• New Poem

    We Sail Ourselves

    You may be a yacht or a clipper

    or a catamaran or a little sunfish

    Whatever you are, you are

          on a voyage

    You are the little captain

          looking out

                at the seas ahead

          at storms or sunny breezes

    Sometimes we fear our doom

          when great waves hurl out stomachs

          and winds drive us off our course

    and leave us in uncharted waters

    Other times doldrums drag on

          and we can only wait

                and paddle

          if we don’t have a motor

     

    Yes, it’s a cute and obvious metaphor:

    I am a consciousness

          housed in a vessel

                a little man perched behind my own eyes

          peering out of my skull

    I’ve had my share of storms

          some victories too

    I steer this body that in a strange way

          is me

    Viewed this way I am

          a marvel to myself

     

    How did I get in here

          not exactly trapped

                but present inside this skull

          enfleshed and embodied?

    How is it I can control this hand

          holding this pen

                writing these lines

          that I am making up?

    Is this hulk of organic matter really me?

    Is this my home?

    I’ve known no other

          but somehow it feels provisional

    It’s the ship I’m sailing for now

     

    Some philosophers say consciousness is an illusion, a construct of billions of neurons passing electrical signals

     

    It is no more an illusion

          than a real captain

                sailing a real ship

          a little captain sailing a ship, sailing a ship

  • More love languages

    I was always a little suspicious when someone said there were only 5 love languages. After some years of gathering, here are some additions that I have found with my wife and family:

    • writing/singing jolly love songs by the water with s’mores
    • texting rude or risque memes
    • sitting on them
    • farting in the other room (not while sitting on them)
    • youthful deep-esophageal belching
    • saying anything in a British accent
    • peppering them with questions, frequently yes/no questions
    • telling a person to drive safely, wear your seat belt, keep your shoes on, and call me when you get there
    • making chicken sounds
    • hurting, pinching, pummeling, biting, tickling
    • telling them they are a dork, etc.
    • playing footsie under the covers (a form of sign language)
    • enduring the agony of listening to them describe a dream
    • eating food for them (food that they want but know they shouldn’t eat)
    • watching (another) sci-fi series with them on Netflix
    • not saying a damn thing for a while
  • Two classical music recommendations

    The first one I discovered on Radio Swiss Classical (which if you haven’t discovered yet, you should check out. There’s also Radio Swiss Jazz. Both have no commercials and just play music.)

    Not all classical music contains moments of sublimity, but when they do, there is something that aligns perfectly with something in the soul, a suspension, a discord, that resolves in a divine perfection.

    Tchaikovsky’s Sacred Choral Music is that way for me. I didn’t even know he wrote sacred music. Most people love the Nutcracker Suite, Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet, and his 1st Piano Concierto. But these 9 Sacred Choral pieces are magical. I became addicted and couldn’t stop listening to them over and over.

    The second recommendation is Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem in D Minor. Unlike the previous, these are set to music. Fauré was an organist so it figures prominently. I love especially the final movement, In Paradisium, which you may recognize.

    This one also contains those resolutions that the aesthetic sense finds so satisfying.

    Enjoy, and leave me a comment if you find them lovely, or if you want to recommend something to me.

  • Why it’s important to follow, repost, retweet etc

    If you are not a writer trying to publish a book, it may not occur to you.

    The first thing a publisher wants to know is, What is your platform? In other words, how many followers do you have on your blog or social media.

    For those of you who do not know, I have recently finished a writing degree and am transitioning into a writing career, and I need to get my name out there.

    So if you wouldn’t mind, I am asking you friends to 1) follow my blog by subscribing using the Subscribe menu 2) follow me on Twitter @JeffreyAMays 3) jeffreyallenmays on IG and 4) repost and retweet things of mine—when you feel you can; I’m not asking anyone to get creepy.

    Yes, this is a completely self-serving request. “Wouldn’t we all like to be reposted and retweeted,” you may be thinking. “What makes you so special?”

