Posts Tagged poetry

They Might Not Be Giants video

When I commissioned Len Peralta to illustrate my poem They Might Not Be Giants for a poster, I paid a little extra to get a speed-paint video of its creation. This was partly because I love watching how Len draws things, but also because I wanted to make a video that would showcase both the poster and the poem. Well, I finally got around to making that video. Here you can watch Len illustrate the poster (sped up, but probably not by as much as you think, because he’s pretty fast) while listening to me read the poem:

I’ve also collected all the videos I have of this poem (my performances, and Joey’s song) in a playlist, in case you’d like to hear the same words several times, or see how it’s changed over time, or whatever. I just like making playlists, okay?

If you’d like a copy of the poster, check my Things to Buy page for information on how to buy it. Or, if you happen to live in Vienna, catch me at one of the open mic nights some time; I usually have posters and bookmarks with me.

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I made a bookmark!

photoI’ve been meaning to put a revised version of the poem The Bookshop on a bookmark for a while, but put it aside as I didn’t have the tools to do it the way I wanted. Motivated by the recent Christmas shopping edition of the Open Phil open mic, I finally bought the app I needed, finished the design, and had some printed, so now you can buy them on my Etsy shop. They may be a little late for Jólabókaflóðið, but you were going to read all year anyway, right? These are considerably cheaper to post worldwide than my posters (fun falsehood: posters are call that because they’re more post), and while the postage still costs more than the thing itself in most cases, you can save on postage by ordering more than one at once.

If you’ve ever started casually reading something in a bookshop and then looked up and realised the sun has gone down, you’ll understand the generally timey-wimey nature of books and bookshops shown in this poem. Admittedly, when this happened to me shortly before I wrote the poem, I was in Stockholm on the shortest day of the year, but it can happen on longer days too. The background shows a sky slowly darkening and becoming a sunset as you read through the poem. The reverse of the bookmark has the name of the poem and author, on the same sky as seen facing away from the Sun.

It occurs to me that a customised version of this poem bookmark might be useful to promote an actual bookshop, so if you’d be interested in that, let me know.

Much thanks to my friend Grace Bridges for her advice on the design of the bookmarks; I would recommend her books to use the bookmark on, but they’re mostly on Kindle, so I’ll just recommend them whether you still use physical bookmarks or not. She also has some posters and T-shirts available on Teechip. I am now considering putting some things up on Teechip myself, since it would be better value than either Zazzle or Etsy for getting posters and T-shirts to people around the world. I’ll also publish a book some day. I’m also working on a few videos and apps and version two of the rhyming dictionary I’m not officially publicising (don’t tell anyone I just linked to it! It’s our secret) until I’ve finished version two. But one thing at a time.

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I Love Your Body (now a song!)

My friend Joey Marianer used his brain to come up with a tune for I Love Your Body, and then he used the rest of his body to turn it into sounds! Isn’t this great?

I’ve been thinking this could be turned into a longer singalong by having the same thing repeated with ‘I love my body…’ etc., and then maybe ‘We love our bodies’. It would remove one of the few rhymes (‘brains need ATP/and there’s no ESP/that would show you to me’ would become something like ‘there’s no ESP to show myself to you’ or ‘there’s no ESP to show ourselves to each other’) but the cool thing about songs is they can sound good even when they don’t rhyme.

In any case, those lines should perhaps be changed. Mentioning ATP (a chemical that transports energy that cells can use) is a little too scientific for this song, and I’m no biologist so I’m not sure it’s the best chemical to mention anyway. (Edit: The obvious substitution, which I didn’t think of until far too late, is simply ‘energy’.) Most of what I know about ATP comes from songs. If you want a song that explains how ATP is made by mitochondria, try Come On Down (The Electron Transport Chain) by Science Groove:

Or Oxidative Phosphorylation, also by Science Groove:

Back to ‘I Love Your Body’, I’ve found that I’ve ended up with a completely different musical version of it in my head. I can’t transcribe the tune, but the words go something like this:

I love your body
The way it keeps you ali-i-ive
I love your body
The way it has a you inside
I love your body
How it allows communications
I love your body
The way it gives you sweet sensations

That’s all from me. Use your body to make somebody happy today!

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I Love Your Body

I love your body
The way it keeps you alive
The way it lets you touch me
The way it lets us communicate
The way it gives you pleasant sensations

I don’t love its flaws
The way it hurts you
The way it makes you sick
The way it makes you tired
The way it can’t do the things that you want it to

But I love
that you have it
so that I can have you,
because brains need ATP
and there’s no ESP
that would show you to me.

