Music


Music

Songs are like magic.  Good ones capture the soul and take it on a journey.  A journey to places it had long forgotten.  As it travels, it remembers, and the memories bring forth long since dormant emotions that mix with the melodies and the rhythm   so that you almost cry.  Not in a sad way, but  out of joy, like you’ve found a long lost friend and learned that they’re alright.

Songs capture the soul, yes, but then set it free and send it soaring above the highest mountains and into the ether.  It can see the whole world up there.   It’s always beautiful, like late evening, when the light’s a mix of pink and orange, and the sun casts long shadows.

Sometimes if you’re very lucky you can see the stars, even if the sun is still barely casting light. The sky takes on a purple tinge then, and the stars hang languidly above our sphere, casting light down upon us that they created millennia ago.  They don’t care for music, but I’m sure that if we just shared it with them, they would find it as lovely as we do.  They’d only need a little push, like that which a parent gives to a child sitting nervously on top of a slide.

I think that’s the real beauty of music.  It, more than anything, is meant to be shared.  You should never create a song just for you.  Share it with the world, with the sky and the stars, the great planets and their moons, and comets that streak across the stratosphere.  They’ll thank you for it, I’m sure, in their own way.  You might not find out for a long time, but they’ll thank you, as will we all.

One day.

The day when we all get to be Irish, and some leprechauns show up too.


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

St Patrick’s day is a day when everyone can pretend that they’re Irish, and no one, except maybe real Irish people, will correct you.  Like me, for instance: I’m part Irish.  Barely, true, but barely still counts.  It’s St. Patrick’s day and I have the right to, when asked if I’m Irish, harken back to that distant and far removed ancestor and respond, “why yes of course… um… me lass… I be Irish!  Now who wants a pint of Guinness?”  And then we’d all cheer and sing whisky in the jar or something, and the party goes on.

But ever since last St. Patrick’s day, I’ve been a bit afraid of claiming to be Irish.  Afraid that I’ll be caught.  It’s the Leprechauns, you see.  They  monitor these things, making sure that no one other than true Irish people claim to be Irish on St. Patrick’s day.  Before I learned this, I had always wondered what use Leprechauns were, other than terrifying Jennifer Anniston, though not quite enough it seems, (to death being the implication here).

Warwick Davis is the man.

Clearly, it didn’t.

Leprechauns are wee folk with fairy magic, at least at the most basic description.  If one were to apply to fill a vacant leprechaun position, the conversation would proceed as follows:

“Are yeh wee?” The interviewer would ask.  He could have just looked to see.  One wonders why he need ask, but that’s the way these sorts of things go sometimes.  It’s all about the protocol.

“Oh, aye.” Responds the applicant, which is generally considered to be the most correct answer.

“And have yeh the fairy magics?”

“Oh aye.  That I do.”

“Loverly.  Yer hired.”

What leprechauns actually do has very little to do with being wee or being able to wield the fairy magics.  Leprechauns are tasked with keeping Ireland green,  like a glittering emerald, and magic, like a magical emerald.  There’s a special division for rainbow production and installation as well, but we won’t get into that right now.

You think Ireland looks like that on it's own?  No, what you see here my friend is centuries of hard leprechaun work.

You think Ireland looks like that on it’s own? No, what you see here my friend is centuries of hard leprechaun work.

The leprechauns have one other task, however, that dwarfs (forgive the pun) all their other duties: to ferret out the fakes, liars, and would be Irishmen on St. Patrick’s day, and humiliate them in front of their friends.

It was an encounter with one performing it’s primary task that, as I hinted before, was nearly my undoing last year.  I was at McCabes Irish pub, down on 5th avenue in Naples, Florida, enjoying a $6 glass of Yeungling with some a of newest and bestest friends I’d ever met (their names escape me now, but I’m relatively sure they all had one) when the question was raised as to whether or not I was Irish.

mccabe's

Now, I have a rather good Irish accent (or at least that’s what I’m told) which, like all Irish accents, is increased both in quality and volume with every alcoholic beverage imbibed.  The current tally was 5, so my confidence in my Irish speaking ability was great indeed.

