My Poem for Bill Murray

No, Bill...YOU.

I interrupt this inexcusable blogging hiatus to bring you my submission to the Bill Murray poetry contest, which I believe was my destiny to enter. The contest had a 34-line limit, so a couple stanzas here didn’t make it into my submission. But you lucky readers get the whole thing, uncensored and uncut. Here goes!

To the Duke of Deadpan

Hey there, Bill Murray — or William, or friend
Goofy-pantsed man at the golfers’ pro-am.
Master of all expressions deadpan,
Unlikely lump of a leading man.

Eight brothers and sisters! (I’ve got only 2.)
From wee beginnings, you grew and you grew.
At 6 feet 1 inch, you are no Dr. J
But your presence is felt from the Bronx to the Bay.

Live from New York! You had your premiere
(To a mixture of knee-slaps and occasional jeers.)
You apologized live for your un-funny ways
But I’m begging you, please let this Star War stay.

Yet a star was born, and to the silver screen you went
Horrifying golfers with your anti-gopher bent
The old ladies enthralled you in their putting wares
Carl Spackler, you are sick beyond repair.

You tore through the 80s, a box-office king
(And you’re not only funny — turns out you can sing!)
Stripes and Tootsie and Ghostbusters and Scrooged
And you won fame with honor! Never appeared in the nude.

My relaxing times are spent with Venkman and Ray.
(Forgive me — I prefer #2 to this day.)
Valentine’s Day! World ending! What a bummer, you said.
That Paramas chick wasn’t right in the head.

You saved us from ghosts and goblins and ghouls
Riding Lady Liberty through New York’s avenues
To your fair lady Dana you came to the rescue–
And a satisfied smirk was our sign-off from you.

Hey Bill, you can sail! And you did on try 1.
See what happens when you let loose and have fun?
Dr. Marvin was mean, a real jealous prick.
Like you said to the mayor, “This man has no —-.”

What will tomorrow bring? A repeat of today?
Piano mastery? Un peu de français?
Will you win the heart of Andie M.?
Or will the hum-drum of today continue ad infinitum?

Not sure what to say about Op. Dumbo Drop.
Hey, everybody’s entitled to the occasional flop.
In Space Jam, you played some hoops with His Airness
Winning it all…though you didn’t play defense.

We saw a new Bill in that weird Rushmore flick:
A gloomy rich dude whose intentions were sick.
You’d been lonely, you said, heartbroken and the like
But did you have to run over poor Max’s bike?

Tokyo found you unable to rest
(But consistently head and shoulders above the rest.)
You had to cook your own food and toast all alone
But in the wee hours, you and she would talk on the phone.

So what did you say to Scarlett Jo?!
Maybe I don’t really want to know.
Like her, I felt lost when I saw you go.
To the Oscars you went, with my heart in tow.

Bill! Sometimes I actually wish you were here!
We could sing karaoke; I’d buy you a beer.
It just drives me nuts when people are dumb
But together, we could face them all with aplomb.

Call it karma, call it luck, or you can call it fate,
Everything happens for a reason, mate.
It just doesn’t matter, like you said at camp.
(But that kid won anyway — fast little champ.)

So I’ll leave broken flowers in these few lines to you
A tip of the hat, because it is due.
Maybe not total consciousness, but a life in review–
So Bill, you’ve got that going for you.

Dancing In The Dark (and in the Club)

On June 4, 1984 (otherwise notable for being first birthday), Bruce Springsteen released his chart-topping album Born in the U.S.A. With it, he secured his biggest hit ever, “Dancing In The Dark.” Nobody didn’t like that song!

However, many modern-day Bruce puritans say that “Dancing In The Dark” is anti-Bruce, his one screw-up in a career otherwise loaded with integrity and artistic vision. To these people I say, get over yourselves! A great pop song is nothing to sneer at. It takes genius to craft something so catchy, even if nobody knows what you’re singing about. (This is a song about soul-crushing isolation, of course; in this regard, it’s like “I’m On Fire’s” little brother who’s everybody’s favorite when they’re little kids, but while big bro goes on to be covered by every artist from Tori Amos to Johnny Cash, little bro isn’t really taken seriously as an adult.)

