Music Appreciation: “Hey Moon” by John Maus

I’m 10 years late to the John Maus train but there is something so enchanting about this song. I credit it in planting the first seeds of my “Divided Loyalties” WIP, which has expanded into a hefty fantasy enterprise.

The synth beats that underpin this track are hypnotizing. John Maus’ vocals echo and lull the listener into a trance as he sings his ode to the moon. I like to think of it as a love song. A love song to the night, to dreams, to the slow and sweet passage of time.

A moment bottled and forever relished.

Favorite Lyrics:

Hey moon, it’s just you and me tonight
Everyone else is asleep
Hey moon, if I was to fall
I won’t fall so deep
Though I doubt I’m gonna
You can wake me up if you wanna

I learned while routing for info that this is a cover! Sounds like I got some more music to listen to!

Things That Help Me Write

(a completely subjective list in no particular order)

  • Rainy Days. In my part of the world, the last few days have been rainy so this list is brought to you by cloudy skies and pitter patter. I can’t tell you what about these kinds of days that put me in a creative mood. Could it be the fresh smell of grass? The patter of rain? The calm of a cloudy day? The creative potential that sounds in my head like a clap of rolling thunder?
  • Something caffeinated to drink. Most days I prefer teas that range from the maltiest of blacks, those with a kiss of citrus, to the refreshing greens.  I savor coffees socially or when I struggle to keep my head up.
  • Musical brainstorming to provide soundtracks to the plot and character reels I produce in my head.
  • Writing nonsense, feelings, and routine things to start off the day. I like giving my brain a running start when it imagines a roadblock.
  • Quiet sounds. The ticking of my desk clock. The chirping of birds and the sound of rustling leaves outside my window. The cars rushing past. The sound of my constant breathing. The slow hum of thought.
  • Staring up and away from the page to my plant shelf and the sepia world.
  • Not writing at all the time. I wouldn’t call myself the most dedicated of writes so this may seem counterintuitive to this list. But sometimes not writing gives me more ideas and more energy when I do decide to write. I bubbling with creative energy when I’m at work shuffling books, when I’m in the kitchen prepping vegetables, and even when I’m vegging out watching TV. Allowing rest times makes me come back more inspired and refreshed.

Friday Favorites (4)

Aristocrats by Raleigh Ritchie

I’m wholly in love with Raleigh Ritchie. I was introduced to his music last year and most of the songs that I’ve listened to him have been gems. His latest single, “Aristocrats,” is my latest obsession.

It’s not just the song itself (which is amazing!) but the music video. The costume design in this is stunning with black actors in glorious period costumes that highlight major eras in British history. There’s also interesting uses of symbols like the Union Jack behind the cast that have me contemplating themes with every re-watch.

Favorite Lines:

1.
I don’t even know if I know my own mind
I don’t even know if I’m on my own time
I don’t even know if I know what’s right for
me, 

2.
I’m tongue-tied, brain fried
I’ve sacrificed my whole life
I don’t think you realise but you are in my insides
My brain hurts and it ain’t worth it
I’ll keep hurting, I’ll keep working
I’ll go high when you go low
And I’ll get by, you’ll never know

A Few Innocent Obsessions

Let’s share a few obsessions from the last month.

I went through a week where I was obsessed with “Evil” by Interpol. The strangely alive and haunted eyes of Norman drawing me into watching the music video for at least once a day like it was a curious prescription.

This obsession spilled over to their other music. “C’mere” and “Slow Hands.” I realized that eras of my life had a sound and the strangeness of that thought. I’m in middle school marinating in early 2000s alternative with bass lines I can feel in my bones and my heart aches.

One weekend I binged on Ari Aster films getting pleasantly disturbed by the flowers of Midsommar and the slow breakdown of a family haunted in Hereditary. And then there’s the VVitch where I was reminded of the slick blood spilt by paranoia and the taint of fanaticism.

I’ve been trying to get more into movies in general so in between the horror, I took Booksmart as a light palate cleanser. A beautifully shot comedy dealing with the elation of female friendships and the growing pains of moving on. The stylized shots of The Last Black in San Francisco with its commentary on gentrification and history. The house as a solid anchor to family, love, and healing the two as something so intrinsic to yourself.

And writing. Writing has been an obsession again fueled by camaraderie. I joined a local writing group with the write-ins and creative electricity in the air.

The mind hungers for an outlet. My fingers spill ink that chews through paper and I feel like myself again.

Friday Faves: The Existential Horror of Russian Dolls and the Multiverse

Time loops and multiverses. What could be better?

Fave 1: The Existential Horror Of Russian Doll

I’ve made no secret of my love of Russian Dolls (at least with my friends and family). It’s one of the most well-crafted and thought-provoking narratives that I’ve seen on TV for a while and it features concepts that have always intrigued me in fiction.

