Monday, March 27, 2006

Monday night at the movies

I made my first AVI file while I was in Tonopah this weekend. I was driving down the gutted, mined-out hill above town when I spotted a wonderful bush perched on the edge of road which was also the edge of the hill. It was rattling in the wind and, although it had been there for a long time, and I'm sure will be there for a long time to come, it seemed it might be torn up into the sky and swept off at any moment. I jumped out the car and recorded it and it wasn't until I was driving away that I realized that annoying key in the ignition warning had been bleeping away in the background the whole time. And the sound of the engine. Crap. And I shouldn't have used the zoom. The whole thing was about the stillness and the torturous wind. The zoom ruined it. Ah well. More to come.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Tonopah in spring

I just got back from a weekend in Tonopah, my favorite living ghost town and haven't had time to upload my photos yet and see what I got. Tomorrow. Everything tomorrow. But so it must be. Until then, here's one from last fall.

It was good to be in Nevada's outback. There were times along the road when I was the only human in a vast, wonderfully desolate earthscape. And Tonopah? As ever. It continues to be torn apart by the wind and blow away, piece by piece.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Pet passes

We're going skiing tomorrow. There's about a month and a half left of the season so we're squeezing in whatever we can. Odin is being very generous. He's still dumping impressive amounts of snow on the Sierra Nevadas so there's plenty of fresh powder for spring skiing. We're not the only ones enjoying it. A lot of dogs also have passes (to the cross country trails). If you want to see a happy dog, that's where you'll find them.

Kirkwood Pet Passes

The Wall, Kirkwood
Uh, no that's not me in the photo.

Fatty Leland
In the ongoing Mouse Tales, one fellow has gotten into the house. We're hoping it's not Fatty Leland. Anyway, the Hotel is in the kitchen tonight and it's overflowing with a scrumptious Nevada-style buffet. Now we must wait and see if anyone comes to the feast.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Spring Equinox

Earth link

Today is the Spring Equinox so early this morning I put some special treats out in the bird park to celebrate the day. I always fill the seed tubes at night and then the water bowls in the morning when the temperature begins to get above freezing. Generally I don't put extras out until mid-morning because the crows and magpies arrive first and hog everything in sight. However today I thought I'd risk it. No one was around but moments later they descended and gobbled everything. The damn party was over in about 5 minutes.

No mice today. There's still one in the garage but he's so fat we don't think he can get in the door. Then again, maybe he is a she and maybe she is pregnant. Oh well. Come one. Come all. Happy Spring Equinox!

Equinox art

Saturday, March 18, 2006

"This could be heaven or this could be hell"

Over the last couple of days I've relocated about 20 mice to a nice, dense thicket by the Carson river. They're actually kind of cute and I started thinking it would be nice to keep one or two as pets. I won't. The Tin Cat works really well but it's more like the Hotel California than a cat. You can check in but you can't check out.

Last thing I remember I was running for the door
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before
Relax said the nightman. We are programmed to receive
You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave.
The Eagles
Except this is the Hotel Nevada and you can leave, but you can never return to the beginning.

Carson River new mouse house.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mouse moving day

There's a mouse in the house, in fact several. They are in the garage and beginning to get into things so today I bought a humane live trap and filled it with goodies. There's all the makings for a get down mouse party; cheese, a little cup of peanut butter and a tiny bowl of water to wash it all down with. It's time for them to go.

I got the Tin Cat. I wish it were a little bigger but it will be okay for a short stay. Also, it's a bummer that it's still so cold out. I hope they do alright out in the wild. It's a hawk eat mouse world. I'd rather not do this at all. I've got nothing against mice. The way I see it, they have as much right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as the rest of us on this planet. I just prefer they enjoy themselves somewhere else.

I've only used a mouse trap once before, a long time ago, when I was in the Krsna Movement. I was living in a cabin on the farm commune in West Virginia. It was a very funky building with foam insulation. Sane people blow the foam inside the walls but here the brahmachari's, under order of the evil, crippled tyrant who ran the place, sprayed the insulation directly on the walls (to save time). It was a polyurethane cave. The walls were motley, bubbly, crusty and yellow from wood smoke. I moved into a tiny room already occupied by a mouse who crunched on the foam all night. I couldn't sleep so eventually, against my better judgment, I set a conventional trap and in the morning there was a tiny, little nose under the spring. I felt absolutely horrible. The Tin Cat, while probably not a fun place to find yourself, is at least something both the mouse and I can live with.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A giant blast of sun beams

Benjamin Zephaniah
. I love this guy! When asked what he would eat if he was in a desert with no food in sight except a cow, he said: "I'd find out what the cow was eating and join it."

