Friday, August 31, 2012

At least it's not Branson

I'd be a lot more enthusiastic about things if I had not sank a lot of money into the car a couple of days ago. I knew the rotors were pitted, braking was similar to bronco busting, but when there was a lot of loud metal on metal banging during acceleration I knew I'd have to give in and take the car to the shop.

So I got to sit around the house and stress, do some editing, stress some more then watch Celtic win their soccer match to get into the Champions League and stress. The call from the mechanic came in, turns out the brake pads were not clipped on right by the people who put them on after I got the car last December, and they froze up the calipers. Scorecard was new brake pads, new rotors and calipers. A sickening total.

This was Wednesday, the same night as the Writers' Block Grand Slam in which the winner would go to the Individual World Poetry Slam. Five poets, including myself, were competing.

I was determined to compete and have fun, with no other expectations. Had my poems pretty much set. A one minute and two minute poem and two three minute poems of which I had to choose one.

Drew the five slot, which meant I went last in the round. That strategy did not matter much, not with only five poets reading.

Read a new poem that I finished the night before, To My Son on his 10th Birthday. You never know what is going to happen when you debut a work, especially during a major slam. After reading it, I got to my seat and my wife was bawling. Guess I struck a nerve in a few other people too as it was the highest scoring poem in the round. This meant I was to read first in round two.

There was no time to settle down, and I had another new poem, this one called Nine Bullets at Qimchok, about the taliban atrocities in Afghanistan. Got the judges verdict, then Gina read her poem and sailed past me in the scoring.

Going into round three, the one minute round Gina was in first, I was in second, Vernell third, Alexis then Aaron.

Gina did her thing then I came up and did, well, An Obscene Phone Call from Mr. Potato Head which brought the house down. I was in the lead and Vernell needed a near perfect score to catch me. That did not happen.

So I won the slam and a trip to the IWPS finals in Fayetteville, Arkansas in October. It was a great night of poetry and all five of us were outstanding. I've accepted the trip. Never been to Arkansas, deep in the Ozarks. My room is booked, the plane reservation will be made next week. I am thrilled, but the money issue and timing was not the best.

That said, I'm looking forward to representing Writers' Block Poetry. Now I have to figure out what to read there. Tough task. I hear there are only going to be 72 poets in the competition this year, so I'm guaranteed a better finish than my 90th in Berkeley three years ago. Also, like 2009, Ethan Rivera will be representing Writing Wrongs Poetry.

Columbus is coming Fayetteville, be ready!

Oh, and next week I get The Uni!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Doing all we can

A couple of months back I received a letter from my son's former occupational therapist. It more or less stated that he was still on the list for treatment, but his referral would expire in late September unless we scheduled appointments.

This morning I called to schedule an appointment. I was told he'd be put back on a waiting list, that I'd receive a call when his next session would be and that his referral was now up to date.

Did not expect to hear back from them for a few weeks. Was quite surprised to get a call back less than a half hour later with a date, next Tuesday. His new therapist, I specifically requested he not receive his last one, can take him every other week.

So what we're going to do is have O.T. one week, and Behavioral Therapy the next week. I'm really at a loss right now. He's definitely made progress, but is still quite underweight. Summer camp did not help as there did not seem to be anyone on staff capable of feeding him. His mother received a substantial amount of food that he did not eat, or that the staff did not make an effort in feeding him so they kept the food all summer without telling us. This part of the story is not over.

His behavior therapist has stated on more than one occasion that we're not doing enough, that there is no local situation that can provide him with intensive day or in-patient therapy. In the near future, that may change as she told me there is a new doctor on the hospital staff who may be capable of starting an in-patient feeding clinic. She's also setting my son up for an examination with this doctor.

He's intently watching Dora. I wish he put the same focus into pooping in the toilet.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

So, things blew up.

We saw Expendables 2 yesterday. We went to the Rave Theater chain and saw it in their 'extreme' theater. The screen is bigger, but not Imax, and the sound is louder. It's essentially a tricked up car with monster bass that you can hear from a mile down the road.

Even the trailers were loud, and caused a breeze in the room.

Expendables 2 starts with a series of bangs. Things blow up. Guns are fired. Missiles are launched. A motorcycle is used as a bullet. Jet Li beats people up with kitchen equipment.

