She Who Lurks By Day|
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|Friday, March 31st, 2017|
|Song: "Mercy Wheeler"
'Nother night, 'nother villain. This one's a vampire.
," words and tune by April Grant. Some of you know this one already. Please learn it and sing it wherever you wish.
Lyrics and notes from the Soundcloud post:
Now Mercy Wheeler’s in the grave; they buried her today.
And God knows what her folks will do, left up there on the hill,
Or how the girls will all get on, with Mercy and their mother gone.
The twins stayed home to tend her all the time that she was ill.
And she said, “Oh, I’m cold,
It’s so cold in the night.”
Head to toe, pale as bone,
Clothes and skin, ashy white.
She said, “Oh, I’m cold,
It’s so cold in the night,”
She said, “Let me get warm,
Hold me tight.”
They say she’s coming in at night to see the girls alone,
A white sheet wrapped around her, as they laid her in the clay.
The twins and little Callie said she came and tried to get in bed.
Elias and their father woke, and so she went away.
Chorus (changing "said" to "says" from this point on)
Well, all the Wheeler girls are gone--Amanda, Callie, Grace.
Elias and his dad are seeing Mercy every night.
She wants them with her in the ground, so up she comes, without a sound,
And walks home to the Wheeler place by pale and starry light.
Elias dug her coffin up when he began to fail,
And though she had been buried through the summer and the fall,
The lid was split, and underneath, there Mercy lay with gaping teeth.
There she lay, white, fresh, and young, and not decayed at all.
Elias took a hammer and a rusty iron spike,
And when he drove it through her heart, she gave a little scream.
We burned her up. It took all day. I thought she’d never burn away.
I waited till the ashes cooled, and threw them in a stream.
[To tune of chorus]
As though she had never been touched by a flame,
She comes to my bed late at night just the same.
The Mercy Brown vampire incident was a real-world horror. The participants may not have used the word "vampire" but they sure had that concept: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercy_Brown_vampire_incident
Here's Mercy's grave in a handy Atlas Obscura article: www.atlasobscura.com/places/grave-mercy-brown
"But, April, why did you change the surname from Brown to Wheeler?"
I wanted to distance it from reality a little bit, imaginary interlocutor. In case there are living relatives of Mercy Brown out there, I don't want them to be insulted by my calling their ancestor an actual vampire, when she was the victim of tuberculosis and mass hysteria.
Page image unknown origin, hopefully public domain.
|Song: "Rachel Wall's Last Good-Night"
So, I a song. Rachel Wall's Last Good-Night
. I've been meaning to post this since I wrote it in October 2016; now is as good a time as any. The words are mine. The tune is my adaptation of "The Bold Solder" tune sung by Lena Bourne Fish in the Anne and Frank Warner Collection
From my Soundcloud entry:
Rachel Wall was hanged at Boston, on October 8, 1789, aged about twenty-nine. Find more details here:
Also here: www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/rachel-…pirate/
If anyone wants to sing this anywhere at any time, you have my blessing. No permission needed. Just go wild and do it however you please. Attribution is nice but not mandatory. I have this wide-eyed dream of hearing my own songs come back to me one day as "folksongs" with no known author.
A-serving in Boston, I never was content
Until to marry James Wall I gave my consent.
With five sailors and their lovers, to piracy we went,
And for my offense I must die.
We beached our old vessel by the Isles of Shoals,
Crying, "Oh, Lord have mercy on us poor shipwrecked souls,
Our ship it is staved in and the bottom full of holes..."
And for my offense I must die.
Men saw me a-crying and tearing of my hair,
They quickly then landed to relieve my despair,
Their lives we did destroy and their gold and goods did share,
And for my offense I must die.
We sank thirty vessels all in the Gulf of Maine,
And food and drink and fine array in New York we did attain,
Then back to sea again another goodly ship to gain,
And for my offense I must die.
We met with a hurricane while cruising for our fee,
And that's the last of James Wall the world will ever see,
For the waves they roared across our deck and drowned them all but me,
And for my offense I must die.
