Sunday, April 30, 2006

Good, interesting, basic post on the physical basis of our economy--and, really, our world.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Funniest post ever.

Help. Cannot stop laughing, I've bruised my forehead against my desk edge and choked on my own spit. And I'm not even sure why.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The crony fairy!

"I guess it's impossible to select qualified people to run FEMA; if you try, the Crony Fairy will spirit them away and replace them with Michael Brown."

Now it's my turn. I'm all "Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita" today . . . biblical-numerically, that is, not spiritually. At least, I don't think.

(By which I mean I'm 35, and fairly happy.)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A very well-mannered article on the art of the poetic insult through the ages.


My appetite for fluff has crossed over to movies--watched Gladiator last night, kind of disappointing. What could have been some thrilling fight scenes became, under the spastically intrusive hand of Ridley Scott's fussily self-congratulatory directing, a string of scenes in the spirit of hundreds of football replays (or maybe even the frustrated desire to see those not-so-exciting replays in fast-forward). Clue to directors: if a person is stabbing another person to death in an arena, or in some Belgian forest somewhere, it is already exciting--trust the line, so to speak, don't color it out of existence or overembroider it. Oh, well. Still not so bad, I didn't even mind the overacting pulled out of J. Phoenix (he overacted well enough, I guess you could say, and he did do an impressively convincing borderline psychotic). &: I'm probably alone in this, but I found the ending very moving. Curious modern/classical crossover & imdb fact: did you know that Roman gladiators actually wore product placements into the ring? [update: to be fair, the final battle was pretty gripping, not at all prey to the directorial egotism I described above.]

Also watched the first Conan movie a few nights ago; now that movie is both terrible, and one of the best. The pacing can seem so slow, but once you get into the rhythm, and the score, you (well, I) realize it moves like an opera, only without any songs. Everything is very strongly what it feels, very purely that. I don't think there's one moment of ambiguous characterization in the whole movie. Very satisfying, by the end: perfect, in its own way. And talk about a fight scene--the one where the three thieves break into Thulsa Doom's bizarre revels to rescue the princess is perfect. And though Arnold looks just right, he doesn't move as gracefully as a Conan should; but that just adds to the excitement, he looks like he really could get whacked.

Whacked . . . tonight, we watch this week's episode of the Sopranos, taped for us by my cable-receiving brother-in-law. On deck for the weekend? Maybe Circle of Iron.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

All day it's been nagging me . . . it's somebody's birthday. Who is it? Who is it? I've been mildly uneasy. Is it N--'s, an old friend from college? No, that was last week. And then I remembered . . . (see post below, i.e. previous post)


The memorial in Westminster Abbey. The scroll his left hand points to reads:

"The Cloud capt Tow'rs, The Gorgeous Palaces, The Solemn Temples,
The Great Globe itself, Yea all which it Inherit, Shall Dissolve;
And like the baseless Fabrick of a Vision, Leave not a wreck behind. " Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Dream: I was talking to a (nonblogger) poet about a blogger (poet), explaining "He lets his terms dictate the sense of his argument--it's like watching marbles roll around on a table."


Pear trees. Posted by Picasa


Pear trees. Posted by Picasa


I just can't stop! It's the sunhat made me do it. Posted by Picasa

"Bein' the president is hard work . . . "

If anyone has any of the unreported juicy details related to this debacle, please backchannel; I'm dying of curiosity.


I think you can see how similar (yet different) she is to her brother. There are days where she looks just like he did as a baby. This photo is from when he was ten months (Miami Beach). Posted by Picasa


Eight months old. She has two teeth, so you can't let her gnaw indiscriminately on your finger anymore--her brother calls her "the little piranha." Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Cogent post from Jordan Davis.

