Monday, March 31, 2008

"Snow, Aldo" and Sparrow for President

"Snow, Aldo" by Kate DiCamillo

Snow, Aldo

Once, I was in New York,
in Central Park, and I saw
an old man in a black overcoat walking
a black dog. This was springtime
and the trees were still
bare and the sky was
gray and low and it began, suddenly,
to snow:
big fat flakes
that twirled and landed on the
black of the man's overcoat and
the black dog's fur. The dog
lifted his face and stared
up at the sky. The man looked
up, too. "Snow, Aldo," he said to the dog,
"snow." And he laughed.
The dog looked
at him and wagged his tail.


It's time for a brief intermission before continuing on with the last stanza. Feel free to stretch your legs, get a snack or a drink, go to the bathroom, but I must advise you, there will not be a gentle gong or blinking lights to let you know when to return. You can scroll down to get an idea of how many words are involved, gauge your time that way. Better yet, why not simply read along. They'll be plenty of time for intermission-like activity after the poem concludes.

I am overwhelmed by this part of the poem -

"Snow, Aldo," he said to the dog, "snow." And he laughed. The dog looked at him and wagged his tail."

It pulls at my heart and I want to savour it for a bit and allow you to do the same. I know it's not my poem and I have no right to stop it and intersperse a bunch of words, when the poet continued on with it. I'm trying to make sense of the whole concept of words and art and rights and the like. We all use words, in fact we use the same words as one another all the time, unless, of course, we make up fake words such as lkjes; and qopiee and vbiue-jop. (There is a writer who has been using her own made-up language for years but I can't remember her name at the moment.) We can surely protect against someone messing with our poems if we write in faux words but, who's going to understand them and, come to think of it, there's no telling if someone takes a shine to our pretend words and uses them, or intersperses other words amongst them. I suspect Sparrow wouldn't mind if that happened with is words.

We take excerpts from essays and novels and we play stanzas from sonatas, but stopping a poem in the middle is kind of like stopping a concert and having the intermission between the second and third movements. It's just not done. It would probably be okay if owned this poem, which I don't, and I wouldn't own it even if I'd bought the book that it's in, anymore than I would own a recording of music that I bought on CD. But if I purchased a painting, which I've been known to do, I could alter it in any way I wish. I could paint over it with Sharpies or whipped cream or food coloring, I could smear it with hummus or staple photographs and shoelaces to it, which I wouldn't of course, because when I purchase a painting I do so because I genuinely love it and wouldn't want to alter it in any way.

Sparrow wrote a poem for sale once. It was in The Sun magazine and if I remember correctly, it was priced at a dollar. I suppose if I'd sent him a dollar as he suggested in the poem as some actually did, then I would own it and could alter it in any way I wish, but knowing how a feel about Sparrow's poems I undoubtedly wouldn't touch it.

According to The Sun, Sparrow "is running for president of the United States for the fifth time (on the Sudoku-for-All Party ticket) and is the only candidate to support a maximum wage." His latest book is called America: A Prophecy (Soft Skull Press). He writes about his presidency in his book Republican Like Me, although I'll have to admit to never having read it. Perhaps you could read it and report back to me. You can see one of his Stump Speeches here.

I'm wondering if I could be his running mate. I think I would bring a lot to the ticket. I know how to make flan and bagels and my nickname as a child was Poodlejumper, shortened to Poodle, sometimes Pood. I think it's important when running for President that one has a nickname. Look at Ike and W, for example. Sparrow and Poodle. A winning team. If I were his running mate maybe he'd give me a poem or two. I know he published one in The Sun several years ago titled "All My Previous Poems" in which he wrote, if I remember correctly, that this poem will replace all of his previous poems. Perhaps he'd be willing to give me some of those. I could then change them (or not) to my heart's content.

As I mentioned, it is not my intent to change "Snow, Aldo." As I said, I want to savour it because it's lovely and

"Snow, Aldo," he said to the dog, "snow."

is my favorite line and it almost breaks my heart. I hope you're rested after this brief intermission. If you've chosen to stretch your legs, go to the bathroom and get a drink you haven't missed much. We'll now continue with our current poem.

If I was in charge of making
snow globes, this is what I would put inside:
the old man in the black overcoat,
the black dog,
two friends with their faces turned up to the sky
as if they were receiving a blessing,
as if they were being blessed together
by something
as simple as snow
in March.

"Snow, Aldo" by Kate DiCamillo. © Kate DiCamillo.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Billy Collins and The Movies

"The Movies" by Billy Collins

The Movies

I would like to watch a movie tonight
in which a stranger rides into town
or where someone embarks on a long journey,

a movie with the promise of danger,
danger visited upon the citizens of the town
by the stranger who rides in,

or the danger that will befall the person
on his or her long hazardous journey—
it hardly matters to me

so long as I am not in danger,
and not much danger lies in watching
a movie, you might as well agree.

I would prefer to watch this movie at home
than walk out in the cold to a theater
and stand on line for a ticket.

I want to watch it lying down
with the bed hitched up to the television
the way they'd hitch up a stagecoach

to a team of horses
so the movie could pull me along
the crooked, dusty road of its adventures.

I would stay out of harm's way
by identifying with the characters
like the bartender in the movie about the stranger

who rides into town,
the fellow who knows enough to duck
when a chair shatters the mirror over the bar.

