor in.

But I ask, who can concentrate on facts when the Captain is capturing

The hearts and loins of… something that also sounds kind of like inaccurate… the slightly less-than immaculate? People hiding in a packing crate? Bill and Melinda Gates?

I don’t know, people, I’m barely coherent even to myself.


I have some copies around the house. I got a bunch for the JCC thing and sold a bunch, but still have a bunch in my dining room. Here we are two months out from October and I’m wondering  if I should give it another bout of publicity and, if so, what kind. Ha, this is kind of why I want to stomp on the toes of people who think self-publishing is so easy. It’s so easy if you have a lot of money and the ability to just promote the shit out of yourself without ceasing.

So, I don’t know. I’m thinking about it.

Thinking about FLOCK, too. Wondering if I have any idea what the right way forward on that is. No news of any sort to report. It’s a lot of waiting.

People who love books really love books, you know? I thought this at the Barnes & Noble last night, just seeing how packed that place was. But how do you get them to love your book? I’m not sure, still.

I Don’t Think This is a Translation Error

I honestly cannot believe this story. I want to have cogent things to say about it, but I don’t. Some of the commenters over at Jezebel are saying that this sounds like a translation problem. But that’s not what it sounds like at all to me. It sounds like a deliberate misconstruing. To get from this:

The source claimed that prosecutors no longer considered Nafissatou Diallo a credible witness because, among other concerns, she said in a phone call to an incarcerated friend, “Don’t worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I’m doing.”

to this:

Thompson says the recordings prove that in the first conversation, Diallo describes the attack and makes no mention of Strauss-Kahn’s wealth. In the second conversation she does mention that he’s “powerful and rich,” but only to convey that her attacker is influential. She says, “I know what to do” much earlier in the discussion, meaning that she’d gone to the authorities and hired a lawyer. [emphasis mine]

Isn’t just a matter of mistranslating. You’re putting words and phrases together out of order and out of sequence. It’s like looking at this post and saying I said this story was just a matter of mistranslating what the commenters over at Jezebel are saying. Yes, that uses many of the words I’ve used. But it picks and chooses them without regard for my clear meaning.

This is (hopefully) a pretty unique case in some regards. So, I understand the police and prosecutors being very cautious. But there’s “very cautious’ and then there’s “we lie about you in order to excuse our deciding to tank the case.”

Waiting for a Train

Actually, I’m waiting on the Butcher, but I’ve been in a “sing songs to myself” kind of mood today. If he gets off work in time, he’s going to drive me down to Cool Springs. Which is good. I don’t want to suffer from any Williamson County cooties.

My car claimed it was 107 when I got in it and 112 over by TSU. I don’t think it’s quite that hot out, but it’s hard to tell. At least it’s not the buttcrack of humidity it has been.

Help Me Understand This

Is anyone leading the Republican party in Congress at the moment? I mean, I know Boehner is the Speaker, which is supposed to be pretty powerful. And Cantor keeps saying stuff like he’s got some pull.

But I honestly have never seen anything like this. Boehner can’t put forth a proposal his own side will accept. If that’s the case, then who instead should Democrats be negotiating with? How can you have negotiations if one person negotiating doesn’t actually have the authority (in real life, even if he has it on paper) to speak for his own side and make promises on their behalf?

This is actually the part that scares the shit out of me. On the one hand, Republicans are very popular–hence them getting into office. But on the other hand, they seem to be very publicly imploding. I mean, if Democrats and Republicans can’t make a deal, that could get very ugly for us very quickly.

But if Republicans, internally, can’t make deals, that already is ugly. I’m obviously no fan of Republicans, but as disfunctional as our democracy can be, it’s got nothing on a huge minority in the House deciding they’re not going to participate in democracy.

A depression would be terrible. Losing democracy is worse.

Captain Morgan Seduces Everyone WITH HIS EYES!!!!

People, what the fuck is this?! WHAT. THE. FUCK. IS. THIS?!

Everything about this is just as white-washed as fuck. I guess as Jack-White-washed as fuck. White guy playing the blues. White “servant” in Santo Domingo in the 1600s?! I should hate this. I should be laughing about how ridiculously stupid it is.

But I swear to god, I cannot peel my eyes off of Captain Morgan. If I could give people looks like that, I’d be eying people like that left and right, fucking my way across this great nation. Republicans would have to make a law against me. If someone gave me that look, I would fall down, on the floor, right there. All you’d hear is me very quietly saying–from the floor–“oh, oh my.”

And, obviously, an orgy is about to break out. And I want to say something like “Oh, thanks for throwing all those dishes on the floor before the start of the orgy. Smooth.” but I’m distracted. How does a dude even learn to make a look like that? When they were casting for that part, did they ask actors to show their ability to sell macho bisexuality?  Are they making these ads specifically for me? I mean, it is as if the people who make these commercials looked right into my heart (or possibly my cooter) to see what I’ll find irresistible.

Oh, oh my.

What day is it? What time?

Lord, people, I wish I could tell you about my ridiculous day. But alas, it’s all work related, so I can’t.

On the other hand, I’m going to be at the Cool Springs Barnes & Noble tomorrow night at 7 talking about publishing. It’s not quite clear what about publishing, but I plan to hit them with a number of things. I don’t know if it’s open to the public, but, if you show up, I’ll just say you’re my groupies.

Tied Shoelaces and Dead Relatives

I’ve been waiting for the funk to lift for basically ever, it seems like. But it’s funny how the little things do it. Not having to tie my shoelaces twice on a walk seems to have opened up just a tiny crack for a bit of non-funkiness to creep in.

I had a nice meet-up with Luke and Patience last night. I feel like I might have run into Patience before. But this was certainly the first time I’d run into Luke. He was surly and didn’t want to meet my gaze.

On my walk this morning, since I wasn’t having to contemplate shoe-laces, I was trying to figure out how to describe running into dead folks. And I think this is kind of what it’s like. Imagine you go to play dress-up at someone else’s house. They don’t know you, but they know a relative of yours. You, without talking, have to get them to dress you how you dressed twenty years ago. Yes, but in their clothes.

That, for me, is what it’s like to run into dead folks I don’t know. I can tell you that, when I have run into Patience, she has long straight black hair that she wears down and she wears a brown dress. Was that what she looked like in real life? I don’t know. Probably not. But that’s the costume and wig and face I have for her that gives her the closest semblance of “what she was like”. I imagine some people have bigger wardrobes, you know? They can come closer.

Anyway, the general gist was that going to the grave was important. She had already figured who I was and that I was seriously curious about them. He was a typical Phillips. Seemed to be pissed off to be bothered, but pissed off it’d taken so long to be bothered. There they were, after all. He looked just like my brother, when he finally showed me his face, though it was clear that’s not what he looked like, just something he wanted me to understand about him. But going to the grave opened a connection that hadn’t been opened.

She said it was important that his name was “Luke Peter”.

And that’s all they said. I showed them pictures of the grave and tried to give them things. They didn’t know what to do with them.

But it was nice. I’ve felt so cut off from that that it was nice to get back there, you know?

I’ve Been on the Floor, Looking for a Chair

I was trying to find a good Youtube version of Joan Osborne’s “Dracula Moon,” but there isn’t one. I did spend some time being reminded just how good Relish is except for that one song, which will remain unnamed.

There are these moments in pop culture when you hear someone–like Joan Osborne, say–and you think “Oh, hey! This is going to be the segue to some damn interesting stuff by artists who take their inspiration from her.” But then it rarely is.

I still like her, though.

I think it was Elias to whom I said that listening to Relish reminds me of hot Southern summer nights, when you have the windows open, praying for a breeze, and you can hear your neighbors in their houses, their windows also open, everyone overhearing the intimate ways people deal (or don’t) with the heat.

