10 Deep-Voiced Quotes from Tom Waits

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I’m one of those guys that is still a bit afraid of the telephone, its implications for conversation. I still wonder if the jukebox might be the death of live music.

If people are a little nervous about approaching you at the market, it’s good. I’m not Chuckles The Clown. Or Bozo. I don’t cut the ribbon at the opening of markets. I don’t stand next to the mayor. Hit your baseball into my yard, and you’ll never see it again. 

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I don’t know if any genuine, meaningful change could ever result from a song. It’s kind of like throwing peanuts at a gorilla. 

This is about all the bad days in the world. I used to have some little bad days, and I kept them in a little box. And one day, I threw them out into the yard. “Oh, it’s just a couple little innocent bad days.” Well, we had a big rain. I don’t know what it was growing in but I think we used to put eggshells out there and coffee grounds, too. Don’t plant your bad days. They grow into weeks. The weeks grow into months. Before you know it you got yourself a bad year. Take it from me. Choke those little bad days. Choke ’em down to nothin’. They’re your days. Choke ’em!

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A gentleman is someone who can play the accordion, but doesn’t.

and the earth died screaming, while I lay dreaming…

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Oh, I’m not a percussionist, I just like to hit things.

the earth is not my home, I’m just passing by

I hate Disneyland. It primes our kids for Las Vegas.

I’ve lost my equilibrium, my car keys, and my pride.

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The Monday Poem – The Shepherd by William Blake

b. 1757 d. 1827

 

The imagination is not a State: it is the Human existence itself. – William Blake

This week’s Monday Poem is William Blake’s The Shepherd. I hope you enjoy it. It’s not a strange or odd piece, but it’s lovely and I like Blake…

Copy B of William Blake's hand-painted print of "The Shepherd". This copy, printed and painted in 1789, is currently held by the Library of Congress.

Copy B of William Blake’s hand-painted print of “The Shepherd”. This copy, printed and painted in 1789, is currently held by the Library of Congress.

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THE SHEPHERD

   How sweet is the Shepherd’s sweet lot!
From the morn to the evening he stays;
He shall follow his sheep all the day,
And his tongue shall be filled with praise.

   For he hears the lambs’ innocent call,
And he hears the ewes’ tender reply;
He is watching while they are in peace,
For they know when their Shepherd is nigh.

William Blake

William Blake

After the Royal Academy, Blake’s taste for the unconventional inspired him to develop his own unique method of etching. Using an acid-proof varnish, Blake would write—backwards—text and graphics on a copper plate, then drop the plate in an acid bath. When he removed the plate from the bath, the inked areas would be left in relief. He then dabbed ink onto the elevated text and design, printed it onto high-quality paper, and, finally, hand-painted the pages in watercolor (which he and Catherine mixed themselves). Whereas traditional methods separated text and image, Blake’s innovations allowed him to blend the two seamlessly. The results were stunning and distinctive, and the technique gave him what Damrosch calls “complete control of the entire process from start to finish.” Weekly Standard

Short Story Saturday – 10 Science Fiction Short Story Authors

I usually feature one short story on Short Story Saturday, but it’s a little different this week!

  1. Henry Kuttner – 1915 – 1958, American.

2. Fritz Leiber – 1910 – 1992, American.

3. Frank Belknap Long – 1901 – 1994, American.

4. Catherine Lucille Moore – 1911 – 1987, American.

5. Clark Ashton Smith – 1893 – 1961, American.

6. Donald Wandrei – 1908 – 1987, American.

7. H. G. Wells – 1866 – 1946, English.

8. Donald A. Wollheim – 1914 – 1990, American.

9. J. G. Ballard – 1930 – 2009, English.

10. Jerome Bixby – 1923 – 1998, American.

Short Story Saturday – Dunce by Mike Russell

This week’s Short Story is Mike Russell‘s Dunce. I hope you enjoy it. Dunce is from Mike’s first short story anthology Nothing Is Strange. He also has a book of longer short stories called Strange Medicine.

Mike Russell lives in the South of England with his girlfriend (me) and their two cats (Charlie and Mimu).

Dunce

Everyone calls Dunce ‘Dunce’. Everyone thinks that Dunce is an idiot. I used to think so too but not any more.

Dunce is completely bald and has a really pointed head so the temptation to get him paralytic on his thirtieth birthday, carry him to the tattooist’s and get a nice big ‘D’ smack bang in the middle of his forehead was too much for me. Trouble is he can’t afford to have it removed so he wears a big plaster over it. Gangs of children tease him.

‘What’s underneath the plaster, mister? Show us!’

They swear he has a third eye under there.

My name is Bill but Dunce calls me ‘Fez’ on account of my hat. I’ve known Dunce for over sixteen years. I don’t have to use my memory to work that out; I just count the number of boxes of Turkish Delight I’ve got stashed in my cupboard. Dunce buys me a box every birthday. Dunce thinks that because I wear a fez I must be Turkish (I’m not) and that being Turkish I must like that powder-covered gunk (I don’t, I hate the stuff).

On my last birthday, after saying:

‘No, Dunce, I’ll eat it later,’ and stashing box number sixteen in the cupboard, I decided to take Dunce to the theatre. He’d never been before.

The play was called ‘Death in the Dark’. We had front row seats. Dunce was captivated. He stared at the actors with a gaping mouth.

