Strange Powers

It’s strange sometimes, the awareness of music. I may well have been recommended Magnetic Fields music a million times before (by Shoey, maybe??), but none of it has sunk in – until I heard this song back ending the trailer for a documentary on Stephen Merritt:

“Strange Powers” is from the ‘Holiday’ album, which I’m listening to on Spotify just now, it came out in 1994 and reminds me of a woozy Beat Happening. I’m guessing Jens Lekman is a fan.

So, the question is – what strange (not super) power would you like to have?

I’d maybe go for the ability to sense hormonal fields, so I would know whether to come home with flowers, or chocolate, or not to come home at all. Or maybe the ability to levitate cats…

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50 thoughts on “Strange Powers

  1. I’d like the power to not burst into tears at inconvenient moments, but I think most people already have this one, so it may be me that’s strange not the power.

    I too have skirted around liking Magnetic Fields, I listened to 69 love songs and liked about 3 of them, but quite enjoyed Stephin Merritt’s songs on the audio books of A Series of Unfortunate Events.

    I like the jet powered saint, cool :-)

  2. moved to respond by this unearthly image – I’ve never been quite able to describe what’s going on so bethnoir’s label, the “jet powered saint” has solved a lifetime mystery for me. Thanks both, for pic and caption.

    I’d like the power of knowing what other people are tasting – having their experience. It’s not like hearing or seeing similar things, more bodyfunctiony and intimate, and when people say they can’t bear raspberries, I’d really like to understand why.

    • Oooh that would be good, especially if you’re eating out and everyone else’s dinner looks more tasty than your own, and you’d wished you’d ordered what they had. bing! you could just switch!!

      I don’t know anything about the picture I posted but am interested to hear more?

      • This was all that i could find on the artist -

        Stefano di Giovanni, known as il Sassetta, (1392 – 1450 or 1451) was an Italian painter. He was born in Siena, although there is also an hypothesis that he was born in Cortona. However, the first historical record of him was in Siena in 1423.

    • The Blessed Ranieri Rasini is freeing the poor from prison. Part of am altarpiece in the Louvre, always eyecatching :)

      Strange power? To be able to sing with a 6 octave vocal range.

  3. I’d like to know if we “see” the same colours. A lot of what I call blue, other people describe as grey. Do we actually see a different colour or just have a different way of describing it? My right eye, which is twice as short-sighted as my left, sees brighter colours than the other.

      • Mnemonic, that would be a good one, I recently painted our bedroom green and you wouldn’t believe the difference in opinion my lovely husband and I have had about what goes with the shade of green we chose.

        I’m sure my son sees the world differently from everyone else, if his art is anything to go by too!

  4. I’ve always wondered too whether we each see things differently…at the
    moment my superpower would be the ability to put up a new post from
    my phone!

  5. I’m going to go very traditional and say I’d like to be able to fly… not just flap idly around my city, but fly very fast like superman, anywhere in the world. Then I could visit all the ‘Spillers!

    Love the painting, too. It looks like a Giotto. David was going to do an stop-motion animation of some Giotto paintings. He got a lot of sets made…not sure what happened to the whole idea….

  6. Stephen Merritt’s music is very difficult to love but a lot to admire… i’m quite a fan.

    strange power would be to record my imagination – I asked my dad if It could be done when I was six.. because what came out of my pencil wasn’t what was inside my head – WHY?

    I still can’t manage it.
    the bonus would be I could record my dreams too..

    I’ve mentioned the Neighbors (Aussie Soap) in the style of David Lynch that I dreamt I was filming – it was funny as fuck.. would love to re-watch that.

    Had a grotesque horror one populated by jet black women – they had skin like a really soft biker jacket – at night all you could see were the eyes – plus their features were outlined by gold piercings that glistened – this was eyebrows and all around their mouth, top lip and bottom lip – a river flowed down to the site of their carnival with floating body parts drifting along… then they started ripping my limbs off while I was still alive and biting chunks of my flesh – really quite grim.. it was all in a really arid desert up to the river – it looked fantastic.

