Monday, August 31, 2009

Worn out by energy

Found myself watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall yesterday. Rooted for Russell Brand's character. I do not see films the way most people do. None of the main characters deserved a relationship. With anyone. Heck, I even mistook Paul Rudd for Dane Cook.

It's weird seeing a comment thread on Facebook with one of your friends and someone who has blocked you from seeing them. Yes, one sided.

My son seems to think six hours of sleep is enough. Yesterday he was up at 6:30 and babbled and bounced his way around for about nine hours before he needed a nap, which was two hours later than mine.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pages and Pictures and Wine, Oh My!

A publishing trend I've noticed over the past few years is authors who write novels simply to have them made into movies. I'm sure this has been happening for a long time, but it's taken me until recent years to notice this. I enjoyed reading Jonathan Tropper's novel, This is Where I Leave You. It is full of some very hysterical dialogue, some poignant family issues and memorable characters. What I found myself doing more was imagining who would play the characters as actors than viewing them as characters in a book. I did not hate this book, at all, but found it striving to be a 300 odd page treatment for a shorter screenplay than a work of literature.

Earlier this week my Scottish Wife and I found a new (to us) little oasis just outside of Olde Dublin.Indian Run Falls is quite lovely and I imagine even more water would be flowing if we had a wetter summer.

Went out for a bit this afternoon to check out Urban Scrawl, a very cool endeavor to promote the artists of Franklinton, a pocket of blight just west of downtown Columbus that is trying to lift itself out of dire straits artistically.

There's even a cool skateboard area in Dodge Park.

Did a double take at the grocery store wine department this afternoon.

The wine on sale is Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon. Back in my time in the wine business this wine was highly allocated and rarely seen in shops, let alone in the wine area of Kroger. Seeing it on sale was quite shocking. Must be an off vintage, the winery or distributor being desperate for cash or Silver Oak itself has gone way out of fashion by the fickle wine aficionados.

The few times I did get to try it, the wine was not worth the price.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Nothing Against Sean Penn in Milk

Called my Mother last night. "Congratulations," she said. "How did you hear?" I asked. "You sent me an email."

I was so tired I did not remember.

Zombied out in the chair we watched The Wrestler. I read that Nick Cage bowed out of the picture because the director preferred Mickey Rourke. This was a wise move. I really respected this film. It has a masterpiece of a performance by Rourke, who is Ram, a professional wrestler from the eighties well past his prime. I was not expecting it to be a remake of Au Hasard Balthazar, with Rourke as the donkey. Ok, maybe I'm stretching it a bit, but the film carries that much emotional depth. I was quivering during a scene on the beach where Ram is trying to reconnect to his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) by calling himself "A broken down piece of meat." He should have won the oscar for this one.

Marisa Tomei plays Cassidy/Pam, a stripper Ram is infatuated with.

My wife thought she was a bit too well scrubbed for her role, and maybe she's right. Perhaps Courtney Love would have been well cast in this role, if they could have afforded to insure her for the shoot.

Again, I'm late to the party, but this was a very good film. I also liked the soundtrack, a fine compilation of eighties metal. While I was no fan of that music, it was an excellent fit to the theme of the film, which made the inclusion of a Bruce Springsteen song over the closing credits quite pandering to fame and unnecessary.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thrifting for a Green Jacket

Went into last night’s Grand Slam, looking to compete, have fun and not come in sixth place out of six poets. That was my goal.

The luck of the draw had me going last in the first round. It did not hurt. Judging was randomly harsh at times. There were a lot of 6.9’s given out, and not just by one judge. There was always one really low score after each poet read, very strange.

I did After Birth which did well enough to put me in second place at the end of round one. I was quite alright with this, since I really messed up a line. Scores were still fairly close.

In round two I brought out the energy and humor by doing My Thunder, a boastful and wacked out poem which had me banging on the floor with my foot, making dogs bark in Worthington and killing off megadik. Quite the crowd pleaser and for whatever reasons the judges gave it very high marks. Again with the weird judging, one gave it a 6.9, then it got 9’s and a ten. The highest scoring poem in the round, by far. Not unlike Bob Beamon’s long jump in Mexico City in 1968, it really stood out.

Going into the one minute round I had a substantial lead. Thing is, I’m very weak with one minute poems. Brought out another new one, a list poem called Things That I Have Killed, added the last line of, “My chances in this poetry slam,” and waited to be zoomed past.

