Monthly Archives: July 2010

A new filk: Somewhere

Lyrics by John Newmark and Jenifer Wallace ©2010
Sung to the tune of Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Judy Garland)

Somewhere inside a dungeon
Way down low
There’s a guy locked in shackles
Watchin’ the green moss grow

Somewhere inside a dungeon
welts are blue
and the pain that I feel today
it was meant for you.

You may be happy where you live
And have forgotten what you did
Remind me
Why I must suffer for your crime
Away below the earth in lime
That’s where you’ll find me.

Somewhere inside a graveyard
sleeps your wife
you got away with murder
I’m the one servin’ life.

The dungeon master now returns
inside my dungeon

Somewhere inside a dungeon
Way down low.
There’s a guy locked in shackles
Watchin’ the green moss grow

What does it mean?

I’m not sure what it means.

‘J’ says, “I love you,” and my knee jerk response is, “ditto.”
If she asks a request from me – “as you wish.”

Luckily, we share common cultural knowledge, and she is familiar with the sources for my material. Otherwise, she might misinterpret those lines, just as the characters portrayed by Demi Moore and Robin Wright did in their respective movies, at first. However, we are both writers of poetry and fiction, with a desire for publication — you’d think I could come up with some original responses.

I think she might say there’s nothing wrong with sprinkling some lines form the classics on top of the original material. I agree.

However, I have a few friends who have what I will call a “movie quote fetish.” I’ve never seen myself as a victim of this disorder. I’ve also seen myself recently falling prey to a related disorder my father has been known to exhibit, which I will call the “song fetish.” Something I see or hear will inspire me to sing a lyric from a song. And, I’m not sure, but it seems I do this more often when she is around.

Hopefully, I don’t mondegreen the lyrics, unless that is my intent. (I am a fan of song parodies, so sometimes it is my intent.).

Fourteen Year Old Poem

July 22, 1996: I Shake Buzz Aldrin’s Hand

I shook hands today with someone
Whose feet touched the moon
Six months after
My feet touched the earth.

Few have been to the Moon and back
Since then:
Via rocket ship.

I have been to the Moon though
And further. All over the known
And unknown universe —
Via the written word.
The written word has taken me places
No Earthman has set foot.
Not even Buzz Aldrin.

Today I tell you
I shook hands with one
Whose feet touched the Moon.
My feet were inches from those feet.

Actually, those feet never did touch the Moon.
A spacesuit prevented that.
My feet though
Have felt Moon rock below them.

My ears have heard alien poetry.
My tongue has tasted the rain on distant planets.
My nose has smelled the lairs of monsters.
My eyes have seen the glory
Of the coming of the end
Of many novels.

And it was fun to shake Buzz Aldrin’s hand;
Nice to get his autograph.
But tomorrow I will go on living
As I lived before.

The National League Won the All Star Game…how did it happen?

I’ve blogged before that the National League started losing in 1996 — when I joined a weekly writer’s group that met on Tuesday nights. That is…in every year I failed to watch the All-Star game, the National League lost.

So what happened this year?

The writer’s group moved their meetings to Monday in February.

I should have seen this coming.

(Jedi Hand Wave: My plane brought me back home tonight from vacation in ample time for me to watch the game. The mere possibility I may have found something to do other than watch the game shouldn’t be considered.)

Where Were You?

Above we have the video of one of the stranger questions/answers from the hearings concerning Supreme Court Justice nominee Elena Kagan.

The Question

Senator Lindsay Graham (R), US Senator from South Carolina since 2002, and a member of the Corinth Baptist Church. according to the bio on his Senate website, asked Elena Kagan, Supreme Court Nominee, where she was on Christmas Day 2009. (When the Christmas Bomber struck.)

No, I don’t believe he was asking for an alibi. Though his motivations are suspect. It’s hard to come up with a logical rationale to ask that question of a nominee. Possibilities.

1) Reminding everyone that she is Jewish.

Sen. Graham isn’t going to outright say “Hey everyone, she’s Jewish, don’t vote for her because of that.” He’s not stupid. However, there has been some commentary that with her selection, there would no longer be a White Anglo Saxon Protestant male on the court. Of course, due to her being chosen by a Democratic president, it is the Republicans who are coming up with reasons not to select her, and that puts them in an interesting position if they argue this is a problem. The conservative position is generally speaking that quotas are bad. That selecting someone just because they are this or that in order to create a ‘diverse’ atmosphere is equivalent to discrimination.

They were horrified at the suggestion that Sonia Sotomayor’s different perspective, because she was Hispanic, would be beneficial to the court. So it’s hard for them to argue that a Protestant Perspective is necessary. Are they really going to argue that we need a justice who can show empathy for the Protestant world view?

From the other side — I don’t believe I’m being hypocritical. I do believe diversity is helpful, but I don’t think religious diversity is necessary. Or at least, not the religious diversity under discussion. The differences between Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish faiths — when looking at world perspective – are likely minor when compared to differences based on gender and ethnicity. However, if there were an alternative, equally qualified, who was an adherent to Hinduism, Buddhism, or a Native American faith, I would encourage their selection. They would, of course, need to be qualified for the position. But all other things being equal, a different perspective of that nature may well be beneficial to the Court.

2) A suggestion that she is Less American because she doesn’t observe Christmas

If he had asked her where she was on July 4, 2009, the implication wouldn’t be considered veiled. It would be construed as a direct accusation of lack of patriotism unless she was able to say she was celebrating Independence Day in some fashion.

Since he was tying the question in with the “Christmas Bomber” – did he intend to suggest she was less patriotic – perhaps even treasonous – because she didn’t observe Christmas?

3) An attempt to get Kagan to respond in an emotional manner. (see below.)

The Answer

Elena Kagan responded with an old quip that like most Jews, she was at a Chinese restaurant. The Jewish attraction to Chinese food is an oft-told Jewish joke that I think has its origins in New York City and its heavy immigrant populations. I do enjoy Asian food, though I prefer the spicier Thai dishes than the generally milder Chinese ones. For similar reasons I like Mexican and Indian foods. Some like it hotter than hot.

This led to some commentary that in case she didn’t get selected, she had a career on the Borscht Belt. As the Wikipedia article states, the Borscht Belt doesn’t really exist anymore. It’s about as old and as outdated as her joke.

But the comparison that came to my mind is the old mentality that the best response to racism in the workplace, for an African American, is to laugh, tell a joke, and dance a jig. Getting angry, and calling the person a bigot, doesn’t get you anywhere. Whether or not they are a bigot is irrelevant. Like when you’re in the presence of a wild animal, it’s best not to show fear, it’s best not to show anger.

And from that perspective, Elena Kagan responded to the situation perfectly.

I’m realizing something

I don’t agree with Miss Manners on not talking about politics and religion. Never have, and I don’t expect for it to ever change.

However, the 140 characters of Twitter, and the slightly larger but still restrictive length of FaceBook status updates, are basically good for quips, jokes, and sarcasm. I can be good at that at times. When my audience knows exactly what I am talking about. But when the audience is broader, quips jokes and sarcasm quickly lead into the area Miss Manners was trying to get people to avoid.

People have speculated that FaceBook and Twitter are killing blogging. And all the bloggers who mostly shared video clips with short commentary, cute things their kids said, or their latest photograph, are migrating to FB and Twitter.

But some topics of conversation demand a longer form. And will continue to demand a longer form. And I think I will write the longer form here, and provide links to it on Twitter and FB.

Something might as well get posted here. I know this blog gets lonely from lack of attention at times.