Archive for the Alphabetfiend Category

Ham, I Am

Posted in Alphabetfiend, Art & Culture, Goof & Glamour, In Celebration of the Absurd, Top 2% of Coolest Mofos with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2010 by alphabetfiend

It was Christmas Eve and we were stuffing stockings.

I’d brought a big pack of butcher shop stickers, from the store. Mom opened the pack and began passing them out amongst the family members.

Rack of ribs for Sutton, a slab of bacon for Sky.

She held up the big, pink, bone-in ham, “Who gets the ham?” she asked and the normally quite Robot piped up.

“Dia!” he exclaimed, like DUH!

And everybody laughed and laughed, including me.

Yep. Ham, I am.

Painting by Mark Ryden. Go to his website, where you will be filled with an unbearable longing, thinking to yourself “How can I hurry up and get rich so’s I can someday afford a Ryden???”

Happy Belated Birthday, Roald Dahl!

Posted in Alphabetfiend, Books & Writing, In Celebration of the Absurd, Top 2% of Coolest Mofos with tags , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2010 by alphabetfiend

Happy *Belated* Birthday, Roald!

OMG! I love you so much!

Hey… is that a big spliff yer smoking? Wow. That explains a lot. Well, like my friend Dan sez, “Don’t treat me like yer step-sister, I like to bake too.”

Roald Dahl is a patron saint of childhood, along with Dr. Seuss. His birthday was September 13th. He would’ve been 94, had he not died in 1990.

There were days, coming home from the library, where I could not pedal my bike fast enough, so eager was I to curl up and crack open a new Roald Dahl book. The papery whiff of  absurdity that wafted from the page was a powerful intoxicant.

If you have not read the stuff Dahl wrote for grown-ups, then you have not know true creepiness. Go! Start with some short stories from The Best of Roald Dahl.

If you have not read the stuff Dahl wrote for kids, well, what is your major malfunction?

Go!  Post haste! James and The Giant Peach awaits.

Check out the bitchin’ Roald Dahl website, complete with tips for kids & parents on how to use Dahl to increase childhood literacy.

Happy Birthday, Ruby Slippers!

Posted in Alphabetfiend, Art & Culture, Books & Writing, I Heart My Love-Tribe, I Heart Robots, Movies & Movie Stars, Photography, Rock & Roll, Style & Fashion, Technicolor Pop, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2010 by alphabetfiend

A yellow brick road is today’s Google header — celebrating the 71st birthday of the landmark film “The Wizard of Oz!”

Happy birthday, Dorothy! And you, Lion! And you, Scarecrow! And of course, the Tinman!

And your little dog too.

Toto!

I think I can hear a heart beating from that box, Tinman. Unless it’s a bomb! I see a big butterscotch bow wrapped around a brain, Scarecrow. And for you, Lion, a lovely vial of courage serum. A little goes a long way! Don’t be a jackass! Dorothy? There’s a ticket to Kansas waiting at the airport. Tom Wolfe sez you can never go home again. Be forewarned, there’s probably a strip mall in Aunty Em’s corn field. So we got you a Pretenders album, so you can rock out to a song that this corn-fed midwestern gal (Holy Toledo!) has often enjoyed in a bittersweet kinda way.

MY CITY WAS GONE

I WENT BACK TO OHIO
BUT MY CITY WAS GONE
THERE WAS NO TRAIN STATION
THERE WAS NO DOWNTOWN
SOUTH HOWARD HAD DISAPPEARED
ALL MY FAVORITE PLACES
MY CITY HAD BEEN PULLED DOWN
REDUCED TO PARKING SPACES
A, O, WAY TO GO OHIO

WELL I WENT BACK TO OHIO
BUT MY FAMILY WAS GONE
I STOOD ON THE BACK PORCH
THERE WAS NOBODY HOME
I WAS STUNNED AND AMAZED
MY CHILDHOOD MEMORIES
SLOWLY SWIRLED PAST
LIKE THE WIND THROUGH THE TREES
A, O, OH WAY TO GO OHIO