On India Wharf, with a maiden I did meet,
I struck her in the face, and I knocked her off her feet,
And with her purse and bonnet I went running up the street,
And for my offense I must die.
They'll hang me as a thief on the Common tonight.
As a free prince of the ocean I should hang in public sight.
Hang me as a pirate, for you know that is my right,
And for my offense I must die.
|Friday, March 17th, 2017|
|High-five for not eating my prince boyfriend alive
I was asked to be a judge in a ballad singing competition for teenagers and young adults. I have mixed feelings about this "competition" thing, but the end result is to get people singing, which I like. I promised I would do "Kemp Owyne
," with which I have intense emotional connection dating back to early childhood. Apart from anything else, you never see what the hell the monster is, apart from context-free details ("...but if you touch me, tail or fin...") It's the Cat People
of heroic balladry. This is one of the reasons I haven't been around much this week.
From my latest FB post:
That feel when it's 12:18 a.m. and you're up late on a work night, running through a ballad that you promised to sing right after an evening of judging other people's ballad singing. 0_0
And it's ONLY your favorite ballad in the history of ever, but you've never performed it because it's Too Big Of A Deal For Any But A Master To Do It Justice. *wheeze* *gulp*
I wonder if anyone has stressed this much about "Kemp Owyne" (Child 34) in the last hundred years.
|Tuesday, March 14th, 2017|
Apparently I was on local TV briefly, telling Representative Mike Capuano that I wanted to not be helpless. He gave me good advice which boiled down to "talk to people." Mayor Curtatone told me to email him for some ideas. Er, good heavens.
|Thursday, March 2nd, 2017|
|No laws I own, my ship's my throne -- my kingdom is the Sea
Lest you think that I am all work and no play:
I recently re-watched Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
at a party. Some things never get old for me.Black Pearl
's crew: *storm the beach, roaring like orcs*
Me: :D :D :D *heart hands* shine on, you crazy wonderful diamonds
Pirates: *extort, pilfer, plunder and loot* *horrible rotting teeth* *murder* *arson* *kidnapping* *blow shit up* *manslaughter*
Me: HI BOYS, I USED TO WRITE PORN ABOUT YOU ^_^
|Action: Vigil, First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain
I'm going to this tomorrow night after work, with my friend K.Vigil in Support of Black Lives Matter, First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain
. 5:30 to 6:30. sovay
attended this last month, and that made me want to go. Handily, you can get there via the Orange Line, so we'll haul ass straight from work to the T and get to the vigil, hopefully, almost on time.
I'm a little worried people will think I'm just there for Ally Cookies. Agh, well, regardless, they're probably up for extra warm bodies participating. Hopefully, I can ask the organizers for ideas for what to write on my sign. (I now have a whiteboard and it's a sad comment on our country that it will probably save me money in the long run to bring that instead of buying posterboard every time there is a human rights crisis.) I mean, I'd be eager to hold a sign that said, "Summary Execution Is Wrong," but it seems too on-the-nose.
|Saturday, February 25th, 2017|
|What you can do: Bill H.1190, against conversion therapy
While we're talking activism, here's what I recently posted to Facebook.
Friends in Massachusetts, here's an action you can take.
The bill currently known as Bill H. 1190 is intended to ban conversion therapy in Massachusetts. You can read the full text at the MA legislature website below, and see whether your state senators and representatives are on board as petitioners. It was drafted by Representative Kay Khan (district: 11th Middlesex). Previous versions of this bill have been abandoned or left sitting indefinitely.
[friend who doesn't have an LJ] and I spent some time on the phone yesterday trying to find out whether this incarnation, H. 1190, would get anywhere. Here's the interesting thing: our representatives said that at some point there will be a public hearing for this bill, and that members of the public will be able to testify as to the importance of getting it passed.
If you want to speak in favor of this bill, we strongly encourage you to do so. We plan to attend the hearing(s) and we want to offer moral support to anyone who wishes to testify and would like backup. If anyone is unable to be there in person but wants to send me a statement to read aloud on their behalf, I will be happy to do so.
