We’re going to the chapel and we’re going to get married

Except, there is no chapel–this is modern day.

We’re actually getting married in a bomb ass art gallery, so take that, religion!

I’m going to marry one Keith Bohnen and soon my last name will translate as “beans” in German. I don’t think my maiden name has any direct translation, aside from the fact that it has ties to Jewish heritage (I’m pretty sure my great grandpa Snyder was a Jewish refugee who wiled his way into the ranks of the US Army).

This is the main thing on my brain, lately. Not because I regret anything. I do have regrets in life (like, not rescuing my dad’s Heat jacket–which was originally his dad’s–from this storage facility when I intuited that it would be lost forever along with all of my other belongings, at 14) but I really want this.

We’ve only known each other a year and it seems that we’ve been connected for all eternity, somehow. And maybe this is a whimsical 14-year-old dream of mine, but I’m living it, so there’s that.

You can’t deny your fate, especially when it’s slapping you in the face.

I told my friend Rachel the other day that I had found a glowing crystal in the dust and decided it was mine, so I picked it up and put it in my pocket. That’s Keith. He is that crystal. And I’ve dusted him off, put him on a shelf, to remind me every day that there is beauty in this world. And he’s stayed with me. We’ve learned so much about each other, the thought of separation seems impossible.

Where have you been my whole life, dear? Up here, shivering in the cold, while I melted away part of my soul down south, ripening for a taste of you.

It’s really all I can think about. Collision is imminent. And my mom couldn’t be happier. That’s a plus. I’ve lost a cousin due to my insatiable love, but you really can’t help the feelings of others.

You have to look out for number one, right? Number two and number one.

So, here we go. Sept. 24 is the date. And while people are dying, others are having babies, some are creating art by pricking their thumbs and smearing their life’s blood all over the walls, and I’m getting married. It’s a big step. And I feel I’m a little late to the game, but there is no other way. This is the path I’ve chosen. Keith is the one.

 

And here are a couple of photos of our rings, carved from Alan Lightman’s “Einstein’s Dreams”, courtesy of the artist himself, Jeremy May of Little Fly

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Ever been to a trucking show?

The Great American Trucking Show is all bright lights and goosebumps in the beginning. When you first walk through the glimmering hallways of the Kay Bailey Convention Center, you notice the Dallas skyline through the floor-to-ceiling windows to your right, and on the left, photos of past plays hang on the wall, highlighting the history of the building.

Then, there’s the escalators–which I totally forgot I was afraid of, seeing as how I don’t encounter them too much on my way to and from the Bloomington office. Nelson helped. He offered to stand a step below me on the way down, just in case I fell face first onto the scary-looking steel traps which would invariably diverge and lash out to grab hold of my shoelaces, rendering me pulverized meat in a slow agonizing death.

However, I have survived the escalators and I am A-OK, in case you were wondering.

Aside from the sweetly warm heat of downtown Dallas, I’d expect the slightly stormy weather near the closing of the show to envelop me in a sticky embrace, much like I’m used to in Florida, but, the environment is quite arid, to my liking, and once you roll down your shirt sleeves, you can find yourself quite comfortable in the frigid indoor area of the trade show itself.

The people are nice, here in Texas. Nicer than I thought. Most people go out of their way to offer up a nod and smile at any passersby, and when they decide to stop by your booth, they take their time looking through the marketing department’s carefully designed literature before scrunching up their eyebrows, hitching their glasses back in place on the bridge of their noses, and asking you questions.

I found that letting them ask the questions, instead of launching into a spiel right away helps. In one case, a lady with two guys in tow, asked, “Howdy. What’s your spiel?” Since I overheard her talking to her compadres about getting wifi for their truck, I simply said, “Oh, we don’t have wifi. This is satellite TV.” And she raised her arms, “See?” She had won the battle that day, preventing further confusion among her friends. I let her walk away.

But! A huge percentage of the people we talked to seemed generally interested in the product, and we even managed to sell a dozen or so, so the trip was well worth it, in my humble opinion.

I also had a chance to walk around the quaint little tourist town of Grapevine, TX one night after the show. I took a ton of photos of strange cactus (I was informed that the word’s both singular AND plural, there) and if you look carefully in one of the photos, you can see a mannequin of a man standing guard way high up in one of the bell towers, next to that Cotton Patch cafe with the unicorn mascot pointing the way toward justice for all foods fit for southern stomachs.

Long story, short. GATS was great. I met a TON of cool people and I learned a lot from Nelson, not only about Dealey Plaza, Lee Harvey Oswald, the World Trade Center, and various architectural marvels employing sound engineering in the form of bridge construction, but I learned about the relationship dealers have with customers and customers have with sales people, face-to-face. I also learned that there’s a difference between local truckers and long-haul truckers. HUGE difference—as far as selling our product goes. Oh, and it’s quite possible the first long-haul truck was made in 1939. Go figure!

The Great American Trucking Show was an eye-opener, to say the least, and I’m glad I had the chance to participate. Now, let’s see what happens at MATS next year, in March.