It scored decently, higher than it deserved but one by one each poet in the round was not getting the points necessary to overtake me. I think it was when Vernell read, Beverly told me she needed a high 29 to beat me. I shook my head in disbelief that I was actually going to win this thing.

It’s been a happy daze, these last eighteen hours, soaking in what happened last night. I could not have done it without the support of my wife and all the good people of Writer’s Block who have shown me endless and unconditional support for the past three and a half years.

It was pointed out that I am the first white male to represent WB at any national poetry event. Whitey finally earned something! That’s a joke, kids.

This has been a wild year of poetry, from getting second place at Arts Fest to representing WB at IWPS, it’s been filled with some honors I hope I am worthy of receiving.

I also have to mention the incident earlier this year, in which my work was called out after a slam as being prime motivation to do not necessarily better work, but to show that I can be who I am onstage. That the other person who was called out made the Nats team, and my accolades show where those words went. Spam Folder of Love is not the poem I want to be known for writing, (and never did) that poem has yet to be written. Maybe ‘Thunder’ will be yelled out now before I read, I’d prefer that, for awhile, and no more conflict.

Again, I started out with nothing in the tank when I started this but ego, a need for catharsis and a desire to share my work and be heard. It’s been quite dramatic at times, much fun and outright surreal. I can’t thank the people who make the night at Writer’s Block enough and will do my best in Berkeley. Because I have a lot more to prove now.

Much love and respect.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

By the power of Joe Biden

Tonight, I won a poetry slam. Not any slam but I will be representing Writer's Block for the Individual World Poetry slam, which takes place in Berkeley in October.

To say I'm stunned and honored is an understatement.

This is huge. Three and a half years ago when I started taking my words public I had nothing. Nothing. Now this.

More later.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

She liked her outfit

What I remember more than the sangria we drank was the arm wrestling. It got very Hemingway during the first Sangria Throw Down, and the competition was not what you would ordinarily think.

I'm not going to reveal the result, but the match went on so long, it wore out my batteries.

After the throw down, it was time to head up the avenue to the Gala opening of the Thompson Library. The special collections gallery was open, and while my Scottish Wife was introducing herself to old people, I was looking for the Nina in the Hirshfeld drawing.

We headed up to the 11th floor, which has been lovingly turned into a beautiful reading area with a fabulous view of campus.

We walked around a bit more and mingled. I found the former Library Director and said that his daughters were at the Sangria Throw Down. Ok, I did not say that, but they were there.

It was a hectic but fun Saturday, and I did not realize my favorite sangria had a bottle of cognac it it. No wonder it made me feel so shadowy.

My wife has been painting the kitchen this weekend. All I've had to do is move a few appliances. It looks great, but not as great as she did at the place that had some nasty burnt coffee.

I'm a lucky man.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Page to page to still on page

Been reading about George and Sam, happy I do not have two autistic children. Having one means you are surrounded by constant energy. I can't imagine having that intensity from both sides, and being outnumbered by it.

Can't say he's a new writer, or that he was completely unknown to me but I just read my first Ian Rankin novel and I was very impressed. I'm going to try and space out the Inspector Rebus novels, which really carry the grit and subtleties of Edinburgh. Rankin knows the city well and makes me want to see more of the city, in the same way Denise Mina knows the streets of Glasgow.

Rebus seems to be a complex character, a heavy drinker, smoker, philanderer and Christian with a lot of issues. There are sixteen more books in the series to go. Maybe I'll get to the end of the series by 2012, if we all live that long.

Last night was another poetry slam at Writers Block for IWPS qualifying. It was another low energy crowd, despite MC Rachel's efforts at getting reactions.

I Drew second in the first round, just like last week. Now I'm going to start complaining about drawing that slot! And just like last week, Scott went first. And just like last week, Scott ended up winning the night.

I wanted to take a cattle prod to the crowd, and did my best in round two as I did Folsom Clothing Blues: Fall 2009. It's a piece about NFL convicts and a fashion show and it keeps updating itself. I put Vick in this edition and forgot all about Plaxico Burress. Next time.

So how does a guy get two years in jail for accidentally shooting himself with an unregistered gun while a drunk driver kills a guy with his Bentley gets thirty days?

Anyway. Back to slam. I ended up in third last night, which I believe puts me in the Grand Slam next Wednesday night. It's going to be a night of intensity as the grand slam poets bring out their best. I went to bed last night and ended up getting up to write a new poem.

