Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Further Review

Here is my review of Antiphonies for Galatea Ressurects, specifically an anthology of Canadian, women’s and experimental poetry edited by Nate Dorward.

Friday, December 23, 2011


I flutter at the cluttered atrocities of popular music and entertainers. I mean, omigod, they preach the strange and enticing. An unexamined meaning persists, thrilling yet unqualified.

Years ago, I saw a picture of the New Kids on the Block, back when they were both new and kids. Everything seemed to be arranged, pregnant with meaning. The clothing, the rat  tail, the postures, the gestures, the everything. They were selling something, they were selling everything.

Wham! constitutes just more more example. Two videos offer plenty to pursue.

First that ridiculously peppy “Wake Me Up Before You go Go Go.” It might drive your crazy, but you cannot take away how infectious this song is. I find it hard to imagine anyone wanting to sing that first line but it all works out. There’s no weightbearing structure but it is lighter than air.

One might be blinded by the cleanness and brightness of everyone involved in this video. Everyone shines. White is the choice for apparel colour. George and Andrew look happy and marvelous. They skitter about the stage in what we eventually realize is a rehearsal. The band and singers all look cheerful backing up the wonderful boys.

George dances an energetic but silly looking club sort of expression. Andrew wields his guitar like a prop. And everyone’s so happy. The lyric suggests the dark possibility of abandonment, but qualifies that with perkiness.

At one point, George at his gleamingest gets some face time. He sits with arms across his chest in a pose that recalls Marilyn Monroe. The lyric is something like “It’s cold outside but it’s warm in here”. He uses his eyes to point outside, and sort of rolls them to indicate in here. It’s all eye candy contrivance.

Midway thru the vid, the white pants of George and Andrew transform into shorts. You can see that George chooses slightly shorter shorts. I’m reminded of Officer Dangle on Reno 911. Tho an eager audience is intimated, we don’t really get that patented fake fun audience excitement that many vids have expressed. The camera’s too intent on the performers, especially and of course George.

There are some out takes, real or not. I mean, a couple of back up singers get their hand gestures wrong: that looks real. George and Andrew are supposed to meet center stage and bend forward toward the camera. In one instance, George overshoots the mark and winds up in front of Andrew. Andrew shoves him hilariously aside and laughs. Well, that hits close to home, we now know. Andrew now tells people he was that dark haired guy in Wham! Really!

I have no idea what Andrew contributes. It astonished me to hear years ago that George was voted Songwriter of the Year in Britain. On the strength of this??? I’ll grant he hits the high notes nicely, not falsetto but real singin’. This confection seems like the only song by him/them that isn’t mush, not to reveal my tastes too much.

The second vid is “Last Christmas”. I never heard the song until literally last Christmas. I remember that Michael had that sex song featuring his butt. I cannot recall the tune but it wasn’t upbeat was it? Seems like he eschewed upbeat after Go Go.

Anyway, “Last Christmas” is a dreadful, obnoxiously whiny song. George Michael, unlucky in love. It is as puerile as Go Go, but without the ameliorating energy. Having suffered a broken heart last year, this year he will give it to someone special. He pronounces special with embarrassing breathiness. Contrived and cheesy. That’s the song. You can sensibly hate it.

The vid goes classic with a gestured story. A gang of clean, attractive people gather at a chalet for a ski vacation. I presume that after finishing the vid they made a tooth whitener commercial to pay for it. Andrew is just one of the gang, smooching and hugging his girlfriend.

George arrives with a blonde. He sees a brunette who clearly is Last Christmas. The rest of the vid shows George with frownie face. His blonde friend melts into the crowd and George rests lingering eye on the brunette. Don’t worry, the entirely new and original tableau of the two having a snowball fight that ends up with them rolling together in the snow has been activated. And I guess things turn out well for George.

Now, I have suggested what became of Andrew but I do not know what happened to George. Did assignations in men’s toilets kill his career, or perhaps drugs. I’m thinking neither has to. Maybe his career is fine and I just don’t know it. He’s old now, tho.

Galatea Resurrects, Some Reviews

Get thee here for numero seventeen of Eileen Tabios’ review blog. Your Love Boat captain has several reviews, to wit:

  1. What If by Skip Fox (or vice versa)
  2. Citizen Can by Ben Friedlander
  3. Fragile Replacements by William Allegrezza
  4. Antiphonies: Essays on Women’s Experimental Poetries in Canada edited by Nate Dorward (link currently broken but trust me)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Antic View 152

After a hiatus, Antic View returns. Installment number 152 is here.

Mall Narrative

Nobody woke with boundless energy yesterday, day after our party. At the crack of mid-afternoon, however, Beth and I saw that we needed to visit the mall. Not for Christmas shopping, we don’t do much of that, just to tour around. We are intelligent observers. Beth sees the economy almost as a living body by visiting the mall.

Excuse me if I revert to narrative here. My interest in narrative hangs less in the actions but how the actions transform in the writing. Think of Henry James. His novels and stories hardly overflow with action. He writes within the structure of these vague narrative points, embracing details. I intend in writing these tangential trails to embrace the details, cogently. And so…

The mall looked a-bubble as we approached, tho we saw parking availability. The Patriots versus God was about to begin on TV, so that could have diminished the mob some. The temperature was in the 20s. We haven’t been scraping that low so that may have kept some home.

A long line at Sears’ registers as we entered. I have to admit that I might rethink purchasing an item if the line looks daunting. I know, man up. Some people totally freak out about the lines and hubbub. I don’t, but the lines do make me review how great an item I am, or perhaps am not, purchasing.

One storefront featured a village scene, with small figures and buildings, some trains and such like. It reminded me of The Enchanted Village, which was for years a staple of the Christmas Season in Boston. Located at Jordan Marsh, a department store swallowed mercilessly by Macy’s, it was a room full of mechanically animated figures in a village scene. I saw it as a child, majestically impressed. This was a smaller version. One house had figures dancing inside.

The specific store that offered this pleasantry turned out to be a Christmas junk store. It was one of those transient stores that pop up for an intense couple of months to serve a specific need. In this case, Christmas decorations. One could buy all the pieces displayed in the window, which is tempting tho logistically impossible for this child.Maybe it is the God’s eye view that draws me. The carpet  of this store was furiously dirty, like I’m even the guy to notice such a thing. No time to clean, gotta manifest a singularly quick profit.

Marilyn Monroe ornaments in iconic subway surprise. It is just not Christmas till you’ve seen Marilyn’s underwear. To be honest, I never really got Homer Simpson as giant Santa Claus in the yard. Or Santa Claus on a motorcycle giant inflatable. Etc.

The Apple Store had a surprisingly junky window display. A bunch of junky looking cartoonish pictures. Not classy, not involving. I officially tire of slick. Apple offers disposable elegance, as if the thin and spare design of their toys improves what it delivers. Didn’t even go in. Oh, by the way, we’re mining your iPhone for data.

We did not enter Betsey Johnson either, but watched the TV there. On previous visits, I thunk the person in the vids was Suzanne Somers, which made no sense. Now I understand that that oldish comedic blonde there is Betsey herself. We see her cavorting both alone and with models. A little unconvincing with her elevated gayety. The models stand literally a head taller than Betsey, and take a guess how much lighter they weigh. The necessity to select in that way, and the dear things are as expressive as that Robert Palmer video, it seems creepy. It’s not like you see a lot of 6’ tall generic models in the store. The point, then?

Nordstrom glistened. Notably, for me, a guy slipped on the floor, almost banana split before he recovered. He even left rubber. He gawked at the spot, legitimately puzzled by how slippery. Nothing looked wowzer at this time.

Inevitably we entered Eddie Bauer. Plus ca change. Jeans, which I call dungarees unless I fear to sound like a yokel, seem diminished now. Thin material, not outdoor ready. Beth has noted that the cut of clothes looks slimmer. Less emphasis on the outdoor stuff. Bodes not well. Picked up a little flashlight that can be recharged by cranking the crank or with light. I prefer walking home from work down the path into the woods than the longer road route with headlights in my eyes. And 40% off!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dog Bite and Christmas Party

I walk to work down a former railroad cut (down what had been one of the oldest rail lines in the nation). Basically, a walk in the woods. It comes out near the centre.

As I came to the crosswalk on South Rd, you know, across from that red house, I heard dogs barking and a woman yelling. I looked to see a dog in the neighbouring yard racing toward me. Interesting, thinks I. I assumed that an invisible fence existed to keep such steadfast energy at bay. The dog passed out of the yard and came to greet me with teeth flashing. Two other dogs joined the first in harassing me. The first dog leaped toward my face, which in my estimation is not a good thing. The other dogs came at me in good canine fashion, from all sides.

I had a pack to sort of fend the first dog with, then I felt a dog biting me from, and on the, behind. By this time a frantic woman arrived yelling at the dogs. I noticed that the first dog wore a leash, which the woman tried to grab. When she did she pulled that dog away and was able to voice command the others off. She asked me if I was okay and I said yes. I went on my way.

That sort of quick event leaves you in a daze, and I think my processing speed aint lightning quick anyway. I found it odd that I never felt an adrenalin rush. As someone who has run 50,000 miles, I’ve met a few dogs that have found various ways to remonstrate with me. This attack, however, beats any of that. I’ve always treated such as consciously calmly as possible, otherwise dogs become more aggressive. But the attack was so quick and vicious, I would expect to have felt a rush.

As I proceeded—somewhat dazedly—I thought, what if a child…? I determined to call the police when I got to work. I also discovered that both shirts that I wore, and the back pocket of my dungarees were torn. I hadn’t noticed.

So, at work I called the police and an officer came and interviewed me. I detailed the attack, told the officer I was unhurt. When Beth picked me up at ten, she inquired if I had looked for wounds. Well, I had not. When I did, I found that I had been punctured on the butt and the upper thigh. That meant a visit to the Emergency Room.

