Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Happy Day!

Word is out that the recently closed Nancy's, one of the best greasy spoon breakfast places in the world, is set to reopen in November!

Here's to a smooth renovation and process. I'm hungry!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This is the last time, I promise

There is still some time left if you want to DONATE for my trip to IWPS.

Thank you for your generous support!

Push the button Frank

We've been paying attention to the skill cranes when leaving the grocery store for about a year now. First it was to try and win a FC Barcelona pillow for a friend, then it got much worse.

My Scottish Wife, she wanted a frog.

So after shopping we'd always look in the skill crane to see if there was a frog in there. Then we'd decide if trying for it would be worth the fifty cents. Usually we'd try anyway, only to have the claws of the crane go weakly toward the frog then clamp shut, leaving us out another four bits.

After getting my son some lollipops at the Chambers Road Kroger, I noticed the skill crane. Peering inside I saw several frogs, including one in the far right corner that looked right for the plucking.

I reached into my pocket for two quarters, pushed the handle and saw the crane go all the way back. Then pushed the handle to the right until it went no further.

I pressed the button. The crane went down.

The claws went around the frog, lifted it out of the pile and dropped it inside the slot. This was the first time I had ever won on one of those things. Darn near did a happy dance in the store, but instead put the frog in the bag with the lollipops and strutted to the car.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tuned to a natural E, happy to be that way

Not much happening here. Keeping up practicing for IWPS. Doing it in front of the bedroom mirror, which is quite revealing and helpful. Still not memorizing to the level I'd like to. Been watching some video of the competition on youtube. They're good and in a normal world I'd be afraid, very afraid. But, it's all about the fun.

Kid's sleep pattern has been knocked askew for whatever reasons. He did not get to sleep until 2:30AM on Saturday. No nap yesterday, fell asleep at 11:30 after waking up at 9:30. Then he was up speaking gibberish at 4:30. He's still up and has to go on a field trip at school today. I do not know how he does it. His energy level is astonishing.

Had a couple of friends over last night. Emma made a cake. It was normal having people over. It's been awhile since we, ok I, helped entertain guests from in town.

Sent in the refinancing paperwork, now the waiting and seeing begins again. I'm not sure if this is going to happen, for many reasons, but if you do not try you will never know.

Bills offense is non-existent. What a sad game to watch yesterday, and the press trying to push Terrell Owens into saying something inflammatory about the team and organization is completely uncalled for. They're asking the wrong person those questions. At least I got to see Everton, Celtic and the Crew win.

October is going to be a very busy month. There's still time to DONATE for the trip to IWPS. Thank you for your support.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Doing my best not being a keyboard warrior. Not going to get into a facebook argument of snark and links from All Quiet on the Western Front or Dr. Strangelove.

There, I feel better already.

Remembering what the ceiling fan did to my head, years ago. I was standing on the bed and stupidly leaned into it. One of the blades (why, yes, it was in motion) conked me on the head and I fell on to the bed. It got me good, I was cut, dazed and more than a bit embarrassed. That's when my ex started freaking out. Had to reassure her and restore her, despite the blood, pain and almost being knocked out I was the one doing the comforting. Had to be the one to man up, lick my own wounds and press forward, for six years.

Maybe I'll just hate on Jeff Lynne instead.

I give you an example of why I think he's a hack who ruins careers.

Dave Edmunds, before he met Jeff Lynne.

Dave Edmunds, after

Who would have made a better Wilbury, Jeff Lynne or Eric Clapton?

Even George Harrison, on his death bed, asked Jeff Lynne not to ruin his last record with over produced synthesizers, over processed drums and unnecessary strings. Jeff Lynne did not listen, letting his ego getting in the way of his friend's wishes. George heard the critics rip apart the sound of Got My Mind Set on You and did not want a repeat.

Instead, we got Brainwashed.

