Category Archives: After Dark

Leah Pape: Not What I Meant

As promised, I’m presenting my review of Leah Pape’s album, Not What I Meant. It’s taken me a little while to build the momentum to write this, as I have found myself torn between my desire to share this music with everyone, and having to open myself up and leave myself vulnerable before the music’s effect on me, especially with repeated listenings, as I try to write something more intelligible than, “I like it. Made me smile.” As I mentioned in my review of Girlfiend’s EP, I am receiving absolutely no compensation for this review, and, unlike with the Girlfiend EP, I actually put down my own cash to buy this album. It goes without saying, therefore, in this world of rampant piracy, and a policy of “Pay What You Want”, that the cheapest guy I know choosing to drop real dollars on this means that I kind of liked it. That being said, I will spend the rest of these words trying to explain what I especially liked about these eight songs, and why I think that you all should give them a listen, and then go and spend some of your own money to help support this artist. Let’s try and help her earn the same tens of dollars that I made! Also, as I said in my last column, I will be selecting a winner at random from those who choose to comment on this post to win a copy of this album. Here is a link to her Bandcamp page (for ease of purchase), her Facebook page (show your support and give her a “Like”), and I will put a link to each song in its title so that you can listen along while you read my words.

Let the analyzation begin:


Not What I Meant

Leah Pape

April 13, 2014

Passing Craze

The first time I heard this song, I commented that it felt like a Feist cover of Somewhere Over The Rainbow. As I have been told on many occasions by both Fed and Bad Leon Suave, I tend to make connections that no one else seems to see, so I’m not really expecting anyone else to see it. Even the artist herself commented that it was “different” description of it than she was used to. Not to spoil the rest of the album, but this is probably my favorite of the eight tracks. It is concise, beautiful, and soulful. When I first mentioned this artist to Bad Leon, he expressed his interest in her, if only because he felt that if liked her stuff, she must have good lyrics, and this song has magnificent lyrical phrasing, especially in the second verse. And her singing, while lacking the polish of seasoned veteran, is still capable of conveying an emotional charge.


Of all the songs on this album, this is the one with which I felt the least connection. There is a lot of potential, but for me, the fluctuation between the high notes and a drop to almost spoken word were a little jarring. I do like that there is a kind of disjointed feeling, like it’s all held together by duct tape, tears, and raw determination, while backed by the slightest hint of depression put to music. Perhaps it’s just that it starts a little… off… for me. It does twirl in upon itself as the song progresses, and finds a thrust of inspired beauty, but never manages to reconcile the emptiness of the vocals with the minimal backing of the guitar. Actually, now that I’ve said all of that, I may have to admit that this is almost a perfect example of what the emptiness of loneliness feels like in those quiet hours all alone. I mean, it’s still never going to be my go-to song off the album, but I can definitely respect it.


Let me get this out of the way: It is a bit jarring the way she sings “traverse.” Again, there is the switching between singing and spoken word, and it works as a performance piece, but on its own seems to lose some of its impact. Its secret weapon however, is its chorus. Like a pair of diamonds in the rough, her abilities as a wordsmith shine through as she throws together words like woven or spun armor which protects her as it swirls about her in a mesmerizing flow wordplay. Again, there are a couple of missed notes, or, perhaps those were intentional, but, rather than detract too much from the overall aesthetic, they hint towards the future growth of the artist and the promise which her handful of years upon this earth have only begun to grow toward.

The Spin

This is the one that I think of as her Simon and Garfunkel track. A little Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. mixed together with some Feeling Groovy. Despite my complaints over the past couple of songs, I really do like the moments here when she drops from singing to speaking. They add a wonderful punctuation to the melody. Again, there are a couple of moments when she doesn’t quite nail the note she was aiming to hit, but, as I have said, that, in and of itself adds a humanity to her music in this world of digital perfection, and when she really throws herself into it, there is a raw power which is a thing of beauty all on its own. A minor note: I can tell she’s East Coast from her pronunciation of “whore.” This is a hard song. While there are themes that I can relate to, as a human being who has been hurt, but there are also some things which, as a male, I haven’t really had to deal with. “I guess that’s why you left me/ now I’m a whore.” While I cannot speak to her personal experiences, I have seen on more than one occasion that the virtue of an ex-girlfriend is called into question upon the end of a relationship. Ex-boyfriends are often Bastards, or Assholes, or Dicks, but none of those really has the same effect upon the subject as does a Whore, Slut, or Bitch. I could be overreaching here, as I often do, but that line just kind of stuck with me.

Playing Pretend

If I were to give this song an alternate title, I would call it “The Other Side of Friend Zone.” This is a painfully honest look at a breakup from a female perspective. There have been countless euphemistic breakup songs, but nothing so arresting as “I can’t tell if it’s him I miss/ or just a cuddle and a kiss.” Maybe I’ll lose some of my “man-cred” here, though my countless nerd treatises on Star Trek probably did that long ago, but I have felt that particular sentiment several times before. Moving on, or trying to, is one of the hardest things to do, and it makes one question everything about themselves.


The opening guitar part on this song makes me want to curl up into a little ball and cry for a week or so. Sparse. Sad. Of course, it picks up and lends a sense of false optimism, like a face one puts on to face the world. It leads me to believe that December might not be the month for anybody. I am afraid to keep going, for the fear of transferring too much of myself onto my listening. Like the best of art, Ms. Pape has the uncanny ability to make us feel. 

To Hold

This one actually might be tied with Passing Craze for my favorite of her songs. The scenes she paints are vivid, like running tears upon velvet, and the heartbreak and disappointment are plainly tangible. More than any other song on this album, this one makes me want to drag her into a full, professional recording studio and giving her the equipment to fully compliment her abilities. “Seek comfort in me.” The loves which could, but truly couldn’t ever be. The magic beneath the moonlight, and the sobering terror which accompanies the day, and the way that it so casually dismisses the enchantments of the evenings before.

The Long Drive

At first glance, what truly stands out about this song is the juxtaposition between the driving, insistent prodding and surety of the guitar against the hesitant uncertainty of the vocals. Like the words are being drawn out of her while she is marched toward a moment of confrontation. With each step, she builds confidence, knowing her fate. The guitar falls away to something more melodic, as she counters with what feels like a comforting lullaby to her inner demons. The ticking of a clock. Marching again, this time faster, more insistent. She has accepted her journey, and walks beside her tormentor, grateful, at last, for the company.

