complaints, controversies, social media, videos, YouTube

I didn’t know I was a producer of dirty content…

This morning has gotten off to a very interesting start. I woke up at about 6:00 AM, because Bill decided to take today off work. He has to go on a TDY next week, starting Monday night. Since Monday is Labor Day, he decided he’d enjoy today at home with me.

I was a little hesitant to check my iPad because I was afraid of waking up to a shitstorm on Facebook. Yesterday, I shared a somewhat controversial post that appeared on George Takei’s Facebook page. A minor argument ensued, with no final resolution. I wasn’t wanting to continue arguing about it today, and I was a little worried that other people might have chimed in on that controversial post while I was sleeping. It was a relief to see that there was only one other comment on that post, and it wasn’t contentious.

Then I went to my notifications and saw that I had one from YouTube. There was also an email from them. Behold:

There’s more, but you get the gist.

Mind you… this is not the first time I’ve had content age-restricted. For some reason, the bots seem to go wild in August and September, as that is the time of year when I tend to get these notices. Two years ago, YouTube dinged a video I had posted in 2015 called “Big Pink Dildo”. It was a parody of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” that I did in response to a bunch of uptight military spouses who were upset because someone on a Facebook yard sale page had posted a joke listing for her used pink sex toy. It looked like maybe the thing had been co-opted by the family dog, though.

I thought it was crazy that YouTube age-restricted the parody, since there was no swearing in it, and only one photo of the toy, placed at the very end of the video. Most of the video is black, with my singing over it. Also, the video has been up for years and only has a few hundred hits on it. I appealed, but they declined to remove the restriction. I got over it and moved on with my life. ๐Ÿ˜‰

None of the other videos I’ve posted have ever come close to being “adult content” of any kind. Most of my videos consist of vacation pictures or of me singing a song. When I saw the title of the video that was tagged, I had forgotten what it was about. I clicked the link to check it out, and was flabbergasted to see that it was a video I made in mid August 2016, when Bill and I visited a “Barefoot Park” in Dornstetten, a Black Forest hamlet in Germany.

Barefoot Parks are where people take off their shoes to experience nature and feel different things with their feet. There are a number of them in Germany. They are health promoting, fun, and absolutely kid friendly! But furthermore, I don’t think there were really any kids featured in my video. It’s not even three minutes long, and consists of four clips– Bill cranking a machine; Bill bouncing on a trampoline; Bill walking on a balance beam like log; and Bill walking through mud until he falls on his ass.

We didn’t even curse in the video, although doing so would have been perfectly understandable. So I was puzzled as to why YouTube’s bots decided to age restrict the video, especially since it has about 166 views as of today. It’s hardly a high profile performer that presents a danger to anyone. In fact, it shows what can happen at the Barefoot Park if you aren’t careful when you walk in the mud… You can end up literally hitting mud!

The only potential infraction I could come up with was “child safety”. Below is what YouTube says about that…

But this is a big stretch… Also, I never tag my videos as “made for kids”.

I clicked the child safety link, and then realized that my video is not at all like their description of one that would be dangerous to children.

Hmmm… again, there’s more, but my video isn’t at all like what they’re describing.

I thought about just ignoring the restriction and going on with my life, since no one watches it, anyway. But it’s one of my rare uploads that doesn’t have a copyright restriction, and besides, the bots just plain got it wrong this time. So I asked for an appeal. Happily, within a few minutes, I got one, and the restriction was removed.

I’m glad the appeal was quick and painless, but I’d love to know why it was hit by bots in the first place!

The stuff I put on YouTube is nothing like what I write in this blog. Likewise, my travel blog is mostly not the same kind of content this blog is. I’d say this blog is more “mature themed” and potentially R rated. My YouTube channel is mostly PG rated, at most. And certainly, aside from my “Big Pink Dildo” parody, there’s nothing there there that would make anyone blush.

Ironically, the other day I considered doing a cover of Red Peters’ “The Spelling Song”, which is a bit profane. But I decided not to do that, precisely because I didn’t want to get an email like the one above. If you don’t know the magic of “The Spelling Song”, here’s a link. I warn you, though… it’s kind of raunchy, especially if you know how to spell.

