Saturday, November 28, 2009

The No Touching Party in My Head

Scott Woods was in my dream. We were talking about monster Australian Chardonnay. Someone, Joe The Poet, or Jory, was drinking one the week before. It was called Mer-Soo, an Aussie version of the French Meursault. Then Scott asked me how much the Mer-Soo cost. I said it should be about $20-25. The actual price was $39. When he told me, he sounded disappointed.

Then we went to Bonotogo Pizza and there was cartoon art on the wall. The Lockhorns were drawn up as the Righthorns, and Ziggy was using his non-dominant hand. The owner, Bill, was drawing up the strips in the opposite of how they are.

And, no, I do not know what this means.

Back in the real world, Bonotogo is back. We went last night. It's taking up part of a carry out on Northwest and Chambers and all is well. I wrote an acrostic about it.


Bill wears two hats, inside a cowboy
Outside, he dons a captain's hat
Now, the sound of a breaking plate
on the floor in the kitchen,
takes the breath out of the six
of us waiting for our pizza
Gasping, Bill yells
out he's doing the server a favor while she's on
In jest, of course. Bill is
Zooming to and fro', finally our
zesty pies arrive
Always hot from the wood fired oven

Before the pizza we went to see An Education. A film that is getting a lot of attention due to its breakout star, actress Carey Mulligan.

The attention is well founded. Mulligan is outstanding in portraying an intelligent sixteen year old who wants more to life than being sheltered in Twickenham. The film is a well detailed period piece of pre-Beatles England. My wife was impressed by the attention to detail, and the car Peter Sarsgaard drives is bitching!

A Bristol 405, in maroon.

Back to the film. It's a very sensitive coming of age movie, as the two leads have a significant age difference. She's 16, he's about twice that. Emma Thompson has about five minutes of screen time and blows Mulligan out of the water. Olivia Williams has a poignant role as a schoolteacher. As always, there are secret lives, betrayals and the film moves to an ending that is worthy of the Nick Hornby screenplay, which is based on a memoir from Lynn Barber.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Almost made me go, postal

Two weeks ago today I mailed a letter to the UK. Two weeks later, it has not arrived. This past Tuesday, I mailed out the same form, just in case. Wanted to mail it so it would arrive quickly, and so it could be tracked. It would have cost $28.

Thing is, the clerk needed to know the STATE or PROVINCE. There was also a list of Shires. I had no idea where this was going, and the postal code did not provide an answer. I did this a few months ago, when I sent a form overnight, there was no problem. No need for a STATE or PROVINCE. Normally, I give the USPS a pass, my Stepfather worked for them for over thirty years, they fed us. Whatever happened to sending out a letter, putting a damn stamp on it, slapping an air mail sticker on the envelope, and sending it on its way?

Ended up sending it Priority, no tracking. Cost $12. We'll see when it gets there.

It was a good holiday. Went to dinner with friends at a local place. Ate well. Ended up back at their house for a nightcap.

Constant readers and lurkers, that is some fine Whisky.

No much happening today. Should be going to a movie, a couple of errands, no getting into fistfights shopping for three dollar slow cookers.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

This Thursday Holiday

I'm thankful for my life, child, wife, family, friends and the support I've received.

We're off to dinner in a bit. If you honor this day, have a happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's not even green anymore

So one of these came in the mail today. Not for me, and it does not quite match this picture.

The process took fourteen months, which is a reasonable amount of time considering we dealt with the Department of Homeland Security. We were never called in to interview either. No separating us and asking about toothbrush colors or what the other likes on their eggs. Our long national nightmare has ended. Or, another has begun, who really knows?

A couple of books have been read: First up.

I've been rather jaded about memoirs these days. People are writing that fiction is dead and that memoir is the new literature. Screw that, and double for James Frey. This one, however, is a couple of cuts above the drivel that's being published. Take a true crime, add some drug use, S&M and a very screwed up childhood - Stephen Elliott has created a non fiction work that's part In Cold Blood, part Hunter S. Thompson at his finest and part, well I'm not sure what and that unknown is what makes this one worth seeking out.

I had no idea he was working on a book before he died until a friend pointed it out on Facebook. Carlin was collaborating with Tony Hendra, who did a good job assembling Carlin's thoughts to the page. It provides some great details on his stand up days and a very frank use of his drug use and how it affected his family life. Not a pretty story, but it ends on a high note. It's a shame his heart could not hold up long enough so he could put his story on the Broadway stage. That would have been worth seeing.

