Sunday, December 16, 2007


Is there anything worse than windows wrapped in plastic to keep out winter wind? It is the ultimate surrender to drafts: Here, take it. Take my sunshine away. Bury me beneath flapping, wrinkled ice ponds until April. Opaque the whitened land.

I was a grasshopper this year and did not get around to winterizing anything. I don’t even have my tube sand (provides weight, and when all else fails, dry traction) for my RWD truck, which needs an oil change ... and probably new tires.

I am in need of fluids myself. I gave blood Tuesday ... then stayed home sick Thursday and Friday, and I’ve still been all out of energy since then. Betti’s baby shower Saturday was definitely a pick-me-up, though. Adeline is gorgeous, and seeing a bunch of tough-ass rollergirls get all dewy eyed with a newborn in their arms was a hoot. Mr. Heezie, you rock all over.

I also went to Promptcare today to have my foot x-rayed. It’s been hurting and swollen off and on for about a week. Being home and having it elevated while I’ve been sick has helped, I thought, but I limped a lot yesterday and finally had enough of it today, so Mars went with me. X-rays showed nothing conclusive, no tears or fractures or breaks, though a radiologist may find something exciting by Tuesday. I honestly don’t know how I injured myself, and the doc was certain there was nothing systemic going on (no discoloration or lines and only one foot is swollen; Lefty is fine).

So while I did not get a diagnosis, I did learn that I am doing everything I should have been doing -- namely RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) -- but she prescribed an anti-inflammatory ... Alleve ... and if nothing in changes in a week, consult her again or see my own doc.

Okay. That was money well spent. Doc mentioned arthritis, but I don’t know; does arthritis come on that fast? It really does feel like an injury; for the life of me I don’t know what I did, though. I talked with my chiropractor Monday about how I sit in a chair most times with my feet crossed under me, how the pressure isn’t good on my feet and ankles. He supposed it was possible. A sitting injury? You’ve got to be kidding me.

I’m going to try to stay off it and keep it elevated as much as possible so that the flight to San Francisco Friday won’t kill me. I’ll be fine; the weather doesn’t help. Being sick on top of being injured most definitely is not helpful.

It has, however, given me an opportunity to sit and be quiet and read and write ... couch bound ... affecting misery but with winter safely shut away ... working on my manuscript ... staring at my ankle ... wrapped tight as a window pane.

Monday, December 03, 2007


Dear Lord on High,

Protect me from khaki trousers, shiny brown loafers, and cell phone belt cips that allow you to turn the thing sideways so the antenna doesn't jab you in the lite beer soft white underbelly gut. And if you ever look down and I'm wearing a pastel polo shirt -- any time of year but especially in December -- please just smite me and put me out of my misery. Surely, my soul is already of the devil.

Allah Is the One True God and Muhammed is His Prophet,
Praise His Name

It's Shocking

I'm considering leaving Bloomington, and it feels, by turns, exhilarating and terrifying. I've been "around" for about 17 years (cripes!) but I've been largely a fringe dweller. Returning from "Walden," it's been just over two years since my life was turned upside down and I became a "city dweller," if you can call Bloomington a city (and I do, at least compared to Spencer). Talk about making lemonade: I'm content with job, arts stuff, friends, Mars, even family. Pretty much every facet of my life is "in order" these days, and that feels really good. Busy as hell, but somewhat triumphant, for my part.

So, why start over? Well, right now, I'm not considering leaving for myself. Mars has finally had enough of the bleak job market here and has decided to expand her job search nationwide. She could end up anywhere in the country; current prospects are in Phoenix, New Jersey, Seattle ... Terre Haute ... and other far-flung locales. (No, I'm NOT moving to Teh Haute. If I'm living in Indiana, it's gonna be in B-ton. Sorry.)

Part of me thinks a major change like this would do me good (and the concept of living in a completely new-to-me environment, such as the desert Southwest or pacific Northwest [Jersey, though, not so much], is somewhat attractive). Part of me, though, thinks I'm chasing the wind when I'm really more interested in "settling down," continuing what I started and am maintaining quite well, with or without whomever does or doesn't want to share it with me. I feel like in leaving I'd be pursuing a life that may or may not develop in front of me in hopes that it'll become what I want/need, rather than making a conscious choice NOW based on what I want and have NOW.

I've spent the last couple of years doing some serious soul-searching, and frankly the idea of leaving B-ton (and Indiana) came and went those first 6 months post-divorce. Then, it would have been for show mostly, a desperate move to leave an uncomfortable situation behind. I feel like I've persevered and now am thriving in a new (to me) environment that is also familiar -- I've worked and played in B-tizzle the whole time I've been around, and I'm kind of enjoying becoming a "fixture" here.

