Monday, May 22, 2006

The less danceable, sweeter songs.

If this was a truly, evenly schizo serious-fluffy journal, I would've spaced out lyrics and song and lyrics with something about. . . Idunno, my cavities or that funny swollen lymph node and the inequities of the American systems of marriage and insurance, bigotry, etc. But Lancelot is licking plastic and attacking spider plants, so it's time to buck up and post his lyrics, instead. I can carry a musical theme for five whole posts, see? Not bad, that.

Since we put up our shaky copy of "the Only Living Boy in Turlock," let's see if I can't persuade my lovely Lover to put up the first runs of Lancelot's Song and the Late-Afternoon Lullaby, while we're at it. . . Since, as I said, they're not at all the same without the music!

Edit: In fact, he was persuaded! Click here to hear Lance's song, and click here to hear the Late-Afternoon Lullaby--which is my favorite, I think, of these three.

And here're the lyrics:

"Lancelot's Song"

Watch them, see them, hear them
Strange and loud and fuss and laugh and
Running fast
Very fast!

Singing out loud in the sunshine
Sleeping too long in the dark
Tearing around in the Sunshine!

Running to and fro and
fro and to and to and fro and--
Jumping high
Very high!

They tearing around in the sunshine
they Singing out loud in the dark
they Sleeping too long in the sunshine


And they call and grab and
clutch and hold and love and cry out--
all my names
Many names!

They soaking all day in the sunshine
They tearing around in the dark
They singing out loud in the sunshine!

. . . .which would all make more sense if everyone knew our boy (The Boy, Shtinkertoy, Bunky, Lanceamaphone, Lance without Pants, Lancelot sans coulots, kitty fricasee, etc) and how we are with him. The lyrics are from his perspective; we were going for a sort of anthropological observation Lance-a-pot style.

Now, this one was to music Chris was going to pitch because he didn't like it (which I still can't believe). I told him it sounded like dapplied sunlight, late afternoon, and that I loved it, and he kept playing it for me but didn't really get what I meant 'til I sang the words for him. I think he likes it better, now. :)

"Late-Afternoon Lullaby"

On the side of some old desert road
Lying in the sand
Staring up at red rock cliff face
Hand in dusty hand

And we'll dream
Sweet dreams

Dappled sunlight through old birch trees
On a fading porch somewhere
You lying with your head in my lap
My hands in your hair

And we'll dream
Sweet dreams
Dream, dream, sweet dreams. . .

(Instr. bridge)

I'll sing to you
in a voice rough with age
And you'll play for me
hands old sweet and sage

And we'll dream
Sweet dreams . . .

. . . the first version of that I wrote (and lost) on a bus to Monterey on a zoology class field trip. Listening to a couple of girls in the seat ahead of me, one of whom actually happened to be a student of Chris'. In one breath criticizing him for her not participating in class, and in the next talking about dogs: "Eugh, I don't want a girl dog, girl dogs are so stupid. . . always having babies and stuff. . . " Hm.

Sometimes Turlock hurts. But that was a couple posts ago. The apricots are trickling in, now, and soon it'll be peaches. Out on the verandah, three of my five tomato plants are flowering or bearing green fruit (well, one of them is actually indoors on the desk in the War Room--doing better than a lot of the others, we get more sun there than outside, somehow), my radishes are growing, my bell pepper from last season, which has now self-resurrected from near death two or three times, may or may not produce something resembling buds, this year. Basil, parsley, chives, and cilantro, chervil from seeds, a few weak sprouts of pansies (also for food, also from seeds, also scraggly, also growing best on the desk, the touchy little bastards). . . Two cacti (a weak aloe, a strong little funky crossbreed that's sort've green and lavender), two kinds of columbines, two kinds of daisies, mums, azaleas, fuschia, most of which are in between bouts of flowering but looking happy. . . Inside (with one of the tomatoes and some of the pansies), two "tropical plants," two Wandering Jews, three Pothos, 8 spider plants in pots and 6 rooting in a bowl, two different kinds of ficus, and one pot of ivy. Most of which I/we cloned/rooted.

