Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Gertrude, could you hand me a plane?

Gertrude, could you hand me a plane?
No, not that kind of plane, though I am intrigued that you have that handy –
If that were the kind of plane I need, that one would probably be much too small, though –
Yes, now that is the kind of plane I need.
Soon I will need a level.
Yes, it is level, but that is not the kind of level I am talking about.
It is a beautiful foundation.
Yes, they both are.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's Hodgman & Rees Tonight!

Tonight at 7pm at the very Barnes & Noble where I got my start in the book industry, (indeed, where I got my start in the being gainfully employed industry), Mr. Hodgman will be appearing with David Rees, creator of Get Your War On. While Mr. Rees is more famous for Get Your War On, and justly so, my enthusiasm for his work is mainly directed toward his series My New Filing Technique is Unstoppable. An unvarnished and straightforward opinion: I think that shit is the work of genius.
So, be there or be square. Or be there and square, like me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

About this Person

My limited and probably naive efforts to raise public awareness of Tiny Bedtime Stories lead me now to address an issue I might otherwise avoid. If I am going to pester strangers and ask whether they would like a copy of the book, it seems appropriate to give some account of myself somewhere publicly accessible. Am I, JS van Buskirk, a real person? A weirdo? What is the big idea?

Yes. I am a real person. “JS van Buskirk” is an assumed name I use for creative work and online things, but it is my name for those purposes. I have been using it since sometime in the late 90's. It is difficult to remember exactly when I started. JS van Buskirk was the name I used for the first OPOYUL~ website (now gone) and for the first large-ish complicated art project I undertook. Perhaps that project will rise from the ashes one day. JS was also the name I used when I started a performance series here in Atlanta called INFO DEMO - a knock-off/homage to Mr. John Hodgman’s Little Gray Books Lectures. I was interviewed for Creative Loafing while that was going on - you can read the interview here.

Much of Tray’s interview is still fairly accurate, although I no longer have the fancy downtown office. I have a non-fancy downtown office and I work for the government. The brain tumor is still an issue - after surgery, chemo, radiation, chemo, and now chemo again, plus an increasing dosage of anti-seizure medicine. Keeps life interesting. I have not done much to increase the OPOYUL~ knowledge-base in recent years and I no longer produce OPOYUL~ trading cards for Art-O-Mat machines. You can print some out for yourself at the main site, if you like.

I write poetry more often these days than I did for a long while. The big project now is a collaboration with artist Julie Puttgen and composer Jim Carlson. It should be pretty fantastic. We are hoping to have the multi-media feast consumable by audience in August/September of ‘09. I need to get cracking, having written only about 1/4 of my portion. There might be a website for the project between now and then that will give tidbits.

I am a little weird, but not a weirdo.

The big idea is that I do things I enjoy doing, including giving out copies of this book I am very proud of.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It is very windy today

I am deleting the other 'blog, because it is not happening. There are health concerns and other things I would like to work on when I have time and motivation to work on them.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Self-Published Book!

My collection of Tiny Bedtime Stories is now available at Blurb.com. They were originally written on Twitter to ze frank's @bedtime account. Now they are edited and illustrated and for sale at cost. It is all pretty satisfying, really.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I'll Go Gentle If I Damn Well Please

pace Dylan Thomas

I'm not the sort to rage and fuss and fight,
That kind of raving never was my way;
But I'm still young and wonder if I might.

The wise may guard themselves from foolish fright,
The old won't quail at calling it a day;
But I'm still young and wonder if I might.

In all, I think I've tried to do alright
And framed some words that no one else could say.
I'm not the sort to rage and fuss and fight.

Though fear tempts me to just turn out the light,
It's only cowards skip the end of play;
But I'm still young and wonder if I might.

While I have strength and love and hold them tight,
I'll live as if I had more time to stay.
I'm not the sort to rage and fuss and fight.

For now, my life, keep clear of that sad height.
Curse patience while it gets me through the day.
I'm not the sort to rage and fuss and fight,
But I'm still young and wonder if I might.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hail Poetry!

Let's first clear the air by going over the 4 stumbling blocks to truth:

The Four Stumbling Blocks to Truth
Attributed to Fr. Roger Bacon, by Don Tarquino, Baron Corvo:
No. 1 - The Influence of Fragile or Unworthy Authority
No. 2 - Custom
No. 3 - The Imperfection of Undisciplined Senses
No. 4 - Concealment of Ignorance by Ostentation of Seeming Wisdom

All four of these are probably at work both in my thought- and writing-processes, so beware. Beware also, however, the same four stumbling blocks at work in your own thought- and reading-processes. Please embark upon these pages with the suspicion that I am a person of good will and sincere in my queries and proposals. I am suspecting the same of anyone who gets this far down the page, and I wish you well. May all our suspicions be confirmed in time.

Having “Hail Poetry” for a title for this post assumes that someone who reads this knows the words to Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance. Not likely. So, to explain: there is a bit during a confrontation between the Major General and the Pirate King after the Pirates are interrupted in their attempt to carry off and marry the Major General’s daughters. The Major General objects to Pirates as sons-in-law. The Pirates object to Major Generals as fathers-in-law, but are willing to set that aside.

Protesting against the characterization of their band as churlish bad guys, the Pirate King sings: “Although our dark career / Sometimes involves the crime of stealing, / We rather think that we’re / Not altogether void of feeling. / Although we live by strife, / We’re always sorry to begin it, / For what, we ask, is life / Without a touch of Poetry in it?”

