April 08 – My First Tour in Haiku

03/10/2009 at 9:08 pm | Posted in Browncoats, General Nerdery, Music, Stories from the Road | Leave a comment

I. In which I undertake a bipartite account of my first tour, in haiku with marginalia
II. In which I explain the Song of the Month


It is so good to be home in the land of long days, proper Italian espresso, and excellent beer. Of course, at this writing it is snowing like gangbusters outside, but home is home. My travels were exhausting and terrific:

– I went to San Diego, where I met some very laid back people and played on the beach.
– I went to Hollywood for the first time, where I met some very glamorous people and did many film-related things.
– I went to Austin, where I met very hip artsy people and did many music-related things.
– I went to Houston for the first time, where they shot me in the head and I bled profusely.

Here are some of my travel stories in haiku. I’m borrowing this idea from my stepbrother’s girlfriend, because she is brilliant. It will help to keep my word count down, because my first draft of this blog was turning into a very dull novella (that’s why I was taking so long to post. It sucked). Also, I’ve been watching lots of Arrested Development, and I’m working on punching up and tightening my exposition. Haiku helps. Here goes:

I. Los Angeles

Flying all night sucks.
‘Specially with more luggage
Than you can carry.

Curse the airlines for
finally enforcing their
carry-on limits!

(I mean it. Anybody know a good curse for TSA? Something itchy.)

Driving without sleep
In a new car in LA
Is terrifying.

Pollution, traffic,
And hot guys with sunglasses
are everywhere — ack.

But with my iPhone
I avoid jams and lostness
And ward off stalkers.

(Will someone please make me a shirt that says, “I’m not attracted to you, I’m just polite”?)

Film nerd paradise
Is pretty much my feeling
About Hollywood.

I got to hang out
With cool writers and witty
Indie filmmakers.

Saw 2001
In hi-def and surround sound.
I can’t do that, Dave.

I squealed when I saw
Nathan Fillion’s weapon.
Yup, this girl’s a geek.

(No, I can’t tell you where that collection of goodies was. I’d have to kill you.)

Poor Joel’s shampoo broke
And my Alaskan beer leaked
All over his clothes.

Which was a bit hard
To explain to my grandma,
With whom we were lodged.

But the worst part was
Our emergency beer stash
Was gone. How I wept.

Husband flew south via
Yakutat and Ketchikan.
Viva la Mud Hen.

He was almost dumped
In Juneau, but our pregnant
Governor saved him.

(The slightly longer version of this story: my husband, flying standby, wound up puddle-jumping his way through Alaska on the “Mud Hen” to join us. He was kicked off for weight restrictions in our state’s capitol, but he got the seat of America’s Hottest and Most Pregnant Governer, Sarah Palin, at the last second. She was held up in TSA and wouldn’t make the plane wait for her, because she said she “wasn’t that sort of governor.”)

We played at the beach.
Music, not swimming. Ocean’s
Too polluted. Darn.

(Joel almost jumped in, too, until I said, “Hey, Joel, shouldn’t we maybe read that sign over there — the one with the caution tape all around it? The one that says….no swimming, toxic waste?”)

Singing far from home
Was the easy part. No sweat.
La la la! Thank you.

Cafés, house concerts,
Church auditoriums, and
One sweet standing O.

(Ovation. Don’t even.)

San Diego rules.
Browncoats built a huge fire and
Gave me a rain stick.

At Kulak’s Woodshed
I met Tom Begich. Beware
Alaskans abroad….

(Tom was shocked to see me so far from home. The folks at Kulak’s were joking that the Alaskans were gonna take over the venue. And we most certainly did.)

I heard Shaun Cromwell,
Then Sheri Miller at the
Hotel Café. Sweet.

(Shaun I heard at Café Bellissimo, Sheri at the Hotel Café, to be clear. Both venues and both artists are great. And I had tiramisu to die for at Bellissimo.)

Funny, they told me
I would hate LA, but — wow.
Better than I thought.

Seldom have I slept
So little, driven so much.
L.A., I love you.

For it’s only here
I can put on sunglasses
And turn people’s heads.

(This works especially well at night. If you’re wearing sunglasses in the dark, you can hear the necks snap behind you as folks do a quick over-the-shoulder celebrity check. Of course, I must admit my own neck was a little sore, too.)

II. Texas

To Austin, Houston,
And San Antonio, ho!
(Don’t call me a ho.)

Strawberries galore —
Inexpensive clothing stores —
Locally owned pubs —

Live music nightly —
Farmers’ markets with fresh cheese —
This must be heaven.