It's all very disconcerting. I feel like I'm now trying to come up with reasons to leave. And I'm not very good at it. There are many reasons, sure, but they have always been outnumbered by the reasons to stay. Also, you know, that whole Fear of the Unknown thing. (At least I'm not afraid to admit it.)

The problem there is I'm a long-range thinker. Perhaps even a planner. The idea of moving somewhere just to make someone else happy does not feel good. That doesn't seem like a very good plan to me. In fact, that sounds like a major compromise, only I'm not sure what I'd get in return -- which is an important but oft-overlooked component of any compromise. Also, the idea that a major move like that is likely to be temporary -- that Mars and I would continue moving to whatever academic institution would keep her climbing the ladder, either in employment or in a PhD program -- is nigh on to unbearable. That kind of "toward job" movement runs anathema to who and where I am in life, and I've said as much for years, long before I met Mars. I like roots. I need to be grounded. I have to know where I'm going to be.

And yet ... I'm still considering leaving Bloomington. She's that cool, and the Excitement of Newness is that enticing. So maybe that's the problem: I shouldn't consider it LEAVING, but rather GOING TO somewhere wonderful, if I'm going to take it seriously. A veritable Shangri-La, with candy cane light poles, baskets of doe-eyed kittens free with purchase, and bare-breasted meter maids propping their stilettos on old-fashioned chrome bumpers as they write out citations ... also some nice shops....

Okay, seriously, if I were to do this, Future Locale would have to be as satisfying to me as it is to her. I think that's only fair.

So ... what would that entail precisely? Well, a job similar to what I have now: something fulfilling, non-corporate, and that doesn't suck my soul too long or too hard so that I have plenty of juice left for all my other pursuits.

And what of those? Well, New Place would have to have some kind of poetry scene (not necessarily slammy, but at least poetry-friendly open mics and prospects for readings/performances in the region). There would have to a decent music scene -- not all hipster shit but at least people passionate about keeping a local scene alive. And some variety. And an Irish session somewhere close, definitely. Roller derby? Who knows. I'm just an announcer, so I'd take it or leave it (though I'd still spectate). MUST HAVE READY ACCESS TO NATURE! I don't mean a park or a bunch of roads with some grass and trees strategically placed nearby. (I LOVED Muir Woods ... they did a lovely job paving around the redwoods....) I mean seldom-used, it's-possible-to-literally-get-lost-here wilderness. I barely get that here but it's possible, and I definitely need and want it. I just don't think I'd make it in a city. Yes, yes, I'd do fine with job and music and arts and people ... but I need to maintain a physical connection to the Earth. Call me a cheesy old hippie or whatever, that connection is important to me, so it's not to be taken lightly. It's part of who I am and it has nourished the person I've become, again and again, when nothing else would suit.

Would I still want to work in publishing? Probably. But like I said, as long as it pays the bills and doesn't drive me crazy or suck my soul dry, I'm down for whatever. Publishing has done me right (and done well by me) for over a decade now, so there's no reason to move on ... except this might be the push I need to finally go full-time freelance -- although I LOVE not having to worry about overhead. On the other hand, if I were *ahem* being supported in this endeavor.... Eh, I could go round and round.

The timetable for Moving is undefined. It could take her a few months or a year (or even years) to find something suitable to her. So I imagine my latest round of "what the hell are you going to do with your life, Tony?" and how I'm going to get it, and where, is going to continue for the foreseeable future. Really, though, does it ever end? I kinda thought it had.

And speaking of change, after 12 years of cheap-o, college-ruled notebooks, I am moving into a nice, spiffy Moleskine journal. I know: alert the freaking media. But this is a big change for me and shows, I think, a level of commitment to and confidence in my writing I don't often display. More on this as it develops. I'm experiencing some anxiety in this area too. But hey, it shows that I CAN change! (Allah be praised, at least I'm not changing pens too.)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Album Cover Wars


Well here we are, my favorite time of year. The landscape seems to change almost by the moment: the leaves have turned, and one by one (or all at once overnight) the trees lose them. There is a HUGE silver maple out my office window that turns the most incredible fiery yellow-orange every year. Now half its hands are blown all over the ground around its base. I like watching the colors shift: green leaves/grass --> red/brown/orange/yellow leaves + green grass --> gray, leafless trees + red/brown/orange grass. Everything inverts, eventually.

