The funny things you learn from Sitemeter

Apparently, I'm the #2 google hit for the words "Fuck Hinderaker." Go figure.

Good Local News

Some of the bad guys are pulling back in their efforts to theocratize the U.S.

Fort Lauderdale · The Center for Reclaiming America has closed, halting its conservative activism and throwing the future of its signature annual conference in doubt.

An undisclosed number of employees were laid off on Thursday at the center's headquarters in Fort Lauderdale and its congressional chaplaincy office in Washington, D.C., in what its parent organization, Coral Ridge Ministries, called a "streamlining."

The closures put a stop to day-to-day actions such as e-mail and petition drives against abortion, pornography and same-sex marriage.

This is the political arm of Coral Ridge Ministries, a despicable church here in Fort Lauderdale, run by D. James Kennedy, south Florida's version of James Dobson. Anything that causes them to back off, even a little, is a good thing as far as I'm concerned.

School's Out For Summer and the Random Ten

Okay, so it's not officially out yet, as this is finals week, and I am teaching the first summer term, so I'm not really out yet, but I can still celebrate, right? I never cease to be amazed by students who think that they can make up a semester's worth of slacking by revising everything in sight the week before finals. I currently have a couple of file folders on my desktop full of such papers, and they're rarely major improvements. I have to look at all of them, simply because there might be that rare find that will make its way into my teaching portfolio next year, but usually their idea of revision is largely copy-editing, and that just wears me out physically and emotionally, especially since they wouldn't have to be revising if they'd just dropped by my office for ten minutes at some point in the term.

Bleah. Enough of that. Here's the Random Ten for this week. I've got the iTunes on party Shuffle and these are the next ten songs to come up.

1. This Modern Love--Bloc Party
2. Sweet and Loving Man--Finley Quaye
3. Closer--Veruca Salt
4. Mexico--James Taylor
5. Rusty Old String--The Amy Garland Band
6. From a Pen--Paul Brill
7. Fade to Grey--Nouvelle Vague
8. (What Did I Do To Be So) Black and Blue--Dave Brubeck
9. The Beast--Talib Kweli (Featuring Papoose)
10. Wash Jones--Squirrel Nut Zippers

Special Soul Track (which was next on the list): Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone--Al Green

Your homework is to write what you're going to do on summer vacation.

A disturbing sight

A note to my fellow males. When walking into a public toilet, please wait until you are in front of the urinal before going wrist deep into your pants to get your dick out. If you have to begin early, you should wait, at the very least, until you are inside the second door before unzipping, much less rooting around, hunched over and shuffling toward toward relief. It's not that I'm queasy about seeing penises--it's that I'm afraid that you'll get it out early and I'll get caught in the sidespray.

Poetry Southeast

Among the many emails I received today was one from an old classmate, Chris Tusa, who is the editor of the web journal Poetry Southeast. It's a solid little web journal that published poetry of and about the south, and they're one of the very few to accept email submissions. In the past they've published poets such as Dorianne Laux, Edward Hirsch, Beth-Ann Fennelly, Virgil Suarez, and Bob Hicok--just so you have an idea of what to expect. My first creative writing teacher is in this issue, and I'll be in the next one, Summer 2007. Drop by and give them a look if this is the kind of poetry you're into.

Take action

Stamp Out the Rate Hike: Stop the Post Office

Via Pandagon, an action alert. Please click on the above image and fill out the petition there. Here are the basics:

Earlier this year, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) rejected a postal rate increase plan offered by the U.S. Postal Service. Instead they opted to implement a complicated plan submitted by media giant Time Warner. (Click here to read the decision and click here for a timeline)

Under the original plan, all publishers would have a mostly equal increase (approx. 12 percent) in the cost for mailing their publications. The Time Warner plan overturned this level playing field to favor large, ad-heavy magazines like People at the expense of smaller publications like In These Times and The American Spectator. It penalizes thousands of small- to medium-sized outlets with disproportionately higher rates while locking in privileges for bigger companies.

There's a basic form to fill out that will auto email your request to a number of people, but you can aso change the message if you like. I wrote the following:

As a writer who publishes in predominately in smaller academic and popular journals and who hopes to publish books with smaller presses, I am impacted by this decision on a very personal level. Small presses are already at a disadvantage because they don't have large publishing budgets or advertising revenue streams. Allowing this plan to proceed will harm already struggling and disadvantaged publishers and will likely hasten their demise.