But still no good beer.
Only don’t say that too loud
In front of Texans.

(It’s obvious they’re
compensating for something.
Chill, Texas, we’re cool.)

Also don’t mention
That Alaska is bigger
And less obnoxious.

Just sip your Shiner
And quietly kick their ass
At darts and Scrabble.

(Three triple bullseyes — bwah! I tried to make a Shiner Bock / shiner (black eye) joke, but couldn’t get the syllables and the pun to coincide without sacrificing comprehensibility. So imagine a joke of that nature here. Or submit your own haiku in the comments.)

South by Southwest rocks.
But it’s intimidating.
Oodles of rock stars.

There’s a high ratio
Of Utilikilts to men
Down on Sixth Street.

They all look ready
For Rolling Stone photo shoots.
I feel corporate.

(But later I shopped
At the Buffalo Exchange.
Who looks indie now?)

Heard some killer bands —
And some not-so-killer bands,
Which encouraged me.

Favorites include
Lindsay Jane, Raina Rose, Graham,
Second Grace, Cory

(…Branan. And that’s Graham Weber. They’re visiting Alaska soon. Go see them! And see me, if you’re in Alaska. Also, Browncoats and others may enjoy the energetic and ebullient S.J. Tucker, the Skinny White Chick. Though she has famously refused to see Firefly.)

I missed the Whipsaws
Only by inches. Sorry —
Seeya back home, guys.

Bob Schneider and the
Texas Bluegrass Massacre
Blew my freakin’ mind.

I sang, too, nervous
In a sea of musicians,
And I did just fine.

I thought that driving
In LA would be hard, but
Texas kicked my ass.

Twenty minutes spent
Trying to find the on-ramp —
Go fish. Signage, please!

Now, the Bedlam Bards
Are no gentlemen, but they
Accompanied me

Despite the fact I
Use too many chords and shake
A dead cat sometimes.

Visited Browncoats
In two cities — shimmer wine
And mangoes. Shiny.

We played some airsoft
In the yard, which later seemed
A bad idea.

I got shot. Right there.
In the forehead. That’s Houston

But the gun owner,
Morgan, was even worse off.
He lost a tooth.

(I was inordinately proud of my injury. It bled all night, and I made sure everybody knew it. At the concert later that evening I serenaded Morgan with “The Hero of Houston,” a filk of “Hero of Canton.” Except it was about real life, and the song was fictional. Does that make it rilk? We were hoping to give him a purple heart or some kind of medal, but I think the closest we could come was a poker chip.)

Last but not least:
I sang at the Cactus.
Won’t forget that night.

III. Epilogue

Flying home sucked hard:
Austin > Phoenix > OC > then,
Drive to LAX

Fly east to Salt Lake
And finally home. The score:
Six airports, one day.

(The airports won. I’ve revised “Flying Feels Like Falling” to reflect my New Worst Itinerary Ever. Oh, I saw Men in Trees for the first time on one of the planes and miserable as the flight was, the show made it worse. No, it’s nothing like that, for those of you who asked. Even Alaskans are sharper than that writing was.)

I wish I could list
All the people that I met,
All the bands I heard,

But especially
All the food I ate, cuz, damn —
That was a gooooood trip.

I still haven’t slept.
There are deadlines and taxes
And stuff to see to.

But despite the pace
I like my new profession.
‘Cuz I get to sing.


The Song of the Month summarizes this trip in even more concise terms. It starts with a flashback to my first day in Tok, Alaska (their slogan: “We’ve never heard of you either.”). That was not only my first day in Tok, it was the first day of my brand-new residency in Alaska. And what a welcome. It was forty below zero, I got sick from the dry air, there was a blizzard warning, and we had to drive several hundred miles to Anchorage on solid ice. And we were the only out-of-towners. You should have seen the look I got when I asked about a latte. I expect I deserved it.

That same Tok-ish feeling returned to me as I was traveling on this trip, looking very much the outsider everywhere I went. My inner monologue was “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…” I’m a medium-insecure person, but I’m finding that if I state my insecurities up front, as a sort of disclaimer, then they’re not so scary anymore. I can acknowledge them, step over them, and get on with life. And enjoy myself.

So do enjoy this song — usually I’d save an original of this quality for the next album, but it was pertinent to the tour I just finished, so I decided to post it now. It might make an appearance on a later album, though.

Marian Call Song of the Month April

Also, next time I travel, I want Brian Adams to come with me. You hear that, Brian?


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