Monday, December 31, 2012

If it's not sports, it's sometimes this

I did vow to see more movies in 2012 than in 2011. I did accomplish that, for what it's worth. Out of this list, maybe a dozen were seen in a theater. The rest were DVD, a couple on TCM, some at a friend's house and more recently, home on Netflix.

This number may be even higher next year.

1) Louder than a Bomb
2) Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)
3) True Grit (2010)
4) The Artist
5) Ghost World
6) Haywire
7) One Day
8) Crazy, Stupid, Love
9) In the Realms of the Unreal: The Mystery of Henry Darger
10) Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
11) A Great Day in Harlem
12) Moneyball
13) A Separation
14) Tokyo Drifter
15) Casa de Mi Padre
16) Senna
17) I Like Killing Flies
18) Branded to Kill
19) Gate of Flesh
20) Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life
21) Scott Walker: 30th Century Man
22) The Thing (1982)
23) The Runaways
24) The Last Waltz
25) Cabin in the Woods
26) Drive
27) I Was a Maie War Bride
28) The Avengers
29) Captain America: The First Avenger
30) The Woodmans
31) Fighting Words/Street Poet
32) Cafe Lumiere
33) Perfect Sense
34) Moonrise Kingdom
35) The Grey
36) Resurrect the Dead: the Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles
37) Gran Torino
38) The Amazing Spider-Man
39) The Muppets
40) The People Vs. George Lucas
41) Quai des Orfèvres
42) Super 8
43) The Dark Knight Rises
44) The Power of Kangwon Province
45) The Adventures of Tin Tin
46) Expendables 2
47) Certified Copy
48) On the Town
49) Gun Crazy
50) The Descendants
51) Mickey
52) Murder, My Sweet
53) Kiss Me Deadly
54) Into the Abyss
55) Gremlins
56) Wreck it Ralph
57) Tommy
58) Casino Royale
59) Skyfall
60) El Bulli: Cooking in Progress
61) Hello Down There
62) Where are my Children?
63) The Card
64) Your Sister's Sister
65) Like Crazy
66) That Sinking Feeling
67) Django Unchained

So ends another year of blogging. Fewer posts. Fewer comments. Thank you all for reading, even you, especially you.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Coffee and Pictures

Last year My Scottish Wife got me a French Press for Christmas. I took to it well and use it mostly on the weekend. Found out which type of coffee I like and try new types frequently. I try to have a couple of different ones around and buy it already ground in small amounts, about a quarter of a pound at a time, to keep it relatively fresh.

For Christmas this year she got me a Burr Grinder. Used it over the weekend. It's quite loud but works very well. Now I can buy beans, keep them a little longer and have supposedly fresher and better tasting coffee when I want it. Maybe I'll increase the varieties in the house to three.

Took a bunch of pictures last year. Inspired by another blogger, who did something similar last year, I decided to keep a file of 'best of' pictures as I downloaded them. By the end of the year I had enough to put together a slideshow in near chronological order, added a song from my favorite album of the year and voila, instant youtube sensation. Or not. Did not really go anywhere exciting, but there are some amusing pictures in there - and not just of me and my kid!

Enjoy.



Saturday, December 29, 2012

No resolutions, but must improve

Probably the worst year of reading than I can remember. The quality is there, but the quantity is missing. Could not even read a book a week in 2012. For me, that is ridiculously low. Plus, I included a number of shorter poetry books. They seem to merely pad my count, but you should all check out Jack Gilbert's work. Yes, I can do better.

There were a few books I started, then got about 25-50 pages in and gave up. Those do not get listed here. If I finished it, the book is here. Three stars is a cut above average, four stars is a very good book.

1) Haruki Murakami - 1Q84. 925 p. ***
2) John Doyle - The World is a Ball. 330 p.
3) Frederica Sager Maas - The Shocking Miss Pilgrim. 264 p.
4) Gil Scott-Heron - The Last Holiday: A Memoir. 321 p.
5) Jim Walsh - The Replacements: All Over but the Shouting. 304 p.
6) Annie Liebovitz - Pilgrimage. 246 p.
7) Stephen Fry - The Fry Chronicles. 438 p. ***
8) Kent Hartman - The Wrecking Crew. 292 p.
9) Susan Senator - Dirt: a story about gardening, mothering, and other messy business. 270 p.
10) David M. Wilson - The Lost Photographs of Captain Scott. 191 p. ***
11) Kate Winslet - The Golden Hat: Talking Back to Autism. 284 p. (mostly pictures)
12) Jack Gilbert - The Dance Most of All. 60 p. ***
13) Guy Delisle - Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea. 176 p.
14) Johnny Ramone - Commando. 174 p.
15) Francesca Woodman. 224 p. (mostly pictures)
16) Carole King. A Natural Woman. 489 p.
17) Mike Doughty. The Book of Drugs. 252 p. ***
18) Will Hermes. Love Goes to Buildings on Fire. 368 p. ***
19) Jack Gilbert. Refusing Heaven. 92 p. ****
20) John Irving. In One Person. 425 p. ***
21) Buzz Bissinger. Father's Day. 242 p. ****
22) Jack Gilbert. The Great Fires. 90 p. ***
23) Ken Calliat & Steven Stiefel. Making Rumours. 362 p. ***
24) Frank Langella. Dropped Names. 356 p.
25) Mark Haddon. The Red House. 264 p.
26) Gillian Flynn. Gone Girl. 419 p. **** (best fiction)
27) Christopher Coake - You Came Back. 416 p. ***
28) Ian Rankin - Black and Blue 397 p. ****
29) Dori Hadar - Mingering Mike. 192 p.
30 Joe Oestreich - Hitless Wonder. 293 p. **** (best non-fiction)
31) Natasha Trethewey - Native Guard. 64 p.
32) R.A. Dickey with Wayne Coffey - Wherever I Wind Up. 340 p. ***
33) Jay Stringer - Old Gold. 236 p. ***
34) David Davis - Showdown at Shepherd's Bush. 308 p.
35) Alexandra Scott - If I Could Be Louder. 20 p.
36) Jamaal May - God Engine 2.0. 30 p.
37) Paula J. Lambert - The Sudden Seduction of Gravity. 57 p. ***
38) Pete Townshend - Who I Am . 538 p.
39) Tadashi Ago, Shu Okimoto. The Drops of God. 423 p.
40) Christopher Hitchens. Morality. 104 p. ***
41) Susan McAllister (et al). A Bigger Boat: the Unlikely Success of the Albuquerque Poetry Slam. 327 p.
42) Jack Gilbert. Tougher than Heaven. 24 p.
43) Richard Russo. Elsewhere. 243 p. ***
44) Michael G. Ankerich. The Sound of Silence. 260 p. ***
45) Kurt Vonnegut Jr. We are what we Pretend to be. 161 p. ***
46) Soccer and Disaster: International Perspectives. 193 p.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Poetry 2012, what I remembered

I doubt that I'm going to write anything close to Howl in the next week so here's a recap of 2012, from the poetic view.

Not sure how much original work of any quality I wrote. Work was done, most of it average at best. I did finish my first sestina, not saying it's decent but I completed one.

I was published a couple of times. Once online by New Verse News about the wedding of Kim Jong Un and in Night Ballet Press' - Buzzkill: Apocalypse - An End of the World Anthology. This was good news and showed some growth. More hard work is needed though.

The film Street Poet was so horrible we gathered and took the piss out of it one afternoon at the library. It inspired my poem, Kabuki Condom, that helped me win only my second poetry slam.

A more memorable gathering of poets occurred in March on the steps of the Main Library as we celebrated a Great Day in Columbus as the snow smacked us all in the face.

I made three appearances on the show Speaking of Poetry this year talking about autism, IWPS and phoning in to give Izetta a goodbye Haiku.

Writers' Block brought on the usual shenanigans and coy racism along with new regular Erik the Viking, his height, his Mormonism and wind sex. It was also awesome to see Aaron appear in his first Grand Slam.

One of the big surprises for me was winning my second IWPS title and representing Writers Block in Fayetteville. I was a bit nervous and not as pumped as I could have been but being in the coolness of Fayetteville rejuvenated my enthusiasm. That and I was 28th after the first night! Ended up falling into 45th out of 67 but I had an absolute blast. So happy to have this experience under my belt.

The other big surprise was getting involved with the Columbus Arts Festival as a volunteer. Working with such a great group of people was inspiring. Then I was asked to be the Chair of the Poetry Committee for 2013. I'm humbled Scott Huntley and Shana Scott have so much trust in me. A good group of people are on the committee and I'm excited to be working with them. And hey poets you can apply to appear on stage right here!

Been a heck of a year, looking forward to Arts Fest and what the rest will bring.

In closing I urge you to give a listen to this. Jack McCarthy on IndieFeed.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Never beleive it's not so

You never know when a night will totally enthrall you then bring you back to reality. We went to a Christmas party last night. Our host is friends with a local magician and I knew that, at some point, he'd be doing some tricks for us.

Magic has never really interested me. I mean, it's cool when it's done right, but I'm generally neutral about it.