And that’s it. Overall, as I may have said, I like it. It holds up well together, truly anchored by its first and penultimate songs. Taken together, it is a portrait of a young woman with an older soul who has decided that she’s earned the right to have something to say. She takes small moments and expands them until we see that the most seemingly insignificant incidents are perhaps the most important. There are examples of pure poetry in her lyrics, and I am confident that as she continues writing and recording, we will only see her talent grow.

Now, as I promised, the contest: Please leave a comment below about which song was your favorite. A winner will be selected at random to receive a copy of this album.

The Boy Who Dreamed (Sample)

Here is the first bit of that thing I have been working on:




The Boy Who Dreamed and The Big Bad Wolf Which He Became

(A Fable For The Jaded Special Presentation)


by Tex Batmart






Chapter One



                Our story begins, as most stories do, on a storm-soaked December afternoon in the Pacific Northwest. Hang on. Statistically speaking, almost no stories begin like that. Nevertheless, our tale must carry on. I suppose we could go back a ways, and briefly tell of the love between a man and woman which endured nearly the requisite number of minutes for our hero to be conceived, but that is another tale entirely, and not one which this author is entirely interested in retelling. Suffice it to say, that when our hero came into this world, he did so into an already broken home, the vessel of a fading, jaded love which a bruised and beaten woman had infused with all her hopes and dreams for an uncertain future. Our hero, of course, knew nothing of this, knew nothing much at all, save for the newly-gleaned understanding of the differences between dark and light, warm and chill, weightlessness and gravity, and a rapidly developing preference between the lot of them. Gone was the soothing rhythm of his mother’s beating heart. Gone was the safety and security of an existence at the center of his own personal universe. I am convinced that he never fully recovered from these losses.

                Within an hour of residency within the nursery, he was returned to his mother under the pretext of having incited a neonatal revolution. Even minutes old, he didn’t take too kindly to disappointment. Life, such as it was, had been thrust upon him, and he didn’t much care for it, truth be told. No one had warned him that things would be so jarring, so cold and desiccating, for the first time in his brief (measured by the pulsing beatings of his heart) life, and as he filled his belly, and fell, troubled, into sleep, he had no idea what it was that he would do, or how he might come to repay these slights visited upon him during his moments of vulnerability.

                For the first year of his life, he and his mother stayed with her parents, as she struggled to make sense of her own broken life. A failed marriage, single motherhood, and the shame of the necessity of returning home to where her parents had made their home (and lasting marriage, she bitterly chastised herself), did not sit well with her. For the child, however, it was a wonderland of near-constant attention from interesting people. What he loved more than anything, however, was a pair of leather slippers which had previously belonged to his grandfather. I say previously, because as soon as he could crawl, the child made his way over to them, and began to gum them into submission in a release of his frustration at having several bony protrusions slowly tear their way free of his still tender gums. His mother was always snatching away his slippers, but the child never failed to find them once again, as long as no one was looking.

                It was during this time, that he made his first friend. Having grown tired of the removal of his playthings, and this new vocalization, “No!”, he came to befriend a flower-print couch which he was occasionally imprisoned upon. It never said much, but always seemed to be there for him, listening for hours on end, without interruption, as he practiced his nascent idiomancy. Oh, the tales of tiny victories and heartbreaking injustices which he imparted to his dual-natured cellmate and prison. Inevitably, however, his sentence was commuted, and he was separated from his friend and captor. Actually, as memory serves (though it rarely does), it was around the time when he had mastered his plan of escape when he was whisked away. Normally, he was allowed brief moments outside of his cell to exercise himself upon the pea green shag carpeting of the prison yard, but this time, he was taken somewhere new, somewhere his couch and confidant could never follow. Worse than that, he would soon come to understand that it would now be just he and his mother living together. The final indignity, of course, the event which would set him upon his path and remind him of cooed promises made moments after birth, was his enrollment in something he once overheard described as “daycare.”

As you can see, it’s something I’m having a little fun with, and, once it’s done, should save me the effort of having to spend the time letting people get to know me. Obviously, the lighthearted nature of this romp will probably get dark pretty quick (which should be obvious to those of you who know me), but this time I’m making a concerted effort to balance the ennui with some intentional humor. So far, it seems to be going okay, but then again, I haven’t even written to my first day of school yet, so, you know… baby steps.

Anyway, hope you enjoy! If I don’t hear anything back from Jupiter within the next few days, I’ll be back here blogging (and working on the story) in between attempts to seek out and obtain some sort of employment. I think that if I don’t get the awesome job for which I have been hoping, that I might just try to find something with minimal responsibility, or am I just repeating myself?

The Soft Parade

The week leading up to my birthday has always been a trying time, a constant reminder of the ultimate futility of my entire life. I mean, sure, I’ve managed to not drive my wife away in the nearly ten years we’ve been together, and somehow I ended up with a kid who’s pretty cool. I’ve got skills and perhaps a decent opportunity awaiting me, and yet, I’m not doing what I wanted to when I first began imagining how my life would go. I blame it on my continuing quest for balance. It seems well and good, but every time that something halfway decent comes along, I hold my breath, and start the countdown until the bottom drops out from beneath me. At this point, I’ve almost given up on the prospect of being genuinely happy, as I’m terrified to contemplate what sort of vengeance that joy might bring. And despite the regularity with which this sort of thing befalls me, more often than not, it manages to catch me completely by surprise. People wonder why I hate surprises: the fact is that the number of unexpected “gifts” which haven’t completely bitten me fiercely upon my posterior can be counted one hand, trembling in fear.

But, because I cannot help but succumb to the instinct which inspires me to crawl up to the sleeping bear and poke it in the eye (never mind the tripping on the rock a moment later as I scramble to get away), I’ve decided to try to think of all the things which bring me joy (and therefore tempt the retribution soon to follow). I’m not really in an altogether upbeat mood, but maybe this might actually be good for me. Well, either that, or it will drive me deeper into depression, but as I’m not sure that’s possible (famous last words), I’ll give it a shot.

