Wednesday, January 29, 2014

An elusive life and words

In his books and essays, Pat Conroy often writes about his family. Of course, his father, The Great Santini, his tragic brother, and his sister Carol. Carol Conroy is a poet, she is very hard to find good information about that is not connected to her brother. She has published one hard to find book of poetry, and another very hard to find book of poems. If there is any of her poetry or stories in magazines and journals I've yet to find them.

The library I work at has a copy of her 1991 book, The Beauty Wars. As expected there are plenty of poems about her family. Plenty of poems about loss - "grief is a homesick ballad, and no place of clouds knowing what a cloud can see," is from The Craft of Dying, the first poem I saw when I cracked the book open.

There is a series or two of works about her father. Poems that have numbered stanzas that get in the way me finding something to feel.

Conroy is a skilled writer, but where is the rest of her work that her brother raves about while the two are estranged? I'd like to find more of that ground to try and connect with.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Bring out the Berke Breathed icons

In a world in which I was asked to produce records or be the guy who makes the 12" remixes, the opening horn riff of this song would have been exploited to death.

Or at least used one extra riff during the song. It really grabs you, and it would not have hurt to bring it in one more time.

But what the hell do I know? I'm just a guy who has his bad poetry put on youtube, thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thursday Earworm

Always liked this one, Gwen Stefani sounds great, and it's in my head. My wife and I were talking about Moby the other day.

Killer track.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Taking on an opportunity

A friend of mine posted a picture of an Alex Gard portrait on Facebook last week and wanted to know if any of us knew who he was. I'd post the picture, but it's not mine to post. Gard was the artist whose portraits lined the walls of the famed New York City restaurant Sardi's.

I did some quick work on my end and found that the library owned a few of Gard's books, and they were only available for viewing at the newly opened Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. I contacted a colleague asked how to set up an appointment to view these books, got the information I needed and had a time set in the reading room.

I knew it was a long shot, but it gave me an opportunity to see the new library, which is a very important collection of comic book art. The amateur researcher in me was stoked.

Arrived at the room and was told we had to put most of our belongs in a locker, all we could have at the desk was a laptop, pencil and paper. The Ipad came in handy.

There were four books total and I was allowed to view only one at a time, but this was not a big deal as the books were not very long. Gard did some very cool work, and it was also quite topical. A couple of his books were based on his military experience.

But he's noted for his celebrity portraits, and this one of Veronica Lake was quite foretelling.

How could I not resist posting this one?

It is a bit heartbreaking that he is listed as a mere gag man.

The visit proved futile, but it did not matter because this type of research is my idea of fun!

The museum section of the library is also worth a visit. All kinds of cartoon art and memorabilia is on display. I especially liked this Al Hirschfeld self portrait, complete with one Nina.

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum is an additional asset to the University and a substantial base of cartoon research that scholars from all over the world will be able to use.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

5-7-5 night

Last night was First Draft Poetry's Nuku Haiku Night. All Haiku. All new. Had a few written out that I was going to read, then I was asked to be in the Death Match so I had to write more.

Not very good with Haiku, and in a head to head best of five battle I was even worse as I lost 4-1. When you lose though, you want to be beaten by the best and I lost to Dan the Lawyer, who won the coveted crown. Always a fun night. Here's what I put together.

Submit your poems to
The Columbus Arts Festival
You have one week left

Thick hair on the soap
That we found in the bathtub
Is that yours, or mine?

Vladimir Putin
Half naked, killing a bear
Don’t molest children

The haiku battle
I look forward to the shit
Not cleaning it up

Delayed orgasm
Oh the waiting, the waiting
Like health care dot gov

Remember that time
We were all so pissed off at
Ani DiFranco?

What death really is
A totally accurate
Mayan calendar

Artisan condoms
Made from things around the house
Just like McGuyver

When Peyton Manning
yells Omaha, a Cleveland
Brown gets arrested

100 reasons
Why we’re dumbing down quickly
Buzzfeed can suck it

Your haiku is weak
Did you write it at your desk
The same way I did

I never win these
Three lines is so hard
Seventeen sylla-

Which castaway will
Die alone on the island?
Maryann? Ginger?

Every NFL
Player wants to see Denver
It’s reefer madness

There is a sex doll
That is made out of bacon
Hipster obsessions

An IPA beer
Whose spare gas fills bike tires
Hipster obsessions

I have lost enough
Of these to know for certain
I will lose again

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A step up

It's a rare day when I bring up anything work related here, but after some time, an amount of time that will not be named here, it finally happened.

A promotion!

How I found out was an odd tale of bureaucratic weirdness. I was not expecting a dove release or a singing telegram, but the normal channels would have been nice.

But it is done, and there is some joy within all the sadness and raging.

Thanks for reading.

I'm thinking of Darren now, and how he always was kind when things at my old job did not go well.

And something else I cannot call my Mom about.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

One month in

This was the week I could finally get a few things done with the car that needed to be done.

When you buy a car by yourself, there are things you may not necessarily think of. After I signed the papers and took the car home my wife and I went out shopping.

When she went to open the passenger door, there was no handle! Very odd. When you're the driver, you take for granted the handle will be there. I immediately called the dealership. Sure, I missed it, but do they really want to be known for selling a car with no door handle?

The salesman was kind of surprised too, "I'd say that was an essential piece of equipment." He agreed to have it taken care of. It took a bit longer than I wanted, but holidays and other things set in. Finally got that taken care of yesterday.

About a week after I had the car, I looked in the trunk a bit more, and there was the broken door handle.