I had been regailing my new comrades with tales of the homeland: of helping St. Patrick chase away all the bloody snakes, of finding so many pots of gold at the end of rainbows, for rainbows are plentiful on the emerald Isle, that I just started throwing them away,  of screeching contests with banshees and Father Ted TV marathons.  They were entranced, and I was having a blast, that is until I felt a gentle but firm tap on my buttocks.

I spun around, fists up and out in traditional Irish fighting form, ready to give the buttocks tapper the old one two, or, if she were a lady, the old wink and smile, but there was no one there.  I turned back to my friends, who must have assumed that spinning around to fight ghosts was just some Irish idiosyncrasy that they were hitherto unaware of (on nights of heavy drinking it often is), and thought nothing of it, other than to give me a rousing cheer.

I went for a bow, and was touched on the buttocks yet again.  I spun around in the same way.

“Alright, yeh livrey bastard, time for me to give yeh what for!”  I shrieked, but yet again, there was no one there.  I looked left.  I looked right.  I looked up.  I looked down.

There stood a leprechaun.  He was wearing a little green suit with a shamrock in his pocket and a green bowler hat, and looked very cross.  He smiled a wolfish grin.

“Hello sir, me names Bleary and I’m—“

“Christ, lads, it’s a real leprechaun!”  I shouted, pointing at it in awe.  I started jumping from foot to foot and giggling.  Everyone at the pub gathered ‘round to gaze at the spectacle.  The Leprechaun shifted his feet, uncomfortable.

“I’m—“

“What’re yeh here for, little fellah?” I asked, like a mom to a child of 6.  He bristled at this and looked me dead in the eye.  God, those eyes!  They looked like gold doubloons!

“I’m here to see if yer really irish.”  He said matter of factly.

“Me?  Irish?  ‘Course I’m Irirsh!  What’s me shirt say?”

“Kiss me, I’m irish, but—“

“’Course it does!” I interrupted.  He scowled.

“But shirts can say any number of things.  Look at that lads!”  The leprechaun pointed to a fat, white man who was wearing a shirt that read “I’m the President”.

“My god…”  I whispered to the leprechaun, “Is that Barack Obama over there, d’yah think?”

“I—what?  No!  ‘Course not!  Are ye daft?” his question went unanswered though, because I had gone over to the fat man and was taking a photo with him.  The leprechaun stared in gawping silence as I snapped the photo and came back over.

“The lads back in Dublin are never gonna believe I met the President of the US of A!”

“Stop it!”  He shouted, stamping his little foot, which jingled.  “You’re not from Dublin and you’re sure as hell not Irish!  You’re just a drunk idiot from Florida!”

“Bah, Florida?  Have you seen his shirt?  It says—“ one of my new friends began before the leprechaun pointed his finger at him and ZAP, turned him into a cask of guinness.

“Sweet St. Patrick!” I gasped, staring at the cask.  “Free beer!”  The Leprechaun face palmed as we swarmed the cask and I passed out drinks.  I felt a bit bad for drinking that guy, but judging from what I’d learned about him in the past two hours, it’s what he would have wanted.

Poor... um... you.

Pour guy…

“Three cheers for our emerald homeland, lads and lassies!  Hip Hip!”

“NO!”  Roared the leprechaun, and the shout filled up the whole pub, shaking the windows and worrying he owner.  Some glasses fell off the shelves.  “Yer not Irish!  None of yah!  Yer just a bunch of drunken fools playin’ at bein’ Irish!  You don’t know the first thing, the first damn thing about what it is to be from Ireland.”   He paused and pointed at a man wearing a Bruins shirt. “Except for you.  You’re actually Irirsh.”  The bruins guy gave a fist pump and cheer, finished his glass, and ordered another.  “Now,” he said, returning to the task at hand, “will yeh stop, or do I have to turn you all into guiness?