I actually managed to write nearly every day for six straight months. Before this past year, I hadn’t done that since I was nineteen or twenty.

I’ve met people who have reminded me what youth feels like, and though the searing burn of age follows immediately in the wake of their departure, I find it reassuring to remind myself what unbridled life was like.

For all the struggles I have had adjusting to fatherhood, it’s nice to know that I’m still better at it than my dad. And the Minkey seems to be turning out alright, though I suppose it’s still to early to tell if that is because of or in spite of me.

My wife is an amazing woman (someone whom I do not truly believe that I deserve), and I just wish that we made each other happier. I know that I am a constant disappointment to her, as I am who I am, but I do not blame her for my lack of joy, as that would be akin to holding the ocean responsible for drowning me. I think I’ve said that wrong. I meant that I am naturally inclined towards discontentment, and that there is nothing which she could do to either drive me toward or save me from the black clouds which hang above me.

I’ve got some friends who are somehow still there for me, despite the fact that I’m rarely there for them. Perhaps my absences diminish what a needy drain I am, and leave behind only the impression that I am kind of funny and profound.

Crap. I tried to think of more, but I think that those five are it.

In case we are wondering why I seem to be so hung up on this, I guess I can share with you the news: apparently, it will be a miracle if my grandparents survive another year. I suppose that I could be grateful for this possible year I have to make the time to see them and to say goodbye. Or perhaps I could be grateful for my childhood spent with them, or the several years when my mother and I lived with them. Or the roadtrips which we took, or the every single special moment that I had to spend with them, most of them under or unappreciated at the time. Part of me is angry, because I already said goodbye when we traveled to The Island last December, and I don’t know if I can do it all again. As I’ve said so many times, it’s not death I fear. In this case, it’s the slowly dying. My heart is breaking, and it’s coloring everything else within my life. Combine that with The Soft Parade, and it’s more than I can take. I just want everything to go the way I want it to, for once. I would just like one untainted, uncompromised, untarnished victory which I could unequivocally call my own.

For all my years, and all the weariness which far exceeds them, there are times when I am self-aware enough to know when I am behaving like a child. To that, of course, I say, “So what?!” Am I not allowed, from time to time, to free myself from the bonds of self-imposed adulthood and just feel again?

I’m sorry for the gloom of these past couple of posts. I’ve no right to inflict my pain upon you, and it’s not as though sharing it with you will actually ease my burden. There is nothing that you can do for me, and there is no reason for you to know the pain I carry in my heart. And while I feel I’m drowning in quagmire of my own design, I know (at least intellectually) that I will probably be okay, at least statistically.

Thank you all for being in my life, from those who only briefly touched it, to those for whom it’s been a significantly longer commitment. I’ve needed each and every one you, for exactly the amount of time you had to give. And no, this is not goodbye.

Think of it instead as good night.

Sleep tight.

Don’t let the bedbugs bite.

Girlfiend: Comrade Isodora Duncan

So, I’ve finally had the chance to sit down and give Girlfiend’s EP a solid listen that isn’t completely tinged by my bleak outlook on the world. This may or may not have a good idea. There is something about music which just feels more real when you are clutching to what little hope you have when all you want to do is die. Nevertheless, I’ve put this off long enough, and I think that now is the time to jump decisively into the deep end and see if I can review an album. I’ve put links to each song on their Bandcamp page so that you can give their stuff a listen, and then tell me what I’ve said is wrong (Also, if you like the album, maybe think about picking it up (I am not being paid to say this)).


What is most striking about this song is how it appears to feel like Elliot Smith hung out with Simon and Garfunkel, and decided to record this song. It has the upbeat melodies which were the hallmark of S&G, while mixing in the imperfect (yet somehow contextually perfect) vocalizations of the singer.

Tea Tree Blues

This feels more directly Elliott Smith, with the melancholy tone and pervading sense of hopelessness. The organ is a particularly nice touch to counterpoint the discordant nature of the lyrics. For most of the song, everything seems just a little off… but when you listen to the lyrics, you see that this fits perfectly, and as the song builds, everything falls into place, creating a melodically pleasing dystopian vision which the singer has been describing. This is a wonderful exploration of the inherent instability within relationships, and captures marvelously that moment just before you consciously know that everything is over.

The Enemy Is Within

More than anything, this song reminds me of the quieter tunes from the college rock scene that was hanging around the edges of grunge. I like the splashes of electric with come in to color what could otherwise be a fairly straightforward acoustic ballad. My main issue with this tune has nothing to do with the music, but its title, which led me to believe that is would be more Star Trek-themed. Sadly, it is not.


“a falling satellite,
burning up
just to prove you’re right.”

It’s embarrassing to admit to myself just how much I identify with this lyric. While not everything falls seamlessly into place in this track, it works pretty well overall. It makes me remember back to my days sitting in coffee shops in the Pacific Northwest and watching the falling rain, while trying to figure out why I seemed so much better able to stay alone than to find someone who might want to share their life with me.

no. 63

By far, this is the most musically beautiful song on the E.P. It could be that I am a huge fan of songs which so beautifully capture the exquisite pain of a love which is no more that just doesn’t want to leave. That being said, however, I do have a small reservation with this song. It can be problematic to include profanity, which is saying something if you know me in person (Think: In Bruges). I personally don’t mind if it’s (I can’t believe I’m going to say this) ejaculated in a poignant moment or just an f-bomb screamed in rage, but I think that trying to melodically convey the sentiment tends to make the whole thing a bit jarring, at least for me.

The Settlers’ Association Victory Song

I am sitting here, listening to this, reminded of nothing more than The Oblivion Seekers’ 1995 album, Spirit of America. It seems to me that this song probably works really well live, and speaks to the fears and need to rebel which every young adult feels more than anything. Back twenty years ago, I would have held this song up and marched behind it, especially with the lyric, “you don’t know if you’re outgunned until you try.” Of course, now I’m in my mid-thirties, and it seems that the only thing I really want to change is the channel on my television, which is so depressing that I can’t believe that I just shared that with all of you.