I WENT BACK TO OHIO
BUT MY PRETTY COUNTRYSIDE
HAD BEEN PAVED DOWN THE MIDDLE
BY A GOVERNMENT THAT HAD NO PRIDE
THE FARMS OF OHIO
HAD BEEN REPLACED BY SHOPPING MALLS
AND MUZAK FILLED THE AIR
FROM SENECA TO CUYAHOGA FALLS
SAID, A, O, OH WAY TO GO OHIO!

But most importantly, I must wish The Ruby Slippers a happy birthday, being as they were my favorite character in all of Oz. Or they were until I read Wicked by Gregory Maguire.

Before it was a blockbuster musical it was just a really great and lovely book. Wicked tells the story from the witch’s point of view, so gorgeously that I fell in absolute love with Elphaeba aka “Elphie” with her green skin and her yearning heart. Wicked is one of the sexiest most romantic love stories I’ve ever read. Crazy sexy! I still get the shivers just to think of Elphie and her loverman with the blue tattoos. If you haven’t read it I highly recommend it. It’s one of my favorites. I’ve read all of Maguire’s books and each one is a memorable joy.

Speaking of great Oz books, I recently bought a chunky tome by Graham Rawle that is outrageously illustrated with photographs of old toys and surreal beaded landscapes.

The book was a birthday treat for myself but then my baby niece, Thing 2, saw it up on the shelf — cover showing — and demanded to see it. I brought it down like a precious treasure and we very gently turned the pages. Thing 2 was enchanted and continues to be. She calls the lion a “GRR”

And she pointed to the tinman and exclaimed, “Robot!”

Thing 2 has a robot for an uncle so she knows all about robots. I didn’t correct her cause I’ve always thought the tinman was a robot too.

It’s a big birthday blow-out for childhood memories. Oz is 71 and Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham is 50. Google coulda celebrated Seuss instead with two green eggs as the double o’s.

The Rawle’s Oz (highly recommended by Thing 2) is available on amazon. So is Wicked by Gregory Maguire. And the Pretenders too!

Happy Birthday, Sam I Am!

Posted in Alphabetfiend, Books & Writing, I Heart My Love-Tribe, In Celebration of the Absurd with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2010 by alphabetfiend

Today is the 50th birthday of the Dr. Seuss classic “Green Eggs and Ham” which is undoubtedly one of the most amazing literary masterpieces of all time. Seuss wrote the genius gem after his publisher bet him that he couldn’t write a book using only 50 words. A fine 5o words they are!

Dr. Seuss was a true poet and a gentleman of letters. He was a master of surrealism and a great hero of mine. 

I could not, would not, in a house.
I would not, could not, with a mouse.
I would not eat them with a fox.
I would not eat them in a box.
I would not eat them here or there.
I would not eat them anywhere.
I would not eat green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

I’ll be celebrating the book’s birthday by introducing it to my niece — Thing 2 — for the first time! She’s nearly 2 and it’s high time she fell in love with Seuss. I’m sure we’ll read it about 50 times.

50 words, 50 times, 50 years.

Maybe I’ll be a real go-getter and whip up a batch of green-egg cookies … mine will be like these:

Rather than like these fancy-schmancy hams. Hey, I’m not that ambitious!

I gotta save my energy for repeated animated readings. My niece refuses to let others read to her, claiming they don’t do it right. Naturally this is an enormous source of pride for this book-worm Aunty.

Enjoy this book’s birthday, y’all! Maybe a ham & spinach omelet for dinner??

Green Eggs and Ham is available on amazon!

