mowshmellow clouds...

First, my assistant introduced me to this video. He kept me laughing hysterically at work when he'd mimic it. Now I've got my man talkin' about "war clouds"...and my ribs hurt. Such happy times, people, happy times...

"I am off my meds and... *whew* ...you know, shit is crazy right now." Hehee.


O friend, my bosom said,
Through thee alone the sky is arched.
Through thee the rose is red;
All things through thee take nobler form,
And look beyond the earth,
The mill-round of our fate appears
A sun-path in thy worth.
Me too thy nobleness has taught
To master my despair;
The fountains of my hidden life
Are through thy friendship fair.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays: First Series, 1841


tempus fugit? hardly...

"We are healed from suffering only by experiencing it to the full." ~Marcel Proust Albertine Disparue

As the year draws to an end, I find myself thinking about the speed at which time passes. It seemingly fluctuates in relation to our desires: it vanishes when life is good and we wish to savor every moment; it lingers in times of adversity.

The truth is, time is constant. It is our human traits of hope and patience that fade, one sand grain at a time. The longer an adversity remains, more sands collect at the base. It is hard to embrace optimism when gravity is not an ally. Reality sucks when you watch the sands keep falling down.

What is most horrifying about these dire economic times is not simply the fiscal devastation affecting millions of hard-working Americans. The saddest fact is not the middle manager's diminished 401K. It is not the devalued portfolio of the seven-figure-earning CEO, nor the forfeited bonus of an auto executive. Those situations are financial inconveniences.

No, the travesty of a recessed/depressed economy is the emotional toll it exacts on everyday citizens. Every day, another grain of sand falls when an hourly blue-collar employee performs a job that doesn't pay well working for a boss who is a despicable ass. He knows he has to suck it up: he's afraid to lose the only job available in town. His frustrations mount as his hopes fade.

Or maybe a woman has been planning to leave an abusive spouse, but cannot afford to leave because her part-time job won't pay her bills if she lives alone. With each verbal and physical blow a few more grains of sand trickle downward. She hopes for a change in the future, but she's not sure she'll survive to escape the reality of the present.

Perhaps it's not as severe as that. Maybe the guy doesn't really love the girl, but he continues living with her because her income is too invaluable to lose. More grains of sand fall every day when they argue about petty domestic issues.
Their arrangement drains his resolve to make a better life for himself. He knows it's not the ideal situation, but he tells himself it's better than being alone.

Men and woman aren't the only victims of circumstance. What about the abandoned pets at the local animal shelter whose owners could no longer afford to keep them? It's bad enough to tell a child they must quit their after-school music or gymnastics lessons because it's too expensive. How many grains of sand fall when a parent tells their child that the beloved family dog "ran away" because they're too ashamed to tell little Johnny or Susie the truth? How many parents have secretly taken Buster to the pound because they had no money for pet food? How much does that lie diminish a family's hope for a better future when each day brings more pain?

Worse still, what about the soldier forced to reenlist for another tour of duty - risking his life on the front lines - because there are no jobs for him back home as a civilian?

How much longer can people like this endure the agony that is life today? How many people will commit a crime just so they can be sent to a prison where their basic needs of food and shelter will be met?

The sad thing is that all of these scenarios are plausible. These are all economic realities. In dire financial straits, the number of abuse cases skyrockets. Drunks beat their spouses, children and pets. People stay in jobs they hate, if they're lucky to have one at all. Health gets neglected. Houses and cars get repossessed. Quality of life takes a back seat to everyday survival. It's depressing as hell, and there is no easy solution.

But there's a silver lining in this. The endurance of something atrocious can be a motivator. It can reinforce resilience. It can fuel an otherwise hopeless soul's patience. We learn to be more frugal. We learn to help each other more. We learn to tolerate second choices until we can make it through to the other side. Surviving these harsh times is not unlike boot camp. It's hell, but it's temporary. It's a bitch to endure, but it toughens us and teaches us how to make do with what we've got. Luxuries and creature comforts are postponed but not forgotten. It is our desire to have our desires fulfilled that keeps us trudging on through the muck and mire. Hope of future pleasures makes present pains more tolerable.

I'm reminded of one of my favorite Shakespeare lines: "Though patience be a tired mare, yet will she plod." (Henry V, Act II, scene i)

No, I do not have the life I wanted. I am not living the life I imagined I would have at this point. Like so many people, I am not happy with my present circumstances. In fact, I am angry and bitter and disillusioned. But, like so many others in similar positions, I will trudge on. And when finally I come to know a better reality, I will appreciate it all the more for having endured this nightmare...this annus horribilis.


at least somebody feels joyous...

Bush used the word joyous? Seriously? Chalk up another brilliant analysis from Scott Bateman.

It's 2am and insomnia has me catching up on neglected podcasts. You can subscribe to all of Bateman's video masterpieces at iTunes, or view the archives at Salon's Video Dog page. While Salon surfing, be sure to read the story of my life as told by a 50-something single, celibate woman. All women whose manscape is Sahara dry will now serve tea and sympathy...


Bonnaroo 2009

OK, here's the deal: the economy sucks ass right now. Few people have a couple hundred extra dollars just sittin' around collecting dust on their desk. The thoughtful folks at Bonnaroo realize this, and they've made it even easier to fund the annual summer trip of a lifetime. Pre-sale tickets go on sale this month instead of in February like normal. The five-payment option makes it easy and affordable to get your tickets.

And no, they haven't announced the lineup yet. That usually happens in January, with the headline acts being announced around February or so. Still, it's a moot point. Many bands you love will be there. It's guaranteed. Bands you'll love but haven't heard of yet? They'll be there, too.

Seriously. You should go. You know you've always wanted to. You're probably tired of hearing me extol the virtues of this world-famous Tennessee summer festival. You really should experience it for yourself. Trust me, when the gates open in June of '09, the world could be a very different place. Whether good or bad, you know you will have one helluva good time with 75,000 other people who feel exactly like you: screw our fucked-up government and the perils of the world - let's get our partayyyy on. Or something like that. It's all good. It's communal. And it's something that must be experienced to be believed. Trust me.

Act now. Operators are standing by.


Top 10 Favorite Albums of 2008 poll

Read more about the poll here. Vote now; results will be aired next week.

My choices* (year-end reviews might follow later) include:
  1. Elbow
  2. Helio Sequence
  3. Vampire Weekend
  4. Shearwater
  5. My Morning Jacket
  6. Wolf Parade
  7. Fleet Foxes
  8. Islands
  9. Mates of State
  10. Sigur Ros

(*I cannot believe Kaki King's "Dreaming of Revenge" wasn't nominated - it was clearly one of the best albums of this or any recent year. She ranks high among the most phenomenal guitarists ever. Her omission from the lineup is a travesty!)

Tune into NPR's All Songs Considered next week to see which albums receive this year's Best Music laurels...