Yikes

I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I’ve posted a blog entry. I’m surprised because I’ve been pretty busy on the site, along with my facebook fan page and my other site devoted to wrestling.

As for this site, I added a few new categories. One is my collection of music history articles, which I’m going to tie in to Song of Simon. For those of you that have read the novel, you know how important music is thematically. It functions as a greek chorus of sorts. I love music, especially old blues and folk that you don’t hear much of anymore. Even my music is stuck in the past.

Right now there are two up, but I have a ton more. I meant to post one on “This Land Is Your Land” for Woody’s birthday yesterday, but I flaked.

Everyday I got the blues, even if I went back in time.

The second category is a collection of essays modified from my Creative Writing lesson plans. There’s only one up now, but more will come.

The third is on New York history, which ties directly into The Watchmage of Old New York. I don’t have any essays written yet, but I’m a fat, stinking, treasure trove of knowledge here.

It’s like a Russian Nesting Doll, only it smells like urine.

I don’t actually stink, and I’m considerably less fat than I was, but you get the picture.

Speaking of Watchmage, I’m still shopping around the first novel, and I’m revising the first ten chapters of the second, tentatively titled “Cold Iron.” For those of you that remember, this story arc in the serial was called “The Great Goblin Revolt.” The serial is still up, by the way, and still free.

Ok, that’s all for now. I’m off to play some Happy Wars.
–Craiggers

“The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
Answer.
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” — Walt Whitman
Song of Simon from Damnation Books. Available on site, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local book store.
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Till We Outnumber ’em: A tale by Woody Guthrie, Retold (poorly) by Me

Two rabbits were chased though the woods by a pack of fierce bloodhounds. They ran and they ran, finally taking shelter in a hollow log. The hounds surrounded them and barked. They stuck their snouts in the log, baring their teeth, but couldn’t reach the rabbits.

The first rabbit shivered in fear. He said to the other, “What do we do?”

The second one, she stayed calm. “Don’t worry. We’ll just stay in here till we outnumber ’em.”

This machine kills fascists.

Take Me to Church, by Hozier

Holy shit, if you thought the song was powerful, take a look at this amazing video. I’m still stunned, so stunned that I had to blog about it.
Yes, I realize that I’m late to the party, but it only recently started getting air play in the USA.

Words don’t usually fail me, but anything I say about this video will only take away from it.

Rest in Peace, Pete Seeger

I’ve been thinking about this post for years.

I used to cover music for several magazines back in the day, especially in the New York area.  Part of the responsibility was to write obituaries, and I remember one day thinking that i’d have to write one for Pete.  I swatted the thought down, not being able to think that far into the future.  Then I wrote one for his brother Mike.  Then last year I wrote one for his wife Toshi.  I knew it was going to happen, and I knew that it would hurt me bad.

I met Pete several times.  I am a regular at his Clearwater Festival, the music festival that supports his environmental group, Clearwater.  As I child, I went on a field trip and sailed on the Clearwater.  I never forgot the rocking of the waves or the singing crew.  It’s one of my fondest memories.

There will be other obits out there that go into all his accomplishments, all the fantastic songs he wrote or popularized, the way he stood up to Joe McCarthy and embraced the Civil Rights Movement, his support of the New York music scene, his dedication to the environment.  Maybe they’ll talk about the movement to nominate him for a Nobel Prize. That’s all academic.

What they can’t tell you is how he made you feel. He made you want to sing.

I never did a full interview with him, but I talked to him many times.  He had a way about him, and when he spoke, you listened.  Not that he was the kind of voice that demanded attention.  It was the other way around.  He was humble and easy going, but possessed of a simple wisdom that made you want to listen for hours.  He made you want to sing.

He was tall.  Really tall. Until you’ve seen him in person, you don’t realize just how tall he was.  Even at 94, he was still this white-haired beanpole in a fisherman’s hat.  He gave off this air of mental and spiritual strength. He made you want to sing.

And so we sang.  He took the stage and led us, and we sang.  Great waves of people singing “Turn Turn Turn” or “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” while he played the long neck banjo or the 12 string.  People of every gender, color and class joining their voices into one.

Pete Seeger is gone, but songs last forever.  Sing for Pete’s sake.

Sing for Pete’s sake

Black Friday?