This plan extends beyond the world of political thought. It would impact art and literary journals, collections and novels by up and coming writers, and magazines that appeal to niche markets. We are already feeling the effects of a consolidated media in both the music and television industries; don't further hamper the ability of small presses and journals to provide a wider range of viewpoints and subject matter.

Feel free to rip me off if you want. I don't think anything I wrote was particularly eloquent, but it gives a different perspective than the one on the petition site. It'll only take a couple of minutes to do.

What's it gonna be tonight?

It is karaoke time again, and here are your choices:

To be fair, I don't think they'll have the last one. Of course, I don't think I could make it all the way through the song either.

Coming soon: burrow owl pictures and the Random Ten

The Random Ten you'll get today. The burrow owl pics will come soon. I tried taking some today, but I have an old digital camera, and they were all fuzzy. I'll either have to get Amy down to Davie campus with her new fancy-Christmas-gift camera or bring my film camera with the massive lens to get close.

A little background. FAU's mascot is the burrow owl, in part because the university is built on lands where they nest. I discovered today, thanks to a student who wrote a poem about them, that there are some out and about in the parking lots at our Davie campus. They are ridiculously cute, and if the FAU administration had the slightest bit of a subversive streak, they'd exploit that in the logos for the school. I mean, how much mileage has UC-Santa Cruz gotten out of their whole Banana Slug bit? They were in a Tarantino film! And burrow owls are way cuter than banana slugs. But no--they had to go and try to make our owl fierce or something, which is hard to pull off when you're competing in college football with Hurricanes, Seminoles and Gators. Even the most bad-ass owl is going to pale in comparison. They're just not threatening. Maybe if we made it into a burrow owl/sea turtle hybrid? They both have local protected nesting grounds. Whaddya think?

Here's the Random Ten. Put your computer's music player on random and post the next ten songs that come up. No cheating to look hip. Your taste in music isn't good enough anyway.

1. Cut Chemist Suite--Ozomatli
2. Caught Up In You--.38 Special
3. Take Five--Dave Brubeck
4. Dirty Little Secret--Katherine Whalen
5. It's All Been Done--Barenaked Ladies
6. And What If I Don't--Herbie Hancock
7. Prayer for the Dying--Seal
8. Did You Get My Message?--Jason Mraz
9. They're Red Hot--Robert Johnson
10. Don't Let Me Down--The Beatles

My first day of grad school was actually my first day of teaching. It was a Monday, and the freshman composition classes I'd been assigned to teach were MWF. My own classes were all TR. So my first day was actually the culmination of what at Arkansas they called - probably still call - "boot camp": a week of starting to learn to teach the classes you need to teach to pay your way through school.

I remember I wore severe, dark clothing and tied my hair back in a tight bun: I was only 25, and didn't yet have the "gravitas" that academia requires of its professionals, the wrinkles and such which I now happily have in spades! :-) When I walked into the classroom, young voices hushed and I heard a girl whisper "is that our teacher?!" - well, it was their first day too! We went over the syllabus, introduced ourselves, and I looked at my watch: 12:15... I was ashamed. My first class and I had nothing after fifteen minutes! Still: I had nothing. So I let them go, and slowly packed my bag, worried that my boss, Pat Slatterly, whom I would soon come to love, would see me slinking back to my office just 15 minutes after I was sent out on my first mission!

I walked back to Kimpel Hall slowly, and instead of taking the first entrance, I walked all the way round to the main entrance, to get there a little slower... this really was evidence of my shame, because it was about 104 degrees that day, with high humidity, and it was uphill the whole way. I could've ducked in the back and taken the elevator, but instead I gave myself my slow punishment-walk in the sun.

It's these sorts of odd details you linger on, years later. John Locke was murdered in the office next to mine. I wasn't in my office: I was at the front door when first dozens of students came running out. I was so in-my-own-bummed-world that I was going to go in anyway. A guy stopped me: "don't go in there," he said. "A guy's got a gun." I didn't believe him, but at the time I smoked, and I didn't want to run into Pat anyway, so I stopped for a cigarette. Then, people started pouring out, in terror. They were yelling about gunshots. I heard a guy joke it was probably firecrackers. One cigarette stretched out into four. My second freshman comp class of the day lay out of reach, on the second floor. I looked up there (the 2nd floor had a big picture window just above the main entrance) and I saw Brian standing in a thick crowd of evacuees. We'd just met, casually, a couple days before. The police moved us farther back, then across the street, then down the street. I realized my second comp class was not going to happen.

