Merry Pranksters

Why do the children no longer listen to me?  

Have I done something wrong,
or have I done something right?


Another Lesson in Storytelling

At the university, sophomore year, I signed up for a 300 level labor relations class.  I wanted to be interested in that type of thing. The professor was a tough old man who, the slowest of us slowly realized, was a famous expert in his field. The reading list was long and extensive and included the professor's seminal book. He didn't assign specific readings, wanting us to read out of curiosity and thirst for knowledge rather than obligation. Unfortunately, I was curious about other things and thirsty for experiences not found in those books.

We were required to write a 30 page paper and make a presentation. Two days before I was scheduled to give mine, I was playing ultimate and got a hard flung frisbee smack across the bridge of the nose. So when I stood in front of the class, I explained that I didn't want everyone wondering how I got a broken nose and two black eyes instead of listening to my presentation. So I told what had happened. Professor Hill sat with an attentiveness he had never given me. But after I explained, his shoulders drooped and his scowl returned. "I was hoping for something a little juicier than that," he mumbled.

And then we all struggled to pay attention to my feeble presentation.

Herbert Hill 1924-2004


Sign Here

I got a bite from a publisher
Who refused to grant me copyright
(among other necessities)
So I declined to sign.

I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt
To believe that their intentions were wholesome
Two young women poets
Heading a literary non-profit.

But then it occurred to me
Even though this is who they appear to be
Maybe they are not
Why do they tell me things that are not true?

Are they ignorant?
Or are their intentions more sinister?
I'd like to think it's the latter
If someone wants to screw me over
Then maybe the work is good enough to land a proper publisher.

Thank you Uncle Norm for all your expertise and insight.


Here Sign

I hang the clothes thinking about my first garden. The rabbits are eating everything. Except the pumpkins, Roseanna reminds me. She planted them, and they are doing fine. I try not to lose heart. Instead I dream up an episode showing us making a meal out of rabbit. I'm afraid I don't have the chutzpah to pull it off. Andrew just laughs at the prospect. But the neighbor is immediately on board. He gets a trap from his garage. I film him bating it with an apple and setting it in our yard.

Then, we go to a friend's house for dinner. The friend asks how episode 8 is coming along. I tell him I just started filming, that I'm primed to get it done this week, confident we have a good start. I excuse myself to use the bathroom. While pulling up my pants, my camera lands in the toilet. Have I stepped into a Charlie Kaufman movie? I reach in. My instinct says, "Rinse," so I do. My instinct says, "Try turning it on," so I do.  I rejoin my friends and sit in silence waiting for the courage to tell what happened. The first thing Jim says, "Whatever you do, don't try turning it on." Already done. A dozen times. Jim says, put it in a bag of rice anyway. That was Saturday night. Still no sign of life.

Maybe it's a portent, that I need to upgrade my equipment.

Though I know there are some who would prefer I see it as a sign to forget the videos altogether and return to something more reasonable.

This morning, the apple is gone from the still set trap. What more sign do we need than that?

Photo taken with the neighbor's phone.


Discovering Shockrasonica

There is a woman I know nothing about except that she lives in a house on East Mifflin Street, 
and that might not even be true.  
But it is there where I shook her hand and saw something of myself, 
had I made different choices, had I been less full of wanderlust and more full of resolve.  

She asked how I found out about the show.
She was genuinely surprised to hear that I read about it in the Isthmus. 

I never was too good at playing it cool,
 and I went around the house telling everyone how thrilled I was to discover that we are not alone, 
that Tad just might be right about the 2020's being the age of Improv. 
Here was a house full of people experimenting with sound
and listening.

Here were musicians touring the country,
the world,
with their noises and ideas.  
How many other discreet venues exist?  Is there one in my neighborhood?  

*Joel Shanahan @ Shockrasonica 6/14/13

This is how it feels to find a key to a house that resides in a dream.  
This is how it feels to realize that there is a rumbling underfoot,
A movement in the making.

This is how it feels to finally stumble upon something
I've been looking for
that I had no idea was real.


Two Women

One woman had a mother who didn't seem to care what her daughter did or didn't do. The daughter grew up determined to prove that she could be successful anyway. She pushed herself and worked very hard and had a good salary to prove it. But still she was always unsatisfied with her achievements. If only her mother had pushed her to do great things, then she would have become someone truly important, like a doctor or a senator. So when she had her own daughter, she decided it was imperative to push her to achieve great things, things she could have achieved if only she had been pushed to achieve them.

Another woman had a mother who was determined that her daughter be wealthy and highly successful. The daughter grew up resentful of her mother's unyielding pressure.  She quit school and joined a commune and found a form of happiness that her mother never understood.  Regardless, she always felt an underlying sadness caused by the disappointment she detected every time she talked to her mother.  So when she had her own daughter, she decided it was imperative to allow her the freedom to be whoever it was she wanted to be.

Both women wanted to have a better relationship with their own daughters than they had with their mothers.  Neither woman did.