Emergency Room always = 3 hours. And so it proved. Watched that animated movie with the square headed guy and the chubby boy in the flying house, weirdly vicious but cutely hilarious in portraying dogs endearingly. After that, with a thumb thru of People, was (inexplicably) The 700 Club, which featured a commercial of Pat Boone sleazily hocking gold. Did you know Tim Tebow loves Jesus? Praise the Lord.

The dr spent about 5 minutes with me, with a perfunctory glance at the wound and an explanation of rabies. A nurse gave me a tetanus shot, and we left after 1:00.

I got 6 hours sleep then rose to decorate the Christmas tree and otherwise prepare for our party. We had to shop, and I made a visit to the police station to see what next, and also to say that I had indeed been injured. I still await determination whether the dogs had had their shots. Turns out an invisible fence was in place, but dogs in their excitement can get thru them. And once thru, I know, they are reluctant to go back.

I made three loaves of bread and two types of apple pie, one traditional American, the other a so called Swedish, tho it was definitely more than sweetish. Beth did all the heavy lifting with roast beef, roasted Brussel sprouts and salad and cheese and stuff. Wine poured, and all was well.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Simple Theories

53 poem/posts this year, not grandly amazing, but I like each individual. Coax you, Readers fair, to visit Simple Theories.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

“Santa Baby”, the Song that Really Sucks

The song “Santa Baby” enjoys the world’s record for the creepiest Christmas song extant. I shan’t argue the point. One can hardly imagine an ickier song coming along to disturb posterity.

I have not researched who exactly claims responsibility for this song. The less said about the perps the better. Somebody, clearly, consciously or not, had thoughts to the tune of “I have some weird, creepy feelings about Christmas. I think I will write a song.” Nothing along the way came to the point of examination.

“Santa Baby”, both in its words and its performance, oozes from a cultural cue of utter unrefinement. It packs a sexuality that completely lacks circumspection. The damn song advances a gross demand with the purest disregard for the social embrace.

Do you say “What?” Listen to the song. The characters in it nestle in an infantile release that resembles, really, the easy action of wetting diapers. Do I overblow the situation? I don’t think so.

For most people, Christmas presents a spiritual opportunity. I don’t mean in the religious sense severely, but certainly a cultural connection exists for many. I’m not ignoring the advancing downside of the holiday, just marking the general positive push it wants to establish, however bludgeonly. The holiday’s primitive (so called) antecedents attempted to satisfy an important, dire even, need, facing death and disintegration. And it did so in a way recognizable and acceptable to the many.

“Santa Baby” suggests something verging on psychotic. It can express nothing but need of the narrowest focus, unencumbered by regard. It pictures a hell just as devastating as Dante could imagine. There, I said it.

The song excises all moral tendering for the excitement of greed. And the song’s perps expect auditors to laugh at the empty cause. Most people, I imagine, just want to say: don’t be silly. It is a silliness that cannot meet your eyes.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bowling for Columbine

We’ve owned this fdvd or several years but could never bring ourselves to watch it. We held the reasonable theory that a movie about the Columbine shootings would be crushing. In sooth, tho serious in intent, it’s not as thuddingly depressing as feared. That is, Michael Moore maintains a stance of entertainment in this work. I know that sounds cheezy on my part, but crushing recitations of gravid societal ills compel hopelessness, not the opposite. We don’t need more hopelessness. I’ve checked. We really don’t.

After 9/11 (Day of Infamy Inc.), people on the Poetics list were citing Michael Moore’s take on those stark events. That’s an entire misread of what Moore is. Moore is not Socratic wisdom, he’s Trickster. What he thinks in some broad sense pales against what he will say in the small but bountiful moment. To look toward him for guidance suggests a power that he cannot give.

Moore is an easy Everyman, or I should say in minuscule, ordinary person. His schlubbiness makes his pleasantly pertinent questions powerful and teetering. People relax in the face of this unkempt looking average guy. Moore’s innocent questions hit pay dirt because his victims feel superiour.

The movie begins with him opening an account at a bank that will gift him a new rifle for his business. File under You Can’t Make This Up. The bank, in Michigan, a hunter’s haven, might naturally play to their clientele thus, strange as it may seem to us in a less hunter strong environment. Moore himself is a gun owner and NRA member, which allows the movie to carry more weight than if he were a dedicated gun hater.

The movie’s best moments occur when Moore as innocent accosts significant people. The superiour sorts chatter away, until they realize that Moore wields a knife. Or someone like Terry Nichol’s brother, who looks crazed much of the time.

Moore interviews Marilyn Manson, who was an easy to identify influence on the shooters at Columbine. Manson was well spoken and thoughtful, and Moore just agreed. Let Manson supple the movie’s theme.

Moore sometimes eschews his schlub persona and becomes heroic. I regard this as an off note. Two victims of the shooting, with bullets in their bodies still, were taken to Kmart. Kmart sold the bullets in their bodies. The victims wanted to encourage the company to stop selling firearms. To me, there was a whiff of using these kids. One was confined to a wheelchair and the other looked like he could be. Moore, as instigator, with camera rolling, made a demonstration with which these kids could participate. Given that Moore established that Canada and other countries have plenty of guns without a 100th of the murder rate that the US enjoys, it looks more like a cure of the symptom than the disease itself.

A weird, under-emphasized moment occurs somewhat early in which we see a few real life shootings. Moore offers no explanations. One is, apparently, a random shooting, one looks like a Kent State victim, and one is someone putting a gun in his mouth and firing. These images startle, for sure, but Moore pops them in almost thoughtlessly. As shocking as these incidents are, they zip by almost pleasantly. I just find that weird.

The movie culminates in Moore gaining interview access with Charlton Hesston, then president of the NRA. I actually understand the NRA’s persistent defense of 2nd Amendment. It’s like defending a trademark. If you let down your guard on little things, suddenly the big things slip by. Still, Hesston arrives in Columbine while the shootings still are mourned. And an incident in which a 1st grader brings a gun to school and accidentally kills a classmate again brings him to town. That’s just tone deaf.

In the interview, which Heston allowed in his Hollywood glamour pot, Moore tries to upend the knucklehead. Heston cannot let go the feisty ego aplomb, which plays into Moore’s hands. Moore steps across the No Thanks point, and Hesston walks out. Heston has different hair than he did in the public proclamationing, id est, he aint got his toup. He walks away with his stiff old man back angled forward, loser loser loser. Moore kinda kills the flush by wielding a picture of the little dead girl. Leaving the picture for Heston to chance upon left a bad smack. The girl did not die for your use, did she Michael?

So I argue a bit with technique, and philosophic stance, but as a somewhat thoughtful entertainment, it worked. Militia folk and others declaring they need to protect themselves, but gosh darn, against what? And why with automatic weapons and war armaments?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Twenty Eleven

A brisk but sunny Thanksgiving here on the outer edge of the Hub of the Universe. On Wednesday, I made bread, pecan pie and, once again, the Apple-Blackberry Pie. The recipe for Apple-Blackberry pie comes from the eternal doyen of the kitchen, ex-con Martha Stewart. But wait, it’s quite tasty! That’s not crust, Friends, that’s pate brise!This year, I noticed that I am supposed to cook down the juices of the fruit before sticking the pie in the oven. How very grand!

Beth is in her element preparing the turkey. Smells good, sausage and chestnut dressing. We’re listening to NPR. David McCullough spoke about his latest book, which concerns the lure of Paris on 19th century Americans. Well should McCullough be a historian, he tells a good story. I read his John Adams, who I really like, and Abigail too. The shine of Jefferson has become a bit tarnished, whereas Adams’ integrity and vision resonates more.

I am, moi-meme, writing my own story. Auto plus biography, that is. Sixty four pages in. Perhaps I bury the lead, because this feels really important to me. I’ve found the need to (re)read certain works, as backbone for this effort. Jung, certainly. And I am (finally) deep into Joseph Campbell’s The Masks of God. I have poked thru the four volumes but never made a concerted effort. I’m nearly thru Primitive Mythology. I’ve read Hero with 1000 Faces, and other works by Campbell. This one is his masterwork. The development of mythology, and the psychic importance of them, underlies my writing here, I mean in the book I am writing. Started Clan of the Cave Bear again, as well. Just one of those books that I enjoy but never seem to finish. Storywise, it’s decent enough. Jean Auel’s well-researched evocation of primitive human life is very fine. I recall Darryl Hannah’s swing at the book. In terms of capturing the plot or anything else about the book, it’s a miss. Okay, Hannah was blonde just like Ayla.

Since we have eschewed cable this past year and more, no Macy’s parade and no football. I miss football a little bit, but I always tended to think I wasted my time watching football. And the fiasco at Penn State just reminds me of the fearsome great stupidities required to foment such autocracies as football teams. Greed and pride, the program, the program,the program.

It has been something like 5 years since we’ve had Thanksgiving at home. Just our nuclear embrace of three, but that’s fine. The cat performs his quiet vortex of attention in the middle of the room, which surely ought to inspire us to give him more food. The betta flickers in excitement whenever I come near his bowl. I guess he’d accept me as provender if I did not drop the food pellets into his home.

I should mench that I saw a Christmas tree, decorated and lit, in a window more than 2 weeks ago. In my childhood, the tree went up around the 23rd (December!), and came down on New Year’s Day. The tree that I saw is probably an imitation. I don’t know where you could buy a live (chopped down) one at that time. And if it were live, it would be kindling by the time the holiday arrived.

The meal now past. One downer: The cream bought for the mashed potatoes turned out to be hazelnut flavoured, a fact not noticed till pouring had begun. The hazelnut factor wasn’t so bad tho it competed with the gravy. The sweetness factor skewed things. Three wines, two unfinished: Pinot Gris, Villa Maria (New Zealand), Pinot Noir MacMurray (Cal), and Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberb Spatlese by Molitor (rolls off the tongue).