Not going to complain about the lack of comments here, yet. I know someone is reading this!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Talking to the trees

Started cramming for IWPS. Been in the back room, rehearsing. I doubt memorization will happen, but I'm working on timing, having some of the poem in my head so I can flip pages with no one noticing. Asking for advice of what to use, getting good feedback. Beverly lent me her copy of Taylor Mali's chapbook on slam, and I actually used one of the methods at open mic last night. Read one poem that others have said I should do, then Scott called me to the mic for another one. I was ready for that. Even did another one later. He's helping too. More back room tonight.

My son's teacher emailed to say he'd been hit by another student while in speech therapy. Seems the kid was sitting next to him and just punched him in the face. Everything's ok, but this triggered all kinds of bad feelings in me. It's not like he's being beat up on the bus or having his lunch money taken. But I worry about my son being non verbal and unable to tell us if something hurts, or is wrong, or if he's uncomfortable in a situation. He has very little malice in him and he does not know how to defend himself or say stop.

Trying to refinance the house. In need of a document my ex said she signed as part of our divorce decree. I do not have it. There's only a short window of time I have to get this done and I'm not looking forward to potentially making a few phones calls to attorneys.

Anyway. IWPS is two weeks away and there's still time to DONATE.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Peeking where you do not want to see

Any ideas what my neighbor was doing up with his garden hose at 6:30 this morning? I heard the spray running but it was too dark to see what was going on.

They're a strange bunch. A lot of yelling about putting the other person in jail. Last week one of their cars were broken into so we were subjected to a lot of yelling at 1AM. The police were not called, and that brings up more questions. Some of which you may not want answered.

The house is a rental and there have been many people moving in and out of there in the past few years, some barely last a couple of weeks. I liked the previous tenants that lived there. They did a lot of yard work and seemed friendly enough, even their rottweiler stopped growling at me when I got home from work. It's not that I was afraid of the dog or anything, he was tied up, but it reminded me of my first marriage.

Monday, September 21, 2009

You are men?

Have not really said much about the Beatles remasters. At this time, what I will say is that I have what I wanted, and I like what I've heard. The mixes have some punched up bass and a clarity revealed that was not in the previous cds. What the engineers could not improve was left alone. Abbey Road sounds absolutely exquisite. I'm not going to detail the minutia in the stereo and mono mixes here, but there's plenty of material on that in other media and blogs.

Helped a friend move yesterday. Figures the one day it rains in the last two weeks and we get to lug someone elses belongings in it. Could have been worse. I'm feeling the effects of laboring today, as there were only two men to lift a sofa, washer and dryer. No one was injured although one of us got quite damp dealing with a washer hose and nearly busted a hand after said washer nearly fell on it.

Scottish Wife now has her social security card, I'm sure we'll be hearing about the status interview soon!

From the small world department: We went to a birthday party Saturday night and were introduced to a woman who lived in the UK for several years. We talked about immigration and she told us about her now ex husband and how well he's fit into American life by getting involved with the Columbus Crew and also getting their young son involved. I asked her son's name and she told me. I've met them, at Columbus Crew functions and even took their picture.

Even watched a bit of soccer yesterday. A live link for the Celtic/Hearts match provided some fine drama as Loovens scored in extra time to give the Hoops the win. Later, I avoided all websites and updates and watched Everton/Blackburn on delay and was rewarded with a 3-0 Everton victory. Saha scored a brace, the defense rallied and tightened up despite the loss of Phil Neville. Upswing!

I did miss the Crew tie to Chicago entirely, as well as the Bills win.

Coming down to the final two weeks before IWPS. Time to start cramming. There's still time for you to DONATE.

Many thanks if you have!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

No Sports Mentioned

Did a decent job of hosting First Draft on Friday night. It was my first time on a mic in a prominent position in I don't remember how long, and this was without a script. I've always needed direction, it's tough for me to wing it. No one asked for their three bucks back, probably because Vernell did such a great feature that was worth far more than three dollars.