Did I say 104? It was more like 108, actually. But, with my bag still full of all the books a freshman comp student has to buy for class (heeeeavy), I began tromping, again uphill, to the office that would give me my fellowship check. It was so hot, and my bag was heavy, so I kept stopping under small trees to take a breath and get some shade. Also, I was lost. As I stood in small shade catching my breath, I saw Brian. He showed me where the office was, told me what he'd seen. Took me to his choo-choo train bank (yes, a bank in a train car - don't even get me started on the symbolism of that!), which, that day, became my bank, and where we got our money and then went straight to a bar. It took us a while to figure out what had happened, and that Brian had been the last person to see the shooter alive, before he shot himself. My brave Brian who heard gunshots and walked towards them, while everyone else was running away - who heard John Locke's last words crying for help, who heard Bethany yell "he's got a gun" - and still went to see - if he could help.

Ye Professor Panglosses might say that it was for the best that John Locke was brutally murdered for that led to our love, but the only thing I find more offensive than that is the way the media feeds on this kind of tragedy. I spent my first year of grad school dodging reporters. I am appalled that the media is actually SHOWING the pictures etc. that the VA Tech murderer sent to them. They feed on tragedy like bloodsucking... there is nothing nasty enough in the animal kingdom to compare them to. People ask "why" "why does this happen?" When the answer is perfectly obvious: there are a lot of people in this world, and some of them are defective - but ALL of them want attention. And the defective ones will kill and die for it. So what do the vermin do? They GIVE them the attention they want. NBC should be held legally responsible for the next shooting like this that happens.

And it isn't just schools. My best friend Stacy lives in Salt Lake City. The recent shooting at Trolley Square brought her right back to Sept. 9, 2000, the day John Locke was murdered. It's the same sickness...

After a year, Pat Slattery, whom I love, moved into John Locke's office. He was the only one brave enough, strong enough, to do so. We forgot about that piece of shit who killed John Locke. We remember John Locke's name, not his. I never saw a picture of him, nor do I ever want to. I don't want to know his "reasons" because they're bullshit. Let him and all these disgusting killers fade into obscurity. Honor the victims, give the killers nothing. NOTHING. Let them be faceless, nameless worms. Even if it doesn't make them go away, it's what they deserve.

Maybe I'll Have to Start Watching the Pulitzers More Carefully

Two years ago, Ted Kooser won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Delights & Shadows. Kooser's poetry, like that of most recent Poets Laureate, generally fills me with a sense of meh. It doesn't offend me, particularly, but I'm certainly not getting out there to buy it.

A student of mine did a review of last year's Pulitzer winner--Claudia Emerson's Late Wife, a book I've become quite taken with. I'll be finishing it in the next couple of days hopefully, so I can get it back to her, and perhaps I'll write a few words about it here.

And then this insomniac morning I discovered that this year's winner is Natasha Trethewey's Native Guard. I was a big fan of her second book Bellocq's Ophelia, and I'll be getting this one soon, no doubt.

Now I'm not saying that Pulitzers have gone and started pushing the envelope in awarding their poetry prizes, but compared to some of their more recent selections--Paul Muldoon, Franz Wright, Stephen Dunn, Carl Dennis--these last two winners are a bit unexpected, and that's a good thing, I think. They're younger and have less of a publishing history--this was their third book in both cases--and Emerson's selection was the first in 9 years for a woman. (Curiously enough, when Lisel Mueller won 9 years ago, she was also part of a two-year winning streak for females). Poets like Emerson and Trethewey will be, for better or worse, part of the next generation of established poets, and I'd rather see collections like that honored by Pulitzer than collected works of poets who have been at this for thirty-plus years.

Stanley Fish is at it again

Shorter Stanley Fish: faith is better than knowledge.

I wouldn't have even noticed this, probably, unless I'd been visiting sitemeter and seen that a number of people visited the site in the last few hours looking at what I'd written. I guess they were looking for access to today's piece--sorry about that. But it gave me chance to see Fish defend himself, and he doesn't do a very good job of it, I'm afraid. It all comes down to this section, where he's quoting from Pilgrim's Progress:

There is, he explains “knowledge and knowledge. Knowledge that resteth in the bare speculation of things; and knowledge that is accompanied with the grace of faith and love which puts a man upon doing even the will of God from the heart.”