There is green everywhere.

Not bad for an apartment and verandah with difficult light!

It feels so, so good to be surrounded by plants.

Oh! And there's a green plant living in with the fish. I forgot about that one, since I consider it more like FishFish's pet, I suppose. Fishfish, who, a year and a half later, is still alive. Through fin rot and fussy eating. . . despite the white bubble growing on his head. . . That is one tough fish, there. That's why he's FishFish the Ferocious. Keep swimmin', FishFish.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I posted the lyrics not long ago, but. . .

Now we've gone and done it. We've made a little recording of "The Only Living Boy in Turlock," not much tampered with or fixed up, yet, so be kind, and there's an extra accidental chorus thrown in, somewhere. Other than that, though, it works okay! You'll get the idea!

So, CLICK THIS to hear the recording!

Please! ©, etc. Don't make a nice girl cry. Chris wrote the guitar music, I wrote the lyrics/melody line. Of the songs we brought down to my mother (the others of which we also made little first run recordings of, tonight--Lancelot's Song and the Late Afternoon Lullaby), this was m'mom's favorite, the one she demanded we make her a recording of. So, for my mama and all.

Thinking I'll cross post this at my fiddly bit journal, too, though. . . 'cause, y'know, I'm curious. . .

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

"The Only Living Boy in Turlock"

(The song came from a warp on Paul Simon title and associated chords. Teasing, but lovingly. These are the "wrote all at once and they're fun to sing" lyrics evoked in the last post. Presume the nonsense syllables to be guides representing scatting. To music by Chris, and it's not the same without it. But he was surprised I hadn't posted them, so. . . . Here's a little piece of Turlock, CA. © 2006 Lauren Byerly and Chris Nagel, etc, thx.)

Can't catch a bus through the cars, but the cows
come closer than people--won't talk--
Two hours from the nearest place without lights
Two hours from the nearest place with life
Tell me, why am I here?

I duck and I wave and beg and I try to find someone else who smiles but
Not in this little town
No, not in this town!

La t-da dadida ta da bada didow,
latasi za za di da
Doom, ba da dadida la tsow zada bida
gadda ba la tsi da da
boom, La ladadidow,

Zat zatta da lee zat zatta bop dee zat zatta rah ta ta tee za
-- zat dadida dow
--zat Li La Li Lie

People shouting in print, but I think people thinkin's
Fewer and further between than us hippies,
long haired and hiding out behind guitars
and run to the coast when there's a little
Time to breathe. . .

I duck and I wave and beg and I try to find someone else who smiles but
Not many'n this town
No, not in this town!

La t-da dadida ta da bada didow,
latasi za za di da
Doom, ba da dadida la tsow zada bida
gadda ba la tsi da da
boom, La ladadidow,

Zat zatta da lee zat zatta bop dee zat zatta rah ta ta tee za
-- zat dadida dow
--zat Li La Li Lie


Eating peaches and getting pickled on rum
and juice in the hot hot sun and then
dancing 'round in the rain and watching the muck
come out of the air and pretending We
the only ones here, today. . .

Then I duck and I wave and beg and I try to find someone else who smiles but
Not in this little town
No, not in this town!

La t-da dadida ta da bada didow,
latasi just me and peaches,
today, a da dadida la tsow zada bida
Keep your guitar out the rain and
boom, La ladadidow
--Da lie la li lie. . .

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Not to jinx, but to encourage. . .

I feel, I feel, I feeeeeeeel like I'm coming through. After not having been able to write more than a few words (and then in role of editor), I wrote three songs, this afternoon.

No, I didn't. That's such a lie. What a liar I am!

What I did, actually, was to write the lyrics for three of Chris' songs. One I had most of, already, and was sort've. . . finalizing, I guess. One I had pieces of, and got in order (and wrote another verse for). One--the long one, the daunting one, the spunky one, for which I had not previously had a word, on which I could not muster a thought, let alone a line or verse--I wrote in its entirety.