I see it’s not age-restricted here…

Anyway… I do try to be a good YouTube citizen. If you’re curious, below is the now non age-restricted video that prompted today’s blog post… It’s really dirty stuff, alright… LITERALLY!

Me and my “dirty” content! It’s a danger to children, only if their parents are cleanliness obsessed.

The best part about the above video was the round of German laughter when Bill hit the mud with a resounding splat. Maybe that could be considered a form of bullying… I don’t know. Fortunately, we all had the fortitude to recover from that incident without any lasting psychological ill effects.

By the way, after I got my video unrestricted, I visited YouTube, where I was immediately confronted by a video about a 17 year old girl, one month from turning 18, being arrested for running away from a group home. There’s a lot of swearing, screaming, and manhandling into handcuffs and police cars. As of today, that video is not age-restricted. I wonder if it ever will be. Surely that content is more frightening to children than Bill’s spill in German mud…

Or how about the scary news content about Donald Trump, wanting to get rid of the Constitution so he can run the United States his way? I watched a news video about a Georgia legislator who warns of another “Civil War” this morning. He literally speaks of getting out his rifle to “defend” the country from Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis, who is a threat to our country, as he sees it. But that video was unrestricted, as far as I can tell. My seven year old video, on the other hand… much too dirty for kids to see. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ah well… all’s well that ends well. I’ll try to clean up my act, going forward.

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humor, music, social media

Oscar the Grouch never invited anyone to his trash can…

The weirdness of the past nine months are starting to get to me somewhat. Last night, I was feeling “cheeky”, as the Brits would say. Although I haven’t personally suffered as much as a lot of people have, I have been feeling kind of “tense” lately. Little things bug me more than they might usually, not that I’m a particularly laid back person to start with.

I always get a bit nutty during the holidays. When I was growing up, the holidays were always fraught with expectations that were never quite met. As I became an adult, the holidays became downright unpleasant. For several years, my eldest sister hosted our family gatherings in her house. I can remember a lot of fights with my sisters and tense moments with my parents, especially my dad.

The last time I spent Christmas with my family of origin was in 2003, just after my sister Sarah had her son, who turned out to be the last grandchild. Imagine that. My parents had four girls. You’d expect there would have been a lot of grandkids for them. But nope… My sister Betsy had two kids, a girl and a boy, Becky never married, Sarah had a son, and Bill and I couldn’t have kids thanks to his vasectomy. The older I get, the more I think that might have been a blessing. Family life has become surreal these days. I feel kind of divorced from mine.

Add in the shitshow that 2020 has been, and this year’s holiday season is even weirder than usual. So I had a good laugh when I ran across a funny video by Sandy and Richard Riccardi, a talented couple on YouTube and Facebook who make funny parodies of popular songs. A lot of their material is political, but sometimes they do songs about common situations that come up in everyday life. I think the first song I ever heard by this funny duo was a song called “Unfriend Me”…

Listen all the way to the end for the punchline.

Since Trump came on the scene, this couple has come out with some very amusing songs about him, as well as some of the current events that affect everyone. I like a lot of their stuff, but I don’t always love what they do. Like, for instance, I wasn’t a big fan of this song…

Yeah, I know… I know… but I am so fucking tired of hearing about it.

To be clear… I get that the masks are necessary for now. I’m just really fed up with some how people feel emboldened to constantly clobber people over the head about them. I hate the aggressive, belligerent, and obnoxious hashtags, and in your face slogans like, “Wear a damn mask!”. I don’t think those types of messages are helpful. They certainly don’t inspire respect or compliance.

Yesterday, I was reading a Facebook thread started by true crime author Kathryn Casey, who wrote that she had sent away a couple of maskless workers who had come over to do work on her house. The workers mocked Casey’s husband when he asked them to wear masks while they were working. A thread ensued, in which people were congratulating Casey for sending away the maskless workers and hiring a different company. Casey’s choice to fire the workers would have been alright with me, but accompanying those comments were others that were hostile and aggressive. One lady wrote about how she was tired of how non mask wearers were so “belligerent”. Then she wrote, “Wear a damn mask or stay home!”

