Posts Tagged ‘music’

Human Again, Indeed

February 29, 2012 - 5:22 pm No Comments

I’ve got my Ingrid Michaelson back.

I was not first on the Ingrid Michaelson boat. I was probably towards the very end, coming just before the people who recognized her as the singer on the apple juice commercial. But from the very moment I heard her music, her voice, her quirky piano riffs, I fell in love.

Ingrid Michaelson writes music which, at first, seems like it’s going to be piano-pop nonsense. It’s about love, it’s silly, it’s fun and upbeat. At first. But Ingrid doesn’t shy away from the gritty, shitty parts of life. Some of her songs, or even snatches of lyrics in otherwise typical songs, are totally out of the realm of traditional, flighty, girly piano-rock. A song from her self-released debut album Slow the Rain comes to mind. The song is called Porcelain Fists, and not only are the piano melodies incredibly dark, the lyrics are painful to hear:

“Locked in the bathroom stall/Your back against the wall/Cold tiles beneath your knees/Your body broke your fall/Spitting into your own reflection gazing back/Inside your porcelain fists, your palms begin to crack.”

The first time I heard that, I was won over. Everything I’d heard of Michaelson’s music up to that point was whatever Pandora had selected for me, and until I sought out her earlier music on my own, I would never have expected a lyric like that from what had initially seemed like songs that I would listen to, shall we say, in good fun.

So with tears in my eyes and my hands folded together, each hugging the other tightly, I declared myself an Ingrid fan and dove into her music head first.

Things were really good between Ingrid and I. I got to see one of her shows, for free, at that, when she performed at the Pittsburgh Arts Festival, and Be OK had some real gems on it.

Then, just a few days after my birthday in 2009, Ingrid released Everybody.

I’m gonna be really harsh here for a moment, okay?

I felt betrayed. I’d never heard a more wishy-washy, boring, flat album in my life. I didn’t know what had happened. We’d been through good times and bad, Ingrid and me, we’d talked about everything, no matter how embarrassing or pointless. We were going to buy everybody nice sweaters and teach them how to dance.

When I got to “The Chain,” I knew I’d found an album I really, really didn’t like. “The Chain,” when it was live on Be OK, was so blisteringly powerful I would put it on repeat and sob. It was that beautiful, that painful, that absolutely touching. But this new studio version on Everybody… It was limp. There was nothing to it. It wasn’t hand-crafted, it was machined. There are about four songs on Everybody I’ll even deign to listen to at this point (“Everybody,” “Soldier,” “Locked Up,” and “Maybe,” if you must know, which are incidentally the first two and last two songs on the album, which means, yes, I don’t listen to the entire middle of the album).

So when I heard Ingrid was in the studio again, I have to admit, I was… tentative. I followed her faithfully on Twitter and Tumblr, keeping up with the progress of the album, and reading her mailing list to see if she was playing any shows near me. But I held my breath.

On January 24th, 2012, Human Again was released.

I rejoiced.

The album is funny and smart, the 17 songs (the last four from the deluxe edition) borrow from just about as many genres, and there are those familiar touches of darkness that anyone who really wants to talk about life can’t shy away from. But it was that same, familiar, girly piano-pop, that same heavy lightness Ingrid had brought to me years before.

“Keep Warm” has got to be my favorite song from this album. It’s happy. It’s relateable. It’s the kind of song that makes you feel safe. Other notable tracks, at least to me, are the peppy “Blood Brothers,” and the heart-wrenching, bittersweet “I’m Through,” which was the first track I’d heard from the album, and the first time I knew everything would, pardon the expression, be okay.

Human Again screams Ingrid Michaelson. Though it’s got touches of rock, country, jazz, folk, it couldn’t be more original, more true to the woman that I slowly became familiar with through three albums three years ago. I wonder if the title speaks to that, a sort of coming back to herself, or if it’s just happy coincidence.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter. What matters is I’ve got my Ingrid Michaelson back.

The Over-Producers

February 5, 2012 - 12:40 am 1 Comment

Maybe this is a feeling you’ve all had.

Maybe I’m just a pretentious bint.

But I hate music that sounds like it has a purpose.

You know what I’m talking about, you must. Music that was made to fit a sound. And I’m not talking about shitty pop music (though don’t get me wrong, a lot of shitty pop music does fall into this category). I’m talking about the bands who are so obsessed with the way they’re supposed to sound (she said, oozing disdain) that they forget they’re making music, and the music ceases to be for the music’s sake, and it becomes for the sound’s sake.

I’m not making any sense.

Let me give you an example.

The Hush Sound.

Oh, don’t get all up-in-arms, I actually like The Hush Sound. I like their weird folk cabaret hipster pop thing that they’ve got going on.

But I would love The Hush Sound if they weren’t so obsessed with sounding like a weird folk cabaret hipster pop band and just wrote songs that sounded like weird folk cabaret hipster pop. But they aren’t. It’s apparent in all of their full-length albums that the idea of the sound comes before the actual writing of the music. There are a few songs that really get me, songs that are just piano and a lonely vocal track, songs powerful enough to make me cry. Songs I love. And then the next song will come on and it’s all fun and bebop-y and I could love it. But it’s just not honest.

And I’m not just hating on The Hush Sound. I’ll throw Sara Bareilles, A Fine Frenzy, and even Editors (which is a band I really do enjoy) into this category.

I don’t know what studios produce these acts. I don’t care. I just know I can feel the studio when I listen to their music. I can smell it. I can taste it. And it tastes like sodium. Like high-fructose corn syrup. Maybe delicious, but fake, processed, and really not good for you.

It’s not bad music. Some of it is good music. Some of it is great music. But it’s false, and that’s what kills me. It’s putting the cart before the horse. It’s okay if you know how you want your song to sound before you write it, but when the whole of your music is shaped by the idea of the band you always wanted to be (or, if I’m allowed to be really cynical here for a moment, the idea of the music you want to sell), it’s time to take a step back, listen to your heart, and write something honest. Even if it’s not entirely what you thought it would be.

That might even be the point.

The Art of the Mixtape

January 3, 2012 - 9:36 pm 2 Comments

Let me tell you.

There is a hell of a lot more to making a mixtape then just throwing some songs together.

I talk about music a lot on this blog, because it’s always been a major part of my life. From the time I was born, it was more to me than just melodies and lyrics. My dad is a guitarist; my mom played the piano. Both of them are very, shall we say, musically active; they keep up with new stuff, they take an active interest in knowing what’s out there, they still go to shows. Hell, I take them to shows. They even named me after a song. They played music for me in the cradle, everything from Black Sabbath to The Beatles to Bach. I knew how to work a record player before I knew how to work a microwave. (I’m still not entirely sure why a microwave has so many options. If it’s that difficult, put it on the stove.)

Now that I’m older, to repay them, for my parents I make mixtapes.

As gifts for my nearest and dearest friends, I make mixtapes.

When I’m feeling bored or sad or lonely I make mixtapes.

But there is so much more than just throwing a bunch of tracks together.

Mixtapes are something that should be crafted with purpose: an idea pops into your head and you think you could show someone exactly what you mean with music; you hear a song that doesn’t just remind you of another song, it speaks to you about another song; a time in your life is defined by a series of tracks you can’t ever hear again without thinking about that moment, and you can’t ever think about that moment without hearing those songs. Mixtapes are like chapters in books that make up our lives; they’re the narration, not the soundtrack, and all we do is following along. Giving someone a mixtape, a well thought-out mixtape, is a gift that speaks to thoughtfulness and concern and shared emotions and memories.

When you make a mixtape, every song has to say something. It could be musically or lyrically, but it has to be part of a consistent flow. One off song can ruin the entire mix. A truly successful mixtape should go so smoothly from song to song you hardly realised the track changed, but should hold you so captive you wait and watch for each song to pass to the next.

When you make a mixtape, you have to think like you’re writing a paper. You need an introduction, and then you need a thesis statement. You need supporting information but you can’t be redundant. You need a conclusion supported by the information you’ve just given, and more than that, you need each paragraph to be in the right order. And then, if you’re feeling really, very confident, you can say something clever in closing that’ll stick with the reader – or in this case, the listener – even after they’ve reviewed the paper and moved on. Even after they’ve taken their headphones off and walked away.

A mixtape, all on its own, all by itself, with no additional media, should convey a message.

It should create an environment, or a moment, or a relationship, inside your head.

It should be one, whole, complete entity.

A mixtape is not just a collection of similar tracks thrown together.

A mixtape is a collaboration on the part of artists and one independent adjudicator, working together without ever speaking.

A mixtape is powerful and meaningful and beautiful.

A mixtape, when properly constructed, is a work of art.


Someone whose mixtape-creating ability I have always respected is William the Bloody, formerly of William’s Bloody Hell. You can now find him on his Twitter, still making awesome mixes. He sent me two for Christmas. Don’t let me forget, I owe him.

Lately I’ve been exchanging a lot of mixtapes with MannequinneHands. You can see a little of her work on her 8tracks account. Her mixtapes are so carefully crafted. They’re utterly magical.

If you want to see some of my own mixtapes, you’re more than welcome to check out my 8tracks, where I am Paperclippe as per usual. I’ve been adding about one a week, on average, and I always update old mixes when I hear something new that belongs.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that one of the best Christmas gifts I’ve ever received was a mixtape from @wackfiend. I put it on on New Year’s Eve and I’m pretty sure it made my year.

If you’re asking yourself what an 8tracks is, you should really go to http://8tracks.com and check it out. It’s the rebirth of mixtapes as we know it, especially for people who are a) too broke to buy blank CDs or b) make mixtapes too long to fit on CDs or c) want to share a mix with someone instantly. I am all three of those things. Even if you don’t make your own mixes, it’s worth a look just to see what other people create. It’s also an amazing way to discover new music in a more personal way than something like Pandora or last.fm, and I’ve found it’s also a hell of a lot more accurate. You can never substitute the human touch entirely.

So go on. Get mixing. Make some art.

And I’m Damned if I Do and I’m Damned if I Don’t

December 29, 2011 - 10:30 pm 2 Comments

I got on the Florence + The Machine boat a little late; in fact, I only listened to Lungs in anything more than passing this year.

In something like two weeks, last.fm informed me I’d racked up over 200 plays.

It would be an understatement to say I liked it. In fact, I love Lungs. I can put that album on and just listen over and over again, singing into a hair brush. But what’s more than that, I can listen over and over again quietly, appreciating every little nuance. There are only two songs I ever skip past, and if you must know which, they’re I’m Not Calling You a Liar, simply because I hear it every time I beat Dragon Age II (it’s a lot of times, just trust me on this one), and You’ve Got the Love, because I think it was a horrible choice to end the album on (strictly speaking, I don’t skip this one, I just stop the album at the end of Blinding because the end of Blinding would have been a perfect freaking ending, okay?).

I’m not feeling the same way about Ceremonials.

Let me, at first, dissect this album from a vocalist’s point of view, since there are two things I went to school for: one of them was writing, and one of them was singing. Bear with me here.

There are more than a few places in Ceremonials where Flo sounds utterly flat. Don’t get me wrong: it happens, especially with such an ambitious style of music. But I can’t ignore it. There’s a point in Hurricane on Lungs, toward the very end, where the note she’s holding goes totally sour and I cringe every time but the song is so good I just go along with it. Like I said. It happens. But it happens a lot in Ceremonials. There’s an off note or two in Shake it Out. There’s one in Breaking Down. There are a few in Only if for a Night. Cringe cringe cringe cringe cringe. I’m not criticizing Flo’s vocal abilities; I have no place to do that. What I’m saying is that the production of the album feels rushed, or sloppy somehow. It feels a lot less careful than Lungs felt.

Perhaps I shouldn’t compare the two albums, strictly, but I’m going to again when I say that Ceremonials doesn’t feel as clever as Lungs. Ceremonials has some great moments, some great lyrics, some great melodies, and there are plenty of hooks and choruses that have gotten lodged firmly in my head since I first heard the album. But over-all, that’s all it seems to be composed of: moments. Lungs was a piece. Ceremonials is a series of moments. It’s missing some of the power Lungs had. Which brings me to my next point.

I have the deluxe edition of Ceremonials (I know, I’m so fancy). At the end of the album, or I suppose, making up the majority of the deluxe content, are acoustic versions of Heartline, Shake it Out, and Breaking Down. And they kick the shit out of the original versions. The first time I heard Shake it Out, I liked it. I liked it a lot. But I wouldn’t say I was moved. The first time I heard the acoustic version, I cried. I shed tears. On the bus. On the way to work. Same song. Same Flo. Entirely different reaction. Maybe I’m biased; I do love me some acoustic guitar. But I don’t think it’s overreaching to say that on Ceremonials, some of the power of Flo’s brilliance is dulled by all of the processing, the electronics. As far as Lungs went, I don’t think there was another way to do it, especially with the jazz/electro blends, a perfect example of which was Girl with One Eye. That sounds made Lungs. On Ceremonials, it feels forced.

I’ve also noticed that Ceremonials feels less like Florence. I know she’s only got the two albums, but on my first listen of the album, I went through and basically said to every song, “Oh this sounds like such and such band, and this one sounds like this!” Most notably, Breaking Down sounds like it should be on a Beach House album. It’s not a bad thing – I love Beach House. But I didn’t buy a Beach House album. I’m aware artists borrow and evolve. I’m not naive. But Lungs was unmistakable. Unmistakably F+TM.

My final gripe is one song: Landscape. If you don’t have the deluxe version, you’ll never have heard this song.

Which is a fucking shame.

Landscape is listed as a demo. It’s not actually a part of Ceremonials. It is, in my humble opinion, the best song on the album. And it is unmistakably Flo.

Strangeness and Charm is another deluxe edition-only release, and I have to say, I was taken by it from the time I read the title. Strangeness and Charm are properties of sub-atomic particles known as quarks. If you’re familiar with this blog, you’re familiar with quarks. Yes, Flo. Please sing more science to me.

Reading this review, you must think I hate Ceremonials. You would be wrong. I only just got it and I’ve listened to it probably about twenty times so far and I’ll probably listen to it once a day for the next couple of months. I love it. I really do. It’s a great album. But there are so many small, small things that could have made a great album a masterpiece.

A brief review:

Paperclippe’s Favorite Songs from Ceremonials (Deluxe): Only if for a Night, Heartlines (Acoustic), Breaking Down (Acoustic), Shake it Out (Acoustic), Landscape (Demo), Strangeness and Charm (Deluxe Only).

Least Favorites: What the Water Gave Me (Demo), Remain Nameless (Deluxe Only), Heartlines.

First they built the road, then they built the town.

April 1, 2011 - 12:56 pm No Comments

By now you’ve probably heard of Arcade Fire.

I mean, they won Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards which is apparently still a thing that people watch.

Which brings me to my point.

Arcade Fire won the 2011 Grammy for Album of the Year.  I’m not going to downplay this because I have to say, that’s awesome.  Allow me to be completely selfish when I say that this means the music I listen to is now popular and that means I’m cool again and I didn’t even have to do anything.  (I am cool, right?  Then again, if you have to ask…).  But the album that won the Grammy was (obviously) their new album, The Suburbs.  If you haven’t heard it yet, go open your Grooveshark, play it, and come back.  Back?  Okay, now go listen to their first album, Funeral.  I’ll wait.

Funeral was Arcade Fire’s first real album (disregarding the “Us Kids Know” EP from 2003), which was released in 2004.  And it was magical.  MTV2 named it their Album of the Year way back then, and it won a lot of stuff and broke a lot of ground and was generally very well respected.

And no one heard about it.

Hell, I didn’t even hear about it until right around 2007, and the when the opening strains of “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” hit me, I was sucked in.  My heart was ripped out of my chest.  I listened to it dozens of times in a row.  That was right before their second album, Neon Bible, was released, and the timing was perfect.  Soon enough, I was an Arcade Fire addict.  There was something so raw and powerful about those albums, more so with Funeral, but it wasn’t lost in the more polished Neon Bible.  They both meant something.  They didn’t have to grow on you, they were you.

The Suburbs is not that kind of album.

In fact, let me fess up right here: the first time I heard the album in its entirety, I was entirely unmoved and entirely disappointed.  In fact, I listened to it twice in a row, but for the exact opposite reason I put Funeral on repeat for the entire summer of 2007: I had completely zoned out and missed half the album.  It took me several minutes to even notice there was no music playing in my headphones anymore.  But the second time, the same thing happened.  Could this be the case, I thought?  I’d heard the single “We Used to Wait” on The Daily Show and had messed around with the totally engrossing interactive video for it and I’d loved it; how was it that the rest of the album could be so lacking?

And then I listened to it in the car.

This is not the kind of album you can listen to sitting still, staring out the window.  This is the kind of album you put on and turn up and roll down the windows and go for a long drive.  The lyrics reflect this, they’re almost about this, but that’s not even the point.  You have to be moving.  Get on a bus, ride your bike, go for a drive.  This album is too huge to listen to sitting still.  If you’re not moving, it won’t move you.  It’s like an experiment, or it feels like it to me.  It’s also completely back-loaded with the good stuff.  Sure, the first seven or so songs are by no means bad; they’re catchy, toe-tappy.  I’d go so far to say that “Rococco” is infectious and that the extra beats inserted into “Modern Man,” after it’s finished giving you a head trip, will make you want to take up the drums.  But it’s the second half of the album that has that magical, gut-twisting, tear-jerking Arcade Fire feel.  It’s hard to say where it starts, since all the songs are derived from three or four central themes and bleed into each other, but you’ll know it when you feel it.

That is why The Suburbs won Album of the Year.  Because unlike the longing, lonely, and yet somehow upbeat strains of melody in Funeral’s “Wake Up” or the crushing, solitary pipe-organ opening of Neon Bible’s “Intervention”, The Suburbs is not something you can put your finger on.  You almost can’t find a place to say, “This is my favorite part,” because there are no parts.  It’s just one massive creation.

It’s still not Funeral, it’s still not my favorite.  But I get it now.  It’s part of a story, a story that Arcade Fire started to tell us in 2001, that they’re still telling ten years later, of primal humanity and modernization, of finding light in dark places, of corruption and a salvation that we cannot find in things or institutions, but that we can only find in each other.

New to Arcade Fire?  Paperclippe recommends: “Crown of Love” from Funeral; “Intervention” from Neon Bible; “Sprawl II (Mountains beyond Mountains)” from The Suburbs.

Think you’ve maybe heard this band before?  You might have heard the re-recorded version of “Wake Up” in the movie adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are or heard Peter Gabriel’s cover of “My Body is a Cage” on a recent episode of House.  BBC’s Top Gear used “No Cars Go” as the montage for their introduction of the show’s tenth series, and oh yeah, they played at the 2011 Grammy Awards.

Love to Hate

October 3, 2010 - 12:31 am 4 Comments

I made my tri-weekly library trip a little while back and picked up some new books, all of which I have currently set aside in favor of reading (or at least giving enough of a chance to) the ones I can’t renew anymore (see: at Carnegie Library, you can only renew books twice, for a totally of nine total weeks of check-out).

I’m currently really digging A Monster’s Notes by Laurie Sheck, which is sort of an experimental novel that poses the premise that Mary Shelly did not invent Frankenstein and his monster, but instead met the creature when she was young.  It’s a very esoteric collection of letters, journal entries, and notes, from the monster, Mary, her family, and other people encountered throughout the monster’s life.  It’s extremely literate and references many historical events, persons, and philosophies, especially those popular in the Victorian era.  It’s a big, thick book, but like Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, a great deal of it is dramatic white space.  That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s quick to get through.  Much of the subject matter – leprosy, miscarriages, the deaths of children, a ship’s crew lost to die in the arctic – has kept me picking up the book, reading for hours, and putting it back down for days to digest.  Fans of horror or literary analysis, pick this up.

I also picked up Love Will Tear Us Apart by Sarah Rainone which tells a story of a group of friends through some popular alternative rock (hence the title).  It’s a good book, so far, but it brings me to the topic of this blog:

What do you do about characters you hate?

There’s a character in the novel who is exactly the kind of person I can’t stand.  He’s rude, crude, un-clever, doesn’t seem to care too much about women, and furthermore, he hates hockey.  The way the book is written, it gives brief insights into the mind of each character as first-person narrative, and every time it gets to him, I have to admit, I don’t really read anymore.  I skim the way you skim paragraphs in a math book before the actual explaining is done, the way you read the introduction of an anthology.  And I can say, it doesn’t make the book better for it.  It’s to the point where I very nearly am compelled not to pick this book up again (and probably wouldn’t if the concept weren’t so… me).

So what do you do about books you like with characters you hate?

Finally, a short list of books which I’ve read since my last book blog and feel are suggestion-worthy:

The Moon Opera by Bi Feiyu, translation by Howard Goldblatt – A very tiny book about a woman with a dark past and a big voice.  Xiao Yanqiu destroys her career in opera by throwing boiling water in the face of her understudy.  Twenty years later, when the opera is restaged, a wealthy benefactor insists Xiao Yanqiu return to the role that destroyed her.  A very quick read, extremely emotional, extremely dark.  Triggering themes, mostly self-destruction.  Graphic.

I Have the Right to Destroy Myself by Young-ha Kim, translation by Chi-Young Kim – A disturbing, gripping tale of sex and suicide, of how lives are tangled up together even when they seem unfathomably far apart, and the people who can’t bear that tangle anymore.  As you might have guessed, very bleak, but impossible to put down.  Triggering themes are prominent.

The Trade by Fred Stenson – If you enjoy historical fiction at all, you have to read this book.  It’s the story of the Hudson Bay Company, the leading enterprise from England involved in the Canadian fur trade and how the wilderness, the native peoples, and the unforgiving winters shaped the lives of the (real, but fictionalised) people who lived it.  This is one of the most compelling things I’ve ever read, and it’s completely out of my usual favorite genres.  This is a masterpiece.

So go get your read on.

“To be well-remembered is a gift.”

June 29, 2010 - 11:12 am 11 Comments

              A woman, who has been a gift, told me that this morning.

              I am remembering, and remembering well.

              When I was a child, I had a piano, and not just any piano: I had an upright Steinway grand.  It had to be a hundred and twenty-five years old, and it was stellar.  I spent time with it every day.  I was small, maybe five or six, hardly more, but I loved that piano, and even then, I knew it was worth more than the emotions I alone imparted upon it; I knew it was worth more than the ridiculous sum of money I thought it was worth (despite it having been free in the Pennysaver from someone who probably just needed it to be gone).  I knew it was important.  It was music, and it was history, and it was love.

              But it was also old, and each time it was played, it sounded worse and worse.  My mother had it looked at to see what, if anything, could be done, but after so much time, it was fragile; the once straight, silver strings within the piano were warped and would have to be replaced, the worn-out hammers refitted.  We were living on food stamps then; we couldn’t afford cable TV or a Nintendo, let alone refitting an antique piano.  So, instead, I watched PBS and I read, and my mother and I would play our hearts out on the old, warped piano, and we didn’t care that our favorite tunes from Jesus Christ Superstar didn’t sound much like the album anymore.  She played and I sang and after a while I played, too, despite the tone-deaf Steinway.

              Then came the time when we, too, had to move, and once more, the piano had a family that needed the instrument to be gone.  So my father (a fine musician himself, but with a more easily-restrung instrument, the guitar), perhaps not wanting to see music be forgotten or left to strangers who, upon moving in, would not know its worth, would not care about its past, or perhaps just wanting to give it to someone who he knew would and could use it, gave the piano to a good friend of his called Jay, who had a son who could learn to play too, in time; a friend who maybe could restore it, or maybe not, but at least it would not be gone or forgotten.

              I went and visited my piano a few times with my father, but I then grew up and got too busy, forgot to visit, and after a while, the memory of my beloved piano faded away until I was old enough to really care to remember it and take care in remembering it: to research it, to find out the monetary cost of such an experienced instrument, and the historical value.  As it turned out, it had earned a lot of both.  I remembered my warped piano then, and I was angry: angry that I had had to give my treasure away; angry that I no longer even possessed a real piano; angry, too, at the less-than-stellar keyboard to which I’d since been demoted, which was born of plastics and would age far worse than my sturdy, cherished Steinway.

              But my anger would burn out; I knew the piano was in good hands, even if those hands had painted on the keys an acrylic rainbow to make the notes, the warped sounds the piano produced, easier to remember. Of those hands, I have a memory.

              Jay’s son and I would play the piano, when I did visit its new home.  Later in the evening, I would sit on the wooden piano bench and my father’s friend would tell me about the universe, about space and time.  He had a pocket watch on a chain.  Jay would take the silver chain and fold it over on itself, and he would explain to me that the universe: its buoyant, bright stars and super-massive black holes; its huge, nebulous gasses where stellar bodies were born and tiny, rocky planets where human bodies were too, folded on itself as well; that time warped space and space warped time, and that space and time were one, together; that time, like space, could be shaped, and he would say all of this with the watch on the end of the chain, the clock hanging limply at the edge of space in a small, silver universe, and it would tick away the time quietly in the background of my impromptu astro-quantum-physics class, never interrupting, but persistent.  Even at six, at seven years old, I came to understand that this was the important part of the lesson.  At the forefront of my brain, I wanted to be a physicist.  At the back, I was aware that time stretched on, fused with space as it was, and even if I missed something that Jay had said on those nights, I am forever glad I did not entirely skip the lecture.

              Last night, I mentioned my piano to a good friend while we talked, and the evening passed.

              This morning, I was told that Jay had passed last night.

              Though I have grown up, and had only visited a few times, I do miss him.

              “To be well-remembered is a gift,” a cherished woman told me this morning.  I believe her, and I believe, in time, I will remember her well.

              I also still believe in physics, and maybe now I believe in a little of the metaphysical.  I believe that time warps space and space warps time and that the two will never be parted.  I believe all of us affect and are affected by space and time, since, in the words of another man from my childhood who is also now gone and missed, “We are star-stuff.

              I know that being well-remembered does not allow us to interrupt the persistently short time we are given, as the ticking watch at the end of a small, silver, chain-link universe always knew, but I believe that it can be warped into the best shape that our stellar masses and minds can form, if we remember, and remember well, for as another man who affected my youth but was gone long before I could miss him had said, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

              I have decided to remember the time, and time, remember well, because that same, stellar woman also told me this morning, “Those that are remembered, are never really gone.”

              ~*~

              Below the cut are (perhaps selfish) dedications and thank yous for the creation and exponential, infinite expansion of my mind and self: things I have wanted to say, things I should have said already, and things I say too much.

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