And it is fun. I am so, so pleased--which is saying a lot, since I have a long and sordid history as a horrid detractor of myself. They need work in that I need to be more comfortable singing them than I am while he's playing them, and it's good to practice together, but.. they're.. . I like them. Goodness, that song is fun to sing. One of the others is fun, too. And the last--it's pretty. It's working. And Chris likes them all. Which is important, since it's his music. That makes us officially musical collaborators.

Which is, by the way, pretty hot.

Speaking of hot musical collaboration, and inspiration to write:

"I'd love to turn you on. . ."

Chris and I have been absolutely ploughing through the Beatles Anthology, which he found for us because he is fantastic. We just finished the 6th segment, which includes the making of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band. In particular, Paul (and George Martin, too, come to think) talk about the writing and production of "A Day in the Life."

Now, I was raised on the Beatles. And as far as explicit lyrics and raunchiness go, I would hands down say the Eagles and Jimmy Buffet (also formative) had it over them. My adoration for the Beatles was consequently deep and pure and utterly innocent.

And it wasn't 'til I was probably 19 or so that I caught wind of the strange and elusive beast, Beatles slash. I don't remember if it was before or after that, though, that I really, really listened to "Run For Your Life," from Rubber Soul (an album I'd had and loved since I was about nine). I mean, I'd heard it and knew it, but I mean really, really listened. And realized that it was rough sex in vocal form.

Delete several paragraphs of rampant pornographic waxing here on the general subject of sexuality (mostly mine) as related to the Beatles.


In short, through this and that, I've come out of that nonsense about them being innocent. The drugs weren't a surprise, but it was harder, about the raunch. I'm seeing it, finally--seeing the sexuality in the show, understanding. The tens of thousands of girls who screamed when they leaned in inches from one another, heads together, mouths at the same mic, and sang high harmonies together didn't just like the music. I can barely keep my chair, now, and yes, the harmony is part of it, but it's not all.

And it's even occasionally in the lyrics. I hadn't noticed. "Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw?" was too obvious to ignore, but the Beatles were subtle. I'd heard "A Day in the Life" a thousand times, and heard--and sung along with more often than not--the line "I'd love to turn you on" as it halts and sighs and pulses long, and assumed they either didn't mean it that way, or that it just didn't mean that then. It was the 60's, after all, a time of innocence.

I'm not sure how I managed that. It has to do with knowing it from before I was able to understand, I think.

And here was Paul, talking about writing with John, making music with him, waving off any claim of professionalism--he was, he said, a big fan of John's, and that it wasn't calmly joining to write, no--they were excited by what each the other was doing. "I can't wait to get my hands on that one!" and so forth. And there was something missing, in "A Day in the Life," he said. And when that line came up--he sang it in the interview, soft--it was it. And Paul has a way of looking naughty and knowing, you know. Turning his face just aside while looking forward, and lifting his eyebrows while lowering his eyelids and parting his lips, holding his body very, very still.

It was in the lingo, at the time, he said. Everyone knew it, he said, but no one had put it on an album, yet, dared to. "Do it! Put that in, write that down!" he repeated himself, sounding breathless and excited and sly. And I see it.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney, still eager to get their hands on one another's work, still meshing and collaborating, sitting close across over a keyboard, thrilling, when one of them looks up and sighs a non-sequitur, sings to the other, "I'd love to turn. . . you. . . on. . . "

And the other whispers, "Yes!"

Monday, May 8, 2006

Mid-morning lullaby.

When I was little, my father used to sing to me.

He was one of those people who couldn't really sing--at least, couldn't carry the tune quite right, and probably couldn't have matched key to save himself. But he had one of those voices.

You know, one of those.

I could've listened forever. It was a good voice for a dad to sing with, I remember that. He sang low, and quiet, and his voice was a little rough. I think, now, looking back, it would've been one of those that's good with an old guitar playing old--old--country songs. Jimmy Rodgers old. But I can't really hear it, anymore. Not quite. It's been too long.