Monday, November 07, 2011

Variously Bespoke

Friends, and I hope I can accurately use the plural, I hate that I do not—recently—update this blog. It should be a tidal surge of surety, that’s my vision. PECAVVI!

So here, now, I ruminate.

Last weekend was a wash. We lost power, due to a storm dropping a few inches of snow (after mucho rain) onto trees still fledged. The power went at 3am, with broken trees, returned on Monday 3pm. I was myself under the weather, sorethroaty and sleep-needy. I gave Erin a few hours of homework help, albeit I dozed off somewhere in the midst.

Internet, our eternal friend disappearified for 4 days, which was a ruction. What up with the Patriots? Well, I did not need to know, losers. More importantly, how can Erin do his schoolwork, internetified ass it is? Sigh,l but we weathered.

Yesterday, Beth confirmed that she was thoroughly under similar weather as I. Erin likewise. Beth and I set off Saturday not exactly morning for a vital Costco run. It is Christmas there. An upgrade of phones next. Theoretically, our 4 phones (we have a spare lines) were due for magical upgrade. A call to enemy headquarters, id est Verizon, informed us that only 3 of these lines were due for upgrade. The scumbags, pardon the French, were almost resolute against believing the error was theirs. Beth won after a mere hour plus of lifetime resisting the resistant.

Today we had to scramble off for food for the betta, who survived a chilly weekend last week, glaring at me anxiously. And food for the mighty kitty, thus avoiding any conversations regarding his lack of food and our blind duty towards him. And finally, visited an artist open house.

The town’s official artists opened their studios this weekend to visitors. We visited someone we knew. She has a neat studio and lovely work, and her husband 30 some grapevines, mostly hybrids adapted for the local climate but a few cabernet sauvignon that he has managed to winter over for several years now.

I have, for the past 4 or 5 weeks, been writing a book. A real book with lots of pages. It is plainly autobiographical, but Joseph Campbell’s Masks of God 4-ology is enlighteningly appropriate. I have read at it afore, but it now seems vitally vital. And Jung seems helpful too. I write of my family and life, but I want a transferral, a joining with reader. The story grows in the telling. Thus and so.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Reading a biography of this Scottish hero fellow. Points of agreement with the Mel Gibson extravaganza exist, but likewise gulfs of differences, if differences can be expressed in gulfs.

I like the movie and have seen it several times, id est, it sits on our shelf. It presents a plausible world, and feels accurate in its presentation. I’m not asking for historical accuracy but that it holds some sort of internal consistency. The random way hair is tied up and braided illustrates (weirdly, I suppose) the consistency I mean. A real life sloppiness. Altho I must say that the omnipresent mud on people’s faces seems too thoughtful.

The movie predates the public flowering of Crazy Gibson, but even so the taint seeps in. Have to push that aside.

Gibson was older when making the movie than Wallace ever. Sometimes he looks squeezed into the role. Early on we understand him as youthful and, okay, he doesn’t quite look it. Worse occurs as he boyishly courts the young woman. That boyishness simply clanks. And apparently actors directing themselves remain cognizant  of face time. Director Gibson likes that actor Mel.

Historical Wallace stood some 6’6”, which pretty well fulfills the idea of giant at a time when most people were barely 5’ tall. Gibson looks fearsome in battle, but in a superhero Hollywood way, not in the bludgeoning way that really Wallace was. The bio attends to Wallace’s fighting prowess with eye-popping details that make the movie look patty cake. I mean, some English soldiers accost Wallace and seconds later rent chainmail and cleft skulls tell a bloody deed. This happens often.

One can hardly veer Wallace from a sense of Billy the Kid psychopath. Wallace at least seems to keep his bloodthirst properly focused on Southrons whereas Billy did not seem to discriminate who he killed. The bio describes Wallace as frequently going to Ayr basically for the sport of killing English men. The movie keeps him measured in the terms of Freedom.

The movie tries to present that sense of Freedom as an intellectual motivation but at best it is emotional. What is freedom in the context of a nation? And what is freedom in terms of a pre-nation like Scotland was? The concept of nation by definition means limitation. It means accepting whatever The Nation accepts as right. The Braveheart espousal blends idyllic peace with the right to chop off English heads. Which is not to say I don’t get the savagery of the times. Sam Adams bolstered a mob scene into an act of political defiance, and it took his cousin to bring the event back into a human reality. Wallace probably was “a hero”, certainly a necessity for Scotland qua Scotland, but the shimmering sanctity needs another look.

I have noted before that the battle scenes in Braveheart, brutal tho they be, look fun. After the battle you pull the arrow from your eye, pick up your arm, and go drink some ale. American football  with weapons. One battle scene bothers me. Braveheart prepares the battlefield so that when the English cavalry charges, it can be set afire. That seems too sophisticated for berserkers. And it seems like too much trouble for a trick that could easily fail. I  do not know, tho, whether history admits this trick.

Patrick McGoohan as the English king stands out. There’s a genre of Hollywood versions of villainous English lords and kings. Basil Rathbone, straight up, in Robin Hood, or the poncy, hissing King Whosis in The Vikings. McGoohan blends the rarest touch of that with a hefty dose of Exxon CEO. His son’s gay lover annoyingly attempts to add his 2 cents worth to some political planning, and McGoohan casually leads him aside to confer, only the king throws him out the window instead.

Gibson’s final scene, when Braveheart is tortured unto death stretches out excruciatingly. It is graphic enough to make one flinch, and it just drags on hopelessly. It’s not like the scene in Nicholas and Alexandra in which the czar and family await their fate. The scene goes on so tensely that you get to thinking that maybe they won’t be murdered. No, more like Marlon Brando’s death scene in Mutiny on the Bounty. That’s a 1st class ham (emeritus) with no boundaries. Gibson shouts “Freedom!” when he should be crying “Ouch!!!”.

The biography spent the first 60 pages confusing me. It tries to clarify Wallace’s lineage, plus royal line of ascent, and that all swirls in blank spots and suppositions. And then Wallace rises from crazy ass thug to charismatic national leader. At least in that detail, he resembles Hitler. I mean, the transition is hard to grasp. Context context context.

Monday, October 03, 2011

A Non-Fiction Book

I recently began a project, to write a book. With more than 10 pages writ, I feel like I have a path to follow. Not an entirely clear one, but I don’t want that anyway.

The act of writing has to be one of discovery for me. Not to sound magical, I just mean that writing within a structured outline and plan removes a lifeblood sort of spontaneity from my writing. It’s the adventure of the writing that interests me, not the conclusions.

I know what I want to address. My subject, if we want to enclose it, is family.  My family, and the misconceptions, confusions, and disappointments that have occurred within it.

The book, tentatively titled Documented in Time, shall be autobiographical. I hope to avoid the merely personal, arguing with ghosts. It shall be ‘my story’, with full knowledge that objectivity is impossible. Tangents, yes. Extraneous filigrees of personal detail, I hope not.

Anyway, I have yet to enter into anything painful, just establishing a foundation. I am prepared for the pain but let’s don’t get heroic sounding about it. Having a project such as this, that will take time, excites me. Days Poem was a daily grind for 14 months. Dunno how long this will take. I would almost wish to hie off to an artist colony to give this that sort of intention. On the other hand, keeping writing part of everything else seems important. If I manage to write something most days, great. If I can add 2 or more pages in a day most days, great.

Monday, September 05, 2011

The BlazeVox Publishing Conundrum

Search on the term BlazeVox and you will find bubbling opinions about the publisher’s attempt to make financial sense. The focus of concern icenters on  the press’ stated policy requiring money from authors to publish the work. Additionally, there is a question of how clearly Geoffrey Gatza, the publisher of BV, made this requirement.

None of this agitates me.

A poetry press, especially a small one, is a ridiculous business qua business. Money goes out and little comes back. Beth and I know, we ran Potes & Poet’s Press for 6 years. Incoming money went directly to the next book. At the time, Small Press Distribution was taking something like 6 months to pay us for books sold. They also neglected to send out standing orders to libraries. Thanks for that support, SPD. Grolier Book Shop thrilled us by ordering 2 copies of every book in the catalogue, enough to finance another book, and paid us zilch. I’m whingeing here but the fact is, poetry is not well supported, not even by those directly involved. Shrug.

Forced by necessity, Geoffrey Gatza made a business decision. Friends, if you will look around, a lot of businesses, real businesses, seek ways to survive. It appears that Gatza has rescinded his policy, because of firestorms, but I’m sure he had to do something. Throw the flagpole in the moat and see if anyone salutes.

Frankly,  do we need poetry presses? The audience is too small and unforthcoming to support presses as currently envisioned. Just go POD, and if you have 10 poet friends, publish 10 books: no waste, no extra expense. The poetry potlatch.

I’m not trying to be mean, but one might as well accept that poetry presses provide an underappreciated service. And do we need all this poetry, really? Are poetry books exciting and important? Let’s publish those ones, then buy them, then talk and write about them. The other ones, the publish or die ones, the churned out calling cards, let’s just give them a pass.

Critics of Gatza’s move call it vanity press. They are decidedly too secure in the comfort of gatekeepers. You can make you own books, you know. That’s what computers are for.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mall report and Hurricane Lowdown

We are now getting something hurricane-like, after several days of expectation. Thursday afternoon cumulous built impressively then the sky lowered and rain pounded for a while. That tasted, and even saltily smelled, like the storm but surely was no such thing.

Event cancellation began thursday. The kind of substantiating effort beforehand by the media makes the expectation worse than the event. Proportion is right out.