And then there's the sky. This week has been particularly spectacular. Love the gray and blue hues, the way it's perpetually on the verge of roiling into a storm. And it snowed yesterday! Okay, just a few spits, but you could taste it in the atmosphere all day, that damp iciness in the lazy wind (can't bother to go around -- it goes right through you).

I think I like fall and spring best of all the seasons because they are so tumultuous and you can see so clearly the changes happening in the air.

It's also a good time to write, and I am once again doing a Poem a Day project this month (April is traditionally the sister month of this li'l endeavor). I always make it through to the end, content and quality be damned, but I do generally get behind here and there. "I owe 4 poems today" it says at the top of the page next to today's date. I seriously doubt I'll make quota today, but there will be time this weekend.

I also took time for what may have been the final (or nearly) bike trek on the Clear Creek trail Tues night. I only got one lap in after work before it got too dark to continue. (I didn't have a bike light on me or I might have tried for another circuit.) Gorgeous sunset! Encroaching frost! Dogs with inordinately long leashes and lazy owners! I'll probably be able to squeeze in a couple more rides this year. Indiana weather is funny like that.

I'm finally feeling a slow-down, although Turkey Day being NEXT WEEK ALREADY isn't helping at all.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Don't Mind Me

Just taking some time out this evening to organize and add to muh links. I may be on the verge of launching ... something ... probably not a rocket. But I had an urge to spiff and do more than blog here, so I'm going with it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

I've Just Been Handed This....

Extra-special thanks to Sir Loin for manhandling the camera and editing the footage.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Short Stent on Halloween

Travel back in time with me now...
My dad had quintuple bypass surgery in 1988, when I was a senior in high school. Good times, yes, that's right. He'd been ill and, frankly, pretty out of it for most of my adolescence. I now like to blame his passivity on a bad ticker.

Recovery took a while, like years. It was rough, on everyone. But he soldiered through and seemed to be enjoying life a good deal more eventually. Around 1997 or 98, he owned a travel agency, post-retirement, in Crawfordsville. He had a good time doing that, for a while. The best part was taking red-eye flights, mostly solo, hither and yon to check out airports and hotels, basically just get a feel for a vacation destination, at least the travel/accommodations end of things.

At one point, he was going to take one of these quick trips to Jamaica. But not long before the trip (he can't recall when exactly now), he passed out and lost some feeling in his left arm.

Sounds like a stroke, right? Right. However ... he didn't tell anybody about it, afraid he wouldn't be able to take the trip. He just sucked it up and flew to Marleyland anyway ... where the same thing happened again. And again, he didn't tell anybody, not even after he got back.

Not long after that, as I recall, he got tired of running the travel center and sold it. He then had a heart attack (his first) around that time, in 1999. (Some gentle readers might recall, this happened while I was on That Camping Trip in South Dakota/Montana....)

He has been getting, well, more fragile and less "peppy" since then -- which is understandable. That whole age thing, right? Bad circulation. Thin blood. Tiring easily. The usual.

Then another heart attack in 2005. Mild. But still, heart attack. He had been having chest pains for something like THIRTEEN FUCKING HOURS before he told anybody something was wrong ... okay, yeah, but at least he told somebody this time.

Now we're present day. He's been looking pale gray and just generally "down" ever since the last attack (go figure), but he's been having chest pains when exercising. When I went up to see him last weekend, he was in pretty good spirits (I tend to lift people up, it's a curse) but still just ... no pep, as he says. So he talked to his doc and they poured over his EKG. Apparently his LAD (left anterior descending) artery -- he likes to call it "the widow maker" ... I think he heard that on Oprah or something -- was blocked 95% (which, if you're bad at math, is QUITE A LOT!), so they wanted to put in a stent. But first, let's have a look at that carotid artery ... which, as it turned out, WAS (read: HAD BEEN) blocked but had made its own li'l bypass. This probably occurred as a result of ... well, let's just say that's when the Tale of the Jamaican Stroke came out. Ooops.


So, Dad's kidneys were acting up too, as if everything else wasn't enough, probably due in part to diabetes, partly to encroaching decrepitude. Anyway, his EXCELLENT heart doc told the PRETTY GOOD kidney doc, "Damn it! We're not going to lose this kid. NOT. ON. MY. WATCH!" only much, much less dramatically and sounding nothing like George Clooney. More like Mickey Rooney a svelter Andy Rooney.