Last night it was intimate, spellbinding, and done right. Carroll had perfect banter and his skill of card manipulation or whatever the Hell he was doing blew me away.



Later in the evening the host's son, who has been learning magic from Carroll, came out and did a magic act of his own. Very engaging and eager student. He is ten, the same age as my son, and the differences hit me over the head. I cannot be comparing all the time. Kids are different. Yet when the social skills display themselves, it hurts a little bit. Some nights more so.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Live Journal, from ten years ago.

He was no hero. (12/22/02)

Yet there was such a passion to his music and that of the Clash that you could not ignore.

They were loud, political, with a sense of intelligence that wasn't in many of the other 'punk' groups of the time.

I really hadn't heard of them until London Calling. The explosion of the opening cut, the cynicism of Lost In The Supermarket, and what were they saying about Montgomery Clift?

The bloated Sandinista came out after that. For a friend's radio poetry project I read the lyrics of Somebody Got Murdered.

Goodbye, for keeps, forever.

Then, at the station, we got a 45 from Epic Records. No group was listed on the label. It was a promo of Should I Stay or Should I Go. Things had changed for the group, or had they? Were The Clash becoming hit makers on their own terms?

I saw them live, at Rich Stadium, opening for The Who. they did their 45 minutes, closed with I Fought The Law. They weren't a stadium band. They needed the intimate raw energy of a small club to get their message across.

At the bar I worked as DJ, at the end of one evening I heard a voice call out, 'Ed, play The Clash. they have something to say.' A couple of years later I found out that voice belonged to someone who became a good friend.

They had the torch, but as Strummer later said, they dropped it.



The band split, a very ugly split between Strummer and Jones.

There was a strange Clash record done in the mid 80's. Jones did Big Audio Dynamite. Strummer had a few decent solo records, recorded with The Pogues, did some acting.

The Clash are being inducted into he Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March.

Joe Strummer will be missing.

It will not be the same.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Little catastrophies

This week has brought so much bad news from people around me. Friends, family, acquaintances have had the worst possible things happen to them. Yes. The worst. All I can add to this is that cancer sucks.

That was just to Wednesday.

I'm not sure why I checked his Facebook page today, maybe it was something hockey related, but when I did I found out through the words of others on his wall that he had taken his own life.

I knew him online for about fourteen years. We met in thatplace, the depression newsgroup that I invested a bit of my life in during the late nineties. When Live Journal was popular we were friends over there, and Facebook as well.

He would pop in with random comments about the quality of liquor I was drinking, or give me air transport tips as that was a hobby of his. He'd send me encouraging emails or show some concern about my or my son's well being. The last email I received from him was in October, sending me a link to a site about how to keep an iPad clean.

Here's all he said, "I don't know if this will bring any utility to you, but I thought that I'd send it off just to be safe."

He had many problems and issues, both mental and physical. Now I'm thinking I did not reach out to him enough. He last commented on my Facebook in mid-November. He always showed that he cared. Even when he was ranting about Stephen Harper or Gary Bettman, he was always kind. Always Canadian.

Rest in Peace, Darren. Even though you caused some pain with that horrible act, I hope you are rid of the pain you were in.

I'm having a Glenkinchie, right now, in your memory. Slainte.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I'm the Captain of my Fate, the Master of my Soul

Another year is coming to an end. I've found the 25 songs that I've dug the most this year. There are plenty of gaps in my listening experience, I acknowledge this freely. I like what I like. There have been some disappointments, some pleasant enough records that did not make the cut (Sorry Aimee Mann) and some dull as dishwater material - and I'm looking at you in that case Mumford & Sons. I've put in a few direct links and embedded some of the songs I really like. Most of these you can find on YouTube, as I have.

1) Andrew Bird - Eyeoneye. Something about this guy makes him lead off my year end lists, I do not know what it is. What I do know is the man does not see the same color of the sky that we do, and that's ok.

2) The Shins - Simple Song. There are about two good songs on Port of Morrow. This is one of them. Listen to the rest at your own risk. This song though, full of great hooks. Not sure what happened with the other ten songs on the record.

3) Carole King - Pleasant Valley Sunday. One of the best records of the year is a collection of demos that are over forty years old. She's a legend, and this collection of songs she wrote hammer that point home.

4) Katzenjammer - I Will Dance (When I Walk Away) A lovely Norwegian quartet of ladies who play their own instruments and often switch in the middle of performances. Super tight harmonies. See for yourself here!

5) Los ZappinG - Cine Mudo. I like the aggressiveness of this song. First heard via The Music Alliance Pact. They're from Lima, Peru. You can see a video here.

6) The Hives - Come On! Best lyrics of the year. And the song is perfect in length.

7) P.S. I Love You - Sentimental Dishes. I love this song. Starts out with a riff straight out of Quadrophenia. The drummer tries really, really hard to play like Keith Moon. Then the lead is nicked from an Altered Images song. This duo from Kingston, Ontario is having a lot of fun in the darkness. You can watch them play this live here.

8) The Bombay Royale - You Me Bullets Love. Bollywood surf punk by way of Melbourne, Australia. This record gets a bit tiring but is great to hear in small, diverse doses.

9) M.I.A. - Bad Girls. It has a great riff and a video with a random Alfa Romeo. I'm sold on this one.

10) Rufus Wainwright - Jericho. He swung for the fences here, bringing in Mark Ronson as producer to try and achieve some mainstream success. Did not quite work. Had one cute video with Helena Bonham Carter as a sexy as hell librarian but it never caught on. I'm partial this song because his voice is sexy as hell. I like a planet that has this man on it, making music that more people should be hearing. He does it on The Artists' Den here.

11) Beach House - Myth. Yes, I bought into the dream pop here. It's a nice song. Really. Hate on her for calling her Nico with no pitch, but that ain't true!

12) French Wives - Younger. This Glasgow band might make some waves in the coming years. (Oh, and look out for Frightened Rabbit in 2013) Tight musicianship and some sweeping arrangements give them an edge over a bunch of Arcade Fire soundalikes.

13) First Aid Kit - Bill got me on to this group early this year and it's been interesting seeing them start to blow up. They're Swedish teenage sisters and they write and play like they're from West Virginia. I'm not sure their songwriting skills are close to par yet, but they have plenty of time to improve their craft. This song is devastatingly good.

14) Emile Sande - Next to Me. Hanif turned me on to this Scottish singer/songwriter early this year and I was stunned. She's got the goods. A look, great voice and she writes her own stuff. Pretty major in the UK, she played the Olympics but not much of a factor in this part of the world yet. She's a heck of a lot better than Janelle Monae, and I really liked her record. She did this song on Jools Holland.

15) Jack White - Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy. I was no fan of the White Stripes, was put out by the mystique and image they projected. Yet, they did have a few epic tunes, one that's become a soccer chant. I was very impressed with White's solo work. Very complete. Very respectful to his influences. His image as a control freak is eccentric. I do not think he's hurting anyone. He can keep doing his own thing.

16) Vintage Trouble - Blues Hand Me Down. My Facebook friend Sarah linked to this song last week and I became an instant fan. Really, bought the music off iTunes and everything. Otis Redding backed by Cream or something. The energy is amazing. The lead singer, Ty Taylor, has the motts. What's really cool is that they're opening for The Who, and we were already going in February. Can't. Wait.

17) Jimmy Cliff - Outsider. Never been much of a reggae person, but when I saw Cliff was working with the band Rancid on this record I had to give it a try. This may be my favorite record of the year. At 64, Cliff's been recharged by his new collaborators and it shows in the performances I've seen him do on YouTube. Highly recommended.

18) Tom Jones - Hit or Miss. He's still going. I call him the King of Pop. The voice is still holding on. The man is 72. You try doing what he does. He's kicking the asses of performers half his age. Slowing down to him is being able to service two women a night instead of five.



19) Susanna Hoffs - Raining. Wearing one of my shirts, not much else. Sitting on my bed, or in my kitchen, or on the living room floor - playing this song. Hey, she finally covered Go All the Way after years of my pleadings, anything can happen. She has already played it on some lucky bastard's patio.

20) Bill Fay - This World. I do not know much about this guy other than he is sixty nine years old, has worked with Wilco and has a cult following. Life is People is his first record in over 40 years. It's one of the most honest and life affirming records I've heard in a long time. It's tone is rather positive in the midst of some rather bleak songs. He's dueling with Jeff Tweedy on this song. Here's the official video.

21) Sinead O'Connor - Queen of Danmark. It's a damn shame her health and personal issues have been more prominent than her voice over the course of her career because she is mega-talented. Always has been. If you blinked after reading about her marriage, you probably missed her latest record. It's very good, and this song is both powerful and darkly funny. Reminiscent of Last Day of Our Acquaintance, this song was written by John Grant and is a fantastic cover.

22) Meursault - Lament for a Teenage Millionaire. I keep getting pulled in by Neil Pennycook's vocals. They haunt the shit out of me. The song arrangement by this Edinburgh band are a bit odd, but they put real emotions into them. Sometimes I am reminded of David Byrne, sometimes I'm weirded out, but never enough to shut the record off. LaBlogotheque got this excellent performance out of them.