There's a plot that surrounds the explosions that involves Russian peasants and thunderdome that I compared to Wal-Mart with plutonium. Jean Claude Van Damme has had some horrible plastic surgery. The botox bill for this film had to be enormous, as was the budget for Chuck Norris' beard dye.

The chemistry between Stallone and Statham is genuine. They do good buddy shoot everything that moves films together.

There are explosions. Randy Coture had about two lines of dialogue. You knew one character was dead meat. Why not give the guy a red Star Trek shirt?

Guns are fired. Van Damme's character is named Jean Vilain. Deep.

Weapons are discharged. It was actually fun to see Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger exchanging some very corny banter.

The musical oldies used in this film had to add about $1,500 in rights use to the budget.

Blood flies.And there will be a third one. Please let there be more Jet Li. Although Jackie Chan is rumored to be on board.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Normalcy advances

Coming back from a vacation in which there was little rest has been a tough adjustment. There's been a lot to do at work, which has resulted in slug like behavior at home. My wife did some more work on the back porch last night and I moved some record albums around while ditching some useless shelving.

Trying to get prepped for Wednesday's Grand Slam too.

My son started school this week and his bus has been extremely late in picking him up. So late we've had to take him to school. The bus home was an hour late the first day and 48 minutes late on the second. I do not consider that an improvement. Cannot get through to the transportation department, wonder why? Out of his first two days we spent about three and a half hours waiting for a bus.

Maybe they'll get it right by November.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Have returned to Ohio

Back in Columbus after a few days away. We almost could have driven to our destination as American Airlines had a massive cock up on Thursday morning for a flight to Chicago, and our flight. We were about three and a half hours late in departure.

Nevertheless we arrived at the ancestral home and had a very good time. Went out east on Friday. My son was not pleased being out in the open spaces and by the water. He just wanted to chill. He did not sleep well four of the five nights we were there. He did eat better as the weekend progressed.

Here's a photo dump, with some descriptions of what we did.

Bethpage Park, about five minutes from my parents house. Home of the Long Island Ducks of the independent league. Great place to see a game. If this was around 35 years ago when I was growing up, I would have been here all the time instead of Putt-Putt.

Fudgie the Whale knows.

It was Bud Harrellson bobble head night. My friend Jodi re-enacted the great fight he had with Pete Rose. Awesome!

The Museum of Natural History. Can't beat the dinos. I had not been here in years. When we went on field trips we always seemed to start on the bottom floors and never had time to see the fourth floor, where all the dinosaurs are.

The dioramas here are amazing.

Japanese girl giving the peace sign in front of a Tiki God. Come on!

My favorite diorama of all. Why?

Aw, look at the cute, dead otter.

Central Park was wonderful for a post-museum walk. Hey, a wedding!

The Bow Bridge.

Central Park Bandshell. Yes, is the answer!

Serious playground ball on 4th Street. The trash talking is amazing.

McSorley's Ale House, the greatest bar in the world.

This was outside of some theater/bar on St. Marks Place. I have not had time to research it, but there's Kitty Carlisle and Allan Jones, who were in A Night at the Opera with the Marx Brothers.

I took pictures in all the subway stations.

Great visit. As always, there is never enough time. I did get to see a couple of friends and a few relatives. My wife met some more of the family. Had a brief, but wonderful time with an old friend from elementary school and his family. Ate some fresh fried sea bass, drank plenty. I think it was a good visit.

Back to work tomorrow. First day of school for my son. He starts the fourth grade. Where did the time go?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

The sound of one blogger flapping

The National Poetry Slam was held in Charlotte this past weekend. Congratulations to Slam New Orleans for winning the title! Both local groups, Writers' Block and Writing Wrongs competed and ably represented themselves and their city.

There's always some drama that happens right after finals is over. This year it was happening even before the last poet had read. It involves clapping, and if you're on a team, or participating in an event - and how much you clap for your 'opponent.'

Yeah, big controversy in the grand scheme of things. Poets are not putting out burning buildings, but simply trying to cause a different type of heat when on the microphone. Yet, it's been causing a few three figure status update postings on Facebook, because all of the world's problems are solved on Facebook.

"Clap for Everybody," is becoming a catch phrase of poetry slams, and open mics in general. It takes a brave person to get on a microphone in front of a crowd of drunks, then read something about death, injuries that occurred while being raised or a rabid unicorn with herpes - and the poet should be, at the very least, rewarded with polite applause at the end of their poem.

