The Cripple’s Reel

I would like to compose a tune with that title, “The Cripple’s Reel”. With some unusual time signature, such as 7/3 or something. Or, perhaps, being a reel, 19/8. I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking, Always the odd shite, Mig, because you don’t know enough about music to make something normal that’s interesting. To which I reply, What’s normal about being interesting? I mean, interesting about being normal? Unless the normality is merely a mask behind which nefarious or subversive intentions are implemented? That would be somewhat interesting.

I’ve been thinking about writing a clinical study on the interaction of muscle relaxants and Jameson Irish whiskey.


Large, mostly dark Gestalt appears to pursue two lighter, one reddish, one grey, and much faster shapes through a lime-green space, suggestive of infinite time/space.

See, this morning after Gamma left for school the kittens got into Gamma’s room and I, still a bit groggy from my “back pill” last night, was chasing them, in my usual black suit and tie, cursing like Harvey Keitel (I like to think) in a Quentin Tarantino film (Bad Vet, maybe). And the elusive little critters were diving between the bed and the trundle bed beneath it, and I would wait 30 seconds silently and, missing the attention they would climb back out, and I would chase them again, and they’d dive back under the bed. This went on for six minutes, or twelve tries, until I caught the female and tossed her out and closed the door. The male is easier to catch, generally, but by this time I was impatient, and my back was killing me from all the diving around, goddammit, so I endeavoured to make his trundlebed hiding place less comfy by sliding it back and forth with increasing velocity until he opted to join his sister in the hallway at which point all was calm again.

I have not combined back pills with whiskey since the first time due to the previously-mentioned (elsewhere) side effects which include falling down (due to excessive relaxation) and being treated well by my wife due to her mistaking me for a friend.

I have, besides this study, also been thinking about dementia, and two relatives directly affected, and how they are coping or not and also, as one does, at least if one has hypochondriac tendencies, wondering whether this dark hole haunting me has any connection to this.

You know the dark hole, right? Not really a hole, just this vast darkness in your mind? Or your meta-mind? This darkness back there, so dark it’s hard to say anything more about it but I’ll try? And you wonder if the names you forget, or switch, or the words you have trouble accessing, are somehow connected, and whether your pursuits, such as ballroom dancing, or music lessons, or artistic pursuits, or composition, are a good insurance policy against this, or useless.

Time will tell, I guess.

Also, fucking back, man.

At least I’ve been dreaming more lately. Great dreams, I am very grateful for dreams. Thanks! Two nights ago I was on a ship of some kind on a stormy nighttime sea, with a Danish singer of whom I am fond, and the ship was sinking, and maybe there was an airplane, and water was coming in, but the ship was very buoyant and my singer friend was reassuring me that this was entirely normal and the ship would not, in fact, sink, and that we would make it to Iceland just fine, or something. In the second dream that night I was pointing a plastic rocket launcher at a family about to escape in a helicopter, waiting for them to take off so that they would die in the crash when I shot them (they were bad guys) (there was also a cargo plane in this dream) when my alarm went off.

Last night: my wife walked into a wall in a seaside Japanese town (or so I was informed by a young man in the dream) and I was a spectator at a massage contest, and one of the masseuses and her friends had decided to massage me, when my alarm went off.

And so it goes.

How to make a living writing blog posts

  1. I’m guessing catchy titles are important.
  2. Otherwise, don’t do what I do, because I have never managed to make a cent with this, except for some Bug merchandise I made $30 selling on Cafepress a few years ago and oh, yeah, a part-time job I really like that I found through a friend I made blogging.
  3. And probably other stuff I forgot.
  4. I had a dream last night, sort of a nightmare. My wife and I were driving seperate cars in the pitch dark. Our headlights didn’t work and we were trying hard to stay together and not crash into anything.
  5. Weird, huh.
  6. I bought a pair of 400W active speakers with birthday money. Now I can not only rock out with my electric cello, I can plug in my theremin and anything else (such as Gamma’s keyboard) at the same time.
  7. This reminds me a little of stepping on the gas when the light turns amber but oh well.
  8. The cat woke me at 2 AM, but that was okay because I was already awake with a migraine, which has now mostly passed.
  9. The day is sunny. I plan to wander the streets at lunch, looking* for an anniversary gift for Alpha.
  10. Seriously, 400W each. “Those are bigger than our school band has,” Gamma said when she saw them. Rawk out.