That's how it's going to be!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Vampires do not make out

I'm waiting for the Arsenal Soccer team to come over from London, play the Crew, and beat them. Then, to increase my sports discomfort due to constant loss, they could play the Blue Jackets, and beat them. Then the Bills. I'd say The Mets, but everyone's been beating them lately.

Arsene Wenger has the Gunners playing well out of the gate.

They trounced Everton on Saturday and dealt a brutal loss to Celtic in the Champions League qualifier. I do not dislike Arsenal. May have become a supporter, but that was too easy with the Nick Hornby connection. So I chose Everton, the red headed stepchild of Liverpool. The team of the street.

I've been writing, for slam and myself. Slam's been going well. I'm competing and slowly putting it together. Been working on the IWPS slam qualifying and I'm on the bubble for the slam on next Wednesday. I may get in, may not. I've been having fun with it this year ever since the incident earlier this year.

Watched Twilight earlier. It was not a horrible mess but very poorly acted. I have not read the book but I'm not impressed with what the author did with the vampire canon. Vampires are not pretty. The thirst for human blood does not involve glittery skin in the sunlight. But it's safe for the kids I guess. You can market safe vampires these days. It makes Edward as scary as Elmo, because that heinous muppet is a monster too.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gary Cooper did not get his chow

The CAPA Summer Movie Series is one of the things that makes Columbus a cool place to live. Thursday night we went to the Ohio Theater to see Wings on the big screen. Wings is a silent. Made in 1927, it's the first film to win an Oscar for best picture. It's also still not available on DVD.

It's set during World War One and director William Wellman put together some great fighter plane sequences. It's also a love story starring the mad hot Clara Bow.

The guy next to her is Buddy Rogers. It also stars Richard Arlen. I did not notice until the opening credits that Jobyna Ralston was also in Wings, in a small but important role. She was in many films with Harold Lloyd.

Gary Cooper also had a small role in this film, he was having an affair with Clara Bow at the time.

I was not expecting to like Wings as much as I did. The acting was sub par but the pacing of the film and the flying scenes made the film thrilling to watch. And, Clark Wilson on the Mighty Morton Organ, playing a score taken from many sources, is always a treat.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Who needs amplification? Not me

I was asked yesterday why I attended or participated in my local poetry venue. I answered that I did it for inspiration. Catharsis. The kicks.

Last night all three reasons were realized. It was another qualifying round for IWPS and nine poets were in the slam. I drew the two slot and did a low energy Isotopes of Despair. Tried to slow it down and put some feeling behind it, scored well enough for me but still came in eighth out of nine. Did not think I could make up the points as there was a substantial gap between me and seventh.

I resolved to leave it all on the mic in the second round. The two minute poem. I do not have too many of these, but I did one earlier in the year that was rather topical, revised it a bit right up until it was time to get on the mic.

With the shorter poems, the energy level of the room increased. Scores were going up as the intensity of the poets' performances increased. Then Scott did an edited They Hate Your Poem and the room was going nuts.

Would Jesus Really Rather Have a Buick? was the one I had already planned on doing. I got on the stage, shut off the mic and simply let it rip. Felt great to go batshit for two minutes and get the call and response from the crowd. Good scores moved me up a notch but the points were not the point. It was necessary for me to let out some energy. While it's not the most arty or poetic piece (and what of my work is?), there's a lot of power and humor behind it and it felt good to feel the room get that.

Beverly has said to me on more than one occasion that the night can improve a mood. I've been mopey, anxious about my son (school starts in two weeks!) and the usual and Writer's Block gives good endorphins. So thank you crowd and poets. It was great to see Marshall in what I think was his first slam and congratulations to Louise and Scott for tying for first place.

Next week is another IWPS qualifying round, one and two minutes. There's some writing to do.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Day Off

Went to the USCIS downtown this morning for my wife's biometrics appointment. It was scheduled for 9AM. We were expecting to wait. I brought a book. We got there about 8:40 and there was only one other person there. My wife filled out a form and was instantly fingerprinted, photographed and sent on her way. We were there less than twenty minutes.

She's also going to need a Social Security card so we headed out to the office to see if/when she could acquire one.

We got there and the parking lot was full. There was not a seat to be had inside. We were B-122 and B-103 was called while we waited. There were also people with A and C, and maybe even D before their numbers.

