Thursday, July 30, 2009

Putting on a show

Got to look around the Thompson Hall renovation this morning. There's still some work that needs to be done but it's a stunning renovation that may be a great example of what the 21st century academic library should be.



A worry I have is that people will not respect the building. A lot of money was spent to modernize the library. Obviously the students and patrons should feel more than welcome to use the facilities, but there are so many nooks and crannies - and so much to keep clean.



That said, I'm very proud to be a part of this library. While I'm not going to be working in it, there will be many opportunities to be a part of it. I was only in the old library a couple of times before it was fixed up and I never went upstairs in the stacks. The view from the tenth floor is rather stunning.



My favorite part of the building that I have seen is the Main Reading Room, which is pictured above. After that the floating staircase is very cool.



The building opens to the public on Monday. The official gala is later in August.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Today's Release

Today my former employer, the Columbus Metropolitan Library was forced to cut pay for its workers and reduce staff hours because of a loss in funding from the State of Ohio of over thirty percent. This move has directly impacted the lives of many of my friends, colleagues and enemies.



I worked there for six and a half years and that collage of my son was created over my desk. I hated tearing that collage down, but not as much as I came to hate working there. I may still have bitter feelings about working for CML but I am not happy with today's developments.

Thanks to a poor national economy, and an even more screwed up state economy that Ted Strickland inherited from Bob "Governor Doofus" Taft - who did his best to turn Ohio into Mississippi - the library board was given a crap sandwich to work with and, frankly, they did a better job than I thought at dealing with the budget cuts. Yet, it's very unsettling to read Facebook status updates that cheer five percent pay cuts and that people would not be losing their jobs. Yes, it's a relief, but a giant backslide that is not the fault of libraries. But is it time to be grateful that the messed up economy of this world has finally trickled down to you?

Celebrating losses of pay and services is a giant mistake. What are we going to do to prevent social lifelines and cultural enriching institutions from falling apart? Will we soon be thanking our maker that only thirty people got laid off instead of a hundred? This is not growth. This is a depression.

Are we going to continue heaving sighs of relief that things could always be worse when Ohio's libraries, which are consistently the highest rated in the country, are gutted? What's next? Food pantries? Health services? The park system? Police? Fire?

Keep breathing, when is that going to be taken away from us because of a lack of funding?

In better news on the home front the gas company has been overestimating my bill for some time. We were finally able to coordinate an actual reading last week and today's bill was a substantial credit. Might not have to pay them until November.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Went west yesterday to look for more British food. Emma was bemoaning the state of American chocolate so we went to Wise Choice and picked up a few things.

On the way back we stopped in Yellow Springs, my wife's spirit home, she claims, and ate some lunch.

Then it was time for International Mini Golf, game four. Here, Emma takes on the silo of death, also known as the tenth hole.



It was close, at the end of the day Scotland won by a stroke to even the series at two games apiece.

After that I had to his the batting cage and attempt to make contact with 45 mile an hour fastballs.



It was a good day that ended with me watching most of my first episode of Doctor Who. I never really paid attention to it. Even Emma does not seem to watch it much, but I distinctly remember her pausing while we were at the hotel bar in Glasgow to watch the end of the Christmas episode. She had to watch Doctor Who save the world. I don't remember much about it except for Kylie Minogue's cameo. I did not mind what I saw, but I think the fandom ruins it for me. It's just a show, people need to really just relax.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A president, activist and a cop walk into a bar...

Been listening to Serge Gainsborg and finding that I don't like him. Tom Jones has an amazing voice, the last Levon Helm (not the new one) does not do it for me and Let It Bleed sounds really good. Also, the Divine Comedy, can't find much of that in Columbus though.

Been thinking that in addition to the year end compilation I've been doing for the past five years, it may be a cool idea to put one together celebrating the best of the decade. It's certainly an ambitious project and I'm not sure what to do about 2000-2003 since I do not have much on record about those years.



Also watched a swift piece of film noir called Detour. Guy hitches from New York to L.A. to get together with his girl. Gets picked up by a man who dies while they're on the road. He ends up with the car and picks up another hitchhiker, a woman with issues, bad things happen. Ann Savage, who was the mother in Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg plays the hitcher with issues. It was made in six days, has some scary bad rear projection but an above average script, which the actors tear through with gusto.

Ran all over the city yesterday in some rather foul weather. Frustrating at time, did not find anything I was looking for but we did pick up a new addition to the family who will be introduced to you all soon.