*with a strong sense of purpose, not desperation

The big night

Re: #8 on my list of 50 things down below there (which has been updated and more or less completed), as John Cage writes in his book “Silence”,


Excuse me, that Red Bull belch made my eyes water. Taurin or something. That’s what I get for drinking the large can.

John Cage writes, composing, performing and appreciating music are three different, unconnected things. Id est, it would be totally legimate for me to compose such a piece, and no doubt an audience could appreciate it, but my guess is it would be the performance part where the whole thing falls apart.

Not so with my latest composition, which is going to be performed tonight. The composition is done, a duet for theremin and soprano, with a background tape of the voices you sent in (both natural and highly distorted). It has been rehearsed, and works. My biggest problem is avoiding being enthralled by the singer’s beautiful voice and forgetting to make sounds on the theremin.

I am curious about the reception it will receive. It will be recorded, and videotaped, and I will post something if I can work out all the rights and stuff.

Originally, I had hoped to get someone else to play the theremin part, but it seemed fair to me that the composer play his own composition, no matter what Cage said.

Wish me luck, or to break a leg or whatever thereminists say.

Rupture an eardrum!

Reverse a chakra!

Get a shock!

News from the crick

I went walking along the creek this morning because my shin and ankle hurt too much for me to run. The creek is high and muddy from the rain we’ve had (most excellent thunderstorm night before last) and there was a pair of swans. Then I saw a beaver swimming downstream. I jogged a little to catch up with him, then walked parallel with him for a while. This irritated the beaver and it dove and came up further downstream, and nearer the far bank. As we got closer to the swans, I saw that they had 6 cygnets and they saw us (noticing first me, then the beaver). One headed downstream with their young and the other swam first in my direction, then towards the beaver when it noticed him. The beaver dove again and resurfaced down stream from the swans and we all relaxed.

It was tense there for a minute.

Then I walked back home, where I picked some lettuce for the tortoise, and noticed that a horde of slugs had discovered our lettuce. They prefer the iceberg to the arugula, which is probably harder for a slug to pronounce. “Let’s eat the aru- arugu- oh, fuck, let’s have iceberg again.”

Then I cleaned litter boxes. One of our cats learned a life lesson last night, it seems, namely that it is easier to eat balloons and rubber bands than it is to keep them down.

50 things I failed to do before turning 50

I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish before turning 50. In no particular order, here it is, as near as I can recall. Contrary to the title of this post, some of them I actually accomplished. See the footnotes for more details.

  1. Fix the silicone caulking in the kitchen.1
  2. Sand and paint the fence.2
  3. Fix the downstairs doors so they don’t drag along the floor.3
  4. Start drawing Bug comix again.4
  5. Compose something for a string quartet for some kids.5
  6. Figure out my electric cello.6
  7. Get an amp for it.7
  8. Compose a percussion piece to be played by slapping spatulas on Dame Helen Mirren’s naked body.8
  9. Publish a book.9
  10. Publish a story.10
  11. Submit stories, at least.11
  12. Make a list of potential places to submit stories.12
  13. Write a list of 50 things I want to do before I am 50.13
  14. Lalalalala. No one reads these lists past 10, amirite?14
  15. Learn to paint.15
  16. Build a treehouse.16
  17. Learn to fly.17
  18. Learn to ride a motorcycle.18
  19. Learn to speak Chinese.19
  20. Climb Mt. Everest.20
  21. Acquire as many crossbows as a man needs.21
  22. Zombie sword. Zombie sword.22
  23. Lose 15 kg.23
  24. Learn ballroom dancing.24
  25. Learn wine basics.25
  26. Communicate with my father.26
  27. Make up with my wife.27
  28. Establish career as nude photographer.28
  29. Learn to bake bagels.29
  30. Learn to bake sourdough bread.30
  31. Drive across the USA.31
  32. Take the Trans-Siberian railroad.32
  33. Learn to scuba dive.33
  34. Learn to throw a knife.34
  35. Quit smoking.35
  36. Stop being depressed.36
  37. Overcome shyness.37
  38. Prostate exam.38
  39. Learn cello.39
  40. Learn basic electronics.40
  41. Throw a party for my friends.41
  42. Learn the art of invisibility.42
  43. Get rid of a bunch of junk.43
  44. Get the yard looking good.44
  45. Get a tortoise tattoo.45
  46. Make a few good friends.46
  47. Give away all my junk and move to a Zen monastery where they happen to teach you badass fighting skills, too.47
  48. Work from home.48
  49. Invent something clever.49
  50. Be illuminated.50