Then all kneel and sing: “Hail, Poetry, thou heav’n-born maid! / Thou gildest e’en the pirate’s trade. / Hail, flowing fount of sentiment! / All hail! All hail! Divine emollient!”

So, Hail Poetry. What is life without a touch of it? These days it is just life. In G&S’s day the hail to Poetry was scathingly funny to the sophisticated audience. The music was as satirical as the words, mimicking and mocking Handel, the King’s pet composer. Yes, we are all too sophisticated these days for love and ponies and lyric melancholy.

Some issues for consideration.

- Has anything really new happened in the Arts of communication with words in the English language since 1945?

- Have the past hundred or so years of Western European literary culture been driven by embarrassment/anger over our own cultural failure?

- Are we decadent?

- Why don't you like poetry?
Is it because the only available options are (i) heartwarming crap; (ii) meandering prose broken up into short lines and published in the New Yorker; (iii) mystifying or stupid performance art; (iv) stuff not aimed at your particular demographic, which thus alienates you; (v) artsy word-games that are essentially just wanking; (vi) old-fashioned stuff that doesn't make sense in the 21st century; (vii) stuff that makes the educated elite feel less guilty or more awesome for being the educated elite; or (viii) TMI from people "expressing" themselves? OR
- Simply because it is not relevant to your interests?
- Because they made you read it in high school and high school sucked?
- Because nothing gold can stay?
- Because except for that one bit you had to memorize in high school that got you laid once or twice, poetry doesn't serve any useful purpose?
- Because that poetry-spouting bitch/jerk broke your heart?

- Does poetry today just need more tits and explosions? Just a little bit, maybe? Are tits and explosions the true poetry of our time?

PS- The obvious answer to one of the questions up there (anything new since 1945) is computers, but I don’t buy it. Poets and other artists were playing with computers and their potential in the creation of new forms of art back before WWII. Even random generation using mass-media (newspapers) started back in the 20s and before. What "computers" (the internet, more like) do for me is free me from a potentially depressing fixation on Emily Dickinson. Computers have changed distribution, but not enough, and not in the direction of really being something else completely. In part, I think, because there has not been enough recognition among the people who might enjoy a touch of poetry in their life and the people who could put it there.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The flesh is joyful and there is much to learn

Of course, still on the Barzun.

Here is a passage from page 623:

"The social motive for the aesthetes' retreat into art being clear, there remains the question, what motive made purity a second necessity? Mallarme gives the answer in his superb sonnet, written in clear language and entitled "Brise Marine" (Sea Breeze). The first line reads: "The flesh is sad and I have read all the books." The last six words tell us that the whole weight of past literature bears down on him and adds to his pre-existing sorrow. Exactly 100 years earlier Faust had said the same thing, also in the first line of his soliloquy--all the books are dust, not life. Each of the two utterances records the end of a cultural age, 1790 and 1890."

So here we are, and the end of another hundred something years we have spent (artistically at least) continuing to demolish what was already collapsing by the turn of the last century. It is not that long ago, really - my grandpa was born in 1898 - but Americans naturally believe one hundred years is a long time.

I want to find, to learn and to build. We are alive, with minds, with access to knowlege and each other. There are many in the world who do not have enough life and access- that is one of the challenges. Communication and exchange with people facing different challenges is one way to grow beyond what your own challenges have driven you to. So it is all there to be done, in mutually beneficial ways.

On a slightly different subject, something I chose not to twitter yesterday was along the lines of "Q: So is academia just a circle jerk then? A: No, but it is an especially ponderous form of asexual reproduction." I don't trust academia and I don't trust the Permanent Art Council, though without animosity.

They are fine - they do their things: product is produced, people get paid, conferences are held, lunch is done, the world turns. The creative people I keep track of in the course of my dowsing for civilization aren't interested in poetry and probably don't catch my drift, but they are the ones striking out, trying to figure out what a new direction might be. I am impatient to know how this will develop, not simply because of my own personal ticking clock but because there must be some very fun, very cool stuff to talk about, to learn, and to do.

[I just deleted the last paragraph. Nobody wants to hear about how they should be glad to be alive if they aren't already. It's your call.]

Monday, September 22, 2008

More on More More

Still re-reading Barzun’s From Dawn to Decadence. It is a lot to take in. Scarfed Anathem in less than three days (granted, that did affect my productivity at work) and that is almost 100 pages longer. Maybe the font is smaller in Barzun’s book.

Regardless. This time around, I am finding the descriptions of Romanticism far more interesting than I did on the first read. I notice in particular M. Barzun’s evaluation of the movements that followed as siblings rather than successor descendants. That is, he describes Realism, Naturalism, and Symbolism as all aspects of Romanticism - which got me to thinking in terms of the big project being to reassemble everything we have done since 1800 or so back into one thing. Nice to think about, but it might require footnotes. Not my department. I need to get Megan on board with this stuff.

This morning as I sat in my car reading in the parking lot, I came across an interesting passage on page 513. The context is a discussion of how much stuff was produced in the 19th century.

"The enabling condition of the plethora was what one may term the 'cultural courage' of Romanticism. Its makers were not afraid of failure–nor of being foolish. They did not exercise caution to look acceptable, dignified, 'mature' or 'realistic.'"