Or the stationmaster
in the movie about the perilous journey,
the fellow who fishes a gold watch from his pocket,

helps a lady onto the train,
and hands up a heavy satchel
to the man with the mustache

and the dangerous eyes,
waving the all-clear to the engineer.
Then the train would pull out of the station

and the movie would continue without me.
And at the end of the day
I would hang up my oval hat on a hook

and take the shortcut home to my two dogs,
my faithful, amorous wife, and my children—
Molly, Lucinda, and Harold, Jr.

"The Movies" by Billy Collins from Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems. © Random House

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour

Dee sent me this. Earth Hour. Take a look. What do you think?

"Things You Didn't Put On Your Resumé" by Joyce Sutphen

Poem: "Things You Didn't Put On Your Resumé" by Joyce Sutphen

Things You Didn't Put On Your Resumé

How often you got up in the middle of the night
when one of your children had a bad dream,

and sometimes you woke because you thought
you heard a cry but they were all sleeping,

so you stood in the moonlight just listening
to their breathing, and you didn't mention

that you were an expert at putting toothpaste
on tiny toothbrushes and bending down to wiggle

the toothbrush ten times on each tooth while
you sang the words to songs from Annie, and

who would suspect that you know the fingerings
to the songs in the first four books of the Suzuki

Violin Method and that you can do the voices
of Pooh and Piglet especially well, though

your absolute favorite thing to read out loud is
Bedtime for Frances and that you picked

up your way of reading it from Glynnis Johns,
and it is, now that you think of it, rather impressive

that you read all of Narnia and all of the Ring Trilogy
(and others too many to mention here) to them

before they went to bed and on way out to
Yellowstone, which is another thing you don't put

on the resumé: how you took them to the ocean
and the mountains and brought them safely home.

Friday, March 28, 2008

I feel like a slacktivist.

And this from - Urban Word of the Day March 28, 2008:

slacktivism: The act of participating in obviously pointless activities as an expedient alternative to actually expending effort to fix a problem.

Signing an email petition to stop rampant crime is slacktivism. Want to really make your community safer? Get off your ass and start a neighborhood watch!
Want to make things better? Get off my ass and stop blogging about it and . . .

There's no such thing as a free horse.

Or "Just because it's on the internet doesn't mean it's true."Make a Point at

Bill O'Reilly Inadvertently Endorses Media Matters, Huff Post and Daily Kos

During the March 25 edition of his Fox News program, Bill O'Reilly called Media Matters for America an "awful, despicable ... outfit," and said: "[T]alk about anti-Americanism. I mean, these Media Matters ... these are fascists. They're dishonest people."

He says the same about Huffington Post and Daily Kos.

He seems to get a kick out of attacking MoveOn and Media Matters. Another day he said, referring to Media Matters: "Any of the presidential candidates who can deport those swine -- I'm voting for them"

You can read it here or watch it if you like.

Quite the endorsement, eh? Kinda makes you want to sign up for Media Matters. I already have.

Now I think I'd best get back to reading poetry.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bouncing around this morning

From AFP : The Pentagon on Wednesday said an eruption of violence in southern Iraq, where US-backed government forces were battling Shiite militias, was a "by-product of the success of the surge."

Wow, there's nothing like success to kill more people. I wonder how failure would manifest? Would that be with fewer people dead?

From Salon:
Poor America

"Blame our financial woes on poor spellers, like the intellectual charity case in the White House" By Garrison Keillor
People accuse us liberals of permissiveness -- no no no no no. We liberals are oppressive, not permissive, working day and night to take your guns away and make you apply for a permit every time you spit. In my heart, I belong to the Correctness Party, the party of good spellers, of people who pay attention to details. The Current Occupant is not one of us. He is not a man who puts pen to paper with any confidence. Intellectually he has been a charity case all his life. He is one of those men who are lucky that their fathers were born before they were."

Funny man that Garrison Keillor.

And also from Salon this quote from our favorite wordsmith:

"I must say, I'm a little envious. If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed.

It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks."

-- President George W. Bush, March 13, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Jerzy and Jeffrey Sachs and I are Trumped or With friends like John McCain . . .

Jerzy and I are in New York. We took the Chinatown bus up to, among other things, hear Jeffrey Sachs and Charlie Rose at the 92nd St Y. Brilliant. I've got lots to share, like the fact that Alex, the cat at the Deli on 49th Street, is alive and well; that Amy's Bakery on 9th Avenue still has the most wonderful cookies around; that Magnolia now has an uptown location!; and that although there's more to "do" in New York than anywhere else in the world, for me it's enough to just "be" here.

I wanted to write about the lecture and Jeffeys Sach's new book, Common Wealth and tell you to read it and become informed so you can tell others and actually do something with the knowledge that global health and well-being promote global health and well-being. I wanted to write about my mother and how she loved Charlie Rose and that she always watched his television program that aired late at night because he was, according to her, "so damn smart".

And I wanted to talk about Jerzy and me getting our ears pierced at a tattoo place on 36th Street where I am considering getting a tattoo that says - "Jerzy and I went to New York and all I got was this stupid tattoo." Jerzy found a key on the ground to add to the key she found in Las Vegas that made up for the one she lost. But I can't tell you that story either because I ran into this about John McCain that came from a chain of links that began at AlterNet and went to FirstRead and from there to, of all places, USA Today. It trumps all.

"For the first time, I have seen Osama bin Laden and General (David) Petraeus in agreement, and, that is, a central battleground in the battle against al-Qaeda is in Iraq today. And that's what bin Laden was saying and that's what General Petraeus is saying and that's what I'm saying, my friends," McCain said.

