Friday, April 29, 2005

What's wrong with the Yahoo! News redesign

It's the juxtaposition of the "Most Popular" category with the "World" category. And so you get this:

Most Popular

'Soup Nazi' to Launch Takeout Chain AP - Fri Apr 29, 7:57 PM ET
School Mistakes Huge Burrito for a Weapon AP - Fri Apr 29, 4:08 PM ET
Genetic Mingling Mixes Human, Animal Cells AP - Fri Apr 29, 8:44 PM ET
'Mermaid' Baby Turns 1, Awaits Surgery AP - Fri Apr 29, 8:13 PM ET
Study Links Middle Age Obesity to Dementia AP - Fri Apr 29, 8:12 PM ET
Followed by this:

Insurgents Strike Across Iraq, Killing 50 AP - 2 hours, 53 minutes ago
Alleged Zarqawi Tape Threatens New Attacks AP - Fri Apr 29,10:03 PM ET
Putin to Help With Palestinian Security AP - Fri Apr 29,10:04 PM ET
Vietnam Fetes 30 Years Since War's End AP - 2 hours, 7 minutes ago
Italy, U.S. Disagree on Agent's Iraq Death AP - 2 hours, 57 minutes ago
I find it extraordinarily depressing that in the face of insurgent attacks, Palestinian security issues, and the like, the world is, in fact, focused on burritos of mass destruction and mermaid babies. I just really don't want to know what's popular. It's right up there with those USA Today public opinion polls that are always graphically displayed on their front page as pie charts or the like. I mean, I just don't want to know. Which existentialist said, "Hell is other people"? That's pretty much where I'm at with the general public most of the time.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Maybe it's better that way

Via After School Snack comes the news that constant emailing and text messaging result in a 10 point drop in IQ. Among the interesting findings was the discovery that women only decline 5 IQ points, compared to 15 for men, who appear to be not so good at multitasking.

The story puts the decline in perspective by reporting that missing a night's sleep yields a 10 point loss and smoking pot, a 4 point loss. I'm thinking were I not an information junky insomniac who smoked pot daily for years, I'd probably be so god damned smart I'd be unable to function in the world.

Something there is that does not love a wall

Okay, I haven't fallen off the face of the planet. I've been too busy and, frankly, a bit emotionally under the weather. I will spare everyone the details. You can read the memoir when it's written. My insight for the week: love is like crime--you need both motive and opportunity. Sigh.

And changing the subject...

Has everyone seen Heavy Trash's guerrilla art? I love it. They are installing viewing stations outside LA's gated communities (Brentwood, Park La Brea, etc.). I'm thinking this may call for a field trip; though god knows, they're probably gone by now.

Reuters has the story.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

There goes the neighborhood

Drivers in Pikesville, Maryland were disrupted this morning as a herd of buffalo meandered onto the road. If I was driving at seven in the morning and a bunch of buffalo wandered into the street, it would really mess with me. My first assumption would not be "oh, a herd of buffalo escaped from a nearby farm," it would be much more related to my own loose grip on reality.

Here are the buffalo, having been corralled. Extreme tennis, I'm thinking:

In other "real" news, it makes me very happy that Bush is getting continued flack on the rape of social security and the Bolton nomination. Though the Repubs' call for "bipartisanship" pisses me off more than I can say. It feels very much like calling a woman a "bitch" or a "cunt" because she objects to you grabbing her tit, you know? And in my present mood that's about the most in depth political commentary I can offer.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Happy Earth Day

From NASA's Visible Earth, we bring you proof of our progress in paving the planet. The pic below shows the extent we have managed to cover the Baltimore/Washington area with asphalt.

NASA explains:
These space-based maps of buildings and paved surfaces, such as roads and parking lots, which are impervious to water, can indicate where large amounts of storm water runs off. Concentrated runoff leads to erosion and elevated discharge of soil and chemicals into rivers, streams, and ground water.

The image above shows the extent of impervious surfaces in and around Washington and Baltimore. Red represents high concentrations of impervious surfaces. Blue represents moderate concentrations and green represents low concentrations of impervious surfaces.
If you're feeling too chipper today, visit the site and browse the gallery of smog, deforestation, and urbanization. Viva la apocalypse.