Now, these days we don’t have any trouble with that. As an example I point to my regret that my computer circumstances prevent me from linking the word "plethora" to the scene in the Three Amigos regarding whether the bad guy has a plethora of pinatas. Given that we have no trouble with being foolish, should we confront instead a fear of looking acceptable, dignified, "mature" or "realistic?"

ps - Further thought on the "Official Verse Culture." My immediate concern with Charles Bernstein’s characterization and critique of official verse culture is that he was focusing on what the institution does - the taste exhibited and the poems selected. Why do we need to care? Why grant the institutions and the Permanent Art Council such relevance? Let them do whatever they feel like. It is their power and money to do with as they please. You don’t have to care.

This morning on the drive in I heard about how advertisers are paying to have products integrated into storylines on TV shows. Some are outraged. (A) How is this new? ("Drink More Ovaltine!"), (B) If it is done well, perhaps it will be less irritating than commercial breaks, and (C) I haven’t watched television, except for the Tour de France with my fella, in six months or so, and haven’t really missed it. If you don’t like the rules, play a different game. If there isn't a different game to play, start one.

pps - All hail Ze Frank for having a Twitter account devoted to tiny bedtime stories. I have a new hobby and an increased joy in life.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Maybe Looking at Things a Different Way

Randy says Charles Bernstein coined the term “Official Verse Culture” - which is an apt term. I have been thinking about that, together with Jacques Barzun’s descriptions of art’s perceived role in occidental society as it has developed over the past couple hundred years.

Let’s pretend there was an International Conference in, say, Brussels, in the late 18th Century. It was a secret conference, and we are pretending that Napoleon business was all going on somewhere else and nobody cared.

This was an International Conference for delegations from two loosely organized federations. One federation, the one with money or other resources, had delegates from various demographics: rich white women, self-made millionaires, hard-working middle-managers, shop-keepers, founders of charitable organizations, university administrators, politicians, producers of media, interior decorators, and religious groups. This was the “Consumer’s Delegation.” The other federation, the one without any money or other resources, had delegates from the different arts and crafts. This was the “Producer’s Delegation.”

After several days of panels, talks, presentations, and whatever the 17th C. equivalent of Powerpoint was (stereopticon?), a deal was hammered out. There have been tensions, and a few modifications, but that deal is still in place today. The producers of art have some rules to follow, some hoops to jump through, but if they follow the rules, they are categorized and stamped “approved” by one or another department of the Permanent Art Council. Once approved by the Permanent Art Council, the Consumer’s Delegation knows that the art product is whatever it has been approved as being - orderly production in categories for ease of distribution and just-in-time delivery. They may then hang it on the wall, read it, denounce it, review and recommend it, write letters complaining about it, get it included or excluded from the curriculum, and what have you. The art just fits right into society.

Unfortunately for both delegations, this is all a matter of institutions. Institutions exist, to a greater or lesser extent, in part solely to continue existing. At first, the Consumer’s Delegation thought they were making sure that everyone benefited from Art, kind of like adding iodine to salt or vitamin A to Milk - it is just a good thing, and people might get spiritual goiters without it. The Producer’s Delegation thought they were going to be able to afford food, and maybe become famous. But what was it that was so nutritious about art that these powerful Consumers were willing to deal? And how about the Producers? The Producer’s Delegation must have wanted to be the generators/ miners/ producers of something that makes life better for someone - even if it is just one person. [NOTE- many Producers over the past century or so have wanted instead to make people better and to perfect human society. I personally do not support that view.]

Whatever the Producers wanted then, what do we want now? What does artistic “success” mean in this regime? For many Producers, it has come to mean simply getting through the obstacle course laid out by the Permanent Art Council with as many points as possible, followed by (1) tragic death at an early age; (2) a contract with a multinational corporation; (3) a major motion picture; or (4) tenure.
There is a lot more to say about this stuff, but that is all I can manage right now.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

To Clarify Re Keywords

The list of keywords in the last post ended up reminding me of quarks, although "charm" is the only overlapping term. The charm I am thinking of has no particular connection to quarks, unless you are generalizing quite broadly about energy.

The term "generosity" was suggested by Julie Puttgen (though she might not know she suggested it). She was speaking of some installation exhibits and performance art that she was not enthusiastic about, and part of what she didn't like was the lack of generosity on the part of the artist. The artist/author/performer chooses how much welcome will be given to the viewer/audience. The viewer/audience has to walk into the door and take part or appreciate or simply access what is going on in the art - will you, as artist, let them? Are you, as artist, providing something that may be taken part in, appreciated, or accessed? Are you giving them something good? Something good for what ails them?

Although there is new medical thinking on actual shock treatment, I think that shock treatment of society through art is pretty played - and furthermore, the indiscriminate application of scientific metaphors to cultural issues is also pretty played. That is partly where "Humane-ness" comes in. Not prudish-ness, not sanctimoniousness, but humane-ness. Some artistic works raise the question- where does the supposedly salutary shock end and the sadism begin?

Side note- I am quite vehement against censorship. Freedom of speech and free exchange of ideas are big for me, although it is clear that people actually in charge of governments have some thinking to do on these issues at times. But I am not in charge of anything except me, and I want everyone else to speak freely so that I learn things and know who I want to talk to and who the a-h0les are. These keywords and considerations for art and culture are speculative, possibly and hopefully the beginning of a conversation of some kind.

More later, last for now. My own enjoyment and use of "Structure" in my creative work is not a personal endorsement of the new formalism, although I tend to stick to one form or another for a while in my poetry and I do like to rhyme. I like forms and constraints as tools for art, not as prerequisites for even being considered art. Assymetrical chopped up prose can be just as stultifying as endless couplets if it is simply a season pass that must be waved to be allowed in the poet door.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

No More New, Just More More

Let's relax a bit. Relinquish for a while the neo- and post- and anti- and de- and re-

OK - that last one would have us just linquishing, which I would be willing to go for but doesn't sound normal.