"And my Democrat opponents who want to pull out of Iraq refuse to understand what's being said and what's happening — and that is the central battleground is Iraq in this struggle against radical Islamic extremism," he added. McCain also said Democratic rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton were naive and "dead wrong" to want to withdraw troops.

"We're succeeding. I don't care what anybody says. I've seen the facts on the ground," the Arizona senator insisted a day after a roadside bomb in Baghdad killed four U.S. soldiers and rockets pounded the U.S.-protected Green Zone there, and a wave of attacks left at least 61 Iraqis dead nationwide. The events transpired as bin Laden called on the people of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to "help in support of their mujahedeen brothers in Iraq, which is the greatest opportunity and the biggest task."
Talk about "dead wrong".

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

David Sedaris Alert

Just want to let you know that there's a piece by David Sedaris in the March 24 issue of The New Yorker (April & Paris)AND, for those of you like Maggie, who don't know what to read now that you've read all of David Sedaris, you only have to hold your intellectual breath until June when his book of essays "When You Are Engulfed in Flames" will be out.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Not Dead Yet! Words of Wisdom

Judith, of Not Dead Yet! posted instructions to her sons as she ages. I think it should be a message for all children and caretakers. Better you should read it at the source, but in case you were not going to click on through, here's a copy.

"The programme which I wrote about yesterday gave rise to several thoughts about my own care in the future, if a time comes when I can no longer live independently. I made notes and here is the message I want to leave for my sons:


If I become incapable of looking after myself:

I would not expect any of you to take care of me in your own home. You must be committed to the future, rather than the past; that is nature’s way, however hard.

But if I have to go into care, please don’t abandon me there. If I have not been able to arrange my own care, try to put me somewhere where you can visit me regularly, if not necessarily often.

Remember I am still the person you have known all your life and who has loved you all your life, and you are likely to be the most important thing in my life at this stage.

Don’t lie to me and say I will get better and come home if I won’t. The truth between us can be used positively, while lies are more likely to create suspicion than to reassure.

If I no longer have my wits:

DON’T let anyone leave me parked in front of a TV which is permanently on, and over which I have no control. The end of life needs to be faced with a quiet mind. The playing of good music on occasions may be a good thing however.

If you talk to others in my presence, do so as though I can hear what you say – who knows, maybe I can.

Just be content to be with me at times – you don’t have to talk all the time to be companionable and give comfort, and it will take so much of your energy if I cannot respond.

At the end:

If you possibly can, be there with me and hold my hand, so that I can feel your loving presence as I go."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

YouTube Award Nominees

Did you know there are annual YouTube awards. Dee sent me this link. She and Matt contribute to the continual efforts to pull me out from under my cultural rock. Just wait 'til they see our sock puppet videos.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Annie Liebowitz, Ron Padgett, Billy Collins and Me

Ron Padgett loved and revered his friend, the late poet Joe Brainard. Of him Ron wrote:

"I Remember Lost Things

I remember getting letters addressed to me with my name and street address, followed on the next line by the word City. Which meant the same city in which they had been mailed. Could life have been that simple?

I remember the first time I heard Joe read from his I Remember. The shock of pleasure was quickly replaced by envy and the question, Why didn’t I think of that? Aesthetic pleasure comes in many forms and degrees, but envy comes only when you wholeheartedly admire someone else’s new work. Envying the talent of a person you love is particularly beautiful and invigorating. And you don’t even have to answer the question."

I was reminded of the above morsel by Ron Padgett this morning when I opened The Writer's Almanac and read this poem by Billy Collins.

Fishing On The Susquehanna In July

I have never been fishing on the Susquehanna
or on any river for that matter
to be perfectly honest.
Not in July or any month
have I had the pleasure — if it is a pleasure —
of fishing on the Susquehanna.

I am more likely to be found
in a quiet room like this one —
a painting of a woman on the wall,

a bowl of tangerines on the table —
trying to manufacture the sensation
of fishing on the Susquehanna.

There is little doubt
that others have been fishing
on the Susquehanna,

rowing upstream in a wooden boat,
sliding the oars under the water
then raising them to drip in the light.

But the nearest I have ever come to
fishing on the Susquehanna
was one afternoon in a museum in Philadelphia,

when I balanced a little egg of time
in front of a painting
in which that river curled around a bend

under a blue cloud-ruffled sky,
dense trees along the banks,
and a fellow with a red bandana

sitting in a small green
flat-bottom boat
holding the thin whip of a pole.

That is something I am unlikely
ever to do, I remember
saying to myself and the person next to me.

Then I blinked and moved on
to other American scenes
of haystacks, water whitening over rocks,

even one of a brown hare
who seemed so wired with alertness
I imagined him springing right out of the frame.

"Fishing On The Susquehanna In July" by Billy Collins, from Picnic, Lightning. © University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998.

Reading Billy Collin's reminds me of the work of Annie Liebowitz. Chris and I went to see her retrospective at the Corcoran last year. It was the last day of the exhibit and the gallery was crowded, hordes of us, shoulder to shoulder, each experiencing her photos in our own way - feeling, among other things, recognition, pain, joy, memories, love, loss, and, in my case, envy - Ron Padgett kind of "Why didn't I think of that?" envy.

Although I don't know Ron Padgett, or Billy Collins or Annie Liebowitz, I envy their talent as I would that of a loved one. Their work reminds me of the work of others who are brilliant at what they do - the athlete that makes it look easy; the oboist whose melody takes your breath away; the mother who holds the infant and knows just what to do.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Matt introduced me to Free Hugs

Apparently free hugs are everywhere. Matt says, "It's a good thing." Read about the Free Hugs Campaign here. It is a good thing.