Beth had to work saturday, and Erin attended some back to school events at UMass, so Beth’s mother, who is visiting, and I were on our own. What else to do but take her to the mall. It has been a while since I’ve made a mall report.

The sky was overcast and somewhat unremarkable. I don’t really have a keen weather eye but I like to observe weather events. To the east and south, assuming I have my directions right, the clouds seemed to tell of something larger in the offing, grey rising above grey.

Before we reached the mall we went into a golf store, Golf Galaxy to be specific. As much as I’ve always been a sporty guy, both in participating and in watching, I am completely tuned out to golf. Beth’s mother is avid.

I might as well lay out my objections to golf. What are blogs for?

By temperament, golf’s not for me. In sports, I got by on energy, not skill. There’s no golfing harder than the other person. Further, I don’t like the trade of natural landscapes for enormous and exclusive lawns. And it is effing expensive to golf.

The Galaxy was spacious with, hey hey, green carpets. The whole gizmo aspect of golf gear puts me off, too, I should add. It is legitimately a science of the sport but it is not the part I would want to wraparound. I would just want to swing away. So now you know why you shouldn’t like golf.

Someone was getting a lesson, complete with video review. The golfer was a young athletic looking guy, very intent. He was a southpaw, which I think is rare. I mean, I believe lefties often swing right because it’s easier to procure righty clubs. Anyway, we toured the whole store but I did not end up wearing plaid pants

It just started raining as we reached the mall. Many people there, we parked in the back 40. We entered Nordstrom, to an insistent dance beat. Norma went to the shoes, where a lot of young women were ogling the styles. I don’t know why anyone would want to wear plastic sandals. Norma said all the jewelry was costume.

We didn’t go in but Betsey Johnson had a tv showing some older women—I’m guessing some withering celebs of some sort—sort  of frolicking in a beaming way. I dunno.

Norma was directed into another boutique place by the yearning call of a red blouse, the purchase of which she resisted. The Walking Store had a lot of shoes I wouldn’t want to walk in.

Eddie Bauer we learned on entering was discounting their clearance items a further 40%. It was mostly pant I didn’t want but thanks for the offer. Mostly I just watched the tv there.

I have issues with height but it’s fascinating what rock climbers can do. I remember reading someone’s account of climbing El Capitan. It took 2 days, so there’s a bivouac, hanging from that wall. Yikes. Plus a vertiginous view up and down must take some getting used to.

Eddie Bauer has taken to promoting music, in this particular a group called The Left. Not to be harsh, but why them? They were so smoothly boring, quite the antithesis to the adrenalin drive of outdoor sportitude. Besides, the drummer sang, never a good thing.

Finalement a visit to a store selling memory foam furniture. An outsized bean bag chair filled with foam looked like something difficult to remove oneself from, so I didn’t try. I mean, aren’t bean bag chairs intended to make adults feel silly? The modular furniture seemed like a smart idea. There’s a sitting piece and an arm piece. The more you get, the more possibilities:chairs, sofas, beds. Woohoo.

As we left, it rained in earnest. A lovely garden rain, persistent but not heavy.

This morning around 5:00, Beth and I heard a noise outside then the power went out. I called the power company and was the first to report it. There were some outages in southern Mass but here it was neither blowing that hard or raining.

After a while I decided to go for a walk. Warmish and humid (it’s currently 98% humidity). Wind was strong but not unusual. The outage was very local.

I saw a couple of small flocks of starlings wheel in the air. It seemed like a tacking maneuver but then they dashed kinda straight into the wind, towards some trees. I also saw a lone turkey, a female. When it saw me it scurried across the street into the woods. It didn’t realize that I know that turkeys are scary and will eat me. I went towards the river but it started to rain harder and I was hungry so I curtailed my trek. Now 9:00 and not much has changed.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pressing Language

I always regard Tributary as a poetry blog, even when I write about movies, shopping trips, or what the heck. Maybe I do not know what poetry is and so simply consider my interests as poetic. I will say that poetry, to me, is found language, the amazing condition of discovery. Contradistinguished would be pressed or determined language, in which the writer tries to convince. Prose is not the opposite of poetry.

Keats took Wordsworth to task for trying too hard to capture the reader. Which I agree with. But well, the Muse is not always charmed when poet takes up pen or keyboard. Wordsworth had a few hits, let’s be fair.

Anyway, I am nearly finished with The Murder Room by Michael Capuzzo. It is somewhat fictionalized non-fiction. I find it a fascinating, albeit at times alarming, read. I enjoy it, but it shows signs of slackness, death of poetry.

It is a book Beth’s mother finished and handed to me as people do, next in line. I’ve scooted thru most of it today.

It concerns an exclusive club called The Vidocq Society. This is a gathering of crime-solvers. I didn’t grasp from Beth’s mother’s description that it was non-fiction.I thought it was based on real life. In fact, it’s the true stuff. Blurbs and fore matter do not make this clear. It begins, tho, with the central figures conversing, as if the author had recorded it.

When I found the photos in the book, I realized that this was more report than fiction. The presentation was a little fuzzy on the matter.

Capuzzo expends too much effort urging the reader into the lives of the characters. He wants to take control of the material, which I think is an error.

Capuzzo weaves, and that’s an accurate descriptor, bios of the three founders of this Society with accounts of the various cold case murders they and the Society tried to solve.

One might bring up In Cold Blood. That story of murder is also the not quite acknowledged story of Capote writing this history. Capuzzo did not pretend objectivity, and tried to stay hidden. Which didn’t not quite work. Some distressing and disturbing murders are coolly detailed. Of course this is grimly intriguing. At the same time,  Capuzzo tries to convey the ‘essence’ of the three main figures in the book. Like a lot of novelists, he simply idolizes them. Not to say he doesn’t offer the warts, but those warts are all anti-hero brownie points. We are supposed to love these characters.

Such determination is novelistic rooting, and, I should think, right out.

Capuzzo relies on the superlative to make his case, which comes across as slightly goofy. We’re into Tiger Woods and Jennifer Anniston a whole lot more than into great forensic scientists. Let alone poets. The Vidocq Society is a gathering of the greatest forensic investigators, a Murderer’s Row of criminologists. The vision doesn’t hold. Capuzzo kinda makes it seem like greatness within that niche is more widespread than possible. But, you know, I do not even have a list of great forensic investigators, and strongly suspect you don’t either.

Seems like we depend on assumptions. We’ve got it that athletes and other entertainers have a quantifiable greatness, one that the world accepts. Ah, the world aint balanced that way. We love our hierarchies, but really. The greatest accountant is not coequal with the greatest late night talk show host. Sorry.

Capuzzo’s superlatives flop before the reader, more distraction than anything. As compelling (grossly so), as the cases are, we do not really need a rooting section behind the investigators. They have lives of quiet desperation too, just like the rest of us.

I do not believe I must have interest in the characters as characters. Forensic discovery is a structure of understanding independent of the human tools (the people themselves) using it. That is, the person capable of following the trail without intruding the emotions and usual human confusions will probably find success.

Capuzzo offers a world that acknowledges the best  as a thorough and tangible concept. He makes it seem like these elite forensic investigators glow with something everyone recognizes. This presses his vision too vociferously. He’s trying to convince us.

And that is slack writing.

I do not see poetry having the power to convince.  Poetry is the energy of the words themselves, or mostly so. Fiction dies in my view when the author falls in love with the characters and tries to make things nice for them. Non-fiction dies in the plush formation of superlatives. Poetry lives in the disagreeable muddle  of each word slammed against another.

Capuzzo tries to thumbnail the psychology, taking Freud to his most elemental restriction, as if every only child grew up exactly the same.  Buy it, I don’t. Words are people, people are words: ever changing.

Which is not to say I have not enjoyed this book. It has tugged me along pretty efficiently.  The depicted murders are gross and sad, and there are several instances of don’t read/keep reading. The characters are descriptive phrases not anything living. I could go on.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Henry Gould, Poet

Henry Gould, of Minnesota by way of Providence, RI, is a poet who has created, and established, an oeuvre that deserves consideration. In his determined and energized way, he adds a luminosity to our empyrean. Really. I think heartily that we should give him his due.

Henry numbers among the poets who found the Internet a fruitful field for the examination and expatiation (and expiation?) of the art of poetry. I did as well. The possibility of interacting with other writers, and the ability to present one’s work, has been a godsend for him, and me too. Prior to the Internet, one needed a connection to machinery—the publishers and the academic coven—to broadcast one’s work. The Internet expanded the social network so that you could interact with the writers as well as the writing, even writers way far away. It has meant opportunity.

Henry has been busy.

He has produced a work to contend with, lots of it. And I like that word contend. Henry has created—continues to create—a forcefully conceived and implemented oeuvre. And to keep the spark alive, he has been a critical thorn, poking sharply against the surface assumptions of the poetic masses, you and me.

Henry writes a great deal in regulated metre and rhyme. That represents post-modern kiss of death. And to be honest, it should, most times. Few writers now have trained their ears to the effects. The 19th Century twosome of Dickinson and Whitman provided illustration and demonstration of the limits of metre and rhyme.

Whitman was simply incompetent to write in metre. At best, he galloped on Tennyson’s horse, off which he often fell, id est,lost the metre. His yawp, even with its occasional “poetic” inverted word order, succeeded more directly.

Much more canny, Dickinson bounded on hymnal structure, except that she routinely dropped a foot, or planted the feminine rhyme right in your face, just to keep your nose close to the words. Her subversion opened the post-modern door, or at least, so say I. Anyway, we didn’t need the mnemonic so much.

Henry has developed singular skill in negotiating the difficulties. Once harnessed to the rhyme and metre, the words still must make sense. I think of James Merrill’s ouija board masterwork. The rhythm rollicks but he twists and curtails phrases just to make them fit. That’s cheating! My reading of Henry’s work does not find much by way of such strangulation.

