Projecting Stars…

“I know, right?!” You know you’ve said it before, when that perfect lyric illustrates your day as you’re sailing down the road, work-bound, tapping the steering wheel…

Or was it just me? They say certain lyrics speak to you in visceral clarity, especially during a break up or a bad day or sometimes when one is joyful contemplative.

I had only 30 dollars to buy groceries until payday and, on a bad day, during a bad week, I spent $11 of them on the Modest Mouse album, The Moon and Antartica. I’d recently been talking about how I needed more of their music, only having Good News for People Who Love Bad News.

The funny thing is, for some reason, I thought it was their latest album. Nevertheless, my growing knowledge and appreciate for this band flourishes and thrives with each song that is new to my ears.

This album was meant to find its way to my hands, my kitchen stereo, my car stereo, etc., this week. There were lyrics where I found myself tapping on the dashboard exclaiming, “YES, MODEST MOUSE, YES! That is exactly right.”

For example, on a bad week where I was dissappointed this rang true, from a track called The Dark Center of the Universe: “Well, it took a lot of work to be the ass that I am
And I’m really damn sure that anyone can, equally easily fuck you over.” Not that I was an ass, of course, :), but hearing him repeatedly profess, “anyone can easily fuck you over” kind of gave me the sense that I was not alone. In a way, he was telling me, yeah, I know how you feel. And that’s the great thing about music, isn’t it?

We have friends when we’re alone, we have therapists free of charge, we feel connected to others. Someday, through my own music, I want to give that back to people.

Other track highlights: “Lives” and “The Stars are Projectors.” From the former, I particularly like the refrain,
“It’s hard to remember were alive for the last time
It’s hard to remember, it’s hard to remember
To live before you die
It’s hard to remember, it’s hard to remember
That our lives are such a short time
It’s hard to remember, it’s hard to remember
When it takes such a long time
It’s hard to remember, it’s hard to remember.”

Repetition works for this band. It just does.

From the latter: “All the stars are projectors, yeah
Projectin’ our lives down to this planet Earth
You’ve got the harder part, You’ve got the kinder heart
And it’s true
I’ve got the easy part, I’ve got the harder heart
Aint this true
Right wing, left wing, chicken wing
It’s built on findin’ the easier ways through…”

If you haven’t spent some time with Modest Mouse, do yourself a huge favor and pick up any of their albums. I only have two but I can assure you, from the high caliber of their work that you will not be disappointed with what you hear.

In this digitized world “it’s hard to remember” to take some time for physical media, too. Whenever I open the CD case (albeit, not an easy task with the slinky plastic and impossible adhesive). But do yourself another favor and make some time for music listening alone today.

Be well and rock on and check this out:



I’m not being Modest…

There are certain songs you can hear time and again and they never get old. One of these songs, for me, is Modest Mouse’s “Float On.” My college roommate and I had a rule, and a dance, too, that if we played it once, we had to do a replay, even if we were going to be late for class. It was a time when, broke and struggling, we both paused a moment to embrace life.

Their whole album, Good News For People Who Love Bad News is rather genius, both lyrically and instrumentally.

Tracks you must listen to:

2) The World at Large
3) Float On
10) The View
13) Blame it on the Tetons
15) One Chance

The “World at Large” has a very simple bass drum beat xx xxxx repeated all over again. It is a beat you will subconsciously tap on your steering wheel as you’re sailing down the interstate.

Some key lyrics from the album:

I like songs about drifters – books about the same.
They both seem to make me feel a little less insane.
Walked on off to another spot.
I still haven’t gotten anywhere that I want.
Did I want love? Did I need to know?
Why does it always feel like I’m caught in an undertow?
I know that starting over is not what life’s about.
But my thoughts were so loud I couldn’t hear my mouth.
(The World at Large)


Everyone’s a building burning
with no one to put the fire out.
Standing at the window looking out,
waiting for time to burn us down.
Everyone’s an ocean drowning
with no one really to show how.
They might get a little better air
if they turned themselves into a cloud.

(Blame it on the Tetons)

Just about everyone has heard “Float On.” But “The World at Large” has quickly become one of my most favorites. I like when he sings, “But you’ve still got your words and you’ve got your friends.”

Thankfully, we have more than one chance, more often than not, but even so, this is brilliant poetry:

We have one chance, one chance to get everything right.
My friends, my habits, my family, they mean so much to me.
I just don’t think that it’s right.
I’ve seen so many ships sail in,
just to head back out again and go off sinkin’.

(One Chance)

Perhaps this has been scattered. I apologize. I’ll close with this:

Wishing you wonderful holidays. Be well and rock on.