So, overall, I enjoyed Comrade Isodora Duncan, which I initially described as sounding like Simon and Garfunkel having decided to record Little Shop of Horrors (not a bad thing). There were a couple of moments when it didn’t work for me, but in general, I would say that I wouldn’t skip it if it was playing on Pandora, which may not sound like high praise, but then you don’t know how much I am unwilling to sit through something I don’t care for. And at $5, it’s not a bad deal. So, if you like, help support singer/songwriter Hanna Tashjian as she continues to tour around… places. And if you don’t like it, well, I guess that just means that you are a bad person.

I had a chance to sit down with Ms. Tashjian a little while ago, and we got to talking almost in an interview-type format.

So, tell me a little bit about yourself. What made you you?
I’ll decline the biography. If you want a sob story you can listen to my songs and assume I’m appropriately tortured. I don’t have much interest in filling in the blanks there.
Okay, fair enough. Tell me a little about your musical history…
I’ve been in bands playing drums since I was 14, performing live and taking primitive stabs at recording. There’s only about two reasons why someone leaves the band environment to go solo: it falls apart for unrelated reasons and they don’t find new bandmates, or they’re a control freak. I’m pretty solidly in the latter camp, hah; with a lot of the bands I was in I felt like I was getting in a lot of fights over creative decisions. That was about the time I started learning to play guitar, around 15 or 16 I think. That was also around the age I started writing poetry. I had an affinity for words and wordplay even as a kid, and the new challenge of making it actually mean something was an interesting one for a while. Thankfully, however, none of the writings from the era have survived to this day.
I feel grateful that some of my earlier pieces did not survive as well. So how did you go from poet to songwriter? Seriously. I just can’t seem to do it myself. 
Even when I had the two separate pieces, putting them together was still a feat. I spent a pretty disheartening couple years figuring out how to translate the noise in my head into something tangible, something I could actually commit to tape. I’m still working on that, if I’m entirely honest. I think most musicians are. Your ideas get more and more ambitious and you have to figure out how to make them work. I still play some of older songs live and they give me the sense that I’m going back through a high school diary when I’m doing it, with all the weird little things you thought were cool back then scattered around. I’ll probably feel the same way in 2-3 years from now, like “wow, I was really fucked up in my early 20s, huh?”
I think that if you’re not fucked up in your early 20’s, you’re doing something wrong. So, you’ve learned how to patch songs together from the ether. What happened next?
Okay, so after the dissolution of basically every other band I was in, I formed this band with my best friend, Bowie Twombly on drums (that went through a rotating cast of names, the longest running being the completely nonsensical Flied By Owls) in 2011 or so, basically under the premise that I’d be the main songwriter for once. That worked out super great for a while, since my ego when it came to songwriting was so fragile that it was hard showing unproven material to someone I didn’t unconditionally trust. On the other hand, I was also writing these songs that clearly wouldn’t play in a rock band, and I had no idea what to do with them. I wanted to make this band work, and at the same time it felt like I was cutting off half my songwriting to do so. The band came to a sorta de facto ending; there’s a more complicated truth there, but I have no interest in getting into it. He went to Europe, and I lost the place I was living and ended up back at my parents’ house.
That’s rough. I tried going home again. It didn’t take. Was that the genesis of Girlfiend, then?
So my band broke up, I had just broken up with my first real girlfriend, and my best friend was off somewhere away from me. Music was my only real point of stability, so that was where I lived. I wrote a lot. I opened up a soundcloud account and started recording songs into my cell phone and posting them on the internet, warts and all. When you go for lo-fi recordings, there’s definitely a sense of urgency you’re trying to capture, a sorta lightning-in-a-bottle of someone just coming up with something great, just now. That said, I gotta feel that this was halfway a defensive tactic, like if I didn’t try very hard I could at least fall back on the idea that I wasn’t trying. But the truth is, a few people noticed. I started making connections and getting shows and getting somewhere with my music, despite my affinity for falling-down-drunk performances. (in my defense, just because I can’t stand up doesn’t mean I can’t play!) In one of the more surreal moments of my life, I was at a friend’s show and this woman — who I later found out had caught my show a few months prior — tapped me on the shoulder and asked “hey, aren’t you the girl from Girlfiend?” I think my exact response was “…depends on who’s asking.” It’s weird though, like I don’t know if I could deal with having any broader level of recognition than that, but it was fun feeling like a movie star for a second.
So, what have you been doing recently?
In the summer of 2014, I recorded a 6-song EP in actual decent production quality, entitled Comrade Isodora Duncan, and went on tour through California. Shortly thereafter, I had a pretty severe mental breakdown and kinda retreated from everything. I spent about a year in something resembling recovery, though I’m still not convinced it was, particularly. But, at least now I’m back, I’m going on tour with Diana Regan, we’re recording a split EP together, and I’m trying to end this bit on a hopeful note. Maybe if I say it that way it’ll come true.

Well, good luck to you, and thanks for stopping by!

And with that, this edition of After Dark has come to an end. Thanks for checking it out, and I hope that you enjoy the E.P.!

Thought Experiment

It’s way too late at night, and I cannot get to sleep. I don’t mind going ’round the bend if I’m creatively insane, but this wandering around in apathetic madness is for the birds. It just feels so blah. So I’ve decided to perform a little experiment to measure the effects of sadness on the insomniac psyche. I would much rather be fine-tuning my short story, but unless something changes in my head before I go to sleep, the best I can do is pound out some abstract nonsense and say that it was done on purpose. It used to be a matter of just altering perception, but I’m a father and grandfather now, so how would that kind of narcissistic, hedonistic behavior look? I miss going on adventures, both in time and space and within my mind. I miss staying awake until the wee hours and making candles dance, chasing off the Beasties with a magick word or two. I guess what I’m trying to get across is that the world just seems so two-dimensional now that I’ve grown older, the colors are all muted, and vibrancy is something which I barely can remember. It’s too bad they changed the formula for NyQuil, or I could relive my glory days once more while stumbling through the streets of Not Quite Richmond, California.