But not to remain on the surface.

The real hallmark of Henry’s work is the intense and focused personal mythology. This aspect is as fully-developed and nutty as Olson’s. I mean nutty in the best possible sense.Think Jungian, if you will. I like Jung but I will stick with nutty. Henry makes connections and concatenations that I would never have stumbled on, and neither would you. His material combines the personal, the critical, the literary, the occult, the mythological, and more, into a bravely strange and compelling breadth of interest. I haven’t read enough to get it all. That’s the job of future generations.

The poets you might hear in his work, and ones he refers to often, include Berryman, Crane, and those Russian poets that I, for one, have yet to give fair due to. Read Henry’s critical work (read his blog!) and see that he is amenable to a wide range of authors, but not of schools.

I suspect that what I write here sounds like the introduction to the first collected edition of Henry’s work. Yes, I am pressing Henry’s work towards you, tho he lives, he is, tho he is toss’d. You deserve it, frankly. Henry has already accomplished something, and it should not be missed. The tubes of the Internet provide an endless stream of stuff, even narrowed down to just Poetry stuff, and Henry’s PR initiative has been lacking, so okay, maybe you have not given Henry’s work proper inspection. You can start now.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Poetry Scene WTF—Boston mass reading

I got a last minute invite to read this weekend (today) at whatever the sequel to last year’s Boston Poet Tea Party is called. I accepted. Work then precluded my participation. Oh well.

Should I have accepted the last minute invitation? Yes, I would like to read, and be among those who take poetry seriously. But at the late date, I hadn’t time to prepare. Just digging around for something I felt comfortable reading would take time. I needed to practice reading the work, too. It’s always uncomfortable when poets read as if they haven’t seen the work before or cannot find something in their book or sheaf of papers. Myself me, I don’t fuss with (look at) my poems much, once written, I await that MacArthur check to accomplish that. I could not, then, have read except in hurried awkward mode, and I want to be more serious than that.

Furthermore, I felt my nose slipping out of joint to discover on the Boston Poetry Blog an entry in May, two months a-gone, announcing the event. The roster included a list of those already accepted. Presumably Poet X could not attend and my name came up in the replacement lottery. It feels too much like attention desperation to accept those terms. Having to work allowed me to think this thru beyond the context of paragraph 2, sentence 2.

I grant the issue here seems so whatish but it plops on concerns both local and of wider broadcast. Basically, who runs this ship, and why is it being run?

Boston’s ‘scene’ is scattered and unfocused. This may owe partly to the competing gravities of our many schools. It also owes to NYC’s seductive gravity, which draws the local fresh effort to the greater shine. It takes a former local, Jim Behrle, to scare up a reading such as this. It works because everyone wants their seven minutes in the sun.

But it is just summary cliques comporting. So far as I know, I am the only one to write a report of last year’s event (here). I believe that lack from others is telling. The poetry scene here is construed entirely as a social context. Nothing wrong with that except what it does to the poetry. The insolence of reflection is pushed aside for the greater good of conviviality. Or something like that. Not that there wasn’t varied and wonderful poetry at the event last year, and to come this year, as well. But the guffaws and the enfolding freshets of applause are trained towards the arbiting influence.

Now, if I said I don’t believe I deserve to be included willy nilly, I would say the same of Robert Creeley—and him all dusty from the grave—and anyone else. I’m saying it is not a matter of hierarchy, influence, and the top percentile. It is a matter of bringing something. Okay, Creeley risen from the grave constitutes bringing something. Part of the something that I mean is poetry, but anyone can write poetry. Anyone can also offer the generosity of critical balance and earnest appreciation, too. Yes, Creeley would have brought all that. I see that lacking in the current association, however. Instead, a snarky inbred club has gotten the best seats up there on Parnassus top. Bringing something carries greater import for me than knowing someone.

I see on the updated slate for today (here) that Henry Gould and I would have read in the same grouping. Henry and I read together lo these many. For me, it was the first time I’d read publicly since Robert Grenier facilitated some readings at Franconia. It was poorly attended but it felt like glory. Henry’s an outlier, and I guess so am I. And I further guess—because who knows these things?—that we should all be outliers. The restrictive emblems of this group thing is a loss. It will go on, tho, because people like importance.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Tom Swift Jr.

The kind of wonderful malarkey that we feed our young! I love reading this sort of motivated fashioning of subconscious response. The author—in this case, not a person but entirely a function—performs transcendental states of normalcy with his characters that requires a redefinition of normal. Excuse me, I should mench that I speak of the book TOM SWIFT and the Visitor from Planet X, by the noted pseudonym Victor Appleton II. And away we go.

Victor Appleton II, Franklin W. Dixon and Carolyn Keene, are the stage names for the gathering of hacks who cranked out these cheesy literary franchises (Tom Swift, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, if those authorial names don’t ring a familiar bell) They all seem like willing Rorschach tests amplifying our tenderest expectations. Hello, mirror to our innermost goofball!

So anyway, the Tom Swift Jr. series presents the 2nd generation of Swift. TS Sr. was essentially the same thing, boy scientific genius saving the world, circa the 30s. The telling theme, tho, is how Jr surpasses poor dadsville. Sr was brilliant but no patch on Jr. Jr’s taller than the dad, lankier, and his shit don’t stink. Jr works as equal with dad in Swift Enterprises, that world famous rocketship invention company, but we know who has the mojo. Jr has had plenty of adventures by the date of this visit from Planet X, and he’s a long in the tooth 18.

The back cover of this luminous text shows three people in SPACE SUITS flying around, along with a ROCKETSHIP powered, seemingly, by a fanning array of funnels on the forward part of the ship. The blurb keeps things clear: “For today's science minded boys! The Tom Swift Jr. Adventures in Science and Space.” Sorry girls. It would be crude to suggest that the adventures reside in calling this science, so I will refrain. The list of available titles consists mostly of specific inventions of young Swift, à la Tom Swift and his:

  1. Flying Car
  2. Jet Marine
  3. Rocket Ship
  4. Giant Robot
  5. Atomic Earth Blaster
  6. Outpost in Space
  7. Diving Seacopter
  8. Ultrasonic Cycoplane
  9. Deepsea Hydrodome
  10. Space Solartron
  11. Electronic Retroscope (shows I Love Lucy repeats!)
  12. Spectromarine Selector
  13. Electronic Hydrolung
  14. Triphibian Atomcar
  15. Megascope Space Prober (sounds fun!)

Wowzer! Live Writer’s spellchecker, completely unaware of the future, had quite a time dealing with that list! Are you even ready for the front cover, in 3 rich colours: Tom and his friend Bud Barclay in some sort of physical contest with a mechanical thing that may be very electronic in nature. As it happens, without giving the plot away, the robotic is a container for some extra-terrestrial brain energy. No kidding!

The cast looks like your basic 50s tv sitcom. Tom’s pal Bud Barclay is an 18 year old test pilot for Swift Enterprises. Of course he cannot keep up with Tom in heroism, but for the normals he’s no slug. Tom’s blonde, blue-eyed sister is Bud’s girlfriend. Sandy’s best friend Phyllis”Phyl”Newton is Tom’s girlfriend. Phyl’s the daughter of longtime friend and business associate, “Uncle Ned” Newton. Uncle in quotes always seems creepy, doesn’t it? I’m sure there’s a lot of partner switching that don’t get talked about here, the parts fit so well together. The mom is just a mom, tho Oedipal conflagrations, along with incestuous wildfires, burn widely here.

Action? The book begins immediately with an earthquake at Faber Electronics Company. Tom’s trying to fix Faber’s gyro-stabilizer. “If anyone can get the bugs out of your new invention, genius boy here will do it,” says Bud. Except aforesaid earthquake interrupts matters. The plant suffers devastation and many are seriously injured, tho not Tom or Bud. Good scouts that they are, they busy themselves with rescue work. Then home to a worried family and a hot meal by mom specified in the narration as delicious!

Something hincty about the earthquake, tho, being so localized. Hmm.

Next day Tom’s on his way to work in his sports car when a hitchhiker jumps in front of the car and takes Tom hostage. OMG! The hitchhiker has an accent!!! Fortunately Chow Winkler, former chuck wagon cook now head chef for Swift Enterprises—you read that correctly—doing his best Slim Pickens impersonation, helps Tom overwhelm the man with the accent. The Victor Appleton II Machine does not want to leave you guessing about this character. Not only does this person have an accent, his name is Samson Narko. No one on the up and up would have such a name. No, this guy is from Brungaria. You know, the country full of spies who favour world domination.

I never read Tom Swift when I was of age, more’s the pity. Hardy Boys, oh yes, Danny Dunn, The Happy Hollisters, but not Nancy Drew (for girls). I wish I could better reconstruct what I did read then. I was a steady reader, if not voracious like the sort that ploughs thru all the Waverley novels at age 7. But let’s don’t get distracted from Tom Swift and the Visitor.

The endpapers depict young Tom in maybe his own rocketship, but maybe it is his lab. He gazes out a large window at a nifty stealth bomber zipping happily by. He wears a striped t-shirt. He has a headset on, perhaps communicating with the stealth bomber. No lack of science stuff to soothe his science mind: dials on the wall, microscope, beakers, a breaker box, blueprints, models of various rocketships and submarines. Honestly, what more could a boy want? He looks pretty dreamy, having the world set up the way he likes it.

This series references a sense of science that remains strong even now, 50 years later. It lodges in the newest gizmos. Science serving humanity by giving us televisions, electric knives, electronic toothbrushes and all the other servile conveniences. The future designed by Steve Jobs, that is. Science just keeps the economic turbine spinning with unappointed flash. The Oppenheimer vision of the atom has no application here unless it could be merchandised.

I will not give away the exciting conclusion to this science-minded tale of good and evil but suffice to say Golden Boy proves central to all positive actions, and Chow Winkler gets to exclaim this lifelike gem of Texas talk: “Brand my rattlesnake stew!”

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Tributary is now officially better than Ron Silliman’s blog. The data don’t lie.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Homer’s Iliad, Hollywood’s Troy

Watched Troy again the other night. I am truly a sucker for the invitation of this movie. I recall being fed the trailer whilst awaiting some other cinematic marvel, and the sight of those thousand ships viewed panoramically from above proved enough to make me want to see the movie. I rarely get riled this way, and currently have nothing riling me. Troy aint great, but moments it has.

The first scene starts off right. We see opposing armies closing on each other on a wide plain. Agamemnon and the king of Thessaly meet, I suppose to discuss rebroadcast rights. I would have to wikipediate the cast to name the actor, but whoever played Agamemnon was a pisser. Beefy, bluff, arrogant, and all the appropriately awesome attributes by which we hand over sovereignty. They arrange to send their respective champions to settle the affray.

Thessaly's champ is a tall and a half hunk of prime steroidal man meat. For the Achaeans, the name is Achilles. Played by Brad Pitt, he’s proud to the point of hubris, grim, and grim some more. Pitt’s been buffed up to Hollywood’s greasy standards—de rigueur, of course—to the point of manly hairlessness, but he fills the part really well. He sneers at Agamemnon before racing to join with El Gigante.

Oh man!

There’s a similar sense here as when Aragorn races into the final battle with Mordor. That citadel clearly has no chance. Pitt dodges a couple of spears, closes, then performs a quick Michael Jordan feint and leap, to plunge his sword into the poor giant’s neck. Breaking a few Hollywood rules there to let such a scene run so quickly and efficiently, but it’s what made the film for me.

I guess we then meet Hektor and Paris, in peace conference at Menelaus’ house. Accord has been reached, what could go wrong? Oh yes, a tryst between Helen and Paris. Orlando Bloom plays Paris, bravely assaying Paris as a candy-ass. Eric Bana, unknown to me prior to this flick, played Hektor. Bloom’s not bad in thankless snivel, and Bana is just about perfect: thoughtful, noble, heroic. The ingénue who played Helen did nothing wrong, but I dunno how to turn the role into anything other than pretty lady on a stick. Helen is way too archetypal to put human shoes on.

So okay, Helen flees loutish Menelaus in the company of Hektor and Paris. Menelaus whimpers to his brother, who sees political possibilities in tipping spears with Troy. The scene is set.

The movie takes some seemingly random swerves from the stories of Troy that we know. The movie credits Homer for inspiration, certainly didn’t follow Homer closely. Odysseus (played by Sean Bean, Boromir in LOTR) visits Achilles to convince him to join the Greeks in avenging the dishonour. Not that he wants to help Agamemnon but Achilles relents. So too his cousin Patroklus. This seems like an overly dainty and unnecessary escape from Patroklus as friend or lover. The cousin resembles Pitt, younger and and more freshly eager.

Finally, we get to see those 1000 ship. Troy itself is well-evoked, at a seaside setting in Mexico, as it turns out. Achilles’ one ship leads the way to the beachhead. He’s furious to get killing, which seems to be his only drive.

Finally, we get some battle scenes. As soon as the Greek ships were sighted, the Trojan archers notched their arrows. Standing for the next hour, with arrows notched… Movies can be funny, sometimes.

So Achilles and his 50 Myrmidons make their D-Day landing far ahead of the rest of the Greeks. They turtle up with their shields (the survivors of the rain of arrows, that is), altho I gather this tactic may be more likely amongst Rome’s soldiery circa a millennium or more later. The action’s a little blurred (not like the balletic confrontations by Daniel Day Lewis in Last of the Mohicans), but Pitt accounts himself well., killing everyone in sight. Reaching the temple to Apollo, he performs the highest insult, chopping the head off the statue of the god. Hektor and his cavalry come riding, and just to show incredibleness, Pitt takes a spear and guns it seemingly half a mile to pick a horseman off the saddle. Hektor thinks, Wowzer!

The movie eschews the gods mostly. No scenes of them atop Olympus, working the chess pieces. Maybe a bad cess on Achilles for impudence towards the gods, but nothing directly attributable to gods and goddesses in togas.

Pitt’s a bit Marlon Brando-y in signaling his grim philosophical despair but it’s Hollywood, after all.

Okay, so it comes that Paris is willing to meet Menelaus man to man to settle this. Here Bloom really has to snivel. For someone who has looked convincing with sword in previous movies, it must’ve been hard to feign utility infielder skills. Honestly, I admired a confirmed heartthrob to look so weak kneed. In one of the big left turns from Homer and the tradition, Hektor kills Menelaus to protect his succour-seeking brother.

And further stuff happens. Briseis, here, is a cousin of the royal Trojan family. When Agamemnon claims her, Achilles sulks. Okay, that sounds like Homer. And into battle goes Patroklus, wearing Achilles’ armour. And death do come. Yes yes yes.

The central dual atwixt Achilles and Hektor proceeds with sullen destiny. Peter O’Toole as Priam begs for and receives the body. Odysseus and Agamemnon dream up and assert the Trojan Horse. Achilles joins the attack, just to save Briseis. Here the movie falls apart. Hektor, the moral strength of the movie, is gone, and Achilles turned to Hollywood. As the Greeks burn the city, he drives singularly to find and save Briseis. Mush! Paris sends one arrow to the namesake tendon, which was stress enough, but another arrow to the chest, to avoid too much magical, finishes him.

Of course Homer does not supply our only version of the story. I pretend no scholarship but I have read how many versions of The Iliad? Pope’s, Fitzgerald’s, Rouse’s, and Fagel’s. Plus the Little Iliad, I think it is called, and whatever else. I am reading Fagel’s again, because of the movie. We can snottily say Homer was way modern, even if he didn’t actually write. As Pound says, the injuries that Homer describes are medically accurate. We do not expect such thought in movies. The fantastic nowadays is often merely ridiculous, unencumbered by rational plausibility. Homer understood limits which, as Olson says, we’re each of us inside of.

Movies are the Michelle Bachman of the arts. If you cannot access the manifesting depths of the discourse, you harrumph on the level of practical stupidity. This is a shameful slackness on the humanest level. I enjoy this movie but consciously I ignore the big chunks of portable poopoo. But after all, this is entertainment. The political impedance of Michelle Bachman, and the united et als, features too much glory in stupidhood. Homer had a bead on such things whereas Hollywood gave Brad a depilatory for his chest hairs. Too many depilatories in the political world is my final word.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Days Poem, the Blurb

Looking today at the blurb to Days Poem (the book is available here), which I wrote (both the book and the blurb), I thought I would write about it—the blurb, and therefore the book. Apologia or explanation, who cares? Just thought I would push the validity of the statements, as I see them. The italicized sentences that follow come from the blurb, in original sequence. Won’t this be exciting!

Begun casually, the writing of  Days Poem quickly grew into a necessity, even to plug onward. Beginning casually would be the norm for me. I sit down and I write. That does not indicate lack of seriousness, but that writing is an exercise performed with gradient consistency. One does not just wait for inspiration. Inspiration is a bogey anyway. One sees writers, Ginsberg and Whitman come quickly to mind, who endeavour the inspiration, usually a fail. The necessity arrived when I realized that I had to keep diligently filling the pages, id est:anyone can write half a poem. I would often type my way to the next page, just for the sake of the push.

In this way, it resembles a journal or novel, tho it claims neither genre as its own. Well, simply enough, I was aware that I was building something in a linear fashion, the daily accumulation. I can also see dates and events that occurred during the writing, and the reader might notice a change of seasons, as reported. I did not follow a calendar or narrative, however; the days just made their mark.

It started with an idea of writing large and embracing extent. Jim Leftwich’s Doubt, a 500 page poem published by Potes & Poets Press truly influenced me. Just the idea of such a long poem gave me a tingle of possibility. The dense, contrite prose of his book, with lavish, singular sentences, drew my interest. The early pages of Days Poem reflect my reading of his book at the time.

It settled (and unsettled) itself within the compelling philosophical argument that it is what it is. Not to commandeer Bill Belichick’s Stoic practicality, but confidence purposed me to accept the peregrinations that the writing took, even to the obsessive reverberations of bears, hobos, Tarzan & Jane, and Fu Manchu.

The thrill of relentlessness and perseverance pushed it until, you know, it came to an end. Each of the 412 sections represents the writing of a day. Only a handful of days saw no writing. I kept no goal for ending it, by date or by section or page count. I wrote on my wedding day, on Christmas, for the 9 days Erin was in the hospital, during my father’s hospital stay, and travelling hither and yon (Utah, Idaho, West Virginia, and New Hampshire). And then one day, I found that I was done.

I wanted to play with hobos and bears, and Tarzan & Jane, and Walden Pond, and all the words between. I guess play is central here. I played with an anachronistic yet meaningful vision of hobos, and saw bears, Tarzan, Jane, and Walden in vivid unlikeliness.

I wanted a little amazement in every day. That is what writing is for me. Days Poem could be styled my La Vita Nuova, as it grew and prospered in my new life with Beth and Erin. Thus the dedication, which cannot say enough.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father’s Day and the X-Men

Well yes, I was feted today by Erin:  movie and dinner. First round was a visit to Barnes and Noble. Not there to buy, and held true to that. Spent a lot of time looking at books on PHP, HTML5 and such like. Perfunctory visit to the poetry section. I would say 3/4 of the selection are classic. The rest is pure random. Some memo went out saying, We support Mary Oliver, or some other maven of the Post-Interesting Poetry (original typo: Posetry) Era. And the patron think: This is what I’m supposed to get. To enter the spirit of the upcoming movie, I scanned the comix available. These items gleam as compared to the comix renderings back when I littered the floor with my reading. Still doing the same stuff, really.