J- & I've been watching "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" every day for around a week now, after I showed him the "Black Knight" clip from youtube (you can watch it yourself at the bottom of this post, if you don't have it embedded on permaplay in some deep recess of your cranium already). He loves it, and there's nothing like a 6-yr. old telling you that your mother was a hamster etc etc over and over to get your teeth grinding under your smile. I thought it was pretty precocious of him, and all, and I'm running over what I can and can't show him (most of Meaning of Life is out for a few years, except for Mr. Creosote and I suppose the tiger skit; but Life of Brian should be ok). Then over the weekend he was at his friend's house, and her mother calls and asks "is it ok if J- watches "The Holy Grail"?" "Sure," I say, thinking J- suggested it, "should I drop it by?" "Oh no, we have it. I just wanted to check if there're any scenes you wanted fast-forwarded." "Nah," I said, "the Castle Anthrax scene more or less goes over his head. Are you going to fast-forward it for Minnow?" "Oh, we do, but I guess we won't this time." "Minnow likes it? Did Jonah tell her about it?" "Nah, she was at Gretta's and watched it with her around a week ago, and since then, that's all she'll watch." I was flabbergasted, but I guess a bunch of parents who got turned on to Monty Python in their early awkward teens now have companions of the apparently-appropriate age to watch it with, so we are. And now there's a band of little people tromping around during recess across town yelling "Blue . . . no, yellow. Aaaaggghhhhh!" How strange.

(Aside: I found 9th grade english so minddeadly I spent the year in the back row with a friend reciting entire Python movies line for line back and forth. This was because I disliked my 8th grade english teacher so much, and she was going to be my 9th grade english teacher as well, so I opted out of honors english to avoid her. She used to give letter grades on our stories and poems, accompanied by personally judgemental and belittling comments . . . I have had the chance to get to know her as an adult, oddly enough, and she is a perfectly nice person from this side of the power divide.)

Anyway, watching this movie is a better critique of the Bush Administration than any else I've seen. And, along those lines, probably a better and more honest appraisal of how most history gets made than most more serious attempts at the subject. Coconuts and self-deceptive logic underpins it all, urges of ego, myth, self-representation, all smoke-and-mirrors (not that there's smoke and mirrors in the movie, I'm just using a cliche). Just imagine Rumsfeld's or Cheney's face under that black helmet . . . unfortunately, the Democrats aren't Graham Chapman, they're Brave Sir Robin. Also unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any paddywagon at the end of the movie.

Umm, the embedded html isn't working, so the link is here.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Good lord. David Byrne has a blog. And it's a good one.

Monday, April 17, 2006

My "My Lead Hat" is this week's poem in/at Realpoetik.

(I wrote this poem before there was a book called "Petroleum Hat," or a chapbook called "Sex Hat." Hats just must've been in the air, some time of mutual genesis (sic).)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I think it's very important when writing poetry to write about those things people get enthusiastic about without giving into/relying on simple enthusiasm, to maintain a position of . . . sobriety maybe, but a sobriety Rimbaud or Keats would know perhaps by its antonym. It's taken me this long to see that's what Yeats meant when he said he wanted to write "one poem maybe as cold/and passionate as the dawn." Or Ashbery "accepting everything, taking nothing." Think for example of Dante in his "Vita Nova," that mixture of ardor and clinical observation of everything, including the experience of observing said ardor; an ardor for that experience which feeds on its own submission/unsubmission to itself.

Sidewise relevant (because finding it brought to mind unexpectedly Yeats, and then the above sequence of thought), the translation of verse 71 in my last post was on a piece of paper in my paper mountain, I think it was from ~ a year ago. On the back was this poem:


One rose, darker and redder than any,
from whose base night comes,
I break my minds
I cradle you by your hips,
your head hangs as if one questioning,
one hundred years has past.
Soil you need, I will be your soil,
you will be your soil.
Bloom from my chest.

I didn't know when I wrote it I had Yeats' rosicrucian poems in mind. Funny how that works. Anyway, that's the sort of poem I think, even as I'm writing it, no-one beyond my self would be interested in (not that it necessarily keeps to the qualities I advocated in the beginning of the post). I keep them around anyway.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Trying to sort out Lao Tzu can be tricky, even in Chinese I understand. So I look at different translations (this place helps, though it is kind of overwhelming) and have an edition which gives a word-by word (ideogram-by-ideogram) breakdown of possible translations. And of course my meditation invests my sense of meaning strongly.