2fail, so far this year, although in my defense i have been waiting for warmer weather. will get it done this summer.
3fail, as last weekend’s houseguests can testify.
4fail. although i have been noting ideas.
5started to do this, but it was rejected as too difficult to play. it was minimalistic, with long stretches of repetition, and would have been too hard for the kids to keep track. instead, they composed a piece themselves, which is even cooler.
6am starting to do this. will be easier, i suppose, when i have an amp.
7working on this. many friends gave money towards this at my party, and I’m going shopping with a musician friend this saturday. some friends actually gave me a small, old guitar amp at the party as a joke. i tried it out this morning and despite its size, it cranks. but don’t tell alpha i already have an amp, or she wouldn’t appreciate me getting one suitably large.
8working on it. although i have the impression that the composition would be the easy part of  this project, and getting dame helen to go along with it would be more difficult, with her busy schedule.
9to do this one must write one first, which i was working on, although i recently took a break to write some short stories.
10working on this. strictly speaking, i have actually published stories, but that was many years ago.
11i’m submitting stories every week. so, not fail.
13working on it. this is a pain in the ass, though. any list i write is bound to be arbitrary. maybe i’ll reserve the right to change it as necessary.
14wow, you’re even reading the footnotes! respect!
15i have painted abstract paintings i and/or others like, but it’s more a therapeutic, mystical process at the moment than an artistic one. looking over another 50 list i just found, i see another version: “paint enough pictures to have an exhibition, whether or not i actually ever have an exhibition.” this would be a nice goal, actually, and i even know a great cellar to have an exhibition in, although the light is not so great, being underground and stuff.
16acrophobia and the lack of big trees made this impossible as a kid. although i have overcome acrophobia, a lack of big trees continues to vex me.
17won a flying lesson at the age of 11 in a contest of some kind and have liked the idea of flying since then. no time, though.
18fail. i decided it would be too dangerous.
19fail, or, if you accept a substitution of rudimentary japanese for chinese, success.
20fail, unless you accept a substitution of walking up mt. fuji.
21success, if you belong to the “a man needs zero crossbows” camp.
22fail, although this is a non-negotiable must. a H&K  repeating shotgun would also be swell, but i accept certain persons’ antipathy to firearms. also, it’s not like i really have any need for such a thing. it’s more an object to be admired theoretically, or from afar, like helen mirren.
23working on it
24working on it
25fail. switched to single malt for a while, because there was less competition. that is, fewer people could wax rhapsodic about whiskey than about wine. simply saying, hrm, iodine aftertaste, must be an islay and you were an expert, as long as you avoided actual experts.
26fail, for the most part. we were on good terms when he died, we were always on good terms, he was patient with me, but i have this feeling that i let him down without meaning to.
27this currently looks like success. no doubt the purely academic nature of goal #8 helps.
28fail. this was a boyhood goal, fueled less by aesthetic interests than you know.
29success. still perfecting them though.
30fail, but have not given up hope.
31fail, so far.
32success. 1986, i think. highly recommend it, if you don’t mind the idea of sitting in a train for 2 weeks. once would be enough for me, though.
34fail. have tried this, and learned that it’s harder than it looks. finding a place to practice is also harder than one would imagine.
36have been lucky in this regard lately. exercise helps. still sufficiently melancholy, but have not experienced extended uncontrollable depression for a long time. brief depression while exhausted or stressed, yes, but it has passed rapidly, lately.
