Sunday, January 31, 2010

Are you blind when you're born?

Been scanning some old pictures today. Found some pictures from Christmas' past, first and fifth grade class pictures. Here are a few pet pictures.

I'm not a cat person, but the first wife was. They were sweet, and photogenic.

Eli liked to eat, and play with the feather duster.

Percival was the most skittish, angst-ridden creature ever. He also liked to chase reflected light. This was the eighties, before the laser pointer. It's also one of the coolest pictures I've ever taken.

They were also litter mates. This was taken sometime in the mid nineties.

I think this is the first blog post in which I've posted cat pictures.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Narrowing the Decision

Working on my submission to the Columbus Arts Festival poetry competition. Came in second place last year and have to defend, or something.. I've got the two poems chosen. One needed a bit of editing, taking out the curse words, giving the line breaks more eye appeal. I'm fairly confident.

My son's toilet training is a step forward and slightly back. We're getting number one eliminated most of the time. Number two involves too much time on the toilet, then when we give up and pull his pants up - ten minutes later there is poop. That has not happened tonight. Not yet anyway.

My Scottish Wife is upstairs watching Law and Order. The Scots love crime shows. She's also eating Cadbury creme eggs. We found some more at Kroger last night. She was having withdrawal. Son is watching his They Might Be Giants DVD. I've been editing. That's Friday night.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

This Slam Sponsored By Dayquil

Last night was the first qualifying round for the National Poetry Slam team at Writers' Block. Twelve poets entered, which is the maximum allowed. That's a lot of poetry in a night, let alone one round.

The room was packed. I drew twelfth, the last poet in the first round. It's hard to play strategy with so many poets, and waiting forty minutes is agonizing. I'd been sick all week and was on cold meds all day.

You've been reading about my frustration in getting anything decent written since IWPS and my anxiety about bringing something new to the stage has been looming over me. Scores were high and there was work to do after phenom Shamika went on before me and put herself into the lead.

I went up there and let it rip. It's a poem I've been struggling with for months. Kind of a praise/love/poetry saved my life poem inspired by work Kim Johnson did in the finals at IWPS. You never know how something brand new will go over, but I could hear the crowd grunt approval. I think they even roared along with me once or twice and then someone threw something on stage.

It was not fruit, or rotten vegetables, but a set of keys. Tossed up there by a dude. Apparently I was onto something as the poem (Flying Over Cincinnati after IWPS) put me into second place.

There was not much time to prepare for round two since I was going second. Ended up going with the coworker poem, did a very confident performance and stayed in second. I really felt I had to prove that IWPS was not a fluke. After last night's marathon, which included the city's finest poets, I did that.

I've seen Shamika a few times now and she's got some chops for being, I think, seventeen. She's not able to qualify for national teams at this point, but she's going to.

There was a poem about oral sex that J.G. did, etching the words vagina diner into my skull for way too long. This was immediately followed by Scott Woods' 'Oral, Elemental'. Sparks were flying on that stage last night!

A Cincinnati poet named Black Falcon came in third. He was checking out our scene and was not competing for team contention so I was the only poet to earn points this round. This means that, as of this morning, I am the slam team. This is not good! I either need three teammates, or someone to knock me out.

Rose Smith had the thankless task of drawing first slot. She did an amazing poem about race, and woman's restrooms that knocked me out. It's hard being first in any slam, let alone one with a dozen poets. In a later slot she may have moved on to round two. What a fantastic piece.

Also, thanks to the crowd, who kept the energy high all night and stayed for a lengthy slam. They made the night. I love when that room is full and Joanna has to bring out the cooler for seating.

Next slam is February 24th.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

To Redeem the Earth From Fools

Took the Jeopardy online test again. I'm not confident.

Check this out.

She's someone I've always wanted to see live. I'd sit at her feet, touch the hem of her garment, anoint her feet in my hair, whatever it takes.

I'm reading her new book, Just Kids, a memoir of her friendship with Robert Mapplethope and it's as poetic, beautiful and mysterious as Bob Dylan's Chronicles.