So here's how I suss out verse 71:

Knowing unknowing is health, while
not knowing unknowing is sickness.

Sicken your sickness, and you will grow well;
Wisdom is to live healthy, cultivating no sickness, and therefore enduring none.

Here's that website's 29. I took the above path through this passage because it follows what I understand of the Daoist view of health: that sickness only arrives when one is depleted of good qi, and the maintenance of good qi is most surely dependent on that basic good meditation of mindlessness which allows good qi to flow. That an unhealthy mind inevitably eventually results in unhealthy qi flow lets all the levels of metaphysical understanding the various translations I linked to above work fine. And is the sense, I think, behind what is, in my try, the fourth line of the verse.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ok, a caveat before the link: I'm not linking because I think the scenario described is likely, or even anything other than barely plausible . But Billmon (the writer) has, in his past writings, shown himself to have an uncomfortable (for him, I imagine, that is) intimacy with the way those in power think. So I link to it as something worth reading for what it is, and not as a "sky is falling!" exclamation. Besides, the guy writes so infrequently now, it's kind of an event itself.


Anyway, yeesh. I haven't thought about things like "roentgens" in a while, not even in this post-shoebomber world, not since I was a kid and used to be so freaked out about the possibility of nuclear war that every nighttime backfire had me thinking it was The End. Remember that?

Another anyway: here's something from Gabriel Gudding worth reading, probably more worth reading, since it involves something you can control, and understand, yourself: link.

Check out this great poem by Paul Hoover from the new issue of the Laurel Review.


Writing's an aid to memory,
memory's an aid to thinking,
and thinking is near the soul,

where the grassy riverbank
makes the water look green,
and the "scent" of one haiku

drifts toward the next one,
a meditation on rushing water
that makes distance fearless,

distance which gives us names
like Euphoria and Wisdom,
names that travel the length of a sentence

before they find the falls.
Knee-deep at its source,
we set the river dreaming

toward its final destination
where the wind from three heavens
smells like princess chicken,

the good kind, from Yang's.
As it awaits the cooking pot,
a fish stares at the ceiling

with its eye of milk and tinsel.
Soon it will sing a song
as rich as Chinese silk.

Once it was part of the river,
river that comes from the distance
and returns there also.

While the rest of us carry on
the great labor of thinking,
children do all the cooking,

their voices in the fire.
It's all connected somehow,
like a net that's full of holes.

How thick the water's green--
double green, the glassy river
and its mind-tossed banks.

(After Chinese Yueh-Fu ballads)

Maxine Chernoff's and Josh Kryah's are especially good too. I have one in there too, one I feel very humble about just now.

Monday, April 10, 2006

I really feel odd. I haven't written this little in, I don't know, ever? Over the past months or so just reading lots of old cheesy sf/s&s/fantasy novels. I can't abide much serious literature--I've been picking up novels--'Oliver Twist', say, or 'The Life of Michael K.' by Coetzee--and setting them down at the point I feel the manipulation the author is offering is just overwhelming, bordering on abusive (for the Dickens, for example, just when Oliver runs out to pay the bookman his 30-odd pounds.) And poetry, after a few lines, I lose interest, though not always for the same reasons as the fiction. History seems to offer me solace.

The only poet I've enjoyed reading for any length of time in this frame of mind has been Ashbery, (he feels so clean and straightforward in a way no one else bothers to be, is how it seems to me now, go figure), and the only prose writer whose books I've finished has been Naipaul, the only one who hasn't given me that awful manipulation feeling. An artist's medium should be his words, in collaboration with the (attentive) reader, and not the reader's assumed and fatuous submission to the writer's construction. Naipaul, clear-eyed, seems not to forget that.

As far as genre-fiction goes, I'm just sucking 'em down. There's one I wanted to discuss a little: I was recommended the "His Dark Materials" trilogy by Philip Pullman. Umm, Jonah just woke up (home sick with a stomach bug), I'll finish the Pullman pan later.


