“Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.”
“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.”
Despite the warning sign at the Ervay Theater during the performance by Euphonic Autonomy (and I didn’t hear anything that would warrant such warning) there were two young kids dancing in the dark at the back of the theater. They were having a blast. The low-light capability of modern digital cameras is amazing.
“We immediately escalate everything to a ten… somebody comes in with some preposterous plan or idea, then all of a sudden everyone’s on the gas, nobody’s on the brakes, nobody’s thinking, everyone’s just talking over each other with one idiotic idea after another! Until, finally, we find ourselves in a situation where we’ve broken into somebody’s house – and the homeowner is home!
—- Dennis, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
For years I was aware of a television show called “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” but I didn’t watch it. No real reason – there is so much on… maybe I was turned off by the odd theme music.
One evening I was too tired to pick up the remote and actually saw a show. I enjoyed it. Basically it is the story of five people, related to each other in confusing ways, managing a shithole bar in Philadelphia. The actors are good, the jokes are funny, but mostly I liked it because the characters are such worthless, narcissistic, amoral, debauched, drug-addled, idiotic, lazy pieces of shit that it made me think better of myself. I may have my faults – but I am not as bad as these people.
Over the last year I’d watch it off and on. Mostly I’d scan the TV listings and DVR the episodes I hadn’t seen. That way I could binge watch them at odd times when I wasn’t missing anything important. With the DVR, I could fast-forward through the commercials or boring bits and see the whole episode in a few minutes.
There were a dozen seasons (It’s currently tied with Ozzie and Harriet as the longest running live-action sitcom – the only thing it shares with Ozzie and Harriet) so there was plenty to watch. I’m not sure how many episodes or seasons I’ve seen – more than a few. There isn’t much of a long-term arc, so there’s no reason to watch the shows in order.
It is fun to speculate about how dark each episode is capable of going. Usually the show doesn’t disappoint and ends up going darker than you thought possible.
And then came the thirteenth season and, especially the final, 10th episode (144th overall), Mac Finds His Pride.
And everything changes.
I was home, exhausted after work, and noticed the DVR was recording the show. I thought I would check it out and realized that there was something else on – some sort of a dance program. The stage was dark and covered in water and a muscular man and athletic woman were doing an amazing dance number to Sigur Rós music.
It was entrancing. As I watched, I suddenly realized, “Shit! That’s Mac dancing.” It was indeed It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
I immediate rewound and watched the whole show. It started out like any episode – The gang was trying to get a float in the Philadelphia Gay Pride Parade to bring in business and wanted someone to dance on the float. Mac was the best candidate, but didn’t want to do it – having trouble relating to his imprisoned father and his sexuality.
One of the running “gags” of the series is the character Mac (full name – Ronald MacDonald) and his struggle to come to terms with being gay. At the beginning of this episode Frank (Danny DeVito) had broken his nose and was constantly shoving nasty stuff up his nostrils to staunch the bleeding.
All well and good – then it happened. Mac and Frank went to Mac’s father’s prison and Mac put on a dance with a woman to try and explain how he felt.
It was transcendent.
I was gobsmacked. This piece of artistic beauty came so far out of left field and was so unexpected… yet it was so appropriate and inevitable. I some unexplainable way it summed up everything. It was the moment that thirteen seasons – 144 shows – of unmitigated nihilistic worthlessness is redeemed by one moment of excellence.
It was the most audacious, brilliant thing I’ve seen on television since Part 8 of the new Twin Peaks.
Check out this article about how much work went into this. The actor, Rob McElhenney, can’t dance – more accurately, he can only do one dance. He spent a year learning it. And you can’t help but love his incredible partner, professional ballerina Kylie Shea.
I have always loved Sigur Rós. They sponsored a series of films of their music – The Valteri Mystery Film Experiment. There are several videos of the song in the dance, Varúð. Here’s a particularly good one:
Ultimate goal – 50,000 words.
Daily goal – 1,667 words
Goal total so far – 1,667 words
Words written so far – 1,685 words
Words to goal – +18
“He who jumps into the void owes no explanation to those who stand and watch.”
― Jean-Luc Godard
As I committed the other day, I am doing Nanowrimo – the National Novel Writing Month this November – writing a 50,000 word (small) novel in a month. Not necessary a good novel, or even a readable novel, but one of 50K words.