Another lady wrote that she was tired of people telling her to “wear a damn mask or stay home.” She explained that she has an eating disorder, lives in a remote area where grocery delivery is unavailable, and has a medical problem that prevents her from wearing a mask. None of her friends or family have offered to help her, so she’s been having to deal with people getting up in her face about her lack of a mask for what, I assume, is a real medical problem.

A third woman came along and, in a rather haughty, holier than thou tone, asked what the woman’s medical problem was. She included a news article (which is what everybody seems to use to cite their points these days) and claimed, per the news article, that there are very few medical problems that actually prevent a person from wearing a mask. This woman added that maybe she could see it if the woman with the eating disorder had a burn on her face or something. But otherwise, she felt the lady with the eating disorder was full of shit– despite not knowing her or her personal situation.

I couldn’t restrain myself from commenting. I feel like a lot of people aren’t really giving this issue much consideration. If I sit here and think about it, I can think of several medical problems that might make wearing a mask difficult or impossible for some people. Just off the top of my head, I’m remembering the two men I’ve met at different times in my life who were literally missing parts of their ears and had trouble using their hands due to injuries they’d sustained in wars. Then there are people who don’t hear well, have speech impediments or breathing problems, deal with severe anxiety or PTSD issues, or have trouble with their vision.

But most people don’t stop and consider people who really do have legitimate problems with wearing the masks. They just say, “Wear a damn mask!” If someone doesn’t or can’t comply, they think they are entitled to an explanation regarding another person’s private medical situation. And they think their opinions about another person’s circumstances have merit, and they are entitled to weigh in, even though they don’t know the other person from Adam and aren’t any more knowledgeable about the pandemic, or public health issues in general, than the average person is.

The “Wear a damn mask” slogan, in my opinion, is too aggressive. Those who truly don’t care about others will simply ignore it. Those who can’t comply will just feel worse than they need to about something beyond their control. And that harsh directive just adds to the overall dehumanized, dystopian, and downright creepy vibe in the air this year. It’s very depressing to me. Although personally, I don’t have it bad at all, I often think of the relatives I’ve recently lost and think they’re lucky to have escaped this living hell. The future seems bleak, and the constant anger and polarization only makes it worse. It makes me want to check out.

I can’t be the only one who feels like this, so I decided to respond to the woman with the eating disorder. I wrote that I was sorry she was having a hard time and I hoped it would get better for her. And I find it rich that people are complaining about belligerent “anti maskers” while they make aggressive demands like “Wear a damn mask!”, and aren’t willing to consider why people legitimately can’t or won’t wear a mask. I added that I won’t ask her what her health problems are, because they are none of my business.

Frankly, if I see someone who isn’t following the rules, I just stay away from them, if I can. I don’t automatically assume they’re selfish assholes. While I’m well aware that there are selfish assholes out there who simply don’t want to comply with the rules, it’s less depressing to me to assume the best about people whenever possible. Or, at least I like to tell myself that.

After that little exchange, I was feeling tense. But I ran across another funny, snarky song by the Riccardis. This one was called “Braggy Christmas Letter”. It had nothing to do with any of today’s most annoying and pervasive topics. I just thought it was funny, so I shared it.

I don’t get too many of these. It’s probably because I don’t go to church.

I had a good laugh as I listened to this song. It reminded me of how, about fifteen years ago, I ran across a family Web site created by a Mormon doctor in Wyoming who, by all images, seemed to be living the perfect life. I remember this guy had every single braggy Christmas letter he’d ever written posted on his site. He’d been divorced, but he even included the letters he’d written while he was with his first wife. I remember sharing that site with people on RfM, who are very familiar with “braggy Christmas letters”. While I don’t think the Mormons have cornered the market on this particular habit, I do think churches that promote a “prosperity gospel” message– ie; if you’re doing really well financially, that means God is smiling on you– prompt certain religious people to send these types of Christmas messages, even if they’re stretching the truth. It’s the whole, smug “seriously, so blessed” vibe that, on the surface, may seem harmless, but can make other people feel really small and devalued.

I didn’t think the above video would be controversial, but somehow even the most innocuous things can become that way. Why? Because everyone is different and sees things differently. Apparently, some people like getting “braggy Christmas letters”. I’m sure they have their reasons for feeling that way. Maybe they genuinely like reading that others are “seriously, so blessed”, with expensive houses, fancy cars, perfect figures, and fat bank accounts. I guess they’re above the petty, snarky people who poke fun. Or they like to appear that way.