ANYWAY, he was/then wasn't/then was/then WAS RIGHT NOW having surgery yesterday. He was in quite a bit of chest/arm pain all day Tuesday (even went in at midnight/Wed morning because of it), and they said he was "a whisker from a major heart attack" as they were taking him in for surgery, hence the sudden, uh, URGENCY. I didn't get up there (St. Vincent's -- and let me say, if you need cardio care in Indiana, this is the place to be) in time to see him pre- but I was there as he was coming down from the Happy Juice post-op. He's fine. It took about 50 minutes, and he should be released and coming home today.

What have we learned here? Your body has ample early warning systems to keep you from dying. Pain is one of the most obvious. Passing out is another. DON'T IGNORE YOUR BODY! It's the only one you've got.

Oh, and Dad says he wants to try being "vegetarian" like me, which I think is terribly cute, but first we have to work on his wife, the Valedictorian of Home Ec circa 1957 and Betty Crocker devotee ... who has really lost her will to cook anymore. I mean talk about phoning it in: Her no-account bachelor son can now officially put her to shame in the kitchen. And how sad is that.

Speaking of sad, the worst -- I mean absolute WORST -- part of the last two days has been the long-ass, bordering-on-hysterical rehash of a trip my family (sans me and Dad) took to DC recently to visit my Evil Sister, my bloke-in-law, and Baby Liz. I knew no good could come of it. No good! I'm only happy that I had a reasonable excuse not to go -- and I would have dodged it with an unreasonable one too, frankly.

It's like Dad said as I was making dinner for him Saturday, when I commented on the fact that everybody else was in DC: He said something to the effect, "I don't like going on those long trips with all you kids at the same time in the same place anymore. If it's just you and me and [my mom], I feel like I can talk freely. But getting all you kids together anymore is just too stressful."


Okay, time for holiday cheer!

I participated in the Zombie Walk this year for the first time ... although in a slightly different role than the usual lock-stepping zombie peons. (I need to write a post on the rise in popularity of zombies, as opposed to vampires or other more solitary, singular ghouls, which seem to be an 80s/90s/goth thing. Why is it zombies, zombies, zombies now? Two words: sexual politics. Think about it. More later.)

Yes, there is footage of my on-the-spot "reporting" from the whole damn walk, and yes, it'll get YouTubed at some point soon. Sir Loin is awesome for running around (literally) with me that night trying to stay ahead of a FAST-SHAMBLING hoard of reanimated necrotized flesh. Sheesh, people, slow down! This ain't 28 Days Later.

I closed out the holiday season last night (after I got back from the hospital) with a viewing of 30 Days of Night, which was AWESOME if you're into that kind of thing, and I am.


Remember me saying I'm ready for that fall-into-winter slow-down? Ahem, any time now, please.

Friday, October 26, 2007

3 for 3 in October

I feel as if a great weight has been lifted off me. October is usually an extremely busy month socially speaking, and I also tend to make lots of artsy commitments too. This year was no exception, and I was really starting to feel stretched thin. Everything I had lined up was at least reasonably successful, though, for my part, so it was worth it. I'm ready for the Big Autumnal Wind-Down into Winter, though.

I already blogged about Eroticon. The weekend after that was the last home roller derby bout of the season. Announcing was once again a fun time, but I felt like I was also much more on top of things for this bout. Plus we were one home announcer short, and as much as I like working with him, it was easier to throw around the commentary among just three announcers (me, X Static, and visiting team announcer Sage, who also was a blast to work with and very "on it"). The girls lost by 2 points -- and honestly, I think they should have won by 20. I don't know exactly what happened but the game just slipped away from them, and it DID NOT have anything to do with scorekeeping shenanigans.

Anyway, we all put on a great show: much like Eroticon, enough of us have been working together long enough (both in and out of derby) that it's really not a big deal to host 700 or so people for an event. We just kind of make it work, and very well. There STILL are some sound issues to hammer out for next season. At the last bout and this one we had a bigger PA (it goes to 11 ... actually more like 13), but still no engineer to run it. Tony D. is a sweetheart, really enthusiastic, but we have never had someone to really fine-tune the sound once the bout gets underway. It's essentially tweaked based on guesswork and feedback from the crowd -- and there's no actual sound board with faders to work with, so there's only so much "fine-tuning" one can do with big knobs (he heh).

Ah well, something to work out for next season. My iPod playlist pretty much rocked socks. It helped a lot that once I had added to and edited it down to my taste at home, I was able to spend a couple of days listening to it at work and in the truck and then weed it down further, so that every track was both PG-13 and derby-appropriate. Hardly a clunker in the lot: 8+ hours of high-energy, knock-the-bitch-down rock.