23) Cait Brennan - (link to video, embed) Madame Pompadour - One of my favorite songs this year comes from my friend Cait. I've known her for about ten years through Live Journal when she and I shared many comments in the wee hours back in the day when my son never slept. We've never met. Cait's been working on her music in Phoenix and has worked very hard. She put this song out there on Valentine's Day, her birthday, and it is such a wonderful gift from her. It's a lovely poppy little jangle tune than will leave you smiling and in this case me putting some of her lyrics into the subject heading of this blog post. Here's the video. Enjoy.



24) Beach Boys - Pacific Coast Highway. I'm glad the guys could keep it together for one record before Mike fired the band just as the tour was ending. It did not suck, they still sing beautifully. The songs were a bit weak, save this one, which is quite honest and reflective.

24) Bruce Springsteen - Land of Hope and Dreams. Yes, I broke up with Bruce right after the horrid Magic. But you got to give the man another chance and he stepped up his game with Wrecking Ball. He wrote this one because he wanted to, not to spec the way The Rising was. And Bruce has things to talk about. Things in this country he is seeing that he does not like, and he nails people to the wall. On this song he completely freaked me out. I gasped when Clarence Clemons' last recorded sax solo came up. I do not gasp much for anything these days. Damn, I needed that.

If you're interested in a hard copy, hit me up via email. The DCMA blocked me for a few hours last year and I have no intention of letting that happen again.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I do not know how to stop a monster

The events of yesterday's shooting at Newtown are still raw. The details are still a bit sketchy but the fact is that twenty kids are not going to have a Christmas this year. Twenty sets of parents have to bury their children. These things are not supposed to happen as Aurora was not supposed to happen, as the Jeffords shooting was not supposed to happen.

All these mass shootings have a couple of things in common. A lone man, and guns - and I have no real answers how to prevent either from doing horrendous acts. I do not think turning a school building into an armed camp is an answer. I do not think arming everything and everyone to fulfill a Walter Mitty heroic fantasy is the answer. It's the reluctance to try anything but the status quo that continually baffles me after these murderous events occur. We sure took care of Four Loko quick though.

It's being reported that the shooter may have had Aspbergers or some other mental disorder. Another quiet kid, who kept to himself then exploded. How do these kids get treated? What psychiatric and medical facilities were available to this family, who were not poor? And did they take advantage of them?

Twenty people were wounded by a man with a knife in Shanghai yesterday. Those people are most likely going to recover from their injuries. The kids in the kindergarten classroom, not as lucky. I do not usually go to writing a poem after such a disaster has happened. Could not help it this time though.

So I've been hugging my son often, even though I'm a bit put out since he's been awake since 4AM. At least I can hear him singing, and happy, unlike twenty families in Connecticut whose homes are infected by a cruel silence this morning.

Monday, December 10, 2012

December updates

Been listening to a few sports on the internet the past few months. It's a little easier than heading out early to a sports bar or finding a dodgy pirated link to the game.

Never minded listening to football on the radio, and I like hearing John Murphy doing the Bills play by play. Plus, I can turn it off when the game is over early. Too many times this season though, the Bills have found defeat where there should be victory. Under Chan Gailey, they're now 15-30 during his regime with poor coaching and play execution as the norm. Gailey calls the plays, and is reticent to use C.J. Spiller, his best weapon on offense. After yesterday's loss, he was saying Spiller was "winded" after two runs in the first half. He must have been so winded that Spiller only had one touch of the ball during the last 22 minutes of the second half, a crucial part of the game where you need your best players to produce. Unfortunately for Spiller, his coach is not giving him that chance.

The Bills have not had a decent coach since Wade Phillips, who is now enjoying some success at Houston. To have him back would be a plus, but there's something up with the organization. Probably starts with the 92 year old owner of the team, Ralph Wilson. A lot of poor judgement and no plan for the franchise after he dies means a lot of dread in Buffalo.

In better news Everton has been enjoying a very decent first half of the English Premier League season. The Toffees currently sit in fourth place after a dramatic come from behind stoppage time winner by Nikica Jelavic to defeat Tottenham. It's been a great start, and midfielder Marouane Felliani has been outstanding so far. So good that rumors of him being sold are flying around. I hope the money being thrown does not get in the way of what could be a historic year for Everton.



The efforts of Celtic FC have been happily surprising in some aspects. The Glasgow team has had some success in the Champions League, defeating Barcelona and sweeping Spartak Moscow to reach the round of 16 for the fourth time in team history. Not sure who they're going to play next, the draw is on December 20th, but Neil Lennon's team will be prepared. The SPL season, thought to be a laugher without Rangers in the league, has been anything but. The Hoops are still in first place, but only by a couple of points over Inverness.

The big disappointment has been the NHL not playing due to greed. Another hockey season is in danger of being cancelled due to the owners and players not being able to share millions of dollars. It's come to the point where I'm done caring. I suspect that the season will be a loss, which will be a damn shame for the Blue Jackets and the businesses that surround the arena. I'm preparing a lengthy post for when the season is cancelled, as it will mean the end of my support of the National Hockey League after three decades of being a fan. I have better things to do with my time.

The Columbus Arts Festival has been keeping me busy. Working on confirming jurors or the auditions. Working on finding poets to audition (Spin your browser to www.columbusartsfestival.org to fill out the application!) and programming for Friday and Sunday. It's going slow, but definitely in a positive direction.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Discoveries and stuff

Last night we went to the Wexner Center to see a screening of Where are my Children, a 1916 message film. It's a film that preaches a very pro birth control and an equally passionate anti-abortion stance. Thing is, in 1916, available birth control was condoms, if available, and the horrid movement of eugenics. Of course abstinence is always an option.

The plot involves a district attorney, who is trying to prosecute a man for selling birth control information and his wife, who, to keep her social life intact, seems to go to the abortion doctor as much as the grocery store. There's tension, some interesting special effects that call Ally McBeal's dancing baby to mind. It's a 96 year old film that still holds up very well.

The film was directed by Lois Weber, a very prolific director of the silent era who operated her own studio before women had the right to vote. Sadly, most of her films are considered lost. I hope to see more of her work, if I can find it.

Accompanying the film live was local musician Derek DiCenzo, who I recognized as being one of Jandek's band when he came though a few years back. Had a chance to briefly talk to him about that amazing experience and how hard it was to play to a very heavily plotted film.

The imitable Guy Maddin came to town to introduce this film. He's been to the Wexner Center six times now, always good to have him here.

Had to miss the second feature, Little Man, What Now? which looked fascinating, but we had to meet an old college friend who was in town on business.

It's always a bit awkward to meet with someone who had not seen in over twenty years, but when you glimpse into each others lives on Facebook you can find something to talk about.

Today on Facebook one of my friends posted this video.



You ever become an instant fan? I did. What really jazzed me up is I found out they're opening for The Who, and we're already going to see them here in February.



These guys are good.

While posting these videos another person in the thread mentioned another band called The Heavy. Did not realize I was familiar with one of their songs already.



Really cool to discover two new bands in the last weeks of the year.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Three weeks away.

Been getting Christmas shopping done. In the midst of all the busyness I neglected to follow through on the OSU tree deal I've been using the past few years. That window has now closed, the sale was last weekend and I'm not interested in buying a once live tree anywhere else.



So I found a tabletop one last night and got a tree skirt to go with it - for the table. I'll string up some lights in the window, add decorations on the pre-lit tree and call it a holiday.

My son is leaving for Florida with his mother on the 21st and will not be back until New Year's Eve so he will not be around. He does like to look at the lights, which is why I'm setting something up.

My wife is used to fake trees, the first real ones she had for the holiday were here.

Really not feeling cynical about the whole shebang, but my motivation is low. But I have been getting shopping done, now to get shipping in order. Some of these purchases have traveling to do.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Eyebrow Love

This morning one of the local malls had its Caring Santa program, in which they open the doors a but early for the families of special needs children who want their kids to see Santa in a quiet, uncrowded environment. We took my son last year and he seemed to enjoy himself. Today we went again, maybe for the last time as my son is ten after all!

My friend Teri's son Alex was waiting for us at the entrance all decked out in antlers. He's been living out of state for the last two years so it was a pleasant surprise hearing he's back in town for awhile.

We also talked to Teri, who was doing her part working for the mall and this morning's event. We're very appreciative that she let us know it was happening again, and we're also very happy with how well the mall handles this every year.

My son would not sit on Santa's lap again, but he went right for the body part.



He also sat down next to him, on a stool and seemed to be having a good time. This year, like last, Santa was very cool with the kids.



The mall also gave us a 5x7 picture and provided us with some donuts. Got to love the donuts. Thanks again to Teri and the staff of the Tuttle Mall for doing families of special needs children a very cool thing during the holidays.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Tough times on the west side

In the ten years since we've lived on the west side, the house next door has had a slew of tenants. Some of them leave after a month or two quietly. Others have had plenty of backyard drama with a lot of yelling and weapons being discharged. Who knows what else has gone on in there? Hydroponics and basement lights that were on 24/7? Various sizes of dogs sadly chained and penned up.