At the end of the new Neal Stephenson, a bunch of people have a thing they are doing. I am charmed and inspired by the way the name for the thing is left blank, for later individuals to fill in once they figure out and decide what has happened and what the name of the thing shall be. Even what the thing shall be. Charm and inspiration are a good start, and anything Neal Stephenson says that intersects with ideas I have been entertaining makes me feel smarter.

Although I still stand by my earlier efforts to assess and determine for myself what art is and what makes poetry poetry - i.e. - why write it? what does it do? - and I enjoyed coming up with a theory related thereto, I am not going to do the same for my next trick.

Next trick? Yes, that would be finding the seeds of literary culture and civilization that shall grow up out of the lovely mess we have now. Even if there are a few things left here and there to tear down, some ruins left still to be destroyed, there is only so much cud to chew here and we are bound to need another bite of something eventually.

The process must have already started, and we have no way of knowing what it will have been. But- don't you want to build something for your great-grandchildren to denounce? Contribute to civilization? Explore and expand the boundless depth and variety of life? Create joy and bring comfort to the bored or afflicted? Make something worth someone else rebelling against later?

I would like to do that. No telling why, when I am in fact a risk-averse, low energy, and introverted person and I really would not respond well or favorably to some large number of folks wanting to chat about this. Maybe a half dozen or so would be cool.

The key words I am currently pondering are these: Exploration; Humane-ness; Generosity; Joy; Beauty; Connection; Livliness; Charm; Vigor; Structure; Intention; Discipline

The motto is - Be serious without being serious.

Monday, September 15, 2008

An Assignment for Anyone

I am quite occupied with various real life tasks and still only just getting started on a very large collaboration with Julie Puttgen and Jim Carlson . I do not know how much will be posted here, because the priority is to get the various elements moved about and completed bit by bit among the three of us. Julie has completed a series of 24 paintings (several are up at her site now). I am writing a story that features each of the paintings and connects them in a single overarching narrative. Each chapter includes a song. Jim Carlson is composing incidental music for background and setting the song texts to melody and accompaniment. Julie will then take the completed text and music and animate the full story. In theory, at this early stage, the result will be (1) a dvd or download playable at home with the animation, me reading the story, and the music and songs all cued in, and (2) some kind of live performance in front of a video screen, with music and possibly live performers accompanying the reading of the text. This is going to take a while, but it is fantastically exciting.

Apparently, I can write narrative, as long as it is fantastical.

In the meantime, I am re-reading Jacques Barzun's "From Dawn to Decadence" and considering the end of Western Culture as it has waxed and waned over the past 500 years. What's next? I would like to be in on it, whatever it is.

I am in the middle of the section in which Mr. Barzun describes the various Utopia books of the 15th and 16th centuries. It reminded me of a thought I had the other day. Here is the assignment, if you should choose to accept it. The United States of America is a dead ringer for Plato's Republic. Yes or no? I think it might be, or at least it could be a provacative comparison.

So go to it, somebody. I think 1-4 people see this blog, and I have high hopes this assignment will appeal to somebody.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hey - Maximum Fun

My man Randy Prunty and I will be attending the MaxFun Con next June 12-14. It will be awesome. John Hodgman is Keynote Speaker. Some day I will get to buy Mr. Hodgman a beverage and tell him he does a good job at what he does, and that will be the second coolest thing I have done in my life.

(The most coolest thing I have done in my life is pretty damn cool, so I don't believe it is a slight to Mr. Hodgman to say "second" coolest.)

Hopefully, there will be people there who are interested in the more purely ART end of the creative spectrum, as opposed to the entertainment end. If there are such people there, I will be trying to meet them. Maybe I will attempt to become famous between now and then, so that interesting people will seek me out.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A week and a day

I am not yet prepared to do my stint at the Decatur Book Festival, but I shall be. The schedule is up, and I will be on at 2:30 pm at Java Monkey a week from Saturday. For some reason, I keep thinking it will turn out something like the Monty Python sketch in which a man who believes he is Trotsky pulls out a feather boa in the middle of a rousing speech and goes into a French cabaret number.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Good thing I wrote several poems this weekend

I will be reading my poetry at the Decatur Book Festival at the local authors stage (Java Monkey) for 15 minutes some time between 2pm and 4pm on Saturday, August 30, 2008. I am pleased and honored to have been invited to perform.

Unfortunately, I have concluded that it would not be appropriate to wear my 60's stewardess outfit on this occasion and will be dressed less suggestively.

And, here is another poem I wrote this weekend:


We'll journey far
into the night

We'll track a star
we never sight

We'll often say "Bu-bu-bu-buh?"
and always answer "So what, huh?"

We'll never have a glorious "Wha?"
and never give a flying fuh

Sonnet No. 36, or “That Guy Who Was at the Cocktail Party”

Sonnet No. 36, or “That Guy Who Was at the Cocktail Party”

There were some charming pieces I once wrote
And posted to a famous magazine.
And then one day arrived a little note.
It said my work was not the best they’d seen.

Now to be honest, that is not quite so:
I was rejected, though I don’t know how.
And that I was, somehow, I’m sure I know.
It bugs me now and then, but mostly now.