Last night was the inaugural reading of a new series Joe and I have started with MATRIX. As I posted earlier, we're drastically scaling back our event schedule: basically no more monthly events other than the workshop ... and until we can get others to participate, it's just gonna be me and Joe, and we're okay with that. Every little bit helps.

But HARVEST OF VOICES last night went much better than I was anticipating. I'm always cautiously optimistic (realistically pessimistic? whatever...) about spoken word stuff I host. There's so much else going on to draw people's attention, especially in Bloomington, in October, last night in particular. And besides, the weather was normal (i.e., kind of nasty); a fairly high-profile (locally speaking) poet pulled out last week in a snit; and, well ... it's poetry. LOCAL poetry. How big a crowd can we get for the Waldron Auditorium anyway? As it turns out, plenty, enough to make it a bit more than "intimate," although that was the feel. (Love that room, and the lighting was especially warm, I thought.)

Patricia Coleman kicked it off. She's a little quiet and mousy, but I loved having her open. Dustin Nightengale I thought really stood out as our MFA in attendance, as did Nick Moore, who, I learned later, was super nervous, this being his first "serious," "big-time" reading. I think what he does (a mix of stand-up comedy and poetry, with GREAT delivery) is truly unique, and I'm always happy to share a stage with him, at any level. Joe was in good form, although pretty sick, and his protege Suzanne Sturgeon was great in her first-ever reading. I was ... pretty happy with my set, although it was all pretty somber material. That's where my head was at, though, so I went with it, and I debuted I think 3 pieces that I'm eventually going to be more than just okay with. Breshaun Joyner spoke silk as usual; she could melt me just reading a menu. And Norbert Krapf and Monika Herzig I thought made for a good pairing -- polished and professional, and brought the evening to a nice close -- although I personally think he is far too white (too German?) to pull off a blues poem about Etheridge Knight.

Speaking of racism, get this: So I'm walking to the Vid with Mars and friend Sam after the derby bout on Saturday. A group of (6?) urban youths were coming up the sidewalk towards us, and none of them make room so that we all can just pass by/around each other like ya do when a group of 9 people has to briefly share a rather confined public space. I mean it's a pretty common social interaction, right?

Well, I let go of Mari's hand and left the sidewalk so I wouldn't actually bump into one guy, and he literally ran over her and just kept right on going. They all did, just barreled right into and past us all like we weren't even there. And when Mari scowled and said to the guy, "Hey, look UP!" because he wasn't -- he was looking everywhere BUT where he was going -- all of them turned and started yelling at us. Calling us niggers! Yelling at "your nigger bitch"! And on and on. I mean it's like somebody flipped a nigger switch and suddenly every other word out of their mouths was substituted by "The N Word." It was terrible. I felt so sorry for them, trying SO HARD for thug life but really coming off like dumb, drunk frat boys. They started goading me to "start something" but I just kept walking wit mah biotches with my lady friends. I was pissed. I mean HOW LAME to literally run into someone on the street and then start spewing racial epithets ... to a white girl??? Yeah, I totally see what was going on there: hopeful reverse discrimination, or something like that. But I/we were about as white as you could get. Mars was even still in her derby garb (for the stink-n-drink, right?). How fucking stupid of them. Grow the fuck up.

Of course, not a minute later I was laughing inside because I had watched this video the night before with Sam, Andrew, and Mars, and laughed mightily even as it became more and more distrubing:

Ugh, what I wouldn't give to have had a 100-yard-long white limo to pop out of that night on 7th St., some fancy dance moves, and some butta-face booty bitches to rock their world.

In a word: Word.

Tonight, I'm taking it easy, I think. Irish session (haven't been all month), dinner at home (for once), sleeping in tomorrow (damn straight!). I feel like I've been fighting off a cold or something, and now that all my major October commitments are fulfilled I don't want to get sick just when Halloween is on my doorstep. Plus, a night in before a party night out tomorrow is definitely in order.

Also, I'm going up to visit with Dad tomorrow afternoon-ish, provided he'll be at home. Don't know why he wouldn't be. He opted out of the trip to DC my mom, sister, and bro-in-law took to see my Evil Sister, who is in town interviewing for jobs that will get her the hell out of the UK with new baby Liz and Bloke Daddy.