The most recent tenants had three kids. And they were kids who played a lot in the yard, made kid noise with balls going into our yard that I threw back because I always vowed to not be that neighbor, the ball keeper. One afternoon one of the urchins rigged up a skateboard as a swing in a tree. Trouble was, the tree is in my yard and having been a kid, that contraption would end with something breaking - and I'm not going to pay for that. Went over and met the mother of at least one of the kids, a fearful, once pretty young woman who may be in an overwhelming situation. She was quite apologetic when I went over and said my case, and the dangerous object was taken off my tree.

The last few weeks were tough. There was more yelling than usual and the police were on the front porch at least once. The backyard was a mess, with the kids using tires and an old crib we threw out that became co-opted as some form of fort. You have to give them credit for being creative.

Sometime during the day yesterday they were evicted.



Checked for court cases on the county website and confirmed that they were, in fact, evicted.



Really not keen with what was left behind for everyone to see though. Hope the kids are ok. You can find out a lot of sad, unfortunate things from the Clerk of Courts website.



This is the part I really do not like. The house has been trashed, gutted and who knows what is on the lawn. I heard some people out there earlier, throwing some of the crap into a pickup truck. If this is not cleaned up by Monday I will be calling the city to get the landlord to clean up this mess.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wrote itself after the first line

Back on July 4th, a college friend died suddenly. Today would have been his 52nd birthday.

First birthday, gone

This is for the kid who is going to work their way through college playing bottles behind the bar with spoons.
This is for the kid who is going to do more over nights celebrating that it’s Thursday and that we are all alive instead of chemistry 101
This is for the artists, the music lovers, barroom poets, drinkers of cheap drinks. The chewers of bubble gum instead of tobacco.
This is for the 3AM conversations on fire landings, pot luck dinners fueled by bottles of Mateus wine and canned beer.
This is for the bedroom music studios and midnight recording sessions that got played on the college radio station.
This is for the ones who pulled the overnight shift at the convenience store, the ones who pulled the drunks out of gutters at 4AM, the ones who let us off for pissing in an alley.
This is for every professor with a loose attendance policy, for the dining hall breakfast worker who gave out extra bacon.

For every father who loves his children

For everyone we love, who left us too soon.


A scholarship for Fredonia High School seniors in Doug's name has been established, you can find out how to contribute here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

First expereinces with Zicam

Children are vectors for germs, my wife has said. She's right. My son was sick last week and gave me what he had. Whatever virus or bacteria he transmitted to me put me out of commission for about 32 hours straight last Wednesday to Thursday. All I did was sleep and lie there, wondering why my head hurt so much. Even after discovering that Zicam is not ineffective, trips out for errands over the holiday weekend were draining.

Poor kid still has the remnants, and he gave what he had to his mother. Such a sweet boy. The only person who did not get the crud was my wife, and I hope she does not. This thing sucks.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Feel like I should be doing something

I sometimes get antsy around this time of year. The holidays make me anxious even without my retail past. Used to be a very busy time of year for me. A lot of hard work making sure folks got their booze. Had to make sure there was enough, without breaking the budget on inventory. It was a difficult balance but there were times the last four weeks of the year were nothing but profit. There were also times we had to sell enough to make payroll, and to buy merchandise.



I'm not sure when this picture was taken on Main Street in Fredonia, sometime in the late sixties is my guess. But that sign that says "Liquor Store" was still there the last time I visited.

Business was a bit more successful in Fredonia. Mr. B. had been running the show for awhile. Thanksgiving was always the busiest holiday of the year, with the day before being the day that brought the biggest receipts. Mr. B. even went in for a few hours by himsef on Thanksgiving Day morning. He seemed to enjoy taking care of people getting their last minute wine and liquor.

For the life of me I cannot remember if Mr. S., after he bought the business, went in on those mornings. I can't remember if I went instead. The late eighties were a bit of a blur to me.

Things in Columbus were no different at first. We blew out so much wine at the Holiday. So much Beaujolais Nouveau and Champagne went out the door. We really kicked ass for a couple of years. We'd drink good wine the night before each holiday. Sometimes Perrier Jouet, Dom Perignon one year, we worked hard and drank well. I miss the pre-cooked shrimp C. would bring from Johnson's downtown.

The year I ran the place my ex-wife helped out a lot along with a man who used to be a bar regular. He spelled me on the floor and did quite a good job at it. The extra hands were needed. We made a little money that year. I honestly cannot remember if we were open on Thanksgiving Day at any of the shops I worked at in Columbus.

At the other eponymous wine shop I worked at, the tone shifted. Because the owner was screwing up so much we did not have basics to sell, especially in home brewing supplies. More than a few people left empty handed and disappointed. Hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in sales lost because he did not know how to buy and would not listen to reason from the co-owner or myself. The pressure was immense, selling merchandise just to make payroll instead of profiting from our work. Holidays sucked in the later part of the nineties. I got tired of saying no, it hurt.

It was vastly different at the bookstore. Even with all the craziness, and it was nuts, there never seemed to be much pressure. The stuff was going to sell, it was just those damn loyalty cards that management wanted sold. Luckily, I did not work the register much.

At the library, it's another world. From my desk I barely see the change from quarters to semesters - maybe a little bit in how the books flow into the building but that's it. I barely miss retail and have little desire to be out in it. I'm seeing Black Friday push back into Thanksgiving Day and it's a matter of time before Thanksgiving Eve comes into play. It's tough when so much business is done during one four week period of the year, but when did the the joy of shopping and giving become a obsessive fetish instead of a pleasure?

Even now though, many years removed from the madness, I get a bit triggered about what transpired, and try to find the good things that happened during my time in the retail wine scrum. I can still pick an awesome wine to go with turkey.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A switch is on

Got the good news this morning that the online link to apply to read on the Word is Art Stage at the 2013 Columbus Arts Festival went live.

This is exciting news. It lets me know that it's time to really start promoting the event. Been working hard on getting a committee together, have some great people on it already and can always use a few more. Organizing a festival schedule is tough, but we have a few groups penciled in on Friday and Sunday.

But Saturday, this is the individual part of the Arts Festival. Over 20 poets are going to get to shine on a stage in front of a great potential audience, in a gorgeous setting on the Columbus downtown riverfront.

And here is the link to apply.

Get on this poets! I'd love to see submissions from all over, to have an incredibly deep pool of poets to select an amazing group of talent who will represent themselves on stage in June.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Claiming to be my new best friend

A few weeks back we got a flat screen television. I like it, the picture is big enough for the living room and I can see the numbers on the screen during sporting events again. I run the sound through my home theater system and it's more than adequate for sight and sound aesthetics.

Two nights ago we bought a Roku, a device the size of a hockey puck that organizes wireless internet video and audio content and allows you to stream the images and sounds over your television - freeing up the laptop for other time sucking things. It's also said to eliminate your need for cable, but I'm not too sure of that.

Last night I subscribed to Netflix, an eight dollar a month service that contains a vast library of film and television programming. After one day, I'm impressed with what it has to offer. If I can sit around all night and watch Cracker episodes that I did not watch twenty years ago, I consider that eight bucks a month well spent. Plus, there are many, many movies that I have not seen, all ready to stream for me at the click of the remote. There's so much on Netflix, I do not think there's a need to look into Amazon Prime, which does has a decent library of more current materials.

Heck there's so much on other channels that there really is not much need for Netflix, but Netflix is where a lot of the fun is at. It can be a real rabbit hole of discovery and re-discovery, too.

What I'm disappointed in, so far, is that the Roku and its private channels do not offer much live streaming content, at least not what I'm interested in or able to find yet. My interest is sports, soccer in particular. I've researched this online and found it may be available, but I have not found any. Or, what was previously available has been taken down. Such is the life of someone seeking free pirated content. There are a couple of interesting private channels that have old, public domain films. Quite a bit of searching to do here.

If there was a decent streaming service available, and Fox Soccer2go is not it, I'd be right on it. If the BBC would get it's head out of its ass and give us in the states a version of the iPlayer I'd be there. Frankly, I'm tired of watching Everton on dodgy links and $20 is on the edge of what I want to pay for Fox, especially with them losing the EPL after this season. Not a big fan of watching stuff on the laptop all the time, and going to a sports bar is fun, but they're out of my way - and I can't always get there. We'll just have to wait for the summer to see what NBC does with soccer programming.

The Roku is a great little piece of technology though. I'm not sure it's going to allow me to eliminate any layers of cable at this time, however it really gives me an option because I do not watch a lot of current television, other than sports. And anything that gives me a real reason to use Pandora again, and crank it through my stereo, is not necessarily a bad thing.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Happy birthday

She shares a birthday with my Mother. Mom's not 80, but Petula Clark is.



Happy birthday to them both!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A struggle to remain neutral

I've found myself, once again, in a battle with a local children's hospital over medical bills. Last year it took about nine months to resolve my son's dental bill and I'm afraid the hospital is still not done.

Was told that some of the discrepancies come from some bills from last year. I have the paperwork, and the payments that went sent, checks which were cashed.

It is very hard for me to deal with a hospital with a sub-standard billing system, a phone tree that is impossible to get through in a reasonable amount of time, robo calls, representatives who give you the wrong number to call. Sure, they may have a nice shiny new building to crow about, but even on the best days their payment model is shoddy.

Now I will receive a large packet depicting my son's account with them in the mail and I get to spend time figuring out which bills I paid, or even over paid, if I paid them at all, or if I was even billed for services received.

Good times.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bad weather, good day off randomness

I'm drinking a Brazilian coffee I bought at Stauf's. This stuff is a lot darker than I expected, and quite delicious.

Yes, Grover Norquist, patron saint of the tea party, just said Romney lost because Obama called him a poopy-head.

It's not even high school anymore, this is first grade playground stuff now. Norquist would get slayed in a dozens round.

The check engine light keeps coming on in my car while I'm running errands. Finally unscrewed a dashboard panel and connected two wires to allow the car's computer to give me the code of what is wrong. Turns out, a valve is not operating properly. Not a major cause the car to blow up valve, so we are free to move about the county.

Skyfall is one of the better Bond films. Go see it. He drinks a lot of McCallan.

After a glorious weekend here, the weather has turned sad and rainy. We have the day off today. Thank you Veterans.

Got a couple of errands to run after we go for breakfast

Thursday, November 8, 2012

First, do no harm

Just over a day after Obama's reelection and the sun rose, as it always has, and will for the next few million years.

We're still here. The Tu-44 tank lines have not showed up on Broad Street. The Dow Jones dropped a bit yesterday but few mentioned how much it has recovered in the last four years.

Canada and their Socialist ways, has not launched an invasion. The Molson Rebellion failed as Americans went to craft brew. Sweden and Norway have not begun airstrikes, but more Americans may be selling stocks and investing, secretly, in the Kroner.

A fiscal cliff awaits, as politicians will begin to once again posture and obstruct. Will they have learned their lesson and stop diminishing rape?

Our troops are still in Afghanistan, our mercenaries in Iraq. Drones in Yemen and in backyards in Idaho.

Our rural and urban areas remain divided in affiliations, as much, if not more than four years ago.

The media will continue to report what Donald Trump tweets as fact. Social media will not solve this nation's problems, but randomized capitalization in Facebook comments will continue.

The NHL season may or may not happen.

Thankfully, Josh Mandel remains Treasurer of the State of Ohio. Due to redistricting, my new congresswoman is Joyce Beatty. It is what it is.

The sun will set tonight.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post-election Haiku



A heart beat away
Joe Biden, Joe Biden, Joe -
One heart beat away

Saturday, November 3, 2012

$2.50 cheaper than an adult

We went to see Wreck-it Ralph today. By we I mean my wife and son. It's only the second time he's been in a theater setting. This was his first full length feature.

At swimming my son's mother said she was taking him to Disney World for Christmas (I knew they were going to Florida) and that she was trying to introduce him to Mickey Mouse, whatever that means.



We got there just in time to take in the trailers. My son did very well. He did look around him a few times, maybe to look for an escape route. We brought in a lollipop for him and he was content enough with that as he babbled off and on during the film. It may have been a bit long for him as he was not very interested in the credits, which stop him dead in his tracks when they're on television. He did not hesitate to leave once his coat was on.

The film itself was quite enjoyable for kids of all ages. Enough video game nostalgia and double meanings to keep the adults entertained within the kid humor.

The voice casting was quite good with Sarah Silverman standing out and Alan Tudyk doing amazing work channeling Paul Winchell.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Not feeling it, projecting?

Holidays are tough. I get asked what my son is doing for Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween, etc. and it's a hard answer I have to give. One that makes me feel like I'm not doing anything for him. An answer that shuts down any further conversation.

If he gave me any indication of interest, I'd be all over it. Right now though, it's all about bouncing around on a yoga ball and waiting to be given the iPad.

This weekend we're probably going to go see Wreck it Ralph, to try something new. I have taken him to a movie before, a Sesame Street one, but this is a bit different.

Right now, I'm at a loss about what to do for him. And it's making me withdraw.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Still a story to tell

The remnants of Hurricane Sandy are blasting through Ohio today. That, along with the big storm that was already here are creating some high winds here. While I slept there were some snow flurries, nowhere near the foot that has buried parts of West Virginia.

So, we're good from the couch, unless the wind does some damage today.

My parents on Long Island seemed to fare the storm well. They did lose power for a short time, but it was back when I spoke to them a few minutes ago. It was quite windy, strong enough to blow over their gas grill.

As for Manhattan and some of the coastal areas, there's a lot of flood damage. Getting around is next to impossible, bridges and all of the tunnels save the Lincoln are shut down. Long Island is essentially cut off. The Southern New Jersey shore into Delaware and Maryland are in rough shape too, from what I'm reading and hearing.

Be safe east coast.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

2004, repeated?

A quarter of the the games of the current NHL season have been cancelled due to the owner's lockout. The Winter Classic, the All Star Game, heck the whole season is in danger of being called off due to greed and an inability to share.

Yet on the twitters and local media it seems like there is little wrong. The Blue Jackets are updating the Springfield Falcons games as if they are just as important as a real game. They're all mercilessly tweeting every ice related event at Nationwide Arena as if Ryan Johansen had scored a hat trick against the Red Wings.

I'm not buying it. The players and owners are not even talking, not even on the same planet and another season is probably going to be lost.

What is going to bring me back once the inevitable is announced, in another week or two? Nothing. I'll be done with the NHL.

The Everton/Liverpool match was quite the exciting match this morning. The first half was a thrill. Liverpool goes up two goals then Everton roared back to even the score. Players were fighting, hard. I think they ran out of gas because the final 45 minutes was not as passionate. There were a lot of yellow cards, a lot of gnashing of teeth, but no goals. Liverpool had a goal disallowed because of a phantom off sides late in the match. Such is life in a world that is often cruel and unfair.



After a couple years of fits and starts, it is great to finally see the Goodale Park Fountain operating. It looks much better working than dry but I still think the elephants should be firing in opposite directions.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday goings

Ran a few errands today and while driving I saw the price of gas at one station go from $3.10 a gallon to $3.45, within about two hours. This is all Obama's fault, right?

Did a little thrifting, which is always hit or miss for me. Found a couple of interesting things amidst the throngs of people.

This is one of my favorite alcohol advertising icons, and I found a little wooden plaque of it that is now on the dining room wall.



I have no idea why I bought this, but I have to wonder what the heck it was doing on the rack at a thrift store in Whitehall. It cost three bucks, and I could not pass it up.



I mean, who does not need a 2004 Lazio F.C home shirt? Take the Puma logo off, and that is what I now own.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Addicted to sports

Last night at open mic I read a sports poem that was filled with a ton of references to losses I have experienced as a viewer. I freely admit to watching little television, but sports, I watch. Often. It probably is a crappy poem, but it made me feel better while writing it and putting it out there.



Later in the night, during a break, I was part of a quartet poets who were talking about video games. Well two of them were, the other guy and I just kind of looked at each other and nodded along.

I'm not a gamer. I have enough addictions to know how to avoid this one. But one of the poets was talking about a gaming experienced he had. He was riding a horse and having wonderful adventures with the horse and was going home to his virtual wife and kid. Coming down the mountain he heard a roar. It was a bear, and it suddenly killed his horse. The poet was in tears.

And that is what my poem was about.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Write about it, jinx it

Shared custody means alternating weekends, and this one is mine. He's been a pleasure to be around. Sleeping well, listening, getting out some new (to me, at least) words.

Friday afternoon he turned the light in the dining room on, sat at the table and said, "Hungry." This is a rarity. He ate everything without much dawdling too. In the evening he looked at me, said "Cereal" and went to the table. A definite plus when he shows interest in eating, anything.

Saturday morning I gave him his fruit while I mixed up his cereal. He usually has plenty left before I get it to him. Not so this time, he was done with it. After he ate he ran around the house in an agitated state. Not sure what this boded for his swimming lesson later in the morning.

He's been getting out of the pool early the past few weeks, coming up to us and saying "all done." And he is. You can't get him back in the pool.

This week his instructor used a ball as a motivator, and N. took to it. He followed it all over the pool. What was amazing is that he took it with him when he got out of the pool by the diving boards. He got on the board, threw the ball in and followed it. He had never jumped in the pool from that end without any pushing or prompting. He repeated this quite a few times. So many that I had a chance to shoot this.



He was great at the grocery, grouchy and screamy when I took the iPad from him. Interaction's been tough, but I've been a couch potato most of the weekend anyway. Too much interesting sports on the big screen tv!

Been following some distressing threads on Facebook about a few racial and sexual concerns. Conversations and confrontation that should be had, but it's dangerous seeing the mob enter the scene with their electronic pitchforks and torches. Been tough to watch that this weekend.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Things that give you hope

Not a follower of Katy Perry, but this is an amazing thing she did with Jodi DiPiazza.



The kid has come a long way. Every kid is different. You never know what is going to happen, what is going to blow you away. Every day.

