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.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Link is Here!

Good people have asked the question, "How can I give you money for IWPS?"

So here is the link where you can donate money for my trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas next month.

The plane ticket has been paid for, the hotel room is booked. Yes, I'm getting nervous and excited about this trip and competition!

I know times are tough financially, but if you can give anything it will be appreciated. If the car's brakes had not died last month, this part of the process would not be taken. I'm not going to hard sell it like 2009. You may only deal with me asking one more time before I leave.

Plus, as added value, everyone who donates $20 or more will receive a copy of my "I'm Not From Here" CD.

Have to add that cash is accepted too!

As always, thanks for your support!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hardware in the house

The attempt at balance begins. Inquiries have begun in getting people and programming together for the Arts Festival. Timelines are being sketched out. The ignition has been turned on. My responsibilities for a committee at work are lurching ahead. It's hard for me to reach out to complete strangers, even when I'm seeking the tiniest of information or a modest but painless commitment of time. Comfort zones are being breached.

Very little has been done in preparation for IWPS, I have no clue what to read, that will change. I have booked the hotel room and will get plane tickets this weekend.

A number of people have asked if there will be a way to donate for my trip. The answer is yes, and a paypal link will be posted soon. There will also be added value. Details are on the way.

Last night at Writers' Block, Vernell Bristow the reigning IWPS Champion passed on the IWPS trophy. She read a lovely haiku during the ceremony.

It's called The Uni and I bought the item toward the end of my year as IWPS champion in 2009. I thought there should be some tradition passed on, and a green jacket had the one size fits all problem. Thus, after some be-dazzling by Veronica Sawyer, The Uni was born.

I'm exciting and proud to have The Uni in the house for a year.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Holiday angst

Still unmotivated. Pointing the finger at no one but myself. It's humid out there, but that's only an excuse. Did a bit of Arts Fest administrative work. Some initial contact will be make in the next few weeks. The process has to get going, and soon.

My mother got my son a car track for his birthday. It's all good, eventually it became that way. Once I figured out how to snap the track together it was a struggle. Figuring out how to put the batteries in the cars was a pain in the ass that led to some behavior I was not proud of. The boy has been paying attention to it though, which is great.

Tomorrow he has an appointment with a new occupational therapist.

Given little thought to IWPS. Did book my room, will make plane reservations this weekend. Wondering how the heck I'm going to get from the airport, which it 40 miles out of town, into town. I hear scuttlebutt of shuttles. Hope the organizers have them in place.

Suppose I should get to work figuring out what I'm going to be reading. At least four poems, one to four minutes in length. Do I read one poem I did in 2009 in Berkeley? How deep are my pockets?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Early that Sunday morning

For My Son on His 10th Birthday

You were given a name that could not be shortened.
You're not named after an astronaut, the musician from Split Enz and certainly not the Neil Avenue Bus.
Neil is Gaelic for champion and for a decade you have battled so much.
The womb you were inside for 28 weeks, confined you, kicked your way out of three months early.

You fought sleep like Joe Louis, wore down your parents for years.
You come out of retirement at 3AM to get back in the ring.
You stay in shape.

Every day you fight the flood of the wind around you, try to pick a sense to focus on - grab onto it with all your heart.

Some say you do it to keep people away.
I say you do it to keep yourself whole

The world is such an overwhelming place you want to take it all in, at once
It hurts to see you who I love so locked in place, but you want to see everything, unfiltered, and your wiring is not equipped to handle that heavy load you want to bear with such sweetness

You attack foreheads with divine kisses
Bless our eyebrows with the touch of your grubby kid fingers
Squeeze noses with a deliberate honk
Walk on my back with the balance of Fred Astaire

You are so careful, on the night before your first birthday you crawled to the bottom of the stairs, looked up - the next night you went straight up them
You never looked back.

You plan everything, but not the divorce
I can never apologize to you enough for that
I'm tough on you, i know
It's more than making sure you eat your peas
Or to put you on the toilet, waiting for a movement that does not come

It's a struggle to engage with you, or for your to engage with me when I'm buried in the laptop
I know you'd rather be at your mother's
See you look out the back window for her car
Know who you'd run to if given the choice
Still, you reach for my hand when we walk to her house
Shriek with joy when i throw you in the pool

I try to convince you I'm the greatest player of the Kroger skill crane, ever
even though I've never won anything with you present
You keep waiting for me to put more quarters in
You push the button, you love pushing buttons
it's going to happen, even if it takes another decade
You, your stepmom, and me
We're going to win some cheap piece of stuffed felt
Hoist it over our heads like the Stanley Cup
Then go home. to our home