I write these twiddling trifles all the time-
Everyone ignores me, yes, I know.
It’s not just tedious of me to rhyme,
Iambic pentameter bores them so.

‘Twas good enough when Shakespeare wrote this way,
I know that he, too, suffered in his day.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

and now . . .

This is just to say,
I wish I didn't know

he wasn't really talking about plums.

I'm no Lorax, but I do love trees

I have revised the poem about trees, and I could not be more pleased with how it came out.

Here is the link.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Say hey, Mr. Senator Kennedy, sir -

Right. This is an outburst of the kind of thinking and feeling that I normally endeavor to save for therapy appointments or venting to friends.

Senator Ted Kennedy had a big seizure and was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. This catches my attention, even though I am doing my best to ignore as many Senators as possible at least until after the '08 presidential election. I have a malignant brain tumor myself, diagnosed after I had a big seizure. Sen. Kennedy and I have some other stuff in common - disrupted legal careers, excellent government health insurance, we're both alright for rich white people. He is way richer and far more powerful. I am younger, healthier and better looking.

I have a much better brain tumor than he does though - operable (near-full resection in 2001), right temporal. That it is on the right side means that post surgery I have a little more trouble finding my car again after I have parked it, and don't always recognize that I have met someone before. My language is fine. I still have my words. They implied I had 5 or so years to live when I was diagnosed at 29 yrs old, and these days (at 36 yrs old) I am thinking I have a decent shot at making it to 45 with a reasonable number of marbles intact. The scientific literature I have perused describes my kind of glioma as "indolent" (albeit capable of speeding up at some point).

Sen. Kennedy is old and has some other health problems. His tumor is in the left side (words) and seems like it might be pretty aggressive. That is all bad news. The article I linked said maybe 3 years survival for him, but didn't really go into his possible loss of function. It might be very bad and difficult, and all the treatments attack the rest of your body along with the cancer. That really sucks for him and his family.

So what is my problem? I don't hate Sen. Kennedy. I like him fine. I like his Irish whiskey nose and general legislative bad-assery, to the extent that I know anything about politics. I am not glad he has a malignant brain tumor. Nobody should be glad about anybody having a malignant brain tumor.

My problem is I am angry about some bullshit. The bullshit in that article and in all the other articles I read that reminds me of how angry I am about my own tumor. The bullshit in the articles that is pissing me off right now is the "He's a fighter" bullshit. I have a brain tumor - listen to me - SHUT UP. SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.

Now listen:

Cancer doesn't care if you are a fighter. Your family cares - it helps keep their hopes up. Your doctors care - it helps them face you honestly and be good doctors to you. So, there are good reasons to be a fighter and it will probably make the whole process easier for many people.

BUT. I'll say it again, louder: CANCER DOESN'T CARE IF YOU ARE A FIGHTER.

I thought one time I wanted to learn how to fly a plane. My dad had done that for a while, until all the kids were born and he decided that being able to pay the mortgage and giving up a potentially fatal hobby were both good things. He sat me down and said I could only go for flying lessons if I understood that the plane was just a hunk of metal. It doesn't feel, it doesn't love me, it doesn't want to fly. It is matter with mass. Gravity works on it. A plane is a hunk of machinery that wants to fall out of the sky. Flying a plane is just keeping it from falling.

I eventually decided against lessons. And, cancer is cancer. It is not a demon or a bad mood or an enemy that shall be defeated with the right attitude and plucky can-do spirit.

Anyway. I am pissed off by all of those quotes in the articles about Sen. Kennedy's brain tumor about how he is a fighter. So - "Yeah cancer cancer, but he's a fighter, so everything is cool"? Or - "Let's start pretending he's already dead and he died with his boots on. Go us!"? Or, "He will survive this because I want him to and he deserves to live more than other people do!" To heck with those guys, except his son, who does have a right to say that - just like my Mom has a right to say it about me.

And for that matter - by all means, pray. Baptists, Methodists, Buddhists, Mennonites, Hindus, Catholics, Jews, and Presbyterians have all prayed for me at various stages of treatment and I have lasted a surprisingly long time in surprisingly good shape. I try to let everyone know that I appreciate their support and am keeping up a good attitude. That I am FIGHTING. It makes the people I care about feel better, but the way people outside the real personal situation of cancer talk about it sometimes just pisses the hell out of me.

This is just the luck of the draw. For all I know it is the Marlboro Reds that have been holding that sucker at bay all these years.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Real life v. Fake life

I have been doing things in the real world. Many of my activities in the real world are part of a policy initiative. The policy at stake is "improve poetry and creative endeavors." The related strategic initiative is "get out more and interact with poets and creative people." Sadly enough for my blog - a different subset of the same policy initiative - I have hardly done any actual writing since beginning this strategic initiative. So, no energetic time at home in the evening making charts of news stories and no oul-AP-o.

In the meantime, here is an entertaining quote from Ezra Pound, from a paragraph dismissing the relevance of the real identity of Andreas Divus Justinopolitanus, a translator of the Odyssey into Latin (Parisiis, In officina Christiani Wecheli, MDXXXVIII).