In other news, the ban on Haggis is being lifted!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Big Week Ahead, Good News is Coming

The changes in temperatures have given me a cold and sinus pain. I've barely slept. So I'm putting the kid on the bus and headed back to bed

Tried to walk it off yesterday, but the weather did not cooperate. Was looking for one of the cemeteries of the old insane asylum not too far from where a body was found yesteday afternoon. The rain came down and I aborted the search. There was stream that had to be crossed too. Ended up in a conversation with a couple who were thinking of buying a house in that part of town.

The area we were in was no better, or worse, than any other in the city. There may be a bit more mischief with the rec center so close, but that's it. We talked about the lack of culture on the west side. No place to grocery shop, a sorely lacking coffee shop.

Afterward I went to Stauf's (see?) and did some editing. Got to stay healthy this week, or get it back.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Less Cranky

It's 12:45 and there has been no gunfire yet. The night's still young though.

Managed to get some editing done. Also did some culling of the pile of work in my bag. So many duplicates.

Found a couple of poems stashed away deep in the back of a file folder.

Started reading Andre Agassi's book. First few pages and I'm wondering who his ghost writer is. I look in the back in the acknowledgments section and see that it's J. R. Moehringer, who wrote this gem a few years back. It's a decent book, and he pulls no punches towards his adversaries - and he's rather hard on himself, the way his father was toward him, but not as hard as Clapton was on himself in his autobiography.

I'd Like to Thank You for Nothing at All

Left work early. Might be picking up some crud, or not enough sleep after the neighbor's car alarm went off at 4AM. The alarm going off was one thing, the gunshot that followed was another. There were no screams afterward.

So I'm in a bit of a fog.

The writing is coming, the feedback is minimal. Nothing like sending an email or message and not getting a response. Then I get accused of being passive aggressive, or if I get loud enough, an ass. So be it. Life's too short. I've got other things on my mind.

Last night's open mic, was just weird. Right from the start when a poet put on an MP3 from his phone of a MLK speech then left the stage until it was done. I said to him after that George Wallace gave that piece a 2.1 at the Atlanta Slam, and he did not know who George Wallace was.

The collaborative work we did may have gone over better with more rehearsal. In any case, what's done is done. Slam season starts next week and it's time to prove that going to IWPS was not me being Edison Lighthouse.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Today's Viral Quote of the Day

"Chopping wood somewhere in Montana, Bill Buckner looks up and gasps as the weight of being the biggest disappointment in the history of Massachusetts suddenly lifts away."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Gabrielle Bouliane

Even if you've seen this before watch it again. If you have not seen this before, watch it twice.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Crushed my Life Savers

My wife and I went out to see one of her favorite movies on the big screen last night. It's also one of the first movies I saw several times, thanks to the early days of HBO.

What's Up Doc? Is a lovely tribute to the screwball comedies of the 1930's. A sell out crowd at the Wexner Center laughed loudly at a thirty eight year old film that is as fresh and funny as it was when released.

One of my favorite bit actors, Liam Dunn, is in this film as the very stressed out judge. The courtroom scene is one of my favorites in the film. Here's a still from him in Young Frankenstein.

He also played the news vendor in Silent Movie.

An added treat to last night's screening was the appearance of the director himself, Peter Bogdanovich. He also showed up at a reception before the film. I wanted to get a picture with him and continue the series of photographs with directors but I broke out with the shys, so this picture will have to do.

Spot the dork, and it's not the earnest young man with the notebook.

Bogdanovich was very gracious and told many stories about old Hollywood. He was adept at doing many impressions as well, doing Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart and a hysterical version of Howard Hawks laughing. I suspect he also knows a lot of stories that he does not tell. He looks better than his seventy years would suggest, but moved slowly, with some frailty.

After the film we went to Jeni's. She has a few new flavors out, including a scrumptious Gooey Butter Cake.

Working on the kid to put things in the toilet. It's not easy.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Yet another blog post: One:

Politicizing a natural disaster is bad form. When people are trapped, starving, in desperate need of medical care and dying, you get the help to them. You do not reflect, complain that you do not want your tax dollars or military to help these people. You get the damn job done, as fast and as accurate as time and safety allows.

Sure, private humanitarian efforts are preferable. There were many private groups already trying to do their best to help in Haiti before the earthquake, and many of their staff and facilities were wiped out. What then? The people in Haiti had little to nothing before the quake, and now that's been taken away from them. There was no infrastructure or stability. I want to be wrong, but the diseases that will come from this tragedy and the social unrest that may follow are going to be just as horrifying as what nature did to the island.

