Seabirds

It feels silly, mundane, to stagger off the kitchen table, wipe themselves off, and pull up their pants.  Of course Drin cracks jokes and waddles around the kitchen with his ass bare and pants around his knees, pulling them wide and making quacking cartoon noises.  Dance has to tickle him to make him stop it, and they laugh until they both hurt.

While Dance fries up eggs and bacon, blasting the kitchen with the odor of smoked ham, Drin butters toast and spoons out hot oatmeal.  It’s startling how hungry they both are.  After washing dishes, they take their coffee cups out onto the deck and admire the view.

From that landing, stairs run down in zigzags to the dune sand fifteen feet below the cantilevered joists of the house.

Drin was right about needing their jackets.  The sky is a wintry clear blue, the wind whips their hair around and chills their hands.  Further out, wild spray is flinging off the breakers at the headland, perhaps a quarter mile away.  The roar of waves smashing on rock seems much louder outside of the house, even this far up off the beach.

Dance is glad to stand huddled in the shelter of Drin’s body with the big man’s arms folded around him, holding his mug next to Dance’s.  With his other hand, Drin points out the birds dotted along the sea stacks just off the beach.  They aren’t flying much.

“The black ones are cormorants,” Drin says.

“Yes, I know those birds.  There are Korean islands with lots of fishing.  The really old men fishermen with small boats, they keep the birds with a leash, to dive after fish.  They keep the collar tight, so the bird can’t swallow the whole fish, only bits cut by the fisherman, when he lets the bird eat.  I always thought it is a hard way to live, grabbing fish from little birds.  Not like hooking tuna as heavy as yourself.”

“Well, those might be getting rare these days, too.”  The big man leans closer over Dance’s shoulder, sips at his coffee.

“At the far end of that stack, where it is sheltered, those are pelicans, right?” Dance says.

“Looks like.  Your eyes are better than mine.”

“Did you go out fishing?”

“Yeah.  I had this gypsy phase.  All twitchy, just after I got the medical discharge from the Army–no use at office jobs,  couldn’t sit still doing numbers, like I do now.  Bummed around, drank too much, finally ended up in that motorcycle wreck, back in the damn hospital again.  Finally got healthy enough to work after that.  And, by God, did I work my ass off.   Ran some farm combines, pulled lobster pots, drove trucks.  Got a veteran to sponsor me to the longshoreman’s union, worked for awhile restacking sacks of rice by hand in port–you can pack them tighter that way.  God, talk about building muscles.  Shipped out of there, did some time on container ships out of Guam.  For an ordinary hand, lots of mopping and cleaning brass and chipping paint all day.  Grubby as hell.  But peaceful, gotta give it that.  Lots of time to read, study.  I did so many practice tests, going for my accounting certificates.  Finally calmed down enough to figure out which state of the union probably worked better for me, decided where I wanted to take the exams.  Did a road trip to check out places.  Came down here to buy a car, decided to stay.  Not exactly romantic, huh?”

Dance pulls the man’s arms closer.  “I think it is.”

“It’s sure a lot more fun than shooting nightmare shit in Afghanistan.”

Dance leans his head into the man’s upper arm.  “I agree.”  He sees a bee flying hard, hovering briefly inside the shelter of a shrub near the railing, in spite of the wind, and he starts to smile.

“What?”

Dance points with his mug.  “I am waiting for the other bees to show up to sniff you.”

“In this wind?”  Drin snorts.  “Besides, they always know me–they’re showing up to check you out, make sure you’re okay.”

“Oh, I see,” Dance says.

“I bet there’s a parent colony in the shrubs by the street in front, too, not just back here.”

Dance feels the tug of impulse shift Drin’s body, and he smiles.  “Shall we put the mugs away and go look?”

Bad Moon Rising

“The bees came to find you,” Dance says.

Drin glances at the tree.  “They swarmed?”

“I called your beekeeping friends, as you say to do.”

“Oh, that explains it,” Drin says.

Dance tilts his head up in a precise jerk just like the little bright praying mantis they had been watching. The garden is full of insect life attracted to Dance’s plantings.

“How Fozzie knew my phone number.”

Dance says, cautiously, “Who is Fozzie?”

