Thursday, October 29, 2009

Victory and Fur

Last night's dream took place in downtown Columbus, by Nationwide. It was a bizarre contest involving a rather large box or containing area. Inside were many kittens. The kittens were in the box and were deprived of food and water. The last kitten in the box was pronounced the winner. The winner of what I do not know.

Now. You also have to know that the box was rather shallow, so the kittens had very easy escape. No kittens were harmed during this contest. In fact, several fell asleep inside the box.

I do not know which kitten claimed victory.

Speaking of contests. I think this was unrelated to my dream. My Scottish wife won admission to Writers Block events for the rest of the year last night. How? She won the scream contest. Yes. She put her entire body into the act, falling to the floor to clinch against some gal from Taiwan.

I also won the door prize, a complete book of Poe. It was win last night.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Learn it. Learn it.

With the back and forth craziness of October coming to an end, next month I've involved myself in a project that will either benefit me or force me to expose shameful secrets. In November I'm going to write 30 poems in 30 days and do it in a writing group.

What can possibly go wrong? If I do not submit I will be forced into revealing past traumas. And what's the difference between that and what I write. Piece of cake, right?

Too bad I've had a nasty case of writers block since returning from IWPS. If this does not shake me loose of it, there is no hope.

Also coming up in late November early December will be my annual link and liner notes of music that did not suck this year. Plus, an added bonus of my favorite songs from the past decade. I've based in on two songs from each year. Twenty songs. Twenty memories. I get to write about that, too.

Can't think of anything that happened worth writing about that happened to me in the past ten years. Can you?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Current consumption

Not sure how long this will last, but the music of Mojo Nixon is available for free download at in the United States only. I'm not responsible for your personality changes.

Craig Ferguson is a very clever man. His novel gave us indication there was much more ambition underneath the surface.

Now he's written a memoir that exposes him even more. American on Purpose tells the story of his youth, his adventures and his substance abuse problems. It also name checks a number of Glasgow landmarks that I have been to. What it does not reveal is the creative process behind his show. I do not get to watch his program enough, but what I've seen shows me a very talented and entertaining interviewer who goes beyond the fluff and actually talks to his guests. If you do not read the entire book, read it for the last chapter alone. An emotional and touching explanation of why he chose to become an American citizen.

Speaking of fine citizens, Chelsey Sullenberger has cashed in on his moment and put out a book. At least the guy is not a pseudo reality show celebrity and has actually done something that people want to read about instead of putting out a weak brand. Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters is the pilot's story of what brought him to that amazing moment when he landed a plane full of people in the Hudson River. It tells us that his whole life was preparation for that moment, and he was ready for it. He also gives much credit for his co=pilot and flight crew, which is something he has always done.

Sullenberger is a decent human being in an era of too much indecency. I'm grateful he told us his story.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saturday Pictures

Baby elephants are cute.

So are prairie dogs.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has a wonderful manatee program.

The Circleville Pumpkin Festival. Note the crane used to lift the enormous gourds onto the scale.

The winning pumpkin. Over 1,600 pounds.

How do you slice this thing?

You can also look at a slide show of our trip to Berkeley and San Francisco HERE!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Took part in the Beauty Vs. Brawn Poetry slam at Club Fire last night. It was a benefit for the Wow Slam that is happening in Columbus in March. Five guys went up against five women.

It was ugly. We were doomed, but not from the start.

I was first up. It was dark in the room. Very dark. So I went off paper and did After Birth. Missed a line or two, but it went over well. The look on Scott Woods' face as he was setting up the music stand for me to sent my paper on was priceless as I waived it off! It's hard for me to memorize. Very hard. It's a start.

All I can add is that I'm the only guy who won his round. As for the rest of my Poet Brothers, that is a story only they can tell although I have to give mention to Joe! who competed in his first slam ever last night. Had a lot of fun out there.

Did not mind being at Club Fire but they really needed to set up the bar before the show so people can get a bit lubricated, and charge a bit less for their mixed drinks in plastic cups.