Fine, Something is Wrong with Me

I now hate the whole “You can do what ever you want so long as you put your mind to it” bullshit thingy. Saying. Aphorism. Whatever. Today, an awesome opportunity sat in my lap and whispered naughty, naughty things in my ear about the places that opportunity would take me, the things we might do together.

And I had to turn it down because I just don’t think I can’t have a schedule. I have to know that I can eat at these specific times. I have to take my medicine at this time and then give myself a little bit to get woozy or whatever.

And that really sucks. It makes me feel old. It makes me feel like I’m always going to be trapped at a desk, that I can never, even for a second, be without health insurance. I don’t even know if I would have liked this opportunity, just on its face. But I couldn’t even evaluate it on its face. I had to think “Can I even do this?” And my honest answer was “No. Probably not.”

I feel weird about that.

In other news, I’ve gotten two phone calls today, one on my cell from a number I didn’t recognize, the man saying “Hello? Betsy….?” and I said “Hello?” and then he said “Hello?” and we got cut off. And then, just now, when I got back from lunch, there was a message on my work phone from a woman who said “Hello, Betsy? Hello…?” and I could hear people in the background. It sounded like they were having a great time. And then she hung up.

Somehow, it feels like a metaphor.

It Worked!

Indifferent children’s knot is glorious! My laces stayed tied the whole time. I haven’t tried to untie them yet, but, for now, I am reveling in the joy of a walk unencumbered by shoe-tying every thirty steps.

It’s amazing how that put a spring in my step throughout my walk.

You never know what’s going to lift you out of a funk, but if a few days of tied shoes do it, I’ll take it.

True Blood, Through Fingers

Oh, lord, I had to watch about half of this episode through my fingers. I’m glad to get rid of Sam and Tommy’s parents, but I have concerns about the viability of a non-murderous skin-walking Tommy. I fear for Sam. What if Tommy offs him and then poses as Sam, thus letting them keep both actors?! That would be terrible.

I found Lafayette’s boyfriend’s grandpa strangely hot.

I’m finding Erik less and less hot, but I have to say, from what we know about Sookie, it makes sense that she would, even at this late stage, want a high school boyfriend. And here he is.

I was glad to hear from Gran.

And I was glad Tara finally got pissed at Sookie. That seems like a long time coming.

I didn’t like the bit with Tara’s mom, but I’m glad it felt kind of meta, like red-headed-chick’s presumed racist comment was also a comment on the weird behavior the actors were having to do, as if all religious black people just break out in song whenever needed.

Nashville in the 1850s

I was driving around trying to get an idea of what Nashville in Jack Macon’s time would have been like. In 1850, there were about 11,000 people living in Nashville. But more importantly, almost all of the “old” buildings downtown wouldn’t have existed yet. If you check out this picture, c. 1859, from the TSLA, you can see what I mean.

Roughly by where the Hard Rock is now, there’s a couple of four-story buildings, but there’s a lot of one and two-story buildings in there, too.

I don’t now if there’s anything much left from Dr. Jack’s era. But I went driving through Goodlettsville and Whites Creek, looking at their one and two-story buildings, trying to use those as a guide.

Anyway, I find lots of stuff calling Macon one of our most famous black residents, but, you know, not a whole lot about him. Nothing more than what I already know.

The Smell, an Update

Man, this has been some riveting blogging! So, I only had a tiny bit of bleach left, but I used that on the part of the drawer that appeared to be bloodstained with potato juice. Then I rinsed and soaked the whole thing with vinegar and then let that evaporate, which took a couple of hours. Then I shut the drawer with an open thing of baking… um stuff… whichever comes in the box. Powder? Soda? Who knows? And one contains the other, right? So, some of that stuff and some coffee grounds to add a different smell.

And, so far? Well, it could still smell in here, but I can’t smell it, which I deem a success.