“A big old bear.   Knows everybody, all the beekeeping guys.  Possibly the biggest bear you’ll ever meet.”

“Am I meeting Fozzie?”

“Yeah, as soon as I can arrange it.” Drin says. “He’s really out of this world.”

“Out of–?”

“It’s an expression of admiration. You and Em are out of this world.” Drin cups the deeply muscled shoulder, rubbing a smutch of dark clay away from the smooth skin.

“Then, you are out of this world as well.”  Dance starts picking up his tools. There won’t be any more work done in the garden tonight.

“When is Em supposed to be home?”

“Late, maybe nine or so,” Dance says.  Then he smiles.  “Are you hungry?  You look tired, my Drin.”

“I am,” Drin says. Dance still looks too much like a praying mantis, and not enough like Drin’s lover, beautifully warm and sweaty and wearing nothing but stained baggy shorts in his garden.  The white smile has too many teeth in it, and they are someplace dark, against a backdrop of flight harness cords and glittering expanses of… something.  The brown face twitches, triangulating in tiny gestures on distant targets, a distance which doesn’t seem to stop him doing… whatever is causing the shock waves that rock them both.  Somebody farther away laughs in triumph in the dark, to music.  “Do you feel lucky? I feel lucky!  No tropical depression gonna steal my sun away, I feel lucky!”  Voices sing verses along with Mary Chapin Carpenter.  Not all of her words match the version he knows from the radio now. “Still think you’d rather fuck a laser cannon, boys?”

Drin shakes off the weird alienated crawling sensation, leans in, and kisses Dance on the cheek.  “Food is a great idea too.  Want to jump in the shower and then cook something?”

Dance gives him a searching look, before he nods and carries his tools over to the faucet.  Drin bends down by the hose, helps him wash them off and put them away.  “No, no, you must get all the clay off the metal parts, Drin,” Dance chides him, gently. “On this I am inflexible.”

“Bite me!” Drin says, laughing; the tools are spotless.

“If you want,” Dance responds, not even blinking.

Drin holds up one wet, washed wrist, offering him the childish dare.

Dance moves forward and mouths Drin’s forearm, proving his bite is even bigger than Drin realized.  “Yeth?  More?” Dance says with his mouth full.  His teeth prickle gently at the skin, something catches, snags when Drin pulls away.  They both look down at the two cuts on Drin’s forearm, barely big enough to bleed.  Dance clutches Drin’s arm, staring at the tiny drops of blood there.  Then his hand drags up the hose, splattering Drin’s shirt and drowning the cuts in water, as if diluting it might help.

“Yeah,” Drin says, and something hard and lumpy and heavy settles with a bump in his unsettled stomach.  Instead of lurching about in space, weightless, it has become a solid, unexpected burden.  The cuts could have been made by slivers of glass.  Out of this world.

Dance’s eyes are wide open, pale with alarm.  For a wordless moment Drin stares into that panic. He cups Dance’s chin, strokes his lover’s jawline.  Dance swallows, under that touch, and closes his eyes, and starts to turn his head away.  Instead, Drin folds him up in the grip of both arms, and holds him close.

“It’s all right, sweetheart,” he says into Dance’s tumbled, sweaty hair.  “It’s going to be all right.  Whatever it is, hey, we’ll figure out how to handle it.  I’ll get help.  Em will get us help. Whatever we need.  Don’t worry.”

Dance’s shoulders bunch tight under the touch, incredibly knotted, and then he lowers his head into Drin’s collarbone, and the shoulders suddenly relax limp, and his weight leans into Drin’s chest.  “We are so… sorry.  I can’t… I don’t know anything.”  He gives a breath of laughter.  “You see how it is?”

“Damn silly of me,” Drin agrees, and kisses him on the top of the head.

Dance gives a big bone-deep sigh, and leans into him.  The hose runs unnoticed over Dance’s bare feet, soaks Drin’s socks.

“Tired, too, right?” Drin says.  “Haven’t been sleeping well?”

Dance nods into his chest.

“Me either.  Needed my Dance.  I kept waking up, reaching over.”

“Bad dreams?”

“Yeah.  You too, huh?”  Drin feels his ribs bump Dance with an almost silent chuckle.  “The worst.  And meeting Fozzie didn’t help that a bit.  He… helped me remember stuff.”

