Saturday, July 31, 2010

Poetry: lost & found

I was dinking around online this morning, yeah searching for myself. So what? Who hasn't? Geeze.... the voices in my head are so rude! Anyway, I came up with this. I had not only forgotten I'd written it, I'd forgotten about the blog I posted it on (IndieWriters) and the google group of the same name. Well, I actually haven't forgotten about the google group of the same name. It just made for better sentence flow to add that. I haven't forgotten about the group but I never go there. But I'm not giving it up. It's a good and appropriate name, one I thoroughly identify with but it joins a host of other online entities I have launched and abandoned, space junk, ephemeral moons sharing my orbit. In my mind's eye they are covered with glittering space dust, a pretty sight out here where earth night fades into deep space.

Excerpt from an unfinished, unnamed collection


One word, one sentence at a time I will reconstruct the story. I've written it before on countless scraps of paper. One word, one sentence at a time I will reconstruct the story. Forgive me. It is composed of a seemingly endless succession of beginnings. The original order of the words has been lost. I rely on you to supply the details. One word, one sentence at a time I will reconstruct the story. Forgive me. The original has been lost but I promise to stay true to its drift. That is not a matter of memory. It is a matter of being. One world at, one word at a time. Forgive me. The original version of this story does not exist. One word, one sentence at a time, this is its drift. This is the drift. The notes are scattered. No. Not scattered. The notes were never collected. Jotted. Scribbled. On scraps, in notebooks, on flaps. They have never been collected. They have seldom been re-read. Or read. The words, disjointed, have been set down and abandon. No, not abandon. There is much thinking between them, the phrases, the paragraph and elimination of words. And ideas. "Why?" I am telling a story. Build the house. Paint it later. And later still introduce the particulars. Each letter reverberates but ... I digress.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rant revisited

Cartoon by Gary Larson

Last week I went on a rant about the old saying, "write about what you know", blasting people who cling to the idea as though it were their salvation, stray and be lost forevah. Anyway, once again I overdid it because I did not give much of a nod to the times when sticking to what you know results in smoking hot writing so I'm back, hashing it out. It's what we do out here along the language barrier, hash things out. And I don't expect this will be the end of it either but then ending it is not the point, is it?

The point is, can I say that? The point is... I doubt anyone who has given it half a thought believes that subject is any more than a place to start. Otherwise, why bother? It's what you do with it that matters, and more importantly, what you let it do to you, where you let it take you that makes the difference.

And not to belabor the point but, on the flip side, those of us who think that rules are made to be broken need to keep in mind that there are no guarantees breaking them will automatically lead to extraordinary writing.

But back to the thing about sticking to what you know...

Here's a guy who has put it together. He writes about what he knows and kicks ass. He is a teacher/performance poet who bills himself as the man who "wants to create one thousand new teachers". I found his video at a Reno Spoken Views site but I don't know if he ever read here in Reno. My friend, if you haven't heard Taylor Mali before, you are in for a treat...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Spoken Views

Here are a few photos from the Spoken Views event in Reno the other night. I read just fine. I know how to deliver a line. I don't shirk. I don't mumble. It's just that lowering the page and talking directly to the audience freaks me out. Always has and I've been doing this for years. Reading in public almost invariability increases my sense of isolation. I'm a very shy person. People who know me might argue that but, in fact, I am seldom comfortable in public.

So this time I picked a poem that has two voices and promised myself I'd ask someone to read with me. The regulars at Spoken Views are very competent performers. Many, I reasoned, can easily do a cold read so maybe I can just ask for a volunteer at the beginning of my set? That way I don't have to actually talk to anyone beforehand. I've only been once before, and I'm older than most, but what the hell? They claim they welcome "readers from all walks of life, young & old". I decided to take 'm at their word.

As it went, the kid sitting next to me struck up a conversation before the show started. It was his first time at Spoken Views and, though he wrote poetry, he'd never read in public. I asked if he'd like to read with me. It seemed like the right thing to do. He said "sure". That's him in the tangerine colored shirt. Gabino. Really nice guy.

In all, I read three poems. Gabino joined me for the final one. He did great. A real champ. I still pretty much panicked once I got on stage but I doubt anyone noticed and guarantee no one cared. Of course, I obsessed well into the next day about how I could have better introduced our little one minute ad hoc multi-voiced experiment. Next time...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sharron Angle runs from reporters

Because I live in Nevada, I find teabagger idiot Sharron Angle's bid to unseat our Senator Harry Reid rather annoying. So here's a news clip of Nevada's very own little Sarah Palin clone running away from reporters after her "news conference" yesterday. These ladies just can't take heat. No problem. Like my mama said, "If you can't take the heat get out of the fucking kitchen". Good idea. RUN, SHARRON, RUN! God forbid you should be accountable for anything you say.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stardate -312451.7040525113, Bird Park update

I have a terrible habit of rewriting posts after I publish them. I had to start this one just to pull myself off of the last. No wonder a novel takes years. And while I'm on the subject, thanks to those who responded to my mumblings about needing readers for my "manuscript" though, to be accurate, I was more thinking out loud than recruiting. I am not anywhere near letting other people read that gaggle of words, but I will keep your generous offers in mind should I ever manage to develop the thing past blobhood. I find it invaluable to hear my writing through different ears.

In other news, Mr. Lee saw Baby Q. and his parents yesterday. That's the little fellow who nearly drown about a week ago. I guess he can now fly now. Wonderful. There is a young quail couple in the park as I write this but I don't see a baby with them. I hope he's still okay. It's a treat having a family around as quail don't hang out in the Bird Park much during July. Seems this place is more their spring fling single's bar than nursery. A huge group mixes it up here then but disappear when things get serious. Too bad. Quail are the most fun to watch.

But, even without them, the Bird Park is plenty busy. There's the chummy pool party pigeon set, nimble melodious red wing blackbirds, shrewd daring starlings, tiny cute sparrows, hilariously cantankerous finches, sundry drop-ins and lots of swank skiddish magpie and a big family of noisy spindle-legged juvenile crows, plus mom and maybe dad, who are very cool in an edgy kind of way. The young ones hop and dash after their parents chortling and squawking for handouts and, when they get the brush, chase each other. Crows are smart and long-lived so I'm thinking the parents are probably card carrying members of the Park scene. Makes sense as they are unusually tolerant of me, sometimes simply hoping up on the fence when I come out. One fellow in particular greets me with a lot of sweet talk. It doesn't take much to get a treat and he knows it.

The biggest change is that Snooky, the scrawny blue-eyed Siamese who recently adopted our next door neighbor Dwayne, has claimed the lonely shade of the quail's abandoned lilac bushes bar as her own. She's not a punk like the two little gangstas who hunt here but try telling that to the birds. She chills the mood. Snooky appeared this spring after Clarance the Bastard (and I mean Bastard with the greatest affection) died in his arms. And Dwayne is dying so what should I do? Chase off his one bright light in a smoke gray twilight? Snooky is welcome.

Stardate calculator

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thea Bell update

Baby Thea

I haven't posted many photos of Baby Thea and now, at 14 months, she suddenly is not a baby anymore, she's Thea Belle. This is all going way too fast if you ask me. Anyway, I thought I'd better do a little catch up because it's quite clear that keeping up with Thea Belle is a full time job. These photos are from a recent graduation party for two of her cousins and an uncle.

Thea Belle

gettin' down

in her little brown dress.

Good thing cousin Dillon

is now a lawyer.

A lady always

needs someone

to watch her back.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Texas to Taxco

Here are a few photos from my recent trip to San Antonio.

Bunny Bob does Hard Rock Cafe.

Bunny Bob came with me to San Antonio but once there he dumped me for my friend Katie. He's no fool. Purple is her favorite color. She always wears, or at the very least, has purple at hand... plus she's a costumer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. With her he will have a steady supply of cool purple pants and a booth at the Oregon Country Fair. Actors. But I gave him my blessing because, in fact, Katie can give him a better life but I am going to get him the purple car. It's not that I'm trying to buy his love. No really.

What can I say? I love birds.

My kind of place.

Being vegetarian, I found the food in San Antonio atrocious. Actually it's a Texas thing. Anyway, their specialty, of course, is BBQ flesh followed closely by very greasy Mexican cuisine. The first night I had a supposedly grilled, but in fact drenched in oil, veggie casadilla. I gave most of it to the birds and poisoned myself with the greasy chips and yummy salsa instead. After that I lived on Subway sandwiches and Hard Rock Cafe veggie burgers and fries. Mmmmmm fries. Very bad. Anyway, the Animal Puppet Theater made up for all that. I spied it in a window below the sidewalk embedded in hand-chiseled stone wall along some metal stairs leading down to a very funky basement "souvenir" shop, the kind that seems a front for something else, perhaps the after hours voodoo market?

Now for three perfunctory Alamo art shots. You didn't think you'd get off that easy, did you?

And two perfunctory shots of San Antonio's River Walk.

Actually, the River Walk was really cool and, even better, it reminded me of Taxco, one of my all time favorite cities. If I ever run away from it all, Taxco is on my top three places to disappear into.

Taxco... my fantasy escape.

The dog on the top of the stairs is Martha, my friend from the restaurant.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

You can't edit a blank page

I need a reader. This spring I finally dug up and printed out my now four-year-old NaNoWriMo manuscript and am currently halfway through the first read. Other than being determined to make the required word count, having had no expectations from the start is a good thing. The fact that I can read it at all is encouraging but it's a slow go. Thus far, I have managed only two sessions, months apart. I am surprised to find that it amuses me. This morning one particular section had me laughing out loud. Why can't that be enough? I said from the beginning that there would be no plot but, now that the manuscript exists, it needs one. Why does this all have to be so goddamn complicated? I read the funny part to Mr. Lee this morning but he wants a story goddammit. I'll read it when it has one. He's not a first draft kind of guy. That fucker would red pen a suicide note.

So I am half way through the first read and won't inflict it on anyone at the moment, but I need a reader. Okay. Okay. So that reader will have the same response as Mr. Lee, but WTF?! I have assembled 50,000, 12 pt. words on 197 double spaced, one inch margin pages. What else do you want from me? Blood? I know. A plot. And there is one, buried throughout the manuscript, like a dismembered body. Yes. Yes. I must sew my Frankenstein together but what the hell? That's work. Anyway, somewhere along the line I am going to need a reader, not a teacher, a reader. Doesn't every writer get a reader? I need a sounding board, someone to complete the loop between the ears, self to self, heart to head, someone who can help piece together the map of the story, the one I wrote in invisible ink, tore into tiny pieces and ate. Anyway, it's too soon for a reader. Just thinking out loud.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Harvey Pekar, RIP

Thanks for the memories. You're right. It matters anyway.

So... I dedicate today's inane Bird Park video to you. Baby crow had a good morning. Whatever death is, I hope you did too.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Oh Oh Os!

Awhile ago I did a post slagging Trader Joe's for wimping out and turning their Joe's Os breakfast cereal into a mealy nothing, like all the other breakfast cereals. In fact, they did not. This afternoon, Mr. Lee pointed out to me that I had mistakenly purchased the regular Os, the version made for ordinary people. You see, Joe's sells two versions of Os, regular and the red box Fiber Os with extra fiber, lots and lots of fiber, with so much fiber that eating a bowlful feels like you're eating a bale of hay. I begin to wonder if I'll ever get to the bottom of the bowl. I chew and chew and chew so long I forget I'm chewing, and when I do remember again, I'm only half done. In fact, Joe's Fiber Os are so chewy that I sometimes fear my teeth will be ground to nubs before I finish breakfast. If you made a paste out of Os you could scrub oil stains off the driveway or use it to sand barnacles off a boat. I am delighted knowing that the world has not completely given into the sissies. So, as amends to the venerable Os, I share with you this video by Keith Haskel. I don't know if this is viral marketing or what but I don't care. I think it's just him having fun but, either way, he speaks the truth of the red box.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Saving Baby Q.

Remember those two quail families I wrote about the other day? There were some 15 babies between them. Well, all but one of the babies have disappeared. I don't blame the cats. They are following their nature but I am sad for the quail. They are innocent, really fun to watch and defenseless. I am, however, disgusted with our lazy, irresponsible neighbors. They could at least put bells on their little fat ass lions. WTF?

Anyway, Baby Q. is the only quail baby in the Bird Park right now and he had a near fatal accident the other day while walking on the edge of pool but, in the end, it turned out okay.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Police report

“Dogs believe they are human. Cats believe they are gods.” -Unknown

Again with the cats. This morning I chased two lunkers out of the Bird Park where they were hunkered down in Old Man Hills, planning their next kill. I was surprised... a) by how fat they are and... b) their flash response to my growls. The bastards were up and over the fence in a flat two seconds. It was a magpie who alerted me to their presence. Seems they consider me the Bird Park police.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Today's birthdays

Happy 103rd, Frida.

Also, today is the
Dalai Lama's birthday.
He's 75.
Happy B-day, Dalai!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Thailand, all good things must come an end. Enjoy.

July 5 - In this final email Mr. Lee, esteemed guest blogger, kindly cobbles together not only some "best of" tips from his recent adventures in Thailand, but (finally) includes four very excellent photos he took along the way to leave us with these last tasty.....

~assorted bits~

In Ayuthaya the men in green vests are taxi drivers, maybe the only taxi drivers, and their taxis are tiny motorbikes. If you are born riding this way and are small, you will ride gently, gracefully, talking on your phone or perhaps reading the daily news, and if you are female you will even ride side saddle. But I grabbed onto the driver like I was drowning and I didn't let go. I wasn't going to fall off the back of his bike with no helmet, not into traffic. He was mildly perturbed when he dropped me off but I let him overcharge me by a dollar so what the hell.

Of all the Thai massages I had, the one in Ayuthaya was the best. It was pure local style, not for tourists, and I was the only Westerner in the place. Forget about your Swedish massage, Thai massage is communal and social and people chat and talk on the phone and grunt openly with pain and pleasure. There is no oil and you wear the clothing they provide. In my case, this was a comically tiny suit that covered to my knees and elbows, but nobody seemed to care and a couple ladies who were also being massaged asked me if I liked Thai massage and how often I got a massage and I said yes and weekly and they seemed to approve. My masseuse was short and round and his hair was frosted with blond highlights and I'm not judging but I have never been groped quite so vigorously by a man. It was the best and most thorough massage I had in Thailand.

Just outside Khao Yai National Park, Thailand's first but now just one among many, I saw two million bats fly out of a cave at sunset. It took an hour. They streamed out in a twisting column. It was a miracle. It happens every night. And then I walked among them as they fed. The next day, inside the park, I saw gibbons and hornbills and deer and macaques and snakes, poisonous and not, and I saw a sun bear climbing down a fig tree and a spider as big as my hand. It was the start of the rainy season - how much more exotic to call it what it is, the beginning of the monsoon - and the leeches were mustering and I had to wear leech socks which at first I thought were kind of a joke but later came to appreciate mightily. Leeches are surprisingly fast. They stay on the ground and whip around when they sense you coming and attach to your boot and work their way up looking for soft skin. They burrow into folds in the leech socks and wait for opportunity. Some move above the sock cuff, above the knee, onto the pants. They are relentless, they are the zombies of the animal world. Once, I stood off the path and peed onto the forest floor and the leeches came from all sides, inching toward the stream, looking I stared at the leaf scatter and the dirt and I stared into tiny mouths of hell. I checked my legs for leeches and moved on.

The ticket lady at the Bangkok municipal pier shortchanged me by a buck. I watched her shortchange other tourists while I waited for the riverboat. Later, a really helpful tout claiming to work for the government made me board a tuk tuk and negotiated an actual Thai fare, for which I was grateful, and sent me to "Thai Pier" on the Chao Praya River, the big muddy running through the heart of Bangkok, for an overpriced tour of the river and canals. I declined the river tour and really only got on the tuk tuk because I was tired and hungry and because there would be food sellers by the pier (and truthfully because I just wanted the novelty of paying what a Thai person would pay for a tuk tuk ride).

I found a food in Pak Chong, gateway to Khao Yai National Park, a food which could rival my beloved flan. It is called Kao Neow Sankayah. It is sweet sticky rice made with coconut milk and topped with egg custard and wrapped in a banana leaf. Ok, so it's flan, basically. Ok.

--M. Lee

Big thank you very much, Mr. Lee. Happy Travels.

Sound of one hand clapping.

Nature's little gangsters

I chased these guys off the fence again this morning where they sit everyday looking for baby quail, which they eat like popcorn. Bastards. Since I got back from San Antonio yesterday, no sign of the 15 or so babies that were in the Bird Park before I left. I fear the worst.