Of course, we have to have a Passover post since it is my favorite holiday. It's probably too late to order any of ChosenCouture's fine gear in time for seder tomorrow night, but it was worth sharing nonetheless.

And for your holiday entertainment, we bring you 50 cent doing the plagues and Jib Jab's hiphop homage to Matzah.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

What's in a name?

I'd be laughing too

Bush ordering lunch during the South Carolina leg of his social security tour


New CafePress merchandise. It's just wrong, I tell you.

The party of the financiers

Despite ongoing efforts by my friends and family to school me in the more sinister aspects of our government, I find at times I am still too naive to predict the level of venality. Take Bush's comment on the forthcoming bankruptcy laws for instance. This past weekend one of my friends was commenting that credit card companies would now be granting cards to more and more folks who probably shouldn't have them. While I am as disgusted as anyone over this latest "reform," I thought at the time that was perhaps a bit paranoid. And I read this from Bush:
These commonsense reforms will make the system stronger and better so that more Americans--especially lower-income Americans--have greater access to credit
Interpretation: Now that we've taken away their safety net, we can help scads of the have-nots further impoverish themselves. Sigh.

Okay, I'm going to hide from the world in my all-day meeting now.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Why I don't live in New York

It's too late to enter, but the pictures from Apartment Therapy's Smallest, Coolest Apartment Contest are pretty interesting. The rules: you have to live in NYC (any borough) and your place has to be smaller than 500 square feet.

Let me say if I had to share a 500 square foot place with another person, someone would end up in prison (or in plastic garbage bags stashed under bridges) would be a really bad thing....

(Link via Things Magazine)

Heroes of the day

Senators Hagel (Nebraska) and Voinovich (Ohio) for speaking up to delay the Bolton hearing today in the Foreign Relations Committee. I'll applaud any Republican who breaks out of his party's goosestep even for a moment.

True Majority has a petition against Bolton and a very brief media clip (Realmedia and Quicktime) that, for all its brevity I think pretty well captures why this man should not be Ambassador to the UN.

Really Bush's appointees are like some sort of parody aren't they? Ghengis Kahn as Attorney General, Simon Legree as Labor Secretary and so on...

All pope radio, all the time

So apparently all news in the world has ceased save the election of a new pope. This morning, on my way in to work, the entire airwaves had seemingly been hijacked by the Catholics and wanna be's. "New pope...(click) smoke...(click)...string the ballots together...(click)...vatican..."

I am clearly the only person on the planet who doesn't really care very much. I mean, it would have been nice to have a liberal pope, in the same sort of way it would be nice to have a benevolent dictator. Yeah, I'm oversimplifying. So sue me.

On a related note, it is reported that John Paul is finding the eternal reward a bit disappointing:
The soul of Pope John Paul, which entered heaven last week following a long illness, expressed confusion and disappointment Saturday, upon learning that the Celestial Kingdom of God to which the departed faithful ascend in the afterlife is significantly less luxurious than the Vatican's Papal Palace, in which the pope spent the past 26 years of his earthly life.

. . .

"Up here, everyone is equal," John Paul II said. "No one has to go through an elaborate bowing ritual when they greet me. And do you know how many times my ring has been kissed since I arrived? None. Up here, I'm mingling with tax collectors, fishermen, and whores. It's just going to take a little getting used to, is all."

Monday, April 18, 2005

Policy by Swift

As usual when I am so busy for several days that I lose track of the world, today when reading the news I had the sad realization that things did not magically improve while I was out of the loop. There's always a small part of me that expects to open the paper and be greeted with a giant "April Fools!" headline topping a story that says--just kidding; we haven't decided torture is okay, we don't really want old people to starve to death, we aren't really bending over all the way for the credit card companies, and so on. Of course, instead I got the news as you know it.

Among the articles from yesterday's paper that I am just reading today were one talking about logging as a possible solution to drought (because those pesky trees drink up so much of the water) and toll roads as a solution to freeway congestion (there was also a suggestion that employers who provide parking for free allow employees to "cash out" that benefit and a suggestion that we privatize public transportation).

Am I the only one who thinks this is an "old lady who swallowed a fly" kind of mentality here? Good god.