I love your body
I hope it takes care of you
and you of it
for a love-filled lifetime.

I wrote this in a couple of minutes a few nights ago because I was sick of how much of even ‘body positivity’ seems to be focused on embracing how unfashionably-shaped bodies look, thus lending credence to the central tenet of body negativity and body shaming: that a body’s appearance is its most important attribute.

On the other hand, perhaps it is sometimes a good idea to pay attention to appearance (as with race, gender, etc.) in order to actively counteract subconscious or institutionalised biases. I am not sure. It’s probably not my place to say, since it’s been a long time since I had any body image issues of my own or paid attention to other people’s issues with my body’s image.

I wasn’t sure whether to post this already, but some very powerful people have been making unsolicited comments about the appearances of people’s bodies lately, and also a friend who hadn’t read it encouraged me to post it. I’ve dusted it off a little but not as much as I usually would. Perhaps some day I’ll craft it into something fancier, choose some better words, some rhymes, or make it into a parody of some well-known ‘I love your body; it has comfortable places for me to put my genitals’-style pop song (any suggestions? I don’t know very many songs that aren’t already funny), but for now I’ve at least ticked off the recurring ‘write something’ item on my to-do list. Have a great time consensually touching the universe with your meat-suit!

Also, about an hour from the time I post this, there’s a live stream of CERN’s doo-wop band, and the first band on the web, Les Horribles Cernettes (LHC). If you read this in time to watch that, I recommend it! I’ve had the privilege of seeing several of their shows in person, as well as meeting them, and they’re nowhere near as horrible as they claim.

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Poem: Why I Perform at Open Mics (as performed at an open mic)

I’ve been performing at a lot of open mics in Vienna and wherever else I happen to be, so I wrote a poem about why I do it. Here’s a video of my performance of it at the open mic on JoCo Cruise 2017, with some special pandering to The Doubleclicks, who hosted the open mic, and some accidental offense to BatSteve, who was right in front of me, probably taking photos.

Check out the rest of my footage of the open mic too.

Here are the words:

If there’s one thing that’s lauded in the internet age,
it’s if I want to be applauded I don’t need to go on stage.
I could write shit in my bedroom, gathering tweets and shares and likes,
but despite it I still head to gatherings known as open mics.

Because fuck it, our creations need a community
and luck is preparation meeting opportunity,
so when The Doubleclicks or Weird Al Yankovic come to town
and every good opening act mysteriously comes down
with a synthetic disease to which I have immunity,
I’ll be ready to please, dropping rhymes with impunity.

‘Cause I’m a Master of Rhyme;
I’ve got a Masters degree
and my thesis was a rhyming dictionary,
so I’ll be rapping my rants
and you’ll be clapping your hands
and flapping your panties
that you happily planned
to throw at fabulous bands
and I’ll be nabbing their fans
while they are crapping their pants

In real life I’m a hacker and I’m super science knowledge-y:
linguistics and mathematics and some microbiology
but I admit that in the latter I have lax methodology,
and for that I say no matter; I present my apology:
if your bladder had a splatter, don’t be mad; I tried urology.

So back to the point — my plan is all about practice.
The knack to seem much better than any surviving opening act is.
And that may sound unfettered and conniving but the fact is
they lack my well-honed stagecraft and immunoglobulin factors.

Because I’m
perfecting my art
and projecting my heart
While collecting the hard-earned
affection that’s marred
by those correctly called “artists”
rejecting my protective injection,
electing collective infection — ejecting a shart.
And maybe I’m a chump who’s not much better than you,
but I’ll be number one while you’re going number two.

I digress; I’m an open mic nerd; I require us
to weary of hearing Free Bird, Miley Cyrus.
When merely a chord or a word can rewire us
and everyone’s here to be heard and inspire us
then I’ll engineer a deferred norovirus.

So now you understand why I’m facing my fears.
I’m bracing to be panned while embracing my peers
so I’ve no stage fright when the big stars are here.
There’ll be no cage fight, the choice will be clear,
because I write each night I can guarantee ya
that my shite’s not trite, or second tier,
and the light’s so bright I can barely see ya,
and I’ll be the only artist without diarrhoea.

Everything in my poem is true, except for the microbiology stuff. I really did make a rhyming dictionary for my Masters thesis. It’s already better than any other rhyming dictionary I’ve used, but I’m working on more improvements to it before promoting it more widely.