I don’t mind getting newsy letters that contain positive news, especially when they aren’t mass produced. But there’s a big difference between a friendly letter with happy news in it and a letter that seems meant to make other people feel insignificant and second rate. The letter Sandy Riccardi is singing is the latter type, and I can’t imagine being happy to receive one of those, especially if they come every year like clockwork. I wonder if the people who were being contrary on that thread actually listened to the song before they commented. Or maybe they just wanted to feed their own egos by being contrary and “above” the snark.

So I got even more tense and grouchy… and Bill, who is always game to make me laugh (and it’s not hard to do), said “You know, Oscar the Grouch never invites anyone to his trash can.”

To which I responded, “But I invited you, Bill. How do you like the smell?”

And then we both laughed.

There was a time when most people had real conversations with people face to face or, at least, on the phone. Nowadays, a lot of us connect via social media. That can lead to a host of communication problems that range from everything from misunderstandings to people feeling emboldened to be mean or smarmy because they’re behind a screen. Some folks also feel that social media is the best place for them to preach or “set a good example” for others to follow. I will admit that it’s annoying to me when people feel the need to check their neighbors and give them unsolicited “special help”. It makes me grouchy.

At the risk of rambling on too long… here’s another example that came along last night. I read a news article in the Washington Post about people who have decided to get plastic surgery during the pandemic. Why? Because they don’t like how they look on Zoom calls. I don’t usually comment on newspaper’s Facebook pages because comments there invite interaction with unusually obnoxious people. But I thought this was an innocuous comment…

I donโ€™t even wear a bra anymore. I figure people can deal with my sagging boobs as well as my wrinkles and jowls. Itโ€™s been a rough year.

A lot of people thought it was funny. But then I got this response, which sounded like something my mother might say…

I choose to care about my appearance because if I look good, I feel equally good!

(My mom did actually say that shit to me when I was a teenager, dirty and stinky from hanging out at the barn all day, or simply not wanting to dress up and put on my face. Mom likes wearing her makeup. I don’t. What can I say? People are different.)

So my response was…

Here… have a cookie. Or a Coke and a smile… and then, kindly STFU. You do you, and I’ll do me, mmmkay?

Most of us are legitimately guilty of being smug sometimes, and inflicting our self-righteous, superior bullshit on others. Sometimes I do it myself, although I try to be conscious of it. I mean, you might say I did the same thing to the woman who was harassing the lady with the eating disorder about her reluctance to “wear a damn mask”. But I doubt the lady with the eating disorder will offer me a cookie, especially as I dwell in my trash can of grouchiness.

One last note: I think my landlord’s grandsons think I’m grouchy. They rang my doorbell yesterday while I was binge watching The Crown. I thought they were delivery people. I opened the door; the dog was barking; I wasn’t dressed; and they were speaking very quietly in German. I didn’t understand or even hear them very well, so I said I didn’t understand and closed the door.

In my defense, in Jettingen, I used to get visits all the time from all manner of people wanting to sell everything from many kilos of apples and potatoes to religion or charities. The visitors came in all shapes, sizes, and ages. I had not met my landlord’s grandchildren, so I didn’t know who they were.

They rang the bell again, and my landlord asked me if I wouldn’t mind fetching their ball, which had gone over the fence. I felt pretty bad, and I noticed that one of the boys was cowering under our front stoop. I got the ball and tossed it to my landlord. Then I noticed he’d left us a wheelbarrow full of firewood. Later, I spotted their ball in the backyard again and felt another pang of guilt. I guess the kids were too afraid to tell me the ball was back in my yard. I tossed it over the fence for them. Hope they find it.

I’m really not a bitch most of the time… I’m just on edge, as we all are. Hopefully, next year will be better.

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musings

I did it…

I wrote lyrics to a song called “Three Chords and the Truth”. But now I think maybe I want to change the melody. Maybe I might even make the song all mine, rather than just a parody of someone else’s song. For that, I’m going to need some more time and technique.