He's a Brit who prefers to simply call to himself an oral poet but with him that covers a lot of ground. All I can say is please treat yourself to one of his videos.

I just discovered him while reading an article on vegetarian ethics. He became vegetarian at the age of 11 and vegan at 13: "I was disgusted by the taste and texture, and the thought of having flesh and blood against my teeth," he said. "Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn! You bury it in the ground, and it explodes into an oak! Bury a sheep, and nothing happens but decay."

His words explode like the acorn.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Doldrums, part 2

A few years ago I decided to take up reading again. It was one of the things I lost during the madness, drunkenness, bad fortune, whatever you want to call it. Lately I've taken to cruising second hand stores in search of books that, for whatever reason, woo my mind even as it wanders and my eyes complain. I'm not picky but....

I just reviewed the latest batch I retrieved from the dimly lit shelves along my route, Elmore Leonard's "Get Shorty" - Joyce Carol Oates' "Expensive People" - Robert Ludlum's "Sigma Protocol" - Johathan Franzens' "Strong Motion" - a copy of New Directions #31, 1975 (a real treasure for 25 cents) with a nice piece by Gregory Corso (one of my favorite poets) but nothing, other than the New Directions which I currently keep with me to read as I go, caught my fancy. I know. Give a book what? one or two hundred pages before you decide? Sometimes I can do that but at the moment I really don't have the patience.

"Shorty" looked good but I put it down anyway. I liked the movie. What's not to love about Hollywood crime stories? However I just finished Ludlum's movie/book "Prometheus Deception" and haven't been able to bring myself to even crack his "Sigma Protocol". Obviously he writes these with Hollywood Blockbuster in mind. Fine, but on the page it's beyond preposterous. I can only take so much. "Protocol" and "Shorty" will have to wait until I'm in a different mood.

The birds loved the bananas I put out for them this morning. They really drilled em. It was the big event in the bird park today. Excellent. I have an entire bunch that refuses to ripen.

I took perverse delight purchasing the Franzen book. Karl (King) Wenclas and the rest of the gang at the ULA, (United Literary Alliance!) positively hate Franzen (and Rick Moody) and have made it part of their life's work to demolish the pedestals on which they (think) these guys stand, so naturally I had to buy it. Franzen perfected the opening paragraph but I have a sinking feeling it inadvertently outlines the book's own fall from wonder. Perhaps not, but I didn't get very far before the fog of distraction arose from the Straits of Boredom on my way to the Sea of Imagination. My beautiful pea green boat languished under limp sail and I abandoned the journey. Maybe later, Franzen. I still might read him if, for no other reason, than to see what all the fuss is about.

Which reminds me ... Patrick King, no relation to Karl other than he's another ULAer, asked me to send him a few poems for his next publication. Note to self: Do it, damn it!

"Expensive People" starts with the lines, "I was a child murderer. I don't mean child-murderer, though that's an idea. I mean child murderer, that is, a murderer who happens to be a child, or a child who happens to be a murder. You can take your choice." Could be interesting. Oates is supposed to be a good writer. I've always thought I would probably like her so I put that one on the short list. Just not today's. That left me with one last hope, Tom Wolfe's "I am Charlotte Simmons". It looked promising over a bowl of cereal this morning, especially when he indirectly made fun of himself on page six.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Marvel Meal Party

I've been hosting a Marvel Meal party in the bird park all week. Everybody has stopped by, even Minerva the crow who I haven't seen for nearly a year. And her friend.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Winter doldrums

Here's a couple of photos I took along the side of the road a while ago. Secret worlds. Lovely in their own right, even blasted with highway grime.

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Dinner for two

I spent most of the day updating my website, mostly tweaking layouts and background information like keywords and page descriptions but I did finally complete the Seagull French Fry Party page which was a project long overdue. This evening we went to dinner at a Chinese buffet that recently opened nearby. Where we live, things like that are a big event. There was a complete traffic jam around the steam tables as the Saturday night crowd jockeyed to get their fair share. We elbowed up to the trough, grabbed a helping and returned to our seat. Two fat clowns were sitting in the booth next to us gobbling up greasy mounds of noodles and flesh. I assume they had just come from work. I doubt their clown shoes, his baggy pants and huge, brightly colored, horizontal striped shirt and her bright red polka dot dress flouncing above dimpled knees on top of layers of starched, white netting and her plastic ruby red wig, and the white oval outline framing the pig-like features of her colorfully decorated face were every day attire. It was fascinating watching her shovel food in through her bright red, heart shaped lips. When they left, her little bow-shaped lips were still as sweetheart red as her red dress and her red, red plastic hair.

But the show didn't end with their exit. A worn down, 50s something, redneck couple immediately took their spot. They were wearing snazzy, matching yellow and black nylon wind breakers and wobbled off for the food like a couple of obese, excited honey bees. When they returned, I noticed that under his plastic baseball cap, what was left of his hair was bound in several places with rubber bands and hung down his back like a rat tail. The woman had long, yellow hair highlighted with bold, clown red streaks. Her industrial eye and lip lines, two-inch lavender nails, and pasty pancake make-up rivaled any B grade Kabuki actor ever to strut across the creaking stage.

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Impeach Bush, Cheney, Rummy & Rove

Throw them all in jail!

What to do when the Emperor has no clothes

Garrison Keillor
Chicago Tribune /
Published March 1, 2006

What to do when the emperor has no clothes? These are troubling times for all of us who love this country, as surely we all do, even the satirists. You may poke fun at your mother, but if she is belittled by others it burns your bacon. A blowhard French journalist writes a book about America that is full of arrogant stupidity, and you want to let the air out of him and mail him home flat. And then you read the paper and realize the country is led by a man who isn't paying attention, and you hope that somebody will poke him. Or put a sign on his desk that says, "Try much harder."

Do we need to impeach him to bring some focus to this man's life? The Feb. 27 issue of The New Yorker carries an article by Jane Mayer about a loyal conservative Republican and U.S. Navy lawyer, Albert Mora, and his resistance to the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. From within the Pentagon bureaucracy, he did battle against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and John Yoo, who then was at the Justice Department, and shadowy figures taking orders from Vice President Dick "Gunner" Cheney, arguing America had ratified the Geneva Convention that forbids cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners, and so it has the force of law. They seemed to be arguing that President Bush has the right to order prisoners to be tortured.

One such prisoner, Mohamed al-Qahtani, was held naked in isolation under bright lights for months, threatened by dogs, subjected to unbearable noise volumes and otherwise abused, so that he begged to be allowed to kill himself. When the Senate approved the Torture Convention in 1994, it defined torture as an act "specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering."

Is the law a law or is it a piece of toast?

Wiretap surveillance of Americans without a warrant? Great. Go for it. How about turning over American ports to a country more closely tied to Sept. 11, 2001, than Saddam Hussein was? Fine by me. No problem. And what about the war in Iraq? Hey, you're doing a heck of a job. No need to tweak a thing. And your blue button-down shirt--it's you.

But torture is something else. Most people agree with this, and in a democracy that puts the torturers in a delicate position. They must make sure to destroy their e-mails and have subordinates who will take the fall. Because it is impossible to keep torture secret. It goes against the American grain and it eats at the conscience of even the most disciplined, and in the end the truth will come out. It is coming out now.

Our adventure in Iraq, at a cost of billions, has brought that country to the verge of civil war while earning us more enemies than ever before. And tax money earmarked for security is being dumped into pork-barrel projects anywhere somebody wants their own SWAT team. Detonation of a nuclear bomb within our borders--pick any big city--is a real possibility, as much so now as five years ago. Meanwhile, many Democrats have conceded the very subject of security and positioned themselves as Guardians of Our Forests and Benefactors of Waifs and Owls, neglecting the most basic job of government, which is to defend this country. The peaceful lagoon that is the White House is designed for the comfort of a vulnerable man. Perfectly understandable, but not what is needed now. The U.S. Constitution provides a simple, ultimate way to hold him to account for war crimes and the failure to attend to the country's defense. Impeach him and let the Senate hear the evidence.


Garrison Keillor is an author and the radio host of "A Prairie Home Companion."

Thanks to Liberal Agit-Prop for the photo Naked Bush.

No fee writing contests - Spring 2006

Academy of American Poets
James Laughlin Award
A prize of $5,000 is given annually to honor a second book of poetry by a U.S. poet. Copies of the winning book will be purchased and distributed to the 5,000 members of the Academy of American Poets. Poets who have published one book of poems in a standard edition are eligible. Publishers may submit manuscripts that have come under contract between May 1, 2005, and April 30, 2006, by May 15. There is no entry fee. Visit the Web site for the required entry form and complete guidelines.

Academy of American Poets
James Laughlin Award
588 Broadway, Suite 604
New York, NY 10012-3210

(212) 274-0343, ext. 17.
Ryan Murphy, Awards Coordinator.

Cave Canem Foundation
Cave Canem Poetry Prize
A prize of $500 and publication by a participating press is given annually for a collection of poems by an African-American poet who has not published a book. The winner also receives 50 copies of the book and an invitation to give a reading with the judge in New York City. This year's winning manuscript will be published by University of Georgia Press. Carl Phillips will judge. Submit a poetry manuscript of 50 to 75 pages by May 15. There is no entry fee. Send an SASE, e-mail, or visit the Web site for complete guidelines.

Cave Canem Foundation
Cave Canem Poetry Prize
584 Broadway, Suite 508
New York, NY 10012.

Italian Americana
John Ciardi Lifetime Achievement Award
A prize of $1,000 is given annually to an Italian-American poet for lifetime achievement in poetry. Poets who have published at least two books of poetry, excluding chapbooks, have published poetry criticism or edited poetry-related works, and promoted poetry through various activities are eligible. Poets may not nominate themselves. Editors may submit a list of the nominee's published books and poetry-related activities by May 1. There is no entry fee.

Italian Americana
John Ciardi Lifetime Achievement Award
University of Rhode Island
Providence Center
80 Washington Street, Providence, RI 02903

(617) 864-6427. Carol Bonomo Albright, Editor.

Lotus Press
Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award
A prize of $500 and publication by Lotus Press is given annually to an African-American poet for a book-length manuscript. Submit 60 to 90 pages of poetry by March 31. There is no entry fee. Send an SASE, e-mail, or visit the Web site for complete guidelines.

Lotus Press
Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award
P.O. Box 21607
Detroit, MI 48221

(313) 861-1280. Constance Withers, Assistant to the Editor.

Paterson Fiction Prize
A prize of $1,000 is given annually to honor a novel or collection of short fiction published in the preceding year. Publishers may submit books published in 2005 by April 1. There is no entry fee. Send an SASE, call, or visit the Web site for the required application and complete guidelines.

Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College
1 College Boulevard
Paterson, NJ 07505-1179

(973) 684-6555. Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Executive Director.

Poetry Foundation
Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowships
Two fellowships of $15,000 each are given annually to aspiring poets to allow them to continue their study and practice of poetry. U.S. citizens under 30 years of age who are currently undergraduate or graduate students in creative writing or English and who have not had a collection of poetry published or accepted for publication are eligible. Program directors or department chairs may nominate one student poet from their programs by submitting three copies of a letter of nomination, an application, and no more than 10 pages of poems. The Poetry Foundation will also consider applications from any writer not enrolled in a creative writing program who meets the criteria above. In these instances, applicants should still provide nominating letters from teachers or colleagues familiar with the applicant's work. Those who have completed a graduate program in creative writing are ineligible. The deadline is April 15.
There is no entry fee. Send an SASE, call, or visit the Web site for an application and complete guidelines.

Poetry Foundation
Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowships
444 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1850
Chicago, IL 60611-4034

(312) 787-7070

Washington Center for the Book
Washington State Book Awards
Prizes of $1,000 each are given annually to honor books of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction by writers who were born in Washington or have lived in the state for at least three years. Publishers or authors may submit six copies of books published in 2005 by April 1. There is no entry fee. Send an SASE, call, e-mail, or visit the Web site for the required entry form and complete guidelines. (See Recent Winners.)

Washington Center for the Book
Washington State Book Awards
Seattle Public Library
1000 Fourth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104-1109

(206) 386-4650. Christine Higashi, Associate Director.