As the story goes, in an effort to appeal to a younger and more diversified set than his standard 35-45 year-old, whitebread audience, Bruce released a “Dancing In The Dark” remix–otherwise known as the 12″ Extended Dance Remix–fully equipped with glockenspiel, backup singers (not Patti Scialfa, which maybe hurt her feelings?), a doubled-up Bruce reverb effect and what sounds like a drum machine. The end result is way more “Always Something There To Remind Me” than Nebraska.

There are several things I love about this remix and its accompanying video. (None of them are Courtney Cox.)

1) The kick-off to the remix. “Phil Collins Drum Fills” is what Rawle calls them (he loves drum fills). I keep thinking it’s going to be “Some Like It Hot” by Power Station.

2) Bruce does some dancing. Now, Bruce can play a mean guitar, he can slide across an entire stage, and he’s jumped off every piano in America. But can he dance? The better question is, should he dance? Oh, but it’s cute to see him try.

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The Postcard Project

My summer of puttering around the house has led to several hands-on projects, some involving a hammer and nails, one (nearly abandoned) involving yarn and knitting needles, and a few other collage-type endeavors involving scissors and tape. My favorite, and most sentimental, of the projects dealt with twine, paper clips, velco strips and a few intercontinental trips: a postcard chain, draped across the kitchen windows! (With our courtyard’s palm tree as a backdrop, I simply must add.)

I know my handiwork isn’t much to look at. But reminders of friends, family and all these world-wide experiences make doing the dishes a real treat and give a globe-trotting feel to the kitchen and everything we cook in it.

I first got the postcard chain idea from Real Simple. But my local grocer didn’t have old-school clothespins, as the magazine suggested using, so I improvised with paper clips and hanging-down twine to give the staggered effect.

The only drawback of the postcard assembly line is that the sun’s shining directly on the actual notes on the backs of the postcards. So in an effort to not lose them forever, I’ll reproduce them here, starting from the young-buck days and working up to the here-and-now.

***

From Erin D. in San Diego (June 3, 2003 – the day before my birthday and no shout-out?!):

Mary,
I wanted to say that I like how we’ve become book-sharing friends, in a way. Maybe someday we will found a book club. I hope so anyway. In any event, traveling rocks. Isn’t it strange that Jersey Deuce’s Pish [the trio of Erin, our friend Kristin and me] will be all over the place this summer? Okay, here’s the expected part – I’m in S. Cali near my hometown of San Diego, where we’ll camp tonight. It’s wonderful. I feel at home.
LOVE, Erin

[I remember Erin telling me about Everything is Illuminated that summer. It remains one of my favorites; who knows what-all I suggested in return. In any event, we did found a book club...only took us 6 years to do it.]

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Notes From An Expat

Making a go of it.

Sorry for the absence. This will be a long post, so better use the bathroom now.

Note 1: On returning to the blog habit

The Michael Jackson revival (such that you can’t go to a radio station, wedding or random block without hearing “Billie Jean”) recently celebrated its one-year anniversary; meaning, he’s been gone a year; and so has been my presence from this blog. And while I can’t resuscitate MJ, I can write something once in a while, dammit.

As luck would have it, I’ve got nothing but time these days. So let’s rock.

Note 2: On moving to San Francisco

I’ll skip over the ins and outs of the how and why, because it’s about a job and that’s boring—but wait. Who doesn’t reach a point in a settled and happy life when the thought springs out: If I become unsettled, could I become even happier? When Rawle first introduced the prospect of moving, I thought “No no no.” Tears were shed. But, much like tepidly jumping into cold lake water leads to one saying to one’s still-on-the-dock friends, “It’s really nice once you get in,” the idea grew on me, to the point that thinking we might not be moving was too heartbreaking to bear. At the time, I was working in the travel industry, but I felt a little untraveled, a little static, etc.; so even though I was largely a stowaway (always playing the little sister role, I am) in this westward endeavor, I had my reasons. When you’re a small-town Delaware girl whose largest move ever is from Wilmington to Philadelphia, your figurative wings feel a little like flying, word?

Enough with the Dear Abby response. Here we are in San Francisco, and the reactions are numerous and varied. For instance.