Walking with Avery

I met Avery sometime before I turned 30. I know this because the night I met her I was in my roller skates, the new, space-age kind with fancy, bright yellow wheels. It was the pre-inline-skate era. As my 30th birthday approached, I bought myself skates in order to recapture what I thought was rapidly becoming my lost youth. I'd skate around town, grabbing onto trash cans, mailboxes, light poles, parked cars, whatever, in order to stop. Occasionally I'd end up, laughing hysterically, flat on my back in the street. Remember when you could fall down and not break something? And get back up?

A man asked me out on a date. I thought he was going to be ultra-serious, maybe boring. I accepted the date but in order to make it more interesting I said I'd be on roller skates. Without missing a beat he said great, he'd bring his skateboard. So there we were in Old Town on a Saturday night faced with the challenge of where to go with me on skates. Solution - the outdoor bar at the Holiday Inn. The bartender - Avery. Not being much of a drinker, I asked her what kind of exotic frozen drink she could make me. She fumbled around behind the bar and finally held up a kiwi. Great. A kiwi daiquiri sounded just fine. I watched as she dumped the whole thing, fuzzy, gritty kiwi skin included, into the blender. It was the beginning of a long friendship.

Now Avery and I have started walking together. We actually were thinking that walking across the country was a good idea, but that's for another post. I figured if we were going to walk 3,000 miles we'd better practice a bit first. Certainly Granny D did that. Not only did she walk a bunch in order to prove to herself and her doubting son that she could walk 10 or so miles a day, she slept outside on the cold, hard New Hampshire ground outside her home in preparation for her trek. When Granny D arrived in Washington, Julia, nine at the time, and I, joined the others to walk to the Capitol with her. She held Julia's hand and talked with us. Wow.

Just as Dan Quayle was no Jack Kennedy, Avery and I are no Granny D. But we have walked together, twice now. You know those old ladies you see walking in pairs, talking? That's us. On our second walk, I brought my camera and on the few miles from her house to her restaurant we saw, among other things, gloves. Sometimes in pairs, like the ones pictured above, other times all alone.

We also saw construction, lots of it. A new building is going up a block away from Avery's restaurant. It's typical construction. Conventional construction. Is that thing environmentally friendly, I asked. How can builders keep putting up the same, non-ecologically sustainable structures? I don't know. I just don't know.

P.S. I just checked Elder's Meditation of the Day - March 21
"The manner with which we walk through life is each man's most important responsibility, and we should remember this with every new sunrise."
--Thomas Yellowtail, CROW

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Very Short List keeps getting longer.

This beautiful commercial, yup, commercial, was featured on the Very Short List today. Advertising dollars well spent IMHO.

Woman says silly straws are not funny. A Fallacy?

23/6 posted this video from WSAS News about the Ashland, KY young mother who unwittingly bought what she's decided are penis straws at Walmart. The two pictured straws were mixed in with the other "silly straws" in the package. Even stranger, Walmart is reputed to have removed the product from their stores. I showed this to Jerzy, for a second opinion, a daughter's perspective. She said, ROTFLMAO.
My sentiments exactly.

Don't Quote Me, Quote 23/6

Yesterday's quote of the day on 23/6.


Can you guess who said it? No, not Ike, I quoted him a few days ago and his was actually wise. This one comes right from the mouth of our favorite sharpshooter, Dick Cheney, on being asked about the fact the two-thirds of Americans say the Iraq war is not worth it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My grandmother crocheted me a blanket.

Ever read Common Dreams? I do and I'm glad. Had I not read it yesterday I might never have known about the "Anti-War Grannies Arrested Trying to Enlist" This group of women, ages 57 to 80 from Grandmothers for Peace International, marched into an Army recruiting office in Atlanta and tried to enlist. They were protesting the war, and among other things, suggesting they go to Iraq so their grandchildren can come home and live to be as old as they are.

They were ultimately evicted and arrested. "Finally, the Atlanta Police Department showed up. “People have 10 seconds to get off the property because it’s private property or else you’ll be arrested immediately,” one police officer said through a loudspeaker.

Sylvia Carroll, one of the support grandmothers who did not get arrested responded, “We’re grandmothers — it takes us 10 seconds just to get our bones coordinated."

Grandmothers for Peace was founded in 1982 by the late Barbara Wiedner. It was the height of the cold war and in protesting against nuclear weapons Wiedner was arrested. "The media was captivated by the image of a grandmother risking jail in an effort to save the planet from nuclear annihilation! During my 5 days in jail, I realized that grandmothers have a very powerful and important role to play in the struggle to eliminate nuclear weapons from the face of the earth." The issues and work of the group has grown and the power of grandmothers grows with it.

Anyone can join Grandmothers for Peace International irrespective of age or gender. Men belong to the Men's Auxiliary. No need to actually have grandbabies either, although I, for one, have heard my grandmaternal alarm clock ringing for quite a while. With one lesbian daughter and Jerzy being only 16 I have a feeling I won't be getting my grandbabies any time soon. But I will be joining Grandmothers for Peace today.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Cats? Nope. Improv Everywhere at the Very Short List

I still haven't gotten to write about Animal Crackers or Music and then last night Chris showed me an article in the Science section of the Washington Post about cats. I'm always a little envious of others who post pictures of their own cats but I also am keenly aware that pictures of our cats are a lot like pictures of our babies - they're just, well, pictures of babies. The article in the Post was the chance I'd been waiting for - I can write about cats and have an excuse to post pictures of my own cats. Sweet. Then I checked my e-mail and the Very Short List newsletter was there.