Friday, July 24, 2009

It's the time of the season



We're not even at mid term elections and the signs are up. Wait three months, when the economy will really be in the tank, will there be pitchforks and torches, or will the populace be so anesthetized by shiny objects and not do a thing, again?



Is he trying to communicate to us when he does these arrangements?



Or should I really just relax and realize that a block is just a block.

Really not much happening. Writers Block has been busy, thinking about a piece for next week's slam and having the gumption and skills to pull off. Agonized about another piece that went over much better than expected.



I've even been working, and have reduced those piles from three to one. The remaining ones though, are mostly original cataloging so they're going to take some time to get through.

And time's what I have right? Or is it on my side? My friend?

Monday, July 20, 2009

You know he got some string and he got some wood

What is it about Tom Jones and puppets? First I hear him sing Puppet Man, then another one about the Young New Mexican Puppeteer. That was some freaky stuff to be playing on the ride to work this morning.



I’ve proclaimed Tom Jones as the new king of pop by the way. Someone has to be and it might as well be him. The man is made of testosterone. In all seriousness that man has an incredibly powerful voice.

He showed up in a cameo in the Gold Help the Girl project, my wife has mentioned him a few times and I have to say I’m quite impressed by the few things I’ve heard from Neil Hannon. I’ve heard a few songs from the Divine Comedy, not much available here and am amused with his latest project, the Duckworth Lewis Method, a group of pop songs that sing the praises of cricket. I have no idea what cricket is about, maybe I need to see Laagan again, but they’re very cool songs, worthy of XTC's output.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wearing a dress made of stones thrown into the river

I've wanted to write about Friday night since Friday night.

Rachel McKibbons was the feature at First Draft, and she did all new poems. I've heard some of her work on youtube but mostly it was her reputation that preceded her. She is, after all, the reigning Women of the World slam champion.

She's a confessional poet who makes my work seem reticent. She has a delivery of dark things that is beautiful. The way she ends her poems is like no one else I've ever heard. They sound like they end in the middle of a paragraph in the middle of a sentence and her poems are perfect.

After her set there was an open mic. Why the hell anyone would want to read after her is beyond me. What's the point of following that up, we're supposed to get back to work, or retire, but we're poets and we do these things.

It was one of the best open mics I've been to at WB is some time. There were new poets, one who brought a work about a murdered friend that was one of the bravest pieces I've heard in a long while. A couple of virgins. Regulars who stepped up and represented themselves quite well.

I read a new piece I agonized about all day. Wrote, revised, edited, added, subtracted a dick joke and by the time of the open mic I was still crossing things out, adding a couple of lines and still had no confidence in it.

Yet, when the kittens and children blinded by very, very bad people line got a laugh I suspected I was on to something and the room was releasing good noises. And when the ending, which was thought of at a urinal, lines deliberately nicked from Notting Hill were coming I still was not sure how'd they go over.

I asked, and they loved me.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What's in My Thursday Head

Had a strange dream involving a friend who came over and told us she was divorced. Not getting a divorce, but a done deal. Very sudden for everyone it seems. He sold the house from under her, took all the money and left. She was calling her husband some strange things, a sad clown, a stupid birthday cowboy and other weird types of acting jobs. She also said her Mom had not been this upset since her factory was blown up. She said the whole process took less than four days.

Trying to wonder why people do the things they do (and I include myself in this pondering) isn’t worth the brain power and time is it? It’s hard to move forward when there’s a perception that stuff is unresolved. I’ve known closure is a myth for a long time now, but there’s still a lot of what the heck was that all about anyway going on. It’s very strange, knowing that one is so despised elsewhere. Ah what are ya gonna do?

Been taking Emma on an old school Italian food tour of the city, ok we just did a couple of pizza places actually. We went to the Florentine last week. I’ve lived here 19 years and had never been. I had no idea how big the place is. It goes deep into the lot, time and space may even be altered once inside. There are wall sized murals and dark furniture in back. The front looks like a Friday’s. It’s a shame. The bar area has a lot of potential but they may not want that type of business considering the dodgy neighborhood it’s in.

The food was plentiful, even my half portion of fettuccine alfredo that was served incredible hot was a huge portion. The glass of wine was a bit oxidized. The service forced but attentive. I’m glad they’ve been there for a long time; they’ll do fine without me.

I am by no means a golf fan, but seeing fifty nine year old Tom Watson in the lead after the first round of the British Open puts a smile on my face.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

As Lord Nelson Looks Down

I watched a news story about the fourth plinth in London's Trafalgar Square. For about 150 years, there was nothing on it as officials were fighting to decide what to put on the mantle. In 1999, commissioned art works were put on it and for the next three months the plinth will be empty, waiting for the next installation.