A WordPress “Why-Not?” (To Alice)

Posted in Alphabetfiend, Books & Writing, I Heart My Love-Tribe with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2010 by alphabetfiend

I have written this letter in response to a recent conversation between Alphabetfiend (OK, myself) and Alice (a most beloved Cream Scene Carnival reader and new friend.) I have chosen to post it here because it was way too long for the comment box and also because I gave voice to some of the things about wordpress that have surprised and impressed me. Why not say them and let the words fall where they may. Consider this the wordy equivalent to blowing the fuzzy afro of a dandelion. It’s for Alice but hey, maybe it’s for you too?

If so, let me catch you up!

A*Fiend:

Do you have a wordpress, Alice? You should! Your writing, your sense of delish, it’d be AWESOME!

Alice:

Oh my! I am swooning from your compliment, because I admire your work so much.

And no, I am not on WordPress, I will leave that up to you , and the other talented writers out there, for now.

I am still an eager student of the writerly craft;so thank you for your encouragement.

Here is a quote, describing how you make us all feel…..

“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader–not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” E.L.Doctorow

Peace, Alice

OK, finally, after a long delay due to birthdays, babies & strep throat is my (pushy?) reply which hopefully makes sense considering it was written at 4am while drowsy & jacked up on cold meds.

Dearest Darling Alice —

If you’re interested in doing one of your own, you are certainly more than capable of kicking blogosphere butt. Maybe it doesn’t interest you and I totally get that. It can be a time-consuming and emotional process. Maybe it’s not for you but NOT because you’re not “ready” writing-wise.

I only came to wordpress because I’d started goofing off with this stupid myspace blog, putting time and effort into it. So the Robot urged me to move my efforts to wordpress — because it was “more prestigious” and “hooked up with google and other search engines” and “intended for blogging” therefore more user-friendly and more likely to build a real readership. I was actually getting some readers on myspace which was very cool but nothing close to what came my way on wordpress. The coolest part of wordpress for me, and what I so did not expect, was how easy it was to create something that was really pleasing to me aesthetically. I still pull it up sometimes and marvel at how “real” it looks, like something I’d run across on the web and totally dig y’know looks-wise. I never expected to have something so… nice & pretty & cool & circusy etc, something so like the little me-magazine of my dreams. The writing I could wrap my mind around but I assumed that a low-tech Luddite like myself would never be able to make the writing and the aesthetics match up. I honestly had no idea that wordpress would be so freaking easy to figure out and play with. I’m in love with that part of it and that once seemed so beyond my grasp.

As a reader, I’m sure you’ve figured out that wordpress users are as different as snowflakes. One of my favorite blogs never ever uses pictures or video and he’s still using the stupid winding road header that came with the theme. For him, it’s all about the psychological exploration and the journey his mind/heart is on. It’s just text and he never sullys his space with pop culture etc. I love it and have read every single post. I appreciate his approach very much (tho I’d love to hack into his account and change that generic header! hee hee) Then there’s other blogs that are just pretty pictures or cool stuff with only two or three sentences of text. Some are emotional & confessional while others are just odd or goofy or funny. Another blog that I follow is the packaging from vintage sewing patterns combined with brief musings. There’s a lot of difference too in the frequency of posts or even the perfectionism (grammar, typos etc.) Not everyone (barely anyone) is trying to “do it all” like I am, with big long-winded essays on every possible thing from tv to spirituality. My little mash-up is fairly unusual and no doubt alienates a lot of readers. In fact, all of the many books I’ve read on the subject of blogging strongly advise against such a broad and wavering approach. Suggesting instead that the writer pick one theme/idea and do that one thing really well with a fierce and thorough examination of the subject be it music, babies, sex or “creepy things in jars.” Those are the kinds of blogs that have seen commercial or critical success. I truly believe those books are 100% right. I’m completely convinced of the good sense in that. But it doesn’t change things for me or for Cream Scene Carnival cause I wanna do what I wanna do and so that self-indulgence must serve as the unifying theme for Cream Scene. 

Basically, anything goes and anything is possible.