I guess what I really miss is feeling like I am tapping into something larger than myself. I remember wandering around the Island late at night with Fed beneath the purple skies of clouds sailing o’er the Witching Hour. We used to walk miles, with no thought of aching muscles, or tired feet, and just talk for hours until we finally passed out. We drank shitty beer in graveyards with my girlfriend, and wrote songs which I was convinced would be my ticket out of obscurity, but which don’t even exist outside my mind anymore. We gave a demo tape to one of our friends, but she lost it soon after. Not that we would have made it as a live band. Fed was good, but I could barely find a steady rhythm, let alone keep it, and the two and a half chords which I could play still required thought before I could change between them. I did love recording with him, though. I remember when we were working on one of his songs, Compass Rose, and he made me take a walk outside because he felt self-conscious about his voice. I never recorded with Bad Leon, though we’ve talked about instrumental backing to my angry love poetry.

What am I doing here? I’ve managed to accomplish exactly nothing in my time since I left work, at least nothing which will make me any money. It wasn’t so bad being destitute when I was living on my own, but as I said just a few days ago, that’s not really going to cut it with my wife and son. I just hate the dichotomy of being me. I shut off this artistic part of me for so long that I don’t know if he is ever coming back. I suppose that until November of last year, I could have described my artistic self as Schrödinger’s Wordsmith: both extant and extinct. But now Pandora’s Box is open, and I’ve had the misfortune to peek inside. What terrifies me most is the thought that it’s not just institutionalized apathy; that it’s simply a matter of me not having what it takes to do this for a living. That my lifelong dream is never destined to be more than just a hobby. I think of all the stories which are running around inside my head, and I am screaming silently at myself for not doing a damned thing about them. Every time I try to write, I go in with the notion that I’ll only screw everything up, and then manage to stay true to my word.

I can feel the fires burning just beneath my eyes, and the anxiety throbbing beneath my skin. And yet it’s all held down snugly beneath a blanket of exhaustion. I want to touch the energy of youth once more, even if it’s only for a day. To have the knowledge that the world is mine, and there’s nothing that can stop me. I used to know that I would change the world, but somewhere in my twenties, I managed to lose sight of that. And now, because I cannot even encourage myself to do what I love most because I lack the discipline required to work for myself, I’m going to have to shove myself back into that tiny box without even the reassurance that I’ll unpack myself again. This was my shot. This was the last batch of courage I could muster, and I couldn’t get it done. I was so excited when it dawned on me to rewrite that bloody story. I thought that if it was good enough, if was good enough, I could use the momentum I had built and hop tracks to something of a slightly longer format. If I cannot even get excited about the crap that I am writing, what makes me think that someone will pay money for it?

Welcome to the Pity Party. If I ran for office, I would have to run with them. We’re not much to look at, but we’re sort of attached… to us. Is it like this for everyone? Do other writers get halfway into something which they’re pouring themselves into (enjoying it along the way), and then just throw their notebook down, and scream, “Bullshit!” at the walls? Not that it really matters. Reality, it seems, has finally caught up with me. Who thought that this could last forever? What is it going to take for me to get this figured out? I wish there was a desert I could visit, or rolling hills which I could roam at night while screaming at the wind, and howling at the moon or clouded sky. More than anything, I want to have a little garden where I can grow tomatoes and chili peppers. I want to find excuses not to write so that I can just hang out in the garden and dig my fingers into soil and pretend that I’m alive. Which, to be honest, is a little weird, because I’m not that into vegetables. I guess I just like to see things grow.

I’m looking at the word count and realizing that if I could have just gotten in the flow while I was working on that stupid story, I might almost be close to done by now. I don’t know what the holdup is, to be completely honest. I know the story, almost like I was actually there. Almost. And even if it wasn’t burned into my brain, I have the story which I wrote half my life ago, which kind of lays the whole thing out for me. I even managed to solve the roadblock in the text which had been bothering me since I started to rewrite it. It was an elegant solution, altering the exposition slightly to turn it into dialogue. Maybe what’s killing it is that I’m trying to do too much. I remembered that I’d also written a story called Nic Buzz around the same time, though not a single copy of the original remains, and that since that revelation, I’ve been trying to figure out how to squeeze it into what I’m already trying to do. I would just jump right back into where I’ve left off, setting aside that notion for a little while, but every time I try to get myself back into it, I find that story which I have no idea how it went has left a giant hole just beyond the words which I have written. Like always, my cardinal sin appears to be overthinking everything.

So what’s a boy to do? I’m beating back exhaustion with silken bat wings thrumming in the dark of night, and only my tenacity is driving these words from within the whispers in my head through my fingers, and onto the screen before me. I want to just curl up into a little ball of safety, and sleep until the necessity of the real world has expired. There has never been a problem too large, in my opinion, that it cannot be slept away. But I know that this time I cannot simply ignore the demands of my responsibilities. This time I have got to make it work somehow. Both Bad Leon and my wife think that the answer is in brain-dead work, like a cashiering job or line cook, which I can leave at the door when my shift is over, and then come home with enough energy to write. But I have been in management too long to think that that’s an option anymore. If I’m going to work for someone who isn’t me, then I need to be in control of at least some of the variables in my working life. I despise working for people less qualified than me, and if I’m going to climb the ladder, I’d prefer to start somewhere closer to the top. It’s not that I haven’t worked my way up before, just that there’s a limit to just how much crap that I can deal with while I’m trying to get ahead.

Maybe I’ll stop writing this, and work on something more productive, like a love letter to Death. Courting the Grim Reaper has always been my secret ambition. Well, I don’t know if it’s still a secret if you tell everyone you meet, but I haven’t, until now, broadcasted my desire to the entire world. Some thought experiment that this turned out to be. More like a convoluted pep talk for someone who isn’t listening. But at least that I know that words are flowing once again, and though it’s true that the narrative voice between the story and the blog are slightly different, tonally, it’s still me who’s rambling on, and that should count for something. Maybe I could pop in the part about Applesauce and Abby, or that time when Crys and I almost died because she was way too drunk to drive. Or how her daughter stole those beers from us, which we had stolen first (or so the story goes, if I’m to retain plausible deniability), just so that she could share them with her stupid friends that weren’t us. Of course, if I get in too deep, I’ll just have to go ahead and write the book that I know that I’m not ready to tackle yet. I should probably get started before too long, before all my memories have dissipated, but there’s something which I want to do stylistically, which I know that I’m not quite good enough to actually pull off. At least, not yet.