  7. I’d like to be able to talk to our cats rather than levitate them. Failing that, I’d like to borrow nilpferd’s weird ability to rise above petty aggravations and appalling people.

    • Of course, you don’t need super powers for that Abahachi! Simply purchase Nilpferd’s 17 part video series The Way of the Hippo, for 5 low easy installments of $99.99. (I don’t know how to do the euro symbol). And don’t forget the blooper reel!

      • May I point out that we’re just on the brink of launching The Way of the Hippo 2.0- our interactive online portal.

        I’ll gladly send videos out to anyone wishing them, of course. (the blooper reel is available for premium customers only, folks. See me blowing a fuse on the GU films thread!! Trashing jazz haters on RR!!! putting the boot in on CiF Australasia!!! etc)
        Premium customers also receive our monogrammed, imitation tiger-skin meditation mat. (Available only while stocks last!!)

      • Ah, testimonial from a satisfied customer! I am another satisfied customer, myself. I’ve finally completed the THIRTY-FOUR SOLID HOURS of ENTERTAINING, WITTY, and LIFE-CHANGING viewing. That’s right, it’s CHANGED MY LIFE as well. I haven’t been in a drunken punch-up in months, and it used to be a weekly occurrence.

        Satisfied testimonials, you can’t pay for that kind of publicity.

      • (ha ha, morons!! What I’m really after is a gang of willing slaves, to DO MY BIDDING AND TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!! MWAH HAH HAH. Lucky I can type myself these little thoughts into a parallel dialogue which NOBODY CAN SEE, otherwise I’d go crazy..)

  8. As no-one else has bagsied it, I’d like the ability (Neo/Matrix-like) to be able to load my brain with a program allowing me to pick up and play any instrument. And I’m not greedy, I don’t want world-class talent at it, or even the range to play everything in the music shop on the same day. I’d settle for the self-regulating policies of “just enough talent to get by in whatever company I’m in”; and “CPU limited to one instrument program at a time” i.e. on removal of the disc from my internal hard-drive, tone-deaf and stupid fingers return.

  9. Ok, i’ll be crass then. I’d like to be able to pull fistfuls of cash out of thin air. Oh yeah, i’d like to wave my hand and have world peace too.

    Abahachi, silly -

    It’s easy peasy to talk to you cats. The problem is in undestanding what they say when they talk back. Whenever they meow at me, i try to tell them that i don’t speak kitty and they have to explain to me what they want in plain english. Doesn’t seem to work though, or very possibly they can do it but just want to be perverse.

      • Unfortunately i only speak one language, and not very well either. Except for whatever pidgin French I can still remember from school, but i certainly wouldn’t attempt to converse in it with the likes of native speakers like you.

      • Now you see that’s where I disagree with you, Amy. Just try it – in my experience, you get further more quickly by trying, however bad you are.

        If you make yourself understood, your skills improve and you make a friend.

        If you try but fail to make yourself understood, your oppo will still respect your trying and is generally happier to switch to English.

        If you don’t try, you further the English & American reputation for being ignorant, disrespectful & lazy, and you certainly DON’T make a new friend.

        I’ve only ever once had a bad reaction to my awful attempts at phrase-book communication … when trying Catalan, rather than Spanish, in Barcelona. (I still haven’t figured out why I got such a glare.)

      • ah, see DsD, i see it as a sign of respect i guess, as i’m ashamed to so badly mangle another language. And also that i can’t understand what others are saying in reply. I’ve always had a very difficult time with languages and communication, i’m better at the visual and mathematical.

        I took French all through secondary school (but they lost me at the subjunctive). Tried it in college, the teacher was an extremely shy grad student who barely spoke above a whisper. I thought, well, if you can’t speak it with confidence, then i surely won’t be able to, so i bailed out and that was the end of that, although i picked up a bit of kitchen Spanish later on.

      • I should add that i have no problem when non-native speakers try to speak english to m though. I grew up in cities and college towns here in the US, there are many, many non-native speakers.