The party was dead silent.  Even the band had stopped playing.  The leprechaun glared at us.  No one said a word, except for me.  I think it was the Guinness, but I was feeling particularly brave, like Willow, or Frodo Baggins, or Peter Dinklage, even.

“Why does it matter?” I asked.

“What?”

“Why does it matter if we aren’t Irish?”

“Because you all just want to be Irish on St Patrick’s day, and then it’s back to normal tomorrow!  It’s disrespectful.”

“Not really.  You should feel honored.  I don’t know any other country that has a day when the whole world wants to be them.  It’s a compliment.”

“Yeah!”  Someone else said.  “Ireland’s cool!”

“Here here!”

“Hoorah!”  The bar shouted.  Everyone at the bar started throwing their two cents in, and I could see we were getting through to the Leprechaun.  He was visibly softening.

“So will you have a pint of…” I looked at the cask.

“Jerry!” someone shouted.

“Will yeh have a pint of Jerry with us, and forget yer sorrows till the morrow?  Me lad?”

The leprechaun looked at each of us, scowling, until his eyes finally came to rest me.  And then he smiled.

“Yeh had me at jerry.”  He said with a wink.  To this day I’m not quite sure what he meant by that, but whatever, I was 7 beers deep and thinking wasn’t high on my list of priorities at the time.  We all cheered and the music started back up (whisky in the jar again ,I think).  The Leprechaun grabbed a pint of Jerry, and smashed it against mine.  My mug broke, and cut my hand quite badly, but it was St. Patrick’s Day, and a bloody and ruined hand was a small price to pay for getting to be Irish, even if it was just for a night.

*****

Author’s note: Thanks for reading.  Hope you liked it and I hope you have a great St. Patrick’s day, wherever you are.  I wanted to take time at the end of this post to thank Melissa K. Martin for giving me the “very inspiring blogger award”.  I’ll get around to doing the required things at some point, but it was a lovely gesture.  Happy St. Patrick’s day!

The Magic Hobo


Image

I was lying in Hyde Park at midnight on a Saturday, counting the stars.  I was the only person in the area, and I was shocked at the lack of stars.  It must be because I was in the middle of London, and the city lights blocked them out.  I missed the view from the beach back in Florida, a black sky painted with burning white spots over a dark blue sea.  I was shocked yet again when a noise like the snapping of a twig caught my attention, and a homeless person was standing directly in front of me.

He wore a long, brown overcoat, soiled and filthy.  Beneath that he wore an menagerie of clothing that he had crudely sewn into a massive parka of sorts.  A blue polo shirt made up part of a sleeve, three t-shirts and a tank top made up the front, and two sweater vests made up a sleeve on the other side.  Instead of pants he wore a bizarre  kilt made out of bed linens and towels, that reached down to his shabby leather boots, which seemed to be made from two boots each.  He wore a grubby, faded and torn top hat on his head.

He was seven feet if he was an inch, and he had an untamed mane of hair that I suppose constituted for a beard, that reached well down past his waist and covered the majority of his face, so that all you could really make out were two beady eyes and a large, round nose.  There were… things in his beard, that might have once been small animals or food, but that had now been subsumed into the ungainly collective of hair.  His stench was unbearable, like a trashcan full of feces and rotting squirrels.

He asked me if I would like to see a Magic Trick.

Now, when a homeless man looms over you, blocking the starlight in Hyde Park with his bulk, and asks you if you would like to see a Magic Trick, it’s most likely not the sort of trick you would wish to see, but rather something truly horrible and scarring, so I of course said no.

He showed me one anyway.

He clapped his hands together, his knit, fingerless gloves making a dry, dusty crack. He pulled his hands apart slightly, and a brilliant yellow light surrounded us.  He looked up at me and gave me a knowing smile, and it was the first time I was able to tell that he had a mouth.  His gold teeth glittered in the light like aztec gold.  He pulled his hands the rest of the way, and as he drew them apart, a rainbow formed in between them.  He swung his arms in a big arc, like he were throwing paint to the sky, and created a rainbow as big as his wingspan.  It shimmered in a fragile way that reminded me of an especially thin sculpture of blown glass.