You cannot give up, not when songs like this are done. You can't.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Stand Up Man

Jack McCarthy is one of the best American voices out there. He's been in the public eye since he started reading in Boston twenty years ago, when he was in his mid fifties.

Since then Jack has been a part of the Poetry Slam community on two coasts and has published books and cds. All of them to nothing but positive acclaim.

He came to Writers' Block in 2007 and his tone and demeanor switched a light on in me, one that blinked that a poem does not have to be shouted to have impact and power. Since then I've lost sight of that light more than a few times but Jack's work has resonated in my head ever since.

I've posted this poem before, but it deserves another view.



Jack's website, gives you plenty of information about him, and includes some of his poems and videos.

Jack's health has been fading, but he's still able to attend an occasional reading. Susan Dobbe Chase recently conducted a bittersweet interview with him by phone that you can listen to here.

I'm glad I got to see him once, but sad that the opportunity will most likely not happen again.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Finally, rest

This is the first morning in quite some time that I have been able to sleep in past nine o'clock.

Been quite the busy time since my return from Fayetteville. In addition to work there was an Arts Fest meeting, open mic, movie night and other assorted doctor's appointments for my son.

The new one (fourth this year) has recommended in-patient therapy, possibly in Indiana. Six years ago he was approved for in-patient therapy, but at the last minute the insurance company reneged in the claim, saying that food was not considered medically necessary.

It's taken six years to get back to this point, where would he be if the claim had originally been approved?

If he needed lap band surgery or had a substance abuse problem, zoom, right in and covered, but this eating disorder thing, I guess that's hard to justify to a bean counter.

As for FMLA and Indiana, we'll see what this place's track record is first before investing 4-6 weeks of time and lost income.

In other news we bought a new TV on Friday night. After all the research and people who said we MUST have a 42" (or larger!) we got a 32" and that is quite sufficient for what we need and the size of the living room.. Had to call the cable company for them to set up the cable box, but that was the only problem. It looks fine, watched the baseball game Friday night and was impressed. I can see the numbers on the screen and The Who at the London Coliseum looked great.



Also read Pete Townshend's new book in which he is sexually confused, drinks, is sexually confused, writes great songs, has sex with groupies, drinks, has sex with his wife, is sexually confused, drinks, does cocaine, has sex with groupies, drinks, stops doing drugs, drinks, has sex with groupies...

Yeah, could have been better, you bet.

Monday, October 8, 2012

IWPS - Final verse

The alarm woke me on Saturday morning and I felt horrible. I wish I could say I was hungover, but I did not have any booze the night before.

Took a quick shower and got soaked on the way to Little Bread. Got a bagel with cream cheese, coffee, and a chocolate croissant then headed back to the room to follow the morning's soccer action.

Happily, I found a great audio link via talksport.com to get a live audio stream of all of the matches. Free!

But this is not about Everton getting a draw at Wigan.

The food did not make me feel better, it was not staying in its place for the right amount of time. Lied down and tried to sleep some before J.W. Bazillo's workshop. It was not going to happen.

Ended up watching Arkansas beat Auburn, hey Auburn are really terrible!

Began to feel a little better, possibly able to leave the room without need for a restroom every fifteen minutes so I went to Rogue to check out the comedy open mic.

It was hosted by The Klute, a wickedly funny guy sporting a fez. I signed up, ended up going first and read Spam Folder of Love.

I have no idea how it went over. There were not many people there at first. By the time I was to read again there were more people. I got called up and read An Obscene Phone Call From Mr. Potato Head. This was better received, I think.

There was some wit with a bite, as a work poem by a guy named Toaster demonstrated. Ethan did Toast and river danced on the stage. The second half was much improved on the first.

Felt even better so I went to the Hawg Haus for a burger and some bourbon before headed to finals.

Four of the finalists I had been in bouts with during the tournament. Three of them in my Friday night bout. I thought the quality of the work in these finals was much higher than what I saw in Berkeley. Most of the poets were outstanding. More on that in a bit.

Thuli Zuma's work is heartbreakingly beautiful. Her second poem about feeling guilt for the color of her skin knocked me out. 6 is 9 did a frantic and clever reading about cocaine and why it really became illegal. Franny Choi's Letter from Jessica Alba to Her Father turned the tables on some cliches. Seth Walker's poem from the persona of a tree that tries to prevent a suicide was an amazing example of body use in performance poetry. He also came up to the stage for his third poem, realized he had the wrong paper - ran back to his seat, found the right paper and sprinted back to the stage. Yes, there was a time penalty! It was a pleasure seeing G. Yamazawa on finals stage as he had been in both my bouts.

Ed Mabrey won it all, by just a tenth of a point over Thuli. So close! Ed was one of the first poets I saw in open mic in Columbus in 2006. The man has a voice, a set of pipes that always amaze me. It was so cool to be on the same stage with him on Friday and then to see him win his second IWPS title.

One poet has evoked some controversy. She read a letter to a person who raped her friend. The accused rapist was a poet in the room. I've been thinking a lot about this over the past couple of days. Read more than a few Facebook status updates and a good blog about building a safe poetry scene. Still have not really come to a conclusion. Not sure if that was exactly the right forum for this to be read. Not sure if it was the perfect forum. Wondering what an audience member, who may have been attending their first poetry slam thought about the poem. Would continually seeing poets beefing on other poets bring an increased audience of non poets into slam events or open mics?

There's a lot to digest. A lot of conversation is still necessary concerning safe spaces for women in poetry. It's ugly, but should not and can not be hidden.

But it's not going to be solved on social media sites.

Here's the part where I name drop the cool people I met. It's hard for me to meet people. I'm not an extrovert and rarely engage in deeper talk with people I have just met. Introducing myself to new people, even if we're in the same field, terrifies me.

I'll start with my driver, Josh. Thanks for the ride, and the tour on the way to Fayetteville from the airport. Your volunteering was much appreciated by many.

The people of the Little Bread Company. Your spirit and support of poetry was well respected. The baked goods you make are nothing short of delicious on a level that is not of this world. I have no idea if I ever will return to Fayetteville. But if I do, keep a cream puff for me. And if anyone reading this has to go to Fayetteville, you must go here!

Greg Bee. I met him at the Last Chance Slam, which he won. Such a kind and open man. A poet with a huge heart. He's an older poet and we bonded over being of a certain age, and in slam. Not too many of us out there.

Elizag. Another poet of a certain age. I did not realize she was from my home state. She reads tough. She talks smart. She's just getting started and is eager to learn. Maybe we will start the poets over 45 support group!

Leah Noble Davidson. Another poet just getting started. She has a farm girl's style and the soul of someone very wise. I predict we're going to read big work from her.

Jesse Parent. I wish we talked more. I had no idea he was Sonnets the Clown at Extreme Championship Poetry until he took the wig off. I still have not seen him read. This has to change.

Dogmatic. Saw him read and the comedy open mic and we had a good conversation about funny poems at the after party.

Wish I stayed more at the after party, but it was a smoking bar and I had not been in one in years. My eyes were freaking out on me.

Jenith Charpentier. Another first time poet at a national event. She asked me to take pictures of some good luck charms her daughters made for her. How could I refuse?

Cynthia French. It was good to finally meet her and see her skate around during Extreme Championship Poetry. She also read some good work at the comedy open mic.

Tapesty. Read some of the most gut revealing work I've experienced at a slam. This man has been in war and told stories. Deeply revealing. Then he plays Jack Deadman at Extreme Championship Poetry. Very cool!

Stephen Sargent. Energetic man from Austin. We met during his first bout, which was after mine on Friday. Pleasure to watch him work the stage.

The Klute. Bill Campana suggest I meet him. I think if I saw Klute and Campana together I'd need to wear diapers. These two are extremely dark, funny men. I was honored to be asked to be an audience of one for him rehearsing his one minute piece.

And I again thank Ethan Rivera for making himself available for me to vent my stress at him during my first bout. He did not have to be there, but it was good to have a person I actually knew for assistance.

Thanks to everyone at Writers' Block, especially Louise Robertson and Scott Woods, who dealt with my angst filled emails. And a big thanks again to everyone who assisted me financially. Give me time to get cds and other gifts together.

The biggest thanks goes to my wife, my biggest supporter, who painted the living room in my absence and watched my son while I was out of town. I love you.

To all the organizers, drivers, names I have mistakenly omitted and volunteers of IWPS: a big thank you and well done. I admit to being skeptical about having to go to Fayetteville, but came away really enjoying the community. You have a great scene.

Got back yesterday after a delay in leaving that required a push back of my flight from Atlanta. No other problems. Even had the exit seat legroom on the trip home. Shared the row with a young man who works for Abercrombie & Fitch, whose travel reading was the latest by Tucker Max. No fight broke out, we talked about our fantasy football teams.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Final word: Champions

The temperature dropped about 30 degrees yesterday from Thursday. Storms rolled through and it rained a bit. It is seemingly impossible to find an umbrella in this part of town. Dodged the mist and damp to find a place called the Little Bread Company, which is a short walk from the Hotel.