      • Well it all depends what nationality your cats are? I had it in my mind they could be Siamese.
        By the way, having experienced it myself, I can confirm that Dsd’s approach is the right one. I have murdered the Portuguese language on a daily basis, by mentally battering through my limitations and forcing the words out. I got a lot of stick, but at least it was communication. Also, I can’t imagine what kind of snob one would have to be to feel disrespected by a foreigner making an effort. As for not understanding what people are saying to you, just nod and insert “uh-huhs

      • Thanks, Ed.

        Hmm, you did play your Joker there, Amy. The respect point has validity, but when you’re as much of a bull in a china shop as I am, respect tends to get trampled by clumsy enthusiasm!

        Anyhoo, bedtime. I’ve actually got a couple of days proper paying work for the rest of this week – WOOHOO!

        G’night.

      • So here’s the hard part Ejay, how after you’ve managed to string together a phrase in Portugese, how do you understand their reply?

      • That’s when you nod. They think you know what they are talking about, but the nod actually means you caught 2 words out of their reply, and are still trying to guess the meaning. It wasn’t always like that to be fair but common enough…

      • Three ‘yes’s and a ‘no’ in that order, at appropriate moments throughout the conversation. Works a treat in French:

        - Blah blah blah-blah blah
        - Oui
        - Blah blah blah?
        - Oh, oui!
        - Blah blah blah blah blah-di-blah
        - Er, oui…
        - Blah blah blah-blah
        - Mais non!

        Repeat to fade….

    • Oops, Ejay, i just saw your bit about nods and grunts. I have this nightmare of going to Paris (I’ve never yet been), and asking Ou est la Louvre?, and having no understanding at all of the response. (i know i could use a guidebook for the Louvre, but you get the idea).

    • Secret tip if you ever find yourself in a place where they speak foreign and you want to impress – make sure you carry (visibly!) a pile of books in foreign, including one that’s obviously Learning Foreign for Beginners, Part I, thus demonstrating your interest in country & culture and willingness to learn – Part I indicates you haven’t got too far with it yet, though!

  10. my power would be the ability to speak every language in the world completely fluently, grasping every nuance and cultural aside.

    • Wouldn’t that be great. I think a large part of my difficulty with language is because so much of it is memorization, and i’m better at figuring things out than memorizing.

  11. well, it seems the best way to acquire language skills is to go and live where they speak it. Completely immersing yourself in the culture and picking it up the way kids learn their first language tends to be more effective than just memorising, the key thing for language is for it to be situational – this theory is losing ground recently, but I still stand by it.

    So, the easy solution to your predicament Amy is to sell up and move to Paris! Simple!

  12. Beam me up, Scotty!

    I’d just like to be able to beam myself (or apparate, for fans of popular children’s fiction) to other places. Certainly not an original idea, but the power I yearn for…

  13. Okay, yes, I need the power to understand cats, so that I can find out whether they have really have no idea what I’m saying (or, worse, translate “please give me the decapitated rabbit NOW” as “let’s play a game of Hide the Carcass”) or whether, as I suspect, they know perfectly well what I mean but are choosing to ignore it if there’s no food involved. They are Siamese and Oriental, so possibly Thai will need to be involved, but born variously in West Wales and Wokingham so really should have got the hang of English by now.

    • I feel guilty for laughing when there’s a poor decapitated bunny involved, but that cracked me up. So you’re the one that needs that Thai then. The ones i live with now are tabbies, one looks like a very tine ocelot, the other is a pretty smokey grey striped. So probably just basic rotgut American.

      • Posted on Plato goes on to explain that the petefcrly good individual, like the petefcrly good city, is wise, courageous, moderate and just. He is wise, because his reason rules him. He is courageous because his spirit is the loyal ally of his reason. He is moderate because his desires obey the dictates of reason. He is just because each part of his soul c3a2e282acc593minds its own business.c3a2e282acc29d The just man c3a2e282acc593arranges himself, becomes his own friend, and harmonizes the three parts, (reason, spirit, and desire) exactly like three notes in a harmonic scale.c3a2e282acc29d

  14. Pingback: Internet Art – The Art of O » Blog Archive » The Stephin Merritt Mystery Unsolved in Strange Powers

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