Note 3: On the food

Back when my job was to report on such things, I read a piece on Philadelphia’s dining scene, written by a San Francisco food blogger. “Shoot,” he gushed. “I wish we had stuff like this in Frisco.” So I was nervous that the food in San Fran would pale in flavor, diversity and sheer volume as compared to the cheesesteak, Garces and pierogie palaces of my native city.

Well! One word: Burritos. Another word: Skewers. Two more words: Citrus Club. Four more words: Where have I been?

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The Prophet Bruce Springsteen

“The type of fame that Elvis had, and that I think Michael Jackson has, the pressure of it, and the isolation that it seems to require, has gotta be really painful. I wasn’t gonna let that happen to me. I wasn’t gonna get to a place where I said, ‘I can’t go in here. I can’t go to this bar. I can’t go outside.’… I believe that the life of a rock ‘n’ roll band will last as long as you look down into the audience and can see yourself, and your audience looks up at you and can see themselves—and as long as those reflections are human, realistic ones. The biggest gift that your fans can give you is just treatin’ you like a human being, because anything else dehumanizes you. And that’s one of the things that has shortened the life spans, both physically and creatively, of some of the best rock ‘n’ roll musicians—that cruel isolation. If the price of fame is that you have to be isolated from the people you write for, then that’s too fuckin’ high a price to pay.”

-Bruce Springsteen, 1984

Favorite 80’s song…GO.

In happier times: the 1980's.

In happier times: the 1980's.

Yesterday’s celebrity news inevitably led to today’s 80’s overload.

Which got me to thinking: What are my favorite 80’s songs ever, ever, ever? Being an 80’s kid, this is my bread and butter. And so,

GREATEST 80’s SONGS EVER AS DETERMINED BY PISH DE LUXE

- Star to Fall, Boy Meets Girl
– Break My Stride, Matthew Wilder
– Everyday I Write the Book, Elvis Costello
– How Will I Know, Whitney Houston (edging out “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”)
– Your Love, The Outfield
– Gypsy, Fleetwood Mac (so good it shouldn’t even count.)
– Hungry Eyes, Eric Carmen
– Eternal Flame, The Bangles
– Our Lips are Sealed, The Go-Gos
– Everlasting Love, Howard Jones
– No One is to Blame, Howard Jones (couldn’t choose!)
– I’m Alright, Kenny Loggins
– Human Nature, Michael Jackson
– Dancing in the Dark, Bruce (the only 80’s song by Bruce that I consider an actual 80’s song)
– Borderline, Madonna (doubles as my favorite Madonna song, edging out “Live To Tell”)
– Little Red Corvette, Prince (“You must be a limousine!!!”)
– We’ve Got Tonight, as sung by Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton
– Against All Odds, Phil Collins
– Don’t Lose My Number, Phil Collins
– Easy Lover, Phil Collins and Phillip Bailey
– Phil Collins catalog
– If Ever You’re In My Arms Again, Peabo
– King of Wishful Thinking, Go West
– Africa, Toto
– Private Eyes, Hall and Oates
– The Stroke, Billy Squier (which I don’t love that much but damn if it don’t make me dance!)
– Goonies Theme Song, Cyndi Lauper
– Sister Christian, Night Ranger (emotional!)

Maybe I should stop. A friend just said, “Who creates a “favorite 80s song list”? Are you crazy?” Well to quote Dan Akroyd in my favorite movie, Ghostbusters II, “I guess so, Pete!”

Oh sheez, how could I forget:

- On Our Own, Bobby Brown (Ghostbusters II Theme Song)
– Every Little Step, Bobby Brown

But anyway. What am I missing?!?

Great Quotes: On Campire Love

For all the summer loves out there!

“When we first started hanging out together, this morning, we were just friends; but things change, and I’ve fallen in love with you. I just know that if you gave me a chance, I could make you feel so good. So I am coming, not as your buddy, and not as a co-counselor, but for the first time as a man – a man who loves a woman, and who wants to hold her and provide for her and, yes, have sex with her; but no, seriously, Katie, I love the way you laugh and I love the way your hair smells and I love it that sometimes for no reason you’re late for shul, and I don’t care that you’re bowlegged and I don’t care that you’re bilingual – all I know is that I would have said no to every single person on your list because I’ve always wanted you.” –Coop to Katie, Wet Hot American Summer

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