 

To be published in next month’s staff newsletter for KING… 

The boss fight that is Guidance, by Russian Circles

a0095785674_10Russian Circles’ recent release, Guidance, proves that instrumental rock is not dead. With their grinding effects, these guys have created art on wheels, hurling listeners into a dreamlike trance where ghosts and goblins lunge for your throat, and Guidance is the soundtrack to get you through the battle.

I first got sucked into Russian Circles with their album, Empros, when I was on a Red Sparowes, pg.lost kind of kick a few years back.

Up until recently, taking the song names to heart, I thought these guys were actually Russian, but they’re from Chicago, Illinois.

For a three-man band, they get creative with a crapload of pedals to construct an orchestral sound that comes at you from all sides. Each song leads you on a journey of the mind, where stories play out behind chord changes and varying rhythms, dragging your mood either into the gutter or lifting you up to fight the next boss.

It starts out, inobsequious, just slow-jamming, tending toward lighthearted melodies as they’re looking forward to new beginnings, then the static of an untapped FM-radio station starts coming through near the end of the first song, Asa, blighting the sound, and the drums slowly pick up to carry you on to the next leg of the adventure.

Vorel would be the perfect song for fending off demons in Gods Eater or Monster Hunter. It’s almost too much to take in, all the sounds colliding. Then it gets dark and grindy, while maintaining the constant hum of Brian Cook’s up/down strokes, and Dave Turncratz goes wild on the drums, manic, yet somehow still maintaining the pace of the song.

All the tracks on Guidance run seamless into each other, as if they weren’t individual songs, but one 41-minute long story.

Mota‘s a little more hopeful sounding, then it changes, and you’re thinking, “What’s gonna happen?” Then Cook comes in with a single powerful note, left hanging in the air. It’s a predictable turn of events, satisfying the need to take a long drought of water on an arduous hike through the woods, and Mike Sullivan backs up the track taking his time, drawing out long bass notes, while Turncratz is just hacking away. Sullivan’s fingers are running like a spider along the fret board.

With some consistent crashing toms to bring us back from a slight pause, you’re not ready for the end. Russian Circles doesn’t give you a break, as individual notes rush into quick strumming and the next song takes shape.

Afrika has this weird didjiredoo-type sound, Cook’s doing, as he fills the room with bass. With their scientific looping thought experiments, it almost sounds like there’s a xylephone coming through one of the lower layers, or someone’s running their hands along telephone keys. Is there an army of flying monkeys banging around on trash cans in the street? Nope. It’s just Sullivan, messing with effects, giving the impression that 10 guys are all playing guitar simultaneously.

There’s no real structure to the songs. They pluck when they feel like it, roll into drums when it seems appropriate, and let the notes hang when the moment’s right.

Taming things over a bit, with Overboard, the sequence ramps back up with Calla, with super dark, grungy riffs. The image of a burly hulk creature materializes into view, Frankenstein’s take on Highlander, climbing sharp rocks cliff side during a storm. He’s seeking vengeance. His name is Calla and he’s here to kick your ass.

The track gets nasty around the 32:00 mark and Turncratz does not relent and Cook starts djenting. Then the song sizzles out, electricity crackling on the surface of the ocean at night. The giant reaches his hard-earned ascent.

Lisboa proves a quaint little ending to the album, slowly reminding us that it’s all over. The song says, “Go home, sucker,” thus leading you to play the entire thing again, while your eyes glaze over, mesmerized by the guitar’s delay, the crashing cymbals, and the beast roar of a blaze that is the bass.

How fast is Cook’s wrist, anyway? As a child unfamiliar with the mechanics of musical metaphysics, you’d never guess that this guy is likely drenched in sweat while he’s working through a nasty breakdown, cutting off the audience from what might have been another 40-minute voodoo ritual.

On the whole, listening to Guidance is twice as satisfying as devouring loads of heavy comfort food during one of those long-awaited holidays.

And now I’m sucked back into the tar pit of instrumental metal, thanks to Russian Circles. Their sixth studio album will have you gripping the edge of your seat, trying to stave off visions of dark beings with an insatiable thirst for blood.

I’ll listen to this album on repeat until pg.lost releases Versus on Sept. 16.

 

Featured fractal by Deviant Artist, zy0rg

E.L. Doctorow is too addicting to put down

During Camp NaNoWriMo, last month, I read five books, and started a sixth. Three out of six of these books were written by the same author: E.L. Doctorow.

There’s something about the pacing of his writing that keeps you enthralled. We either see events steamrolling out of control or he’ll pluck his way gingerly through the morass of details, holding fast to your feet as you wade into the mire with him.

My favorite of his, so far, would have to be Homer & Langley, based on the true story of two hermits who hid themselves away in their home in Harlem.

The entire novel is like a poem about two brothers (Homer and Langley Collyer), myths themselves, who have been strung up among the stars, a constellation at last.