Just to see what would happen, we headed out on an errand then came back to the office. About forty minutes later there were even more people and B-105 had just been called. Rather than wait until 2PM, or later, it was best to try another day, and camp out overnight to get a decent spot in line.

We headed home to escape the heat for a bit then went to Haiku for lunch. My friend Stephanie has her work on display all month and it was a good way to get some decent food. I'd never been there before, the patio is lovely, complete with a koi pond. It was a bit too hot out there today so we opted to dine in. Good food. I had a large portion of padd thai.

At the end of the day, we're still waiting for her status to change but we think another step in the right direction has been taken.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Getting the Bell Rung

Saturday night we went to Huntington Park for the first time to check out the new ballpark.

I did not take any decent pictures, but it still looks like this when I walked around it back in March.

It's a lovely, intimate place to see a baseball game. You're very close to the action and the sight lines are excellent. I do not think there is a bad seat in the house.

The quality of baseball was poor. Both teams, the Clippers and the Bisons are suffering from being the AAA affiliate of a couple of bad major league teams this season in the Indians and the Mets. It was a lousy game, that the team from Buffalo won 2-1.

I do miss Cooper Stadium. I live two miles from there and see it, abandoned, every day. I know why there is a new stadium, but it hurts seeing a functional structure go to waste.

That said, it is a modern minor league ball park, with concessions that are approaching major league prices. The food was quite good, and there is a variety of dining options that Cooper Stadium simply did not provide. There is Tim Horton's, Roosters, City Barbecue and more.

The beer selection has improved considerably. Locally there's Elevator, there's also plenty of Leinenkugel. Imports are slim, but represented by Labatt's and the big boys are there if you want Miller or Budweiser.

I was also impressed that parking, when Nationwide Arena does not have an event, is only three bucks. This was a pleasant surprise.

What I did not like was the aggressive shouting of the vendors in the stand. Having a patter is important when you're selling cotton candy, but sounding like Sam Kinison is not going to get me to spend money with you.

The sound system is very lacking in power. I was not expecting it to sound like a rock concert in there (and was grateful it did not) but we were sitting directly under a speaker and were having problems hearing what the announcer was saying. It needs a lot of improvement.

Not sure if I'm going to be able to get there for any of the few home games left. The night we went was a sellout, it's good to know that people are going to the games. I hope they continue to support the team when the luster of the new stadium fades.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

There are no happy endings

It's a been awhile since I've had the rug pulled out of me while reading a book. The plot twist in Sarah Water's 'Fingersmith' was a great one. That was fiction.

What Karl Taro Greenfeld does in his memoir, "Boy Alone: A Brother's Memoir," is so skillful and manipulative. It makes you scream and curse while throwing the book across the room. But this story is true, and you hurt for the what could have been, what should have been, but is not.

Greenfeld has a younger brother, Noah, who is has autism. In the late 1960's and 1970's there was very little information, let alone quality therapy, for autistic children. Often, they were sent to institutions, where they were subject to unspeakable neglect and abuse with no hope for recovery.

Both of Noah's parents took on his condition, going to great personal and financial expense to try to cure Noah. Karl Greenfeld's father, Josh Greenfeld, wrote three books on the family's attempts to give Noah a normal life. His mother, Foumiko Kometani, has also published successful books about her son.

Boy Alone is a brutal book to read. Greenfeld is unflinchingly honest about his relationship with his brother, family, and his own flaws as an adult who has been through rehab.

It's an interesting primer and well written story about what it's like to have a sibling who has autism, and the struggles a family goes through to make a life. It's also a parent's worst nightmare.

By all appearances this is a sunny book. All signs would appear that there is an 'and they lived happily ever after' ending. This book took the wind out of me. I expected something to happen that did not, and got hit hard in the gut. It's an alarm as to how we should be treating teenagers and adults with autism, but are not. I highly recommend this book, but you have been warned.

Killed by a deep fried twinkie

Friday night friends of ours came down from Buffalo and we gave them the Dirty Franks and Jeni's treatment.

Yesterday, it was time to hit the fair.

It was warm, overcast and there was a slight breeze. Good fair weather, when we got there.

It's not quite the fair, though, until you have a Lemon-Shake-Up or two.

You also must may homage to the Butter Cow.

You also see things at the fair you do not see everyday, like a former president talking to his constituents.