Dad's having heart trouble again, and hasn't felt "up to" much of anything lately. Chest pains when he exercises, apparently, and he had a checkup this week and there is some blockage. I'm not sure of the extent of it, but honestly, considering he had quad-bypass surgery ... 19 years ago ... and is diabetic ... and still works 40+ hours a week ... I think he's doing great, with some exceptions. He's going to cut back his hours (I'll believe that when I see it) driving cars for Enterprise, and get his carotid artery checked Monday to see what's going on there too. It's been a while. I guess he gave Mom some shit about everyone (doctors? family?) treating him like a spring chicken for the last 10 years when he's had "half a heart," he says, meaning the blockage he's experiencing now probably had been missed by some dumb doctor.

(Look, dude, you became REAL sedentary starting in your late 30s, until you had surgery in your late 50s. People MIGHT want to encourage you to do something in your 70s that you might enjoy besides work, eat dinner, and fall asleep in front of the TV by 7p every damn night. That's not treating you like a spring chicken; that's wanting you to enjoy what life you've got left!)

So I want to check in on him, home alone this weekend. My parents are old, gentle readers. I mean they've always been old to me, but now they are becoming elderly and it's showing. Mom and her diverticulitis last year; Dad's bad ticker. It sucks but it is inevitable. I intend to maintain a cool head (as much as I can) about it, while everybody else loses theirs. Good Sister vacillates between compassionate former nurse and fault-taking basket case when it comes to family member health problems. Evil Sister ever seeks to point out who isn't pulling their weight in the caring dept. (see a correlation there?). Mom, ever the optimist, says "pray we make it to our 50th" wedding anniversary (this year -- yesterday actually -- was 48th), and usually gets caught/crushed between Good and Evil.

Me? I don't have any answers at all. Stay active. Eat as well as I can. Keep a positive attitude wherever possible. Be friendly: keep friends who will have me and don't fret (for long) about the ones who won't. Enjoy life. I deserve it! As I have often said, the alternative is currently unacceptable.

That's a formula, though, not really an answer. So rather than freak out and fling it around, I'd rather just ... go check in on Dad this weekend, while "the girls" are away. Health problems aside, I think it'll be a good visit and I'm looking forward to it. Dad and I are on good terms, and have been ever since we "had it out" (well, at least I had it out, and got some things off my chest I really needed to yell at him about) over a decade ago.

Ah, also add to formula: worry about decrepitude when it comes. It's close to me now, a mere generation removed, and that is scary. But it's nearly Halloween, when the veil between this world and the next is thinnest. A little real-life scare is perfectly appropriate, right?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Cruising around the Showers Bldg.?

Thinking of cutting through the grass just north of the big bike rack?

Be advised: I think the city has gone green and is fertilizing the grounds with ... repurposed dog turds from those dog pile stations around town.

That, or every stray dog on the near west side craps in the same 10 square feet of turf.

Can you say MINEFIELD?!?!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Showering with a Trash Can, and Other Exciting Weekend Adventures

Friday, I convinced Mars to go back to PromptCare and get x-rays of her shoulder, wrist, and foot, after her car-bike accident on Thurs. Actually it was her own damn choice ... once she'd determined that her insurance would pay for the film. Nothing broken, just some deep bone bruising (he heh) and a pretty fucked-up TREK (although it is being repaired).

Then I went to some friends' play at the Waldron (Mourning Lori). A comedy ... about suicide! I enjoyed it. Not as funny as I thought it needed to be to undercut the heavy topic -- though parts were laugh-out-loud funny -- and, as always, I had trouble swallowing some of the "theatre dialogue," which to me always sounds more stilted than it means to be. I think there's an effort made for clean diction or something; it just doesn't always work for me, and it comes out sounding less conversational. ANYWAY, great show, excellent ending, and an important work for Joel: his first writing and directing project for stage, and while the circumstances were completely different, I think he was working through some stuff re: his own mother's recent death (not a suicide).

Saturday was Eroticon, my 11th year of these type of events in B-tizzle. This was one of the best ones in recent memory, and considering we had ONE org meeting about two weeks ago, I think it came off (again: he heh) famously. Most all the stage acts were arranged via e-mail or online; I was DJ/music director, as always, and hadn't even had contact with one of the DJs until he called me Saturday afternoon. Talk about laid back!

After 11 years I think I'm finally getting the hang of the DJ thing. Virtually no clunkers, and lots of good feedback, though no one really danced until towards the end of my shift. (I generally take the first block, 9-11p.)

I was reminiscing with friends about the "early days," when I would pack up most of my entire CD collection (and a few prepared cassettes and an album or two) in several milk crates and haul that shit to Jake's/Mars/Axis/Walnut St. Tap/Jake's. This was back before MP3 players and file sharing were common, to me anyway. Plus there weren't too many (if any) DJs in Bloomington or Indy at the time, unless you needed tunes at your bar mitzvah, so I would spin by myself for 6+ hours. Good times!