That's where my head has been the past few days. Being as civil as I can on the message boards and status update pages even when disagreeing with respect.

Writers' Block Wednesday night helped. The night usually makes me feel better, and it did. Got some writing done and participated in an unprecedented project that I'm excited about.

I have no complaints. The kid poops in the toilet with increased frequency. He has to start telling us he needs to go. I'm having a Throwback Pepsi and a there's roof over my head. It's a three day weekend.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Before the Kid Wakes Up

Even when we tried to not win Pub Quiz last night we still ended up winning. It was a fun night. The last night of the cycle so the place was packed. The night was also delayed by a table of about twenty old women who all had dessert and lingered so the room was not available for at least an hour.

Which gave me time to watch the Blue Jackets play horribly at St. Louis for the first period as they lost another one. Since November first, the team has only scored more than three goals six times. The offense is stinking up the rink and the coaching staff is clueless.

Not sure if I've written anything worthwhile in the past few weeks, maybe I'll find out tonight at Writers' Block.

Met the new library director yesterday. She spoke of strategic initiatives. As long as none of them involve Jack Welch I'll be ok with them. I do not write about work much because there's not much to write about. As of last week I've been there three years. Can you beleive it? So much has changed.

I have been handling some stray materials, some of them pretty old, from the mid to late 1800's - and that freaks me out in a I do not want to sneeze or spill my drink on them way. Not that I'm dealing with priceless folios, but an it's really old, obscure so do not ruin it thing. It can be challenging, and it squeezes my brain in ways working the circulation desk never could.

As always: best of all - no fine disputes.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Red to Black and Back Again

In the cold of January motivation is tough for me. The smartasses out there will question when in the year motivation is easy but I'll let that slide.

Writing has been hard since IWPS. The muse has been returning. There are fragments around but it's been difficult to finish anything, and when I seek feedback and get none it gets a bit frustrating. So I'll continue on my own path.

There's a local issue happening I'm going to spout off on. Issue Three essentially gives one company the rights to operate a casino in four Ohio cities and specifically determines where to place them.

I'm not a gambler. Or, shall I say, I'm a horrible gambler. I've been in a handful of casinos in Niagara Falls and Fort Erie, Ontario and Wheeling, West Virginia and was not compelled to return after giving them twenty bucks.

Do I think there should be a casino in Columbus. If it's done right, yes. Issue Three was a terrible amendment to Ohio's constitution. Would you like it if a majority of voters in the state were allowed to decide that only one company was allowed to operate a grocery store in your city, complete with location? Did not think so.

That's my beef with Issue Three. But it passed and a vocal contingent is now trying to amend the amendment. Other locations in the city are being suggested, including one down about two miles down the block from where I live, at the site of the vacant Cooper Stadium - and another about three miles west of me, at the site of the closed Delphi Plant or the dead on the concrete Westland Mall.

Now west side folks are up in arms about crime increasing if a casino comes into play out here.

Crime increasing. In west Columbus?!?

I'd rather have a card dealer at the casino live next door instead of a drug dealer.

Would I want a casino in those locations? Sure, why not. The sites are dead. There are worse things to do with the sites, such as allowing them to sit vacant.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Rowan Named the Reindeer

I'm rooting for the Gateway Film Center, which is now being operated in partnership with the Wexner Center. The complex has had two management teams operate the theaters in its brief existence, with negligible success. They plan on continuing to show mainstream films but will also dedicate a couple of screens to art house fare, and show the movies for longer periods of time. Last night they had their official opening. My wife and I then went to see The Horse Boy.

It's the story of Rowan, a four year old boy with autism. His father, after Rowan bonds with a next door neighbor's horse, comes up with the idea to bring him to Mongolia, where the nomadic shamen will help to heal his condition. Rowan has a number of behavioral issues, some of which hit close to home for me, all of them shown in the film - although we were never told why he sometimes wore band aids on his eyebrows - to keep from scratching himself perhaps?

The film is very powerful, and I'm sure is going to make a lot of well heeled parents of autistic children head to Mongolia and put them on horses.

That's not what The Horse Boy is about though. It is about a desperate family, that loves their child, who will go to the ends of the Earth to give their son a chance to participate in the same world we do.

