Sunday, July 31, 2011

August Poems

Two new poems for August. First, The Soul of Minnie Mouse, and I have to apologize for the small font size - I don't have many choices, and it was important to me to keep those line breaks. Steve Goldstein once told me this poem reminded him of the country song Streets of Baltimore, and I have to say I agree. Though I wasn't thinking of Streets of Baltimore when I wrote it, I sure do love the song, I listen to it a lot, and it could well have been a subliminal influence.

The second poem, Possessive Cortege, is something I wrote in March of 2006, just a day or two after my friend (and friend or acquaintance of others who might be reading this) Linda tried to kill herself and her two children. Unfortunately, her three year old Olive died; the boy, Connor, survived, and has no lingering physical effects (I hesitate to contemplate the emotional/mental); Linda is serving her 21 years (give or take) in Chowchilla. Anyway, the first three stanzas I got right away, but I couldn't nail that last one for the life of me, and I set it aside for a couple of years before going back to it. When I returned to it that second time I STILL couldn't nail it, so set it aside again. Finally, I picked it up a few months ago and the last stanza came to me almost immediately. Perhaps enough time had passed.

(I dedicate it to Linda, and to Lynn Riser, who is Bid Daddy.)

Jered Weaver, Kind of a Dick

So Jered Weaver thinks Magglio Ordonez is showing him up on a two run homer, and barks at Mags to run (14 years in the bigs for Mags and he's never been that kind of player). Then Carlos Guillen, a close friend of Mags, takes Weaver deep and makes a big production of ACTUALLY showing him up, infuriating Weaver. Arguments could be made on both sides of this, to be sure. Personally, I think Guillen should have just run it out, but he thinks he's standing up for his friend - okay. Players mill about on the field, there's a warning to both benches. Still, we think that Weaver may throw at the next batter, Alex Avila, and in fact he does. And, in fact, he throws at his head, just about the one thing everybody in baseball agrees you should NEVER do at any level. And so I say, and it's not much of a stretch, Jered Weaver, Kind of a Dick. Here's hoping there's no Cy Young in his future this year (though as of now, if I had a vote, he'd get mine).

Friday, July 29, 2011

Joel Hanrahan, Closer, Pittsburgh Pirates

If you have not been paying close attention - and I have not with this move to Washington - the Pittsburgh Pirates are competitive for the first time in nearly 20 years. Yes, in a weak division, to be sure, but they are above .500 after the All Star Break which is unheard of, and only a couple of games out of first place. The five years prior to this I had the Baseball Package and watched a lot of Tigers and Dodgers (of course), but I also sort of adopted the Pirates as a third team simply because I loved watching their stadium on TV. Maybe not the best of reasons, but I can think of worse. Last September, Robert Winant and I went to Pittsburgh for a long weekend and I just can't say enough great things about that city and the ballpark, both of which are fantastic. We attended two games vs. Arizona (Kirk Gibson, manager) and I'm happy to report the Pirates went 2-0 on our night/day doubleheader (visit to Capitol Grill Steakhouse wedged in between on Saturday evening; we sat beneath an oil painting of Mr. Rogers (seriously)).

Anyway, as I said, I haven't been paying close attention to them this year, but I noticed the other day that Joel Hanrahan had 30 saves and I thought to myself, well, that likely has quite a bit to do with their success. And then I went in and looked at his numbers, and if you haven't seen them they are very impressive - his 30 saves have come in 31 chances; he's striking out less than a batter an inning (about .8), but his K to W ratio is nearly 5:1; he's allowed 42 baserunners in 47 innings (.89); he's allowed one HR; his ERA is 1.15.

Not saying it's happening just because of him, of course, but he's a huge part of the reason, and I wanted to draw attention to that. Robert, if you have time, care to weigh in on any other key contributors? You are likely more familiar with what else is going right on that team...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Overheard (Knapp's Lounge, Tacoma, Evening of July 27th, (Form of a Poem))

So I give them a list of beers -
Coors, Coors Light, Bud, Bud Light,
Heineken, Corona, Rainier.
And then they ask,
Do you have Michelob?
And I want to say,
Did I mention Michelob?
And it's always Michelob,
Michelob and Rolling Rock.
Now, when I give the list,
at the end I make a point -
And no, we don't have Michelob;
and no, we don't have Rolling Rock.