I have no dog in this fight. Hell, I could be greedy and keep you all to myself, all witchy gingerbread-house style. *Guffaw* It’s really not my intention to pressure you into it cause what’s the point in that? I guess I just wanted to say that your writing and your ideas, your curiosity and generosity, are well-suited to a unique wordpress project of your own creation. What might that be? I dunno! But my mind marvels at the possibilities. Do it, don’t do it, doesn’t matter to me either way. I only know that you could do it but have no idea whether you should do it. I just want to say A) Hell yea you’re writing — and you’re mojo — is on par with anything anything on wordpress and B) If, like me, the whole idea of doing it to your satisfaction seems intimidating or impossible then I must bear witness to how surprisingly easy it is. As easy as signing up! If I can do it, so can you. Of that I am absolutely certain. So don’t let that influence you. Cause honestly if the Robot hadn’t pushed me into it and if it wasn’t so immediately satisfying and easy, I definitely would not be here. I was just too daunted by the process and my own perfectionism.

As an eager student of writing as a craft (that rocks btw, people don’t necessarily view writing as a craft anymore or appreciate it as art) there is something to be said for playing around with words on a regular basis and blogging can be a place for that. One of many! Perhaps not the right one for you. You’re a purist and a perfectionist. I get that. I love that. Just don’t let that hold you back. (Sez the pot to the kettle, “Yer black!”) I support you whatever you decide. If you do it, I’ll read it and link to it. If not, I’ll be glad to be greedy and keep yer pretty words all to myself. My Alice. *Smirk.Shrug.Grin*

Lastly, I must thank you HUGELY for supporting me in my own endeavors, for reading Cream Scene and for commenting. Every time I see an Alice comment on the dash I get giddy and gooey. Thank you especially for that E.L. Doctorow quote. To say you feel that way about my work… wow, that’s enormously kind and it is fuel for the soul in terms of forging ahead and fighting the literary plague of self-doubt. 

I feel honored to have attracted you into this here rabbit hole.

I just ADORE you. Thank you, thank you, a million thank yous.

I look forward to more Alice-ness. Alice-ness is a wondrous and goof-blessed thing. Damn! Is it ever!

All my love,

Dia VanGunten aka “The Alphabetfiend.”

Grieving Harvey Pekar

Posted in Alphabetfiend, Art & Culture, Books & Writing, Cinema & Filmmaking, Fame & Celebrity, I Heart Funny Fellas, Movies & Movie Stars, Technicolor Pop with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2010 by alphabetfiend

That brilliant pecker, Harvey Pekar, died this week. Bummer.

Pekar was the author of the auto-bio comic “American Splendor” (which was made into a great film of the same name.)

He was also a frequent R. Crumb collaborator.

Harvey Pekar was 70 and yet it feels too soon.

I always feel profound sadness when extraordinary talent departs the planet Earth.

I hate to see Harvey go but maybe now he’ll get to experience a whole new expanse of splendor.

Roam in peace, Pekar. You’ll be missed.

Check out this radio interview with Pekar.

Nightmares, Roadside Tragedy and Other Vampiric Ick

Posted in Alphabetfiend, Books & Writing, I Heart My Love-Tribe, Psyche & Sexuality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2010 by alphabetfiend

As a day, this one has taken an odd toll.

I awoke from a nightmare in which my little brother (a sweet affable fellow who is nothing but adoring, loving, forgiving and kind… to everyone, but to big sister certainly) was horribly vicious to me. I was writing a play in the dream and it was going well, very. I had that feverish creative energy-influx that happens when I’m working, and happens with giddy intensity when the work is going well. The play was about a young pre-pube boy and — this being a dream, a good dream at first — the play was pure lovely genius.

(I’ve had a YA novel about a young boy stewing in the far back of my mind, in real life, although it is developing so far back that it feels almost dream-like. The book has a steampunk theme which adds to the dreamy quality. I write literary fiction, not YA or sci-fi genre fiction so this project, if published, would be published under a pen-name.)