Dance pushes closer yet into Drin’s body.  He’s shivering.

“Okay, time for a shower.  That’ll help. And then food.  Some of that good Dance cooking to bring me home.”

“Sweet talker,” Dance murmurs, and if he’s laughing a little, it sounds like it’s so he won’t cry instead.

Drin kisses Dance’s head again, and sighs into the heaps of black hair.  He pushes that other darkness away from the edges of his mind, and takes a deep breath.

“Come on now,” he says. “What can I help you chop?”

He follows Dance into the house, leaving a burning battlefield somewhere behind him.

Bad Blues and Flat Tires

Doctor Alexander nods politely when the Chu twins settle on stools on either side of him.  He appreciates the strength in the slender fingers as they touch his shoulder in greeting, the claw prickles gently reminding him they could rip him stem to stern.  Their muscles are not as subtle.  There’s a few white streaks of scars marring that glossy fur, too.  They don’t have to wear such tiny little clothes for propriety’s sake, they could walk in here naked.  According to Hal’s stories, they’ve walked in here covered in blood, torn up, lame, and nobody said a word.  People just scuffled around and dug up bandages and antiseptic for them.  Hal says that bullet scores are fairly common.  Just an little FYI for the doctor in the house, that’s all.

Alexander winces at a live harmonica note pushed its breaking point.

Kelli Chu snorts.  “He ain’t gonna give Muddy Waters any run for his money, not with that harp.”

“Poor guy never met an off-note he didn’t like,” Kerri agrees, and chugs her beer.

“Oh hush, he thinks he’s bending notes,” says Kelli.

The Chu twins grin at him when he winces at a note so blue it’s almost purple.  It’s interesting to see that he is being cut out of the herd like a springbok under their green-eyed regard.  He takes it as a spooky sort of flattery on their part.  Or just plain old boredom.  Their round furry cat ears flick irritably at one awkward transition after another.

Kerri snorts.  “Oh now we doing calypso?”

“You could cut a stump with that nasal Cajun whine,” Kelli says.

Alexander makes a face.

“Oooh, whassa matter baby, wuggums doesn’t like our sweet country music?” Kerri says.

Alexander says, “Oh, I just adore songs about wallowing happily in the results of child abuse, water contaminated by sewage, and the gun and tobacco industries. Have I left anything out?”

“Probably,” Kelli says.  “I’d kill for a cigarette.”

“I’ve heard that about you,” Alexander says.

They both stare at him, and crack up.

“Education,” Kerri says.  “Or lack of it.”

“Poor diet,” Kelli replies, clopping her canines together with a clashing noise.  “Gawd, I wanna ciggie.”

“You’re quitting, remember?” Kerri reaches past Alexander and smacks her sister on the shoulder with an audible thump.

“Yeah, yeah,” Kelli says, scowling.  “God, these guys don’t even belong in a garage.  Total abuse of sheet rock.”

Alexander winces.  “Is the drummer stoned?”

“You need to ask?” Kelli says, and bares her teeth at him.  He has plenty of time to notice that she has healthy pink gums and her teeth have excellent deep roots.  Her tongue papillae are only a little deeper than a regular human’s would be.  Not enough to rasp meat off the bone in one swipe, like a leopard’s, in spite of the stories he’s heard.

Alexander holds out his hand, wiggles his fingers, and gives a shrug.

Kelli makes a sad little moue with her mouth, and Kerri signals for another beer for him.  He notices the beer arrives immediately, too.  He pays for the round.  Alexander sips his beer.  It has the benefit of being slightly colder than the humid air whiffled past them by the fan.

“Have I mentioned how much I hate badly done blues?” Doctor Alexander says.

Kerri makes a face, showing her long canines.  “Is there such a thing?  Can you ever define that sliding edge where bad starts?”

Alexander grunts.  “Why is Nicky allowing this–  experiment– when he has proper musicians like Rene and Tiny?”

“Oh, Nicky stiffed Tiny last time–“Kelli says.

“–and Rene twice before that–” Kerri growls.

“Those guys, they put up with too much shit,” Kelli agrees.

“So they ain’t gonna give up paying gigs for this dump,” Kerri says.