Since I have not poated any pics of him for a while, here's one of the boy in the pool. He's been going into the deep end. No knowledge that it's twelve feet deep. No fear. He's been swimming the length of the pool, twenty five meters and back, reaching forward for speed.

We're also up a bit late tonight.

My daily reports tell me this site has been getting lots of recent hits. I don't track from where, unlike other bloggers, and am really not concerned with that. It's always good to see people reading though. Anyone want to say hello? There are a couple of new 'followers' here too. You're welcome to stay, but isn't participation fun? Thank you all for reading.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Stubs through the years

I've been going to shows for about thirty years now. My first show was on November 28th, 1980 at the Nassau Coliseum. The Cars were the headliner and their opening act was an English combo called XTC. I have no idea where the ticket is, or if I still have it. I've tried to hold on to most of the stubs and hunted around a little this afternoon and did some scanning. Could not find the McCartney ticket from Cincinnati in 1993, it's around somewhere.

Check out the price of that Who ticket!

Top left is a Peter Case/Brenda Kahn show. Underneath that is Elton John. Fifteen bucks for floor seats. Times have changed. Quarterflash opened that show.

A couple of Joe Jackson shows nearly eight years apart. The Fredonia show killed!

That NRBQ in the middle is signed by Terry Adams and Joey Spampinato. My friend Chris interviewed them between shows. Very cool guys. Their other guitarist Al Anderson walked through. That man is huge.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Ghosts of Columbus Past

It has been about twenty years since I left Fredonia, New York, for the lights of the city of Columbus, Ohio. Three wives, ten jobs, seven cars, and three abodes later I'm still here - and should be for a very long time. In seven years, I will have lived in Ohio longer than New York State.

As part of the 30/30 project I put together a list poem.

Twenty Things I miss About Columbus After Twenty Years of Living in Columbus

1. The polkas and good old time music of accordion playing Esther Craw
and Glenn Wilson on stand up bass at Deibel's
2. Seeing the fireworks at Cooper Stadium while eating dessert
at Christopher's on top of the Riffe Center
3. Watching the flames shoot out of the Tiki Gods at the Kahiki. Having drinks out of skull mugs there. Not the food.
4. Big Bear grocery store, when it was a local chain run by people who lived here and before their farmland in Powell became a condo development
5. Nickelby's, Fireside, Little Professor, Readmor Books along with other independent bookstores and news stands
6. The little coffee shop at the corner of Hudson and Indianola. It's been so long I forget what it was called.
7. Billy Inmon camping out on the Statehouse lawn because Governor Voinovich would not debate him
8. City Center between 1990-1994, when downtown shopping was still available
9. Kenneth Branagh's Henry V at The Drexel North Theater and nearly turning around to watch it again
10. Seeing the Ohio State Hockey team play in the old ice rink. The Schottenstein Center is nice, but when 2,000 people watch a game in a rink that seats 17,000, it's a tomb
11. The Columbus Chill fighting their way to eighty three straight sellout crowds and mediocrity at the Fairgrounds Coliseum
12. The view of downtown from the seats on the first base line watching a Clippers game
13. Firdous restaurant on campus, cleanest place in town
14. The wire strung between telephone poles on High Street on weekends nights to keep the kids from staggering into traffic
15. Stache's/Little Brothers because the small rock and roll club has not been replaced
16. The Giant L tank on the roof of the downtown Lazarus lit up at Christmas
17. The months in 1990 when Buster Douglas was heavyweight champion
18. Watching the rise and fall of the Buffalo Bills at Michael Dominic's on Wilson Bridge Road
19. Katie Smith leading the Quest to two straight ABL championships
20. Nancy's Diner, but it's going to be off this list soon when it reopens!

That would make a cool photo blog, if I had the pictures to match up with each item. Some I may, somewhere. It would involve a but of hunting and scanning.

It took a long time, but I've become accustomed to this place. I'm still not sure if I was dragged here kicking and screaming. Can't even remember when exactly I moved in here. Was it before or after Thanksgiving? That's been blocked out, and the only person who might be able to answer that is no longer speaking to me. There's certainly been a lot of loss, which has been countered by gains. Has it smoothed out? Not quite, I think I'm in a better place now though.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Swedish refereeing, the luck of the Irish, bad slam judging

One of the main rules of football is that players, except the goalie, are not allowed to touch the ball with their hands.

This hand ball, by France's Thierry Henry, was knocked to the ground and coolly flicked over to the head of William Gallas, who deposited the ball into the Ireland net - and France beat Ireland to go on to play in next year's World Cup.