And this guy, who was asking who ordered the tall latte.

A main part of the fair is the food. My Scottish Wife, who was at her second Ohio State Fair, was interested in the elephant ears.

My friend and I decided to partake in things that are really gross, and braved this stand of culinary gore.

He went for the deep fried buckeyes. Last year, while my mouth was recovering from having a tooth pulled, I went for the deep friend Cap'n Crunch, which resembled and possibly tasted like a tumor.

This time, I ordered up a deep fried Twinkie.

It was as unimpressive as it looks, unappetizing too. While better than the deep fried Cap'n Crunch, it's not saying much.

Shortly after the deep fried junk was consumed the sun started to burn through the clouds and it got really hot. The fair wall had been hit and it was time to head home and rest up because the day was not over, there was a baseball game to attend.

(to be continued)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Take one - Sadly White, But What Can You Do?

For the past few years I've put together a compilation disc of my favorite songs of the previous year. It used to be from my favorite albums of the year, but the music industry changes, alterations in how I listen to music and, um, downloading have changed everything.

The last couple of years I have been able to work on the yearly playlists on the fly as the year progressed. I'd find some good songs, put them in a file, and arrange them. If a better song or segue came along it could be easily changed. Thank you iTunes.

This year I'm going to put together a mix of songs from the past decade. Twenty songs. Two from each year. Take one, the beta issue has been completed and burned tonight for car listening.

Some years it was tough to pick only two songs, others more difficult to find a worthy pair. Remembering, especially the first half of the decade when I was not really keeping lists, has been rewarding. I found a few songs long forgotten, but they never really left me. I'm sure as the year comes to a close there will be more than one head slapping moment of how could I not include this song, or what the hell is this song from 2004 doing here? I admit that year has been my biggest challenge, with two songs I doubt will make the final upload.

I'm very surprised at what is not going to be on here. Some groups put out a lot of good records that I listened to often, but for some reason two other songs that year, or more, did better work. Hey, Creedence never had a number one hit either.

Tonight, I'm happy with the first version, and look forward to the rest of the year to see how it evolves. Then there's the fun of the liner notes, and the memories attached to each song. Twenty different stories of the past ten years of great changes in my life. It's all far from completion.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pushing the Button

Did my civic duty and went to vote today. The city is having a special election to raise the tax from 2% to 2.5%. It's a rather heated issue in a state that is, with the rest of the world, in a serious economic crisis.

That's not the subject though.

When I got to my polling station there was a young man working the machines for the county. He looked vaguely familiar.

"Long time no see." He said as I handed him the card telling me where to vote.

It was Kevin, one of my old volunteens from my days at the library. One of my duties was to supervise some teenagers who volunteered at the branch. They'd be assigned some small tasks, like clearing out the book drop or pulling reserves for customers off the shelves. Kevin was one of the more responsible volunteers. He took his role seriously, but, like any kid, you had to watch him.

He comes from a large family, and sometimes getting enough sleep or food was hard. One year he actually gave me a Christmas card. He was one of the positives I got from my six plus years of hell at CML, and I am very happy to see the young man grow up and serve his community in an important and often thankless job, and get paid a few bucks too.

I'm impressed, and proud of him.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I drank the cold white wine and it was good

Frustrating morning. We took my son to swimming only to find out it had been canceled because there were no lifeguards on duty. I was a bit irritated because I was not called beforehand and had to deal with some very stupid traffic on Harrisburg Pike. I did not sign my son up for the lessons, so the phone number was his mother's. I still do not know why no one at the Y did not contact her. Then again, I'm not sure if the number she game them is a valid one. This is two weeks in a row he's missed swimming, last week his mother overslept, and left it for me to find out why he was not there.

Last night we went to an art exhibit at Wild Goose Creative. My friend Scott Woods had his first exhibit ever. His work is very contemporary and accessible. From Cthulhu's Snow Day to Hanging Art.

There's something for everyone. I was quite impressed with Hanging Art. It's a strong departure from the work of Scott's I've seen.

We brought my son out also and he did quite well in a crowd. He walked the walls a bit, then settled down front with a lollipop. He sat on the end of a couch where two other people were talking and kind of sort of stayed by a few other kids.

Felt like crap all day but still managed to take the car to have the oil changed and head up to Trader Joe's. I'm hooked on the Vinho Verde, but did not have any today.