Right now, there's no public hearing date set. Here's what you can do to keep in touch with the situation:
--Phone your state senators and representatives and tell them you support Bill H.1190; ask what needs to be done for it to move forwards.
--Seriously, phone your legislators. Most of these fine folks have very friendly staff and respond quickly.
--Send an email to Ms. Caroline Medina, Ms. Khan's chief of staff, at email@example.com and politely request to be updated when H.1190 gets a hearing date set.
And if anybody wants to discuss this further or has other ideas, I'm all ears; please comment or email me.
|About to head out to a Bank Exit action in Harvard Square
If anyone is at large in the Harvard Square area between 11 and 1, you might want to come check out this action
. Aw man, I'd better head out now.
From the FB invite: [Please note you don't have to RSVP here to come. I'm betting you just show up and introduce yourself/give your name to the organizers. We'll see if I'm right.]In Support of Standing Rock, a coalition of grassroots Indigenous activist groups (including the Indigenous Environmental Network, Honor the Earth & Sacred Stone Camp) are calling allies around the world to confront and apply pressure on the banks that are supporting the Dakota Access Pipeline, a network of primarily white settler allies and accomplices are answering that call by sponsoring a #BankExit Actions in Boston.
This solidarity action has been planned in collaboration with indigenous leaders in Boston, and is being held and facilitated by allies/accomplices. People of all backgrounds are welcome.
We need you to commit to closing your account with any of the 17 banks funding DAPL and/or to attend a protest outside TD Bank.
Harvard Square #BankExit - Saturday, February 25
RSVP HERE: https://goo.gl/forms/aRS4SWsdE92XCBCq1
1414 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge
In the heart of Harvard Sq
Use the RSVP link to commit to attending the action and/or to close your account with one of the 17 banks funding the pipeline. (List here: http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/how-to-contact-the-17-banks-funding-the-dakota-access-pipeline-20160929)
This solidarity action will honor and reflect the peaceful and prayerful resistance as exemplified by this indigenous led movement and our courageous Water Protectors at the front lines at Standing Rock.
Signs will be provided.
Absolutely no non-indigenous person should wear or use face paint, headdresses, or any other indigenous garments, symbols, or sacred objects.
Please dress for the weather and bring water and a snack.
|Sunday, February 5th, 2017|
|Song: "Sail Away" aka "The Maiden in the Boat"
Here's a finished song from a few months ago, written on the heels of this post
. (How the hell was that all the way back in July? Time has roared past me. Well, it's still important.) First sung in public in December 2016.
Tune: "The Lish Young Buy-A-Broom"
Based on the Japanese legend of the Utsuro-bune (literally "hollow ship") which is reported in supposedly-historical books as having appeared in 1803, near the shore of Hitachi province, Japan.
More info and context here
When we were out a-fishing, a silver boat we found,
The top was made of crystal, flat and smooth and round.
We pulled it to the shore, its nature for to tell,
And inside was a maiden who stepped out alive and well.
Oh, sail away, sail away, little maiden, sail away,
Oh, may you find the shore that you seek one day!
Her hair looked like feathers, and her eyes were blue and wild,
She stood just as tall as a six-year-old child.
She wore three robes, and the outer one was gold,
And her ship was packed with dainties, as full as it could hold.
She looked me in my face and she chirped like a bird,
I know she asked a question but I couldn't catch a word.
So then we brought a scholar, who wrote words by hand,
And she answered him with nonsense that she scribbled in the sand.
If the Emperor knew this, we would all be killed,
But we gave her plums and rice and saw her water filled.
Then the maiden got back in and we put the top back on,
She waved for me to push her out, and then she was gone.
|Song under construction: "Still On Patrol"
This has been at the back of my mind for weeks, since reading a Tumblr post
that discusses the idea that US Navy subs which never return are still on patrol
, not lost at sea
. The resulting comment thread seemed to want to be a song. To top it all off, it's a Christmas song! I'm two months too late for this to be seasonally appropriate, but what the hell.
I'm looking for (a) more singable lines (b) a good refrain line (c) a tune. Suggestions are welcome.
It may be news to you --
I know it was to me --
No US Navy sub
Is ever lost at sea.
