Essay Three in a Series of Meandering Musings about Life, the Arts, What Have You.

"One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise. This philosophy fitted on to my early adult life, when I saw the improbable, the implausible, often the  'impossible,' come true.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Crack-Up, 1945

I should be working on many different things, including applications, revisions, and grading student papers. Yet I find myself at a cross roads, torn between doing the things I love and trying to keep food on the table. I struggle at being an academic, a teacher, a citizen of this mess of a country, while working sixteen hour days. I feel disappointed and broken if I take time to watch a movie or listen to a record. The mounting stress and anxiety bleeds into my work, etching my writing and my scholarship indelibly until the two become inseparable, a misshapen hulk of a thing, trending between monster, art, and commerce.

I know that this will someday end at the inquisition or the tenure track…

365 Films in 2017 # 309-318

309. The Decline of Western Civilization III (1998), Penelope Spheeris, Spheeris Films

310. Throne of Blood (1957), Akira Kurosawa, Toho

311. The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946). Tay Garnett, MGM

312. The Hit (1984), Stephen Frears, Palace

313. The Slow Business of Going (2000), Athina Rachel Tsangari, Haos

314. Art School Confidential (2006), Terry Zwigoff, Sony Pictures Classics

315. Harlan County, USA (1976), Barbara Kopple, First Run Features

316. Interrabang (1969), Giuliano Biagetti, Salaria

317. On the Waterfront (1954), Elia Kazan, Columbia

318. The Leopard Man (1943), Jacques Tourneur, RKO

On Writing and Withdrawal

These days are increasingly fueled by an antiseptic need for withdrawal -- a calm pause before the perpetual storm. The work mounts, and I disappear into intoxication and minimal self-effacement, transferring my energy to fiction instead of mounting abstracts and applications. I write prose poetry about my lack of ambition, while i thumb through interminable drafts of student papers, failed fiction, and the occasional listicle written on tattered notebook pages. 
I write lists like a man possessed, usually finishing the easy items or transferring them to another list, asking for nothing less than being done eternally. Yet my manic energies and anxieties compound such lists. I sit entranced at the computer screen, looking at another file, attempting madly to use all the ink in my listing pen. 
Did an emo song or an old, lovelorn rock 'n' roll song start this way? A person at the end of their energies, writing about someone or something that done 'em wrong keeps on keeping &…

The Writing is Lost to the Days and Weeks

Where do the years, weeks, and days go? I imagine they are stored in underground caverns loaded with greying filing cabinets. Or are they, like my writing, forgotten in folders and files. I often think of the nonfiction essays, the short stories, the uncracked and lonely novels I have started. Is it 1996? Is it 2004? The drafts remain unfinished. I put them off for work at the restaurant. I put them off for graduate school, theses, and dissertations. I put them off to teach course after course, telling myself that I will finish this year. I know it won't happen until I'm old and grey. Will it happen before I'm buried under an oak tree, green grass spreading over my unharried corpse.

The Drive-By Truckers and their Southern Rock Opera: Part Four (The Excesses of Touring and Lessons Learned)

Act Two opens with Hood's “Let There Be Rock,” which not only alludes to AC/DC's song of the same name but addresses how both Betamax Guillotine and Hood grew up in the shadows of great bands. While he never saw Lynyrd Skynyrd, he lists the bands he did see, while the band works up a rock frenzy. Like most songs that purport to introduce the power of rock music, “Let There Be Rock” attempts to be a blistering example of the form, yet Hood's clever, yet straightforward, lyrics temper it.    
          The narrator could be any young music fan growing up in America during the 1970s, listening to music, doing drugs, and drinking to excess. He drops acid at Blue Oyster Cult, is pulled over with weed and booze, drinks vodka and almost dies. He juxtaposes each binge with his experiences seeing classic bands. Both scenarios are equally important to his future quest at being a rock god, or at least, writing about them. The refrain reintroduces the rock: “And I never saw Lynyrd Skyn…

What Grant Hart Means To Me

I first heard Grant Hart, who died on September 13, 2017 at the tragically young age of 56, onHüsker Dü'sCandy Apple Grey, the band's underrated and oft-maligned major label debut from 1986. As a fan of Bob Mould's Sugar, I decided to finally take the plunge into Hüsker Dü's catalog, and this was the first album I was able to find. By Candy Apple Grey, the band had nearly perfected their poppy power trio attack, mixing heavy, buzzsaw guitars with power pop affectations. Those elements were always there, even on 1981's raucous, live album Land Speed Record and the hardcore, yet melodic, Everything Falls Apart. By 1986, after several more seminal records (Zen Arcade, New Day RisingFlip Your Wig) in the hardcore/indie cannon, they perfected the form. Alternating between Mould's generally faster songs that increasingly relied on pop sensibilities and Hart's more lyrically-and vocally-focused songwriter paeans, both revolving heavily around failed love, Hüske…

365 Films in 2017 # 299-308

299. The In-Laws (1979), Arthur Hiller, Warner Bros.

300. Hopscotch (1980), Ronald Neame, AVCO Embassy

301. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972),
Woody Allen, United Artists 

302. Bulldog Drummond's Peril (1938), James P. Hogan, Paramount

303. The Naked Spur (1953), Anthony Mann, MGM

304. A Christmas Horror Story (2015), Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, and Brett Sullivan, Image

305. The Great Dictator (1940), Charlie Chaplin, United Artists

306. Crumb (1994), Terry Zwigoff, Sony Pictures Classics

307. Ladies and Gentlemen . . . Mr. Leonard Cohen (1965), Don Owen and Donald Brittain, National Film Board of Canada 

308. Black Panthers (1968), Agnes Varda