    If you do not want to, of course you do not have to. But I’m just asking my friends who are willing to help me get my name out there in this way.

    Thanks for considering my request.

  • Slightly Mighty IPA

    I am on a low-carb diet trying to knock off 10 lbs. This used to mean no beer, but I remembered Michelob Ultra and I would sadly drink it when with friends, wishing I could enjoy the full flavor of regular craft beers.
    Well I’ve just discovered that many other brewers have developed low-carb beers!
    Meet “Slightly Mighty” by the Dogfish Head Brewing Company! Only 3.5 carbs, 95 calories, and 4% ABV.
    While not as totally satisfying as 90-minute IPA or one of their other brews, this on is still far better than Mick Ultra.
    So happy I’ve found this!
    #dogfishheadbrewery
     @dogfishheadbeer 
  • Man, the human

    Things that demonstrate that man is still human:

    1. using utensils to eat real food. Or using tools of any sort
    2. handwriting and arithmetic, and using them to write a letter to your mother or a friend, or calculate the perimeter of your backyard
    3. locomotion by any organic medium
    4. making pies
    5. making music with hands, feet or breath, music that does not involve programming
    6. reading words on a page
    7. getting a hair cut
    8. elimination
    9. looking at a piece of good art, waiting there patiently until you begin to get it, having the lights come on, noticing things you didn’t see at first, feeling thanks in your bosom toward the artist, coming away with something new in your mind about human existence.
    10. throwing a ball with a dog in an open field, even if the dog doesn’t bring the ball back, or throwing a shoe at a cat
    11. drinking water. Or other real drinks like beer.
    12. burning a candle, or burning anything for that matter
    13. crying, trembling, hiding, greeting strangers on the sidewalk, wishing there was someone around, 
    14. becoming familiar with the stars and trying to get your mind around them in a kind of embrace but ultimately finding you are unable to do so, yet feeling their greatness and your earth-boundedness
    15. finding the harmony in your head to a note played by strange tone you hear somewhere but cant tell where its coming from; humming the note out loud, like the two-notes in a train whistle
    16. drying off with a nice towel after a shower and shaving with some kind, any kind, of razor, it doesn’t matter what kind, and combing your hair into a nice part and facing others having tended your own garden, not just wandering into public like an animal
    17. I’m sure there are others. Why not leave a ‘comment’ with your own additions?
  • The Toto Hole

    Late at night I’m minding my own business, doing my own thing, and then Youtube says, “Hey, you watched Rosanna last night.”

    I’m thinking, “Bloody algorithm. Leave me alone.”

    It wont leave me alone.

    “You wanna watchit again??”

    It’s the “40 Years around the Sun” tour version. Brilliant and totally epic. Delicious no matter who you are. It’s video cocaine. And when Steve Lukather goes into his guitar solo toward the end it’s like we were submerged under water. A fish tank of Time and Space descend and it’s an expanding globe of wowism and holy-what is this! You are lost in sound and sight and nostalgia, because, well, it’s a great song from the 80’s.

    And I’m thinking “Yezh I do, but no, because it’s too soon. I just watched it last night.”

    And Youtube wins. SO I watch it again.

    Then Youtube says, “You like Rosanna. You wanna listen to Hold The Line?”

    And I’m thinkin’, I gotta move on. There’s a whole world of content out there. But OK, YES.

    So I watch “Hold The Line”.

    And then Youtube says, “You wanna watch “The rains down in Africa?” and I think, like a prison victim, like a crack addict, “OK. Yeah, I’ll watch Africa.”

    And when I cannot take anymore, Youtube says, “You wanna watch Georgie Porgie“?

    And I say, Oh, Hell No.

  • New Beginning

    Today marks the first day of my new career as a writer, that is, not as a hobby or something to piddle around with on evenings and weekends. Today, liberated from a traditional American employment model, I now set out to discover what it means to be a professional writer.