So then to the nearby theatre. The upcoming treats look less savory than the last bunch that I saw. Harry Pothead looks overly exploded, dire and franchisey. I’ve seen at least 2 of the movies complete, bits of others, and am sated. I have not read the books except three sentences of the first which, along with the illustrations, suggested that I was not the target audience. The look of the movies satisfies, at least.

Something I am not ready for is a Hugh Jackman vehicle, basically Rocky meets Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots. Kid you not. The Jackman is a post prime prize fighter who trains a boxing robot. Well really, that’s what the plot is. I did not like the sympathy being encouraged even in the snippets for the down and out robot. Just not up for that. I remember as a kid feeling like Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots were the most fantastically wonderful of toys, tho I nor any friend had them. In sooth, I cannot imagine any kid playing with them for more than 10 minutes without figuring out an interesting way to break them. But any, no thanks.

Our alternate movie choice was Green Lantern, starring Ryan Reynolds. Guess who stars in a movie with what’s his name Bateman? The premise entails polar opposite friends switching bodies. This premise was in the top right drawer marked Worked Well the Previous Times. I sighed but honestly, there appeared some winning chemistry between the stars.

Least but last, an entertainment concerning a chimpanzee given smart drug. I initially thought this was Flowers for Algernon, ape division, but finally we discover that it is Planet of the Apes, the prequel’s prequel. Looked lame, at least if a sack of shit is lame.

Now the X-Men. They were one of my more favourite Marvels, back in the day. I hazard to say I’m talking the original X-Men, but I do not know my comics history well enough to be sure there were no versions previous. I know there was an overhaul in which the costumes changed and maybe personnel as well.

The movie starts gruesomely at a Nazi concentration camp. The gruesomeness engages in the meeting of real historical horror with Stan Lee’s candygrams. The self-centered puerilities of comics look disgraceful situated near the actualities of human lives. I do not want Magneto’s pain equated with the victims of Auschwitz.  Same with Captain America versus the Nazis.

Anyway [stepping from the pulpit], a boy is separated from his parents on entering a camp. In the separation, he reveals astonishing magnetic power. This is observed by someone in the camp. The boy is brought to this person, who proves to be Kevin Bacon and a further expansion of Bacon’s 6 degrees. He wants the boy to reveal his power. The boy tries but cannot replicate the power. To inspire the boy, his mother is brought in, and Bacon aims a gun at her. The boy still cannot work his magnetism, and Bacon shoots her. The boy erupts in magnetic horror, causing the helmets of the guards to crumple most head-breakingly. Tra la, change of scene.

In a Westchester mansion, a boy (still 1944) arises in the night and discovers his mom in the kitchen. Only he knows, thru psychic power, that it aint her. This chameleon reveals her true shape, a blue, scaly female the boy’s age. They confirm simpatico in their mutual mutantness. Elle s’appelle Raven.

Years pass, and the boy becomes a somewhat poncy English professor. I mean he’s Oxfordy, but his field is human mutation. His sister mutant maintains a blonde normalcy, hottie division.

Since plot is something they add at the end of filming—why make sense when you don’t need to?—we then meet a female CIA operative who is keeping tabs on some bad international action. Guess what, the plot centers on the Cuban missile crisis! In the course of her investigation, she witnesses some mutant action. She immediately seeks out Charles Xavier, the aforementioned poncy English guy and mutant expert. Xavier was played by James McAvoy, and was one of the few memorable people in the film. I thought he might’ve been one of the children in Chronicles of Narnia but in fact, he played Tunmus.

Here’s the deal: Kevin Bacon and other bad mutants are working to overthrow the world, and the good mutants, in concert with the friendly folks of the CIA, are out to thwart.

The bad mutants include Azazel, a devilish red character with instant speed and savage violence, a well-dressed bartender-looking guy who controls whirlwind, and a blonde telepath who can turn into diamond… or something… None of this is developed, it just hangs there.

To thwart, Charles X gathers some mutants of his own. The initial boy, who on his lonesome adult quest hunted out some Nazi miscreants, to effect death knell. Kevin Bacon was one of the target miscreants, hence his (Magneto’s) joining X. X’s so-called sister, and a brainy fellow with chimp feet, fill out the roster. Using Scientific Instruments, X implausibly scours the world for more mutants. He finds a handful, including, I think, Wolverine, who tells them to fuck off. Ha ha.

This boring bunch of kids are trained by X and Magneto.The kids remind me of the Substitute Justice League of America, or however it was called. This was one plot I remember from youth. I should be able to tell you the issue number but alas. Applicants whose super powers failed to meet the high standards of the JLA decided to form their own group of crimefighters. I still remember the list. Polar Boy emitted a freeze ray that froze things. As powers go, this didn’t seem bad. Might’ve been a similar one with fire. Chlorophyll Kid could make plants grow extremely fast. Night Girl had Superboy type powers, but only at, um, night. My favourite was Stone Boy. He could turn to stone. In the exciting climax, the Substitutes parachute in to rescue the JLA. Polar Boy barks out orders. To Stone Boy he says, Stone Boy, turn to stone! You can almost feel the exclamation point, can’t you?

Back to movie. This mutant bunch is a load of so what. Angel, who in the original vision was a guy, had silly pixie wings and could puke fireballs. Shrug. Another had some sort of violent power. Another had a scream like that ridiculous yell in the movie Dune. Of course there was the chameleon power’s of X’s ersatz sister. An all too boring selection of cinematic stars.

Bacon wastes no time attacking these kids. Azazel was especially slaughterous. He could move instantly. He would grab people, fly high, then drop, plus he wielded long knives. Unusually vicious violence, you ask me. Oh, I neglected to mention the mutant Darwin, among the good mutants, who could sprout gills and protective scales. The movie played the beat of mutants as second class citizens. Bacon gave a speech on those lines, trying to recruit the kids.  Angel shifts sides, as does Darwin. Darwin’s just fakin’. The good mutants attack Bacon while Darwin shields Angel. Bacon calmly absorbs the attack. He then kills Darwin. Sorry, no franchise for you.

Further stuff definitely happens. It culminates in the US and Russia sending fleets to disagree about missiles in Cuba. X does his psychic thing, which means pressing fingers to temple to read the minds of others. Except for Bacon and McAvoy, the actors are so wanly forgetable, I do not see how a franchise can survive. The translation of these preposterous powers, initially extravagant strokes of pencil on paper, to real life results in real strain. Angel’s pixie wings, dragonfly, really, do not suggest speed. And the fireball barf is a leftfield extravagance. The sonic guy flies according to some physical law that hasn’t approached me. It’s a tricky balance to maintain a reality. How does he survive being dropped from a fighter jet (that seems to be an anachronistic cross between a stealth fighter and that jet with the vacuum cleaner underneath to allow it to hover) into the sea? I think it is part of the human condition to think a little bit, one cannot help it. What I say is, suspension of belief has limits.

Furthermore, and again, the insinuation of this video game minded historical element is so Sarah Palinish as to be repulsive. Gradient up, my friends. Something really did happen back then, however absurd it seems now. Morose self-centric “mutants” in schoolyard mode have nothing to do with actual human processes involving social interactions and grave mishap. I am serious. This is Sarah Palin’s Hallmark card understanding of Paul Revere. The surface is thin but adamant, it would seem.

Little in the movie suggests that anyone ever heard of 1962. Okay, news clips of Jack Kennedy saying Cuber, but miniskirts and anything but an evocation of an era. It seems like the basic homework to account for these things. It also seems like the mindset one should have with a movie such as this is: I’m pretty ignorant, I should like this movie. Yep, and adulate the keen mindset of Palin. And stupid out.

Which is not to say this was not a great day for me, with Erin, who performed several popcorn-“buttered” forehead smacks during the movie. Comix and movies, both, make or break on the surface. Depth is never more than an underling. Reasonableness founders as depth is attempted. We had Thai food at the nearby mall, then wandered thru the cathedral of commerce. Envy is a chunk of merchandise from Apple, sensitive communication pressed thru the official orifices of big business. Such is the current legerdemain. All this opinion is flop sweat compared to the time together. Thank you to my son and friend, Erin, for a great day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Excellent Movie Idea

Excellent Movie Idea!

The Glowing Green Osprey

Dear Hollywood, Please remit $10 million dollars for can't miss movie idea.

Adolescent boy (Max) and girl (Sam) rescue a strangely glowing green osprey from a flock of marauding crows that were harrying it. Both Max and Sam wear glasses but neither is fat or anything bad like that. The glowing osprey has an injured wing, which Max and Sam fixed by stealing bandages from their parents. Everyone makes fun of the children because of their affection for this glowing green bird.

The three become inseparable. The bird follows them around on foot, even to school. In a telling scene, the town bully picks on the children and threatens the green osprey. Luckily, the osprey somehow manages to thwart the bully, who ends up soaking wet. All the school children cheer. The angry and disgraced bully says, “Aw, take your dumb green osprey and get outta here.”

Later, the children discover that the town's bank has foreclosed on the town's nice old grumpy man's ranchland because it turns out that someone—a pirate most likely—buried pirate treasure on the land. The children want to save the town's nice old grumpy man, Old Man MacGillicuddy, and also the very interesting historical artifacts that would bolster their town's economy by putting the town on the map. Luckily, the glowing green osprey—a CPA, as it turns out—points out certain accounting discrepancies. The bank's mean manager fiddled with the books to set up the foreclosure. The bank manager, who is the father of the town bully, is arrested, and both him and his son somehow end up soaking wet. As the sheriff leads the mean bank manager away, the bank manager says, “If it wasn't for that darned green osprey, I'd be rich beyond belief.” The osprey gives a typical osprey cry and everyone laughs.

The End

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

“Oh Well”, Various Artists

I curiouslied Norman Greenbaum, “Spirit in the Sky”, on Wiki-Impedia, just because it is a perfection from somewhere (bluesy version). This led me, Youtube-wise, to “OhWell”, the Peter Green/Fleetwood Mac version. Just because.

It turns out a bunch have recorded “Oh Well”. Hence this blog post. This is very important.

  • Fleetwood Mac/ Peter Green: As I understand, Peter Green formed Fleetwood Mac having left John Mayall. Green basically replaced Eric Clapton in Mayall’s group, tho I think someone was in between. Green named the group after the rhythm section for apparently not wanting to be too shiny. HE wrote the song. If you consult Youtube (and I invite you to), you will see  that the flashy guitar stuff is handled by another guitarist, Jeremy Slade er um Spencer (good rock music name, Slade, that is), kinda like how Duane Allman played the flash while Derek Domino sang “Layla”. The guy with the maracas, Danny Kirwan, was a solid guitarist as well. The good old days.
  • Fleetwood Mac 2: Mac changed a bunch without those 3 guitarists. Buckingham pulled his weight, but Stevie Nicks merely added hers. I like Christine McVey but the new found land differs greatly from Green’s. OK. Buckingham fills the bill here.
  • Tom Petty: Mike Campbell gets his hands on that nervy guitar line. As with FM2, lack of second guitarist duel, and the rock star implement of standing there for a gasping audience, dulls the edge, but a credible honoring.
  • Black Crows with Jimmy Page. Rich Robinson handles the central guitar line, Page gets the flash. A third guitarist also slashes in. Which one is Page? Okay, Jimmy is old, so you can pick him out. The stance of male figure with Gibson guitar, left hand low on the guitar neck, enforcing the virtues of the electric sound, has been learned. Credible, but Page blows the solo.
  • Kenny Wayne Shepherd: Je suis out to lunch: I admit it. I guess I have heard the name. Is he the singer or the guitarist? Another easy channeling of the original.
  • The Rockets: Dunno them either, which is not their fault. They pull the song into an almost polka tempo. I do not speak against that, but their results are a trifle lugubrious. The song is rather anxious, textually.
  • Joe Jackson: What??? Well, he has the basic flex  of the song. You take a risk when a song bases itself on zowie guitar, and you don’t supply that.  It is a creative test, especially for musicians, whether to simulate or agitate elsewhere. Think of “Satisfaction” by Devo. ‘Taint no ways close to the Stone’s version, or Redding’s, Franklin’s, etc. And Yet.
  • The Look: Sludgy rhythm section, 1…2…3…4…

So what’s the upshot here? Influence-wise, what does one do with the excitements one meets? Shift dynamically away or homage? No wrong answer except in the satisfaction gained 1st by artist, 2nd by audience. The original included part 2, “classical” in its way: acoustic, strings, piano.  Memory says both Green and Jeremy Slade (but really Spencer) flipped out from lsd usage. Add them to the long list (Skip Spence..). If you Youtubed, as I admittedly did, all the above, you have things to learn. I can’t teach you this. There is even a used-up-rag version by old and worn out fat Peter Green with no voice left and and and we do not hold our powers forever. This is a blog post on creative learning.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Silliman’s Blog

The vote’s in that posting videos on his blog that are easily sourced is a two-wheeled trike. I know he must weary from his years of perspicacity, blogwise, but mining Penn Sound and Youtube does not require handholding.

Friday, June 10, 2011

To Be by Lynn Behrendt

Thanks to Ron Silliman’s link collection, this collage by I saw her read last summer: go here. My laptop serves it up poorly, and I am thinking it works better as a physical object than a virtual one, but tra la, take what you get. I love the engravings, and the old postage stamps. Do I detect Monty Python’s vole up near the beginning? I’m not sure the words do much. As I said, impact is lost on the small field of my laptop, but the intruding words do not seem to match the visual impact. I mean, the visuals are so stately, historical, and important, and the words seem like jottings. Not that that collision isn’t interesting, but the words are overmatched.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Flarf Flarf

Nobody ever writes about Flarf but this child means to…

Receiving a copy of Ben Friedlander’s book, Citizen Cain (available from Salt Publishing), occasions this determination. I will review the book, but anon. I’ve decided—trying something wild here—to read it beforehand, so I won’t have to make up so much about it. Seriously, I look forward to reading it because Ben (can I call you Ben?) is both an able poet and scholar. No blister, he.

The Acknowledgments of Ben’s book surprised me because I am among those he acknowledges. I think as perspicacious scholar—he swam thru the papers of Charles Olson: think of those tides!—he felt obliged to leave no stone unturned. I earned my acknowledgment by being a member of the Flarf email list. I never really got the hang of making Flarf, tho I tried (and still, for fun, try). As a methodology if not as a promotional device, Flarf’s interesting. Tally ho with my inquest!

Flarf’s radicalism always had the force of people saying it had force. That is, the talk about Flarf seemed to center largely on the talk about Flarf. A note of mischief haunts the method, which seems how it differs from others who have trawled the queasy conclave of voices of the Internet. Flarf is funny. It hauls disembodied declarations ashore in unwashed context. This is found thing, and the Internet is nutty.

The invention of Flarf kinda lays heavily on a sense of legend that I do not find compelling. Critic as someone who likes a good story. It also depends on the slack critical ploy of lumping together. And of not lumping together. Those who did Flarfy methods prior to Flarf do not count? To some extent, yes, just as those who say they do, do. They all seem to disguise the act of reading behind a series of symbols that say ‘In’ or ‘Out’. I weary.

At one time, Impressionist labeled 6 specific people—Monet, Renoir, Manet, Degas, Morisot, and Sisley—and not necessarily kindly. Nowadays, it means anyone who paints with blurry colours.  Critical acts  are  ignored in favour of association. Flarf got balled up in who was on what side, as if circles have sides. I’m getting steamed just thinking about this. A poem is the thing you read, not hear about.

Now, I have made Flarf poems, if you will accept my definition of a Flarf poem. Here is one I did yesterday.

They Said it on the Show Last Night

High rapture provides increased opportunities to mate with high rapture partners. This increases distant survival potential and social contributions of your other children distant same age. Distant child is said to have short rapture achieved level status. Rapture is an agile business evidence of rapture reduction in studies since 1984. Scott Lang distant second Ant-Man attracted to teammate Iron Lad (Nathaniel Richards), who soon left distant group, adopted distant codename "Rapture" and assisted distant Young Avengers against proportionate short rapture conditions. Distant Rapture of Anton Chekhov occupies relatively a central position in distant anthropometric research estimation of rapture of and individual from distant amputated Rapture of Things in Russian Thought. Distant focus of my work involved distant prediction of adult (age 18) rapture in children. What is distant rapture of limitations for felonies in Michigan? They don't have distant rapture to do it.

I collected phrases by searching on a term. For some reason, the word rapture came to mind. Actually, I searched on another term that, embarrassingly, I cannot remember. I then did Find & Replace to put rapture where my search term was. That was my method. If you want, as people sometimes do want in reference to Flarf, you can say that I did not write this poem because I did not make up the words. Remember Guy Davenport reporting someone asking him: “Is that a poem or did you just make it up?” What ev.

I’ve done worse. Sometimes I will run spellcheck over my sloppy typing and randomly accept choices. Sometimes I will ram the text thru Babelfish until something interesting appears. It’s fun if not always edifying. That’s what I know of Flarfian methods. Method, my friends, is red herring.

So when I do read Ben’s book, and try to come to terms with it, I will start  with the poem before me. I will look at the words, see their connections, and go from there. I will only reference Ben’s recent embroglio with Lady Gaga as it elates to specific poems. Kirk out.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gil Ott and Impermanence

Scanning and perusing the bookshelf, natch I find books and authors I haven’t read in a while. Such is Gil Ott, and The Yellow Floor (Sun & Moon Press). He was editor of Singing Horse Press, fine enough accomplishment, but I think his poetry is wonderful, too.

I thought he died rather recently, but in fact, he died in 2004. Tempus fugit, and we can hardly keep score. I take it that he filled a vital space in the Philadelphia poetry scene.  I cannot think of a Boston figure who fills or recently filled such a role. Beyond our starchy educational edifices, that is, and who wants to listen to that resistance?

Ott’s poetry is short-lined, curt (in its way), yet lyrical. He seems less agonized in expression than Creeley but tunes to a similar measure. A poet, finally, that we should be talking about.

But there, I see a rub. We, readers, no longer seem capable to keep up with the past. That is, we see so many writers who we must read, who are contemporaries, friends, people in reports. Keeping up with the current stream, we ignore or lose touch with the past. I say this not accusingly but just to note how the structure has changed.

Myself, I get few contemporary poetry books nowadays, surely not like I used to. Not because the work I see does not match my impeccable standards, but that I know my limit. There is just too much. And that does not even consider earlier writers who I have missed in my peregrinations.

One feels almost like railing against those that made the cut, Creeley, Ginsberg, and the rest of that short list. Why do they remain ‘important’ while other corpses lie a-mould’ring’? Because of the same limits that I claim. Still, I think the idea that poetry is news that stays news is a valid pronouncement. Our friends and all their chapbooks: is that really the news? If yes, then we should hold on, study, discuss, and grow with those seeds. If not, recognize that fact.

I see little useful validation concerning contemporary poetry in the teeming oceans of the Internet. I mean beyond that X is awesome, and Y rocks. With all the possible outlets, there would seem to be plenty of critical matter floating in the aether, but I am not seeing it. Instead, the production line continues to produce the latest model. Like it or not. Yet poetry, and art generally, seems only partially made without discussion. In this instant, I recommend (because he is what turned up in my shelf scan), a reading of Gil Ott. End of sermon.