(thanks to Danielle McArthur for her assistance)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Overheard (Knapp's Lounge, Tacoma)

Last Thursday Danielle and I had breakfast around 11:00 in the lounge at Knapp's here in Tacoma. There was a customer, a 40ish white woman, drinking Miller Lite long necks and holding court at the end of the bar. She was extremely loud, and though we sat in a booth at the opposite end of the bar we could hear her clearly (to be fair, it's not a GIANT room, but still). And, so, completely out of context (but why not, really), I'm going to share something she (in essence) said after an earlier exchange regarding the (female) bartender's self-chosen alias 'Craven Moorehead': "That's where I draw the line - if I'm on some guy's boat with my daughter I won't be showing my tits."

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Second Coming, a poem by William Butler Yeats (Because It's Just So Great)

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to cure a vaginal yeast infection? by Light

Ah, hubris. This is what happens when a person does a yahoo search for 'infectionbylight'. It gets a little better when spaces are added ('infection by light') - Fungal Infections Effectively Controlled By Light Therapy. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy light is doing it's job, but still.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

And While We're Talking About Documentaries...

Let me throw these three out as personal favorites of mine, all outstanding in their own way -

1. American Movie
2. Grizzly Man
3. King of Kong

(Thanks for the tip on #3, Peebs.)

Tom Dowd and the Language of Music

Recommending this documentary, Tom Dowd and the Language of Music. Probably one of the best if not the best documentary I've ever seen. (Danielle and I have watched it twice now and she concurs, should that add any fuel to your fire.) Dowd engineered/produced everybody under the sun - Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Ray Charles, Aretha, Otis, Cream, the Allmans, Lynyrd Skynyrd. The list goes on and on. You would not necessarily have to be a fan of the particular bands, I don't believe, to enjoy this (he produced a wide range of music), though it certainly would be a richer experience, I suppose, if you were. Spoiler alert - this movie came out in 2003 and Dowd died right before it was released. They tell you that at the end; I was happy to know it in advance. Oh yeah, and he worked on the atomic bomb. So there you have it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Life Without Parole, Crimes Committed When 14 or Younger

Not much to add to the title. In the August Harper's Index this little tidbit popped up - there are 73 Americans serving life without parole for crimes they committed when they were 14 or younger (the source is the Equal Justice Initiative out of Montgomery, Alabama). Undoubtedly some of these crimes were horrendous and tragic and brutal, maybe all of them. But we are talking about children. A minimum of four years away from the age they are deemed responsible enough to vote; a minimum of two years away from the age they are deemed responsible enough to drive; a minimum of seven years away from the age they are deemed responsible enough to drink alcohol. Am I supposed to believe that the "greatest" country in the world can't figure this out some other way?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Infinite Jest, a novel by David Foster Wallace

And so yet another book I am currently reading (though not aloud or with Danielle) is David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. I am 225 pages in; my paperback copy runs about 1100. You may have read it, or maybe not.

And so though I haven't finished IJ yet, I can barely describe how consistently amazed I am by this novel. It is simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking; it is likely the most consistently inventive novel I have ever read (editor's note - it's certainly not impossible I have a limited scope); the prose is brilliant and unpredictable and adapts to the characters and the narrative at hand; and, if after One Large Sapphire you would allow me to separate "language" from "prose" (in my head "language" the words; "prose" the delivery system), it reminds me of my favorite novel, Joyce's Ulysses (mentioned in back to back posts, so you know my leanings - I have read Ulysses twice, the second time aloud with Danielle).

And so what I'm trying to say in my own subtle way is I think this is a really good fucking book; anybody who might be coming along for the ride at the same time please check in here.

Schooling, a novel by Heather McGowan

Last September, when my good friend Robert and I were in Pittsburgh PA, he was reading Heather McGowan's novel, Schooling. As he was enjoying it very much, I took a peek and liked what I saw, and asked if I could read it when he was done. Good Egg that he is, I am now in possession of said copy, and he has charged me with passing it on when I'm done. As it turns out, Danielle and I started reading it aloud together on our drive from San Francisco to Tacoma via Bakersfield. We are about 70 pages in (out of 320 or so), and I (we) think that it's pretty fantastic. Ms. McGowan is a fine writer (who has, I think, most definitely read her Ulysses), and unless something goes terribly awry in these last 230 pages (which seems unlikely), this will wind up being one of the best books I've (we've) read in awhile. So, a recommendation, and if anybody else has read it I'd love to hear your thoughts. And Mr. Winant - thanks for sending it my way: once we are finished, this copy is destined for Andy, our bartender at Joeseppi's here in Tacoma. He is just 22, just married, and is interested in books. I'm happy to pass on a good one to him.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Reading One's Mail at the Little Red Hen, Green Lake, Seattle