Much seems to be made by Pullman of reversing the usual order of things: in the first book, the protagonist runs from the gentility of her mother, who heads a governmental group which kidnaps and psychically mutilates children in the name of religion, into the safety of righteous gypsies, with whom she sets out to rescue said children. For example. Eventually the whole multiverse becomes embroiled in a followup to the original rebellion of the Angels (see Milton), everything falling out on nice gnostic lines (i.e. the entity called "god" or, in case you missed Pullman's point, "The Authority" is not the creator but instead the first created to gain self-consciousness, and Lucifer et al. are the good guys, fighting to free all souls from the deadening dungeon of . . . ). But for all that Pullman says, following Blake's famous pronouncement on Milton, he is "of Satan's party and knows it," he ain't. This guy (or, at least, to be fair, this series) wouldn't know (perceptual) free will if it bit his toes off. There's more of Milton's majesty and poetry in one (nearly ^any^ one) of say C.S. Lewis's Narnia pages than in the best of the "His Dark Materials" series. A deadening approach to self-revelation is all it adds up to. Vague spirituality; consider the way Lewis represents the approach of a certain spiritual clarity towards the end of "Dawn Treader," when the sea becomes clear all the way to the bottom, fathoms deep, and the water tastes sweet, and the sun becomes intensely bright, as do the travelers' faces. As a child I read that and was wholly, completely taken by the physical description, in a physical way and not ideational. Now I read it and know what sort of metaphysic he's at, and they address, add to each other. One is the other. There's absolutely none of that in Pullman that isn't obnoxiously ham-handed; and almost always at odds with its surface 'message' is the undertone of a consciousness which believes power defines its own morality. Freedom seems to come down to the right to happily gather some metaphysical particles suspiciously like the 'mitichloridans' (sic) from (ye gods, am I really referencing?) "The Phantom Menace."

If you're still reading let me say I found this series, by the end, psychically revolting. I at least half-read such genre-fiction books now to tell the stories to Jonah, he loves hearing me relay them even more than having them read to him at this point. These three I won't bother with. Too bad.

Friday, April 07, 2006

I bought some offal from the local organic farm I buy meat from--some lamb kidneys, heart, and liver. I am marinating the heart now, sliced into strips. I can honestly say I have never seen anything so beautiful. The usual conflict of emotions, of course, behind my eyes, but the thing itself there is humblingly beautiful in its composed and familiar perfection. Humbling because it's familiar.

The kidneys were astounding too, but too intense. They smelt like wet sheep in a barn full of peed-on hay during a wet spring rain, even after the soaking in water-and-vinegar. When I ate my one bite, they were like chopped liver in taste (a taste I've always liked) and texture, but behind the taste was a smell--as if I were smelling with my tongue-back, and my throat--as described above. I just couldn't eat it. "A fine tang of faintly-scented urine" indeed! Nothing faint about it. But Lexie the dog gobbled it up. This was two days ago, and she hasn't taken her pleading-for-more eyes off me since.

Thursday, April 06, 2006



What could explain
but the obvious
my words
the obvious obviates
not explained things

but the explanation
shines it thinks
in its own daily arc
the shadows too are a sort of heliotrope though
hope for less

Monday, April 03, 2006

Sentiments like "Approaching this work, possibly any work, with an air of judgment ultimately will tell you so very little about what is going on when there is so much more to be gained by not doing so, by reading through that old nagging sense, getting beyond it to see what the poet was sensing, was after," where Silliman betrays his conscious reactive programmatics for the true and personal thoughtfulness which makes him such a good, and interesting, reader, make me happy. (The manner in which the 'programmatics' are a result of his goodly reading (or how I surmise the connection) is interesting and probably worth a blogpost, but not today.)

And this "In contrast, I think, to how a previous generation [saw the war in Vietnam], we often want to see the war in Iraq as somehow continuous with a long history of conquest and not, as would be equally possible, an interruption of a peaceful democratic project," from Rhubarb is Susan, is astute, and seems accurate to me.

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