I was awestruck.  I reached out to touch it, but with a wave of his hand the rainbow disappeared.  Sparkles and stardust rained down on my face, but disappeared like snow flakes on warm day upon contact with my body.  He bowed, and I applauded.  It took me a moment to realize that the applause seemed oddly stereo, and I looked around and discovered that a pair of rabbits were sitting on either side of me and applauding as well.  The hobo bowed again and held up his hands for silence.  We obeyed.

He asked if I’d like to see another.

I said sure.

He rubbed his hands together excitedly and then presented me his shirt cuffs.  He pulled back his sleeves to demonstrate that there was indeed nothing up them.  There wasn’t anything there, but the rabbits got up to inspect his sleeves more closely anyway.  They’re untrusting creatures.

He reached up into his sleeve and began to pull out many lightly colored squares of cloth, tied together in a long line.  He began to pace around us, laying down cloth in a large circle, one line adjacent to the next, so that each new rotation had a greater circumference than the last.  He must have pulled out a full mile of cloth, until the length finally ended with his undershirt and underwear, an almost obligatory occurrence for any “pulling cloth out of my sleeves trick”, and we were surrounded by a gigantic spiral of color, far more than any one man could fit up his sleeve, even a man of his great size.

He bowed again, and we applauded ecstatically.  The audience was now positively packed with creatures of the park: squirrels and rabbits, snakes and beetles, sparrows and pigeons.  Some of the wiser ones had brought snacks like peanuts and popcorn to munch on during the show.  They joked and laughed with one another, having a jolly time.  I eyed them enviously.

He asked us if we would like to see another Magic Trick.  We roared in approval, stood up and screamed in approval, beat our chests and slobbered for more.  He smiled widely.

The homeless man, who I was now beginning to think wasn’t your run of the mill hobo, raised his hand yet again for silence.  He stood there, with his head down, humming to himself, like in meditation, at first quietly, and then louder and louder, until he was positively shrieking.  His arms, which at first were held at the center of his chest in prayer, rose with his pitch, until his body was forming a cross.

It was then we noticed he was levitating 13 feet in the air.  The crowd was dumbstruck, silent.

And then we applauded.

We applauded like we had been struck blind at birth and this homeless conjuror had restored our sight.  We applauded like it was the end of the world, and it’s entire history was on stage, taking a bow.  We applauded like this, and only this, was the only thing ever worth applauding for.

I hollered for more.

He was suddenly on the ground.  There was no transition.  The sound of the applause had changed, too.  I looked around.  There was no one else there, no squirrels or rabbits, snakes or beetles, sparrows or pigeons.

Just him and me.

He stalked towards me, breathing heavily through his mouth.  He got very close, his face mere centimeters from mine. I could almost taste the rancid smell of old Sainsbury’s apple cider creeping out of his mouth.  He smiled, and I could see the sores on his gums, and the rot in his teeth that had once been gold.

He asked me if I would like to see the Last Trick, and he smiled like a crocodile.  I only wept and nodded.

He backed up a few feet and stood by himself for a moment.  He clapped his hands, one last time, and changed.

The change was instantaneous.  What was once a ratty old hobo was now a beautiful, young woman.  She wore bright neon spandex leggings, a zebra print, loose fitting shirt, and large hoop earrings.  She seemed to have been taken straight from the 1980’s.

She smiled sweetly, and kind of sadly, like she pitied me.

“At last.” She said.  Something was strange.  Despite sitting down, I was almost at eye level with her.  I shifted around, and my movement made a strange rustling sound.  A disturbing sound.  A sudden thought, a terrible thought, crept into my mind, and my face contorted with dread.  My heart beat harder and harder, faster and faster as I lifted my hands to my face, and saw the ratty, fingerless gloves.  I clapped them together and they made a dry, dusty sound.  I reached for the top of my head, and found a small, grubby top hat.  I felt my long scraggly beard, and the filth up my sleeves.

I was he.