I can’t believe I’ve written almost two thousand words in just an hour and a half. Turns out that when I’m typing at almost the speed of thought, I can get something accomplished. And now the thought has bubbled up which I want nothing more than to ignore, which is that I should really sit down and read this for the podcast version. Except that the calm and collected voice which is narrating this between my ears won’t sound nearly as impressive if it has to pass my vocal cords. I guess the audio version of this will just have to wait until I get around to it, which, knowing me, is probably somewhere close to never. And here I thought that I would wind up arguing the point with a little bit more passion. I suppose that the time has come for me to get back to work on that thing which I really wanted to be doing. Now if only I could manage saying that with even a modicum of sincerity, I’d be set. Just one more thing before I go: In the comments for this post (or on Facebook or Twitter), please let me know which of these photos you prefer for the cover image.

This one, which is both primal AND artistic…
or this one, which holds a slightly different perspective.
or this one, which holds a slightly different perspective.


That Time Of Night

I should be asleep, but I’ve learned that after days like this, it’s best not to chance it. I woke up feeling not quite right with the world, in the gastrointestinal department, and by the time that the afternoon had come, my stomach issues had cleared up, but an old man pain within my head had taken hold. It comes on just like a migraine, but this type seems to be inspired by a change in weather, and I can still cram food into my face. It’s been chill and windy all day long, which is a turnabout from how it’s been the past couple of days. Or it could all be because I always feel like crap after spending the night on the sofa because the three of us, Wildflower, the Minkey, and myself, do not fit comfortably in the bed we must all share. David used to have a bed, but it suffered some crippling structural attacks and is no more. And this problem of ours has only been plaguing us for a few months now. Before, when my wife was working nights, my son and I would split the bed, and then I’d give up my forty percent to Wildflower when I went off to work. But ever since she’s been working mornings, it’s been a challenge to our marriage.

I don’t know if you all know this, but it’s hard to get along with your significant other when you have to share a bed with your child. Worse is when you never actually get to sleep with the person whom you married because there are too many distractions in the living room for your child to manage to fall asleep (never mind that he weighs almost nothing, and the sofas he has jumped upon and warped don’t bother him at all). Spend too much time without a little hanky panky, and you wind up with a roommate. Leave it like that for too long, and suddenly you don’t have even that. No, I’m not saying that my marriage is falling apart, though it has certainly seen much better times. But with the both of us in some sort of pain most of the time, and stressed out about finances and the number of people crammed into our two bedroom apartment, there’s not a lot of room for us to pencil in some much-needed quality time. Hell, the last date night we had (outside the apartment) was when we went to see Apocalyptica last month. And the time before that predates this blog by three weeks. I can’t actually remember the time before that, but it has to have been sometime between our third anniversary and last November. Right?

All of this has begun to take its toll. We still make each other laugh, but not as much, and the arguments usually take longer to resolve. And when we do fight, instead of building to the Climax of the Unspeakable, we oftentimes will just start there, and then not speak to one another for a day or two. The thing is, it’s not really anybody’s fault. We both sort of just let it get this way. There are just certain things that aren’t going to happen when I’m stressed out and exhausted, and she is constantly focused on everything which must be done to keep our home remotely livable. Times like this, especially in the dead of night, are what terrify me most. What if this is it? I ask myself, rubbing at my temples, What if we’re not coming back from this one? I sometimes wonder if we stay together out of love, or some sort of dedication to Mutually Assured Destruction. For myself, I can say that, barring domestic violence or infidelity, there will never come a time when I might have had enough to call it quits. What scares me is knowing just how much of a pain in the ass I am while resting in my natural state, and wondering if I’ve managed to destroy her love, just like I’ve done with every other woman whom I’ve dated.

And now those of you who were wondering when I’d bring my mental illness into this can whisper to your friends that you told them so.

Meeting and marrying Wildflower is most likely the best thing which could have happened to me, and I have a nasty tendency to want to get revenge on my happiness. I will find every reason to be unreasonable, and be able to back it up with facts and logic, just so I can drive the wedge a little bit further between us. To the age-old question of being right or being happy, I simply smile a twisted frown and declare that I’d take happiness, but I’m never wrong. I don’t want to think about what that kind of obstinacy must be like to share a marriage with, and if Fallen Catholics could be nominated for sainthood, I’d put up my dear wife’s name. I just wish that I could show her what I see when I tell her that everything will work out fine. I mean, I do have a track record (second only to the Phoenix) for full recoveries (and then some) from ashes of my failures (or, as I like to call them: reminders of why I like to live indoors), but I can understand why she might balk a little at the prospect of putting our future in the hands of maybe.

I just wish that this pain would go away. I know it is nudging me toward explosion, and when I blow, that will be the end of it. Maybe if we had enough money so we wouldn’t have to worry about the little things (like food, shelter, and clothing for three people), I could show her.

Why does it feel like I’m still waiting for something? Like there’s at least one more piece which I am expecting to fall in place. Someone I haven’t met. Something as of yet I haven’t done. I feel closer than ever to life I should be living, yet it seems just out of phase with the reality in which I’m currently stranded. I just wish that I had someone to talk to about all of this, not that I don’t enjoy the company of all of you. I wish that I knew, with the certainty of foreknowledge, exactly what the hell it is that I’m supposed to do. In retrospect, all of this angst will have been pointless, of course. The decision which I make will have been the only one available under the circumstances. I’m just missing the final clue to changing my perspective, so that I can see the bigger picture.

I wish…

Death By Needle Medicine

Just add water, draw it in-

death by needle medicine.

Falling further into sin-

death by needle medicine.

Fill my veins and spin again-

death by needle medicine.

Death by needle medicine.

Death by needle medicine.


No one ever wants to be

a junkie when he grows up,

but they just cannot ever see

everything they’re giving up:

Feel the steel

piercing my vein,

taste the smack

upon my breath.

Dying of thirst

drowning in the rain.

One C.C. of that sweet

and pure old liquid death.

Just add water, draw it in-

death by needle medicine.

Falling further into sin-

death by needle medicine.