Then we got home and I found out someone had used by debit card at Target Stores in California. That was not good. Now I get to go the bank and fill out a dispute form. Makes me feel uneasy and violated.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I am not a pornographic poet

Soon, there will be a photo dump to reveal the Circleville Pumpkin Festival. Must be seen to be believed. Had no idea they used a crane during the weigh in. So much artery clogging food, and that was in the first ten minutes. The Brits seemed to be enjoying themselves. They got taken in by the roasted corn on the cob and various fried vegetables. They leave today for warmer climes, which means they're not going back to Glasgow yet!

Last night was another qualifier for the Women of the World Poetry Slam, which will be in Columbus in March. Only five ladies signed up and it was a fierce and close battle that was eventually won by Rose Smith, even with her time penalty in the first round! Louise and Gina tied for second. It was crazy close, and a fine night of poetry.

Tonight there is a fundraiser for WoW (that's what we call it) at Club Fire. Details here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ask me about celebrity deaths, go ahead

It was dumb luck that gave us such a lovely day to hit the Columbus Zoo. I'll have some pictures in a few days. The animals were dozing in the sun, and you can't blame them.

Finally headed out with my son tonight to go to a Pub Quiz. It's something I, a sewer of useless information, have wanted to do for sometime. It usually falls on a night I have my son. Tonight though, instead of sitting at home with him, waiting to pick up my wife from her yoga class, I decided to bring him to one. It's at a pub close to my house, and a friend of mine is the quiz master.

He did well, we stayed for about forty minutes, before we had to leave. I met an acquaintance there, met a friend of his, joined his team and we won the first round. Have to say I was an essential part of it. They would not have won without me as I knew Al Martino died and that Whitney Houston's bra broke on live television. My son, if he knew the answers, did not reveal them to us.

It was a lot of fun, and we may head back there next Monday instead of sitting around the house watching him bounce off the walls.

Tomorrow, small town America gets shown to the Brits as we head south to the Circleville Pumpkin Festival. The weather will be glorious.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday this and that

For many years I kept a blog on Live Journal. In April, I stopped posting. I do not miss it. This place and Facebook keep me busy enough. LJ's dying though. Few of the people I knew back in the day are posting anymore, and what I am seeing now is a bunch of twitter digests. Boring. Glad I got out of there when I did.

Zombies. I hate zombies. They do not impress me. You can only moan out 'brains' once, before I'm bored to tears. I wanted to write a poem about how much I hated zombies but Scott Woods beat me to it. I do not give a crap about what to do in case a zombie attacks, zombie walks, zombie pub crawls, zombie mash ups with literature, or anything that has to do with zombies.

I'd rather hear about pirates.

I've just confused my son. He asked for a lollipop. Gave him one, then took one for myself. He was trying to take it out of my mouth.

Been doing some reading. Was not overly impressed with Nick Hornby's latest Juliet, Naked. It tells the story of music fan obsessed with a reclusive musician. The book begins with a clear picture of what internet obsession can do to a person, and their relationships then fades into a story of failing relationships - which is not as interesting as the internet obsessions. Hornby knows his subjects well, yet failed to connect with this reader.

Also limped through the latest product from Dan Brown. Still trying to figure out what The Lost Symbol was trying to tell me amidst all the puzzles, Newton trivia, Masonic rites and action. For all the criticism of Brown, founded and unfounded, he knows how to jump start a book and keep the pace on the floor for nearly 500 pages. This time, his devices were tired, his descriptions creepy (Langdon's finely toned body was heavier than it appeared) and characters cliched.

What is making me happy is my Scottish Sister-in-Law getting me a copy of the new Denise Mina. It's not being released in the U.S. until March.

Yes, my Wife's sister and boyfriend are here for a few days. Taking them to our fine zoo tomorrow and the Circleville Pumpkin Festival on Wednesday. Good stuff, and the weather has warmed up.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

From First Draft

Last night I did a poem in the style of a dead poet. I chose William Topaz McGonagall and mashed it up with The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. One woman showed up in the middle of the poem and said after wards that she really liked my narrative poetry. I really did not know what else to say except thank you.