Happily beginning tomorrow I go back to a slavish existence for most of the rest of the week. I look forward to reading the newest modest proposals when I rejoin the human race at some point on Saturday. Yeesh.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Signs that I am more stressed out than I think

1. I locked myself out of my apartment last night while shuttling to and from the laundry room.

2. I dreamed that I went down on one knee, marriage proposal-style, to ask George Bush, "Will there ever be a time when we are not at war again?" To which he responded, what-me-worry grin in place, "Not while I'm president."


(As an aside, let me say, as someone in recovery from addiction, it was a real "oh how the mighty have fallen" moment last night when I had to pay someone to help me break into my own apartment.)

And I suppose that all leads me to explain that posting will be sparse for the next week or so. I have a weekend long work event, followed by a week that will have me in meetings most of the day. It's a full-on work period for me. I'll post when I can, but I'm not too optimistic.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Signs you live in a cultural wasteland

When the email from Borders highlighting local events is pro-mo-ing up-coming book signings by both Cheryl Ladd and Brooke Shields.

Let me say that reading Brooke Shields' story of her recovery from postpartum depression ranks right up there with sticking pins in my eyes for ways I am eager to spend my time.

It must be spring...

...because we have been much given to poetry posting here at NMTE lately. Here is one sent to me by a friend that I think is quite lovely.

Failing and Flying

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.

Jack Gilbert

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

It's not just for supremacists anymore

From the inestimable yelladog comes the link to Idaho's Resolution 29:

Be It Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Idaho:

WHEREAS, the State of Idaho recognizes the vision, talent and creativity of Jared and Jerusha Hess in the writing and production of "Napoleon Dynamite"; and

. . .

WHEREAS, the Preston High School administration and staff, particularly the cafeteria staff, have enjoyed notoriety and worldwide attention; and
WHEREAS, tater tots figure prominently in this film thus promoting Idaho's most famous export; and
WHEREAS, the friendship between Napoleon and Pedro has furthered multiethnic relationships; and
WHEREAS, Uncle Rico's football skills are a testament to Idaho athletics; and
WHEREAS, Napoleon's bicycle and Kip's skateboard promote better air quality and carpooling as alternatives to fuel-dependent methods of transportation; and
WHEREAS, Rico and Kip's Tupperware sales and Deb's keychains and glamour shots promote entrepreneurism and self-sufficiency in Idaho's small towns; and

. . .

WHEREAS, Napoleon's tetherball dexterity emphasizes the importance of physical education in Idaho public schools; and
WHEREAS, Tina the llama, the chickens with large talons, the 4-H milk cows, and the Honeymoon Stallion showcase Idaho's animal husbandry; and

. . .

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the members of the First Regular Session of the Fifty-eighth Idaho Legislature, the House of Representatives and the Senate concurring therein, that we commend Jared and Jerusha Hess and the City of Preston for showcasing the positive aspects of Idaho's youth, rural culture, education system, athletics, economic prosperity and diversity. . . .
While I have always been a bit frightened of places like Idaho, you've got to hand it to any legislature that applauds Napoleon Dynamite for featuring "chickens with large talons."

Happy Beckett's birthday

In honor of Samuel Beckett's birth 99 years ago today, I pass along Waiting for Godot in various modes:
Let us turn to the play, Waiting For Godot, which has an important message for us. Who is this Godot that these people are waiting for? Is it not clearly God? What this is play is showing us is that people who only wait for God, who do not welcome Him into their hearts, lead meaningless lives of quiet desperation.

Waiting For Godot is an essential parable of the class struggle. On one side we have the ultimate capitalist, Godot, remote, invisible, powerful, whose caprices dictate trivia in the lives of the working class. On the other hand we have representatives of the working class, alienated, leading meaningless lives at the behest and convenience of the Capitalist class. This play shows what happens when the working class does not unite.

Waiting For Godot is a rationalized dream scene which symbolically expresses the fundamental nature of separation anxiety. Off stage we have the absent parent, all powerful, loved and needed, but not present. On stage we have avatars of the essential child, neurotically cycling through different defense mechanisms.
. . .
I must be happy, he said, it is less pleasant than I should have thought.
–Malone Dies

They shoot kitty cats, don't they?

Falling into the category of gratitude fuel is the news that cat hunting may soon become legal in Wisconsin. True, here in California we may hunt feral pigs, but we leave the cats to the coyotes.