As I was dreaming, I assumed that the play must be referencing this project’s viability. Writing in dreams and buzzing/thrilling over the work is, for me, akin to sex dreams, only better because I prefer that writerly jangle to any other feeling in the world. So this was a damn good dream until suddenly the goodness and the writing were shattered by this familial attack which took me not just away from the writing but away from all semblance of security and comfort, leaving me homeless. The love my brother has for me in real life was completely non-existent and he terrorized me with relentless cruelty. I was especially stunned by this because things were going so well with the writing and how could he do this to me when I was peaking creatively??

(Of course those in the know will recognize that this has nothing at all to do with my brother and everything to do with the events of the past year; my best friend would snort at that “last year” part and point out that these issues go much farther back.) My brother has been a loyal ally in this mess and definitely didn’t deserve to be portrayed this way by my subconscious.

In fact when I called him, crying, he teased “You crazy dreamer!”

“I dreamt you didn’t love me, ” I sniffed.

“Not true, “ he said. “I do love you. I love you dearly.”

Normally, after a nightmare, I like to go back to sleep and re-work it in my favor like a good little lucid dreamer, but Mr. and Mrs. Robot had surprised me with a shiny new fridge for the Mississippi love shack and it was due to be delivered this morning. Yes, poor me, nobody loves me, everybody hates me, mize I go eat worms. Here I am, lavished with love, spoiled rotten like a summer peach, and yet sobbing into my pillow over imaginary unkind acts. Yet, I couldn’t shake my woe as I emptied out the old fridge in preparation for the new fridge’s arrival. Nothing helped to alleve my ill-temper, not the Bot’s sweet buss or the nuzzling of the baby wookie; not the loving assurances of my brother or the new “icebox” as Mrs. Robot says in her southern way. Not even my baby niece screaming “DIA! DIA!” as she runs to me for hugs & sugars. (She has just started to include the “i” rather than calling me “Da.”)

Then my big niecey shows up (little niecy’s too-young mama, I call them Thing 1 and Thing 2.) We’re gushing over the baby’s cuteness and plotting an art project for tomorrow, when Thing 1’s boyfriend comes in and says, “It’s good y’all got held up yesterday or you’da been on the road when that semi crossed the median.”  Why? Were there fatalities? Robot Boy hands me the paper and there on the front page is the familiar sad image from the day before. Up until that moment I’d held out hope — foolish hope — that everything had been okay.

Yesterday, we were just about to walk out the door for a much anticipated errand into town, the 9th of July being the expiration of our rip-off cell phone contract. Our family was now free to move to ATT and join the iphone madness. Thing 1 had been waiting for this day for weeks, warning the lazier members of the family (Robo and myself) that she wanted to be there at 9 am on the dot and would not tolerate our usual night-owl excuses or late-starts. I was so worried I’d over-sleep, I ended up with insomnia but hey I was there with bells on, no delays. But then Uncle Robot suggests to Thing 1 that she call around and make sure the iphones are in stock, offering to drive to the coast if needed. A short while later, having learned that there wasn’t an iphone to be had in all of MS or LA, we’re off to cancel our old service and place an order for future iphones. We looked like a clown car, packed in like sardines. Thing 1 and I shared the tiny backseat with Thing 2’s carseat. Slowing to a crawl on a normally breezy stretch of highway, we knew it couldn’t be good. The debris on the side of the road — including a wheelchair, lonely and eerie on the sunlit asphalt — made us squirm.

Well, the state troopers are filming it, says the Robot gravely. So there were fatalities.”

I desperately hoped that he was mistaken.

That was just after 9 am. We went on to have a great day of family togetherness:  jumping on the iphone bandwagon, sharing a nice lunch at Olive Garden of all places. Thing 1 was thrilled. Thing 2 was adorable. Mrs. Robot was proud to be out and about with her children. The Robot and I were just digging on the cozy vibes —  glad to be in town, making our loved ones happy. It was after 2pm as we headed home, so we were shocked to see the accident still there on the other side of the highway. Only now, that side of the road was closed off, as they laboriously lured a canary yellow rig with trailer still attached out of the brushy woods.