I don’t understand why they call it Black Friday. I mean, it’s a great song, but Steely Dan has written much better ones.

How about we call dec 19th “Hey Nineteen?”

If anything, we should call it Green Friday, since Shakespeare’s green-eyed monster takes so many people over.  I for one, don’t shop on Black Friday.  I hate shopping, I hate crowds, they give me panic attacks.  Going to the store during the worst shopping day of the year could possibly kill me.  I’d rather stay at home at kvetch about consumerism like the pretentious jackass I am.

Speaking of pretentious jackasses, I’m stunned that Family Guy killed off Brian.  He was my favorite character, my brother in douchebaggery. Dear Brian, in heaven, “Faster Than the Speed of Love” is a best seller. Here’s my favorite Brian moment.

Rest in Peace, My Valerie (1977-2013)

I buried my soul mate yesterday.

Last Tuesday (Jan 22), I went up to Binghamton to visit Val.  She was up there to begin her PhD candidacy in English.  I climbed the stairs to the back door and knocked.  I looked through the screen, and she was on the floor.  I don’t think that Val would want me to tell the final details of her life to strangers, so I will refrain.

Val was pronounced brain dead Thursday morning.  She died that evening.  She was my world.  She was the most brilliant, caring, gifted, loving, person that I will ever know.  Her writing is some of the best that I have ever read.  I only wish that I could write like her.

Her obituary is here.  Her website is here.

If you read my blog, you know how much I love her.  We just celebrated our anniversary.  I went to her mom’s for Christian Christmas (as opposed to my usual, Jewish Christmas.  We just didn’t have enough time together.

I want to tell you all about her.  I want people to know and love her the way that I love her, the way that she deserves to be loved.

This is what I told the Binghamton reporter that is writing her memorial:

She was about as warm and giving a person could be.  She cared very deeply about her students and would always go the extra mile for them.  Her favorite writer was Oscar Wilde, and I am sure that she could go wit for wit with him and come out the victor.  On her wall there was a picture of Oscar Wilde next to a picture of Malcom X.  I asked her about it once, and she said “I’d like to think that they are lovers in Heaven.”
Val loved so many things:  Joss Whedon (especially Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Rancid (for the past year she has been keeping a tongue-in-cheek photo journal updating the status of Tim Armstrong’s epic beard.  That was just her sense of humor), action figures (she had a massive collection of action figures, she would sometimes use them as writing prompts for students, but mostly they just hung around the house).  She loved to write, she was constantly writing, but even more than that, she loved to teach.  She loved the Oxford Comma, if you could love punctuation.  She had a passionate affair with Semicolons.

She was a strong woman: independent but not distant, tough but not hard, witty but not cruel.  She was brilliant, the most intelligent person that I have ever met.  She loved Grammar.  She was very excited to be taking a Grad level Grammar class at Binghamton.  She felt a great sadness for people that couldn’t use “there, their, and they’re” properly.

Her writing was incredible.  When we first started dating, I asked what she wrote.  She said something like “I do mostly short stories, mostly humorous, but when you say you write humor people think you write bad stand-up or something. I love the type of short story that can make you laugh and feel sad within like five pages so that’s what I try for.” 
If you read some of her writing (on her website), you will see that she succeeded everytime.
 
If you would like, I can recommend some of my favorite stories. 
 
I don’t know what else I can say.  She was the most perfect person that ever walked the face of this Earth.  She was too perfect, too gifted, too gentle and loving for us.  I would say that she was ahead of her time, but Time will never catch up to her.
This is what I said, but there was so much more to her.  She wrote erotic fan fic  as a hobby, and helped form an entire community for it.  Her frank talk and writing about mental illness was inspirational and life saving for many people.
On our first date, she gave me a toy for my turtle.  Who does that?  Who is that thoughtful?  Val was.  On our second date, I spilled an entire move-sized diet coke in her lap, and she didn’t walk out on me.  On the contrary, after the movie, she still made out with me.
She did all of this, but I knew that she was the One when I first walked into her apartment, and there was a giant Godzilla doll on her refrigerator.
I am concerned with her legacy.  I want the whole world to know how gifted a writer she was.  I want her name immortalized the way that it should be.  She was everything that I could ever want, or want to be.
I love you so much, Valerie.  I will love you forever.
The two of us, late December, 2012

The two of us, late December, 2012