Personally, I try to abide by this. If I like a poem, I give good applause, if I really like one, I clap louder. Who likes every poem though? So maybe if I do not like the tone, or the language, or the poet's t-shirt I'll tap my hands together a couple of times and wait for the next poet. That's me. I'm not turning my back on them while they're reading or throwing stuff at them. I'll take the fifth on checking my email, I do have to work on stopping that.

These days, when I'm slamming, I want to compete with the best poets out there or be beaten by them, so I want everyone involved to give their all. I do try to be encouraging. We all must remember though, it's a game that was invented in a bar, to be played in a bar.

And if my opponents do not want to clap after I read, or even as I approach the stage, so be it. The crowd is what matters most during a slam, otherwise it's just poets playing to other poets and I hope that is not an ultimate goal.

Clap for your poet, so they do not tweet about you, or worse, make it a Facebook status update if you do not.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

First, do no harm

Home repair and I are often on two different planets, it's more on the miss side than getting the job done right.

My wife has been painting the back window frames. First she scraped, and scraped, then she put tape down, and put tape down. Now she's been painting, and painting. She's very deliberate and makes the project look good.

I bought some nails to repair parts of the back fence. The heat wave we've been having all summer has finally broke, so I went out this morning to bang in a few nails. The first one went in just fine, and ended up sticking out a good inch on the neighbor's side. Took care of that mistake and went out to get some shorter nails. I think the fence will hold in a stiff wind now.

The lawn needed to be mowed, there are finally some green patches in the burned brown sections of the back yard. Got the mower out, first pull and the rope broke. Took the top section off, tried to retie it, checked google and youtube in attempts to fix it. No go. It seems there is no longer any recoil, the spring appears to be shot. Now I have to try and get that fixed, or weigh options. A friend suggested craigslist, which is not a horrible idea as long as you don't get killed while going to a stranger's house. It is true we got a free cabinet off the site. It stores our liquor handily. Maybe I'll find a mower, and upgrade all at once. The mower is over ten years old and despite my replacing the blade, does not seem to cut the way it did.

Friday, August 10, 2012

They had me at coal oven

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from a local, local newspaper. The headlines mentioned a new pizza place opening in the Worthington area, which would ordinarily not be major news to me, but this headline mentioned a coal oven.

Being born and raised on the East Coast, my version of a good pizza is different than the rest of the world. I try not to be a snob, there is good pizza to be had in Columbus. Really. Buffalo on the other hand...

Pizza cooked in a coal fired oven is a time honored tradition. I've been to the big three of Manhattan pizzerias that use a coal oven: Grimaldi's, John's and Lombardi's.

These might not even be the best pizza places in the city, but they make a great, if not slightly pricey pie. To me, these places are a standard for how a pizza should be made.

So it was with excitement and trepidation that I went to eat at the recently opened Natalie's Coal Fired Pizza.

It's a refurbished chain sandwich place with a decent amount of parking, although it was filled when we left. There's a bar right when you walk in, a small patio, and a decent sized dining area. There's also a stage, the place is investing in live music with a lot of local and indie bands being booked. In fact, I saw the former owner of a now defunct Columbus club that was an institution working behind the bar.

The decor is pleasant, with some of the owner's personal rock memorabilia on the walls, and on the tables.  Here's what was on our table.

There's also a decent draft beer selection, a fair amount of bottled beer and a full bar. I understand they are waiting for their application for a wine license to be accepted.

We ordered the Arancini, a risotto with goat cheese, then deep fried appetizer to go with our pizza. Remember, I'm with a Scot. It was good, my wife wanted more goat cheese, she always does.

The pizza came, we got the  Margherita, and it certainly was big enough for two to share. Somewhere between 12-14 inches. I do not do food porn, so I did not take a picture. It looked good.

The crust was excellent, the coal makes it crisp and chewy to go with the thinness. The sauce had a good tomato base with other spices. They skimped on the mozzarella though, but I always want more on my pie. As fine a pizza I've had in Columbus.

We were feeling so good we ordered a cannoli-tini for dessert. Riccotta cheese with the light sweetness in a martini glass with slices of the canolli dough. Quite good, the dough could have used some more crunch, but that's me.