I lived in Wisconsin for more than ten years, and at no point did people stop saying, "You're not from here, are you?" And this was the scene in my former "hometown" yesterday:
At a rally in Madison on Monday, scores of cat fans gathered around protest signs. Some featured photographs of kittens and pleas written in blood-red ink: "Please don't kill me!"

At least a thousand men and women — some in camouflage shirts and hunter-orange ball caps, others with "Free the Cats!" T-shirts — crammed into chairs and squeezed onto the carpet inside a meeting hall at the Alliant Energy Center.

For more than an hour, the residents debated. Some people were so upset, they cried. Others left in disgust. Jim White, a hunter from Belleville, Wis., was simply flabbergasted.

"People shoot cats. It's just the way things are out here," said White, who attended the meeting wearing a T-shirt that read "I do what the voices in my tree stand tell me to do."

"Why is this coming as a surprise?" White asked.

Nearby, Carolyn Pagel fiddled with the fabric cat ears perched on the top of her head and listened in horror.

"We're talking about cats," said Pagel, 28. "They purr. They want love. How can you possibly want to hunt a kitty?"
"I do what the voices in my tree stand tell me to do..."

I'm just sayin'...I'm glad I moved.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Good browsing

From the Scout Project (where I worked once upon a time) I learned about Excitement Machine, which could clearly suck up too much of my time.

And from Excitement Machine, comes the Fried Dough Around the World site. I for one, have often noted the Jungian qualities of fried dough--that it's some sort of archetypical food that transcends culture and location. I even commented on it in a short story once that was set in Keenesburg, New Jersey and featured obese Keenesburger extras munching on zeppolis.

One of the best things about the Internet is its capacity to make you say "Gee, I'm not the only one who has thought about this." Of course, that's also one of the worst things about the Internet, depending on what the thought is, I suppose.

For want of a nail

There has been much I've wanted to write about today, but life has intervened. It looks to be an overly full week at work and elsewhere, so posting may be light.

Nonetheless, I needed to make time for the stand-out article from this weekend's news: Saturday's LA Times' piece on the pig hunt on Santa Cruz Island. Really. I am not even being sarcastic here. It's so Oryx and Crake or something that it's an amazing story.

It seems that a team of 10 hunters from New Zealand are being flown in to Santa Cruz Island this week to kill off the feral pigs. Because the Times requires registration, I'll quote most of the story here. It's worth reproducing:
From 1947 to 1971, DDT manufacturer Montrose Co. dumped large quantities of the chemical into the channel.

That weakened the eggs of the bald eagle, which nested in the Channel Islands, resulting in its disappearance from the chain.

Meanwhile, pigs were being raised on the ranches on the island from about the mid-1800s to the 1980s. Pigs that got loose became wild--and began reproducing.

The sins of the pigs are many.

They root through island vegetation, causing erosion and providing fertile ground for nonnative plants, such as fennel. Fennel has spread uncontrollably, in thick pastures smelling of black licorice, and now endangers nine species of native plants.

Pigs eat acorns, preventing the native oak trees from reproducing.

The pigs, moreover, dig up ancient Chumash Indian settlements and gravesites.

And the young pigs are prey for nonnative golden eagles, which found the pickings especially good on Santa Cruz Island. Well-fed and aggressive, golden eagles forced out the bald eagles.

The golden eagles came for the piglets, but they stayed for the island fox, an animal found nowhere in the world but the islands off Southern California. And because of the golden eagles, the island fox hovers near extinction. Last year, the animal, roughly the size of a small cat, was placed on the federal Endangered Species List.

Fixing the man-made chain of events has required a complicated series of ecological surgeries, according to environmentalists and National Parks Service officials.

And the last of these--eradicating the feral pigs--began this week with MacDonald's hunt.

Island foxes, meanwhile, are being bred and readied for release in the wild once the pigs meet their fate. The numbers of golden eagles have already been reduced, and bald eagles were reintroduced a few years ago.

The restoration costs--totaling $5 million--have come from proceeds from a lawsuit against the Montrose Co. that was settled in 2000.
Can you say "massive cluster fuck"?

I know I'm a crazy geek, but what a potent metaphor for that fatal wrong turn that leads to all of those unanticipated consequences. And I'll go so far as to say stories like this really go to prove my beta test theory I talk about below. "They came for the piglets, but they stayed for the island fox" indeed. I think I'm going to have to start using that as my own personal aphorism for some of the ill-advised choices I've made.