“Quite a trick.” She said, adjusting her makeup as she looked into a mirror she was holding.  “I hoped you paid attention.  You really should have paid attention.”  She snapped the mirror shut and returned it to her purse.  “I would say I’m sorry, but he wasn’t.  He never is.”

And with that she walked out of my life, leaving me alone, at midnight in Hyde Park on a Saturday.  I wondered if it had to be Saturday at midnight for the trick to work, but I realized I had time to figure it out.  I had all the time in the world.  I fell back onto the grass and looked up at the sky.  My god, it was full, full of stars.

Fus Roh Dah


I was walking home from working my dead end job on a warm spring evening when I happened upon an ancient and crumbling brick wall.  My first impression was that this wall must have been from ages past, when states warred with one another and men such as Jackson and Longstreet walked upon the Earth, but upon closer inspection I discovered something peculiar: words drawn in an ancient and mysterious language.  Being a student of the Classics, I was rather surprised that I had never seen this peculiar script in any of my researches.  Suffice it to say, it was old, very old.  It looked something like this:

I bent closer and traced my finger over the depressions that formed the characters, and found myself subconsciously humming a nameless, though catchy tune.

“Da da dum, da da dum, da da dum dum da dum.”  I sang quietly too myself, and then I paused, and stood erect.  Something was wrong.  The late spring in northern Alabama is a particularly noisy time of year.  All sorts of wretched insects, from the thrice damned Grasshopper to the vengeful Cicada, commence their endless mating calls once darkness descends across the land.  Dogs  howl, begging release from the oppressive seasonal heat that permeates every hour.  Fire flies and love  bugs join in a dance, adding their peculiar luminescence or unparalleled ability to fly in one’s eyes or nostrils to the annoying music of their fellow beasts.  Late spring is a busy time, and yet, as I attempted to read the ancient runes, and as I hummed a nameless tune of a bygone era, the noises gradually decreased and the bugs seemed to vacate the area, until the world was as silent as death.

I looked around, and there was not a firefly in sight.  I opened my eyes wide, a clear invitation, and yet no love bugs struck them.  I turned back to the letters on the wall, and saw that they were now glowing an icy blue, like Gatorade frost’s glacier freeze.

“How very odd,” I muttered under my breath in an effort to conceal the sudden terror that had gripped my heart.  I wanted to run, to hide, but my idiotic curiosity, the kind of curiosity that urges you to press the button because, hell, what’s the worst that could happen, kept me in place, watching.

A great wind picked up, blowing my hair into a maelstrom, and scattering debris from here to the theater building.  I could hear an ancient chanting swirl about me, as if a horde of vikings were rowing a mighty dragon ship to the lush and fertile fields of England, and it wasn’t going to be a pleasant visit, at least not for the English.  They didn’t just need a cup of sugar, as it were; they needed all of it.  Electric lines of glacier freeze energy were pulsating from the words, surrounding my body in a shimmering light.  I was getting tunnel vision, fixated on the words of power.

“So this is how I die,” I mused as I was hoisted into the air by some unknown force, “consumed by mystic words written upon a crumbling brick wall.”  I didn’t find this surprising.  I have always been an avid reader, a book worm, or as the Germans put it, a leseratte, and I secretly knew that it would one day prove to be my undoing.  I must have been three or four feet in the air at that point, and the maelstrom seemed to be at it’s height.  The vikings were positively screaming now, and the words glowed brighter than 1,000 suns.  How fortunate I was, gentle reader, that my eyes were not burned from their sockets.  Perhaps my glasses had some sort of diffusing effect.

The vikings reached a crescendo, and it was over.  I was dropped unceremoniously to the concrete bellow, receiving a nasty bruise on my bottom.  I rose slowly to my feet and, after dusting myself off, glanced one more at the eldritch masonry and its insidious runes, only to discover that they had faded with the storm, and were now barely even visible.  I once again traced their outlines, feeling a slight depression in the cool brick, but nothing happened.  I looked at my hands, and then my feet.  I didn’t feel any different, so what had just happened?  Perhaps there is some undying wizard, a lich of some sort, that travels around the country, trolling innocent bystanders into thinking that they had stumbled upon some sort of power granting magic, but it was in fact only an impressive light show.  It sounds like something I would do if I were a mighty warlock.  Oh well.  I turned around to head home.  And then I saw them, my enemies.