Have you had that? Remembering something you're not sure you really remember well, but you've seen the photos or watched the videos or heard the story told so many times, you've sort've filled it in? I remember him singing. I remember what he sang, how he sang it. But I can't hear his voice. Except for how it sounded on family movies from when I was 4 or 5. My father's voice: perpetually muted and muffled and 20 years ago tape-deck.

It's strange; I can still sort of smell him. Bay rum, something just a little sour and damp behind it from sweating, sometimes. And the way the scarred skin by his shoulder felt when I hugged him and got that smell, those times, soft and cool. I touched his forehead at the viewing: that's a feeling I wish I didn't remember as well as I do, the absolute cold, there. Stiff like clay, but not as pliable. But it's fading.

His face is come a shifting amalgam of every picture ever taken of him. His hair anywhere from dark, deep brown to almost white with grey--every time he shaved it off, it came back whiter. He dyed his hair and beard green, once, for me, on St. Patrick's (I'd done my own hair with food coloring, before). I found that picture, recently. I'd forgotten. Him with his jambok (what he called his bamboo walking stick--he'd never, ever use a cane), sitting on the bed in their room, with the tropical murals on the walls that my mom painted over when she tore the house apart. It couldn't look the same as it had.

But his voice. I remember him singing to me, at night. Songs I'd never heard anywhere else, some. He'd come to sit on the edge of my bed, and sing me a song about a lovely Indian maid and her handsome brave, and he'd humor me by putting my name in instead of Little White Dove and the name of whatever boy down the street I had a crush on that week in for Running Bear. Soft and sad and sweet, that song, old and calm and gentle, full of love.

Sometimes he'd sing Purple People Eater. We had that on a tape--I knew that one, that way. He drew me a picture of the monster, once, after asking me to draw what I thought it looked like--it was good. I'd never known him to draw, otherwise.

Then he'd sing one that was environmentalism disguised as religion. About the old oak tree, that loved the babbling brook, and on up to the clear blue sky, until man came along. ". . . And the babbling brook is solid ground. And the mountain hiiiiigh don't stand so high, and there's a cloud of smoke, cov'rin' up the clear blue sky-y-y. . . " Then something about if she'd left the apple on the tree. Sometimes he'd end with Amazing Grace. I liked it. It's never sounded the same, from anyone else.

Day to day, he'd sing bits of "Sixteen Tons," and "Soldier Boy"--"You are my first love, and you'll be my last love," he'd say to me, sing-song. I didn't know it was "Soldier Boy"--didn't know the song at all--'til I heard an Old School night on the local hip-hop station, lying in bed.

I was probably fifteen or sixteen when I realized how badly I missed all those songs. When he'd been gone a couple of years, and hadn't sung them in years before that, either. When I remembered them, and could remember whole verses, but realized I didn't know the names of the songs. Where they'd come from, whose they were. No amount of searching seemed to be able to turn them up, for me. I would be 20 before my ex-girlfriend's father--who had a strange knack for singing out loud the songs in your head--started gruffly puffing, "'was a tall oak tree! 'loved the babblin' brook!" one night.

It took every ounce of will and pride I could muster to not cry before I could ask about it. I remember feeling desperate, elsewhere, and I think my eyes were like that, like my face had sunk back away from them; I was up off the floor and turned 'round to him like I didn't weigh anything, and my voice too high and thin, asking, "What's that song? How do you know it?"

Hee-haw, or Hoe-Down, or something. One of those old country shows when he was a kid. "Tall Oak Tree," that was all. Not an old oak tree. I thanked him before finding a bathroom to crumple in.

I found that song. Glen Campbell. I found "Running Bear"--two versions, Johnny Rivers and Sonny James.

Some of the kitschiest, most over-the-top, annoying tracks I've ever heard, the lot.

My dad really couldn't sing very well, if well means representative of the original. (Johnny Cash's "Sixteen Tons" was closer.) But I could kind of hear him in them. Slower, without the trumpet lines (why on earth were there trumpet lines?), without the badly--insultingly--faked Native American flair, without the snappy swing, without the twang or Roy Orbison-esque vibratos. Some of the melodies missed. A verse skipped, once--the one about the devil tempting Eve. But something like.