The Edmund Fitzgerald Disaster

Beautiful ship on Lake Superior
The one they call Gitche Gumee
Alas I'm sorry to say
That twenty nine lives had been taken away
Which will be remembered for a very long time

Twas about seven o'clock at night
And the wind blew with all its might
And the main hatchway caved in
And the dark clouds seemed to frown
And the Witch of November came stealin'
I'll take down the Edmund Fitzgerald

When the ship left some mill in Wisconsin
The crew and the captain well seasoned
But the gales of November came slashing
Which put the good ship and crew in peril
And many of the crew with fear did say
I hope God will send us safe across to Whitefish Bay

But when the ship late at night rang its bells
The north wind came loud and angry
And the wires on the ship made a tattletale sound
On that November day
Which will be remembered for a very long time

So the ship sailed on with all its might
And the shore of Whitefish Bay soon in sight
And the crew's heart's felt light
Thinking they would enjoy themselves on Thanksgiving Day
With the friends at home they love most dear
And wish them all a Happy Thanksgiving

So the ship moved slowly toward Whitefish Bay
Until it was the middle of the night
Then it might of split up, or capsized
And down went the crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald
The November witch did loudly bray
Because twenty nine lives had been taken away
on a November day of 1975
Which will be remembered for a very long time

As soon as the catastrophe came to be known
On the faces of the wives and the sons and the daughters
The church bell cried in Detroit town
Good heavens, the Edmund Fitzgerald has gone down
And the ship that was built in Cleveland
Filled all the people's hearts with sorrow
And made them for to turn pale
Because none of the crew were saved to tell the tale
How this disaster happened on that November day
Which will be remembered for a very long time

It must have been an awful sight
To witness the ship sink in the dusky moonlight
While the November Witch did laugh, and the angry did bray
Of the good ship the Edmund Fitzgerald
Oh ill fated ship the Edmund Fitzgerald

I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay
That your hull would not have given away
Had it not been filled with so much iron ore
At least many sensible men confesses
For the stronger our ships do build
The less chance we have of being killed.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

IWPS Final Thoughts?

Saturday's IWPS finals was a revealing and stunning event. Before the main event there were a number of opening poems by some local groups. There was also a team piece by a brave group from Boise. They performed a piece called Rape: The Musical that took a funny and bold stance towards poets who use, or make up, their victimization to get high scores in a poetry slam. Yes, this happens, and yes, it is a very divisive piece. I loved it.

The IWPS champion was a young woman from Denver named Amy Everhart. She went on right before me at the Starry Plough, and yes, she earned her victory.

Overall, the Berkeley crew did a great job in presenting and representing slam. Two problems I had were the size of the Long Haul and the sound at finals was rather substandard. A number of mics were cutting out or breaking up during performances which is inexcusable.

The wife and I toured San Francisco before finals on Saturday. It's a beautiful city. The hills, you have to be fit to live there. And what happens if there's an ice storm? The city must be paralyzed. Driving a standard shift car, out of the question.

We wandered around Fisherman's Wharf and saw the sea lions on the pier.

We got on a cable car at the top of Lombard Street and ended up downtown. Here I got a bit too excited being close to where Dashiell Hammett worked, lived and wrote the Maltese Falcon.

I ended up asking a woman at a coffee shop to google the spot where Brigid O'Shaugnessey shot Floyd Thursby, there's a plaque marking the spot. Unfortunately I got the wrong location, and we were a couple of blocks from it. Next time. We also went past the hotel where Roscoe Arbuckle had that infamous party.

The people in The Berkeley/San Francisco area are extremely friendly and helpful. They seem to love pointing in the right direction. We had a great trip and appreciate all your support. Thank you.

Back in Columbus now and at WB last night. Yes. I have an itch now. Get on a team. Rust Belt. Nats. Also, I have a crown to defend.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

They Didn't, Then They Did (Love Us, That Is)

A couple of weary people went to see Wilco at the Mershon Auditorium on Monday night.

Liam Finn was the opener, he had Eliza Jane Barnes (Jimmy Barnes' daughter) with him. Finn plays with sound loops, a lot, and bashes the drums hard. It was an energetic set from the son of one of my favorite musicians.

Before we arrived at Mershon, my wife asked me if Wilco provided any banter, if they interacted with the audience or if they just played without talking to the crowd. I assured her that yes, there was banter.

For over a half an hour I felt ignored. They were on stage, playing as though it was a sound check, a rehearsal. All of them standing around, admiring each other. And I had made this promise to my wife!

Sometime in the midst of Impossible Germany, during Nels Cline's incredible solo, it all changed and they seemed to realize a crowd was out there and all became right with the show.

The energy level kicked up. I'm not sure if the kicked up energy came from the older material. My wife was happy they did California Stars.

They also did a kick ass Monday and brought it home with a killer Hoodoo Voodoo. It was an impressive and satisfying ending. Still, I can't think that Tweedy and company are coasting, and have been for the last three records. Maybe it was all the travel we had been through, and the lack of sleep that had me worn out. Live though, the band is a force.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Round Two

Going in the later round meant there was more time to think, which in my case is not always the best idea. I was restless, wandering to other venues, checking out the other poets while my wife and friend hung at the Valpariso. I liked what I saw and am now a fan of Karen Finneyfrock, who did a lovely piece about discovering sex in high school and another about Lot's wife. Great stuff.

The Long Haul was the smallest venue, and my claustrophobia stressed me out so I was out of the room most of the first round. I was in the seventh slot and did Nobody's Poet.

After Thursday night, I brought out the paper for the first quarter of the piece. A crutch that kept me confident. I thought it was going well, there was one minor slip I covered up, the crowd was digging it. The judges another story.

It got a 25.4 lowest in the round. So what. I belong.

I was a bit more relaxed after getting it done and hung out in the packed room for round two. My new favorite poet is Joshua Walters, who uses humor and playfulness in very cool ways. I dig his humor, the silliness and told him so after and we exchanged merchandise.

I was the last poet of the night and did Would Jesus Really Rather Have a Buick. I did ok, but I think the paper was a barrier between me and the crowd. I also thought the judges were fading too. Still got a 27.1 which I think tied me for 11th in the round.

Kike McGee announced he was now a fan of mine. That's high praise. Another person approached me in the cafe and said kind words.

Waiting for the results to be posted so I can see who is in the finals. I want to know how this is going to end tonight. It's going to be incredible.

We're headed into San Francisco for the day. Yesterday we wandered around The UC Berkeley Campus. Had to go see the libraries, was not pleased the Sacher Tower was closed for renovations. Saw the Golden Gate Bridge from a distance, want to see it from Fisherman's Wharf.

It's been a great time here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

After Round One

I am the 77th best slam poet in the world!
What a blast it all is. Such a great scene, and the Berkeley staff and volunteers are doing an excellent job.

I drew sixth in round one, and did After Birth. I thought it went over very well, the people behind me complained that I had ruined their makeup. Ended up ninth after round one.

In round two, the minute round I did Folson Clothing Blues. Started out great and then...

I froze. I forgot my words. Lost them. Heard the encouraging words of the crowd, heard my wife give me the next stanza. Found one of the two lines from the stanza and went on. Damn, the piece went over good too, but I had a time penalty and ended up dropping to tenth out of eleven.

I've seen the best poets freeze up, and got some nice sympathy from other poets in the round. It can, and has happened to anyone. I put it all out there on stage last night and did myself and my fellow poets proud. I did not suck, but so many were better!

What I am most proud of is that I finally went onstage without paper and presented my poetry for the first time.

And the overall leader was in my group. The Original Woman took over the stage last night, and if you're going to lose, be beaten by the best.