Something I really noticed, and it's been mentioned before by others before so it's far from a new concern, is poets who leave after reading their work. Friday was a two hour show. A feature then fourteen poets. I know people have other commitments on a Friday night, or get tired. There's also the poet who bring a few friends and family with them then they all leave once the poet has read. Still, it became apparent to me that there are poets who leave right after they go on stage. It's really not fair to the other poets who heard your work, and are waiting do to their work. Not anything that is going to be solved, but something I needed to say.

That's from the Upper Arlington Arts Fest slam. The one I won. Just downloaded a bunch of pictures last night.

Got to start cramming for IWPS soon. Am most likely reading off paper. There's a difficult connection between my brain, my arm, and the paper that is not encouraging memorization. Still time to donate to the cause also. Poets need food.

My son is back at swimming lessons. His instructors are trying to get him to jump in but he's psyching them out by sitting at the moment he should be leaping into the water. So they were tossing him in, and he loved that!

We're taking him in for evaluation at the Nisonger Center at OSU on the first for reevaluation. Maybe we can hear some new things. We've been waiting over a year for this appointment.

Scottish Wife with the Weiner Mobile.

Blogger with the same.

My sweet ride has a first name
It's W-E-I-N-E-R
My sweet ride has a second name
It's M-O-B-I-L-E
I love to drive it everyday
and hear the passersby all say

Have a good day averyone.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Sweet Ride Has a First Name

After Dirty Franks last night we were driving up Fourth Street when, parked in the lot at the Holiday Inn where Elvis Costello said some very bad things, was the Wiener Mobile.

It had been years since I'd seen it. It was on some highway in Pennsylvania, we were headed south as the giant Wiener Mobile was headed north. It's a huge road craft. I'll post some pictures when I download them but the image above is fine. We could not get near it without breaching a couple of fences but it was cool to see up close. Naturally my Scottish Wife had never seen it before, but she was intrigued by how many could sit in there. I wondered if the actual wiener part of the vehicle could be separated so you could have this large Bun Convertible motoring around. I wondered a lot of other things about the Wiener Mobile, but censors will not allow them to be published.

Writer's Block had a fine open mic last night. Sweet poem about the child of a poet having a birthday, brave one that descended into a raw, and painful description of domestic violence, and the usual race wars. I'm looking forward to hosting First Draft on Friday night. No, there will be no Wonder Bread and Hellman's Mayonaise served, at least not by me.

About those words of wisdom by Joe Biden though...

Thanks for all your support for my trip to IWPS. There's still time to DONATE. Man, hotels in Berkeley are expensive.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Not Sixty Minute Men, Yet

Sometimes you can play 55 minutes of a football game and win. Not if you're the Buffalo Bills and definitely not if you're playing the New England Patriots.

Like many others, I did not give the Bills much respect going into the game. I was expecting a slaughter. Opening night, Tom Brady's first game in two years, a hostile crowd on the road - it looked bad.

But this team, they surprised me. The offensive line gave Trent Edwards protection, the defense put incredible pressure on Tom Brady. Fred Jackson was amazing, taking over the starting job from the suspended Marshawn Lynch, he was running smart and caught a nifty pass to put the Bills ahead by 11 with five minutes left in the game.

Then a team that knows how to win took over the game from a team that does not know how to hold a lead. Tom Brady knows how to guide a team to victory, like Montana, Bradshaw and Elway, he took over the game against a tiring Bills defense that lost two starters due to injury and got the job done by tossing a pass to Ben Watson to cut the deficit to five.

This is where it ended. On the kickoff Leodis McKelvin did not down the ball in the end zone and chose to run it out. You knew something bad was going to happen the moment he crossed the five (as he fumbled his previous kickoff). Sure enough, he coughed up the ball again and Brady threw another one to Watson. There was your game.

Moral victories stink. Yet, I'm optimistic about the Bills chances against Tampa Bay in the friendly confines of Ralph Wilson Stadium this Sunday. And that is how this fan deals with a tough loss. Yes, the kid looked at me weird when I yelled and my Scottish Wife does not have a clue, but this is what I do for seventeen weeks starting in September. Annually.