I read this article yesterday, which I cannot find now, about how scientists were looking to verify some claims about the benefits of a low-salt diet and, basically, they couldn’t find anyone in America who eats just a low-salt diet. Like, you might be consuming less salt than the average person because you’re a raw vegan who makes all your own food, but then they couldn’t separate out your health benefits from being all raw v. being low salt.

Even people who think they’re on low-salt diets tend to unwittingly be consuming a metric fuck-ton of salt, because it”s in so much food without you realizing it. (So, even the “non-raw” vegans can end up with unwitting salt if they’re eating processed foods, for instance.) Even “low-salt” foods tend just to have less salt than the regular version, not necessarily much less.

So… yeah. I don’t have any salt issues (knock on wood), but all these cultural narratives about how people with health issues just aren’t trying hard enough sometimes need to be pushed back against. You can be doing everything you know how to do–eating low-salt, changing your diet all up, and still the cultural forces you’re caught up in are hard to even know, let alone adjust for.

And then, as my last quasi-food related thing, I read a review of a book last week. The book is a collection of personal accounts of people with a certain, ever-more-common disease and it’s winning a lot of critical acclaim. The collectors of the stories are a doctor specializing in this field and two nurses who also specialize in this field. The reviewer has this disease.

The reviewer really, really liked the book. The reviewer said that the online support community for this disease tends to have a certain tone, which is great if you need it, but if you aren’t quite there yet, this book is a great way to hear a lot of stories and to see that people who have this disease have a lot of different experiences and struggles with it.

But then the reviewer said something, and I’m paraphrasing a little, which has stuck with me. The reviewer notes that all of the stories are clearly told by the collectors and not from the perspective and voice of the people whose stories are being collected. And the reviewer says something like “It’s like the doctor still wants to be the one in charge of saying what the stories mean.”

I wish I could quote it directly, but man, that stuck with me. Ha, well, obviously, since I can’t bring up specifics and yet I still want to talk about it. I don’t think that’s just a doctoring tendency–to think that you, even as someone who works closely with folks and who has a lot of knowledge of what they’re going through, knows enough about it that hearing your voice, instead of theirs is not just acceptable, but necessary, even, in some way.

I tell you what. The longer I blog, the less I think any of us know shit.

The Rug was Framed!

The rug, it turns out, was a patsy. Did the rug smell bad? Yes. Do I regret my $20 Wal-mart purchase of a new rug? No. But was it responsible for the seeping fetid smell throughout the house?

Turns out, no.

That was the ten pounds of rotted tomatoes potatoes hidden in the back of a cabinet.

I have the cabinet open, trying to air it out and… people I don’t know. I’m going to have to place an emergency call to Home Ec 101.

It smells so bad.

Bleh, Foul Mood

My mood has lifted somewhat. I felt like the Butcher was ditching me, but, after talking to him on the phone,  I realize he’s ditching our company. When Dad called to talk to the Butcher and discovered he wasn’t here, I could hear in his voice that he didn’t quite buy that the Butcher had to make an emergency trip to Lexington. So, this should be interesting.

This is the second time the Butcher has ditched out on this particular guest, so I’m starting to wonder if something went down between them I’ve been left out of.


And they say boys are easier than girls.

I ended up getting my nephew some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. He can arrange them into the shape of his name, if he wants.

I’m pretty pleased with “The Witch’s Friend” and feel like it’s just about done. I hope you guys like it.

I got my new voter’s registration card in the mail today and I now have to vote down on King’s Lane instead of around over back at the school. Yes, I said around over back, and some of you knew right where I meant, so… who’s the fool here? I guess because some district of mine has changed, but Lonnell Matthews (son of Lonnell Matthews, brother of Lonnell Matthers, deceased) is still my council member, Thelma Harper is still my state senator, Gary Moore’s still my other state dude and Jim Cooper’s my national pretend-Democrat.

So, I don’t know what’s changed. But hopefully there’s better parking at the church than there was at the school. Unless I go vote at the library ahead of time. Then I don’t particularly care.