Somehow, my father took that stuff and made old--old--country from it. He took Johnny Horton and made Jimmy Rodgers. He took jump and made lullabies.

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Places I want to be and am not wanted.

First off, I want to apologize: I know that some of the people who don't donate blood have really, really good reasons. Like (a) being unable for some legitimate reason--can't without blacking out, unsafe for their health, etc--and/or have been refused for similar, or, (b) having been refused outright for a reason rooted in some variety of institutionalized bigotry or paranoia.

Red Cross (any blood donation center I've met, really--Delta, UCLA. . .) doesn't care if you own the tattoo parlor and have sterilized everything used on you personally. They don't care if you were a vegan when you lived in England. They don't care if your male-male sex was protected, or occurred twenty years ago. They don't care if the possible incubation period on any disease is long up since you were in whatever neighborhood they find high risk. Accounting for things like that would take too much time and effort, when they can overgeneralize (and still not rule out the possibility of disease, surprise surprise). Being over- rather than under-protective of the blood supply, despite severe shortage, is one thing. Perpetuating shit like this despite options for more reasonable screening, especially in the face of shortage, is another.


So I apologize if I came off high-horse--I didn't mean to. I know it's rotten. I do want to encourage people who can--who are allowed to--to do it, despite the bullshit of the system. It doesn't hurt much, it doesn't take too long, they'll usually give you a gift certificate for a pie or something. And a lot of the people who don't/haven't donated just haven't thought about it, or haven't found the time. But I wish the system wasn't so fucked. And I wish I knew what to do about it.

Second of all. Tangential relation at best, started to write/post this last night, but couldn't get through it. I'll get sick of crying through that song, eventually:

I only just learned that some of the biggest St. Patrick's Day parades--ones in New York and in Boston, for instance--ban gay groups (and even gay marchers) from their midst. Don't want them. Explicitly.

. . .I think I may be heartbroken.

See, I had a tiny inkling--just a little weak tickle, every year--that some year, eventually, I wanted to be in New York or Chicago or Boston for St. Patrick's. I'm religion-free, and I'm a mutt, but I know where I identify more strongly on the rare given day I try. And I wanted to cross the country, to be somewhere with a strong Irish-American community that celebrates, that revels, that adores. One that turns out and is game to enjoy it. Here, there's the occasional green shirt, and I hear P. Wexford's in Modesto goes to town, but that's an Irish Pub. And that's the only one. The Guinness goes on sale, and if you get 6 packs or more, you get a few dollars off on your meat.

It's not the same, you know?

I guess I just wanted to see it, sometime. New York! On March 17th! Just once, maybe. . . Decked out and vibrant and lovely. I wanted to go and dance, sing along. Maybe learn a new song.

Maybe not.

Maybe I'll go to Chicago.

"Oh, the shamrocks were growing on Broadway,
Every girl was an Irish colleen
And the town of New York
was the county of Cork!
All the buildings were painted green!

"Sure the Hudson looked just like the Shannon,
Oh how good and how real it did seem!
I could hear Mother singing,
the Shannon bells ringing,
'twas only an Irishman's dream!"

Thursday, May 4, 2006

It's that time!

Yes, it's Blood Donation Time for Lauren.

For several months, now, I have given blood THE VERY DAY I was eligible to do it again, after the last time. I think it's a good policy. That is, one can donate blood every 56 days, and I have done it every 56 days. November 12th, January 7th, March 4th. . . I've been pretty good about it since I was first eligible (late 2000, early 2001, I think?), but there were a few several month gaps, in there, owing to being dorm bound, some of that time, and occasionally I'd have a pulse too high to be able to do it when I went, and have to wait. But that's not happening, anymore. It's not going to. (I may take the 6 month hit for acupuncture and a few more holes in my ears, sometime--that's two opportunities missed--but I'll do it all at once and Right After I've donated.) In any case, no other avoidable dooms. Lately, I've been very careful. No caffeine the morning before. Drinking plenty of water, so my blood volume is good and moves fast. And I think I was pretty close to Optimum Donation Efficiency for a donation or two before they gave me the handy calendar with printed in reminders--If you donate May 4th, 6/29 is written underneath it in red: your next eligible date.