I learned a new guitar skill today. It’s a technique that involves the blues. Unfortunately, my hands are still too small and my fingers aren’t very flexible or dexterous yet. I’m still working on it. Learning to play guitar is very satisfying on many levels, although I’ve kind of been neglecting my vocals. Maybe I’ll work on those today, too. The more I work on music, the less time I have to sit and think about what’s wrong with the world.

Bill had to go into work again today, mainly because the Internet is still sucking pretty hard. It’s hard for both of us to work on the Net right now. I don’t know what’s going on with our ISP. Maybe they’re needing to do some upgrades. Anyway, we had a package waiting at the post office, so it’s just as well that he went in.

Not much else has happened today. I spent several hours washing the linens, took Arran for a walk, ran into a lady walking her horses, and did some writing on my travel blog. The writing and laundry took up the morning. I’m glad we went to the Eifel, although we probably aren’t interesting enough for most people to follow, especially in the midst of COVID-19. I’m finding that I don’t have much desire to go through the rigamarole required to visit a museum or some other indoor place, especially when not that many people seem to appreciate my efforts. For now, it’s probably better to blog mostly for myself. I do like to go back and read some of my memories, especially of many of the trips we’ve taken. I wish I were a blogger when we were in Germany the first time. We had some epic times when we were here from 2007-09.

I may take some time to do some music this afternoon… then try to finish my latest book so I can review it. Maybe I’ll think about where we can take our next long weekend, although I have a feeling we’ll be going to Stuttgart next, rather than a place we haven’t yet been. It’s way past time for us to see the dentist.

I guess the one thing I can mention is that SingSnap is about to launch a new Web site, since Adobe Flash is about to be obsolete. I’m not sure I’m going to like it. The Beta version is already available and I don’t like the layout much. People are also bitching about some policy changes that were made toward those who don’t choose to pay for a membership. It doesn’t affect me, since I am a paying member, although I have found that I’m kind of losing interest in the site. It could be because now I’m getting to the point at which I can accompany myself and maybe even play songs I never could before.

If anything good comes from a pandemic, it’s that I finally decided to pick up a guitar and learn how to play it. Now, I just need to learn how to play it well, so I rely less on karaoke and kind-hearted people to accompany me.

I do wonder, though… this is something that has crossed my mind a lot. Do people think it’s wrong to stay home? Do people think it’s wrong to stay home because of face mask requirements? Am I selfish for not going out and gamely supporting the economy? I don’t know. God help anyone who says anything anti-mask, though. Apparently, that’s what’s going to save humanity.

For the record… although I do comply with the mask requirements, I personally don’t think they do a lot of good. They make people feel better. Someone in RfM posted a rant about how they went to get ice cream. The girl who waited on them was wearing a mask and a face shield, but apparently neglected to wash her hands before serving ice cream or wear gloves. She touched her mask and her visor, prepared the ice cream, vanilla with almonds, and then “smooshed” it into the cup with her bare, unwashed hands.

The poster said nothing at the time, but was upset. S/he felt the ice cream was now contaminated. Maybe it was, although probably not by COVID-19, which I don’t think is a food borne pathogen… And, to be sure, it would not have been acceptable to “smoosh” the ice cream with bare hands even before the pandemic struck. But it just brought to mind the fact that a lot of people would not have noticed. They would have noticed her wearing the mask and the shield because it was obvious. But how many people actually watch when food handlers prepare food? That’s mostly why I’m not all that sold on the masks. Most people are simply not conscious of being scrupulous at all times. People get tired and careless, or they fall into old habits. The person who is dutifully wearing a mask might not have changed it in weeks. Or they might have been behind the counter picking their nose… You just don’t know.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for right now. Maybe I’ll be back if I get inspired, but I think I’d rather play guitar.

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humor, music

Some of my friends get me perfectly…

One of my friends from college shared this hilarious video with me, knowing that I would love it…

Someone commented that they’d never heard such filth coming out of Santa’s mouth…

It took some doing to figure out to whom I should credit this video. Looks like it was done by the guy who runs the rekording channel on YouTube. Chris Franklin wrote the lyrics. They are too funny. I think my favorite line is “it spreads faster than a hooker’s legs.”

As I was fucking around on YouTube, I heard him do another song… Check him out. He’s got chops!