But every Christmas Eve
Dispatchers read the roll
Of officers and men
Still out there on patrol.
Down an unknown abyss
That never sees the light,
We crowd to our radio
On this December night,
Listening to the static,
And things below that groan
And only fear the dead.
A friendly voice calls out
Through the static and the noise,
"We think of you at home,
So Merry Christmas, boys."
We hug one another
And weep with joy to hear
The living still recall us
Year upon year.
Our mission isn't done,
And none of us can sleep.
Things still move down here
In the belly of the deep
The living couldn't face --
The living need not know.
While we are on patrol,
Deeper yet we'll go.
Note: I didn't notice till now that the first verse is in my voice -- "I know it was to me" -- and the other verses are in the voice of a crewman. I think I may leave that for now. It can be logicked away as the reminiscence of a ghostly submariner who didn't expect
to spend his afterlife fighting abominations at the bottom of the Milwaukee Deep, and yet here he is.
|Wednesday, January 18th, 2017|
|ACTION: Slavery Is Still Wrong In This, The Year Of Our Lord 2017
For those of you who didn't see my rage on FB, this is happening: "Immigrant advocates are launching a protest
after Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson offered up inmates as builders of Donald Trump's wall on the US-Mexico border."
Local jackal Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson intends to start a "Project NICE"
(National Inmates' Community Endeavors), with zero awareness of the fact thatWE HAVE SEEN THIS BEFOREI wonder if it's an "experimental program"?
In nonfictional news, we have also seen the use of prisoners as slaves many times before
But really, Project NICE? Really? Let alone shame, Sheriff, have you no fucking irony? WHY IS OUR CURRENT REALITY SO POORLY WRITTEN?
Don't read the comments on the article.
I'm going to the protest tomorrow. It starts at four. I intend to hold a sign that says NO SLAVES FOR THE TYRANT. I realize this is short notice, but if anybody from the Boston area who is free in the daytime wants to come, you're most welcome to ride with me. I'll need to leave Somerville at about 2:30 p.m. in order to be there at the start, so you have a little leisure to decide.
*One very small cool thing that came out of this: a whole gallery of character designs
by one J.P. Cokes for That Hideous Strength
. Enjoy, if that's the word I want.
|Tuesday, January 10th, 2017|
I just saw Tampopo
for the first time. It was delightful. The joy in my fellow audience members was palpable; a lot of them seemed to be college students who had all come en masse and knew each other, and were entirely on board with the film's sense of humor. A guy in a lumberjack shirt and big beard said to me afterwards, "I think that must be my favorite movie now! It's the first time I saw it!" in astonishment.
This movie is a beautiful use of one of the best comedy tropes out there, Taking A Thing Way More Seriously Than Most People Think It Deserves. The thing is ramen. There is a harried widowed mom whose ramen shop is struggling, and a sexy older cowboy Japanese Clint Eastwood truck driver who only wants to see her succeed. There is an industrial espionage sequence. There's a makeover. There is a street gang of beggar gourmets who will break into people's apartments to cook omelets for neighbor kids. There's a nasty dental office sequence. There's some jackass mobster in a flashy white suit and his fancy girlfriend who do erotic eating that actually is kinda hot even while you cringe. There is a ghastly old woman who only wants to squeeze all the cheese, peaches, and soft baked goods. There are salarymen. Most of all, there are noodles, noodles, noodles, everywhere. I wanted ramen afterwards, despite the fact that it was the middle of the night and nothing was open. Stroke of luck: I had leftover spicy eggplant and rice from a restaurant trip yesterday, and that worked nearly as well.
|Saturday, December 31st, 2016|
|"The Last Word" by Gwynne Garfinkel
I am very taken with this horror meta poem: "The Last Word
," by Gwynne Garfinkel. Sad and funny, and a true appreciation of two characters who are overshadowed by the more monstrous figures, but who are pivotal to the plot and meaningful to some of us. I'm feeling warm and fuzzy about Garfinkel's appreciating these two for themselves.