Fill my veins and spin again-

death by needle medicine.

Death by needle medicine.

Death by needle medicine.


Drill the truth, and hammer home;

draw a flag and raise it high.

Never will you be alone-

not until the day you die.

Blanket warm

and comforting,

fall into

a painless dream.

A requiem

your slumber sings

as you’re falling like the dust

scattered across moonbeams.

Just add water, draw it in-

death by needle medicine.

Falling further into sin-

death by needle medicine.

Fill my veins and spin again-

death by needle medicine.

Death by needle medicine.

Death by needle medicine.


One more push, and then it’s done;

find the meaning of your life

and dream of your days in the sun:

no more misery or strife.

Welcome home,

my little child.

Daddy’s here

to keep you safe.

Winters warm

and Summers mild.

There’s no more pain down here:

come slumber in your grave.

Just add water, draw it in-

death by needle medicine.

Falling further into sin-

death by needle medicine.

Fill my veins and spin again-

death by needle medicine.

Death by needle medicine.

Death by needle medicine.


Lyrics ©2015 Tex Batmart.

Music ©2015 (eventually) Bad Leon Suave

All rights reserved.

Apocalyptica (Post-Show)

Once again, these guys did not disappoint. I had been a little worried that they might not be as good as I remembered, and this time it took a fair amount of arm-twisting to get Wildflower out the door. For a little while, I was also a bit concerned that tonight might be a repeat of the Metallica show in… I think it was ’99. I managed to make sure that everyone I knew had tickets (I used my house-sitting check to pick up around eight, I think), and was really excited to get a chance to see them and Soundgarden at The Gorge. Most of my friends wound up going the day before and setting up in the campsites near the venue, but my girlfriend waited until the last possible minute to get us started, scrounging around wherever she could for a two-day supply of her drug of choice. By the time we finally started out, we would have been lucky to catch the tail end of the show, and, as luck would have it, we didn’t even get that far. Still some distance from the show, as we were speeding along at nearly 90 miles per hour, the front passenger tire blew, and that pretty much excluded us from any of the festivities. By the time we got a tire at a service station in the middle of nowhere, the concert would have just gotten out, and we wound up spending the night on the shoulder of a deserted road somewhere in the backcountry. I was a little bit upset, to say the least, as I’d dropped over $400 for a show that I never got to see. Tonight was better, though. Despite a rocky start, we got to Regency Ballroom with time to spare, and even wound up killing time buying a concert tee and going to the bathroom.

did get a t-shirt from that show in ’99, but it’s almost fully disintegrated now. The armpits are completely exposed to the elements, and I’m too much of a Comic Book Guy to pull that kind of look off.

Unlike the last time when we went to see Apocalyptica, the band opening for them (VAMP on this occasion, Dir En Grey last time) didn’t cause me to feel a murderous compulsion toward their sound guy. I don’t know that I’d want to see them again, but they were alright, and had a couple of tunes that weren’t completely awful. Dir En Grey, on the other hand, is a band which I hope never to encounter for the rest of my natural life. There was so much shrieking that Wildflower almost collapsed, and it was touch and go for a while on whether we would have to miss the band that we were there to see. And despite having a far smaller fan base in this area (making the lead singer’s attempts to draw in the crowd a little sad), VAMP managed to offer up a decent set, and didn’t injure anybody.

After roughly half an hour, they made their way off of the stage, and our ears began to try to readjust to normal levels of conversation. I didn’t remember it taking so long to get the stage set up for Apocalyptica the last time that we saw them, but then again, I was busy nursing my wife back to health. There was roughly thirty minutes between VAMP’s departure and Apocalyptica’s arrival, and we took the time to make another pit stop, and then try to find somewhere on the floor where we wouldn’t be trapped behind a sea of bobbing heads that stood much higher than our own. We found a spot, and pretty soon the room erupted in cheers when the banner raised behind the drum kit with APOCALYPTICA in letters spanning tens of feet and at least a meter high.

Sorry for the abysmal quality. My phone isn't aware that it is also supposed to be a camera.
Sorry for the abysmal quality. My phone isn’t aware that it is also supposed to be a camera.

From there, it was only just a couple of minutes until the Finns took the stage (our tip-off was the fog machine). Sadly, it seemed that the majority of the people there were waiting for the headliner, as the cheers were somewhat more muted than they were four and a half years ago. But when they launched into their set, those of us who are true fans managed to drag the Nikki Sixxers along with us. They opened with a new song, which was more quietly received, as most of us had only heard it for the first time recently, and the people there for SIXX:A.M., not at all. But where they really won the crowd was when they brought out the chairs, and laid into “Nothing Else Matters.” This being Metallica country, almost everyone knew the song by heart, and everyone was singing along, backing the trio of metal cellists on the stage.

I had hoped for a couple more old-school Metalli-tunes, but they were on a slightly tighter schedule than they had been when they were headlining. I have to say, it was a lot of fun last time, when all the Dir En Grey fanboys and girls had left the Ballroom to us metalheads, and to close out the evening, Apocalyptica ran through a classic live version of “Seek & Destroy”. Still, I don’t know why I am complaining. They played a hell of a show, and were definitely worth the price of admission (which is good, because we bailed out before the headliners). I will say that I had forgotten about the audience participation and the clapping, and managed to screw my right pinky up pretty badly from banging in rhythm against my wedding ring. I’m glad that my wife and I could go for our sixth anniversary, and as far as anniversaries are concerned, this one ranks a close second to the Whiskies of the World Expo which we attended for our third.

Flor managed to get a little video, but it’s very low-quality sound, so I’m just going to put up all the pictures which she took (from her far superior camera-equipped cellular telephone).

"We's plays the metals
“We’s plays the metals
On ours brutal metals cellos"
On ours brutal metals cellos”
It's hard to tell from this shot, but they really own the whole stage
It’s hard to tell from this shot, but they really own the whole stage
So many horns were thrown... (During "Nothing Else Matters")
So many horns were thrown…
Eicca, hamming it up...
Eicca, hamming it up… and looking METAL AS F@*K!
Hugs onstage to massive applause.
Paavo, Franky, Perttu, and Mikko, soaking in the applause
Final bow and curtain call
Final bow and curtain call. Eicca, Paavo, Mikko, Perttu,and Franky.