On October 31 – I came home from work and took a nap – getting up at midnight to write on the first hour of the first day. I have collected a series of prompts or inspirations – the first one was a snip from a Jean-Luc Godard film – the famous dance scene.
I hammered out 1,685 words, then tried to go back to sleep. Unfortunately, I was so enervated by the writing I had trouble falling into slumber and had a worn out, tired day at work. But at least I’m on track for the first day.
Snippet of what I wrote:
I was mesmerized. The music was complimented by the chatter of the other diners and the clinking of plates and silverware, but the three seemed to exist in a reality all of their own. They were dancing in the diner but also living outside of it, away from it, beyond it. They did not belong there. They were style, beauty, and grace, and a… cool was the only way to say it.
They were the epitome of cool in the least cool place in the world. And the diner wasn’t able to understand… to appreciate the miracle that was inside it. Like aliens from a distant planet… no, they weren’t the aliens, they were the real people. The diner was the alien planet and they were the only authentic humans that had ever graced its grimy linoleum floor. And the diner with its oblivious patrons kept on slinging its grease completely oblivious to the miracle moving about the space in front of the jukebox.
I warned you – if I’m going to write 50K words in a month – it isn’t going to be very good.
“He always accuses me of trying to look’cool’, I was like, ‘everybody tries to look cool, I just happen to be successful.”
― Daniel Clowes, Ghost World
I am the least cool person in the world. I have always wanted to be cool, but have always failed miserably.
If you don’t know what cool is, watch the youtube video at the bottom of this post. It is from Bande à part – a film by Jean-Luc Godard. It is the coolest thing in the world.
The reason I re-stumbled across this scene is that I am collecting bits that I can use as inspiration for the Upcoming NanoWriMo. Hopefully, I can get a day’s worth of words out of this. I think I can steal this scene and move it to… let’s say a run-down diner on an abandoned highway in western Nebraska or some place like that. That sounds cool.
“I assert that the art of sculpture, among all the arts connected with design, is at least seven times greater than any other, for the following reason: why, sir, a statue of true sculpture ought to have seven points of view, which ought all to boast equal excellence.”
― Benvenuto Cellini, The Autobiography Of Benvenuto Cellini
In the City of New Orleans there is a fantastic arrangement of sculpture along Poydras Street. Walking down and back from my son’s apartment to the Running of the Bulls I took photos of a few of them that I’ll share with you.
The first one that I noticed was a beautiful bronze woman in an athletic, dancelike pose, rising above the median only a few feet toward the river from where my son lives. Looking it up, I wasn’t too surprised to find out it was another work by Enrique Alferez like the nearby Lute Player and David – which I wrote about the last two days.
Alferez has work all over the city.I must make a list and try to get to some more the next time I visit.
Over several years, for the month of June, I wrote about a short story that was available online each day of the month…. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.
Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year – In September this time… because it is September.
Today’s story, for day 7 – Why Don’t You Dance?, by Raymond Carver
Read it online here:
Why Don’t You Dance?, by Raymond Carver
He considered this as he sipped the whiskey.
—-Raymond Carver, Why Don’t You Dance?
If I could write like anyone, I would want to write like Raymond Chandler.
His stories are a revelation to me. His characters real, with flaws and good points, – with the flaws winning out in the balance by quite a bit.
What I like the best is the way he leaves stuff out. He doesn’t tell us everything, only what’s important. In today’s story, he doesn’t tell us how or why everything has come to the state it is, because that isn’t important. He doesn’t even tell us what happened… because that isn’t important.
He does tell us that they drank, and that they drank too much, and that they danced, and that the records were crappy.
Because that is what is important.
Interview with Raymond Carver:
But what made you want to write?
The only explanation I can give you is that my dad told me lots of stories about himself when he was a kid, and about his dad and his grandfather. His grandfather had fought in the Civil War. He fought for both sides! He was a turncoat. When the South began losing the war, he crossed over to the North and began fighting for the Union forces. My dad laughed when he told this story. He didn’t see anything wrong with it, and I guess I didn’t either. Anyway, my dad would tell me stories, anecdotes really, no moral to them, about tramping around in the woods, or else riding the rails and having to look out for railroad bulls. I loved his company and loved to listen to him tell me these stories.
—-Raymond Carver, from the Paris Review