“Just when you think Nicky’s Bar can’t slide any further down the greased pole of pathetic bars…” Kelli shrugs.

“…then you visit the restroom!”  Kerri makes another horrible face, wrinkling her muzzle.

“Is this where I’m supposed to say, ‘Oh, it really isn’t so bad since you two came in,'” Alexander says, with a sort of academic interest.

“No,” Kelli says sternly.  Kerri giggles, and Kelli glares at her.

“Oh,” Alexander says.  He shrugs.  “I have to practice these things.  I’m not very good at it.”

Kelli rolls her eyes.  “On top of everything else, inept geeky flattery!  Gaaawd!”

“Well, if you wanted to make the whole experience even more dreadful, I could ask you to dance.  I mean, both of you, and very badly. I’d do my best to make it very embarrassingly bad, if you like.”

Kelli makes a gagging noise, slapping her sister past him, and Kerri bursts into laughter.  It doesn’t matter, the sound is covered by the triumphant screech at the end of the band’s first set.

“C’mon, you flatterer, I’ll give you a fucking dance,” Kelli says, grabbing his arm, and they drag him outside.

“Oh yes, fresh air, I remember it now,” Alexander says.  “Peace and quiet.  It’s a shock, but I’ll be brave.”

Kerri is laughing again.

Kelli growls, leaning into a truck.  “God, there’s nowhere closer than town for anything else to do.”

“Watch a movie?  TV?” Alexander suggests, although it’s a rare practice for him.  “Sorry, my set is making wavy lines at me. I think it might be the cable feed.”

“Oh fucking hell,” Kelli grumbles.  “I fucking hocked our last decent screen–” she swears.

Kerri points a thumb at her sister, and confides, “She threw our crummy little TV out the screen door last week.”

“Why?” Alexander asks.

Kelli growls, shaking her fists at the sky.  “Do you know what they’ve done to Alcide on True Blood?  How could any decent wolf ever—“

“C’mon, you don’t even like wolves,” Kerri says.  She turns to Alexander.  “Well, you know how we do production and editing work.  They keep firing people we know, all over the area, doing this absurd overnight out-sourcing.”

“They had Hindi cusswords coming in on their feed and they didn’t even catch it in time!” Kelli snarls.

“Her editing standards are just too high.”

“What does it mean to be a fucking pro when assholes like that–”

“And don’t ask if we could get Nicky to put the sports on his big screen,” Kerri says, sadly.  She reaches out and fiddles with a button on Alexander’s shirt.

“Just don’t even fucking bother asking Nicky, he only watches those idiots, that fucking Grunter and Potato Head,” Kelli snaps, pointing warningly at Alexander.

Alexander smiles.  “I’d bet any of those single guys in there would let you watch sports with them.  You’d just have to behave and not eat their spleen when their team won instead.”

“Like I’d stoop to eating their stinking spleens!” Kelli snarls, dropping her sandal and kicking the truck’s front tire with her bare toes.  Clawed toes.  The tire gives a sad little pooting noise, and then hisses steadily.

Alexander blinks at the license plate on the truck.  Nickysbar.

“Feel better?” Alexander asks.

“Yeah, goddammit!” Kelli says.  She kicks the rear tire, with the same results.  At the tire, she shouts,  “Your damn lazy family is letting your tire inflation go too low, asshole!  It don’t puncture if you keep it at the right inflation!  Last time you let Tangerine get stuck out there in some hellbilly hole with the tires cut to ribbons onna rocks, and it took me three weeks to get over the damn wolf bites we took getting her outta there in one piece, you lazy piece a’ shite!”  She punctures another tire.

“Is she angry like this all the time?” Alexander asks.

“No, just when we get stiffed for a coupla jobs in a row,” Kerri says.  The shirt button comes off in her hand.  Boy, the Chu twins are just as destructive as everybody says, but Kerri looks down at it like she’s about to cry.  “Can’t make the rent, we gotta move again.”

“You two hungry?” Alexander asks, and pets the back of Kerri’s hand, taking the button from her.  “I think I’ve got some rather elderly frozen venison steaks and some croppie fillets that Hal gave me. You can make me happy by taking my annoying tv away and do whatever you like with it.  Make a fish tank out of it or something.  I have no idea what kind it is or anything.  It’s about, oh, this big.”  He holds out his hands.