Tonight I'm in a group with two other Columbus poets. The 614 will be in the Long Haul at nine o'clock!

This is a very cool city, very walkable. The hotel is quirky, but decent and cheap. Had a laptop mishap that a Mac genie named Thea reset for me at no cost. There are lots of great places to eat. A college friend took us out to dinner on Wednesday night and we had an absolute riot. Last night two more friends came out to see me and it was so great to see them.

I'm trying to reach out to and converse with other poets, but it's hard shedding the social phobia. Emma's been great in dealing with my reaction to stress and jet lag. I think she's having fun too.

What the heck was the Nobel Committee thinking? Giving the Peace Prize to Obama? For what? Thanks for increasing the political divide and tension in this country, idiots.

Going to explore the UC Berkeley campus a bit today and hit San Francisco tomorrow. Weather has been good. Clouds in the morning that have cleared to brilliant sunshine. Pictures when I get home.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

An old Meme I liked

Most memorable movie going experiences. In a theater setting, watching at home, on video/dvd, or someone else's home does not count.

In no particular order. I know I'm forgetting more than a few.

1) Mr. Mike's Mondo Video - East Islip Theater - 1978. A drunken audience watching a very bad movie. Beer bottles were rolling down the aisle, then being thrown at the screen. The film was then stopped when someone suggested the rabbit that Mr. Mike was holding be shot. On came the second half of the double feature. Flesh Gordon.

2) Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom - NYC - 80s. Not that this was a great movie, but we saw it on a huge freaking screen with the most amazing sound I've heard in a theater.

3&4) The General and Trouble In Paradise - McEwan Hall, SUNY Fredonia 1984. Dr. Shokoff has these on 16mm and played them for us in a class on narrative film. Changed how I look at film.

5) On The Town - Ohio Theater, Columbus Ohio 1998. The Summer Movie Series that CAPA puts on is one of the pleasures of living in this landlocked city. I'd never seen this movie before. The first ten minutes, the opening number on the big screen left me gasping with joy.

6) Four Horsemen of The Apocolypse - Ohio Theater, Columbus, early 90's. Gaylord Carter played the mighty Morton Organ. 'Nuff said.

7) Jaws - Bay Shore Theater - 1975. That head popping out of the boat still scares the crap out of me.

8) Aliens - Cine - Fredonia, New York 1980s - The last 45 minutes of this movie had everyone sitting on the edges, or with their eyes shut praying for their mamas.

9) Fresh Horses - Cine - Fredonia - 1980s. What a dud of a movie. About a third in everyone was talking, and no one cared enough to shhh.

10) Sons of The Desert - Ohio Theater - 2004. The site of hundreds of Laurel and Hardy fanatics, dressed in costume, linking their arms and singing along was one of the most heartwarming things I've ever seen in my life. Bless them. It's all about the fun.

This one goes to 11. This is Spinal Tap, in my friend Gregg's basement. It was the first time I'd ever experienced a great DVD commentary before.

12) Day of Wrath - The Wexner Center. 2006. There is not one frame of this film that will not suck the life and happiness out of you. Every scene is designed to make you cringe in despair and face your truth. To say this film is a downer is to insult the downer. Find yourself a batch of liquor after viewing. The higher the alcohol content the better. I cannot recommend this film highly enough. It will destroy you and the act of putting yourself back together will deliver the redemption the after effects which Day of Wrath will bring to your memories. This film lingers. It will never, ever leave you because in your worst moments you will remember viewing this film and realizing you do not have it so bad after all.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Coming soon

My friend Louise did an amazing job with very short notice and assembled a chapbook for me to have at IWPS. I sent her a bunch of poems last night, along with a bio, title and a couple of pictures to choose from.

By lunchtime today she organized the work, made the cover and put together the book. Ok, she has a template, but I'm still impressed.