My cats are named after a Butthole Surfers song…no, really…

So, Mom is the chi of cool, and often can burst out into song and dance in the middle of the grocery store. She happens to always get the most inappropriate lyrics stuck in her head, and those happen to be the only ones she remembers sometimes. There are a few songs where this is true, one of which is the Butthole Surfers’ “Pepper.” You know, the “I don’t mind the sun sometimes” song. (It’s below, of course.) The one line she always remembers is “they were all in love with Diane / they were doin’ it in Texas…” and, occasionally, “flowin’ like an avalanche, comin’ down the mountain.”

A few things: First, the name of the band is, well, wow.

So this year, I got two kitties, one of which Mom named. She decided she should be called Cinnamon because there is a blotch on her head, right in the center between her ears, that is the exact color of the spice. We both decided, however, that it was also because Mom’s go-to song was “Pepper.” For those of you just tuning in, he sings: “Cinnamon and Sugary and softly spoken lies…you never know just how you look through other people’s eyes.”

Before I ever got the second cat, Sugar was her destined name. She lives up to it, being six pounds of spunk and sweetness and insanity. But now when I hear the song I think fondly of Mom and the cats. It’s rare that this song should cause a sing-a-long, but it did.

I was visiting my good childhood friend, Dayton, last summer for my high school reunion. I have no idea how it came up, but right there at his dinner table with is family and fiancee, we both sang a rather beautiful and harmonic rendition of the chorus. There was a moment of silence afterwards, that moment when the whole room witnessed ten years of distance close together like theatre curtains. The swish of it gave me pause.

And all I have to say about that is, “I don’t mind the (song) sometimes, the images it shows…” They say scent is the strongest memory trigger; I’ll concur, but only if song is the next strongest.


I’m the man in the…egg carton?

Everything is music to me, if you haven’t already caught on to that. Recently, I was cracking an egg into the frying pan and realized that it sounded just like the beginning power chords of Alice in Chains’ “Man in the Box.”

As my inner monologue/stream of consciousness rambles on each morning that I have an egg, it is interrupted by the powerful and dark track by band, that, despite the sad and untimely death of Layne Staley, keeps rocking on.

Now, let’s talk about Alice in Chains for a moment. “Man in the Box” was the first bass line I truly mastered. The gist of it is (in Eb Ab Db Gb):

Q E E E E S S E 4x Q E E E E E E Q E E E E E E
1. 2.

…for those of you bassists who read tab. But my first introduction to them was “Would?” from the Singles soundtrack.

When I was 12, I wrote a song that I envisioned and modeled after “Angry Chair.” When I finally “auditioned” for my brother’s band, I sang “Man in the Box” and it’s a moment I’ll never forget. First of all, I do have a good singing voice, but it really does no justice trying to be Layne Staley. Jeremy, however, was impressed and invited me in. Truth be told, I nagged a little because the singer they had was this side of tone-deaf and really NOT good.

Alice in Chains was a band that Jeremy and I shared. He had Dirt on cassette, and we enjoyed car rides (after fighting for shotgun) belting out “You know he ain’t gonna diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiie no, no, nooooohw!” from “Rooster.” That was a track that guitarist Jerry Cantrell had written in honor of his father, fighting in Vietnam.

Was I sad when Kurt Cobain died? Well, yes. But mid-way through my college years, when I discovered Layne was no longer with us, I truly grieved. A less-than-music-minded boyfriend of mine, at the time (is it a wonder that didn’t work out?) was not quite sympathetic. “Well, you know, he was a heroin addict, honey.”

Kurt died when I was just born into this wonderful music world (musically, of course. I was 12.) Layne passed when I was totally immersed in every redeeming riff. Maybe that’s why it bothered me so much. I wish I could find the poem I wrote about him. I know it’s around here somewhere, and when I do, I’ll share it here.

One final thing…we realize how fleeting life can be. Music is our life blood. And music helps us cope, celebrate, and thrive. When life is music to you, as it is to me, even the a.m. egg-crack helps Layne’s brilliance live on. It makes for a good day, too.

Be well and rock on,


P.S. Because you know the whole time you’ve been reading this, you wanted to hear it…

Yes, it’s the edited version that they used to play on MTV when MTV was cool, but it’s such a visual masterpiece, I had to let you see it, even though it’s censored.

My literary magazine is available online now…

Word Fountain literary magazine is now available!
Posted on December 1, 2011
Issue No. 5 of Word Fountain (the literary magazine that I manage) can now be accessed on line through Word Fountain’s blog:

Hard copies are available through the library. Contact me at: if you would like some mailed to you.

Be well and keep writing!