Now, I've never met a musical I didn't like. I remember Mary Martin on Broadway as Peter Pan; Zero Mostel in Fiddler; the late Joe Hayes and his Surflight Summer Theater - watching summer stock on rickety iron fold-up chairs under a canvas roof that leaked in the rain. Every night Joe would introduce the show, ending with, "And now the houselights will slowly dim." - Click. Off. We'd all laugh. Everytime.

The Very Short List today was all about the group Improv Everywhere. You've undoubtedly seen or heard about them and their very cool stunts. This most recent feature is a Food Court Musical! My dreamworld. Check it out.

And, how about that picture of my cat. Poe points out, by the way, that this kitty's name is Baby.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Animal Crackers? Music? Nope, the Y.

"When the rich make war, it's the poor that die." -- Jean-Paul Sartre

I was planning on talking about Animal Crackers today. Dorothea sometimes gets them to eat during class and instead of reaching into the bag (Yes, a bag of animal crackers, not the "real" ones that come in a box.) she spreads them all out on her desk and looks at them before eating each one. But that's for another day because I went to a concert last night, and the night before that, and I therefore, wanted to write about music and violins and cellos and clarinets and musicians and the neat fact that, in spite of years of seeing musicians perform, I never before noticed that violinists wear their wedding rings on the right hands. But that's for another day because . . .

I subscribe to a newsletter that announces events at the 92nd Street Y. I don't live in New York and I don't hop on the Chinatown bus and pop on up to the city to catch an interesting lecture. I just fantasize about doing it or get vicarious pleasure from reading about what others are doing at the Y or, more importantly, I learn neat stuff. That's how, this morning, I ending up reading the following quote:

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." Can you guess who said it? - Answer in fine print, upside-down at the bottom of the page. No, actually, it's right here - Dwight D. Eisenhower said it. Amazing.

There are many other quotes on the Culture Peace Initiative site about poverty and lots of other subjects.

Jeffrey Sachs has a new book about poverty, Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet. It's probably a very good thing to read, although I haven't read it yet myself, having just heard about it this morning in the newsletter from the 92nd Street Y and then spending my time writing about reading it.

“It’s quite possible to arrive in the year 2030 where people are no longer dying of poverty. We could actually help lead a global end-not a reduction, but an end-to absolute poverty…I have always found that a committed, powerful group of leaders, can make a huge difference.”
-- Jeffrey Sachs

Jeffrey Sachs will be speaking about poverty and his new book at the Y on March 25th. Maybe I'll hop on the Chinatown bus.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


I remember seeing this a while back. Julia sent it to me again today. It's not earth shattering, er, well, in retrospect, it is earth shattering.
The End of the World from Albino Blacksheep

And Missy, I hope you watched this. They'll be a quiz later.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Anne Carson poet.

Father’s Old Blue Cardigan
by Anne Carson

Now it hangs on the back of the kitchen chair
where I always sit, as it did
on the back of the kitchen chair where he always sat.

I put it on whenever I come in,
as he did, stamping
the snow from his boots.

I put it on and sit in the dark.
He would not have done this.
Coldness comes paring down from the moonbone in the sky.

His laws were a secret.
But I remember the moment at which I knew
he was going mad inside his laws.

He was standing at the turn of the driveway when I arrived.
He had on the blue cardigan with the buttons done up all the way to the top.
Not only because it was a hot July afternoon

but the look on his face—
as a small child who has been dressed by some aunt early in the morning
for a long trip

on cold trains and windy platforms
will sit very straight at the edge of his seat
while the shadows like long fingers

over the haystacks that sweep past
keep shocking him
because he is riding backwards.

Anne Carson, “Father’s Old Blue Cardigan” from Men in the Off Hours.

The Onion Election News

Poll: Bullshit Is Most Important Issue For 2008 Voters Forgive me. I couldn't resist.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Snail. Really.

Julia sent me this.

She said snails are hermaphrodites and they have lungs and kidneys and they're beautiful and she'll never eat escargot again.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Behind every powerful man is a good woman?

Everybody is talking about Eliot Spitzer and Ashley Alexandra Dupré. Over two million people have visited the aspiring singer's MySpace page. Articles are plastered on the front of all the newspapers and blogs. Op-Ed pieces abound.

As would be the case, Maureen Dowd, always clever, weaves a myriad of issues and quotes into her column. I love her reference to Lyndon Johnson - "Lyndon Johnson once observed that the two things that make politicians more stupid than anything else are sex and envy."

Dina Matos McGreevey, ex-wife of former Gay Governer McGreevey writes "Stand by Yourself" - "As someone who has stood by her politician husband during his public — and anemic — mea culpa, all I can say is: It’s a personal decision." Hmmm. Duh?

Urban Dictionary wasted no time coining a term - Urban Word of the Day March 13, 2008:

client number nine: The moniker given to New York Governor Elliot (sic) Spitzer by the Emperor's Club VIP. Now used to talk about anyone of high social standing when situtations dictate discretion.

The Cooker: "You here (sic)about this situation with Gov.
Dick: "You mean client number nine?"
The Cooker: "Oh yeah, my bad."
Tell, the truth. Who isn't scanning the articles hoping for a glimpse of what Eliot's dangerous desires were. Remember the multi-page article in the Wasington Post years ago detailing the Monica Lewinsky testimony? Who didn't skim it in search of the good parts?