Colin Clive: played tormented and morally ambiguous characters who were also wry and ridiculous; was good at looking embarrassed; was bisexual according to Wikipedia; was the subject of this picture, which I like a lot
, along with the also-underappreciated Valerie Hobson (he's smiling! I didn't know he could do that! he looks relaxed and everything); starred in an entire movie
about beautiful young soldiers caring about each other and dying in each other's arms; died a stupid, preventable, Hollywood death of alcoholism-related pneumonia, or possibly alcoholism-related complications of tuberculosis, but you see the common thread here, at the age of thirty-seven. All those decades ago, and why do I give a fuck? The fact is that I do. And other people do, other writers, I see, do, and that is flipping delightful. (And by caring about him I care for myself.) (Shut up, Teeny.)
Look, the most prominent story in Mad Love
is a tragedy about how a formerly decent man becomes a stalker and master manipulator, and justifies his crimes by saying they're for Twoo Luv as he slides downwards into murder, sexual assault, and a spectacularly complex and nasty gaslighting session. Thank you, Peter Lorre, you are a wonderful dumpling and I would follow you anywhere.
But somewhere in there is also the story of a concert pianist who is maimed in a railway accident, has to regain the use of his body during a long and humiliating recovery time (during which, I'm sure, being hand-fed by his gorgeous wife the former torture porn star was only a slight consolation), and after all that
has to live with the facts that (1) he has someone else's murder hands attached to his wrists and they constantly hunger to kill, and (2) he can kiss his career as a concert pianist goodbye, because murder hands won't cooperate. And that's kinda funny in a nasty way (MURDER HANDS) but I wasn't laughing. (I was watching this movie over and over circa 2006, in a long, dismal period when I'd burnt out on trying to be a novelist and didn't know what worth there was in my life if I wasn't a writer. Coping mechanism? HOW VERY DARE YOU.) (Boy, I'm so glad that's ten years ago.)
Watching his character figure out that no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't get his old life back... that was sad, I would go so far as to say that it's the other tragedy of the film, and it's one of the important parts of Mad Love
for me. The movie realizes how depressing that is and gives us a little gift for his character at the end. I have never seen "my evil hand has a mind of its own and likes to kill people with knives" presented as a good thing before, but damn, Mad Love
pulls it off.
If the world ends with this foul year, I want it known that I died as I lived: raving about dead horror actors on the internet, for an audience of dozens. What I am trying to say is that Colin Clive resembles one of those shivery greyhounds that is very dignified but that you just want to pet and guide to a fleecy sheepskin by the fire, possibly also applying a warm coat and boots.
|Thursday, December 29th, 2016|
|Tonight: ADULT Folktale Telling
This is tonight! I am panicking over my story! Please come if you're free and in the Cambridge area-- whatever happens, I promise it'll be entertaining. Andala Coffee House is at 286 Franklin Street, Cambridge, MA.
From the event description on FB
:......aaaaand we're back! The second ADULT Folktale telling was an incredible hit, so we have got to do this again. For December, we'll be downstairs at the Andala Coffee House in Central Square, Cambridge. Free admission, with the purchase of tea or coffee or any other nosh you choose ($2.50 minimum). Hosted by Doria Hughes, of course!
The theme for this month is: Happy Endings! Just as in previous AFTs, you are invited to bring a folktale (or legend, myth, Biblical story, tall tale etc) to tell, totally uncensored, to an adult audience. No personal or "true" stories; we're keeping it folky! Need help finding a story? Message me, and I will point you in the right direction. No stories? No worries. Just come on down, have a drink, and enjoy unexpurgated folktales in their natural habitat.
|Tuesday, December 27th, 2016|
Copied from my FB:
Please comment to talk about the political actions you're planning to take part in during the next month. I'll come and show support if I can.
I'll start: on Jan. 21, I will march in Boston. I don't know with whom yet, and I'm open to recommendations.
Jewish Voice for Peace Boston is hosting a civil disobedience training session on Monday, Jan. 23.
On Wednesday, Jan. 25, also hosted by Jewish Voice for Peace Boston and taught by BARCC, there's a workshop on active bystander intervention (practicing ways to intervene and assist the targeted person if you see public harassment). I can always use more practice in that.