That's where the public comes in. People have been signing up and if they are selected they get to go on the plinth for an hour to do whatever they want. It's been an interesting project. People have been up there ranting, sailing paper airplanes, holding signs for their causes or simply standing still and enjoying the view.

There's even a webcam!

http://www.oneandother.co.uk/



Does Columbus need a bare plinth? Why not put one on the Statehouse property. What would you say?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Recent page turnings

The first book of Percival Everett's I read was American Desert. The book's dark humor really stuck with me, a guy was decapitated then came back to life in the funeral home, and I sought out more of his work.

Full disclosure, I did not realize he was African-American until about 2/3 of the way through the book when I looked him up online.

Since then I've read some of his other work, most of the time thinking he's one of the good writers few people read - but those who do cherish his work.



I Am Not Sidney Poitier is his latest, and it tells the story of Not Sidney Poitier, a man who was born after 24 months of gestation and the complications of the name. It also has Ted Turner delivering hysterical non sequiturs and then a version of Everett himself makes an appearance. It reminds me of Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions and it's an entertaining read.



The picture is of Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder Andy Pafko. It was taken at the Polo Grounds on October 3rd, 1951, just after New York Giants third baseman Bobby Thompson hit the historic game winning home run in game three of the National League playoffs to send the Giants to the World Series.

The question is: what happened to the ball?

No one knows. There has been a lot of speculation. Don Delillo wrote about it extensively in his novel Underworld, but it still has not shown up.

Brian Biegel takes on the assignment in his book Miracle Ball, an excellent book of memoir and skilled research that tells the story of a man in the midst of crippling depression who gets out of it by trying to find an object, and ends up finding much more.

It must have been a great time to be a baseball fan in New York in the 1950's. There were three exciting teams in the region and the rivalry was fierce. My family were all Yankees fans.

I still remember the anger and passion a friend's father had in his voice when, over thirty years later, we talked about the Brooklyn Dodgers.

"Walter O' Malley, that son of a bitch! He took them away!"

Had I been around, I think I would have put my allegiances to the New York Giants. Surly Leo Durocher was their manager, Sal 'the Barber' Maglie on the mound and the greatest of all the center fielders, Willie Mays gave his all.

I own a replica New York Giants baseball hat.



This book helped me remember what it was like to be a Mets fan. As to the location of the fated ball, there's a great mystery to be solved. It involves the Pafko picture above, some impressive CSI work, a lot of memories jogged, an amazing coincidence or four and more than one miracle.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Longish, and mostly pointless

It’s been really hard coming up with the energy to write. Anything. The poems are crappier than usual and nothing else is coming out. Just filling up the moleskine and google documents with fragments and promising to form something out of them. Someday, I’m too distracted by Facebook, finding the first Hitler Downfall parody, or something. Not even reading with the ferocity of the past and what I have been reading is not overly inspiring. I am excited about new Pat Conroy and John Irving books later this year. So there’s no need to die yet. Speaking of that, Live Journal is dying. I think I got out at the right time. Not many people are posting anymore. There’s much less commenting going on. I’m probably guilty of this also, hard to think of anything to say.

At least my wife found when I put my sunglasses last night, would have been really ticked at myself if those were lost.

Homeland Security still has not cashed the check. Now I’m wondering if all the paperwork is in order. Waiting for that mail, or some good news from them.

I’m passing on the title of King of Pop to Tom Jones. The man is made of
testosterone.

Alright, we gave AIG 180 billion now they want to give out 2.4 million in bonuses. It cost $588 per person to bail them out of their failure. Sure, the bonuses will only cost us an additional penny per person, but that’s a bonus of $60,000 each. I’d rather have the money than these looting bean counters who got greedy, caught, then made us pay for their mistakes while pocketing billions. We are so screwed.

Meanwhile the outrage is being displaced towards a picture of Obama (and Sarkozy, but no one cares because he’s French and supposed to do those things) ogling the behind of a seventeen year old. If you see the picture, tell me she looks seventeen. Right.

Finally a lot of people are waiting for the state budget to be passed. Could mean more than a few friends of mine have their lives impacted by library job reductions, cuts in pay and other bad things. I’ve lost a lot of respect for Governor Strickland in his handling of the situation, not just the library part, but his stubbornness in thinking slot machines in racetracks are an answer to our budget woes and his refusal to roll back a tax cut former Governor Taft enacted. It’s a bad situation, this shock economy. How’s that free market working?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Now we have sandwiches and tents

Have seen a few interesting movies over the past couple of days.