Above all, Laura Schlessinger takes the cake. According to her, the fault falls directly in the lap of the wife. If only she were performing her wifely duties of respect and proper care, he wouldn't have fallen prey to the flirtations of another women.
"Men do need validation. I mean, when they come into the world, they're born of a woman and getting the validation from Mommy is the beginning of needing it from a woman. And when the wife does not focus in on the needs and the feelings, sexually, personally, to make him feel like a man, to make him feel like a success, to make him feel like her hero, he's very susceptible to the charm of some other woman making him feel what he needs. And these days, women don't spend a lot of time thinking about how they can give their men what they need --"
You mean that prostitute flirted that $4K+ out of Eliot's pocket? What a dreadful wife that Ms. Spitzer must be. Echidne of the Snakes has great coverage of this stuff. Or take a quick look for yourself:

Gotta go. I think I hear my man calling.


State Rep. Sally Kern speaking to a Republican group in January, where she equates both sexual orientation and religion with terrorism. Quite powerful and also amusing follow-up videos on the YouTube link as well.

How much do you wanna pay for the war?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

John Lowe, Ballet Dancer at 88

From the BBC News website. " **Ballet dancer, 88, takes to stage **An 88-year-old man is set to star in his first ballet show after taking up dance at the age of 79." Read the article here.

A few years ago I begrudgedly gave up playing soccer. I played as a kid and returned to it in my early thirties, progressing from Open division teams to Over-30 teams, then Over-40 and, finally, I joined the euphemistically named Grandmasters Over-50 division. Many of my friends still travel to California and Mexico to compete in over-55 tournaments. I miss them. I miss soccer.

Last week at the beach I played kick-the-can soccer on the boardwalk with Poe and for a brief moment fantasized that I could return to the field. Then I walked up the five short flights to our room and felt the complaints in my knees on every step. Dang. Okay, so maybe I can't play soccer. But I'm learning to hike and to actually enjoy it. And if John Lowe, Ballet Dancer, is any example, I've got a lot more to look forward to.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Duck, Poe, Geese

Every day, numerous times a day, I'm reminded of why I'm so lucky to have had children. As a mother/daughter experience, I got my first (and last) professional manicure when Julia was four. Now at nearly 20, she shows me poetry and facts about snails and love and sharing beyond words. Abby pierced my ears when I wanted those extra holes. Kristara bought me my very cool, 57th-birthday-present first tattoo and she makes me laugh crazy. She keeps me company in the basement. Maggie introduced me to Fight Club and Donnie Darko and Buffie and more culturally important stuff than I can imagine. Stacey and I have logged hours that turn into days playing Wordwhomp and doing crossword puzzles and sharing books and meeting that very odd woman who couldn't tell us the answer to 19 across (clue, odor). And Poe never ceases to amaze me. She continues to teach me constantly and she keeps getting older, damn it, and she takes care of all of us and she can bake cakes and cookies and make sock puppets like no other and . . .

walking our dog, Duck, a couple of nights ago, Poe stopped abruptly and commanded me to look up, now, quick. It was midnight and overhead was a formation of geese, just visible in the black night sky, seemingly gliding. We stood stock still and watched and listened in awe as they flew by.

Two days after writing this I encountered the following poem by Wendell Berry. What a smart man.

What We Need Is Here

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

Wendell Berry

Sunday, March 9, 2008


The Writers Almanac keeps publishing poems that I can't resist posting. Here's one of them.

Moment of Inertia

It's what makes the pancake hold still
while you slip the spatula under it
so fast it doesn't move, my father said
standing by the stove.

All motion stopped when he died.
With his last breath the earth
lurched to a halt and hung still on its axis,
the atoms in the air
coming to rest within their molecules,
and in that moment
something slid beneath me
so fast I couldn't move.

Poem: "Moment of Inertia" by Debra Spencer from Pomegranate. © Hummingbird Press, 2004.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Be the first on your blog to check out Women on the Web

The Times mentioned it. Salon mentioned it. The blogs will be following. Women on the Web.

I'm just the messenger.

Urban Dictionary is Awemaztastic

As a means of lessening my continuing slide under a cultural rock, I subscribe to Urban Word of the Day (Poe introduced me to it.) Here is today's entry:

March 08, 2008: collateral misinformation

When someone alters a [Wikipedia] article to win a specific argument, anyone who reads the false article before the "error" is corrected suffers from collateral misinformation.

I changed the scientific classification of red foxes last night in order to win an argument with Judy. I hope some stupid High School student didn't suffer from collateral misinformation.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Some Glad Morning by Joyce Sutphen

I've become such a grump. Thank goodness for poets like Joyce Sutphen.

Some Glad Morning

One day, something very old
happened again. The green
came back to the branches,
settling like leafy birds
on the highest twigs;
the ground broke open
as dark as coffee beans.

The clouds took up their
positions in the deep stadium
of the sky, gloving the
bright orb of the sun
before they pitched it
over the horizon.

It was as good as ever:
the air was filled
with the scent of lilacs

and cherry blossoms
sounded their long
whistle down the track
It was some glad morning.

Poem: "Some Glad Morning," by Joyce Sutphen, from Naming the Stars (Holy Cow Press).

At Fox & Friends, Boys will be Boys and Girls better by Girly or With friends like that . . .

As seen on Crooks and Liars and The Huffington Post.

I'm reminded of being refused entry to a restaurant in the late sixties because I was wearing a pantsuit. I remember it well - it was brown with a long, doubled-breasted jacket. I left, removed the pants and returned a few minutes later wearing the jacket only. Entry granted.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

My accountant has a way with numbers.