... I am myself known as Signore Sterlina to James Joyce's children, while the phonetic translation of my name into the Japanese tongue is so indecorous that I am seriously advised not to use it, lest it do me harm in Nippon. (Rendered back ad verbum into our maternal speech it gives for its meaning, 'This picture of a phallus costs ten yen.' There is no surety in shifting personal names from one idiom to another.)
(from the essay "Translators of Greek: Early Translators of Homer" printed in Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, edited and with an introduction by T.S. Eliot)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

An Interruption in Weekly Service

There is no oul-AP-o yet this week. I was tired last night. And The Producers was on. I expect to get another installment posted later this week.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Hey! Another Oul-AP-o


See the last entry for more of an explanation of this process. The only difference with these is that this time I was watching Big Trouble in Little China and Bizarre Foods because CSI reruns weren't on. Here is your mixed up news:

Apr 8th, 2008 | LOS ANGELES -- A man who says he worked as a bodyguard called off research into and surveillance of traumatic brain injuries in exchange for $213 million. Documents released Tuesday gave details about the hushed phone calls that triggered the raid - he averages 13.5 points and nine rebounds. "It has caused losses in the millions economically ... and ultimately it has deprived western New York of vibrant economic growth," said FBI Special Agent-in-Charge L. Bennett.

Apr 8th, 2008 | BOGOTA, Colombia – France voted Tuesday to expand Iomega Corp. with girls spiritually married to much older men as soon as they reached puberty and boys groomed to perpetuate the cycle. A 16-year veteran was obtained earlier this season. The president of the group was among those charged with extortion and racketeering after a five-year investigation. In court papers, the plaintiff claimed breach of oral contract and violation of four California labor codes, in addition to fraud and infliction of emotional distress.

Apr 8th, 2008 | WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives said Tuesday it would acquire sexual abuse because of a right hip contusion. Some of the crimes were aided by its access to state motor vehicle records. In an unrelated development, it has sued actress Lindsay Lohan and her company, claiming it is owed more than $55,000 in unpaid wages. French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said he is "deeply disappointed."

Apr 8th, 2008 | BOSTON -- Data storage provider EMC Corp. is rife with Memphis Grizzlies (members of a National Basketball Association team based in Memphis Tenn.) attacking non-union workers and their families. Calls to EMC Corp.’s publicist were not immediately returned. The Grizzlies insist, as they have since 2005, that the government de-militarize two counties. Senator Chris Dodd said "we are another step closer to ensuring that every baby born in the United States will be tested for a full panel of genetic and metabolic disorders."

Apr 8th, 2008 | ELDORADO, Texas -- A polygamist compound with hundreds of children sat out Tuesday night against a decade of attacks, but was not paid for its services. The Foreign Ministry said late Tuesday that there was no longer any reason to keep the mission. The polygamist compound supports Health Resources Service Administration grants to fund state projects to improve access to rehabilitation. A representative said this should not have any material impact on its full-year earnings.

Apr 8th, 2008 | MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O'Neal was arrested and charged with two weeks of 24-hour personal security and 17 weeks of evening duty to treat and possibly free an ailing hostage. Similar legislation was already approved by the Senate, and the Senate is expected to act soon to send it to President Bush for his signature. A San Diego-based storage company had rejected that offer earlier this year, calling it inferior to a proposed all-stock transaction. Church lawyer Patrick Peranteau did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment Tuesday.

Apr 8th, 2008 | BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A dozen leaders and members of a construction union say they are owed $4000 a week for a humanitarian mission that affects some 1.5 million Americans every year and has come to be the signature wound of the war in Iraq. This expands their offerings targeting small businesses and consumers. Authorities completed a search of the gleaming 80-foot-high temple, a cheese-making plant, a cement plant, a school, a doctor's office and housing units and said that they took a knee to the hip in their 105-98 loss against Dallas on Sunday.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

AP newswire via Matthews' Oulipian Combinatory Matrix

I've been reading about Oulipo lately. A while ago, I read a very nice translation of Feneon's Novels in Three Lines. Even longer ago, I used to play a fun game with my pals called The Story Game, which was kind of like group Mad Libs with no pre-existing text. Now all these things are brought together for you in my new and possibly one time only feature - "oul-A.P.-o". I began with six newswire articles from April 2. Then I made a chart. Then I did some other stuff with the chart while watching Top Chef reruns (because CSI reruns weren't on - why?!!!)

Here is your news:

Apr 2nd, 2008 | LAS VEGAS -- Verizon Wireless is joining Sprint Nextel Corp. in jumping on the latest craze in the wireless world: unmanned “Predator B” flying drones, unarmed civilian adaptations of missile-toting drones used by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shoppers were surprised. A spokeswoman said they were being treated symptomatically, but declined to say what symptoms were being treated. "No area will be exempt," she said.

Apr 2nd, 2008 | ALLEGAN, Mich. -- Fifth-grader Kenton Stufflebeam will be increasing his program of remotely flying his roommate Michael over Wal-mart, a supermarket, and a Mall. Still, he is taking few chances of further injuring the two-time All-American -- Stufflebeam’s stock plunged by about 25% on Monday. "Where we spend a lot of time is figuring, 'Where is that balance? Where does it make sense for our customers, and where does it fit into our strategy?'" he said.

Apr 2nd, 2008 | SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. – The Federal Agency for Customs and Border Protection was convicted of killing three sheriff’s deputies for the Southeastern Conference women’s tournament championship. The Chief Executive Officer has told media outlets that these initiatives respond to dramatically intensifying conditions in the industry. A spokeswoman said that customer feedback has been positive and that there have not been any issues with interference: "The Precambrian is a dimensionless unit of time, which embraces all the time between the origin of Earth and the beginning of the Cambrian Period of geologic time."