To have, or to be had by, this second, superior, knowledge is to have undergone a reorientation of being such that the content of both the world and your consciousness has been transformed. You now see the world as everywhere displaying the single truth of which you have become an extension. As Augustine puts in (in “The Christian Doctrine”), “To the pure and healthy internal eye, He is everywhere.” When Zach Johnson won the Masters golf tournament a week ago, he replied to a reporter’s standard questions about how he had done it by saying “Jesus Christ was with me every step of the way” (on the model of Paul’s “Not me, but my master in me”). The reporter looked unhappy and ended the interview abruptly.

The characterizing feature of the knowledge that does not save and transform – speculative knowledge, empirical knowledge, knowledge about – is the distance between the knower and the thing to be known, a distance that must be bridged by some methodological or technological apparatus. But with respect to the knowledge Bunyan and his characters celebrate, there is no distance – the knower and the object of knowledge are one – and the appearance of distance is a sign that you have joined the superficial Talkative in his ability to discourse on everything, but really know nothing. The lesson is given in Proverbs 3: “Be not wise in thine own eyes.” “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; lean not into thine own understanding.”

Emphasis mine. Now what is it that makes this secondary knowledge superior? The closest Fish comes to answering that is saying that it saves and transforms one. But transforms one into what? A magical thinker? A believer? A person who loses the capacity to doubt? Look at this passage from the third paragraph again:
But with respect to the knowledge Bunyan and his characters celebrate, there is no distance – the knower and the object of knowledge are one – and the appearance of distance is a sign that you have joined the superficial Talkative in his ability to discourse on everything, but really know nothing. The lesson is given in Proverbs 3: “Be not wise in thine own eyes.” “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; lean not into thine own understanding.”

But belief doesn't really help you to know anything. It may help you to think that you know something, it may give you confidence that you know something. Hell, there are people who believe that the earth was created in 6 24-hour days just over 6,000 years ago, and they know that because they believe, but that doesn't make their belief any more accurate.

Professor Fish can trust in the Lord all he wants, but it's not going to make his blog entries any more convincing. There's no reason that believing in religion is superior to experiential and empirical knowledge, but there are plenty of ways in which the converse is true. We benefit from them every day.

My Own School Shooting Story

Let me begin by saying that mine is nearly seven years old, and was nowhere near as bad as the one today at Va. Tech. Mine involved only one professor and a seriously disturbed student, but I can't stop thinking about it right now. So maybe writing this post is therapy for me or something--I can't be certain--but it's something I feel I need to write today.

It was the first day of the fall term, 2000. I was in my second year as an MFA student at the University of Arkansas, and I was about to teach my first class of the semester. I was in my office on the 2nd floor of Kimpel Hall, with my friend Paul, shooting the breeze, when we heard two loud slaps, like a metal shelf hitting a tile floor. A voice called "help" twice, then another slap. A voice down the hall yelled something about a gun. Paul ran up the stairwell next to our offices to the department office upstairs to call for help--we didn't have phones at the time in the TA offices.

I thought the shots had come from the elevators, so I edged down the hallway, thinking I could offer first aid or something. I didn't realize until I was on my way back to my office that the shots had come from a doorway I'd already walked past once. Paul was at the end of the hall, motioning me toward him. I glanced to my right, and a figure slammed the door. It was the shooter, a man I'd never seen before.

I learned later that he was a graduate student who had been booted from the PhD program for not making sufficient progress toward his degree. He'd spent the last few years taking student loans and then dropping classes, and the department had had enough. The professor he killed, Dr. John Locke, had been his adviser, and had spoken on his behalf in the meeting where the shooter had been kicked out of the program.

Minutes after the door slammed--it might have been centuries, for as long as it felt--a UARK bicycle officer showed up and knocked on the door. I gathered my books, took the back stairwell, and went up a couple of floors to where I was supposed to teach my class. A faculty member came and evacuated us minutes later.

I don't have a point to make here, no policy recommendation, no universal affirmative. The next day, when I returned to classes after a night of heavy drinking, some students had started a memorial of sorts in front of Dr. Locke's office door. It took me a month before I could walk past that door again. I would find excuses to go up a floor to check my office mail, and then take the back staircase down to my office.