We needed a mailing address in Seattle to help us with our job search, so we got a post box in Ravenna, just east of Green Lake. Why Ravenna? Well, Danielle was intrigued by its proximity to Green Lake's Little Red Hen (, one of (I believe) two country western bars in Seattle (by comparison, San Francisco has zero, though the Riptide does its best on the weekends). So, what a person might do (or two persons) is collect their mail once a week (say mid-day on a Thursday) in Ravenna and drive the five minutes to the Little Red Hen, camp out at the bar in the Mirror Room (if seats are available; otherwise at an adjacent table), and sort through a week's worth of mail while enjoying a couple of ice cold 2 dollar Rainiers. By the way, LRH has a happy hour from 9 am to noon; then again from 4 to 6. There is also (obviously) live music pretty much every night, and the kitchen turns out some very tasty comfort food at reasonable prices (you can see their menu on line). So perhaps we'll see YOU there one day - worse things could happen.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Civility in Black on a White Board

I recently quit my job at a nonprofit in San Francisco in advance of the move that Danielle and I are currently making to Seattle. I have no harsh words to say about this organization's mission; I support the mission, and it's true that many people who otherwise would not have access to some basic human services receive these services. That seems like something good at the end of the day. I did, however, have some problems internally, and one remarkable (to me) thing occurred that I wanted to share. (And, no - I don't believe anybody from the organization will likely be reading this. But, if they did, the truth is the truth, and there's not much I can do about that.)

I had several interactions with a variety of people at the nonprofit that, upon completion, I felt certain could have been handled differently by them. I witnessed interactions between others that had nothing to do with me that, upon completion, I felt certain could have been handled differently by one or both parties. Then, one day, something happened (the incident is unimportant) and I walked back to my office and wrote the word Civility in large letters on my white board, underscoring it three or four times (this was pre-Obama Civility, by the way). An hour or so later, my boss walked by and saw my white board and said to me, "Can you erase that? It makes me uncomfortable." (Yes, emphasis mine, and it should also be noted that the incident in question had nothing to do with my boss.) I indicated that, No, I could not erase it. And there it stayed for approximately two years. Things were added and subtracted around it, of course, but I left Civility in place. And the truth is it was as much a reminder to me as it was a reminder to anybody else.

At any rate, time passed and I gave notice, and I packed up my office and one of the last things I did was to erase my white board, but I left Civility behind. And I said to my very good friend K-Sul, "I wonder how long this will last, why don't you let me know." Nobody was moving into my space for at least a month and, in truth, I was mostly kidding when I said this. But, as it turned out, THE VERY NEXT MORNING Civility was erased. After nearly two years, my chair barely cool, somebody who was made uncomfortable by that one word couldn't act fast enough to get rid of it. I mean with everything else going on in the organization, how could that even surface on somebody's radar and shoot to the top of a To Do list? But why should I be surprised. I choose not to fear words (or art, for that matter, but that's another discussion for another day, though I'm sure the same basics apply), but others are scared shitless - whether they see words as some kind of a threat, or an accusation, or just as, you know, something unpleasant (euw!). Didn't think Civility warranted that, but what do I know? I just try to be nice to people.

Cocktail Napkins (and Other Materiel) w/ Little Crosses on Them

Please take a look at New Work for a brief description of my most recent artistic endeavors (should you be interested, natch).

July Poems

I've posted a couple of poems for July; you can see them off to the right, there, on their respective pages. The first, Two Skeletons, is based on a drawing we own by Alva Svoboda (titled the same). I don't think you need to see the drawing to get the idea of the poem. The second, Carry Off a Little Darkness On My Back, is drawn from a line from my favorite Johnny Cash song. And a word on that - via Netflix you can get old episodes of the Johnny Cash show and, on one of them, he performs the Man in Black. As I recall, he's just finished writing it the day before, and he hasn't mastered the lyrics yet, so he has them in front of him on stage as he's singing. This on network national television. Reality programming of a different sort.

Tacoma, Washington

So Danielle and I have been traveling a bit as we moved our little selves from San Francisco to Tacoma (we are now stationed at Bid Daddy's place here on 6th Avenue) with an eye, in two to three months, I should think, on Seattle. As you might imagine I've had very little time for the blog, but I wanted to get it going again as best I could. Special thanks to Shannon and Taylor for putting us up for three nights, and Danielle's mom for another four nights, and to Kayne Doumani for another three nights PLUS Quixote Winery and Terra. And, well, a shout out to the Motel 6 chain (pets welcome), too, though NOT the one in Beaverton, OR. Though it was good to see Big Al in Beaverton, I must say.