Take a breath! Take two!

Just now, a brand new friend shared this with me…

I guess it’s obvious how profane and twisted I am!

Shit. Now I’m feeling inspired to write a song parody. Why not? It’s cloudy and we can’t go anywhere anyway. And music gets me in less trouble than rants do…

We are blessed to have plenty of toilet paper and wine… Bill made homemade ravioli last night. Maybe I’ll write about it on my other blog. Why not? Hope you all enjoy these numbers. If I find any more, I’ll add them to this post.

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Song parodies

“Sleepless Blues”

Here’s another song parody, written for my friend, Kim, who has insomnia. The melody for the song “Deacon Blues” popped in my head because it has that kind of languid, yet frustrated, boring mood to it. It seemed perfect for a song about insomnia. My lyrics are the result of about an hour’s worth of work, so sue me if they suck. I have nothing better to do. Don’t worry, I won’t quit my non-existent day job.

Sung to the tune of “Deacon Blues” by Steely Dan

Original lyrics by Donald Jay Fagen and Walter Carl Becker (scroll down for my reworked ones)

This is the day of the expanding man
That shape is my shade
There where I used to stand
It seems like only yesterday
I gazed through the glass
At ramblers, wild gamblers
That’s all in the past

You call me a fool
You say it’s a crazy scheme
This one’s for real
I already bought the dream
So useless to ask me why
Throw a kiss and say goodbye
I’ll make it this time
I’m ready to cross that fine line

Learn to work the saxophone
I play just what I feel
Drink Scotch whiskey all night long
And die behind the wheel
They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues

My back to the wall
A victim of laughing chance
This is for me
The essence of true romance
Sharing the things we know and love
With those of my kind
Libations
Sensations
That stagger the mind

I crawl like a viper
Through these suburban streets
Make love to these women
Languid and bittersweet
I rise when the sun goes down
Cover every game in town
A world of my own
I’ll make it my home sweet home

Learn to work the saxophone
I play just what I feel
Drink Scotch whiskey all night long
And die behind the wheel
They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues

This is the night of the expanding man
I take one last drag
As I approach the stand
I cried when I wrote this song
Sue me if I play too long
This brother is free
I’ll be what I want to be

I learned to work the saxophone
I play just what I feel
Drink Scotch whiskey all night long
And die behind the wheel
They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues

New lyrics… You can listen to me sing them, here.

This is a night I fear will never die

I toss and I turn

as moments are ticking by.

Seems like only last night

I drifted easily to sleep

Like a baby, and maybe

without counting sheep.

You call me alert

You say I should go to bed.

I’d like to, for real,

I would sleep like the dead.

So useless to close my eyes

Even as I realize

With that bright morning sun

I won’t want to rise and run.

Learn to work the slumber zone

My body just won’t obey

Drink warm milk and snuggle pillows

And lie awake anyway

They got a name for narcoleptics in the world

I want a name; I can’t snooze!

They call them sleepy, call them tired.

But I’ve got Sleepless Blues!

My back to the mattress

A victim of restlessness

This sucks a lot–

The essence of pointlessness.

Sharing the empty time

With no one else, cuz’ they’re in the void.

I’m cranky.

They’re skanky.

And I’m so annoyed.

I crawl like a baby

silently from the sheets

Tiptoe to the bathroom

and sit on the toilet seat

Pee again, and then softly flush

Quietly, the waters rush

It goes down the drain

Like this time I should rest my brain.

Learn to work the slumber zone

My body just won’t obey

Drink warm milk and snuggle pillows

And lie awake anyway

They got a name for narcoleptics in the world

I want a name; I can’t snooze!

They call them sleepy, call them tired.

But I’ve got Sleepless Blues!

This is the night I’ll never get to rest

I lie on my side, 

then turn over on my breasts

My eyelids droop and twitch,

Sue me if I act like a bitch.

I can’t fall asleep!

So I’m gonna be a creep!

Learn to work the slumber zone

My body just won’t obey

Drink warm milk and snuggle pillows

And stay awake anyway

They got a name for narcoleptics in the world

I want a name; I can’t snooze!

They call them sleepy, call them tired.

But I’ve got Sleepless Blues!


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