The green eyes stare at him.  Kelli leans into him then, with a sigh, and Kerri comes up and smacks his jaw lightly, very lightly, with her hand. She growls at him, “You’re way too nice.”

“Don’t tell,” Alexander says solemnly.  “Can’t help you on the broken screen door.”

“Okay,” Kerri says.

“The steaks have to be defrosted, you know.”

“We’ll wait,” Kerri says.

Alexander smiles.  “Good.”

The Pogues Can Be a bit sharp at times

The Pogues, singing the Broad Majestic Shannon, with lyrics here.

 

They have other songs that the Trio would like too.

I could imagine Drin singing “The Gentleman Soldier,” with all the gruff bits, mocking the man at fault, and making it rather horrible, and really not funny at all.

 

 

And of course there’s their cover of the veteran’s song, Waltzing Matilda.

“When I remember that terrible day

the bloodstains the sand and the water…”

 

 

Traditional Korean music

A piece performed on traditional Korean instrument called a gayageum, which is developmentally related to instruments larger than a western dulcimer.
AS the poster noted in a comment, these are like the Japanese koto, the Gucheng (China), and Dan Trank (Vietnam). From Korea there is also a very interesting one called Komungo, and one similar in shape but played with a bow called Ajaeng.

Korean Music: Gayageum piece – Arirang

In a comment by the original poster, performingasia, they noted:
well, I posted the video but I am not the person playing it. I took a 3 months Gayageum workshop at the National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts in Seoul. The person in the video, Eun Sena, is a teacher at that Center. She kindly allowed me to take this and the other videos.

This is a traditional fan dance, where you get some idea how the traditional dress, the hanbok, functions in dances, and how larger instrumental groups sound. The camera work is amateur, but watchable. Whoever arranged the choreography did a beautiful job.

Korean FanDance.AVI

Older classical viola music

To clarify here, the viola da gamba is *not* the same as a modern viola.
A collection curated by Mme. Hardy on live journal:

John Dowland, “Now, o now I needs must part”, performed by Dorothy Linell and Steven Rickards:

Dowland – Now, o now I needs must part

As she notes there:
Perhaps it’s just the way it’s always miked and performed, but there’s an alien-ness, an apartness to lute music; even when it’s chipper (and Dowland is definitely not). Renaissance and early music don’t wrap themselves around you in waves of love; they stand at the other end of the room and play. If you want to listen, well enough, and if not, they’re busy anyway.

If you like this sort of thing, you should also listen to Jordi Savall — start with the soundtrack for “Tous les matins du monde”. (Tous les Matins is late 1600s-early 1700s.) Savall has pretty much single-handedly returned viola da gamba and viol consort music to the spotlight. His various albums range from early music all the way through the Romantic period; I’ve loved all of them, early or not.
Tous Les Matins (Marin Marais, le Badinage):

Marin Marais – Le Badinage – Jordi Savall

the YouTube notes add:
J. Savall – Viola da Gamba R. Lislevand – Theorbo from the soundtrack of the film ‘Tous les matins du monde’

Also, a final note, Live performance of “La Follia”:

La Folia – Jordi Savall original Lyra Viola

from a comment by Scripturus on that Youtube, more information:
I think the listeners will appreciate this info:
This folia was composed by Antonio Martín y Coll, who was born on late XVII Century. It’s actual name is “Diferencia sobre las folías” and can be found within his “Flores de Música” compilation book. BTW, if I remember correctly the instrument played in this recording is a Pellegrino Zanetti six-strings bass viola da gamba.

In this vid of a live performance by Jordi Savall, you can see the way the viola da gamba is played, and you can hear it as dance music.