Monday, September 14, 2009

It's Too Late

An hour flew by yesterday when I was interviewed by Miss J. on Speaking of Poetry. We talked about slam, IWPS, influences. Thought it went well. I read four poems: After Birth, My Thunder, Nobody's Poet and Isotopes of Despair.

Miss J. also asked me if I'd fill in this Friday to host Writer's Block First Draft.

Sure why not? So come see me emcee this Friday at Kafe Kerouac at 8PM. Admission is only three bucks.

Jim Carroll died on Friday. He was best known to me for the album Catholic Boy and the song People Who Died. For others it was his book The Basketball Diaries and the movie of the same name. I read the book years ago and remember it as a rather decadent look at metro New York, and it was very intense. He was sixty years old. I saw a picture of him taken two years ago and he looked ready to die then. He was said to have been working on a novel at the time of this death, wonder if it will be published?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Six Hours Away

I'm going to be interviewed by Miss V. and Miss J. on their show Speaking of Poetry at 6PM EDT today. We're going to be talking about IWPS and other things. Might even read a couple of poems.

Here's the link. This is a live stream that is not archived, so you got to listen live!

And to help me get to IWPS, you can Donate Here!

Friday, September 11, 2009

For Daredevils

What could they do to you?
After you danced on that 3/4 inch wire a quarter mile up
for forty five minutes on a cloudy August morning -
no one could touch you

Not even the police who manhandled you into an elevator
could bully the artist out of you
During the trip down 110 stories
you had the stones to steal a watch
from one of their wrists.

On that morning
you were perfection
Showing us all the precarious balance
between death, life, beauty, insanity and love
Everything underneath and above you
was a canvas you used your balancing pole to brush upon.
Your audience, far below, simultaneously not believing
and believing what was going on
over their heads

I was ten
And I hated those ugly towers for taking away the title
of tallest building in the world away
from my beloved Empire State
New York City now had these
two hideous sticks in Battery Park
These two, meaningless chunks of steel
built merely to be, high
Just to make someone money

But you gave them a heartbeat
Made them authentic.
While they supported your lifeline
you filled it with dreams, blood, possibility
and an identity
that gave it inclusion to the city's skyline

When they fell I thought of you saluting the world
Lying down to talk to a seagull
Jumping up and down as you flirted with the unknown
after those chisels traveling six hundred miles an hour
destroyed your La Pieta

And I see that same art in a plane landing on the Hudson River
captained by a pilot as in the moment as you
I see death in another plane crashing into a house
brought down by the weight of ice that you were too hot to accumulate
I see poetry in an African American becoming president
who is going to need much more than hope to succeed
I see fear in leveraged credit swaps that went horribly wrong
and no one knows where the money went
I see life when a class ring is recovered from a sewer grate
just a couple of miles from where those towers were flattened
I feel despair every time I try to count to a trillion
wondering when the Hell we forgot how to share
And I know it's going to take more than the selfless and outrageous act of one person
to fix or distract us from this mess we've put ourselves in

But you,
for us
You put all of yourself out there
Leaving your image there for us to see
Frozen in time
You owned the clouds
Blew them away from you that morning
You controlled the air
Kept the wind from blowing you down into the plaza

You showed us
a gift
Of one man
On a wire
Being one breath from dying
One step from continuing to live
And one picture
Of immortality

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Help a Poet Out

As you may know, I'm going to be representing Writer's Block at the Individual World Poetry Slam in Berkeley next month.

Expenses for the exciting trip west are managable, but barely. I know times are hard for everyone, but if you'd like to help out there's a donate button at the link below. If you can't help, beleive me, it's ok.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Behold, the power of the spoken word

The skies cleared and the weather held up for the poetry slam at the Upper Arlington Arts Festival yesterday.

It was more an exhibition than a competitive slam, there were five of us competing for the honor Gina won last year.

I got there a bit early and walked around. I saw a lot of people holding brooms and remembered that Joanna mentioned seeing them last year. Could not find where they were being sold so I asked at the info tent and was essentially told to look behind me, where a large amount of people had gathered as if they were in line for Jeni's Ice Cream. But, they were watching an Amish man and his family make brooms. I went over, checked the prices and plunked down ten bucks for a broom to the owner who smiled broadly and said thank you.