    It also means the resurrection of this blog and likely other blogs to come. So I restart this blog with a poem by Langston Hughes that someone shared with me some weeks ago. It is a fitting vessel to describe my new endeavor.

     

    What happens to a dream deferred?
    Does it dry up
    Like a raisin in the sun?
    Does it fester like a sore—
    And then run?
    Does it stink like rotten meat?
    or crust and sugar over—
    like a syrupy sweet?
    Maybe it just sags
    like a heavy load.
    Or does it explode?

    —Langston Hughes

  • One Observation about Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    (This post was written long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, probably in 2016 but not published until 2018)

    Aside from the title, which was way more auspicious than the film delivered, I was sad for Oscar Isaac, an actor that I like, that he was cast in such a one-dimensional role. He has great talent as an actor, and none of it showed in this film. But Star Wars films have never been known as breeding grounds for future Marlon Brandos.

    I have seen Oscar Isaac in at least three other movies:

      1. Inside Llewyn Davis
      2. A Most Violent Year
      3. Ex Machina [2018 edit: His subsequent role as Apocalypse in the Avengers series maybe wasn’t a dramatic role, but he was still great, even though I’m lukewarm toward Avenger’s movies. And…well, if you’re an actor, you want to work, so you take the roles you can get.]

    and I think I can say that, as an actor, he HAD to leap at the chance to be in at least one Star Wars episode. I mean, he is young enough that he grew up with Star Wars lore as part of his youth.

    But I think he was conflicted. After working with the Coen Brothers (!) on Inside Lewyn Davis, and staring in the very innovative Ex Machina, he has to be thinking, as he walked on to the Disney set, “am I sure this is going to further my establishment as an actor?”

    Was it a step up, or a step down for him? This has to tell you something about the film. It’s STAR WARS. And Oscar Isaac is questioning whether it will help his career.

    Because if you saw his part, you noticed that he played a one-dimensional, totally transparent, flim-flam, comic book, did-this-in eighth-grade-drama-class, character.

    "Yes. I played in the highest grossing film in the history of all film worldwide. No, it did not advance my acting career."

    Because whoever wrote the script was laboring under the heavy iron grasp of Disney film, the nail-toothed, black-souled, iron-hearted, family-friendly, positive-messaged, giggly, feel-good-of-the-century, because-it-draws-the-masses-with-the-allure-of-traditional-values paradigm.

    But I’m biased.

  • On dying

    Unacceptable ways of dying:

    • after a long, desperate, nauseated, hairless battle with terminal cancer
    • by withdrawal of sustenance after being kept alive artificially
    • by some silly accident when I am so old and senile I can’t take care of myself, like falling and hitting my head against a porcelain toilet bowl
    • by a degenerative neurological disease (or rather, after the horror of perhaps years with such a disease, and then to succumb to some infection.)
    • after doctors have made herculean efforts to keep me alive so I can be miserable for another year, and then die
    • because of the failure of some pharmaceutical to do its job
    • liver failure due to being prescribed so many pharmaceuticals in an attempt to keep me alive
    • car accident (conversely, being kept alive by an airbag is an unacceptable way of avoiding death because of the essential absurdity of the entire situation. [Credit to Radiohead’s song Airbag for bringing this to my attention: “…an airbag saved my life”.] Are you kidding? Do you also like to go to inflatable bouncy houses? I’m a grown man here. I’ll drive slower, thank you, or just go ahead and die if I have to drive so stinking fast, rather than suffer the indignity of bouncing off of a balloon in the car. Just ride a bike or a horse like a man.)
    • drowning or falling from a high place, because both are too terrifying and give you no time to prepare yourself
    • most of the ways people die today

    Acceptable ways of dying:

    • by a gunshot wound during an armed uprising against a corrupt government, like the Parisian anti-royalist students in Les Misérables
    • by being thrown from a horse
    • bleeding to death
    • freezing in a snowstorm while lost in the woods
    • terrorist attack
    • firing squad
    • pneumonia or infection
    • heart attack
    • old age
    • any way that is natural and relatively quick
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