This place was fantastic. Everything made on premises, from scratch. Almost like Stauf's, but smaller and friendlier. I had my breakfast sandwich in a seat directly across from the display case, and was enticed by a huge plate of cream puffs. These cream puffs were different, as they were covered in chocolate. I told the cashier I'd be back for one of those cream puffs after my walk.

Hit Dickson Street in the vain attempt at umbrella shopping. Got some souvenirs at the campus bookstore and went up the big hill that would take me to Clinton House.

In the mid 1970's Bill Clinton was (as was Hillary), for a brief time, a law professor at the University of Arkansas. And he already lived in one place in Fayetteville. As he was driving Hillary to the airport she noted how much she liked this house. When she got back from the trip, Bill told her he bought the house and asked her to marry him. They were married in the living room. Until they bought the house in Chappaqua, it was the on;y home they ever owned.

Not the best of presidential homes I've visited, but the guide was very knowledgeable and friendly, and I washed my hands in the same sink the Clinton's used.

Got soaked on the way back. Still went back to Little Bread. The cream puff was other worldly.

After a beer sandwiched by two whiskies the night before, I was not in the best shape to attend an early workshop, but did save up my energy to attend Extreme Championship Poetry. Rob Sturma did a great job organizing the event. There were costumes, bad guys, heels, baby faces. It was like watching a night of RAW, but poets fought with words and not steel chairs.

Oh yeah, I was in a bout last night. Two and three minute rounds. I was in the three slot. Did Nine Bullets at Qimchok, got a score I thought was ok. Then, two poets later, the scores burst open and I was last in the round. Poets brought their game. Tables were turned. I went last in the three minute round did To My Son on His 10th Birthday and called it a weekend. Got seventh in the round. Was very happy how I did despite the whoszitwhatheheckjusthappeneditz of the first round.

How tough was my bout last night? Three of the poets ended up on finals stage. All deserved. G. Yamazawa (Who I was in the bout with on Thursday), Cameron and Ed Mabrey will all be onstage tonight. I was also in the bout on Thursday with Melissa May, who is also in finals. I like competing against the best, it brings up your own game and gives the audience a entertaining show.

Went to Matt Miller's Art Studio to see how Ethan did and to see the late bout there. Between rounds one of the judges abruptly left, flipping off one of the organizers as he left. Still not quite sure what happened there. A little spot of drama that did not effect the results.

I kept checking the overall results online to see who would end up in finals. One bout's results were late being posted. I'm sure a few poets were sweating it out. Then the scores were released. It's going to be a very good final.

As for my overall ranking, I went from 28 to 45. Would have not liked to have dropped that far but what can you do? I'm pleased with my work. Had a great time. My main goal was to finish in the middle of the pack, and not near last place like Berkeley. It happened. Again, thank you all for your thoughts and messages of support.

Winding down today. Listening to Everton vs. Wigan, getting ready for the poet picnic. Hope to read at the comedy showcase this afternoon. Then the finals and after party. I do not think I socialized as much as I would have liked, but damn, my energy is limited these days. Staying up late is hard.




Friday, October 5, 2012

A thunderstorm is rolling though here right now, and I did not bring an umbrella.



There are hills here in Fayetteville. They're kind of steep. Not San Francisco steep, but close enough. When I travel, I realize how out of shape and car dependent I am. It's a pleasant place to walk around in though, and I took advantage of the morning to get lost, then found, then upset the place I wanted to go had not opened about a half an hour past its opening time. I'm talking about you Clinton House.

Going to try and go back there to visit, not sure if there's going to be a downpour though, and I do not want to fight a river of water on a hill.

Had poet orientation, got a great bag of swag that far, far exceeds what Berkeley did. Sorry, but it's true! This year's poet badge is made of wood, with the information all burned into it then darkened with tattoo ink. It's badass.

Before my bout I went to a workshop on comedy given by Big Poppa E. Quite entertaining and I learned a few things. He also ended up hosting the bout I was in.

The four minute round was tough. I went 9th out of eleven. Did After Birth and ended up with the 4th best score in the round. One of the judges came up to me afterwards, said I made her cry. Her five year old brother has autism.

In the one minute round I did An Obscene Phone Call from Mr. Potato Head and had the room going. One young lady tweeted that she 'felt violated by dirty Mr. Potato Head'

My work was done. It was time for a MacCallan.

It scored well. But it was part of a trio of three scores in a row that were there same. Judging was very consistent and fair, but in the second round three scores were a 26.2 and three others were a 26.5. It was all very close. Melissa May took the night in our bout. Another guy named G. Yamazawa also did very well. He's in my bout tonight, too.

Overall I got a 4 and a 6. A ten ranking that places me in 28th position overall. I am shocked in a most pleasant way. The trick is to maintain it.

You can peruse the scores and follow along live tonight here

I also want to thank Ethan Rivera for being very supportive last night. He performed in the same venue in the later bout but was there the whole time. It was good to have a friendly face to vent my stress too when necessary. His bout had some odd judging. I did not think it was consistent, but that's what slam is all about. You never know what is going to happen.

Tonight is the two and three minute round, and I'm hating on all my work today. I will be in a better frame of mind later though. I've met some very cool people and am having a great time. Thanks for all your support and well wishes.



Thursday, October 4, 2012

I'm at Scarpinos at seven.

Made it to Fayetteville with little fuss. Delta flights were on time with no drama. The flight from Memphis to the Northwest Regional Airport was surprisingly short.

After a brief wait, my ride to town arrived and I got a quick tour of the Northwest Arkansas countryside before getting to the hotel.

The hotel rooms are too good for poets. Large, comfortable beds. Amenities. Clean. The a/c unit is not very quiet but it's a minor complaint.

Got myself registered, realized I had no idea who more than 3/4 of the poets competing are and got myself some food. Found a place called Hugo's, which is a dive burger joint, just the place I needed.

Dickson Street reminds me of Byers Road in Glasgow. A lot of shops, bars and eating establishments. Since I'm in a college town, there is a lot of fast food but the powers that be try to keep it interesting. It's kept fairly clean, which was a pleasant surprise.

The University itself is a mish mash of old and new construction. It's also set on some hills, some are steeper than others. Good exercise.

On the way to the student union for the Last Chance Slam, I looked down on the sidewalk and saw many names carved into the pavement. This is called The Senior Walk, and it celebrates all of the graduating classes of the university. This tradition has been happening since 1906. There are miles of names on the sidewalks of the University of Arkansas, a very cool tradition.

The slam was lengthy. Seventeen poets competed for what turned out to be two slots in IWPS. Thankfully there were only two rounds, with a cut to seven after the first round. It was won by a Seattle poet named Greg Bee, who I met before the slam as we recognized each other as "old poets." I'm pretty sure he and I are the same age. He's been involved in the scene since about 2004 if I remember right.

The other poet who earned a slot in IWPS is Lauren Zuniga, for Oklahoma City, I think. I've seen her on stage at WoW in Columbus and her work is solid.

Could not stay up late as I was exhausted, but I was also disappointed the hotel bar closed at 11PM. Would not have minded a night cap before going to bed.

Woke up around 5:30AM, tried to go back to sleep. Said the heck with it and took a shower then wrote this.

Off to find breakfast, take a walk before the cold front blasts through and most importantly, get ready for tonight's slam.

There is work to do at seven.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

That other song by the Deutschendorf fellow



Now that I've found a kicker for my fantasy football team, I can go.

I leave for Fayetteville, Arkansas in a couple of hours to represent Writers' Block Poetry in the Individual World Poetry Slam. As ready as I'm going to get.

Unlike Berkeley in 2009, I have a better idea of what to expect. I plan to socialize a little more, which is very hard for me to do and I want to finish a bit further from last place this time. Fair enough goals?

Will try to update as much as I can. We'll see how the hotel wifi is. I'm guessing Facebook and Twitter updates will occur too. It's a college town, of course there's wifi!

I want to thank everyone at Writers' Block for their support as well as those who have contributed to my trip. I really want to thank my wife the most. She'll be watching my son for a couple of nights and has a project of her own that she's going to be working on while I'm out of the house.

Now, to get the kid on the school bus.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Really should start packing, or pacing

Today I am home with a sick child. The boy has a cold and cough. He got some rest last night, but needs more - and for the cough to diminish some more. Hoping I do not get what he has because I'm going to IWPS tomorrow and having a voice is kind of important in a poetry slam.

Yesterday was also his IEP meeting, which is always an hour of lost hope for me. I'd go on about it, but it's too damn depressing. I also had my goals and objectives meeting at work, which is all I'm going to say about that here, too. A double whammy I do not recommend anyone having to go through in a day.

Trying to get my act together for the trip to Fayetteville, it's tough with all the other stuff that is going on. All I can say is that I'm going to do my best.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sigh analogy

Hey, I'd like to buy one of these, what do you guys think?



No, no. You want one of these. You have to have it. It's industry standard. You must buy something bigger than you need.



Ego boost after fighting traffic

I was on internet radio last night with Ethan Rivera to talk about our coming trip to IWPS. Just before the show started, Vernell took this picture of me with her phone. I gave a panicked smile.



When I looked at it later, I was surprised. It does not suck. I hate pictures of myself more than my poetry but this one does not make me squirm.

It's as if I had stayed in radio and this was my head shot for the afternoon drive show. I like the little halo of light over my left shoulder. Yes, it swells my skull a bit so the headphones have to be adjusted. Thanks again Vernell!

Speaking of IWPS, thank you all so much for your support. The hotel room is more or less paid for now. All I have to do is get on the stage now and I can't wait! Departure for Fayetteville is Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Trajectory but no target in site

Mumford & Sons - Babel



I consider myself an early adopter of this band. Found them on a UK music blog in the fall of 2009, flipped for Sigh No More. Thought it was a fresh sound full of songs with passion and rousing choruses. It was extremely exciting to see them in a small venue on the stage of Mershon Auditorium in the spring of 2010, a sold out show of about 350 people that met and exceeded all expectations. I knew I’d never seen them for $12 again. They were breaking big. A few months later they were selling out hockey rinks.

Mumford & Sons are a hard working band. Their tour schedule is full. Their competence as musicians is not to be questioned. For the new record they road tested many of the songs before taking them to the studio, toning them for the most impact on their audience.

It did not work.

Producer Markus Dravs merely repeated the same formula of Sigh No More with the same sonic palette of guitars, banjos and the occasional horns. And the songs have the same scripted approach: start slow, build to a stomping middle with a shouting lead vocal, finish slow. Marcus Mumford’s songwriting approach is fairly cautious, if not lazy. Maybe in all the chaos of the past three years he has not had adequate time to pause and write? Mumford & Sons has offered this listener nothing new. Very little pulls me in here, or offers me a memorable line.

Babel’s going to sell, but it’s left me as cold as Arcade Fire’s Grammy hauling The Suburbs. I want to seem them do well, but not coast to an easy win with no risks or experimentation taken. It’s a safe record and I’m too old to take this personally. Maybe it will grow on me, or improve over time.

Monday, September 24, 2012

One More Time

In nine days I'm off to Fayetteville, Arkansas to represent Writers' Block Poetry in the Individual World Poetry Slam. If I did not have a major car repair last month I would not be asking for donations.

If you can spare some cash, any amount will be greatly appreciated.

Those who donate $20 or more will receive a copy of my "I'm Not From Here." CD.

Here's the link, thank you all!

I swear this will be the last time I ask, it's not going to be like this.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

An artful weekend

On Friday night it all started at Betty's. One of the hosts is part of an art group that participated in the Arts Festival last year. He happened to be working; as an aside I asked if he and his group would again be interested in putting together an hour of storytelling for the festival. He readily agreed. I always have programming the Arts Festival in my head these days it seems.

Then it was off to the Wexner Center for the member's preview of the Annie Leibovitz exhibit. This is a remarkable array of her work over the past 40 years. It's a portrait of artistic, political and cultural history that has many iconic images. Not to miss. I can't wait to go again, when it's less crowded.



Watched Everton beat the crap out of Swansea on Saturday morning. It was such a lovely day my wife suggested we go out and take a walk. We ended up at Big Darby Metro Park and saw the bison again. Six of them moving around by their barn.

Hit one friend's party and had some dinner before going home to watch Doctor Who. Immediately after the credits rolled we went east to another party. Ate some more, ended up leaving around midnight. Very tired after a day of fun all over the city.

This morning after grocery shopping I moved the air conditioners into the basement for winter storage then stressed out watching the Bills beat Cleveland. Did not like the Spiller injury as the offense totally fizzled once he left. Not sure if they can function well with him being out two weeks or more with a shoulder injury.

While the Bills were playing my wife was power sanding part of the back porch for future painting and cleaned the sides of the gutters. She's awesome that way.

To close I went to a book release party for my friend Paula's new book, The Sudden Seduction of Gravity. Lots of fellow poets, good food and friends celebrated the new book! I even got another juror for the Arts Festival auditions.

What a whirlwind of friends and art in Columbus. From a major art exhibit to a gatherings of friends and fellow artists. How the hell did I get involved in all these amazing happenings?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Buster Gangnam Style



Buster did not need auto tune. He did his own stunts. A very well done video.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What I'm Drinking Episode 24



Two things: Failed to mention this is from McAuslan Brewing. The beer came in a 12oz bottle.

Should have done it sooner.

Sometimes a thought comes in that is so simple and you can't beleive how stupid you have been for so long.

The internet was running ridiculously slow last night. Probably not the weather, maybe the cable lines were acting up. Or maybe...someone was borrowing our bandwidth?!?

We've been using the airport router for years with no password and, I am ashamed to admit, little security.

Went into the settings, added a password, changed the settings on the laptop, iPad and iPod - gave my wife the password for her laptop and it's done.

Not sure if things have sped up, but I do feel a bit safer having finally done this. Odd going so long without anything being seriously compromised. We're lucky, I guess.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Free Rant

So there I was, driving down Demorest Road on the way to hardware store number two of the evening at a speed of 15 miles per hour below the posted speed limit, stuck behind a silver minivan with a mattress tied to the roof, a back window with the word "Bazinga" written on it and the left turn blinker on for over a mile.

What exactly got me in this position?

On Wednesday we finally had a glass block window installed in our basement. A window that had a dryer vent installed. All I had to do was run the hose from the existing dryer to the vent and clamp it on. Simple, right?

Somewhere, on this planet, is a person, living or dead, who put a three foot square concrete platform about two inches high on our basement floor. The dryer sat to the right of the platform, the washer a couple of feet to the left of it.

In order to get the hose to the window vent the dryer has to be moved, to the left. It cannot go completely to the left of the platform because then there would be no room for the washer and the water heater. It cannot lie on both the platform and the floor because then the dryer would be out of balance. The washer cannot be moved to the right of the dryer because we do not have enough hose to go to the water source to the washer.

So I got the dryer balanced on the platform good and fine, which left me no choice but to leave the door of the cabinet above the dryer open, because the dryer is too high to be able to both open and close the cabinet door.

I thought there was not enough hose to get from the dryer vent to the window vent so I went to hardware store one and got eight feet of expandable aluminum hose, which came with a couple of clamps. Got home, got the hose and clamp on the dryer, got the end of the hose to the window, but was not able to clamp it since the vent is recessed a few inches in the window sill.

Pulled the hose too hard and it pulled loose from the dryer. Tightened it up to the dryer, did it too hard because the hose bent and tore up.

Released a fair number of curse words. Nasty ones that cursed the person who designed the basement floor. Want to find the person and rub their face in the dog shit they created on the floor.

Went to hardware store two and found a vent extension that would allow me to clamp the hose on one end and stick the other into the vent fairly tightly. Which kind of sort of worked but the hose is about a foot or two short so it may have the tendency to pop out of the vent from time to time.

And this is why I should never do home repair.

Response to outrage

As a follow up to yesterday's post, Amanda Palmer has responded to one musician critical of her decision to not pay horn and string players on her tour.

Different culture, whatever. May make a decision to pass the hat, fair enough. I'm not in her position, but it's not necessarily how I'd do things.

I volunteer my time too, right? Why should it be different for musicians? It's a new world.

Again, Palmer really knows knows how to market herself - and to keep in touch with her base.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Definitely orchestral theft

A couple of months ago musician Amanda Palmer raised over a million dollars to finance her new record via a Kickstarter campaign, where fans and admirers of hers donated money online for copies of the record and other perks. A great idea in a changing music industry.

As the still on the site suggests, perhaps this is the future of music.

A couple of weeks ago, she posted on her website that she was looking for volunteers to play strings with her backing band during her upcoming tour. The musicians would not be paid, heaven help that, but given hi-fives, beer and merchandise. It seems Palmer, after raising a million dollars, could not afford to pay musicians $35,000 to go on tour with her. There has been an onslaught of criticism in her direction. Palmer's been retweeting some of the comments on her twitter page, and to her credit has not deleted a lot of hyper-critical comments on her blog.

To my knowledge her only comments addressing this is her saying that, “If my fans are happy and my audience is happy and the musicians on stage are happy, where’s the problem?”

I am not a professional touring musician, but a lousy amateur. Paying trained help in t-shirts and goodwill while you're getting paid, while you're paying the backing band smacks of cheapness and disrespect. Did she pay the musicians who played on her new record, or was it hugs all around in the studio while the million she raised was put to other uses?

This is not a high school production, she's supposedly running a professional tour in venues that (this tour) are not garages and living rooms, but actual theaters and clubs, with actual seats, with paying fans, some of whom funded her new project.

This precedent does not bode well for musicians. How much of a privilege is it to get on stage to play for an artist, and not receive any form of monetary compensation? It's a privilege for me to get out of my house and see a show, perhaps I should get in for nothing, even receive a parking pass. I'll give the artist a high five and say a profuse thank you. Come on Bruce Springsteen, I can shake a tambourine, let me in your show for free and put me on stage! I may even mention it in my blog. How's that going to go over?

Yes, I'm on the couch, blogging.