On Saturday, I had HALF of a single, small CD case full of discs I'd compiled for the occasion (in the other side were my cans, illicit camera, spare cords, and my iPod as a backup). On disc alone: 10+ hours of hand-picked music, ready to rawk. I know, I know. I'm a total square luddite n00b. The other DJs had full-on hard drives, and probably have for years -- albeit one brought a frikkin' 486 TOWER we had to cram in the booth somewhere. Regardless, it was SO NICE to scan through a half-dozen or so discs of choice tracks rather than dig in the dark through piles of jewel cases looking for ONE track on ONE CD, never to be used again that night.

had an absolute blast Sat night. Packed house. Great stage shows. The Edible Beauty was quite edible. Mars look FABULOUS before and after her chocolate adventure. (I'm so very lucky!) Tons of eye candy everywhere. Much flirting with friends old and new. Even got to top a cutie I had to deny at last year's show (duty called, DAMMIT). That was definitely something new for me, or relatively new, at least in public. Wow! Of course, I was dead tired by the end of the night ... which was about 5 am, after tear-down and traipsing up and down Walnut looking for someplace that would FEED TEH MARI. (Finally settled on Awful House.) My feet/legs were killing me, having been on them for most of the day and ending with 6 hours of stomping around in cowboy boots, which were actually quite comfortable, but hard heels on concrete all night hurts my old back something fierce.

Sunday ... after sleeping for Jesus until noonish ... made brekkies for Mars and a rollergirl who slept over (in the guest room, ya pervs!) so she didn't have to drive home. Then Mars went to practice while I ... bumbled around a bit and then ... got a cleaning bug and decided to do a couple of projects I've been threatening talking about doing for a while: cleaning the sticky, rather disgusting bottom shelf of the fridge (and ultimately the maple syrup-filled cavity beneath it), and detailing the kitchen trash can. (Yeah, I could buy a new one but that just seems lazy to me.)

When everything you put in the fridge makes that stuck-to-it sucking sound when you remove it ... and then leaves stain rings on the kitchen counter ... there's a problem. And Mr. Trashy was starting to look a little green around the gills too.

So with no garden hose to work with, what's the easiest way to clean big stuff like that without making an even bigger mess?

What's that? Clean it in the bathtub? Who has a bathtub??!

Shower with it, silly!!

Dude, it was so hot. The water I mean.

Next Projects: making an iPod playlist for the roller derby bout next Saturday and getting my announcer shit together. Oh yeah: got a bibliography to edit this week too.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

Cosmic Debris

I've been reading, hearing, and viewing photos about the current state of ye olde homestead in Owen Co. (I didn't go looking for info, for the most part; it came to me, via various sources.) Any attachment I had to the place, which was deep no matter what anyone might surmise, I severed long ago, mostly for my own peace of mind. It just wasn't healthy for me to care anymore. It isn't my problem -- and once my ex refinanced, it legally wasn't my responsibility either. I haven't been out there since she ousted me in Oct. '05 anyway, which, in the long run, really is for the best too.

Apparently, though, the "tenants" she had installed when she left the state were/are serious hoarders. I don't mean they had a bunch of cars up on blocks and collected Precious Moments figurines and state park shot glasses. From what I've learned, we're talking meth lab-level sanitation practices. I won't describe it beyond that. It makes me irrationally sad and angry. I'd rather feel sorry for the family at the moment. It reminds me, though, of a somewhat similar situation at some friends' place down the road in Owen Co., when I still lived out there, which devolved very quickly from idyllic back-to-nature minimalism into paranoid OCD squalor. Not nearly as bad as my old place now, though. There were no children involved.

I think of how beautiful life out there was and what an all-around broken dream it's become, for the house's original owner/builder right on up to today's renters. I've given myself, with time and perspective, a TON of credit for having made rural life enjoyable. I really did enjoy it, all the struggles and worries as well as the gleefully transcendent moments. I mean that's life, no matter where you live, right? But all the crazy backwoods stuff you have to do to live within the woods (as opposed to just in or near them) -- I loved that shit. Sometimes I think I even miss it, but right now, just the good stuff, especially with fall and firewood season approaching. It sure was frustrating at times, though, especially upon learning mine was not considered an equal share of the land. Walking away from it was hard, but I was heartened by the notion that the plans my ex and I laid out together would go forward, just not together. But, once again, this was not to be. Not on that land anyway. And that too is not my problem or responsibility.