There were other things the dealer was not going to take care of that I had done today. Could have had them done myself, but I have neither the patience or tools to get the job I wanted done. Sometimes paying for peace of mind is easier than doing it yourself.

Mom's been gone a month and it's hard. I want to call her, but that's impossible. My motivation for a lot of things is low, but I plod on. Have to. Spoke to my step-father, who naturally has his moments also, but is keeping busy.

I've been told the park bench will be assembled and etched with daffodils along with a plaque. It's going to be dedicated in April, when the flowers in the park will be in bloom. If I can get some advance notice, I'm going to do my best to be there. If you'd like to donate to preserve the park my loved so much, you can do so here. If you have, a sincere thank you on behalf of my family.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Overwrought family drama

When a memoir is full of odd, factual errors outside of the author's life, I wonder how much real truth is being fed to me.

Such is the case with Pat Conroy's latest, The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son. Conroy reveals, to no real shock if you're familiar with his work, that a lot of his books, especially The Great Santini, are not really fiction.

We're told of the horrible childhoods Conroy and his six siblings had. They're so damaged that five of the seven attempted suicide and, tragically, one succeeded.

Conroy tells us of his eventual love and respect for this father, Don Conroy aka The Great Santini. He tells of the worship he had for his mother, and how the beauty of the Mother in The Prince of Tides was all her.

Meanwhile, his siblings do not quite remember things Pat does. I think we can infer that it was a very violent childhood, that Dad was a horror to be near. But his relationships with some of his siblings, like in many families, are often strained. His relationship with his sister Carol, a writer as well, is non-existent except at funerals, and the two funerals Conroy depicts here are doozies of family drama.

Conroy writes rich, with great Olympian detail to every paragraph. This is an asset as well as a massive, exhausting to read flaw. It's also something Conroy has made a career at.

I'm still trying to figure out how he created a member of the McCourt family named Patrick, who told Conroy that his brother was writing Angela's Ashes. There is no member of that family, and none that was a bartender in San Francisco either. Unless he meant Malachy, which means the editor failed.

It's small errors such as this that ruin the narrative for me and left me a bit disappointed when I finished.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Live stuff, Sherlock

Went to bed later than usual last night, watched the Saints beat the Eagles on a last second kick. Woke up at 6:30 unable to go back to sleep. My whole rest cycle is a mess.

If it was not for live sports, I'd probably get rid of cable entirely and stick with the internet and Roku and other streaming programming.

There was a life changer added to my browser this week when something called a Hola Extension was added to my arsenal. It allows the user to easily use a VPN, virtual private network, and use a server from another location to use websites that are blocked from your location.

So we've been watching some programming from the BBC this week on the laptop.

Now, what if there was a device that would allow you to send the screen from your laptop to your HDTV?

Well there is. Yesterday we got Chromecast, a little gizmo that plugs into your television's HDMI port. One of the things it does is allows you to stream a tab from your Google Chrome browser to your set. It also has a few apps, such as Youtube and Netflix that allows you to use your laptop or mobile device as a remote to send signals to your television. I was worried about the amount of space it would take. If there was enough room on the side of my set.

Not really an issue. It's also powered by the USB port in the television. I do have to unplug the Roku as there's only one HDMI port in my set, but this is a first world problem.

I am not a fan of watching long shows or movies on my laptop, so this device is a fine addition to my entertainment needs. I love my Roku, though Chromecast once I start really figuring it out is going to be a well used media tool.

If I knew what I know now, I may have picked Chromecast first

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The first pity post of 2014

Resolutions really are not my thing, they lead to disappointment. Sure, I'd like to drop 30-40 pounds, live a more authentic life that is filled with joy, substance and other buzz terms of the New Year but it's hard to not be cynical even though you know you have to plow through the first signs of failure.

The last few weeks have been a real struggle. It's been doubly hard when I have had little rest due to my son's energy and poor sleep cycles dominating the evening and early morning hours. I freely admit to being a total asshole when I'm sleep deprived, and thank my wife profusely for taking care of my son during the days of his winter break. Dealing with me in general is not easy, and I cannot express my gratitude enough that she chooses to sleep next to me, and stuff.

My son has definitely made real, solid and true progress with his eating. He's gaining weight, and that is a goal being reached. In other ways though, he's really locked in his world, in verbal and social skills he is sorely lacking and in toilet training, well, not going there in full today.

So it's disheartening hearing about other people's kids doing so well in school and sports and in life. Why didn't I get this? Woe is me. I do not begrudge the success of anyone's child. It's great, and wonderful. But to go brag about asking my son what he wants when he gets out of the shower and he says the word, "dry." Really do not want to put that in a status update. Especially when I ask him at 4:30 the next morning, after he's been up for an hour, after four hours sleep, what he wants and I get no response at all but another few pages of script he memorized from the Wonderpets. Here's where I question my parenting skills, and this happens often.

So it's the lack of daylight, and warmth, and the grief I'm feeling in so many ways right now has reduced my confidence, made my face break out and put me off track in writing and getting my shit together with the Arts Festival. I mean, what the hell do I do when people to not respond to a direct question? I can't put my energy into repeating the questions anymore.

In some ways I'm feeling like an outsider looking in on other people's lives and my lack of involvement in them. Sometimes I think all the cool stuff happens on weekends and nights I have my son. I also know it is my fault I am not reaching out enough. In 2014, I can only once again get the energy to get out of the house, shut the laptop and try try again to move forward. This is a very hard thing to accomplish.