Planning for the future

Robert Friedman has a good one on living wills:
Like many of you, I have been compelled by recent events to prepare a more detailed advance directive dealing with end-of-life issues. Here's what mine says:

* In the event I lapse into a persistent vegetative state, I want medical authorities to resort to extraordinary means to prolong my hellish semiexistence. Fifteen years wouldn't be long enough for me.

* I want my wife and my parents to compound their misery by engaging in a bitter and protracted feud that depletes their emotions and their bank accounts.

* I want my wife to ruin the rest of her life by maintaining an interminable vigil at my bedside. I'd be really jealous if she waited less than a decade to start dating again or otherwise rebuilding a semblance of a normal life.
And so on. Pretty funny stuff.

Friday, April 08, 2005

When worlds collide

I need to say I find it pretty damned funny that you can place online bets on the next pope. Do you think those guys log on to check out their odds? (Thanks to eponymous for the tip.)

Generation WTF

So the other day I was driving somewhere--I can't remember where--listening to indy radio (103.1) and Suicidal Tendencies' "Institutionalized" came on, followed by the Buzzcocks' "Orgasm Addict." If you know me, you understand this is enough to make me believe that all of the forces of the universe are aligning just to please me. So I'm driving down the road rocking out to car karaoke and it occurs to me: "Gee, I'm a niche market."

I sort of forgot about the moment until last night when A called to give the latest report in the crisis news ticker that is her life. She explained that she's ready for anything because she went out and bought a case of Pellegrino and case of Red Bull yesterday, and that reminded me.

Here's the thing--all of my life I had obscure-ish tastes. (You know when people seriously ask you if you're undergoing cancer treatment because of your hairstyle that you have an obscure aesthetic.) I cut my own hair for a long time because only the supremely expensive salons would do anything like what I wanted--"short" in my formative years meant "like Dorothy Hamill." I had to make my own band tee-shirts (not that any self-respecting DIY-er would buy a band tee-shirt anyway). My apartment is largely furnished with 50s furniture picked up curbside and at St. Vinnies before they started calling it "mid-century modern." It's like that.

It wasn't until the other day that I realized capitalism has finally caught up with us. And the great thing about getting older is that I'm totally pleased by that now. If I have to live in the world of capitalism, I'm at least happy that it's working for me.

A has dubbed us "generation WTF," and I'm willing to go with that. Let's hear it for commodifying our desires!

James Bond meets the Flying Nun

The Iranian policewomen's graduation ceremony. You must watch this. Go right now. It's clip of the month to be sure. Thanks to Jo for the link.

Fish porn

Via Wendy comes the news that it's rutting season for fish:
Spawning runs typically begin with single fish (usually males) swimming in with a wave and occasionally stranding themselves on the beach. Gradually, more and more fish come in with the waves and by swimming against the outflowing wave strand themselves until the beach is covered by a blanket of grunion. . . .

Females ride a far reaching wave onto the beach accompanied by as many as eight males. If no males are present,a female will return to the ocean with the outflowing wave. In the presence of males, she swims as far up on the beach as possible and literally drills herself into the sand as the wave recedes. This is accomplished by arching her body with the head up, and at the same time vigorously wriggling her tail back and forth. As her tail sinks into the semifluid sand, she twists her body and drills herself downward until she is buried up to the pectoral fins. Occasionally she may bury herself completely. The male (or males) curves around her as he lies on top of the sand, with his vent close to or touching her body. The female continues to twist, emitting her eggs 2 or 3 inches beneath the surface of the sand. Males discharge their milt onto the sand near the female and then immediately start to wriggle towards the water. The milt flows down the body of the female and fertilizes the eggs. The female then frees herself from the sand with a violent jerking motion and returns to the sea with the next wave to reach her.
If you live in So. Cal., the Department of Fish and Game have the schedule for the fish fuck fest. God bless my weird friends.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Are you now, or have you ever been . . .

. . . a patriot?

As you know if you follow the news, politicians are already stumping to renew the lease on our burgeoning fascism. Which is to say that 15 provisions of the Patriot Act are due for renewal in December. FBI director Robert Mueller is, methinks, more than a bit ominous in his explanation:
"Experience has taught the FBI that there are no neat dividing lines that distinguish criminal, terrorist and foreign intelligence activity," Mueller said in his prepared testimony.

