taut in tether/

©2021 Michael Raven

grit teeth hanging
thorn in side thunder
twisting on nerves
plastic howling sunder
reaching to insight
scab-crusted sore
reaching out passion
always wanting more

Audiotic Ideas

(and potentially stupid ones as well).

A couple of things I’m considering for the blog…

  • Doing spoken-word audio for select poems and microfiction
  • 30-second music in 30 minutes or “Song of the Day” (which is an idea stolen from TMBG, who had a phone line you could call and hear a new song every day by the boys)

The former is to explore some of the writing as performance elements I embraced in high school and a subsequent poetry night I emceed back in the mid-90s. Not to slam, or get too performance-y, but to aid folks who have vision issues and to give a slightly different flavor to some of the pieces here. Sometimes spoken inflections can change the entire feel of a piece and, though I am loath to foist my voice on people, I like the idea of expanding the experience on some pieces.

The other idea — a song written in a highly compressed amount of time, or a ditty of the day is more to challenge myself than anything. Not get sucked into production or individual notes, but be forced to hurry through something in the hopes that the intuitive creative process creates something more interesting than the methodical creative process.

I’m interested on your opinions about this. Post them below.

Dazzle//Siouxsie and the Banshees

One of my favorite pairs of lines of lyrics or poetry ever is:

Skating bullets on angel dust/In a dead sea of fluid mercury.

I’ll readily admit that it’s probably not the best poetry ever, but those two lines have resonated with me from the very moment I heard them around 1985. I hadn’t quite gotten around to collecting Siouxsie and the Banshee albums yet when the album was released in 1984, although I was very familiar with the name of the band by then and had heard their rendition of Helter Skelter [“You may be a lover/but you ain’t no fucking dancer”], Love in a Void and almost certainly Christine [“The Strawberry Girl”]. I was on my mission to collect Cure-related music at the time and Robert Smith was the guitarist and keyboardist for Siouxsie as the Cure had gone on hiatus after the Pornography dissolution.

At the time, I don’t think I appreciated Hyæna as much as I might have. Rumor had it that Siouxsie wouldn’t let Robert sing at all on the album “because he was an awful singer”, and that rumor turned me off a little (mostly because I’m a worse singer and at the time thought us awful vocalists should be given a chance). I think it was a good decision, now that I’m older. I loved Dazzle, Bring Me the Head (Of the Preacher Man), Dear Prudence, and a few other tracks, but it took a while for the album as a whole to grow on me — mostly because I was looking for something different at the time. But I had an instant and terrible crush on Siouxsie based on the liner photo I found as I opened the album for the first time:

The liner sleeve in my copy of the vinyl album had gotten sliced open after the first few times sliding the record in and out (as they were prone to doing at the time). I had a few spare sleeves to keep the album itself in and I posted the sleeve side with the above picture on my teenage bedroom wall as a poster, supplanting a poster I had of… well… I don’t know that I want to admit which famous woman had previously held my amorous attentions (unless — it might have been Pat Benetar, so that’s okay; the other… well, potentially embarrassing although I’d admitted her in the past).

That picture of Siouxsie is still perhaps my favorite. And, no, I’ve never gotten over my crush on her, even 35 years later. I happen to not only like her looks (now and in the past), but part of the attraction is that she is one tough chick when you find out all the bullshit she had to put up with over the years, and that’s damn attractive to me as well. She didn’t let anyone try to railroad her into anything. She was tough as nails and unapologetic about it. That earns major respect from me.

Anyway, no one cares about who a 50 yo guy has a crush on, so here is the surrounding lyrics and a link to the video for the song.

A silver tongue for the chosen one
Heavy magnum in your side
or a bloody thorn

Skating bullets on angel dust
In a dead sea of fluid mercury

Rant about e-book monthly sales

One of the rituals I used to enjoy was going to Amazon’s Kindle Monthly sales on the first of every month to see if I could snag something I’d like to have in my e-book collection — either something I have been meaning to read, or something that I loved reading in hard copy and plan to reread again. I tend to go e-book these days for portability, minimalism in space and, frankly because I like being able to increase the font size to whatever is easiest for my aging eyes to read. So, I haunt Amazon and Google Books for sales because — have I mentioned this? — I am a cheap bastard at times.

That’s not to say that books aren’t typically worth the asking price (although I do think the pricing has started to get out of hand for some titles, especially considering that e-books don’t have any manufacturing or shipping costs associated with production), but I’d be more interested in paying full price if the actual authors got the bulk of the money instead of the middlemen.

Anyway, it used to be a fun little ritual each month to see if I could bargain hunt some e-books.

It isn’t any more.

For the past year, the list of books on sale is an exercise in futility to explore. Almost all of the titles on sale these days are self-published urban fantasy/horror romances, sometimes from the same twenty rotating authors who are selling perpetually “on sale” e-books. You know the kind. “Printed price: $12.99; buy for $2.99; YOU SAVE $10”. On non-sale days, you only save $6, or whatever.

I would have thought that urban fantasy-romance and urban horror-romance would have tapered off by now and be replaced by something else, but it still persists. That’s in spite of the rise of steampunk-romance, magician-romance and tattoos-or-piercings-as-magic-conduit-romance “novels” of less than 125 pages (notice a theme yet?). I might not look on these with such derision if I haven’t read a few to see what the hoopla is all about. Most could actually use the editors from the big publishing houses to, at the bare minimum, clean up the grammatical stuff and trim out the chaff. I read one book at the request of the author. I usually try to find something positive to say about someone’s writing, no matter how much I dislike the actual content — especially when asked to provide comments. I struggled. The best I could say is that I didn’t care for it, but there was potential in the concept (a minor whopper, it was a trope-filled hot mess), and that mileage may vary. Most of these [X]-romance writers are only slightly better, in my opinion. You can find free fan-fiction that is better quality literature in most cases.

Plus — I really hate “dark romance”. I mean, I really, really hate “dark romance”. Especially when it tries to emulate 50 shades of mediocrity (“WITH VAMPIRES!™”).

I checked out the list today and my shoulders slumped. It threatened to be interesting for about 8 titles out of 173 fantasy/scifi novels, but they were only third-rate titles by Silverberg and P. Anderson, and a compilation with Gaiman as a contributor. The bulk of the rest? Something-dark-romance. And these are cross-tagged with literature, fiction, romance, horror, so you find them in most of the sales lists. They are unavoidable. And the authors or Amazon put the titles on sale every other month, so you see the same titles and authors over and over and over…

I might stop looking at this rate.