Roy sent the following e-mail today, subject line "What is a billion, anyway????" Here's a copy.

This is too true to be very funny. The next time you hear a politician use the word 'billion' in a casual manner, think about whether you want the 'politicians' spending YOUR tax money.
This will put the cost of the Iraq war into proper perspective…

A. A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

B. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

C. A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.

D. A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet.

E. A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate our government is spending it.

While this thought is still fresh in our brain, let's take a look at the costs for the Iraq War- you know, the one that the oil revenues that Iraq was generating was going to pay in full…..

We are spending MORE than $ 2 billion a WEEK. And, with a gross population BEFORE the war of 20 million, that works out to be a cost of some $ 1000 per week for every Man, Woman, and Child in Iraq. Oh, and before the war, their average income was some $ 3500 per YEAR. And, now- we are spending $ 50000 (or 14 times their annual wage) to keep them in worse (or at the very best- the same) conditions as before.

Just trying to keep our politicians honest (which requires more full time effort than I have available)….

W. tries to ruin McCain's image

I see that W. has endorsed John McCain. Egads. Is that really what McCain had in mind to bolster his image? A dubious endorsement at best, in my mind. Maybe soon he'll have Dick Cheney shoot him, just a flesh wound of course.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


by Natasha Mayers - Common Dreams' Artist-in-Residence
News Center, Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

My friend Mr. Adams and My dog Lucy

Mr. Adams was 84 when I met him. Others called him by his first name, Roy, but I called him Mr. Adams. I was 24, living in a garage apartment right off the ocean in a small beach town in Florida. He lived with his daughter, Kay, and son in law, John, in the house in front. Although their house was big and lovely, their yard was dark and shady. My side of the property got all the sun. Mr. Adams liked to bring his lawn chair and sit outside of my apartment, one hand holding his book, always a western, the other hand placed lovingly, absentmindedly on my dog Lucy. They’d sit that way for hours, Lucy and Mr. Adams, his reading interrupted by dozing or by our conversations. He’d tell me about is life in Huntington, West Virginia. He’d lived his entire life there before being transplanted by his daughter to their newly-found retirement area. He obviously missed his home. He’d been a mechanic. His wife, who he spoke about lovingly, had been dead for many years. He was a quiet man, and I think a lonely man.

Although I fished at the beach almost daily for my dinner, having learned from Kay how to cast and hook clams and dig for sand crabs, Mr. Adams wasn’t into that kind of fishing. He wanted to go the inlet where the snook and other big fish could be snagged. Real fishing. So he and I got up early one morning for our fishing trip. Sebastian Inlet was about a twenty miles away and Mr. Adams insisted on driving. It was a harrowing ride. He wasn’t much for braking. Heavy foot on the gas. No use for stop signs. Full speed ahead. It was a bit unnerving, but there wasn’t much traffic in the area. It probably wasn't life threatening. It just felt that way.

When we got to the inlet Mr. Adams drove, not the part where the big fish were, but to a quiet, protected, sleepy little area where the water lapped gently up on the shore. He took his lawn chair out of the trunk, settled in and opened a can of Vienna sausage, piercing each one using his pocketknife for a fork. I fished. He sat. I caught a few pompano, beautiful white fish with a pale yellow stripe. They’d make a delicious dinner. Mr. Adams sat in his lawn chair. He ate pickled eggs and pickled pigs feet. He gazed. I don’t think he ever baited a hook.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I got two books of poetry by George Bilgere yesterday.

Here are two of his poems. I like George Bilgere a lot.


When you've been away from it long enough,
You begin to forget the country
Of couples, with all its strange customs
And mysterious ways. Those two
Over there, for instance: late thirties,
Attractive and well-dressed, reading
At the table, drinking some complicated
Coffee drink. They haven't spoken
Or even looked at each other in thirty minutes,

But the big toe of her right foot, naked
In its sandal, sometimes grazes
The naked ankle bone of his left foot,

The faintest signal, a line thrown

Between two vessels as they cruise
Through this hour, this vacation, this life,
Through the thick novels they're reading,
Her toe saying to his ankle,

Here's to the whole improbable story
Of our meeting, of our life together
And the oceanic richness
Of our mingled narrative
With its complex past, with its hurts
And secret jokes, its dark closets
And delightful sexual quirks,
Its occasional doldrums, its vast
Future we have already peopled
With children. How safe we are

Compared to that man sitting across the room,
Marooned with his drink
And yellow notebook, trying to write
A way off his little island.

Threepenny Opera

The elderly modern dance instructor
And his elderly wife are dancing
In top hats and tails, doing a Kurt Weill
Number as old as their marriage.

They've reached that age when the body
Is starting to wonder how it got here,
When it has become strange, even to itself,
And moves around uncertainly
As if looking for a lost pair of glasses.

They do not mean for what they're doing
To be a parody, but, of course, it is;
The word means something like
"To sing alongside," and it's just
Possible to see the lithe dark lovers
They used to be, singing just beyond
The penumbra of the spotlight.
When they tap dance and set
Their old skeletons clattering

Across the stage, the teenage boy
In front of me smiles and nudges his girlfriend
Who has reached the moment
Of her beauty that will keep everyone
On the edge of their seats
For the next two or three years.

by George Bilgere, both from The Good Kiss. © The University of Akron Press

Monday, March 3, 2008

One Meandering Mini-Rant and a Hike

I went to a conference on aging last week. There were speakers and workshops and sponsors with tables of information and free gifts with names of companies on them - pens, rubber balls, pill holders, pencils, emery boards and all matter of items.