He also asked Congress to expand the FBI's administrative subpoena powers, which allow the bureau to obtain records without approval or a judge or grand jury.
What do you suppose that means--the dividing line between terrorism and foreign intelligence is not clear? I can think of no good action that statement could support in this administration.

In the meantime, sneak and peek searches have doubled in the past two years or so. Those are the searches which take place without notifying the person whose underwear drawer has been rifled through for some delayed period of time after the intrusion. And those searches (of course) are taking place for suspected crimes that far exceed the fears of terrorism that purportedly justified the Patriot Act's rollback of our constitutional liberties:
The Justice Department said yesterday that the power was a valuable law enforcement tool for a "wide spectrum of criminal investigations, including those involving terrorism and drugs." But the American Civil Liberties Union said the release "confirms our worst fears" that the use of the law is expanding beyond terrorism investigations, and called for greater oversight.

The Senate Judiciary Committee today intends to question Gonzales and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III about how the Justice Department has been using its Patriot Act powers, setting the stage for a year of political debate over whether to make the Patriot Act permanent or to scale it back.
Me? I'm keeping my passport updated.

In line to see the corpse

The body can feed the body only.

The Constitution is so last century

Matt at Democrappy is sounding the alarm about the latest frightening piece of proposed legislation to declare the bill of rights obsolete. The astonishingly titled "Constitution Restoration Act" both overturns the First Amendment's separation of church and state and disempowers the court from intervening. Here is a passage Matt quotes:
[T]he Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an entity of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer or agent of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official or personal capacity), concerning that entity's, officer's, or agent's acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.
And part of his commentary:
Never mind that the CRA amends existing judicial review laws in a way never intended by the Founding Fathers; or that it does irreparable injury to separation of powers; or that it aims to allow precisely the kind of endorsement of religion by government against which this country was founded.

Those issues, important though they may be, are dwarfed by the fact that the CRA explicitly authorizes government officials to violate the law by preventing citizens from availing themselves of the judiciary - the one mechanism they have to protect them from tyranny of the majority.

More than religiosity run amok, more than a sodomizing of the constitution with a rusty word processor, the CRA is organized thuggery of precisely the sort that characterizes the legislative agenda of every fascist state.
Go read the rest of the post for more information. And contact your representatives to let them know you're a fan of Constitutional democracy.

Monday, April 04, 2005


So K and I went to the Merwin reading at the Central Library tonight. It was really wonderful. So here are a couple of the poems he read. Maybe tomorrow I will move off the poetry jag and back to the usual programming of outrage and dismay.

W. S. Merwin

My friend says I was not a good son
you understand
I say yes I understand

he says I did not go
to see my parents very often you know
and I say yes I know

even when I was living in the same city he says
maybe I would go there once
a month or maybe even less
I say oh yes

he says the last time I went to see my father
I say the last time I saw my father

he says the last time I saw my father
he was asking me about my life
how I was making out and he
went into the next room
to get something to give me

oh I say
feeling again the cold
of my father's hand the last time
he says and my father turned
in the doorway and saw me
look at my wristwatch and he
said you know I would like you to stay
and talk with me

oh yes I say

but if you are busy he said
I don't want you to feel that you
have to
just because I'm here

I say nothing

he says my father
said maybe
you have important work you are doing
or maybe you should be seeing
somebody I don't want to keep you

I look out the window
my friend is older than I am
he says and I told my father it was so
and I got up and left him then
you know

though there was nowhere I had to go
and nothing I had to do

Waves in August

There is a war in the distance
with the distance growing smaller
the field glasses lying at hand
are for keeping it far away

I thought I was getting better
about that returning childish
wish to be living somewhere else
that I knew was impossible
and now I find myself wishing
to be here to be alive here
it is impossible enough
to still be the wish of a child

in youth I hid a boat under
the bushes beside the water
knowing I would want it later
and come back and would find it there
someone else took it and left me
instead the sound of the water
with its whisper of vertigo

terror reassurance an old
old sadness it would seem we knew
enough always about parting
but we have to go on learning
as long as there is anything

Slow news day

I refuse to post anything about the dead pope's body. So there. I'm glad he's dead. End of story.

