Singin' on the Train

14 January 2002

I'm rather fond of James Lileks' Screed for today. It's about art. Go read it. Thing is, he makes a good point about what we shouldn't be forced to subsidize, but I don't think he takes it far enough. As usual, he has some really good pithy lines, though.

Also, the picture of his daughter is too adorable for words. I have a horrible weakness for small ones in headwear. It doesn't even have to be good headwear. It doesn't have to be complex headwear. Yesterday Annalina, Everyone's Sweetie in this apartment complex, was wearing a hooded sweatshirt. I still wanted to pick her up and take her home. Okay, so I want to do that anyway. But for some reason, hats on babies just get the mommy urges going again.

The writing group meeting last night was fun. Timprov was feeling enough better that he could go, so I didn't have to drive. The restaurant where we were supposed to meet was closed, so we had crepes instead, and later coffee. Lori rode part of the way home with us on BART, until she had to change trains. And then I started quietly singing "Keep the Customer Satisfied."

I pointed at Timprov. "Who sang that?"

"You did. I heard you."

Sigh. "Who recorded it?"

"Probably RCA."

"All right, but who wrote it?"


"Nope. Paul Simon."

"It sounds older and more female than that."

"That's probably my fault."

"You've been going around making Artie and Paul more feminine?"

I wanted to sing "Song for the Asking," which Timprov thought might be "Song for the ASCII," except it's not really well-structured for a parody. But "Kodachrome," he pointed out, is the ultimate parody song, and I had to agree. So then we sang "Kodachrome," officially becoming Those Freaks Who Sing On The Train. (That's Singin' Writin' Weirdo-Freaks to you.)

"I could be a tenor," said Timprov.

I expressed my skepticism in a slightly less than polite way.

"I could!"

"You could be a baritone or a bass who was singing tenor," I said generously.

"I could be a tenor."

"I'm glad you couldn't."


"You might do it when you were annoyed with me, to get back at me."

"I wouldn't do that."


"I wouldn't."

"No, I know that."

So I sang a bit of "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her," and then "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" and "Baby Driver." And then we got off the train and I started singing "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright" in the BART parking lot. I got as far as, "So long, Frank Lloyd Wright, I can't believe your song is sung so soon. I barely learned the tune -- so soon. I remember, Frank Lloyd Wright --" And then I stopped.

"What I want to know," I said, "is if they spent all of those nights harmonizing with Frank Lloyd Wright until dawn, how come they never let him be on any of the albums? That's the next line, you know: 'I remember, Frank Lloyd Wright, all of the nights we harmonized 'til dawn.' And was he a baritone or a bass or another tenor? It probably would have sold albums, to have Frank Lloyd Wright singing back-ups on a couple of songs."

Timprov looked down at me. "Ahh, the great existential questions of life."

It was a good evening. Not so much so for Mark -- he had been doing the taxes. But the money is flowing back in the right direction, in a great big chunk, so for tax night, it could have been much worse.

I've got a bunch of stuff to do, of course. Everybody is surprised. Mark and Scott both finished reading Reprogramming and had comments on it. Timprov is halfway through and going to make sure he finishes soon so that I have feedback before I send it to the next publisher. (The first publisher I sent it to wanted the first three chapters, so I was a little more comfortable sending it out without listening to feedback first.) That should be by the end of the week anyway, I think.

I've got to rewrite beginning of the first scene. I wrote it a long, long time before the rest of the book, and while I'm a bit emotionally attached to it, I've grown as a writer since then, and it needs to go before the book goes out. I've read it enough times to make my eyes bleed. That was the bit I stared at, muttering, "What is this?" off and on for two years before my brain said, "Click. Oh. It's a novel." Now that I know that, though, I need to redo that bit, smooth it out, make it work. I can see past it into the rest of the book. Which is all for the best.

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