The documentary is not about a cure for autism, but about hope, and finding it in an unlikely but perfect place.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Altering Names a Little

My wife and I were out eating at a place not unlike Minelli's on the west side of Columbus. Then another couple came in. It was the woman in my workplace who looks like my wife and a person who lived in Fredonia who I will call Mickey Dead. I know I raised my beer glass to them, but that's all I raised. After we left I mentioned having to go to Buffalo the next morning.

Fast forward to the next night and I was in Dayton in some sort of bar/carry out place and there was a poetry slam. Link and Fred were there messing around in the background. There was an internet computer in the bar and I was unable to access gmail on it. I know I was in the slam but had no idea how I did as I was too busy watching bums try to steal bottles of Real Sangria by shoving them down the front of their pants.

Not an easy feat with the bottles being rather tall.

The next morning I was driving a Columbus poet who shall be initialed A.A. to his car. Somehow he ended up taking off in my car. As he was leaving my son tried to escape by attempting to climb out through the open sunroof. Yes, it was scary. Or a wild goose chase.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Do You Have A Father?

I still have not seen Kate Winslet in The Reader but it would have to be a monster performance to beat that of Kristen Scott Thomas in I've Loved You So Long.

She plays Juliette, a woman who is now living with her younger sister and her family after being in prison for fifteen years. What her crime was and her motives behind it is slowly revealed throughout the film. Scott-Thomas' acting is exquisite as she explores a character who has some serious pain inside her as she slowly begins to reenter the world. The part of her sister Lea is also sensitively played by Elsa Zylberstein. It's a gut wrenching reveal that I thought was a bit over the top but it fit in with the tone of the film. See this. In French with English subtitles.

I've found a television show to watch that fits my demographic. Men of a Certain Age stars Ray Romano as a former golfer who now runs a party store. He's separated from his wife and has a bit of a gambling problem. Scott Bakula has the thankless role of playing the aging lothario. The real reason to watch is Andre Braugher who plays a man working in his father's car dealership. He's out of shape, has a bum ticker but still retains a spark of life and independence. Every scene he is in is a marvel. The show airs Monday nights at ten on TNT.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

As easy as that?

Something, whatever it was, woke me early this morning. It could have been the cold. My face must have felt something. I went downstairs and checked the thermostat. The furnace was not kicking on. It was about five in the morning and about five degrees outside. The indoor temperature was under fifty degrees.

I grabbed the flashlight and headed to the basement, remembering what the repairman did last year when he essentially cleaned out a rubber hose and charged me $150 to do so.

Found the hose, detached it, cleaned it out, replaced it. Tightly. Turned the breaker back on.

It took about four hours to get the house warmed up again, but the furnace is functioning. A hotel room was not reserved. The pipes did not freeze and no repairman was called in the early hours of the coldest morning of the year.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Best Day of 2010 Yet!

Had to make a grocery run in the morning chill. Ended up adding a 12 pack of Genesse Cream Ale to the cart. Ah yes, buying Genny Cream at 9:30 in the morning, just like the olde days! No one said anything, at least in front of me. Have not opened any yet. Really.

Frustrated at the lack of a link to the Everton/Carlile FA Cup match, but I'm over it. Old Firm match tomorrow morning at 7:30. Wonder if I'll be awake for it.

Trying to do better at dealing with people who are message board bad asses. It must be so self gratifying to type in the words 'you fail' at multiple opportunities. Otherwise, why else would they do it so often? These keyboard warriors who have nothing to offer but insults and walls. A sad behavior that is becoming easier and easier to ignore.

The second part of Dr. Who is on in the U.S. tonight. Been reading some chatter. Some are ok with it, some are spitting mad. As in, writing in all caps for subject headers in blog posts and Facebook status entry angry! I'm not sure if I ever took television so seriously. Maybe for a brief, weird, time with MST3K? Some people out there take it way too personally, as if Russell Davies (along with J.K. Rowling and many others) writes the way he does just to annoy one specific watcher of the program. My wife tries to compare it with my sports obsessions but I already know the Bills suck, and it has nothing to do with me!

194 blog posts in 2009. I'm ok with that. Just under four a week. Are you ok with that?

This tree, that is taking up a third of the living room, has to go down today.