Did these two fellows really befriend a mob boss, by the name of Vincent, in a strip club, who promptly forgot who they were when he was in dire need of a place to heal after a gun fight? And how could two millionaires possibly waste away in a house with tiny ivory figurines, a rotting Model T, and thousands of editions of the daily newspaper piled high to the ceiling?

Unlike most of the books you’re likely to read, all of these strange things you interpret through the ears of a blind man.

“I had my own medical theories, perhaps this was a disposition given to the progeny of a doctor, but I believed my eyes and ears were in some intimate nervous association, they were analogous parts of a sensory system in which everything connected with everything else, and so I knew what had been the fate of my vision would be the same for my hearing.”

The rhythm of his words is like music for the eyes. I’m not sure whether he labored over their order within a sentence, but it feels more like they just rolled off his tongue, as if Doctorow was actually Homer typing out his autobiography, while Langley pushed his fingers down on the keys. While he’s speaking, the musician in him comes out in full force, the meter indicative of someone singing in time to the synapses firing in his head.

I’m not sure if anything really happens throughout E.L. Doctorow’s Homer & Langley, like a few of Henry Miller’s more meandering works, but there is a prevailing theme of time and its degrading effect on the human form, dragging with it strong sentiments you hold onto like the grudge of a lost love or the sight of a maid cleaning a chandelier years ago, the memory of which has just begun to materialize, in present day, as the entire crystal assemblage comes crashing to the ground; the result of steady burrowings of unidentified vermin.

Ragtime was the first E.L. Doctorow book I was introduced to. It’s dangerous, living with a fellow bibliophile, there’s never a shortage of material immediately at hand for one to gorge upon…

I must say, I really enjoyed Ragtime; it quite reminded me of Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits, the latter I have not finished, but I promise to get back to some day. Too sensitive for my own good, I’ll set aside a novel if it affects me in such a way that I become traumatized by developments I might not have been able to predict. In this way, I paused many a time, reading Henry Miller’s works, too, but The Colossus of Maroussi had me hooked straight through. I can’t quite put my finger on a reason as to why I might have suddenly stopped short while reading The Tropic of Capricorn. That man has a tendency to leave the mind unhinged, verging on alternate realities.

Now, reading The March, it’s as if Doctorow was there during the Civil War. The ever diligent historical aficionado, it’s as if his home was ransacked and he and his fellow slaves ambivalently joined the militia, coming out of a few skirmishes unscathed, to put on the uniforms of enemy soldiers on a whim, saying, “This is the life, my man!” as they pat each other on the back, while pulling dregs from a dead man’s bottle. Thus is the appeal of Doctorow’s all-encompassing world building.

But back to Homer & Langley and the sightlessness which lends much to imagination:

“There are moments when I cannot bear this unremitting consciousness. It knows only itself. The images of things are not the things in themselves. Awake, I am in a continuum with my dreams. I feel typewriters, my table, my chair to have that assurance of a solid world, where things take up space, where there is not the endless emptiness of insubstantial thought that leads to nowhere but itself.”

Not all books need to be tied up neatly with a bow. Some plotholes are meant to gouge like a knife hit to the side, leaving you somewhat empty by the end of the ride.

There is something almost warm and cozy about this one, in particular, that I think back fondly on. Somehow I felt the need to write about it before I could continue on with The March, it’s affected me so. And how could it not when the main characters’ morals are so thoroughly mapped out? You can relate to the idea of being hospitable to a few hippies for weeks at a time, who situated themselves into the Collyers’ home as if they were permanent fixtures on the walls themselves. Yet the brothers would push away any propagandizing fiends who tried to darken their doorstep, aside from the one journalist, Jacqueline, who we meet for a brief few moments, then never heard from again.

Either way, among the three Doctorow’s I’ve been priviledged enough to read, Homer & Langley has been my favorite so far. The story is so deeply rooted in philosophy, without a  hint of objectivity as to the main character’s plight while his senses slowly begin deteriorating.

You really don’t know what is real by the end of the book. Is that how it happened in real life? The two brothers didn’t see it coming, as the ceiling collapsed on top of them? Maybe they preferred it that way, blind to the world around them, yet analyzing everyone else with minute scrutiny.

 

Featured image via Dinah Williams Dark Alleys of American History

Hiatus is halfway done!

Hello, and welcome back! You might not have noticed, but I haven’t written for the blog in the last two weeks. Maybe this isn’t so preposterous, as during college or some of my lower points, I would go a couple of months without blogging, but the last two years I’ve been pretty adamant about posting at least once or twice a week, so somewhere in the back of my mind I get a little peeved about the fact that I haven’t been writing little news stories for you, for the last 15 days.

So! This is the halfway point during my speech where I inform you that I’ve made a proclamation to focus my attention on Camp NaNoWriMo, whereby my writing attentions are solely directed toward fiction. I made a Facebook post publicizing the fact, but just in case you’ve been refreshing this page every other day, looking for new content, and you’ve been sorely disappointed, now you know why!

There you have it. Congratulations to all participating in the month-long marathon that is NaNoWriMo. Starting Aug. 1, you can expect to see a flurry of new blog posts (I have, like, five potentials up my sleeve).

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