12 Days of Christmas Music That Isn’t Awful (Day 8)

Have you ever wanted to cry from a Christmas song?  I don’t mean in the my-ears-are-bleeding-and-I-can’t-believe-someone-committed-this-refuse-to-a-recording-for-sadistic-posterity sense, but in the unexplainable sense.  The way it feels when something just triggers your tear reflex, and you weep for no apparent reason that you or anyone else can discern.

When I was a child, “Christmas Time Is Here” from A Charlie Brown Christmas made me cry.

Now, I looked forward to this holiday special every year and never missed it, but inevitably the scene of the children all skating on the pond, of Snoopy flying across the ice like joyfulness personified, struck a chord in me I didn’t like to acknowledge.  I didn’t have the conscious vocabulary then to express Charlie Brown’s angst myself, but I definitely felt a malaise come December 27th, after the holiday was finished and my cousins and I had separated from our inevitable holiday sleepover and there was nothing to look forward to but going back to awful school.  (I think that’s why I celebrate New Year’s Eve so persistently now.)  My father explained to me, when I was a child, that I had the “Christmas blues” and was sad that the holidays were over, and while this made sense to me logically, it didn’t really scratch the itch of not understanding my sadness.

And this song made me cry, inexplicably, every time I heard it, even into my early adulthood.  It doesn’t anymore, and in fact I rather like it.  I’m not sure, honestly, I ever didn’t like it.  Such a conundrum.

So this morning my kids gave their holidays concerts at school.  They sang with everyone else in their grades a delightful collection of holiday songs highlighting Christmas, Hanukkah, the winter weather, and world peace.  My son’s concert was fun and sweet, several dozen first graders bravely soldiering through some very cute melodies.  Then the third grade arrived, with my daughter front and center.  The opening notes of the first song wafted out of the piano, and boom — they opened with this song.  It was beautiful, clear, charming, and even better than Vince Guaraldi’s chorus of cherubs.  I very nearly started crying again, and this time I think I understood.

It’s not just about angst.  It’s not just about the emotional confusion of being a child and not understanding everything you want to know about yourself yet, or having the language to know how to ask someone else to explain it to you.  It’s not just about being younger than most when you come to the epiphany that life has a dark side, too.

It’s also about beauty and love and the preciousness of a singular moment when things fall into place the way they’re supposed to, and recognizing that sometimes that gift can happen to you, too.

 

 

So now we’re out of school.  I still have a few finals left to grade today and tonight, and then I’ll be done with this semester.  Yay.

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Fashion Friday 6/21/13

This week’s Fashion Friday comes to us from my friend Cecelia. Yay! It’s a bit different from the usual fare but something excellent.
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Side note: I’ve been so grateful to our guest bloggers who have been stepping in while I’m traveling and finishing novel revisions. You’ll hear more Fashion Friday stuff from me next month, and I’ll get back to posting other writings very soon, too.  Lots of publication-type irons in the fire at the moment. Everyone’s patience is SO appreciated.
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Now, without further ado…

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 6)

Welcome to the conclusion of my six-part series, “Embracing My Inner Goth.”  You can find the first five installments via the links below.  Remember, it’s better to read them all in order, so you’ll understand the references to the earlier posts in subsequent sections.  And for those of you who’ve been so patient on this journey with me, my deepest thanks.

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 1)

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 2)

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 3)

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 4)

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 5)

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Part VI:  The New Black

Apparently decrepitude is the new black.

What happened to Ken Dracula can happen to anyone or anything, I suppose.  He lost his partner and never recovered himself.  Just like his Annie.

I remember going to a local large bookstore in Houston back when we still had more than the smattering of Barnes & Nobles and a few delightful but clinging independent stores left.  It was the Alabama Bookstop, an iconic place before B&N had bought it: a bookstore carved from an old movie theater that had one screen, a balcony, and art deco murals on the walls.  It was a fabulous bookstore in its day, and I performed many poetry readings and at least Continue reading “Embracing My Inner Goth (part 6)”

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 4)

Just a reminder:  tomorrow is the 13th of the month, and so it is a Rêveur Day.  Be sure to wear black and white with a pop of red, and then send me your picture if you feel so inspired.  (And thanks to all those of you who are doing it even when you don’t send pictures.  I enjoy hearing about it on Facebook, too.)  For more information on what I’m talking about, please click here.