There's a recommended diary on daily Kos right now with the title "I Live In Blacksburg, And Instapundit Is Pissing Me Off." I just glanced at it, and no surprise, Glenn Reynolds is trying to make hay of gun laws before the bodies are even cold. Let him.

Not because I agree with him--far from it. But don't be outraged at him. Instead, if you're part of an advocacy group of some sort and you're asked by a media outlet for a comment, don't say anything other than "this is a tragedy, and our thoughts are with the victims, their families and friends." People who try to take advantage of these types of situations are the worst sort of assholes, and the public knows it. Let the assholes rage--they will lose. And even if they wouldn't, it's still the right thing to do.

We grieve today.

Addendum: Amy has her own version of this story, as it was her first day of graduate school. I hope she tells it.

Oh, the sleep and the Random Ten

Just a couple more weeks and there will be a very short respite between terms--ten days this time, I believe--but it will still be a respite. Right now, I have papers to grade, a student who has to return to Brazil for surgery because he doesn't have insurance here (and I have to decide what to do about his grade), and more papers on the way. I remember, when I was a kid, that my parents (among others) would slag teachers about wanting raises because they only worked 9 months a year. I think if I did this for 12 months a year, I'd kill someone.

Here's the Random Ten. Put your iTunes or other computer music program on random and write the next ten songs. No cheating to look less cool than you really are. Here we go.

1. Jackie, Dressed in Cobras--The New Pornographers
2. The Reflex (Dance Mix)--Duran Duran (I have the 45 hanging around somewhere, I swear)
3. Burn One Down--Ben Harper
4. Guajira (I Love U 2 Much)--Yerba Buena
5. If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day--Eric Clapton
6. Friend of the Devil--Grateful Dead
7. Perry Mason of Love--Mojo Nixon
8. Can't get you outta my mind--The Ramones
9. Down By the Seasude--Robert Plant & Tori Amos
10. Honeymoon Blues--Robert Johnson

On the plus side, in my workshop today, we did a poem that ended with the lines "will still cradle the 3 inches of / rage god gave me." Make of that what you will.

I was walking down the stairs at FAU Davie when I suddenly was surrounded by the smell of gardenias...

Kurt Vonnegut, Dead at 84

When I was a teenager, Kurt Vonnegut was one of the most subversive writers I could get my hands on at the Slidell Public Library. It was a small place, about a dozen blocks from our trailer park, an easy bike ride. I got to where I could carry three or four Sci-Fi tomes at a time while riding one-handed, and then would spend the afternoons laid up in the bed reading into the hours of the night. Vonnegut was a staple of those evenings, whether it was Cat's Cradle or Slaughterhouse Five or his story in Harlan Ellison's Again, Dangerous Visions (a book I very nearly stole from the library, Jehovah's Witness or not), "The Great Space Fuck."

I played a better Witness than I actually was.

It was that sort of writing, as much as Cummings's poetry, that convinced me to give writing a try. I've neglected rereading his work for far too long. I'll be getting to it in the near future, I think.

The only thing I plan to write on Imus

He's looking like toast now he's losing advertisers. He might not come back after those 2 weeks, at least not on tv.

But here's my question. Imus deserves the nut-kicking he's currently getting, no doubt, but why hasn't the employment of Mr. McGuirk, Imus's producer and the one who instigated the entire conversation and said the most outrageous things in the exchange been questioned? I haven't heard anyone call for his firing, at least not in anywhere the same volume as Imus's firing has been called for. Look at the exchange:

IMUS: So, I watched the basketball game last night between -- a little bit of Rutgers and Tennessee, the women's final.

ROSENBERG: Yeah, Tennessee won last night -- seventh championship for [Tennessee coach] Pat Summitt, I-Man. They beat Rutgers by 13 points.

IMUS: That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and --

McGUIRK: Some hard-core hos.

IMUS: That's some nappy-headed hos there. I'm gonna tell you that now, man, that's some -- woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know, so, like -- kinda like -- I don't know.

McGUIRK: A Spike Lee thing.

IMUS: Yeah.

McGUIRK: The Jigaboos vs. the Wannabes -- that movie that he had.

IMUS: Yeah, it was a tough --

McCORD: Do The Right Thing.

McGUIRK: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

IMUS: I don't know if I'd have wanted to beat Rutgers or not, but they did, right?