Nadia keeps living and dying repeatedly on the night of her 36th birthday party. As the narrative progresses, she learns more about the people around her and her own suppressed trauma. The story delves into the importance of human connection: how it can raise us up, damage us, and heal us. As the story progresses, it gets messy but you’re not going to get any spoilers from me, friends.

But there is also an existential horror element featured in a narrative that cancels out choices with oftentimes violent death. Nobody else remembers but you. And that’s what really got to me at points: the sense of pointlessness and meaning of the death-life cycle. How you end up trudging through the day until your next inevitable fatal tumble down the stairs. And trying to get to the truth of it is being confronted by your own isolation in this experience.

Nadia also confronts the impact she has on people’s lives. She self-professes that having her life dependent on another person is her own personal hell and the audience can see this play out in how she chooses to emotionally distance herself from the people around her. It has all the layers as the title suggests.

So, what I’m trying to say if you like a bit of dark comedy, horror, and don’t mind a bit of gore, please watch Russian Doll. Also, check out the soundtrack because it’s also freakishly good!!!

Speaking of which…

Fave Song: Gotta Get Up by Harry Nilsson

 

What I’m Excited for (TV Wise)

Did you guys see this trailer? I nearly cried watching this

Music: The Soundtrack to My Creativity

Music has been a huge part of my creative process. It puts the fire in my creative spirit as cheesy as it sounds. Ever since I was a little girl curled up with Radio Disney in my bedroom, music has given me ideas through daydreams so vivid, my heart twists and turns with my characters. Every story has its own soundtrack. A song doesn’t have to be tangentially related to the story itself. It just has to feel right.

I can’t even begin to describe my musical tastes. It’s a bit all over the place so my process from inspiration to idea tends to be just as random. The music of Queen and Come on Eileen somehow ended up undergirding the emotional intensity I want to convey in the historical horror Grim Lore, especially in its early concept stages. Stranger still because it’s supposed to take place in 19th century America in the wilds of E. Texas. Boxer Shorts was inspired by a beautiful Mexican pop song, Limon y Sal, about accepting the differences of your significant other through fairy tale metaphor. Again, I’m not sure how I got there.

Friday Faves (#2)

And somehow it’s already November. Seriously, where did the time go?!

the poison squadI have a morbid fascination with poison in all its forms. This week I’ve been reading The Poison Squad by  Deborah Blum. Blum authored The Poisoner’s Handbook which I devoured some months ago. It discussed the New York poison scene in the 1920s listing off how common poisonous compounds like arsenic, cyanide, and ethyl alcohol found their way from common household products to a criminal’s arsenal for murder. The Poison Squad tackles the same topic but focuses on the Wild West of the food industry. More specifically, how rampant fraud, adulteration, and downright poisoning was frequent in the food products most Americans consumed at the turn of the century. A team, headed by chemist Dr. Harvey Wiley, helped in uncovering it all. It’s quite a fascinating read.

Another fave is more nostalgia-related. I rediscovered my love for Foster the People. Foster the People hearkens to a very specific period of my life: high school. When they first came out with their Torches album, it was one of the quintessential albums of my later school days and I only really realized this when, on a whim, my sister started playing their earlier videos on Youtube. I became a smidge teary-eyed while listening to “Helena Beat” and “Call it What You Want.” Yes, I’m that kind of emotional. It also reminds me how old I am.

Friday Faves (#1)

Where I list some things that have made me happy this week!

Japanese Breakfast “Road Head”

I’ve always been a fan of Japanese Breakfast. Her music never fails to get me into a mellow writing mood. “Road Head” one of her latest singles, has a dark atmosphere sound with lyrics that hark back on her early struggles with her music career and relationship. The music video is also perfect for the spooky season. A literal demon hanging off her throughout the entire thing.

Twenty One Pilots “Jumpsuit”

https://youtu.be/UOUBW8bkjQ4
So, a lot of my favorite bands have been releasing music in the last few weeks! Twenty One Pilots have been turning out a lot of good music some of which include “Nico & The Niners” and “My Blood.” I specifically chose “Jumpsuit” because the song immediately hooks you with that awesome guitar riff.

My Hero Academia

Okay, so I’m a couple of years late to this party but…

I don’t watch anime like I used to. I don’t watch TV like I used to. I simply don’t. But a few weeks ago, while scrolling through the great sea of Crunchyroll trying to find something to watch, I threw up my hands and decided to watch the show I’ve heard so many people raving about. And about 3 episodes in, I was hooked. This shows just has so much heart. With a unique cast of characters, action-packed plot, and intriguing world building examining the nature of heroism and interrogating the concept of what qualifies someone to be one, I wholeheartedly recommend this gem to everyone.

I’m not quite sure what to share for shows but I’m an ending girl at heart. I’ve included two of my favorite endings that the show has delighted my heart with.

The Skate Happy Mixtape

Amari Kendrick was having flashbacks to awkward middle school field trips. Bright disco lights flashed throughout the place. Pop trash from the likes of Justin Bieber and DNCE blasted over the stereo, vibrating off the walls. Was “Cake by the Ocean” even an appropriate song to play around 14 year olds?

Skate Happy always managed to have a dirty feel about the place. The atmosphere felt heavy with a distinct must layered beneath the smell of overpriced concession food and metal. The dark light intermingled with the Technicolor spotlights managed to add to the cheapness of the place. Amari could feel the building’s decades of history brimming like a strange electricity in the air. The memories of families, lovers, and friends trapped in a far gone space and time, continually circling the ring. Grooving out to disco, synth pop, and mainstream mistakes of the past. He could see its age from the scuff marks on the skate floor and the peeling on the walls.  

Now it was taken over by children, high on cake, chasing each other around the rink to the dancehall beats of Drake’s “One Dance.”

He needed a cigarette. He reached into his pocket and swore under his breath. Right, he left them in the car to show his commitment to quitting. He took a heavy whiff of his jacket sleeve to get a small taste of that sweet cancerous ash and nicotine.

A small part of him died when he could only smell the popcorn from the nearby concession stand.

“Will you stop that,” Tamika said as she pulled on his sleeve. “You look silly.”

“I don’t think inhaling my jacket sleeve is the silliest thing about this scenario,” he said as a group of kids passed right by them screaming about Joe Jonas. “Couldn’t you have chosen an adult session? Anything with a bit less awkwardness and overexcitement.”

He eyed the shadows across the rink. The emotions of the place emanating off of every teen like an impenetrable musk.

Tamika rolled her eyes. “Well, I would have, but you’re always busy on Thursdays. I have to take you whenever I can.”

“We could have had a nice dinner alone at your house—“

“And we can still have that later. After a bit of good exercise.” She stood up and performed an effortless twirl on roller blades.

There was a collective scream on the skate floor as a group of kids fell to the ground. They made the mistake of gripping onto each other for balance. The specter of embarrassment hovered over them, haunting a few as they flailed themselves back onto the carpet section.

“Exercise is not good for my smoker’s lung.” He hacked a little for emphasis.

She balanced her hands on his knees and looked him dead in the eye. “You don’t have a smoker’s lung yet, Amari.”

She straightened herself out and glided backwards, the breeze played with the stray curls at the top of her pineapple hairstyle. She playfully pushed out her lips dressed in dark rouge. “Besides, you promised.”

Her whimsy danced circles around her form and tempted him to his feet. He sometimes hated the power it had over him, bidding him to things that he’d never dream.

He balanced himself on unsteady ground. Every step he tried to take back pushed him forward. He swore aloud. He was too old to be dealing with this.

“You won’t fall if you hold my hand,” Tamika said as she attempted to steady him with a touch on his shoulder.

“No, that’ll only make us twice as likely to fall,” he said as he made a grab for her hand.

“I’m willing to take that risk. Besides, falling is more fun if you do it with someone else.”

“I beg to differ.” Amari stumbled forward. “Is it too late to get my seven dollars back?”

Tamika pursed her lips. And then the mood of the room changed.

The lights dimmed and a parade of color dots spilled onto the dance floor and darted about the room. There was silence and then a funky downbeat. There was a lull in the excitement as the kids started exiting the ring. Amari immediately recognized it. Tamika jumped up with a little squeal.

Do you remember/when we fell in love?

We were young and innocent then

“We need to get out there,” Tamika said as she started tugging him to the skate floor. “This is my jam!”

Tamika glided around the seat with an effortlessness Amari envied. She leaned over him, her eyes furrowed.

He remained stoically still.

“Amari, you promised.”

“I’m sorry, Tamika. My lack of coordination and my developing smoker’s lung prevents me from engaging in any physical activity.” He coughed for emphasis.

She pouted. “But you already paid seven dollars to get in.”

“Fair point,” He said with a slap on the knee. “I should get my money back.”

He made a move forward but it only propelled him back into the seat. That was not how this was supposed to work.

Tamika rolled next to him. Arms folded with a smile on her face. “Give up.”

“What?”

“You can’t escape the blades once you’ve taken your first step. Besides that, I’ll push you out into the skating floor if you try to leave.”

He narrowed his eyes at her. “You wouldn’t.”

“Oh, but I would. I’d love to see you flail back over here.”

Amari smiled as Tamika’s smile grew more victorious. She took him by the hand and coaxed him towards the skating floor.

“Just a couple of laps, okay?”

