John Malkovich Playing the Harp

America Amtrak Train
A picture of a train to help set the scene.

I was once on a train from Salt Lake City to Denver and after midnight John Malkovich started playing a harp in the lounge car. Okay, it wasn’t actually John Malkovich but when he spoke the likeness was uncanny. And you can just imagine John Malkovich chilling out playing the harp, can’t you? He has that feel about him.

I didn’t tend to hang out much in the lounge car on those Amtrak trains. With hectic couchsurfing schedules in the cities, my time spent on trains was mainly used for journal writing. But when the far-too-cheerful conductor announced that “we have a passenger offering something special in the lounge car”, I couldn’t resist checking it out.

I’d never seen a harp before. I thought they were mythical instruments only played by angels sitting on clouds in cartoons. It was a lot bigger than I was expecting. I thought you could, like, hold them in your hand or something, like an awkward guitar, but they’re way too big for that. They have to be set up on the floor and then you sit behind them to play. And you probably have to have a beard too, which John Malkovich did.

He sang too. Songs of his own creation, in fact. Well, I suppose they might’ve been covers straight off Now That’s What I Call Harp Music, but I wouldn’t know. It’s the kind of music that only suits the night. If he’d been there at three in the afternoon, eating a Twix in between songs, I’d have thought “what the fuck is this shit?” and wandered off.

If I’m allowed an annoying brag moment, I could compare the haunting sound of that harp player with the chanting of the tribe elder (politically incorrect term alert) while I was volunteering in the Amazon Rainforest back in 2009. Both made me feel very lucky that I’d happened by circumstance into something so beautiful words couldn’t describe– oh wait, they can (“frisson” for the lazy). Damn linguists suck all the fun out of everything.

Now after that quick brag, you can laugh at me because I don’t have photos of the tribesman because I dropped my SD card into a river, but it did happen, I swear! In place of an old man’s face hunkered behind candlelight in a wooden hut in the Amazon Rainforest, here’s a picture of my cat:

Black Cat on a Chair


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Yolanda Joy says:

    Haha tribe elder or cat… It’s all the same to me!


  2. Hilarious as usual. You need to take another train ride soon so you will have time to journal more. Or is journaling different than blogging? Anyway, I look forward to your next story.


  3. I guess a picture of a cat is as good. It is a fluffy cat.


  4. Hi,
    I have nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger award because you are very inspiring.
    If you would like to participate, you are asked to:
     Display the award logo.
     Thank the person that nominated you and link back to them in your post.
     State 7 interesting things about yourself.
     Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
     Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.
    S. Harry Zade,


  5. Bron says:

    The announcement the conductor made is really quite sweet.


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