The talks got me thinking. The workshops got me thinking. Lots of good thoughts. Thoughtful thoughts. It was an odd experience. I heard words and phrases and concepts, many of which I hear all the time, sometimes coming from my own mouth. For some reason, perhaps because I was in strange territory, where I had no agenda and no need to engage in my customary ways, I could hear and think more freely.

One smart and eloquent speaker talked about four essentials for positive aging - Challenge the body; Challenge the Mind; Control Emotions and Embrace Spirituality, not necessarily religiosity. Another bright, entertaining man spoke of the need for residents in nursing homes to truly be able to feel at home. In our own homes we get up when we like, eat when and what we like, get dressed when and if we feel like it, and, get this one, have sex. Why are the benefits of, and the need for the freedom and the right to have sex in nursing homes and assisted living facilities rarely mentioned?

In one workshop we each made a list of ten things that we like to do, favorite things. We then switched lists with someone else. Ugh. No. I want my list back! Not hers! And I thought about freedom to live and be. And I thought about what I feel like when I’m sick or in some way unable to go about my regular business - after surgeries; sports injuries; c-section; childbirth; the flu; various and sundry viruses. Everything is so different, really different. I want and need help and sometimes resent it. I want and need companionship and love. And, more than ever, I want to be home.

Then came lunch. There wasn't a whole grain in sight. The lunch, not atypical for this type of event, was at best unhealthy. White boxes were marked Chicken Salad or Hoagies and packed with the following: Hoagies on white rolls - turkey, ham, roast beef and cheese; a bag of potato chips; a chocolate chip cookie; mayonnaise and mustard in tiny plastic packages; a lettuce leaf and a couple of slices of those tomatoes that we get in the winter - pale red, tough, tasteless. Chicken salad the same. A few of us held out for "vegetarian" selections that arrived later. They were identical to the others, just without the meat. Chris told me not to be sad. I said I wasn’t sad. I was disdainful. The fact is, I was sad and, as is my custom, mildly outraged at our society and the food industry.

I looked around the room, at numerous large tables of mostly women, many of them caretakers of the elderly, nurses, and nursing assistants. (The nursing assistants are commonly referred to as CNAs, a practice that sometimes feels dehumanizing to me, but that’s for another time.) How can we expect to nurture our bodies and spirits in old age if we don't nurture them when we're young? How is it possible for us to continue to feed on animals that are horribly abused and brutalized, to support industries that perpetuate the abuse, and truly nurture our own spirits? If we can’t change our ways for the sake of the animals, how about for our own sakes? Does lunch have to be unhealthy? Do jobs have to be stressful, lacking in reward, leaving little energy for much else in life? How can those caring for our loved ones best challenge their minds and bodies and find spirituality and learn to find comfort in their emotions? Grrrrr. I just don't know.

After the conference, we got some hippie food for later and drove to the Shenandoah Mountains to hike on the Appalachian Trail - five lovely miles of wintering trees, a waterfall, scores of deer, a woodpecker, one raccoon and a cat.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Now we're talkin' real words or What did you want to be when you grew up?

In 6th grade we were given an assignment in school. We got a form and a list of classes and were to design our four-year high school schedule in preparation for what we wanted to be when we grew up. I looked at all the choices - English, Algebra, History, Chemistry, . . . until I found the most enticing word - Stenography. That was it. I wanted to be a Stenographer. I had no clue what a Stenographer did. All I knew was that it sounded exotic. As it turns out, it could have been even alluring. I could have planned to be an amanuensis.

Word of the Day for Saturday, March 1, 2008
amanuensis \uh-man-yoo-EN-sis\,noun: A person employed to take dictation or to copy manuscripts.

The chore of actually writing the words in the end fell to a hand-picked amanuensis.-- Austin Baer, "River of Desire", Atlantic, October 1996

On this blue day, I want to be nothing more than an amanuensis to the birds, transcribing all the bits and snatches of song riding in on the wind.-- Barbara Crooker, "Transcription (Poem)", Midwest Quarterly, March 22, 2003

When it comes to literature, the French count the largest number of Nobel Prizes; their authors include one who wrote a whole book without using the letter 'e' and another who, suffering from 'locked-in syndrome' after a severe stroke, dictated a memoir by blinking his eye as an amanuensis read through the alphabet.-- Jonathan Fenby, France on the Brink

Amanuensis comes from Latin, from the phrase (servus) a manu, "slave with handwriting duties," from a, ab, "by" + manu, from manus, "hand." Entry and Pronunciation for amanuensis

When I finally got to high school, taking Stenography was not permitted for the college-bound students. It was only for girls planning on going into business. Business for them meant Secretary and taking shorthand.

One course that I couldn't avoid, a requirement for all girls in our high school, was Home Economics. (Boys were not allowed. They got to take Wood Shop.) We learned the proper way to iron a shirt; how to cut a hole out of the center of slice of white bread using a glass and then fry an egg in it; how to sew on buttons. The final project was to create a scrapbook of our Dream Wedding and Dream House. We were given stacks of magazines and directed to find pictures to cut out to paste into our books - photos of our gowns; bridesmaids' dresses; bouquets; silver; china; furniture; towels; you name it, whatever was going to make life after graduating from high school complete. I can't remember if we cut out pictures of our dream husbands.

VFS. La Vie.

Jerzy is a YouTube expert. She showed me videos from The Vancouver Film School. Amazing. This is one of them.