Apr 2nd, 2008 | ROCKVILLE, Md. -- A former Army Ranger sent his injured star player Candace Parker to reduce headcount by 10 percent, primarily in the United States and including everything from plant consolidations and streamlining of management to trimming overhead and spending on research and development. There's still some skepticism toward the technology, although the former Army Ranger has received a letter telling him he was “spot on.” "That's like a little red finger from God coming down and saying, 'Hey, there's some guy under that tree right there.' Very effective," he said.

Apr 2nd, 2008 | LIMA, Ohio -- A judge feels really good about his chances of overcoming another $1 billion in annualized cost cuts through layoffs and other reductions in Denver, Indianapolis and Nashville, Tenn. His father took him to the information desk to report his concerns on a comment form. The information is gathered for security purposes, primarily in vast and remote areas. After several changes in his story, he told police he panicked and dumped the gun into a nearby lake.

Apr 2nd, 2008 | KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Lady Volunteers Coach Pat Summitt announced a new program offering little boxes called femtocells that boost cell-phone coverage in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington. Officials say intelligence gathering is a part of the program, but critics question whether it doesn't abuse the privacy of American citizens. Jurors deliberated for about six hours. Three deputies questioned mall walkers and shoppers whether they were Allen County residents and registered voters, and then issued summonses on the spot if answers to both questions were 'yes,' sheriff's Sgt. Brian Winegardner said.

Apr 2nd, 2008 | TRENTON, N.J. – Schering-Plough Corp. is promoting an error along the Southwestern border of the United States. The error is G. Smith, who grew up in Montgomery County. He is back in the area but he is having trouble dealing with the effects of his military service, which included a tour in Iraq. He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Schering-Plough Corp., a pharmaceutical company, has stated that this is the only the second time this has happened in twenty years. A spokesperson said "We need our legs, and we need to be mentally sharp as well. Less is more in this situation."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Darkest Substance Ever!

Now, the two or three people in the world who have been working on developing their awareness of OPOYUL~ know that the charcoal briquette is the key visualization object: the "black body" of physics - the 100% efficient absorber of energy and the 100% efficient emitter of energy. So, according to my 10th grade physics teacher, "The only thing that really exists that is something like that is a charcoal briquette."

Here I am, slowly over less than a decade but for a pretty long time, thinking about charcoal and about achieving maximum efficiency in both the absorbing and emitting of thought, and now they are turning charcoal briquettes into material [if you mentally conflate all black carboniferous stuff with what you want to talk about, and I do]. At the Atlanta ArtNews listserve, Chris Stevens aptly commented, "This is going to revolutionize the Little Black Dress."

He is awesome, and once made me a hat that completed my 60's stewardess outfit.

Fun with Signs in Tennessee - Part 2!

So - Julie Puttgen sent me this photo of a sign she sees on the drive to the Nashville, TN, airport:

Her comment essentially was, "Is this OPOYUL~ or what?" And, "This bothers me in a 'so what is the subconscious part' kind of way" (of which more later). The sign says

  • 1) "Sherriff's Correctional Complex" [fair enough, I can't see anyone without a 'correctional complex' achieving the job of Sherriff];
  • 2) "Offender Re-entry Center" [?! We need some subject/object clarification here]; and
  • 3) "Metro Animal Control" [?!!!!! Julie entitled the photo "Animal Offender" and I laughed, but now that I think it through, the implications of the sign taken as a whole could be much spookier -- I still want to do that graphic novel about all the abused suburban animals rounding up a bunch of humans for their own Death Race 2000.]
It is OPOYUL~Y in a hard to pin down way. There is something very simple and obvious to be communicated here, but at the same time is aimed only at people who have specific business there and already know exactly what is going on. So, the official/ formal/ appropriate words are superfluous as to their intended audience and meaningless to everyone else. The new term I am making up right this moment for such an unsatisfactory usage is contralogism. It is efficient and often necessary to perpetrate the old contralogism now and then, especially in the legal field, but it hurts a little to see language flapping uselessly/meaninglessly beside the road that way.

The "so, what is the subconscious part" is something mentioned in the very useful book The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker. A man goes to a psychiatrist and says "I think I am subconsciously avoiding having sex with my wife." The psychiatrist, very psychiatristily, says "Why do you think that?" The man says, "Well, every night I watch TV until an hour after she goes to bed, and then, if it turns out she is still awake, I go back and watch TV until I am sure she is asleep. I figure I must be subconsciously avoiding the possibility of sex with her." The psychiatrist then asks, "What's the subconscious part?"

Fun with Signs in Tennessee - Part 1!

Signs are fun everywhere, but it looks like Sewannee, TN is fixing to lead the pack for me personally. Here is one that inspired me particularly:

the 4 seasons restaurant will be closed until spring
4 in this case being a mathematical symbol unrelated to any tangible concept in the material world-
seasons being, in their way, tangible.
Restaurant names generally are in the same category as car model names,
will suggest or connote and won't or can't really signify or
be convincing, predictive signs of what is supposedly signified.
Closed for one out of four would be three seasons, and therefore logically impossible.
Until we get stricter about names this sort of thing will continue to happen.
Spring is what we need, some kind of renaissance, maybe.

(For proof, there's a picture at the link to Ratsalad DeLuxe above!)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

from junior year of college - way on back

a stab at a kind of modified ballad meter in modified sonnet rhyme -

Oh my, old seasick Captain Red,
Out drinking in the park,
Still smashing empty bottles green,
Still draining others dry,
Recall what made your spine go soft -
which sailors left to die
in groaning wooden galleons tossed
in blood and ocean dark.