Got some lemonade and while I was doing that I overheard this snippet of life in America from the couple working the kettle korn station.

She: People really seem to like those brooms.

He: Don't know why, you can get them cheaper at Wal-Mart.

Sure, you can do that, but where is the intrinsic value of seeing the man make your broom, to interact with his family. to eliminate the middle man?

People do not get pure capitalism anymore.

Ended up going second in the slam, did Everywhere at Once and came in second for the round. In round two I did Nobody's Poet, and got another good reaction from the sparse crown under the tent.

Then it was Gina's turn.

She did Obama's Desk, which as you can guess has some political overtones. As she was reading a woman walking by suddenly stopped behind her, then her jaw dropped and the mouth breathing took over. With her gaze locked on Gina she went around the side of the tent to where she could see the poet's face then pointed and started yelling.

We really could not hear what she said, something about Obama not needing a desk because he was on vacation. She never went into the tent or seating area. I was a bit worried that she would approach Gina and try to grab the mic from her, luckily that did not happen. She kept going on incoherently while Gina shot her a look and continued with the poem. I was told the woman tried to get her father's attention while she wandered off, continuing to point at Gina all the while.

I have to say I've been part of poetry events in which people were ticked off by a poem and said something about it. However I have never been part of an event in which a poet was reading in a public setting and a person who was not a part of the audience came in and started protesting. Gina used the Great Wrench of Poetry on the wingnut and brought it to the mic. It was awesome. She pissed off a complete stranger. With a poem.

The final standings were irrelevant after that even though I won, Joanna came in second, Gina third, Rachel fourth and Beverly fifth. We got to see art cause a visceral reaction, and we got to carry on.

And kudos to Louise who was capable and charming as she hosted her first poetry slam.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Yelling at a book to make it stop

South of Broad, Pat Conroy's first work of fiction in fourteen years is an overwrought, over dramatic story with unrealistic relationships and implausible dialogue. I wanted to like this book, and had been looking forward to it for many months, years even.

It tells the story of Leopold Bloom King, a young man waking up to the world around him after his brother's suicide at the age of ten. Conroy bombards us with many irritating references to James Joyce, since King's Mother, a former nun, wrote her dissertation on Joyce and named both of her sons after characters in Joyce's novels.

Conroy piles on the glib, adds three metaphors when one powerful one would suffice, fills us up on the melodrama and impossibility of fact in chapter after chapter. He even names two of his characters Niles and Fraser, and they marry. Isn't that precious?

Every part of a dysfunctional family is in this books five hundred plus pages. Want rape, incest, suicide, AIDS, forbidden love, disease, drug dealing, alcoholism, murder, racism - it's all here and Conroy buries us in heaping mounds of sadness balanced by face slapping banter.

And when a major character dies (I really do not think I'm giving anything away here) none of the characters friends barely goes through any grief stage. Yet, when there's any other scene in which even a minor tragedy occurs, there is weeping, howling and sobbing.

The final chapter, in which the reason King's brother commits suicide is revealed has become of the most used cliches in recent history, (it wasn't the butler, but it should have been) I felt sadness, not for any of the characters, but for me reading this, and for Conroy for having to stoop to write this nonsense. I expected better from him, and got a third rate paperback from the remainder bin.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Coffee After 6PM is Never Good For Me

It's been a rather busy and awesome last few days. In a preview of yesterday's OSU/Navy game we saw this behind a High Street restaurant a few days ago.

Nothing like burning a couch to get pumped up for the first game of the season.

Friday night we celebrated the gorgeous early September weather by going to Schiller Park to see Actor's Summer Theater's presentation of Shakespeare's As You Like It. We brought some beverages, a blanket, and with friends took up a comfortable space in the park. The interpretation of the play had a twist, some of the actors were puppets. I was especially impressed with the Wrestler in the first act.