The lights dimmed to darkness. Kitty Malone, the beautiful star of the show, was stood centre stage. A shot was heard. Dunce jumped right out of his seat.

‘What was that?’ he said.

The lights came back on and Kitty was lying in a pool of blood. Dunce let out a scream then shouted:

‘Someone call for an ambulance! And the police!’

The audience thought that Dunce was an actor, that the play was being cleverly extended beyond the stage, questioning the boundaries of theatre.

‘What’s wrong with you?’ Dunce shouted at the audience. ‘How can you carry on as if nothing has happened?’

‘This is wonderful, just wonderful,’ I heard someone say behind me.

Kitty was stoically sticking to her role, thinking that the show must go on, but Dunce was clambering up onto the stage, crying, stroking Kitty’s hair and checking her pulse.

‘She’s alive!’ he shouted with relief.

‘No I’m not!’ Kitty hissed at him through clenched teeth.

That was it; I was in hysterics. What a birthday treat this was turning out to be.

‘I’m acting. It’s part of the play. No one really shot me,’ Kitty hissed at Dunce.

The realisation was excruciatingly slow. I watched Dunce’s face change from shock to confusion to understanding to embarrassment. He made his way back to his seat. He didn’t speak or look at me until the play was over. The play got a standing ovation and we headed for the bar.

Kitty was in the bar too. She smiled at Dunce who blushed. She seemed to be fascinated by the top of his head. She walked over and invited him to her dressing room.

Twelve hours later and Dunce was in love! How about that? And what’s more, Kitty was in love too! And not only that but they were in love with each other! Kitty fell for Dunce. Not ‘fell for’ as in ‘was deceived by’ because there’s no deception where Dunce is concerned, he can’t do it, but she fell from her deceptions towards him. I couldn’t believe it.

‘It won’t last,’ I said to Dunce. ‘Enjoy it while you can but face facts: you are Dunce and she is Kitty Malone. Think about it.’

Dunce told me that Kitty had a thing about ice cream cones, a fetish you could say. She ate six a day. She liked to bite off the tip of the cone and suck out all the ice cream. She had a recording of ice cream van music that she played whilst they were having sex. She was forever stroking the top of Dunce’s head.

Then came the day. Dunce came round looking really worried.

‘Fez, have you seen Kitty? Do you know where she is?’

‘No, I haven’t seen her. Why? What’s the problem?’

‘I had a dream last night,’ Dunce said. ‘I dreamt that I was in bed and I looked at the calendar by the side of my bed and it was tonight. I put out my hand to touch Kitty but she wasn’t there. There was just this cold sludge covering her side of the bed and this smell: vanilla. It was melted ice cream.’

‘So what’s the problem?’

‘I think that something is going to happen to Kitty. I have to find her before tonight. I don’t want to wake up tomorrow morning alone in a bed full of melted ice cream.’

‘Dunce, dreams don’t mean anything and prophecies are impossible. Sit yourself down. Let’s have a couple of beers.’

I opened a cupboard, reached in to get the beers and a pile of boxes of Turkish Delight toppled over and fell out, breaking open and spilling their contents all over the floor. Dunce looked at the boxes then looked at me. I watched his face go through the same slow transformation from shock to confusion to understanding to embarrassment that I had witnessed so many times before.

‘You don’t like Turkish Delight?’ he said.

I said nothing and guiltily handed him a beer.

Dunce sighed then said:

‘So why did I have that dream?’

‘No reason at all,’ I said.

We sat in silence for a while then Dunce suddenly stood up.

‘It’s no good, Fez, I have to find her.’

Dunce found Kitty in the centre of town, lying on the pavement in a pool of blood. An ambulance and the police were on their way. An ice cream vendor was crying and yelling:

‘I don’t understand! I don’t understand!’

A huge, plastic ice cream cone was protruding from Kitty’s chest. It had fallen from on top of the ice cream shop for no apparent reason, smashed through her rib cage and crushed her heart.

Dunce cried. Then he cried some more. The next day, he cried and the day after that he cried. Three weeks later, he awoke, dressed, ate some breakfast, then cried. The next day, he came round to see me. He was crying.

‘Hello Dunce,’ I said. ‘Do you want a beer?’

‘What’s wrong with you?’ he said. ‘How can you carry on as if nothing has happened?’

‘It was an accident, Dunce,’ I said angrily, ‘a random occurrence. These things happen. You just have to get on with life. Why are you so stupid?’

I regretted saying it as soon as I heard it come out of my mouth. Dunce stared at me with tears in his eyes.

‘A fez is only a severed cone,’ Dunce said. ‘At least I have a point.’

I took off my hat and looked at it sullenly. Dunce had a point that he had a point. If he’d found Kitty a moment earlier… if I hadn’t delayed him with my arrogance, my cynicism…

‘Fez,’ Dunce said, ‘you remember the tears that I cried in the theatre when I thought that Kitty was dead but she wasn’t? I think that the tears I am crying now are the same as those. I didn’t understand what was going on in the theatre and I didn’t understand what was going on when the cone fell on her. I think that maybe we only cry because we don’t understand what is going on. Maybe if we understood what is really going on we wouldn’t cry at all, ever.’

Dunce smiled through his tears and beneath the plaster on his forehead I swear I saw something move.

 

This story is one of twenty that can be yours by purchasing Nothing Is Strange.