First was a documentary called Stranded, which is about the Uruguayan rugby team and their plane crash in the Andes Mountains in 1972. It's told by the survivors of the crash, some of whom go to the crash site with their family, and the film makers handle the cannibalism with much respect and sensitivity. It's a bit lengthy at just over two hours and the pacing can be a bit slow but it's worth viewing.

My one big gripe is the handling of the subtitling. I do not mind subtitles. At all. In fact, I prefer them to dubbing. In this case though the subtitles were white, and on a snowy background they were at times impossible to view. It was shown in letterbox format, why can't they put the damn subtitles in the black on the bottom of the screen?

After that intense experience, on TCM was M. Hulot's Holiday. I have only seen parts of Mon Oncle before, and was not overly impressed.



I admired Tati's visuals and amazing use of sound in this film. He also had a very strong screen presence, using his height with good gentle humor in several scenes. The story though, to me was not fluid and contained a lazy series of vignettes, which is fine if it had an overall form.

Last night, also on TCM, was Manhattan, which is one of my favorites. In hindsight, it's easy to be harsh on Woody Allen for the 42 year old dating the 17 year old and hard to overlook it. But Diane Keaton absolutely rocks in this film and New York City has never looked finer in glorious black and white.



I still believe that Allen based the final scene on Chaplin's City Lights. The way we see Allen approach Tracy is so like the Tramp seeing the blind girl now owning the flower shop, and his facial expressions after Tracy tells him 'not everyone gets corrupted, you have to have a little faith in people.'

It's spot on writing, acting and direction.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Teacher never cared for me. Preacher said a prayer for me

Had a busy holiday. Went south to a friends for the day. They have a pool, but it was a but cool for swimming. Their kids were in it when we got there, but saw the folly it it then went inside to play video games. N. walked around their yard for awhile, then finally noticed the pool.

He crouched down by it and put his hand in it, walked around the yard more. Then stuck his foot in. He still had his sneakers on.

I put his suit on, but he would not go in. Eventually he would take one or two of the stairs into the pool, but came back up. Too cold to go all the way in.

Later, we hit the old viewing spot on campus to see the Upper Arlington display through the lights of the ball fields there. You could also see Whetstone's and Worthington's. The kid was more interested in walking by the dugout fence.

Been listening to a couple of new records the last week.

Wilco (The Album) opens with a bit of a joke. Wilco (The Song) has 'Wilco will love you baby' as the chorus. Tweedy and company have made a better record than Sky Blue Sky. It rocks out a bit more and the production has some Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-like surprises in it. Instrumentally it's rock solid. The band is a live force and they really play well together. Lyrically it does not seem to have much to say. I don't think Tweedy is coasting and he's certainly not phoning it it, but he's at a good place in his life and enjoying the view.



God Help the Girl is a project by Stuart Murdoch. The main songwriter of Belle and Sebastian is working on a screenplay but has completed the soundtrack first. The story behind the record is told here.

The music is a gorgeous swirl of orchestration and pop music. Even though the musicians of Belle and Sebastian play, it's not a B&S record. Murdoch has fulfilled something that's been in his head and found a couple of beautiful singers to achieve his dream. He's on the cover of the new issue of Paste Magazine and was also featured in last week's New York Times Magazine.



Now, if he can get to work on that screenplay.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

More Glorious Twitter Hate



Now, the same can be said about this blog, but I know people are looking.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Final Form

Sent out the last major immigration paperwork this morning.



Now we wait again. I'm sure they'll cash the check well before we hear anything back. I did get some donuts to heal the pain.

Red, White and Boom in Columbus tonight. We're staying at home. Going to a friend's tomorrow. May go to the old spot to see what fireworks we can see tomorrow night.

Have a safe weekend everyone.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What was I thinking?

Going to that new trendy dining establishment that opened yesterday and waited over a half hour in line for hot dogs.

Waiting.

In line.

For hot dogs.

From here.

I have to admit it's better than waiting in line for donuts, or cupcakes.

Right?

What kind of urban hipster foodie social misfit sheep have I turned into?

I'll have to say they were good hot dogs. Mine had brisket on it for some exceptional meat on meat action.

The only flaws were the lack of draft beer (it's coming) and my wife's fries were too salty.

The tater tots are made on site. Beautiful tots.

Next time though, on opening day, I'm staying at home.

Next week though, we'll be back.