Ironically, and unrelated to any norovirus experiments I deny doing, I actually had a short bout of diarrhoea a week ago, and am now nursing an injured foot because I fainted and woke up on the toilet floor. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m no stranger to waking up injured on the toilet floor — I wrote a poem called A Skirmish [With My Least-Favourite Body Part] about the previous time that happened. And now, coincidentally, you can buy a pdf of a poster of that poem! It has the poem looking like it’s written in blood, and a schematic of the offending body part in the background. I originally made the poster a while ago as a goodbye present for a friend who likes that poem, but since it was better value to print more than one, I put one up on the wall of my toilet, and sold/swapped a few to other people, who seemed to really like it.

I decided it would be cool to put it up as a pay-what-you-like download for Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28, but after overshooting that deadline researching sites where you can do that sort of thing, I instead ended up opening an Etsy store.  There you can download the poster as two pdfs, one optimised for A4 and one for US Letter format, and print however many copies you like, just as long as you don’t make money from them or remove the credits (it’s BY-NC-SA). It’s not pay-as-you-like, because Etsy doesn’t do that sort of thing, but I think the price is fair — cheaper than many simpler downloadable posters on Etsy. It’s all vector-based so should print nicely in larger sizes as well. I’d love to see this on toilet walls all over the place.

If people are interested I’ll also add an option to buy printouts of it; the printouts themselves would be cheaper than the download but would probably work out more expensive with postage, and you’d only have however many you bought without the option of printing more.

I’ve been meaning to offer a way to buy They Might Be Giants posters directly from me, so I also added those to the store. The postage from Austria is really high for most parts of the world, so if you’re in, say, the USA, you’re probably better off getting a poster from Zazzle, but if you’re in Europe, you’ll get a better quality poster (I don’t recall the exact paper specifications but I think the ones I have are on 300gsm paper. It’s really nice) at a lower price from me through Etsy. I also make more profit that way. Most of the money you give Zazzle goes to Zazzle, while most of the money you pay via Etsy goes to me.

While you’re buying menstruation- and science-related poetry, check out my friend Chella’s Etsy shop, where you can get some zines about menstruation and space, one of which (not the space one) has a lot of cool menstrual poetry in it. Also, even more importantly, sign her petition to keep branding out of menstruation education. Or at least read it and do what you can to improve menstruation education in your part of the world; Chella put a lot of work into the petition and it’s quite interesting.

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A Towel Day quotation creation

May 25th is International Towel Day, in honour of Douglas Adams. The following contains 42 –ation rhymes, 41 of which are found in Adams’ book ‘Last Chance to See…‘:

Earth’s vegetation made slow transformation as each confrontation or new situation provoked adaptation in each generation for eons duration.

Until civilisation, and its acceleration of our population at high concentration with great exhortation and disinclination to make accommodations with administration of conservation.

Then Adams’ fascination and realisation that with elimination of echolocation no cetacean reincarnation will save our reputation; his bold exploration to spread information and fuel education and his determination to stop exploitation by identification and communication of each dislocation of species, his observation and growing frustration we reduce speciation to bone excavation with every temptation to favor our nation and not immigration of distant relations… was his speculation we’d reduce penetration mere hallucination?

This time last year I had just submitted my Masters thesis in Web Development for Linguistics, for which I wrote a macOS application to find rhymes in any text, gave it a lot of text to chew on, added some parameters for features of accent which affect rhymes, and made a website to make those rhymes searchable on the internet. I’m still working on some big improvements to it so I haven’t been publicising it much yet, but it’s the stress-sensitive, accent-aware, mosaic-rhyme-finding rhyming dictionary I always wanted.

That evening I was heading to an open mic night and wanted to do something Adams-related. I happen to have a plain text version of his book ‘Last Chance to See…’ somehow, so I fed it into my app, and noted down the largest group of rhymes. There were 52 distinct –ation rhymes, not counting -ations rhymes or similar derivations. I arranged them into this summary of ‘Last Chance to See…’ while on the way to the open mic. I later added the word ‘cetacean’, which was not in the book, because cetaceans (specifically, baiji, which have since been declared functionally extinct[cetacean needed]) are one of the topics. I was honestly surprised to notice today that I’d used 42 -ation rhymes in total, and I don’t recall whether it was intentional.

The way I went about writing this is summed up nicely by this quote from the book:

I have a well-deserved reputation for being something of a gadget freak, and am rarely happier than when spending an entire day programming my computer to perform automatically a task that it would otherwise take me a good ten seconds to do by hand. Ten seconds, I tell myself, is ten seconds. Time is valuable and ten seconds’ worth of it is well worth the investment of a day’s happy activity working out a way of saving it.

I highly recommend the book (preferably the actual book, with photos) for anyone who is a fan of Douglas Adams or of life on Earth. The -ation words in the book which are not included in the above are:


If you like this blog and you also like Douglas Adams, you might also be interested in my misinterpretation of the phrase “so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea” or some haiku I found in Last Chance to See.

Have a great towel day, and don’t panic!

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Angela and Joey have conversations via poems and ukulele songs, parts n+2—n+m: m>2

I told you to tune in for the next exciting instalment of ‘Angela and Joey have conversations via poems and ukulele songs’, and the conversation sure took off in some exciting directions. Here is Joey Marianer singing the poem I wrote about Star Wars before I saw it (which I also recorded a not-so-musical video of.)

That one was a total surprise! Then when I commented asking him to follow me around and sing everything I said, he even sang the comment. I’m going to have to be careful what I say from now on.

The next few have to do with the countdown to JoCo Cruise 2018. Back when there were 300 days left until JoCo Cruise 2018, someone on facebook jokingly asked whether they were metric or imperial days, and I responded with some rhymes about that, mentioning Brian Young (whose poem written during the 2015 cruise was sung by both Cody Wymore and Joey, and whose poem performed at a shadow event on the 2017 cruise Joey also sang) for some reason, and then Brian chimed in with a continuation. I can’t find that thread any more so I’m not actually 100% sure where my words stopped and his started. Anyway, Joey sang that too!

Then in early May, Joey suggested that if I wrote a poem about there being nine months until the cruise, he would sing it. So I agonised over it for a few weeks and ended up going way overboard with puns relating to first of May activities and their euphemisms, and a common approximation of the human gestation period. Here’s that song:

This first of May I went out walking with my cat
And no-one asked me, ‘do you want to see my rooster, ma’am?’
but even though I never got to celebrate like that
I’m still awaiting my berth on the Oosterdam

Some geek girl online said how full of gold this trip is
Mucked my boxers but I barely even sluiced ‘er, man
but even though we’ve never met I’m sure that you would ship us
we’re awaiting our berths on the Oosterdam

And there’s nine months to go until we break the waters
and the soon™ becomes today
it’s a little bit of all of us held together by our friend ship
and we’re in the family way

Well some of us don’t code or sing or craft or hug or prom
and some of us have never even reproduced a damn,
but even though we don’t have any single thing in common
we’re awaiting our berths on the Oosterdam

And there’s nine months to go until we break the waters
and the soon™ becomes today
it’s a little bite for all of us; the cake is not a lie
and we’re in the family way

Yes, there’s nine months to go until we break the waters
and the soon™ becomes today
it’s a little bit of all of us held together by our love
in the chosen family way
the chosen family way
Yes, we’re all in the family way


Come join the family if you can! Joey was a first-time sea monkey (that’s what JoCo cruisers call ourselves) this year and it looks to me like he felt pretty welcome.

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Wibbly-wobbly words

GloPoWriMo is over, and I haven’t expanded on everything mentioned in my initial poem, though I covered ‘performed‘ and ‘got some footage uploaded‘, in a sense. I found a draft of this fifty-word poem covering ‘published’ (two stories featured on and threw it into some kind of blibby-blobby shape:

Fifty-word stories, you say?
I wrote two:
one imaginary, one true;
one momentary, one eternal —
thoughts growing from language kernel.
For a second’s worth a thousand words,
a word a thousand seconds.
A fiction hides a thousand truths,
a truth a thousand fictions.
Word and truth aren’t reckoned by restrictions.

If you’re wondering about the title, at some point I had ‘For time is wibbly-wobbly, just like words, and and either can be warped to hold the other’ in there, but that got trimmed for the sake of word count.

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I did a poetry show, and you can watch it!

IMG_2370April 28 is Great Poetry Reading Day, so I’m going to share some videos of myself reciting my poetry for an audience. It isn’t reading, but it is poetry! Back in February, Johanna Van Tan asked me if I’d like to recite some poetry at her Sing, Talk, Feel event, along with Matylda Q and Stephanie Ora. The performance was two days before I flew off to JoCo Cruise, so I had a lot of other things to do, but, as you’ll hear in the second poem, this sort of opportunity is exactly what I’ve been preparing for. So I said yes, wrote a script to randomly generate a coherent setlist, ran the script enough times to get a setlist I wanted, and in whatever time was left after that, practised.

I recorded it, because it’s my first show and that’s quite a milestone. Besides, I record everything. I hope that some day I will be good enough that I’ll look back on this and cringe, but for now I’m pleasantly surprised by how well it went and how easily I can watch it without being self-conscious. Johanna improvised piano music behind my poems, which added a lot.