ROSENBERG: It was a tough watch. The more I look at Rutgers, they look exactly like the Toronto Raptors.

IMUS: Well, I guess, yeah.

RUFFINO: Only tougher.

McGUIRK: The [Memphis] Grizzlies would be more appropriate.
McGuirk is the first to call them ho's and then follows up with the "jigaboos vs. the wannabes" crack. And he's not on the chopping block? What's wrong with this picture?

I have bad taste in music.

Can I be the first to complain that our society puts far too much importance on the music we listen to? Myspace wants to know what you're listening to every time you post a random thought. Every Friday millions of bloggers (including Brian) dutifully tell us the next ten random songs on their ipods. In High Fidelity, John Cusack confidently purveys the wisdom that it's not WHAT you're like, it's what you LIKE that determines who you are... can I admit that I cringed at that particular cinematic moment?

Because I do not have good taste in music. Or at least, I don't have taste that reflects who I am in any way. When I was a teenager, I liked garage-punk bands you've never heard of, like bENT and sockeye, who home-produced such classic tunes as "mushroom gravy (ladled over the head of my dick)." But like my father, I cling obsessively to the same small set of pop songs (and in many cases, they're the same songs! I've had an acute Beatles addiction since birth, as far as I can tell). I can sing you Jesus Christ Superstar from intro to outro, playing all the parts - same goes for the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I like the pina colada song. I like the copa cabana song. I have a genuine affection for the Spice Girls' entire catalog (not to say I "celebrate" it...) I think that Everclear's "Songs from an American Movie Vol 1" is musical genius. I listened to ONE Jason Mraz album (Waiting for my Rocket..) from San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale and back again (by CAR, friends!) Hell, I even think Ringo was talented! ("Don't Pass Me By"? "Octopus's Garden"? AWESOME!) And don't even get me started on "Piss Up a Rope" by WEEN.

But the one thing I've managed to admit to NO ONE until just a couple of weeks ago, is that I LOVE Supertramp. Breakfast in America, baby. Now that's an awesome album. (I'm coming out!) And after I told Brian that I always loved that album a couple weeks ago, my sweetie went and got it for me, despite that meaning that he has to hear it (because I refuse to listen to music through earbuds)... and that, right there, is true love.

But please conclude nothing of my personality from anything you've just read. It's not in there.

Problem was, they didn't use Billy Collins

I'm going to riff off this Kevin Drum post I snagged from Atrios for a second. Drum blasts the Washington Post Sunday magazine for doing a pretty dumb experiment--stationing a world class violinist at a DC Metro stop for an hour (presumably playing) and seeing if anyone noticed. Drum says:

I'm sorry, but this is just idiotic. No one recognized Bell because even famous violinists don't have famous faces. No one cared much about his music because probably no more than five people out of a hundred enjoy classical music at all — and fewer still recognize the difficult pieces he decided to play. What's more, I'd be surprised if as many as one out of a hundred can tell a good violinist from a great one even in good conditions. And despite the claim that the acoustics of the L'Enfant Plaza station were "surprisingly kind," I'm sure they were nothing of the sort.

And he's right. Sometimes those of us who work in specialized fields forget that most of the world has no clue who we are, or even who the best known (not necessarily most talented or best at what they do) in our fields are.

At the beginning of every semester, I ask my 2000 level Poetry students if they can name any living poets. They usually can't. If I expand it to include the entire 20th century, I might get Robert Frost out of them. If I expand it to all poetry ever written, Shakespeare pops in for a visit. And it's generally not much better in my workshops. Outside of our little world, no one knows us.

The biggest seller of poetry today (outside books written by terminally ill children or people famous for something else) is probably Billy Collins, a name that makes most poets who take themselves seriously cringe. And I guarantee that you could do the same experiment with him, and you'd have much the same response, for the same reasons. In fact, the violinist might get a little more attention, assuming he has his case open at his feet as though he was busking for cab fare. The poet would be more likely to get strange looks for his performance.

And given the quality of most of Collins's poems, he might deserve it.