If the goal had been disallowed would Ireland have won? We will never know that now. Henry is saying he did it, but it's the Swedish referee's call. It's a very sad way to decide a crucial game. Yes, in the end it is only a game, yet when such a visible and blatant breaking of the rules is allowed I think it funnels down to the rest of us.

I'm not saying France should demand a replay, but maybe an apology to the Irish team should happen. If not, I'm boycotting French wine this holiday, and that includes beaujolais nouveau.

Continuing the topic of bad officiating last night WoW qualifying poetry slam had one very questionable judge. I've seen a lot of strange scores in slam, but last night's was a topper. The one woman was gave out a 2, 1.8, a 3.5 and a 3.6. Sure, it's her prerogative to not like a poem, but to score that low is a bit insulting.

This is why the low score (and high) is dropped in slam and her judgment did not have much weight on the results. Gina won last night. Vernell came in second and Marie, who I had not seen before came in third. There are going to be six women in the Grand Slam, which will determine who will represent Writers' Block at the Women of the World Slam in March right here in Columbus. The Grand Slam is going to be on December 2nd and it will be a battle!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Football sestina, not the best idea

I know there were some harsh words about the Bob Dylan Christmas record said here. There is a video out now. It has to be seen to be believed. Bob's wearing a wig that makes him look like Iggy Pop, or Tom Petty. There's a hellacious party going on. I think the guy swinging from the chandelier is the Jack of Hearts.

The boy went to bed at 10PM, woke up at 2AM and is still awake. At least it gave me the opportunity to see that what I started writing last night was total nonsense. It's been a tough month on the page, especially with the 30/30 project happening. I'm not getting much out of it, nor am I putting anything in. Writing the pantoum, getting only one response then seeing another poet write this short throwaway piece (that had a Springsteen song as a title) get scads of attention completely turned me off. Sure I'm being petty and unnecessarily jealous but this was not a clique I was a part of from day one.

The new Margaret Atwood book is rather bleak and fierce. It picks up around the time of Oryx and Crake and runs with bioengineering, pandemics and massive changes in the way humans live. Atwood has some wicked humor going on, and her satire is top notch.

I also liked I'm Dying up Here, a well told story about stand up comedy in Los Angeles in the 1970's. It's a quick read about the founding of the Comedy Store and the early careers of Letterman, Leno, Boosler, George Miller, Richard Lewis and many other comedians. It also has the story of a boycott of the Comedy Store and its operator, Mitzi Shore, that is rather detailed. I wonder how fair the book is toward everyone involved but it seemed a rather balanced reporting of events to me.

Alright, I think the kid's back to sleep. Maybe I can get another hour or two of shuteye.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Getting My Rink On

This was the week we finally hit the hockey rinks this season. On Wednesday we went to see the Blue Jackets take on the Detroit Red Wings. I've seen my teams play many games live in my life. Wednesday night's game was the worst I had ever seen live. It was horrible, embarrassing to watch and I missed Smokey Oolong show up at Writer's Block to see a putrid spectacle. The Blue Jackets lost 9-1.

Here's part of a poem I wrote after wards.

We're left mopping up mud puddles after heavy loss
 Ones evaporating dreams, ambitions, abilities
-  our projections of what success should be
When we enter a sporting arena
Wondering why we observe well paid young men
To hit each other on a slippery surface,
with sticks
Tomorrow, what happens outside of the two hours spent
forgetting about the troubles of the day is always more important
Maybe it's the Zamboini we desire
With its quiet resurfacing of the ice,
readying it for a fresh start,
for every period, every game.
It's the calm grace of the swirling of the organ music
in the background we're seeking out - and
Waiting for a small version of the Zamboni
to drive around in our heads and lives
as we sleep

Last night we made the first trip to the Schott to see the Ohio State Hockey Team play Western Michigan. That the opposition did not score a minute into the game was an improvement over the game we saw two nights previous. I had known that OSU had problems winning on Friday nights this year and that they were down 1-0 going into the third period was not a good sign.

But our fears were eliminated after the Buckeyes tied it up, then went ahead and added another. They scored three goals in a raucous 49 seconds to put the game away.

We were sitting a couple of rows behind the OSU bench and were tickled to see the players fist bumping the kids who gathered before and after the game. Even the Broncos did something nice. A puck went into their bench during the game and one of the WMU assistants tossed it over the glass to a kid. Classy act Western Michigan!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Still writing

If I get one decent poem out of the thirty I'd consider it a successful month. The way I'm going though, I'm not sure if that's going to happen. The group feels like high school with the cliques that already knew each other sticking together. I feel like I'm typing in a vacuum some days, not unlike here.