I think I did really well on my segues during this performance, and I love that Johanna played music through them, but that made it hard to find good points to split the recording without leaving comments that pertain to the wrong poem. I would recommend watching the whole playlist to get the full effect. There are links in the individual video descriptions with more information about each poem. Thanks to Thomas for pressing the button on my camera at the right time.

I wore an astronaut flight suit (bought from Kennedy Space Center, with patches from ESOC and a cosmonaut exhibition at London Science Museum added), because they say you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. In future I plan to have all my props in various pockets of the suit, so I don’t have to bend down and get things out of bags and so on.

A week or so later, I performed a couple of poems as part of the ‘A Bunch of Monkeys Read Some Stuff’ event on JoCo Cruise. Here’s a playlist of the whole event, and here’s my part:

I also performed at the open mic on the cruise, but I haven’t uploaded my video of that yet; I record all of the shows I am allowed to on the cruise, and for the most part, upload them in order. I’m currently up to the afternoon of the fifth day. Subscribe to my YouTube channel if you want to keep up with my latest JoCo Cruise, poetry, or other videos. Once I’m done with the cruise videos and have checked with the other performers, I’ll also upload the video I have of the rest of the Sing, Talk, Feel event.

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Leave Your Grave (Re: Your Brains parody)

Some people call Easter Sunday Zombie Jesus Day, and I’ve just recently spent a fair bit of time editing footage of a song about zombies, so it seemed natural to write this parody of Jonathan Coulton’s Re: Your Brains about Jesus. In this song, Jesus, omniscient yet somehow clueless, talks to [the cadaver of] someone who was crucified along with him.

Bless you, man, it’s Jesus,
from the cross just over there.
Good to see you buddy, how’ve you been?
Things have been okay for me; I’ve come back as a zombie now.
I really wish you could’ve seen.

I think I speak for all of us when I say I understand
how it can be bothersome to be hung up by your hands.
But not all dead must die — I’ve got friends in high places.
All you’ve got to do is leave your grave.
it’s not unreasonable;
you can’t always acquiesce to things.
All you’ve got to do is leave your grave.
You’ve got eternal life; don’t just spend it festering.
You just open up the tomb,
shed your doom and gloom
and leave your grave.

I don’t want to nitpick, Man, but is this really your plan?
Spend your death spoilt rotten underground?
Maybe that’s okay for now, but someday there’ll be worms inside your butt
and you’ll have to come around.
I’m not surprised to see you act like you don’t have a prayer.
You always played the victim with that heavy cross to bear,
but we’ve all been crucified, and I will bring the light to you.

All you’ve got to do is leave your grave.
it’s not unreasonable;
you can’t always acquiesce to things.
All you’ve got to do is leave your grave.
You’ve got eternal life; don’t just spend it festering.
You just open up the tomb,
shed your doom and gloom
and leave your grave.

I’d like to help you, Man, in any way I can.
You know I help the ones who help themselves, believe me
I’m no Messiah though, well, technically I am.
I guess I am.

Got to get ascending now, think I’ll pass on passing on.
I’ve got too much to do to rest in peace
Then I’ll put a word in to my father who’s been with you all along.
I’m sure he’ll help with your decease.
I’m glad to see you take my death and life advice so well
Thank you for not whining; helping others feels so swell
and I’m sure you’ll conquer death
when you take a breath; try it!

All you’ve got to do is leave your grave.
it’s not unreasonable;
you can’t always acquiesce to things.
All you’ve got to do is leave your grave.
You’ve got eternal life; don’t just spend it festering.
You just open up the tomb,
shed your doom and gloom
and leave your grave.

I’m not sure if this is Jesus being a total son-of-a-self to a guy who is literally dead, by not acknowledging the son-of-God privilege that makes his resurrection possible, or whether He’s actually encouraging everyone to make friends with His dad and gain eternal life. Interpret it whichever way you prefer. In any case, this is dedicated to anyone who’s been told to just get out of bed and smile/pray their way out of depression, chronic illness, poverty, etc.

I’m not sure I’m 100% happy with these lyrics yet; I probably stick needlessly close to the original lyrics in places, when I could have been cramming in additional puns. I have a few alternate possibilities, but these are the words I like best right as it turns Sunday in my time zone.

Here’s the aforementioned footage of the original song, as performed in Loreto, Mexico as part of JoCo Cruise:

Also, Joey recorded another ukulele song in response to my last post! Here it is:

In response, I wrote the following:

Who is this cool person called joeym
who responds to my post with a poem
and then adds on a singing addendum?
If I hadn’t already, I’d friend’im!

Tune in next post for the next exciting instalment of ‘Angela and Joey have conversations via poems and ukulele songs’!

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