Here's the bio:

Born on Long Island. Ed has lived in Columbus, Ohio for nineteen years. Ed attended and eventually graduated from The State University College of New York at Fredonia. Ed spent the eighties in a radio studio, the nineties in wine shops and the rest of his time working in libraries. He finally began reading his poetry at Writer's Block in 2006 and has since done several features and appearances in the state. His goal is to read in all of Ohio's 88 counties. He has a long way to go. Ed was the Writer's Block representative of the Individual World Poetry Slam in 2009. He came in second place in the poetry competition at the Columbus Arts Festival, also in 2009. When not blogging Ed spends time with his lovely wife and son.

It's my first book.

I have a few copies to trade, sell, use as a calling card this weekend. When we come back, there will be a second printing I'll let you know about.

Thank you all for your support, donations, and advice. I'm really excited about this trip and opportunity. It's going to be fun sharing the art, meeting a lot of people and representing Writers Block on the national stage. I should be able to update from Berkeley and will have some great stories about my IWPS experience.

We fly out on Wednesday afternoon.
I do not get out to the Poetry Forum often, but last night Vernell was featuring. My wife looked after N. and I got to hang out at the Rumba Cafe for a few pleasant hours. A lot of the Writer's Block showed up, we took the night over!

Man, my hair's gone gray, especially in that lighting. I ended up reading "It Was an Old Book", which is a decent warm up and "(Beer) A Love Poem, which got a good response.

Vernell did a great feature, doing two sets and a cross section of her serious and wittier work.

How did I beat this woman in the grand slam to go to IWPS again? A fluke son, a fluke.

Got some wonderful well wishes and luck from the people there. Hope I can get to read there more than twice a year.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Blocking is easy with eyes closed

Been doing my best to avoid confrontation with the keyboard warriors, those who think they are clever and superior by being able to post a link to something they do not like and add a sentence of snark to it. Usually it's about something Obama related. Guy's damned if he does anything and damned if he does not.

I'm not happy with the direction this country is going either. War on two fronts, the same guys appointed to fix the economy are the same ones who broke it in the first place, the lack of a public health care option. I'd rather see people go off on that intelligently than the whole birther nonsense. Then the losing party got upset because he was going to speak to children during the first week at school. Is that the best they had? Then the opposition all mad and outraged that he had the nerve to go and try to firm up a bid for the Olympics in Chicago, and crowed when that effort failed.

What is wrong with this country when people start embracing and wrapping themselves up in the failure of the president? Is this what we have to look forward to for three more years? A constant barrage of hate and blocking of progress from the right? I'm waiting for the fallout from the guy taking his wife out for an anniversary dinner last night. How dare he, the wingnuts will type as they seethe at their keyboards with a self satisfied smirk on their faces and manufactured outrage in their shrinking, bitter hearts.

Yeah, that'll tick off all those Obama worshipers on my facebook friends list. Click share.

Last time I checked, we were all in this together. I guess people's definitions of together vary significantly these days.

I know. Hypocrite. Click publish post.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

If I can't find a working link, it's back to bed

Son decided to fall asleep about 11 last night, then woke up around four. He decided talking to the ceiling for a couple of hours would be a great idea, and here I am.

It's half an hour from the Old Firm game and I'm not sure if I can stay awake.

Sometime today the lawn needs to be mowed, for the last time this year.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Busy Month Begins

Spent a good part of yesterday at the Nisonger Center, which went well. N. was on his best behavior and he showed the doctors and observers what he was all about. What's ahead is a bit of waiting, some good referrals, and hoping the insurance is good enough.

Weirdness out of the world of David Letterman, seems someone has been blackmailing him. A CBS news producer threatened to write a book and screenplay saying that Letterman was sleeping with members of his staff unless the talk show host gave him two million dollars. Letterman went on his show and admitted that he had done so.

What is it about Letterman that stalkers, kidnappers and blackmailers seem to orbit around him? This didn't happen to Carson did it?

In the middle of Nick Hornby's new book, Juliet, Naked. Liking it a lot so far, he's back to music geekery as the subject matter. His smack at middle aged men who regret staying up late listening to downloaded music hit a bit close to home though!

Five days until we leave for IWPS!