As they left the stage, killing all hope that they might be convinced to do a thirty minute encore, my wife and I decided to leave. We really didn’t care about the next band up, and by leaving when we did, we managed to get home by midnight. Perhaps it’s just because I’m getting older, but I have to say that I’m glad we didn’t have to stick around until the very end. Bedtime is important to us. And again, maybe it’s due to my advancing age, but I also felt that VAMP didn’t need to be quite so loud. Also, they were totally on my lawn, so…

Anyway, it’s just past 1:30 in the morning, and I have to be up in roughly five hours, because my wife’s friend is dropping off her son to Tex Batmart’s Daycare Emporium and House of Frivolity around seven in the morning, and that will require that I am conscious enough to put on pants and turn the television in the living room on for him. Good night, everyone! I’ll be back tonight for a regularly scheduled ramble!

And if you haven’t already, make sure to follow me on Twitter: @texbatmart, and “Like” me on Facebook: Tex Batmart.

Okay, that’s it! Good night, folks!


Apocalyptica (Pre-Show)

I am more excited than I probably should be, but this is the first show that I’ve gone to in years, and the first date night that Wildflower and I have had for almost as long. I’ve been nerding out to their entire discography all day (including the three songs off their new disc which I got because I pre-ordered. We’ve got a little over half an hour until we’ll be taking off, and I just wanted to get a little of this excess of exuberance out of my system before I get on BART. Chugging a 12 oz. Cranberry Red Bull probably isn’t helping, but I am who I am, and nothing’s gonna stop me. In addition to trying to write something about all of this, I’m also trying to get more music on my iPod for the ride over, but my computer is apparently having a seizure because it knows I’m in a hurry. It looks like that’s not going to happen, so I guess I’m out of luck for anything after 7th Symphony. I would also like to mention that I am a little put out with Amazon right now. I used to love getting MP3’s from them because I could download them easily and listen to them on my iPod, or on Zune, or wherever, and not be slaved to just one player. But their Music Player is cumbersome and unresponsive, and now it’s just as bad as dealing with iTunes, which I only do out of necessity. I just want to download my songs easily and listen to them. That’s it.

I mean, what’s wrong with a little functionality? So it looks like my laptop heard me… the files have miraculously appeared in on my computer. No to face the unending wrath of iTunes so I can transfer them over to my iPod.

Okay, I am officially out of time. I’ll be back after the show with details and an afterglow! Off to see Apocalyptica!

After Dark: A Blast From The Past Presents: A Lesson In America and the English language

I know, I know. I promised you all that I was done with these After Dark: Blasts From The Past. But I saved out this one for two reasons: 1) It’s my anniversary, and I might just want to sleep in, and 2) I still feel the topic is relevant today.

Go ahead, enjoy it!


A Lesson in America and the English Language

October 10th, 2008

2:10 a.m.

When I was six years old, I received a lecture from my best friend’s grandmother. We had be running around like six year olds, and I had said that I hated something. I don’t remember what. But just seconds after I’d said it, my friend’s grandmother said to me, “Don’t use that word.”

“What word?” I asked.


“Why not?”

“Do you really hate [said thing in question]?”

“Well, no… I just really don’t like it.”

“Then say that. You should never say ‘hate.’ It’s such an ugly and violent word. Say what you mean.”

Feeling unjustly chastised, I agreed, and my buddy and I went on playing.

That memory has stuck with me for two reasons. The first, because we all hold on to embarrassing moments and remember them far better than our happiest. And secondly, the older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

In my life, I genuinely hate maybe only a couple of people. Trust me, they are very bad people whose names start with the letter “J”, and, honestly, hating them hurts me more than them. Unless I see them in person.

Why am I bringing this up? Proposition 8 in California. For those of you who either do not live here or are unaware, Proposition 8 wants to overturn the California Supreme Court’s overturning the previous Proposition 22 from 2000, which banned same-sex marriage in the state by amending the state constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.

In the interest of transparency, I have always been against this proposition, and on November 4th, will cast the same vote.

What bothers me in the analysis, is the call for “tolerance.”

I tolerate the old person in front of me in the register at a fast food joint for counting out pennies for her senior coffee.

I tolerate the woman with 3 shopping carts at the 99 Cent Only store ahead of me in the checkout line, arguing with the cashier over obvious things (Why does this receipt say $5.95 for this item? I thought everything here was only 99 cents! (Mind you, she had purchased 6 of the same item)).


1. To allow without prohibiting or opposing; permit.

2. To recognize and respect (the rights, beliefs, or practices of others).

3. To put up with; endure.



a. To answer affirmatively: accept an invitation.

b. To agree to take (a duty or responsibility).

2. To receive (something offered), especially with gladness or approval: accepted a glass of water; accepted their contract.

3. To admit to a group, organization, or place: accepted me as a new member of the club.


a. To regard as proper, usual, or right: Such customs are widely accepted.

b. To regard as true; believe in: Scientists have accepted the new theory.

c. To understand as having a specific meaning.

5. To endure resignedly or patiently: accept one’s fate.

I have excluded medical definitions, although they are interesting in the context of this post.

So people talk about tolerance like its original meaning (from Latin): To bear. Whereas acceptance focuses on its origin: to receive.

Therein lies the difference. Are we only to bear the existence of those who differ from us, or do we receive them into our lives? If everyone is equal, then the choice is obvious.

Unless people are saying what they really mean.


Point After (In the spirit of Football Season)

Gay used to mean happy. Are we so self-loathing and morally bankrupt a people that we seek to demonize and ridicule happiness?

Just a thought.


See? I used to go on all sorts of moral and ethical rants back in the day as well.


I’ll be taking this weekend off to celebrate my anniversary, but don’t worry: I’ll be back on Monday with something that I’ve been meaning to write about: The Teen Center on Bainbridge Island, Washington. And if you absolutely cannot live without my rambling words, feel free to peruse any of the other 98 posts I’ve written since I started this blog.

Thank you for support, and I look forward to your continued readership.

Now go outside, and have some fun, and come back on Monday for my 100th Post (which coincides with the 100th Day I’ve been running this blog).