(It'll be a nice haggis sandwich of a week: in between these events is Burns Night. #whahae In non-political news, registration is now open; you need to sign up in advance if you want to order dinner, and it's always a good time for folkies and fans of Scottish culture.)
I'm also going to a letter-writing party on Thursday, Jan. 26. Since it's at a private home, I won't link to the FB event, but it starts at 7:00, it's near where I live, and the focus will be announced by the host as we get closer to the date (sadly, I'm sure there will be some fresh fuckery to write our representatives about, and even if I'm wrong and January is a wonderful month for our country, we can write our representatives to thank them for accurately representing us).
I'm interested in whatever you think is important, and doubly so if it's in the Boston area.
|Thursday, December 8th, 2016|
|Hansel needs some sugar in his bowl
I'm formatting a script for "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." This job is a lot of fun sometimes. I liked the movie but I love the theatrical version; the movie clunkily makes literal a lot of things that are supposed to be Hedwig's figures of speech and her sick sense of humor.
The main thing that strikes me this time: Hedwig and friends keep making Holocaust jokes. Stuff like "the oven/the shower," calling herself "non-Aryan," her creepy American sugar daddy giving her gummy bears that she compares to concentration camp victims. Does anybody want to explain to me what's happening there? It doesn't seem like survivor humor, in that Hedwig would have to have been born in the sixties (and isn't Jewish, unless I misunderstood something). Of course, whatever gender alignment she identifies with, she sure is in a vulnerable subgroup, so maybe she's reminding us that if she'd been around then she'd have been sent to a concentration camp as A Homosexual. But that's not how it sounds. It comes off more like identifying-with-the-oppressor humor. I haven't read this far, but I think someone else's drag name is Krystall Nacht. That sort of thing.
I mean, I can tell it's supposed to be uncomfortable, and it sure is, well done, but is there a greater point that I'm missing? This musical has a confusingly huge number of Holocaust references for a show where the villains are heteronormativity, communism and capitalism.
|Sunday, December 4th, 2016|
Well, here's some good news for a change: the Dakota Access Pipeline is halted for now. The Army Corps of Engineers has denied
the builders the permit, and the Army has agreed to "explore alternate routes."
All my respect and gratitude goes to the Standing Rock Sioux and to those who assisted them. I understand they've been dancing and singing in the camp, in celebration of the victory today. If anyone deserves to celebrate, it's them.
I hope that everyone with concern for the matter will monitor the situation in the coming months and years, because I don't trust the next regime not to railroad the Army Corps of Engineers into granting building permits, trashing Native land, and building the pipeline anyway. However, that's a problem for another day. Today, the water protectors have achieved their most immediate goal.
I hope this will set a precedent. I hope this is the effective protest that makes the rest of the country look up and say, "Wow! Look what they did! Our resistance can make a difference in the threats that face us!" I hope everyone learns about these protests now and understands their heroism. I hope fifty or a hundred years from now, this is in the history books as the moment that turned the tide on fossil fuel dependency.
Well, that's less "cautious optimism" and more "joy and hope." I don't care. We all deserve to feel some. The water protectors took one for the team, and now I hope they can rejoice, enjoy their victory, use the positive national attention to educate the rest of the country further if they wish, and resume the parts of their lives they've had to place on hold.
|Friday, December 2nd, 2016|
|The dominatrix whip kittens are my new favorite part
From my FB post at intermission:I'm at The Slutcracker and having an awesome time. Am I comically missing the point if I say that was a beautiful sex scene? The title character has the face of Dionysus himself. Pink sparkly Dionysus.
|Thursday, December 1st, 2016|
|Let union be in all our hearts
I don't talk about my singing life on here much, but maybe it's time for that to change. The pub sing at the Somerville Armory is this evening, 7:00 - 10:30, and I strongly suggest that anyone who wants to hear or deliver some good songs check it out. They have a nice cafe, too, and a lot of people get dinner or drinks.FB event here
, but not necessary to RSVP. The Armory is at 191 Highland Ave., Somerville, and it looks like a goofy white plaster castle.