Archive | hebdomad RSS feed for this section

Return to Hebdomad.

27 Feb

In the fall, as you know, I stalked several bands as part of my folk beat. PigPen, described below, was the one I chose for my finals essay.

It was the night Bette Midler came to see  The Old Man and the Old Moon. An hour before the house opened, the only visibly excited people were the stage managers, David and Allyson. Allyson was constantly bursting into “The Rose” during warm ups, while David pirouetted across the tiered stage as he set up. The seven performers that write, sing, play, act, and direct themselves as PigPen Theatre Company were remarkably impassive, their apprehension only betrayed by occasional fumbles whilst tuning their instruments. The mood was convivial, as it is each night they perform, but this saturday night was special: not only was Bette Midler coming, but the house was full, a luxury for performers in theatre-saturated New York City.

 “You’ll love tonight” PigPen’s understudy Nick whispered to me “In a full house, there’s space to laugh… the audience gives each other permission to enjoy themselves. Smaller houses are intimate… but you can’t rely on adrenaline to carry the technical stuff, like timing or scene breaks. In a full house you can just tune into the audience and it’s a high like no drug I’ve never done.”  True to his prediction, that night the show was mesmeric, even after Bette Midler left at intermission.

Everyone who sees PigPen’s play The Old Man and the Old Moon leaves the theatre with a different memory. It is not a tale, the narrator tells the audience as it begins, that you can carry away with both hands.  The story itself is simple and fabulist:  an old man sails across the world following a melody and searching for his wife. Across eternity his job has been to fill the leaking moon, and once he abandons his duty the world comes apart at the seams. The moon and the oceans disappear; the stars fall out of the sky. The Old Man finds himself in paradise, in the belly of a fish, on a dirigible, in a sunken city made of light. He travels with adventurers, sailors, ghosts, milk-bottle dogs and talking planks. Ultimately, as in the way of any fable, he finds himself back at home, surprised to find that the world keeps going round and round and round. Their barebones story is told, the New Yorker’s critic said, with  a “perfect combination of original bluegrass-style music, stunning shadow puppetry, and vigorous physical comedy.”

Continue reading

I Started a Joke.

8 Sep

Hullo, strangers.

It has been a long while, I know, and I owe you all explanations. The days, they have been bleak. Literary life was niggardly and personal life devastating, while the parents- backbone, strength, comfort- are losing faith. It’s not so easy, I find, to disappoint. It’s even worse to have terrible timing. Worst of all  is beginning something you have no skill at substantiating and no hope of concluding. I thought, almost a year ago now, that I could stand the perennial anticipation of unfinished business. It turns out delusions are made of sterner stuff than I am.

That was why I haven’t been around, in case anyone was wondering, for heartachey bogey is no fun to read. For once, I find myself agreeing with Thoreau. Tis appalling arrogance to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. That is also why this post will be uncharacteristically terse, for said misery shows no signs of relenting and I am as despondent as exhausted. I hope to wake up soon.

Waking Up

Daylight leaks in, and sluggishly I surface

from my own dreams into the common dream

and things assume again their proper places

and their accustomed shapes. Into this present

the Past intrudes, in all its dizzying range-

the centuries-old habit of migration

in birds and men, the armies in their legions

all fallen to the sword, and Rome and Carthage.

The trappings of the day also come back:

my voice, my face, my nervousness, my luck.

If only Death, that other waking-up,

could grant me a time free of all memory

of my own name and all that I have been!

If only morning meant oblivion!

Continue reading

Tidings from Hebdomad.

6 Jul

Hebdomad, some of you will remember, is the blog I run on firstpost. It ostensibly belongs to one Ramachandran, and is doing reasonably well, thank you for asking. Neil Gaiman tweeted a post about his vampire sestina, which brought a skip to one’s step and a hum to one’s stats. He ignored, perhaps out of modesty, another fawning post about Sandman (his and E.T.A Hoffman’s). He was even gracious enough not to point out his sundry vampire-fic. Thankfully, comments folks were less restrained, and I’ve liblisted The Graveyard Book and reread ‘Snow, Glass, Apples’ (I realised half way that I had it confused with ‘Lady of the House of Love’, which is either a great compliment or a terribly trite comparison.)

All the gaiman geekdom, anyway, earned me the gig. Hebdomad lives, and the most recent post remembered the spirit of Michael Kelly, whom I debated across the writing of Chaosbogey’s Politics last year. I spent a week with the blues ladies, mourning Janis and Billie Holiday. The parent, beloved reader, assures me I ‘broke’ the Indian slutwalk story by writing it up in the early days of twitter hysteria.  Most of bogeydom will agree (all you lonely victims of my assorted rambles) that fashion isn’t my forte. To write said trailblazer, thus, I prudently chose silence and dipped into Dorothy Sayers. A few days later, on 13th June, I celebrated her birthday, and was vastly entertained to find she shared it with Yeats. And so we are led into a poem.

Time drops in decay

like a candle burnt out

and the mountains and the woods

have their day, have their day

what one in the rout

of the fire-born moods

has fallen away?

Tisn’t as happy a poem as I’d have liked. (‘A Coat‘)  Fitting, though, given the fate of slutwalk, a debate from which I’ve finally walked away. Or so I declared on bookslut, which is as good as any virgin’s oath. There is, I will admit, a post waiting in the wings should the blessed event come to pass, failing which it will go up on July 25th. Then I’m done, if only because scores of women have said everything I need to say, and done so far better than I ever could. For a sampling, here is Annie Zaidi, or Kuzhali Manickavel, or Nisha SusanKatha Pollitt wrote an eloquent (and global) love letter to the movement, giving it much needed Serious Feminist Cred. Also, since I quote from it so liberally in the ‘slut essay, this be the rest of Adrienne Rich’s poem:

The light of outrage is the light of history

springing upon us when we’re least prepared

thinking maybe a little glade of time

leaf thick and with clear water

is ours, promised us, for all we’ve hacked

and tracked our way through: to this:

What will it be? Your wish or mine? your

prayers or my wish then: that those we love

be well, whatever that means, to be well.

Outrage: who dare protection for their own

amid such unprotection? What kind of prayer

is that? To what kind of god? What kind of wish?

— Through Corralitos under Rolls of Cloud, IV.

That is that as far as news goes (oh wait, I moaned about my nose). This Saturday, I shall be doing a Peake centenary post, so do keep an eye out for some amusing verse.  Now, because this is bogey and I love you all so, I shall inflict upon you an ‘exclusive’ from the failed experiments of my writing life. The.. bile that follows was written in an aborted attempt at understanding economics as I was reading “The Relentless Revolution”. It is also why the first draft of that review concluded with this immortal line: ‘it is the purpose of histories to differentiate between porsches and potatoes.’ So now you know.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: