Two in a row

I'd better be careful. If I keep this up, this might actually become a poetry blog. Not likely--this is a much a bragging on myself post as anything else. I got my copy of The Southern Review today, the one in which Alison Pelegrin and I appear (and we're back to back too, two poems apiece). I'm feeling really geeky right now, and if by some miracle, they choose my poem for the online content, I'll certainly post an update. (And I'll have a copy in the office as soon as I get my extras.)

A poetry post

These appear about once every couple of months it seems, which is far rarer than they should, but what the hell. I got the February issue of Poetry today, and one poem in it jumped out at me for very personal reasons. It was written by a friend of mine about a friend of his who I had the privilege of meeting before he died.

"Lavender All Over Again"
Newspaper Caption

I see you in your backyard's lavender,
post-lunch doze, dreaming someone
you brought home last week who blurs
to hummingbirds that fan your ears.
Lavender buds pilled your sweatshirt
in the restaurant garden you preferred,
where we ate, gossiped, laughed,
and downed a sizable carafe.
You ate experience whole,
sweetest when you lost control.
I see you springing from your gluey sleep
while foggy shade rolls toward your seat.
You liked to party hard, still in your prime
way past your prime, Give me wine wine wine
all the time time time
, stomped in punk dives'
purple light, sweating, fists pumped high...
Ardent life burned your heart and hands.
You kept dancing until you could barely stand.

In memory of Thom Gunn

W. S. DiPiero

Simone told me in an email not long ago that he has a book of new and collected poems coming out next month, titled Chinese Apples. I'll post more on it when I get my copy.

A question of etiquette

I'm always careful to thank people when I follow them in a door and they hold it for me, but what if it's two doors in close succession, as is the case in some office buildings or campus buildings (I'm thinking specifically of the FAU Library here)? Do you owe them one thanks or two? I always feel doofy saying it twice, but don't want to deny someone that which is rightfully theirs?

Yes, I am avoiding doing the grading I should be doing right now. Why do you ask?

The Random Ten and a Silly Video

I have been accused by many of being the dancer in this video. I assure you, I am not. My moves are not that tight, although I think my Crane Kick is better than his.

I do, however, have a deep and abiding affection for DJKool and Biz Markie. I'm working on an acoustic version of "Let Me Clear My Throat."

Here's the random ten--set iTunes on party shuffle and write down the next ten songs to pop up.

1. Wear Clean Draws--The Coup
2. Buffalo Stance--Neneh Cherry
3. Ugly--Violent Femmes
4. You Don't Love Me--Matthew Sweet
5. B Boys Will B Boys--Black Star
6. Stay--Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds
7. Girls--Beastie Boys
8. Keep Talking--Pink Floyd
9. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life--Monty Python
10.What's the Frequency, Kenneth?--R. E. M.

Only one to be ashamed of, I think. That's pretty good for me.

Don't Buy Blu-Ray

The War of the high definition DVD format is already over, and Sony lost.

Now realize that I know nothing of the technology, and that my education in economics ended somewhere around balancing my checkbook (which I failed and never repeated), and yet I am making this bold statement. Sony has already lost the high-def DVD war.

This is why:

The pornographers’ progress with HD may also be somewhat slowed by Sony, one of the main backers of the Blu-ray high-definition disc format. Sony said last week that, in keeping with a longstanding policy, it would not mass-produce pornographic videos on behalf of the movie makers.

The decision has forced pornographers to use the competing HD-DVD format or, in some cases, to find companies other than Sony that can manufacture copies of Blu-ray movies.

Yep. If Sony is snubbing porn, then they're kissing their format goodbye, because nothing drives the market like video of people having sex. And should this be a surprise? Sexual desire is humanity's most powerful drive, and it has been for what, ever since we made the jump to homo sapiens? And we got it from our evolutionary ancestors, who got it from theirs, who got it from... well, you know the rest.

Now, I'm not in the market for high def DVD, and I won't be for a while. It was only last year that I upgraded to progressive scan, and that happened only because my old Sony carousel died on me. With this kind of stuff, I'm not an early adopter--I can't afford to be. But even if I had the disposable cash laying around, I wouldn't touch it for just that reason.

Not that I buy porn anyway. I download it, just as God intended.

Why I love my roomba:

1. I own a robot. Neat!
2. "Floor cleaning" for me now means I pick up the cat toys and put them on the sofa until the roomba is done.
3. Roomba is quiet.
4. Roomba cleans better than I do.
5. I own a robot. THE FUTURE IS NOW!

Roomba say: "Kill all humans..."

So I got half my wish

The Saints run is over, and in painful fashion. I turned the game off early in the fourth quarter when it became clear that the Saints weren't going to come back again. But at least the Patriots went down and Payton Manning has a chance at the big game, so that's something.

As long as the Bears lose painfully in two weeks. There's got to be some revenge after all.

The Random Ten

Has Fox News just jumped the shark or something? Watch the clip and see what they're doing to Obama and tell me that they've not completely lost their minds.

In other news, Amy and I will be headed down to see Bill Maher live tomorrow night thanks to her uncle John's generous Xmas gift--can't wait for that. Got my first set of writing assignments back this week and I don't want to kill anyone, so that's good news as well. Here's the random ten--turn on your iTunes, put it on party shuffle, and then type out the next ten songs to appear, even if there's one by Nickelback.

1. Suits Are Picking Up the Bill--Squirrel Nut Zippers
2. High Hopes--Pink Floyd
3. Less Than Zero--Elvis Costello
4. Electric--Luscious Jackson (perhaps the best pop band name ever)
5. Brown Sugar--Mos Def
6. Waterloo--ABBA (Don't ask)
7. Blue Monk--Thelonious Monk
8. Even After All--Finley Quaye
9. We Want the Funk--George Clinton and the Parliament Pfunkadelic
10. Yellow Sun--The Raconteurs

Seriously, don't ask about the ABBA, okay? Let's just say I was into Australian film for a while and leave it at that.

On Football

Generally, I do one of these a year, right before the Superbowl--one of my first posts was on the Panthers versus the Patriots. I'm usually a passing fan by this time of the year because the Saints are never in it by now, and I do mean never. If you pay even the slightest attention to football, you know that the Saints are the feel-good story of the season. I wouldn't be surprised if there's already a movie deal in the works with Brad Pitt starring as Drew Brees.

So for once, I'm still interested in football in January, at least through Sunday.

It occurs to me that of the possible matchups, there are two sexy ones from the NFL's standpoint. The first involves the Saints and the Colts, the combination of the feel-good story of the year and Payton Manning's quest to win the big one, tied up with the whole "home boy versus the home team" story.

The other sexy matchup is one I really hope doesn't happen, and not because of my feelings for the Saints. It's the Patriots and the Bears, which would be a rematch of the 1984 Superbowl, famous for Refrigerator Perry, Jim McMahon, and the Superbowl Shuffle, which would no doubt be revisited ad nauseam for the two weeks between the league championship games and the Superbowl. If that happens, I might swear off football altogether.

Atop the list of films I can't wait to not see

It's hard to make the top of the list of films I can't wait to not see, but I think this one will land there easily. I can't imagine wanting to see a film based on a novel about a philosophy I find repugnant, but what really makes this article are the stories about Rand herself, like this one depicting her anger over the way The Fountainhead was filmed.

Rand had adapted it herself, but she battled with the director, King Vidor, over changes to her screenplay. In the end a single line was cut from a six-minute speech by Cooper’s character, Howard Roark, reportedly leaving Rand embittered by the experience. She vowed that Warner Brothers would not be permitted to adapt “Atlas” unless the studio recut “The Fountainhead,” returning the edited line to its rightful place, said her biographer Jeff Britting.

She was apparently so paranoid (filled with a ridiculous sense of self-importance?) that she only flew on private planes because she was convinced the Russians would hijack any commercial airliner she flew on. Lady, I tried reading Atlas Shrugged--they were glad to be rid of you.
But my favorite piece from the article was this bit:
But Mr. Ruddy refused to grant Rand final script approval, and their courtship quickly broke off. “It’s a fool’s game to spend a lot of money and time only to have her say, ‘I think you should take this out,’ ” he said. So, he recalled, he told Rand that he would wait for her to “drop dead” and then make the movie on his own terms.

I don't blame him one bit. But he won't be making the film, assuming it gets made at all--that will fall to the husband and wife couple who made Ray, which makes sense in an odd sort of way. They managed to make a watchable film that condensed a long and storied career into two and a half hours. Atlas Shrugged is 1,200 pages--that's gonna require some major condensing. Not that I'll see it.

I can't wait to not see it.

Back in the swing of it
And no, that's not a hint as to makeup of the random ten this week. Classes began this week--in fact, I'll be meeting my Poetry workshop for the first time in a few minutes--and so far, so good. I'm taking a bit more of a philosophical approach to my classes this term, especially in the Drama class, where I'm presenting it with the mindset of "drama as social commentary." We're beginning with "Lysistrata," which I'm surprised hasn't been updated or filmed in the last five years or so. I'm really interested in seeing what my students come up with for their first writing assignment.

So here's the random ten: put the iTunes on party shuffle and put down the next ten songs. No cheating to make yourself look geeky chic.

1. Cantaloupe Island--Herbie Hancock
2. Gonna Move--Susan Tedeschi
3. Chango--Ozomatli
4. A Movie Script Ending--Death Cab For Cutie
5. Treat Me--Boozoo Bajou
6. I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)--Stevie Wonder
7. Green River--Creedence Clearwater Revival
8. They Raided the House--Louis Jordan
9. I Can't Wait--Nu Shooz
10. I Ran--A Flock of Seagulls

My 80s teenage years come back to haunt me, alas. So what are you listening to these days?

The Aggravating "Brother" Micah

He's back. Last November, I blogged about "Brother" Micah, a "preacher" from the Miami Open Air Mission, which looks like a pretty pathetic mission based on its website--the blog hasn't been updated since last August. But "Brother" Micah is still going strong.

But it hit me today while passing him that this is a perfect example of what Richard Dawkins means when he says religious speech is privileged like no other, no matter how offensive it may be. FAU certainly seems to have no problem with "Brother" Micah stationing himself in a major walkway and shouting to all who pass that they are sinners worthy of hell--the homophobic stuff he yells is particularly precious. But I imagine they'd balk if the Klan popped up and decided that they wanted to hold a rally in front of the administration building and shout God's judgment on the race traitors and Jews and Catholics and blacks. At the very least, there'd be a police presence and the spectacle would only last for a very defined and limited period. But "Brother" Micah, for whatever reason, has carte blanche to make an ass of himself daily.

It bothers me, because I'm a very staunch advocate of freedom of speech, especially the freedom to make an ass of one's self, but I can't deny it--I want to find ways to interfere with what he's doing. Not shut him up--just exercise my rights of protest in such a way that it makes his work untenable. I'm at a distinct disadvantage--I have to teach and hold office hours, and I'm not willing to get into a shouting match with him. But I'm thinking that I'd like to impose myself between him and his audience--silently--and mirror his every step. Or maybe find a group of people who know a bunch of bawdy drinking songs and sing them from the audience. See if some members of the brass section of the marching band want to stage an impromptu practice right through his speechifying area.

This much is certain. I've skirted around his charade before, largely because there's rarely a need for me to go through that area directly. No more. I'm walking through, and I'm going to pass as close to him as I can while acting as though he doesn't exist, even if it means I'm going out of my way to do it. And I strongly encourage anyone else who's around there to do the same--don't give him space. Don't give him a stage. He told one person today that he had a right to be on this campus. He has a right--we have a duty, a responsibility to be here. We work here and learn here. We have more right to that plot of land than he does. We should take it back.


h/t C&L


You know it's been a good vacation when it takes you this long to recover from it. Classes start for me next Tuesday, so I'll be spending the next few days finishing up syllabi and last minute reading, much like Mark. In the meantime, here's a clip from The Coup. Enjoy.

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