Overall an excellent first experience at a place that had not even been open for a week. The prices are quite fair. Service was friendly, I got into a pleasant conversation with the chef about coal oven pizzas when I was looking at the pizza oven. We will return, will recommend and wish this place much success.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

There will be a music stand

There is news. I am the Chair of the Poetry Committee for the Columbus Arts Festival.

What does this mean?

I will be programming the Word is Art Stage in June 2013. Poetry, spoken word, stand up emotion, for a potential audience of at least 500,000 humans - or ones that walk by the stage.

So much has changed in six years. I've gone from being a shaky reader in open mic, to steering a committee of people to get quality poetry performed in Columbus. We're going to make this work and work well.

There are ideas. The people above me and I met for dinner last night. I told them my ideas, they did not laugh me out of the restaurant.

This city has so many great poets and poetry groups, it's time to reach out and get them onstage to promote themselves and all the good words and works that Columbus has to offer.

Stay tuned.

Monday, August 6, 2012

I need something to calm me down

It takes hours for me to decompress from my son's behavioral therapy sessions. He seems to recover quickly from screaming, crying and melting down at various points during the hour.

His torture is a small amount of mashed banana mixed into in smooth yogurt. He will struggle to touch the spoonful with his teeth, refuse to wrap his lips around it. When it enters his mouth he will put his fingers in there to remove the food, prevent himself from swallowing the poison. Then he will shake the offensive goo off his hand, spraying it around the room, or wipe the combination of spittle, yogurt and snot on his shirt in a panic. His voice a primal scream of pain and extreme discomfort.

The same horrors happen when a quarter of a miniature vanilla wafer is crumbled into a powder, then mixed in with some caramel cream pudding. His Mother got to witness this first hand today, distressing is an under statement.

The bases are foods that he likes. The mix ins, the solids, go into his system like daggers. We do not know where this profound aversion to food comes from, or started. 

We try not to get angry, keep neutral when the negative behaviors occur, when food is thrown, when he pushes food or plates and makes them fly. We do cheer when a bite is taken, cheer louder at a second. Even the iPad is not very effective as a bribe, a positive reinforcement.

No one seems to know what it will take. He's going to be ten next month and does not weigh fifty pounds. We're not even sure if inpatient therapy would help. It's not available in Columbus, and we're not sure if it's anywhere near us. Cleveland, perhaps? Then there's the insurance issue. Hell, even if unlimited funds were available, I'm not sure this would be solved. He's getting good help, or I'd like to think that, and we're received some good advice from all over. The hardest work is up to him though.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hot August Night

Tonight we went to the Gallery Hop, which happens in the Short North on the first Saturday of every month. You always see something different amidst the sameness.

The obligatory car that costs six figures on the cap

That's one small sip for man, one big gulp for mankind.

My wife refused to let me buy this Apollo 11 stein!

Got to give the guy credit for trying on a busy sidewalk.

We skipped Jeni's and hit the new Whit's Custard, which recently opened. I like custard.

Even if I had the $3,500 to spend.


Stephanie Rond has a really cool mural up!

These guys called themselves the Ohio Flaggots and were awesome.

Ok, it's really Flaggots Ohio.

Could not get a full shot of this sweet car because the sidewalk had a lot of traffic. Rigsby's is crowded on Gallery Hop night.

It's a Buick Invicta from 1961 I believe. I do not think I've ever seen one before.  It was called a banker's hot rod and it is is amazing condition inside and out.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Seeking and overlaying

Work is usually work, and I rarely write about it in any social media anymore. However, the past week or so has had me working with some old materials. We're building or matching together bibliographical records for thousands of materials that have insufficient records, making them very hard to find in the catalog. Some of what I have to look for is pretty easy, others a moderate challenge, still others make me bang my head on the desk - in a good way of course. I do enjoy the work, the search process, the matching of records and organization.

This is what 1849 looks like.

A simple math primer. I get a weird charge working with items that were printed when Zachary Taylor was president. The materials I've been working on are very diverse, tax laws, midwifery, a treatise on infidelity that had the date of purchase inscribed, hand written by the owner of the book - a certain Mr. Orton, in 1853.

Then there was this, from 1869. I liked the cover.

There is a lot to go through, in many different languages. It makes me think about preservation and storage, a major issue in libraries that have depositories. What do we do with the stuff? Even in the digital age not everything is available online, nor can it be found at the Gutenberg Project or Google Books. Space is becoming tighter and tighter though. Decisions have to be made. May those wiser than me be making the correct ones.