Not to make this a wholesale slam of Collins. I met him briefly when he came to Stanford to give a lecture and a couple of readings, and he's a very congenial, self-effacing man, who seemed to genuinely not understand why he's not held in higher esteem by his fellow poets. And he's got a great schtick when reading his poems--I heard from friends at the reading that they'd never heard a crowd sigh in unison the way they did when Collins would get to the epiphanic moment in his poems. There's something in the way he reads them that makes it seems like there's some depth, some gravitas to his poems that just disappears when you read them in print. But he packed out two readings in sizable halls on Stanford's campus, and there's something to be said for that level of notoriety in a genre like ours where if you sell 5,000 copies of a book, you've got a certified hit on your hands (so I hear--I haven't had the chance yet to find out).

Update: according to Salon, said violinist made 32 bucks by busking for 45 minutes worth of playing. Now true, it was rush hour and he likely wouldn't be able to make that kind of bank all day, but I've held many a job where I might take that home for a full day's work. Maybe I ought to take some of my poems out to the Tri-Rail station and try to make some lunch money on occasion.

We won the lottery!

$4.50 to be exact. If we'd gotten one more number, that would have jumped to $70. (Wonder how this is going to skew the sitemeter numbers?)

My grandmother called my mother this morning and said, "Amy's famous again!" ... Thanks, Gramma-crazy. :-)

This story sounds familiar
The title of it is Porn could be key to next-gen DVD war.

Where might I have heard that before? (This is where Peter Falk is supposed to lean over and say "You're very smart. Shaddap.")

Sleep, glorious sleep and the Random Ten

When this term ends, I'm gonna take a three day nap. And then I'll get up and write my syllabus for the Summer term. Glad that one's only 6 weeks long, and then I'll get another nap. Here's the random ten--the iTunes is on party shuffle and these are the next ten songs. Hope I don't humiliate myself.

1. Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore--John Prine
2. The Late Late Blues--Milt Jackson and John Coltrane
3. Travelin' Mood--Snooks Eaglin
4. Dirty Little Secret--Katherine Whalen
5. Holy Lamb (Song for the Harmonic Convergence)--Yes
6. Dancing Queen--ABBA
7. Step Into My Office Baby--Belle and Sebastian
8. Sing Me Spanish Techno--The New Pornographers
9. Girls Singing--Mates of State
10. Sad Songs and Waltzes--Cake

Go ahead--give me some shit. I deserve it.

Did Jesus Really Have Sex?

That's the question that Pastor Bob Coy will apparently answer this afternoon on campus. If the question isn't tempting enough, he's also offering free Chick Fil-A to the first hundred people to show--I imagine that will get him an audience, as the mooch factor on any campus is pretty high. I hope he receives as raucous a welcome as Brother Micah has in the past.

Pastor Bob is a bit more legitimate in the sense that he has a real church--he's with Calvary Chapel, whose website is fairly innocuous from all outward appearances. But this ought to give you more of an indication of where he's coming from:

WSVN--It has been a devastating 14 months for the earth that began with a tsunami that killed nearly 300,000 people.

Followed by mudslides and floods that killed hundreds in the U.S. and Europe.

The hurricane season was one of the worst on record.

And during it all war raged on in the middle east.

Leading some believers in the Bible to conclude....the end is near....

Pastor Bob Coy: "You see things like ... lets say one third of the planets fowl life is completely destroyed----another plague brings open sores to mens backs as we run to and fro."

Bob Coy is the pastor of Calvary Chapel in Ft. Lauderdale preaching to thousands of believers each week.

Pastor Bob Coy: "This is the beginning of God's righteous judgement."...

Pastor Bob Coy: "I think its near for a couple of reasons. One, the book of revelation speaks of a cashless society before the return of Jesus Christ, today with technology I dont think that's so far away."

Another Bible scripture that is unique, Jewish people were forced at gunpoint to leave the west bank last year.

Pastor Bob Coy: "Zechariah, chapter twelve, speaks of a division of Jerusalem and when that happens. He, God, will cut all nations to pieces."

But here's the clincher:
Pastor Bob Coy: "Well I am excited personally because I truly believe that I am going to taken with the lord. But I am concerned for everyone else that truly will be left behind. I think it's kind of a scary concern where I would want to live through that time."

Yeah, he's one of those guys, one of the Tim LaHaye/Left Behind/Rapture/Jesus with an Uzi and a white hummer fighting Satan types. So I expect the answer to his question topic will be a resounding no.

Almost makes me want to go down there and ask him what he thinks of Mark 14: 51-52. Why was there a young man wearing nothing but linen there in the Garden of Gethsemane?

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