The acting was sound, better than many of the previous plays I've seen this troupe do. The use of the horn fanfare of Rocky J. Squirrel's from Bullwinkle gave me a good chuckle each time it was used to bring the Duke on stage. Well played.

It was after intermission when the play fell apart. Not the fault of the actors, but the play itself. Characters were introduced for no other reason than to extend the show. Nothing was happening for many scenes and I was grateful it finally ended.

Got to find a nice feed to the Scotland/Macedonia soccer game yesterday morning. It was raining at Hampden as the home team ended up winning 2-0. The victory keeps Scotland's slim hopes at making the World Cup going for another four days. On Wednesday they play a very tough team from the Netherlands. Even if, and I say if, they beat the Dutch they're still going to need help to make it through to the next round. But for now, there's hope.

Yesterday afternoon the Scottish Wife and I went to the city's new metropark. The Scioto Audubon Park is just south of downtown, next to the impound lot. The main building is a marvel of green engineering and architecture from its recycling of rainwater to geothermal heating; quite impressive. The park is still being developed. It looks and feels too new in parts. Once it weathers itself in it will be a standout park in an already fine Columbus Metro Park system, and there are herons!

It was one of those days in which I really liked the city I call home. We kept taking advantage of the weather to venture out to the Gallery Hop for dinner and people watching and we were not disappointed.

With the Buckeyes hanging on to beat Navy, folks were in a good mood. We saw a few people I had not seen in years, some fine looking Navy men in their dress uniforms and crowds of people on High Street. This month there seemed to be more musicians than usual. They were spread out so that every 100 feet you heard a new sound, a different type of music. Hearing the city's diversity kept the good mood going.

Then I came home and there was a nice surprise in my inbox. All I'll say is that I've been enjoying the remastered Beatles catalogue, and that side two of Abbey Road is glorious.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Checking the deductable

Dreamed I was in a car accident with the Lieutenant Governor. It was not Lee Fisher.

But some guy named Lew Nicholson. At least that's what his insurance card identified him as, "Lew Nicholson, Lieutenant Governor of Ohio."

I entered route 315 headed north from an exit I'd never heard of. Almost got sideswiped by a very, very long car carrier trying to get on the highway. Then someone slowed up in front of me and I got rear ended by the Lieutenant Governor.

He seemed to think it was my fault, even though he was following me way too closely. The back end of the Volvo was really messed up and the car was barely drivable. He was driving some late model large car, not a Mercedes, but something similar.

As we were leaving he took me aside a bit roughly and practically dragged me to his car. He did not hit me, but I felt mildly threatened. He was wearing some sort of multi-colored cover all over his suit.

After the accident, it was very hard for my car to gain traction on the roads and my RPMs were redlining. Woke up before I could get to the repair shop.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Baseball as a Subtext

Was thinking back to my seventh birthday. My parents took me to my first baseball game. Mets vs. Phillies at Shea Stadium. The greenness of the grass. The vastness of the field. So damn beautiful. The great Tom Seaver pitched. We sat on the left field line. Before the game, I got backup cather Duffy Dyer's autograph. I saw Rick Wise, the opposing pitcher. I saw Art Shamsky make a catch close to us. It was also utility player Bob Aspromonte's birthday. How cool was that, Sharing a birthday with a baseball player! He pinch hit, did not get on base. Then, I do not remember who hit it, but a line drive came toward us and it was hit hard. The man in front of me stuck up his hand and and the ball slammed into it with a sizzle that I can still hear to this day. It was the closest I came to a foul ball until twenty nine years later when my ex caught one at Cleveland Stadium in her Betty Boop tote bag.

Here's the box score!

That's me, at either age seven or eight. My brother is behind me, over my right shoulder. I wonder what memories my son will have of his seventh birthday, and how he we be able to communicate them when he turns forty five?

Had a staff lunch on campus today. I was goofing off with the camera by RPAC. There was a interesting reflection.

A picture of me that does not suck.

Everywhere at Once

He is seven years old today.

He slept eight hours last night.

He's an awesome kid.