Seriously though. I'm a bit out of my depth. My critiques are limited to yes I like this, or oohs, and that's not very constructive either. So you get what you give.

My son is currently in a cycle of going to bed around 10, waking up four hours later, staying up for about three hours more and going to sleep again between 4:30-%AM. Today I woke him just after seven, dressed and fed him. Now he's asleep on my left side as I write this. Yeah, I've been really perky the past couple of days.

Friday, November 6, 2009

November 30 in 30, Day 6

Dear Bob

I’ve been listening to your new record.
You know, the one that was inspired by Mitch Miller,
Frankie Yankovic polkas and men dancing in fezzes
Can I ask you a question?
Why do you hate Christmas?
Saying it’s for charity does not diminish the fact
That your voice is completely shot
Not in the Tom Waits tone of polished gravel
But in a Wayne Newton should have given it up years ago way
I’m not suggesting you retire from recording, or give up touring
But to, find your niche
O’ Little Town of Bethle-phelgm is beneath you Bob
Put a bit more thought in the next one
Bag the lily white backup singers
Give the guy from Los Lobos better material to play
Take a few Fisherman’s Friend lozenges before hitting the mic
Because I think you got one more in you
If McCartney can do it, you can too!
But this holiday season, if you’re going to bring that thing you recorded as a gift,
you’re not invited over

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rabbit won!

Some nights at open mic are better than others. Last night topped that. Some guy who calls himself Smokey Oolong showed up, was introduced and knocked everyone to the back wall of Kafe Kerouac.

Simply incredible. Scott Woods was nearly speechless, but managed to compose himself long enough to ask Smokey if he would do another one. And he did, outdoing his first.

The crowd would not let him go, I thought people were going to grab him and force him back behind the mic. Some of the craziest shit I've ever seen anywhere! So he did a third. It's the type of poetry that makes you burn all your stuff and not even think of starting over. Ever.

At the end of the night, a few people followed him out to his car, and he did another one. On the freaking street!

Did anyone get any information out of him? We know he lives in Columbus. Where has he been? What does he do? And what makes him tick?

Mindblowing. I'm such a dork I started a Facebook Group for him in tribute. What he did last night was right up there or better than anything at IWPS, or anywhere else.

The name is Smokey Oolong, and Writers Block had him first.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Passing the Open Windows

Getting my ass kicked in my the 30 in 30 November poetry project. Started out rough as nothing was coming out that was any good. Wrote down a bunch of shapeless nonsense that did not help my confidence. Might have pulled out of it, or not.

Finished the new John Irving book.

Last Night in Twisted River starts out with a bang. A perfectly crafted narrative of a young man drowning in a river. It set the bar high for the reader. Sadly, the next 500 pages does not come close to the power of the first fifty.

It does not mean that it's a bad book, far from it. I think this is a book Irving wrote for the fans. I'm one of them having read everything I could find that he has written. He brings back so many familiar themes from his previous work. The meanness and protection of bears, New England prep schools, fathers telling sons stories disguised as warnings, physically large and powerful women, tragic events centered around a holiday and so much more. It was very hard at me to be mad at him when he used a throwaway line about being bonkers over a dog. If you've read Garp you should get that reference. He even throws Kurt Vonnegut, one of his teachers at the University of Iowa, into the plot!

His prose gets circular and obsessive about details, which has always been a major flaw of Irving's writing. You read a bit more about the logging industry on New England rivers and cooking in North Boston Italian restaurants that you need to. Irving also gets even more autobiographical with one of his main characters, making him an author who writes a political novel about abortion.

The book did not disappoint me. The endings were sad, mostly inevitable. Somehow, and I want to be wrong about this, after twelve novels now, I think Irving is trying to say goodbye. While I understand that there are no happy ending, I'm not sure I'm ready for the ride to end.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

On time changes and Hallmark holidays

Glad Halloween is over. Never really enjoyed participating. There was never any trauma surrounding it, just a lack of wanting to take part. Could never wear a mask because of the glasses. Being creative and coming up with a costume was never a good time.

It's done with, for another year.

Got the upstairs clocks changed. Now onto the ones in the kitchen, back room and the car. For some reason the one on the stove befuddles me, so I'll let my wife handle that one. I'll get the microwave.

I'm taking part in a November challenge to write thirty poems in thirty days. First one has been submitted. Might as well be first today. Could help out with the post IWPS writers block I've been having.

Headed up to Dublin later to watch the Bills game. First time I've seen a game with the Bills Backers this season. They're playing Houston at home. I'd like Buffalo to win but if Schaub and Slayton can score big for Houston my fantasy team does well. Oh to be torn!