The September of Lost Words

Hi! Happy fall! How are you surviving our political hellscape?

This whole year has been rough, I know, but my god, how especially rough have these past few weeks been? You all read the news, you know what's what. You don't come to me for discourse on current events and political commentary, I know. But still; occasionally I feel like I just need to acknowledge that, yes, it's all really incredibly bad.

But so much is still good too! And I just naturally feel like I'm a little bit more effective in that arena, in trying to keep myself, and the folks around me, grounded in the truth of the persistence of joy, since so much of the control that's being exerted over us right now is attempting to keep us intentionally scared and unstable and thus pliable.


This past month I read Trina Robbins's new memoir Last Girl Standing and loved every deliciously, deliriously, hilariously dishy page. I saw the National Theatre's filmed production of Angels in America, parts one and two, over the course of two weeks at the Music Box Theatre here in Chicago and just sobbed my eyes out, grateful for the reminder of the redemptive power of really, really good art (this current revival, yes, but also, my god, Kushner's vision as a whole, what a masterwork). I got a kick-ass shiatsu treatment from absolute wizard Vita Lerman. And a couple weeks after that, still feeling a bit crunchy in my shoulders from all last month's international travel, I also got a massage that finally loosened me up enough to get me feeling normal again. Brian and I, after reading about the "orange fool" controversy in The New Yorker, have become borderline obsessed with the gentle delights of the Townsends historical reenactment and educational videos on YouTube.

It's crazy that all of this can coexist with all of that. But it can, and does.
Table of contents:

  1. What's new on the blog

  2. Elsewhere

  3. "Wichita Lineman": The 2017 Covers Series

  4. Psychic balance

What's new on the blog

This month on Queen of Peaches, I tell a silly story about the weird phases I started noticing in college where I would just straight-up lose words:

The first one I noticed was “thermometer.” I’d have this blanked-out moment of aphasia where I’d be looking at a long glass thing filled with mercury that was divided into evenly spaced units of measurement, and it would take me several generous beats before I could pull the word “thermometer” to the surface of my consciousness.

The next one to go was “report card.” It got to the point where, when I couldn’t wait those extra few seconds for the right phrase to appear out of the depths of wherever it had gone missing in my brain, I’d improvise a close-enough equivalent. I remember having a conversation about grades at some point and breezily referring to “you know, the summary report.” An Anglophile friend often accepted these substitutions with a laugh, suggesting that I should just pass them off, if ever questioned, as obscure British slang.

Click here to read the rest.


Reflecting on fifteen years at my day job.

I received a delightful but entirely unnecessary thank-you in the acknowledgments section of the new book Neon Visions: The Comics of Howard Chaykin by Brannon Costello.

Here's a video of Brian and me playing our song "Like November," from the soundtrack to Gene Kannenberg Jr's Qodèxx, filmed live in Evanston over Labor Day weekend.

As ever, the music for Qodèxx is available to download by clicking here. And Qodèxx itself is available for purchase here.

I know I haven't written anything yet about Glen Campbell's death, and I really think it's because I kinda just can't. I can't wrap my head around how to process the enormity of his musical legacy, which is different than even the kind of cultural legacy left by, say, Bowie or Prince. But I love that apparently no such processing was necessary for Guns N' Roses to cover "Wichita Lineman" as a tribute to Campbell at their August 30 show in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Click here to listen to the song on YouTube.

The fact that it’s not a particularly “good” or skillful cover, combined with the fact that they were sort of actively willing to alienate most of their audience, who most assuredly were not Glen Campbell fans (check out the woman who screams, around the 1:55 mark, "I have no idea what this song is!"), to me, just means that they were really, sincerely committed to playing this song. I love that! It’s so pure.

Axl totally rushes through the first few lines of the verse, almost crashing and burning before the song had a chance to get into a groove. And even once they do manage to lock in, it all still seems incredibly tentative, like a group of middle school students who are just learning to play their instruments and are nervously stumbling through their debut performance at the talent show to the general indifference of the audience.

They are, though, of course, actually really good musicians, so Slash’s acoustic guitar flourishes kind of pull the whole thing together, as does the drummer when he really lays into the beat toward the end. And, how can you not love that big grin and shrug that Slash gives right after the final note rings out? I’ve made that exact same face on stage so many times over the years, that “maybe we pulled it off? Who knows?!” gesture of giving it your best shot, knowing it might have been a little shaky, but also knowing what’s done is done, no take-backs, and thank god it’s over.

“For Glen,” Axl says solemnly at the end. The sweet, plainspoken, vulnerable earnestness of it is actually in perfect keeping with the song’s spirit of dignified melancholy.

Where do you need to come into balance in your life right now? Are you so plugged into the news cycle that you're neglecting big things in your personal life? So checked out of what's going on around you that could use a bracing dose of engagement with the world at large? Blaming yourself for identifying a bit too avidly with one of these descriptions instead of the other? Identifying with neither and feeling bad about that? It's all valid, and it's all grist for the mill. Come get a psychic reading and emerge an hour later with a healing dose of perspective. Don't forget that the code PEACHES gets you (or a pal!) 50% off any service in my shop.

Here's a fluffy sunshine cat:

With so much love,