And what strange lands you may have seen,
and what quaint fables tell
of captives bound with golden chains
at noble ladies' whim,
of fishes gasping empty air
who never learned to swim,
who loved the ocean only once
but claim they know it well.

My iron captain crawled to shore
when water turned him rust.
His salty smile will never speak
of what he understood:
Uncertain feet that roll on land
remember only wood
and fear they'll sink him to his neck
and drown him in the dust.

Oh my, old drunken Captain Red,
still dripping on the shore,
You'll cough up twenty bottles worth,
and - thirsty - call for more.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

haiku resurfaced from memory

from 4 or so years ago, a time when I had an office with such a view:

distant Stone Mountain
floats on a dark haze of pine
Mount Fuji it ain’t

the big tornado

A bunch of windows are themselves blown out.
Usually other things are blown out of windows.
This is not, technically, irony -
and some things were, in fact, blown out of those windows.
There is not much that is conceptually contradictory about it,
except that broken glass closed off Luckie Street all weekend.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

and another pantoum -

these were discussed earlier.

This one is about trees, and I am very happy with it.

hate getting political

but sometimes it happens -

my country right or wrong

exclamation point, backspace
period, backspace
question mark, backspace
comma, backspace

Friday, March 14, 2008

pruntiform - the usual thoughts about traffic

Seems like all the people want to drive in this lane.
Like this lane has something special about it -
All the lanes are headed the same way.
The traffic is dense and darting, inefficient -
People display a monstrous lack of patience.
Want is a state, it is desperate, has private motive.
To satisfy want, people are moved individually -
Drive unpredictably and that can cause accidents.
In this town, everyone is from elsewhere, each drives differently.
This lane must have special qualities, must seem worth the trouble,
Lane changes being so dangerous.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Why didn't I see these stories until I happened to catch BBC World News?

I am surprised.

1) They say the Carlyle Capital Corporation is collapsed. Some conspiracy folks think its parent (the Carlyle Group) is the cabal that runs the world - many web pages about that sort of thing are on the first page of a Google search. Crazy.

2) And, there is a tent city in California, contributed to in part by the foreclosure boom. (link is to a Reuters video from 2007, so this has been going on for a while.)

The American news I saw today was about oil prices and the dollar against the yen. Oh, and some politician in a scandal with a younger woman.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

and, because I never neglect the apocalyptic scenario

There is this chipper news story, that would be the starting place for a novel akin to the Stand. The protagonist reads the story, then goes about her business, little knowing, etc. Now's the time to stock up your penicillin, beef jerky, batteries, and drinking water!

chicken and egg - here's two

It’s in my eye but not all the way in.
In among my lashes, it is touching some nerves.
My pulse, accordingly, accelerates.
Eye lid flutter, turn to shelter from the wind.
But - don’t touch -
Not big, not a lash, not a bug, just some ash, soon gone.
All it amounts to is a second of anxiety.
The danger of pain feels so real the
way it stops a moment
in another moment.

chicken and egg - here's one

You gotta love contractions!
Gotta get those verbs outta the way!
Love’s okay, though - most of the time it’s a noun.
Contractions make everything simpler.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Oh, you men.

This Onion article is a couple of years old. It is funny.

Monday, March 10, 2008

things look difficult - linking Credit Slips.

" . . . more credit card issuers are refusing to cut interest rates to help out consumers in trouble"
Here is the link.

One in ten homeowners are under water, also.

Everybody in the industry (and many out) should have seen this coming. I wrote this silliness sometime around 2004. My mien of outrage was not sufficient to convey an ongoing infinite thought process at the time, and the piece is weak. Things would be different now. (A rewrite and binding in paper form might be in the works once Julie and I land on the same planet again sometime.)


He said duck, you goose.
He said something is flying
just over your head.

no good service of process,
no jurisdiction

a bad customer,
the bank has now sued you-
note: certified mail.

Friday, March 7, 2008

true stories make dirty poems

There is a suspicious package in the loading dock.

It has been inspected.

Ok, all clear.

A new poetry form to play with

I took note of an announcement at McSweeney's:

McSweeney's Quarterly Concern is seeking poetry submissions of two very specific kinds: senryu and pantoums. For details, click here.
The senryu are a kind of poem (it seems to me) that may arrive fully formed in the mind, and require open-ness to the possibility of having one eventually. So, not something to dash off in a haze of hunger and fatigue. I still haven't written any, and might not ever.

The pantoum is a very delicious form. It appeals - rhythmic, repetitious, reminds me of the old IVOST series. It is like candy. This candy, particularly. I wrote two and submitted them to McS, but their particular use of the word "unpublished" suggests I not post them. I will say that one of them was slightly passive aggressive. Here is an inferior one I wrote in a spasm of anxiety about which pills I had taken in what order. What order? Doctor's order.

Everything turned out ok, no vomit, but there was a thunderstorm at 3 am and Bettie came and jumped on my bed trembling and panting and wouldn't lie down. I was a little shorter with her than I would have liked. The cat couldn't have cared less; he is such a steadying influence.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I can achieve certain goals.

A camera is purchased and should be here tomorrow. Then I will take pictures of things and there will be something to look at here. In the meantime, there is this poem about the homeless person who jumped off Spring Street a few days ago. I was sick that day and my car was in the shop anyway so I would have missed the whole thing regardless. Networks were the only source of information I have about this incident.

First Post

This is the first post. Good enough for now. I am going to buy a camera.