The Delta Blood Bank (our local collector) in Turlock is only open Thursdays and Saturdays, however. And when I missed April 29th (ran out of time :( ) it set me back to Thursday. Today. So long as I can keep going on Thursdays, at least, I won't lose much more time on shedding platelets and hemoglobin and red blood cells and so forth. I aim to have donated 2 gallons (to Delta) by October--this will be 14 pints for them, today, 1.75 gallons. And I gave something like 3/4 gallon to the Red Cross, when I was in or visiting Southern California. So that'll be about 20 pints from me. 40 cups. 320 fluid ounces. 640 tablespoons. 20 pounds.

So I have donated my entire blood volume at least twice over.

For visuals, that is about:
- 5 (64 oz) jugs of juice.
- 5 cartons (1/2 gallon) of milk (or two and a half of those big mother jugs).
- 13 (24 oz) water bottles
- more than 12 bottles of wine (or fifths of your favorite liquor--mix and match!)
- more than 21 of those big cans--more than 5 of the 4 packs--of Guinness.

By weight:
- 4 (5 lb) bags of flour.
- 3 of your average infants
- 2 average cats or 3 chihuahas (or one Maine Coon cat)

Now go. Go to your kitchen and look at your milk or juice or hooch. Or Pooch, if you like.

Isn't that a trip?

Then find an hour, some time, and go give up to three people another chance to go be miserable to one another--or really, really good to one another. (Or put a pint dent in the up to 6-8 pints commonly needed in leukemia treatment, 6-12 pints for a gunshot wound, 10-100 for traumatic organ damage. This is a pretty big issue.)

Some Fun Blood Facts.

Edit, already: This is actually only *13* pints to Delta, today. So make it an even handful of the four packs of Guinness. :)

Tuesday, May 2, 2006


You can't imagine how freaky only 3 or 4 trucks showing up at the port of Long Beach is unless you've been stuck in traffic headed for the Vincent Thomas at 3 in the afternoon or 9-ish in the morning. Well, maybe you can. But it's fantastic.

One of the many stories about it--one of the less insulting.

"The New Colossus" -- Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Frankly, as long as that's what we've got posted at one of our borders. . .

Anyway, I'm not going to go into that any further, here. At the moment. I wound up going off happily at the delightful blog of Joe. My. God.--more than I'd planned, because there was an interesting comment left there. His post was friendly--I was just going to make the note that we're also ALL immigrants, another thing that keeps getting left out of this discussion. Irish Need Not Apply, for instance, came around when the *other* European groups thought the *Irish* were substandard and didn't deserve to pursue the "American Dream" and shouldn't be allowed to take *their* jobs. So the Irish worked. . .building. . railroads. And got sent off to war. With the exploited Chinese and Black and Hispanic populace. Which I'm sure the English and German and Italian families who'd been there a few generations longer and had proper work in shops and government were all clamoring to do. (Blazing Saddles: "All right, we'll give some land to the niggers and the chinks, but we don't want the Irish.. . .")

I should've probably saved it for here, and posted a proper entry. But, eh.

I don't know that my brain's in that kind of space. I'm torn between posting my half finished fanfic smut (which I intend to do over here, at my 'commenting' journal if I do, which I've been using way more than I intended, already [EDIT: Four fics are now posted, one X-Men, two Farscape, and a hockey fic]) and talking about my brother. Which I'd do here.

Lucky you, huh?


My brother's going to be hospitalized. Institutionalized. Here, I think (though that's only just about the half of it). Until he "gets better." 3 weeks? 4, 5, maybe 6. . .

I guess we'll see.

So. Um. We don't know if visiting is going to be allowed. Or how soon it'll start. Anything, really.

All I know is UCLA. And that it's important, and they think it's necessary.

So I'm a little scared, you know?