The road had been closed for so long that people were out of their cars and milling about on the hot tar. SUVs with impatient drivers spun their wheels in the swampy muck of the median; stuck like sitting ducks, now in need of their own tow trucks, awaiting police citations.

A hush fell over our happy car.

Thing 1 tucked her chin into her chest and resisted the urge to suck her thumb (a hard habit to break.)

My heart broke at the sight of that wheelchair, knowing with certainty that this was indeed the same accident and not just some new nothing.

It wasn’t nothing, it was SOMETHING and, for that family that lost 4 members in the blink of an eye, it was an ENORMOUS SOMETHING.

They were from our same po-dunk town (a town that can barely afford to lose four citizens.) They were a family heading into “town.” There were too many of them crammed into too small a vehicle. We were 5 (4 and 1/2?) and they were 4. We were in Thing 1’s itty-bitty KIA, they were in a pick-up (wheelchair loaded into the bed of the truck?) Myself and Thing 1, we weren’t wearing seatbelts. Same thing with three of them. One was Mrs. Robot’s age, another was my age. They were on the same stretch of road that we would’ve been on if not for Uncle Robot wanting to give his niece immediate ipod satisfaction. It could easily have been us — mowed down on a Friday morning, after the front tire blew out on an 18-wheeler, causing the driver to lose control and shoot across the median into oncoming traffic. Or we could have been the woman behind the pick-up who wasn’t hurt, except that she had to watch the whole thing happen which surely shaved a good ten years off her life.

Damn if that doesn’t put it all into perspective.

My heart breaks for that family, for that woman who witnessed the accident and even for the truck driver who escaped with minor injuries. I’m from a trucking family; my Dad ran a trucking company and his Daddy before him and his Daddy before him. I know that a driver never gets over this kind of thing. I know he faces his own rueful suffering.

Up until this morning, ignorance was bliss. I could still believe that they survived the accident. I’m fully aware of how quickly everything changed for them, and for the surviving members of their family. It’s not meaningful because it could’ve been us, but it’s that proximity — having seen the real-life version of that grainy newspaper photo — that makes it all the more real.

It sits sticky and heavy in my gut, like black tar and roadside gravel.

This dreary afternoon, done with chores and family socializing, having sat crying over the newspaper, I retreated to bed. I pulled my laptop onto my belly for more research on my recent obsession with William Blake’s painting “The Ghost of a Flea.” How icky could that be right? Yea. I ended up reading this spooky, creepy stuff about vampiric entities and mind parasites. Sonofabitch. I’m done with this damn day. Except it’s a Saturday and I have to write the Sunday A.M. Punk Rock Gospel. The song I’d planned on is far too cheery. (Devo? No.) So don’t be surprised if this Sunday is more of a silent be grateful for what you have cause it could gone in a flash kinda Sunday.

*************************************

Author’s Addendum: having thought of the perfect song — “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” — I managed to do the Punk Rock Gospel. I featured the versions by Reverend Gary Davis (who did it originally) and the ever-brilliant Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. For a fine musical post-script to this shitty Saturday see Sunday’s Death don’t have No Mercy (Sunday A.M. Punk Rock Gospel.)

**************************************

Out of respect for the family, I have decided not to mention the names of the deceased. This writing was about the witnessing. This is not my loss, these aren’t my loved ones, and those aren’t my names to drop. They were our towns folk however. I didn’t know them but Mrs. Robot did; she says the family ran (runs?) a dance school for kids. Our hearts go out to their family. We ache for the monumental loss that no one family should have to bear. I hate that this has happened and I’m so very sorry for everyone involved. These photos are not mine, they were taken by Channel 4 wwltv, where more details are available.

%d bloggers like this: