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A little tune about Herland

If Herland was a comedic Broadway play, this is a little tune I wrote for it:

(“Herland” – a Broadway tune written by me)

Males: Herland!

Females: Herland!

All: What is to become of HER?

Solo Male 2: Is it like Themyscira?

Solo Male 1: Is Aphrodite and Diana here?

Males: For two thousand years it was SHE, SHE, SHE!

Females: Strong as any HE, HE, HE!

Males: Short hair! Long pants!

Solo Male 1: The only curves were in the land!

Females: Education!

Lead Female: No reproduction without it!

Males: Education!

Solo Male 2: No man, no hog, no man’s best friend

Solo Female 2: Not even some little Lepidoptera…

All: Only Education is important in… Herland!

Solo Male 2: I will serve and protect!

Lead Female: Will not!

Solo Male 3: I will conquer and win!

Lead Female: Will not!

Males: It’s Herland!

Solo Male 1: New language, new clothes, new country, new fortress!

Solo Male 2: New land!

Males: HERland!

Solo Male 3: Now we must plan our escape.

Lead Female: Don’t think so.

Solo Male 2: But our biplane is covered in a giant cape…

Lead Female: You must master our mastering.

Males: We must obey.

Solo Male 3: We must discover their secrets of reproductivity…

Solo Male 2: We must befriend and seduce…

Lead Female: Now all of their attention is He, He, He,

Not one, not two, but three –

NONE is enough for me!

Solo Female 1: I got my eye on…

Lead Female: Enough!

Solo Male 1: I got my eye on…

Lead Female: Enough!

Males: We’ve got our eyes on Herland!

Females: They have their eyes on Herland!

All: All the eyes are on Herland!

Solo Male 2: I got my eye on HER!

herland

Interview with Babaloo – Punk Mambo

This was an interview I did in 1998 for Break Magazine, a college newspaper in Tallahassee, with Babaloo, a Boston-based band.

If you’re looking for a fun, freaky, and totally unique band to see, then Babaloo is the band for you. The music could best be described as a one-of-a-kind mix of punk, mambo, reggae, ska, and samba, and is sung in several different languages, including English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Portuguese, and Swahili. In addition to music, sometimes the band invites others to perform along with them, including magicians and dancers.

Punk+Mambo

In order to fully appreciate what the band offers you must go to see them for yourself. [Babaloo performed at Yianni’s in March 1998]. You can even get a small sample of Babaloo’s music on their website:

http://www.punkmambo.com

Even people from as far as London are recommending for others to see the band. “The band is outstanding,” said Steven Wolfe, 32, an attorney from London who recently saw Babaloo perform in Key West. “They music is iconoclastic, they have high energy, and the audience participation was the best. I want to try to get them to come to London.”

Trumpet player Marc Chillemi referred to the band as the “Babaloo family circus”, where “fun and deception” occur. Apparently, Marc isn’t the only crazy member of this multicultural circus. The seven solid members of the band sat down and conjugated the answers to the following questions:

Q: How did your band form, and when?
A: Destiny in the Jamaican Plains where we were all living and hanging out in 1995.

Q: Your music involves different languages. How do you decide what language to use with which song, etc., or does it just flow out of you that way?
A: Precisamente.

Q: Would you say that your music has a particular theme or message, and what would it be?
A: It’s important to be nice, but it’s nicer to be important. What’s mine is mine, what’s yours we split.

Q: What is the best thing about touring? And the worst?
A: All of the traveling. The touring is the worst.

Q: You have said that you have “loonies of all kinds” that are attracted to your music. Have you ever had a bad experience with a loony?
A: We went to play a club in Bar Harbor, got in an argument with the club owner, and he threw a keg at our bass head, Slim “Family Man” Goodbody.

Q: Where are your favorite places to play?
A: Outside places, festivals, New York City.

Q: Which bands/performers have influenced your music?
A: Britney Spears, Christina Aguilara, Mandy Moore, and Sam Mangwana

Q: With so many members in the band, do you find it difficult agreeing on things, and how do you handle it?
A: Paper, scissors, rock.

Q: What do you think is the main thing that keeps the band members together?
A: Pot.

Q: What are the bands goals for the future?
A: We only smoke blunts if they’re rolled paper.

Q: Is there anything you want your audience to know before they come to see you play?
A: One for $15, two for $20.

William Carlos Williams’ “Young Woman at a Window”

I love learning new things. Last year I took a free course on Coursera – Modern Poetry with Al Filreis from the University of Pennsylvania. One of ModPo’s assignments required us to compare Williams’ two poems, but the assignment required us to say why the second one was more imagist than the other. Once again, I did things my own way and disagreed that the second poem is more imagist than the first. I guess I see things differently.

The second version of William Carlos Williams’ “Young Woman at a Window” does not follow the imagist manifesto more clearly than the first, because both poems leave a large window of interpretation. In both versions, the images are questionable and often unclear. Although they are very similar, both tell a completely different story by the way they are written in stanza. Williams’ first version (v1) of the poem tells us a story of a woman being robbed by a child. In the second version (v2), Williams tells us about a woman on the verge of a breakdown.

wcw-young-woman-version-1

In the first line of v1, “While she sits / there”, the image is unclear. The word “while” is indefinite, as we do not know what period of time this could mean. She is sitting where? “There” does not indicate where she sits, so it does not mean the criteria of imagist poetry. In the second part of v1, “with tears on / her cheek,” the stanza seems to be clear that the tears are on her cheek without any alternative meaning or image. Williams uses the lines “her cheek on her hand” in both versions of the poem, but he separates them in stanzas. We know here that her cheek rests on her hand: “her cheek on / her hand” because it is in one stanza.

Williams’ choice of words in the fourth and fifth stanzas of v1: “this little child / who robs her // knows nothing of / his theft” could be construed as being either literally or figuratively robbed. Since imagists are supposed to be clear-cut in their poetry, I must conclude that this image is blurred from the poet’s intention.

At the end of v1, Williams concludes: “but rubs his / nose”. If in fact the child robbed the woman, he could very well thumb his nose at her. If he is figuratively robbing her, he is probably tired and crying, which causes him to rub his nose.

In v2 the poem begins: “She sits with / tears on” in the first stanza. This completely changes the meaning from the way it was written in v1 if each stanza represents a separate idea or image. The word “on” could be interpreted that the woman’s tears are turned on like a faucet.

wcw-young-woman-version-2

Because v2 has been broken up into separate stanzas: “her cheek/her cheek on // her hand, the child,” it paints a different picture than the first version. Here, her cheek is emphasized, which makes the reader wonder if this particular cheek is part of her face or her buttocks. We can imagine both scenarios – her cheek on her hand could mean resting her hand on her face or sitting on her hand. Even though we may assume in v2 her cheek may be on her hand, the separate stanzas are a new idea. Then Williams throws us with: “her hand / the child.” Is the child acting up and she uses her hand to discipline him? First we had her cheek on her hand, now it seems to be on the child. Who can blame this woman, because she is clearly stressed!

However, in v2, Williams eliminates the “child who robs her” stanza altogether. Instead, he writes: “in her lap // his nose.” Here I imagine the child’s nose in the woman’s lap, the way young children bury their heads, especially after they’ve been disciplined by the hand.

Finally, v2 ends with “pressed / to the glass,” and I believe that Williams is using figurative language here. When glass is pressed hard enough, it breaks. Perhaps other readers will assume the child’s nose is pressed to the glass, but because the stanzas are separate, I imagine differently.

Although the second version of the poem is considered “more imagist,” I have to disagree. Neither are “hard and clear” as defined by the imagist manifesto, in my opinion. Just because someone claims one to be “more” than the other doesn’t make it so.

The Old Man Mad About Drawing: A Tale of Hokusai

Many times I find some of the best books at library book sales. The Old Man Mad About Drawing: A Tale of Hokusai, by Francois Place, is one of them. This beautifully illustrated book includes many of Japanese artist Hokusai’s works as well as other illustrations, and its fable-like storyline is enjoyable for both young and old alike.

oldmanmad

The story takes place in Japan, where a young boy, Tojiro, sells rice cakes on the street and meets an old man nine times his age. That man is a print-maker named Hokusai. Tojiro learns many lessons from Hokusai, who is like a master to him in many ways. This is a story that will have you laughing, nodding, and shaking your head all at the same time because many of us can relate to the book’s characters or have known characters much like them. Its many messages are genuinely charming to anyone who can appreciate what knowledge seniors have to share with us.

I give this book a 5-star rating.

Ode to HG Wells’ “The Country of the Blind” and “The Star”

I wrote this while taking Coursera’s Fantasy & Science Fiction course. The assignment was to write an essay on HG Wells work, but I do things my way. I combined the two stories and created a poem out of it.

She was like a lion,

a big bright shining star

Her mane rose up,

captured the sky

like a chariot on fire,

ripping open

those that surrounded her

Push, pull, push, pull…

Most never take notice

until it’s too late

But the one with one eye –

he notices

Yes, he notices

He sees her bodacious beauty –

mountains rising above him,

he begins to feel caved in

until…

Until he realizes he’s in love.

Shannon's Creative Work: Abstract Paintings by Shannon Hudnell &emdash;

Puff the Magic Dragon Inspires Fearlessness

I have very vivid dreams every night and have been keeping dream journals consistently over last several years. So far I’ve filled three dream journals over that period of time, and it seems that the more I write them down, the more I dream. Sometimes I can easily interpret them, other times I am completely lost as to why I would dream such bizarre things.

One night I had this very vivid dream of being on a journey, flying horses and calling one of them Puff the Magic Dragon. Upon waking, I had no idea what in the world any of it meant, as I did not remember the story of Puff. Thankfully for Youtube, I watched the three 9-minute segments of the 1978 cartoon and there was the answer to my dream.

I had already known that the meaning of flying in a dream is overcoming something or rising above a situation. Horses in a dream symbolize strength and endurance. Next, it was up to me to discover why I was recalling the cartoon about Puff the Magic Dragon.

The story of Puff begins with a little boy named Jackie Draper who does not speak. A dragon named Puff appears at his window and tells Jackie he is there to help him help himself. Puff draws a picture of Jackie and names him “Jackie Paper”, and takes Jackie Paper on a journey in a boat to discover the land of Honah Lee. Along the journey is a big mean-looking pirate, which at first the little boy fears.

“The first step in not being afraid is to see things as they really are,” Puff tells Jackie. All of a sudden, Jackie sees the pirate as a baker and is no longer afraid.

The next fear that Jackie must overcome is the sea. Puff tells the boy that it’s not the sea he’s afraid of, but the dark clouds that cover the stars – because the clouds are jealous of the stars. The clouds believe they can deny beauty by hiding it, and just as a star falls from the sky, Puff tells Jackie that the clouds are always happy when a star dies.

As the star lay dying in his boat and cannot speak, Jackie says, “She wants to talk but she can’t. I know how she feels,” and although he is still afraid, the boy makes it his mission to save the star – and he does. Immediately after his mission is accomplished, the boat arrives on Honah Lee, but the place is not as they expected. The inhabitants of the island are all big noses that only sneeze and feel discomfort, which helps Jackie to understand that the reason they act that way is because they feel so miserable.

In the end, the pirate-cook comes along and creates rain made of chicken soup, thereby curing the inhabitants of Honah Lee. Puff brings Jackie Paper back to his room and tells him that he needs to be Jackie Draper, who is able to speak once again.

The moral of the story is that if you are fearless and see things in a different perspective, the stars and sunshine will come out – after the clouds and rain. I then understood the meaning of my dream.

Finding Treasures: Griffin & Sabine

Thrift stores are always having book sales, and since I am a book lover, they are the best place to find some great reads. I found this little treasure called Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock. It is finely illustrated in post-card format, so the reader isn’t following a typical paragraph-type of book. It is sort of a pop-up type of book, but instead of things popping up, envelopes open to reveal letters written between the two characters Griffin and Sabine. This book is like reading letters found in an old drawer between two people you’ve never met – but with a surprise twist at the end. The book sells on Amazon for about $13. The price I paid? $1.

Dream Journal Symbolism: Reality Show Mothers and Hair

A few years ago when my daughter was in high school and I was having difficulty explaining that my rules are as is, and I didn’t care what other mother’s rules are. I don’t care what other people think; it’s my life and my family, and I will do it my way.

Then I had this dream:

I was at the beach with a friend from high school. A huge wave came and took something or someone (I think it was a baby). The dream switched and I was at a reality show about mothers and daughters getting makeovers. My hair was turning brown and caramel. All of the other mothers were redheads. There were college boys in a trailer near us. I was the only mother that stayed back to watch everything in the show while the others went off and did their own thing. Still waiting to be picked for a makeover, I went to the trailer and saw a room where my daughter had slept. The bed was made.

This was a difficult dream for me to interpret at the time, because I didn’t understand the reality show portion of it. The huge wave coming and taking something – if in fact it was a baby – was probably representative of my own child, even though she was no longer a baby. She was still my baby. The fact that all of the other mothers had red hair and I did not said that I was different from them. Also different were my actions, because while I was observing things they were nonchalant in doing their own thing. This is exactly how it played out in real life.
Shannon's Creative Work: SELF PORTRAITS &emdash; Family Portrait - 2005

5 Must-Have Books (and exercises) for Every Writer

Reach for the sky

This was published in Flash Fiction Chronicles a few years ago:

Five Must-Have Books (and Exercises) For Every Writer

The Art of Peter Saul – Criminal Medicine

When I was a student at Florida State University, I had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing artist Peter Saul. At the time, he was 63 years old and an instructor at the University of Texas. After seeing his work at FSU’s art museum, I was inspired! There was so much detail and elements of story that I knew I just had to write my art education term paper on this awesome artist. This is a portion of my paper and interview concerning his work Criminal Medicine.

http://www.liliangarcia-roig.com/pdfs/MaxCatalog.pdf

The art created by Peter Saul reflects the images of surrealism, pop art, and abstract expressionism. His use of distorted gesture and unrealistic figures imitate the style of surrealists; his bright fluorescent colors and cartoonish style represents the work of pop artists; and his abstract figures mirror the abstract expressionists. Saul’s subject matter usually includes social or psychological issues. Viet Nam became the subject of Saul’s work in the 60s. Some of the artist’s work came from a personal level, such as his “Self-Portrait”. Saul has exhibited his work all over the world, including France, Switzerland (Bibliography) and at Florida State University.

Criminal Medicine, one of Saul’s pieces located in the Florida State University’s permanent collection, was painted with oil on acrylic in 1966. Like his other works, Criminal Medicine is filled with symbols of its time – the 1960s – the flower power, Vietnam era. This piece’s symbolism involves an objection to the war that was so devastating – and so objected – to so many people. Criminal Medicine is about the power the United States’ soldiers had over the Viet Namese. There are chemistry tubes and vials labeled “race mixer” and “criminal medicine”, a U.S. Army sergeant, a female figure with a hat, a house, protruding eyes, musical notes, a cross with an army coat nailed to it, and the word “adultery” labeled nearby a female figure with an embryo in her womb. She sun is shown in different phases: smiling empty-eyed and not smiling. The subjects are overlapped, and the cartoonish colors include bright pink, orange, yellow, green, and silver, with bright and military shades of green and blues. Saul’s style in this artwork is tightly pieced together with black outlining the colors.

Criminal Medicine takes on a deconstructionist attitude, with its contradictions in the social setting. It represents what was behind the scenes of the destructive war – prejudice, pregnancy, and prayer. The racism between both countries was prevalent. The soldiers were impregnating women before they’d leave the country, and there were people praying for their lives to be saved probably more than ever.

In his interview, Saul says that there is a lot of psychology involved in Criminal Medicine. The sun is a curious item in the painting, with its spacey smile on one side and its melancholy look on the other. Perhaps the artist was trying to remind himself that it was still the age of LSD, despite what was happening across the world. Ironically, Saul claims to have never taken LSD or any drug (Interview), although his work appears to be “trippy”.

(Note: LSD was banned in ’66 when this painting was completed.) (“Political Paintings”).

For more information about this piece at Florida State University’s Museum of Fine Art, visit:
http://www.liliangarcia-roig.com/pdfs/MaxCatalog.pdf