A pink light caught the side of her face, making her dark eyes shine in the darkness. Her curls also glistened as if they were sprinkled with dew. Amari’s breath caught as the chorus kicked in.

Do you remember the time /when we fell in love?

Do you remember the time/ when we first met, girl?

A spell was cast as they drew to the center of the skate floor. A gentle breeze followed their movements. Tamika took the lead. She laughed out loud as she spun around bringing them both into a twirl. They spun around and around to the beat. Tamika threw her head back, joy exuding off her like a powerful wave. It was enough to overcome Amari’s recurring terror of falling down.

But there was a fun that hung around them like a lucky haze. It intoxicated him.He drew her close until they could feel each other’s body heat. He was surprised at how deftly he managed this.From her wide eyed expression, she was equally astounded but it melted into a smile that hinted at a bit of playfulness. She put her fingers in between his. His hands wandered down to the small of her back.

“Will you have this dance with me, sir?”

“I would be honored madam.”

But they didn’t dance. They held each other close as the lights continued to swirl around them and Michael Jackson continued to ask “Do you remember…”

And Amari did remember. As they continued to slowly turn in the ring, his mind was brought back to that summer night so long ago. When he went out back to escape the stifling heat and the smell of cooking grease to smoke a little. Tamika just so happened to be turning that corner to get home with a carry out box in her hand. At that point, she was just a regular at the restaurant who always ordered the steak burgers and chili fries.

“I compensate for it by skating three times a week,” she confided in a conspiratorial whisper  in one of the  two times that they had talked to each other.

She walked through the excess smoke from the grill and she asked for his number.

He was so caught off guard with a cigarette hanging out his mouth that all he could bring himself to say was, “Why?”

She laughed. “Because you’re cute, dummy.”

And somehow, they’ve been together ever since. His memories weren’t as romantic as places like bars or beaches or Spain. But there was always a latent charm in their simplicity. There were late nights talks, arguments over Star Wars, home cooked meals, microwaved meals, window shopping in thrift stores and dancing to music that no one else could hear. Even being ogled at by a bunch of prepubescents in a musty skating warehouse didn’t seem so bad.

Tamika brought out a side of him that he never knew and that kind of terrified him. It really terrified him. He could see his commitment issues standing at ringside.

And then the spell was broken. “Party in the USA” blasted through the loudspeakers and the kids started to flood back into the ring. A line of overexcited teens got a little too close and Amari tried to maneuver himself out of their way, forgetting that he couldn’t skate that well.

He was suddenly looking at the ceiling before he felt his back slammed into the floor. For a moment, the world went dark as pain shot into his shoulders, his forehead. The next moment, he saw Tamika standing over him with both hands cupped over her mouth.

“You okay?”

“If okay feels like a truck slamming into you.”

She forced back a smile as she held a hand out to him. “Just walk it off big guy.”

“Assuming I can still walk,” he said grabbing hold.

Amari slowly tripped himself back onto his feet and Tamika guided him off the skating floor.

“That’s perhaps enough excitement for today,” she said as she grabbed their shoes out of their shared locker.

“Uh-huh,” he said while rubbing his aching shoulders in the waiting seats. He knew he was really going to feel that fall in the morning. Just in time for his 6AM shift.

“Was it fun at least,” she asked as she took the seat next to him.

He took a moment to think about it. “Yeah.”

“So much so that you’ll come to the next session with me?”

“I’m not sure about that,” Amari said with a smile.

 

The Weekly Obsession: “Moon of Alabama”

This Week’s Weekly Obsession is the song “Moon of Alabama”

otherwise known as the “Alabama Song,” “Moon over Alabama,” and “Whisky Bar.”

Back in college while searching for something exciting to take outside of my English and History studies, I decided to take a Musicology course that went over the history of musicals. I was always entertained by movie musicals. I was a religious Disnerd and I’ve found people dancing and breaking out in song magical (contrary to the rest of my immediate family).

But the musicology course seriously turned me on to stage musicals–the years of work and planning that goes into them and how they’ve evolved over the years.  I got somewhat familiar with the works of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill throughout most of 1920-1930 Germany. We particularly talked about their work with The Threepenny Opera and how their socialist leanings forced them into exile when the Nazis came into power.

“Moon of Alabama” is another one of their songs which featured in The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (1930). But like most things I love, it was only through a rather roundabout way that I learned so.

I first got turned on to the song by obsessively listening to the backlog of the You Must Remember This Podcast (another obsession!)  which used The Door’s version of it as an outro. I looked into it and soon found myself in the Youtube rabbit hole of cover versions that range from David Bowie to Marianne Faithfull. Around the same time, I found myself revisiting the Brecht/Weill’s songs and fell in love with the voice of Lotte Lenya.

I’ll include The Doors version of it as well below since that was the one I originally fell in love with.