I don’t know why these guys decided to be my enemies.  Perhaps they were jealous of my Gi (see The Sensei), or perhaps they were just looking for trouble, and thought they had found it.  Either way, they loved to harass me at every opportunity, though their machinations were normally thwarted by a last minute sally from yours truly.  The most peculiar thing about them was that they were all British, and had the accent of the inner city London projects.  What they were doing in Alabama only God knows, but I’m sure he finds it hilarious.

“What’s this, then?” taunted Ringo, the ring leader of their little band, “looks like we found ourselves a nerd!”

“That is quite rude,” I rebuked him, “and I expect to hear an apology forthwith.”  They all laughed, like hyenas, lending a certain Serengeti quality to the already bizarre evening.

“Yeah sure, we’ll apologize,” he laughed.  He suddenly ran up and grabbed my shirt.  “With our fists.  We heard you playing that Skyrim music earlier, nerd, and you know we hate Skyrim.”

“Yeah!” said Ding-Dong, the fat kid in the group, “We hate that game. We found the open ended world to meander a bit too much, and the main plot line too slow for any sort of large time investment.”

“Yeah!” said Chirp, the small, mousy member of the gang, “fuck that game, yo!”

“And now,” said Ringo, as his mates closed in, “We’s gonna teach you a lesson”  He cocked his fist and let fly, and time seemed to slow down.  It was almost comical how slow his fist was traveling.  Was this the wall’s doing?  I began to laugh, but suddenly, as if by magic, I heard an old man speaking.

“In their tongue, he is called Dovakin, dragon born.”  And then I knew what to do.

Pictured: A fellow Dragon born

“Fus Roh Dah!”I shouted at Ringo, and I was gifted a glimpse of a scared look flashing across his face, before he blown away from with the force of a cannon.  His body tumbled through the sky, dozens of feet in the air, before crashing into one of the many aged trees that shade the quad of the University.  I heard several loud cracks, and dared to hope that one might have been his femur.

“Lawl!” I laughed.  His friends were staring at me completely dumbstruck.  Such is often the case when one uses an amazing magical power to vex one’s enemies, I’ve found.  I smirked.

“Chirp,” I said, cordially “would you mind standing closer to young ding-dong there?  No, a little closer, please.  A little more, OK, good, and FUS ROH DAH!”  They too went spiraling into the night’s dark embrace, and left me standing wholly alone.  Was it true?  Am I… dragon born?  The evidence was resoundingly in favor of yes, but I wasn’t certain.  I have human parents after all, well, at least I think they are humans.  I suppose they could be dragons in very good disguises.  I have heard tales that dragons can take human form as it suites them, so perhaps that is the case.  I have also heard that dragons tend to have hoards of gold, in which case I would be very cross with my parents that I had to take out student loans…

Curse your reptilian avarice! Curse it!

As it was, I doubted I would ever be certain.  Confronting one’s parents about whether or not they are dragons is often a great way to get sent to a therapist.  Perhaps I should just be happy with my new found super power and call it a day, or night, rather.  And what a night it was!  It was neither too warm, nor too cool, and slightly foggy.  The fog closed in around me like a particularly damp and ethereal blanket, and I found it comforting.  There is something about the way fog clouds your vision that makes the world seem full of… possibilities.  As if something unknown may be around the next well trod bend.  The insects and other animals recommenced their mating calls, drowning out the agonized screams of my enemies almost completely.  I took a round about route home anyway, thus avoiding the tree in which my enemies lay and likewise avoiding any sort of legal punishment contained therein.  My throat was feeling somewhat scratchy.  I suppose it was from the magic, but it was practically begging for a cup of mint tea, and so I made one, and then I slept the sleep of a dragon born.

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