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Here is the continuation of my six-part gothiness series.  You can read the previous three parts by clicking on these links:

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 1)

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 2)

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 3)

And while you’re at it, check out this review of Werewolf Songs over at As You Were.  This CD went on my Christmas list faster than you can say lycanthrope.

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Part IV:  Tim Burton, I’m Sorrowful to Report, Just Might Have Lost His Edge

I had always been a fan of Tim Burton’s work.  Even before I knew who he was, Beetlejuice was my favorite movie.  I had seen it fourteen times by the time I hit my senior year of high school, which in that pre-Internet time of Blockbuster Video and VCRs was a big deal.  His movies were macabre and funny, visually appealing and well acted.  I thought his stories were original.  And who doesn’t love, love, love Danny Elfman?  (I’m still listening to Oingo Boingo’s Dead Man’s Party.)

I loved his trademark black-and-white stripes, not because of any affection for black-and-white stripes, but because he had a trademark.  Burton could be known even without an introduction.  He had a strong sense of himself, and I gravitated toward that even before I consciously understood how much I admired and yearned for that quality.

But as much as I have always loved The Nightmare Before Christmas — to this day autumn finds me singing “Sally’s Lament” in the shower — I have to admit Corpse Bride left me feeling a little hollow.  It didn’t have the fully realized grandeur of his previous movies, even though all the right elements were there.  And with the notable exception of the incomparable and exquisite Big Fish, most of his movies lately have been…disappointing.  His new take on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was goofy, and his reimagining of Alice in Wonderland just about broke my heart.

But then he tackled Dark Shadows, and I allowed myself to hope.  The early trailers and studio stills looked promising, the cast of the usual beloved suspects (with Michelle Pfeiffer and Eva Green thrown in for a bonus), impeccable.  I started to feel excited, sure that his pitiful streak couldn’t go on for this long.  And how could you go wrong with Dark Shadows?

He found a way.

Crackpot storytelling, that’s how.  An inability to remember what denouement is — or the integrity of plot.  More style than substance.  And the worst use of werewolf ex machina I’ve ever seen.

I sat in the theater in a long black skirt and the most incredible Iron Fist shoes and wanted

These shoes are actually purple, not blue.
These shoes are actually purple, not blue.

to eat an entire box of Raisinets and chase them down with a whole bag of Twizzlers.

I don’t know why I should have felt betrayed.  I do know I felt stupid for having allowed myself to hope.

But now there’s Frankenweenie, a film which has been expanded from its original short version — a short version which was one of Burton’s first projects thirty years ago.  The reviews so far have suggested this one is worth a look, even considering the last several years of shlock. *

And once again, that eternal fountain of hope is bubbling up inside of me.  If I could just find someone willing to see it with me, I’d be set.

One last look before we go.
One last look before we go.

*  Check out this review of Frankenweenie by Tom Charity.

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Click on these links to be taken to the rest of the posts in this series.  Thanks for reading!

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 5)

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 6)

 

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 3)

This is the third installment in a six-part series.  You can read the first and second parts by clicking on these links:

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 1)

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 2)

It’s better to read them in order, of course.  Enjoy!

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Part III:  If You Want to Learn Something, Try Looking in a Book

I have an unusual name. Or so I have been led to believe by a series of recurring circumstances in my life: Continue reading “Embracing My Inner Goth (part 3)”

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 2)

This is the second installment in a six-part series I began recently and which will continue over the coming days and weeks.  Click here to read the first part.  Enjoy!

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Part II:  Fangs!

Let’s go back for a moment to my college days. My younger brother, Robert, who somehow knows pretty much everyone, had made the acquaintance of a man who called himself Ken Dracula (not his real last name). Ken was a dental hygienist who had acquired a following by making, for fun in his spare time, fangs for people. He used color-matched denture acrylic and made a bridge for you to wear, the fangs (two canines on the top were his most popular) covering and hugging your real teeth, attached by a bar hidden behind them. Believe it or not, they were sort of comfortable to wear, even aside from the incredible cool factor of having fangs that looked like real teeth! There were just a few rules you had to follow, one of which was Continue reading “Embracing My Inner Goth (part 2)”

What I Can Learn from the Beauty of Tiny Beowulf

My son just started kindergarten last month. He’s a likable kid, on the tall side for his age, slightly moody — because, you know, he’s five — and he has lots of friends. He also has a litany of vision problems and wears the tiniest bifocals you’ve ever seen, but he likes them because he thinks they make him look like Harry Potter. He has silky-straight blonde hair, Continue reading “What I Can Learn from the Beauty of Tiny Beowulf”