In other news, the Pulitzers have been announced. The LA Times won in the public service category for their series on King/Drew hospital. Marilynne Robinson's Gilead won her the fiction prize. I've had that on my to-read list for some time. Housekeeping is one of my favorite novels ever. Ted Kooser's Delights and Shadows won for poetry. I admit I didn't know Kooser until he was made Laureate, but then we did a little research, and I like his work a lot.


What once was meant to be a statement—
a dripping dagger held in the fist
of a shuddering heart—is now just a bruise
on a bony old shoulder, the spot
where vanity once punched him hard
and the ache lingered on. He looks like
someone you had to reckon with,
strong as a stallion, fast and ornery,
but on this chilly morning, as he walks
between the tables at a yard sale
with the sleeves of his tight black T-shirt
rolled up to show us who he was,
he is only another old man, picking up
broken tools and putting them back,
his heart gone soft and blue with stories.

from Delights & Shadows, Copper Canyon Press, Port Townsend, WA 2004

Passover approacheth

It's early I know, but I got this today, and had to share it. Happy impending Passover to all.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Blah blah blah

Pope pope pope terri schiavo terri schiavo terri schiavo michael jackson michael jackson

God help me I just don't care right now. It's a beautiful day in LA and I am actively procrastinating. Generally, I procrastinate by cleaning my apartment, playing computer solitaire, and doing other silly inane things that take up all of my time, and feeling guilty the whole while. It's a really dumb way to be because not only does the writing not get done but I don't really enjoy anything else at the same time. This week has been filled with more active procrastination, which means I have had some fine meals, gone to the Rauschenberg exhibit at LACMA (which I highly recommend), done some of my volunteer stuff, taken some scenic drives and am going to Santa Monica tonight. The article is...ahem... gestating you could say. There will be a serious piper's bill for this dance, but wtf.

Rauschenberg's No.4 Los Angeles (1981) [From Art Gallery of New South Wales]

Monday night is WS Merwin night, which promises to be great. I am hoping while I am at the reading, the shoemaker's elves will come and finish my article.

It could happen, right?

Friday, April 01, 2005

What's on my bulletin board

It occurred to me today that the inspirational quotes on my bulletin board may, in fact, be crossing the line from "eclectic" into "borderline personality disorder." In addition to the other detritus up there (photos, "grow-a-gruesome severed limb," souvenirs...), these are the quotes that have found their way into the inspirational-enough-that-they-make-the-board category:

"The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy." Albert Camus

"Spiritual work is not easy. It means the willingness to surrender feelings that seem, while we're in them, like our defense against a greater pain. It means we surrender to God our perceptions of all things." Marianne Williamson

"So many deeds cry out to be done,
And always urgently,
The world rolls on,
Time presses,
Ten thousand years are too long.
Seize the day, seize the hour!

The Four Seas are rising, clouds and waters raging.
The Five Continents are rocking, wind and thunder roaring.
Away with all pests!
Our force is irresistible." Mao Tse-tung

"As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has--or ever will have--something inside us that is unique to all time. It's our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression." Mister Rogers

It just struck me today that Camus, Marianne Williamson, Mao, and Mister Rogers were a really bizarre combination of folks to be overlooking my desk every day. For whatever that's worth.

Get one quick before they're all gone!

The DSCC has pocket sized copies of the Constitution you can download that are pretty nifty. I know, I'm a geek--I can't help myself.

People are so weird

Really. I fear to imagine what fate will befall the "plastinated" fetus stolen from the "Body Worlds" exhibit at the California Science Center this weekend. Postmodern nativity scene or what?

Friday Lego blogging

While we're on the subject of religion...

Admittedly, this is not a new site, but I was inspired in a Lego theme today. If you're unfamiliar with the Brick Testament, I offer it to you as a Friday treat. It is one of my favorite sites ever.

And for you godless Lego enthusiasts, I offer the social theorists site, which admittedly is not nearly the same celebration of unbridled compulsive energy nor is it as entertaining as the trading cards, but it's all about Lego right now, so...

(As an aside, one of the most delightful things about the web, in my book, is the Six Degrees of Michael Berube kind of aspect of it. Which is to say, I'm in on the same email thread today as those fine Minnesotans at After School Snack.)

Finally, some good news for a change

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out, that's what I'm saying.