Jordi Savall, Hespèrion XXI – Pavana&Gallarda, Inozzenzo Alberti (1535-1615)

RE: Teeth

among the comments for Teeth:

RE: the audio, also very interesting stuff. I was struggling to pick up the wording (my speakers be cr**) until I looked at the lyrics. Interesting indeed.
from this site,
http://www.nomorelyrics.net/silversun_pickups-lyrics/389886-future_foe_scenarios-lyrics.html

Future Foe Scenarios lyrics

Artist: SILVERSUN PICKUPS
Album: Carnavas (2006)
Buy Carnavas (2006) CD
Lyrics: Future Foe Scenarios

The things we laid do not amount to much
Made of abandoned wood loose stones and such

This revolution baby
Proves who you work for lately

Release the castaways who run amok
From self appointed winds which blow and such
When present tense gets strangled in the mire
Made of our cozy decomposing wires

Who do you work for baby
And does it work for you lately

But when the night is over and the walls start burning
When fire starts to matter and the clock is churning
Cliches and other chatter keeps our minds from
Learning

It’s alright

The things we laid do not amount to much
Made up of thought balloons and cotton swabs
When present tense gets strangled in the woes
Made of our future foe scenarios

This revolution baby
Proves who you work for lately
Who do you work for baby
And does it work for you lately

But when the night is over and the walls keep linking
When fire starts to matter and the clock keeps sinking
Cliches and other chatter keeps our minds from
Thinking
Our minds keep thinking

It’s alright

That’s when it turned on me
A motorcade of ‘meant to be’s’
Parades of beauty queens
Where soft entwines make kindling
These many detailed things
Like broken nails and plastic rings
Will win by keeping me
From speaking to my new darling
And there’s no way to know
Our future foe scenarios
That’s when it turned on me
Where bobby pins hold angel wings

It’s alright

But Then They Ask Why

“Explaining why he preferred conducting the Berlin Philharmonic to the Vienna Philharmonic: ‘If I tell the Berliners to step forward, they do it. If I tell the Viennese to step forward, they do it. But then they ask why.’”

the quote, per Wikipedia, is from Brian Moynahan, ‘Funeral in Berlin’, The Sunday Times, January 30, 1983, quoted in Norman Lebrecht, The Book of Musical Anecdotes.

Characters Who Run off with Your Story

RE: who the characters are, it’s a little complex.

The original kernal starts with the characters in the Teot books.

There’s friends of mine who really like thse characters. One of these friends, besides being a long long-time sf & f fan, is a doll-maker, a doll collector. She found one quite unique guy she knows quite well is going to suck my brain away into bjd-land so quick you won’t even hear the vaccuum pump going. (She’s right, too.) She named him Dance of Knives, the translation into English of Naga’s name. Eventually she decided he should come to me, which still astonishes me.

Some writers collect art that reminds them of their characters, or make their own, some people make costumes, or collect toys that remind them of their characters. Some people find or make dolls that look like their characters. People do a lot of work to make or find dolls that look like Cloud from Final Fantasy, for instance. The writers who do this with these resin dolls call it endolling, or embodying, your characters.

Some people come at it from the other end. They get a doll and they get a sense of the back story gradually as they work with it. As with writing various other kinds of fanfic, people write stories about their characters as if they’re real human people (or elves, or vampires or etc.) and develop back story that can be elaborate when the original germ was just a bald resin artwork that provoked some kind of spark in their minds.

An external presence like that has an interesting effect on how you view characters that were originally completely interior, completely imagined.

If one listens attentively to the inner imaginary dialogue about such a piece of artwork, just as you do with fictional characters, you get the sense of distinct opinions and preferences, just as for characters in a story. you get push-back. You get the refusal to do what they’re supposed to, all that.

You also get some other odd effects, such as, “If I have a doll that looks something like my internal image of Naga, but not precisely, what sort of clothes should he be wearing?”
After all, it might take years to make the kind of custom gear that a true Naga representation would require. It’s just not standard stuff.

So there he is, sitting around on a shelf in jeans and a t-shirt, and the interior dialogue is quite lively. You can hear that doll-character asking if you’ve got that guitar for him yet, he wants his music.

He’s really more like a modern guy, an actor, who can play that guy Naga, but that’s not all of who he is. That was another, past life. He’s here now, doing modern things. Which was all I thought was happening to begin with, silly me.

Then I got some other resin folks, who developed their own back stories and connections with who Dance is now.

Turns out there’s layers like an onion to it. When I started picking up some odd comments that ran away off into some truly bizarre sf terrain, hey, it’s 30-minute fic, why not see where it goes? Do some world-building, see how my interest in other people’s characters and back-stories interacts.

It’s been running away off to some really strange places, as it turns out…

===

from a comment I made on the post You Get to Explain Later, Right?