37success. i made a speech at my birthday party. i am not going to start selling encyclopedias door-to-door any time soon, but i stood in front of 50 people, okay, friends but still, the idea would have filled me with terror recently, and told them what i thought of them. i told myself this was necessary given the occasion, so no one had to twist my arm. it really made me happy. i got choked up and had to stop before i’d said everything i planned, but it sufficed; and it was probably good that i didn’t sing “kilkelly, ireland” as i had briefly considered. knowing when to quit is half the battle. i subscribe to the opinion that it is a good thing to tell people what you think of them sometimes, at least if it is positive, and i appreciated having the chance to do this. looking at a roomful of people who had accepted my invitation and come, i was surprised to realize i had so many kind and thoughtful friends. i have been perceiving the world differently in the days since then, and not only because i’m fucking exhausted from 1. the partying and 2. cleaning (although the guests were extremely clean and well-behaved).
38really should make an appt. it’s been a couple years.
39working on it. here too, i’ve surprised myself by sticking to it, although i would suck less if i practiced more.
40fail, electronophobia. although a book i recently bought about hacking electric objects to make simple instruments is motivating me to pick up a soldering iron. i showed it to a friend who knows the vegetable orchestra, and she told me they have the same book and have been experimenting with it. that’s how cool i am!
41success. about 60 people came. my only regret was that i didn’t have enough time to spend more time hanging out with each person.
42fail, mostly. except in restaurants and with taxis. man, i get my money’s worth out of that joke, don’t i? but it’s true. however, i generally don’t feel the need to be invisible as much as i once did, which i think is a good thing.
43working on it.
44working on it, although i’m trying to train it to look good with a minimum of labor on my part. did put in a nice little vegetable garden this summer. if it works i’ll make a larger one next year.
45maybe some day.
46way exceeded this one, despite my rotten character. people are basically beautiful, and intelligent, and funny and talented, and they all like me. or are really good at faking it. i used to suspect the latter, but i’m getting over that.
47outgrew this one, i think
48have managed to avoid this so far. there are some serious pros and cons to this.
49This would be the Chaos Coefficient, if you ask me. As well as the idea that efficiency is good for individuals but bad for societies, in certain ways. C=(f+p)f is the formula for the chaos coefficient, where “f” is the number of family members living under your roof, and “p” is the number of pets you have. It is an approximate measure of the average chaos level you can expect in your life.
50i was super illuminated in the night of 8 may, because i had a sore back and took some muscle relaxant, expecting to go to bed early, but friends dropped in and one thing led to another and i felt awful just giving them one beer, but i was out, so i got out the jameson, and as they say on the warning label, do not mix with muscle relaxants. i was so relaxed that when my wife came out to the terrace to say hi, she thought i was my friend and gave me a hug and said welcome back to austria, nice to see you again. of course, the friend shares birthdays with me so we’re practically twins. and when i stood up, i fell right back down again, although i adjusted quickly. so illumination has its pros and cons, too.

Placeholder post

That was fun.

More as soon as the snow settles in the sort of globe-shaped/flat-on-the-bottom/scenery-inside paperweight that is my head.

PS: who knew that I had so many friends? And such good ones?

PPS: the rain outside sure sounds pretty.


Thanks to Portishead, my insurance premiums almost went way up yesterday. I was trying to figure out if my car was making funny noises or if it was the CD, tilting my head to listen, turning the CD player on and off, distracted, in other words, when I sort of noticed the cars in front of me slowing down, and I turned my head to check if I could change lanes and it was a good thing I did because a motorcycle was passing me on the right, but when I looked back the cars had, in the meanwhile, come to a complete stop and it was only thanks to simultaneously slamming on my brakes and swerving to the right that I avoided planting myself in the trunk of the car in front of me. Thanks a lot, Portishead.

Later I decided it was my car after all because no matter what music I had on – Ramones, the classical station or the very distracting Portishead, my car went sproing when I turned right.

Just quit turning right, I know.

I parked and walked around it but there were no external clues.

Still later I seperated the ceramic garden figurines that were on the floor in the back of my car and the sproinging stopped. Sorry, Portishead, I blamed you unfairly.