A friend asked if I would have been interested, at one point, in buying the place back, if that had been an option. Given the clear-cutting of the surrounding forest; the landfill the houses have become; the long-ass, expensive commute to get to where life is happening for me now; and the extreme isolation (given the lack of friends/friendlies in the area) such a location would afford: no. That ship has sailed. And I'm healthier and happier waving bon voyage instead of eating Dramamine like Chic-lets and praying that's not an iceberg on the horizon. Without the network of family and friends it took simply to make the place livable, I'd probably have ended up trying to unload it on someone too. And I'm not sure what I'd do if I were faced with mountains of human detritus.

Of course, cleaning out the barn, largely by myself, at the Unionville house was no picnic either. But that was back at the beginning of something, not the end.

Anyway, this situation makes me sad, and angry, and I'm sorry my ex has to deal with it now.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I have been funded!

I won the 2007 Greer Foundation Fellowship for Creative Writing from the Bloomington Area Arts Council!

More about the foundation and fellowship here.

Basically it's a monetary award to further my mid-career artistic endeavors. I'm planning to use it to attend a workshop/retreat in 2008 to finalize and polish a chapbook manuscript I've been working on since around early 2006, then submit the ms. for publication, especially to publishers holding chapbook contests.

This fellowship has been on my radar for a looooong time (seriously, since about the 2nd Ceilidh), but it's only offered every other year and, like a lot of other awards/contests/important-to-me writerly things, I kept missing the deadline.

Let's hear it for persistence and patience!


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Two Years in a Wet Grave

And speaking of things that are disgusting....

AVOID AVOID AVOID the abandoned bikes at the west side B-foods rack. I was locking mine up and put my hand on a neighboring bike seat for leverage ... when my hand SANK into this brown banana mass ... spongy ... sticky ... covered with leaves and grass ... and probably beard hair ... as tenacious as snail slime to wash off. The bike seat had ... melted ... or ... decomposed ... like a wet skull prop from CSI: Bedford or something. The hipster dude next to me gaped aghast and skittered away. BLEAH!

But suddenly I'm craving fresh zucchini bread....

'round Here We Call the Fountain of Youth 10th Street


(Sorry, I'm in full-on Beowulf mode at the moment....)

So: I'm moved in with The Mari. Jesus Stop-Dancing Christ, how the hell did I acquire so much stuff??!! Oh yeah, I am old. Honestly (and this has been confirmed by others) I think I have a perfectly appropriate amount of stuff for a 36-year-old dude. Maybe too much furniture, but people opened their garages, spare ooms, and attics to me when they learned I was in need a couple of years ago. This means I'm not too attached to anything either. I still think it's too much stuff, though, and continue to pare down, especially clothes, books, and items I have clung to thinking I'd be home-owning again by now. Realistically I'm at least another year or two away from that, so there's no need whatsoever to hang on to what amounts to a bunch of knick-knacks. And dude, my knick-knacks are HEAVY!

Still, I think I've divested myself of about half my raw tonnage since "leaving" Spencer. I'm down to a paltry 10 typewriters (yes, I ditched 13 *sniff*) and finally parted with all my albums, cassettes, 45s, and assorted other archaic media. Next to weed out: my voluminous paper files. I already ... burned ... some of the more important (and some not-so-important) things I wanted to leave behind. So how much paper do I really want to lug around now?

A: Not much more than is absolutely necessary.

Q: What's necessary?

A: Probably NOT every draft of every poem I've ever written ... or IS IT????

It's the message not the medium that's important to me. I've never been a medium fetishist anyway ... other than the typewriters ... and that was more a product of letting people know that yes, I like typewriters, and then letting the magic happen. Most of my typers were "gifts": I think I acquired a new one about every other party or gathering. Which was cool, for a while. But it's like my intense Burroughs/Beat period, wherein every time an opportunity arose to gift me, invariably it was some sort of Beat-themed book/recording/objet d'art.

Anyway, I have a ton of stuff and I'm managing to cram it all not unattractively into our li'l domicile. Still need a decent TV, but that'll come. She continues to disorganize me in delightful ways. I continue to bend her to my OCD rule ... within reason. (We made this agreement forever ago, when we first started dating, and we still seem amenable.) Basically we're setting up light housekeeping, and I'm enjoying it and I think she is too. I'm working hard trying to work less, relax more, and enjoy life rather than work my way out of it ... all of which can be trying when the things at which I enjoy working are what make me the scintillating person I am.

But Mars is at the same time being dragged kicking and screaming into joining the working world or the "real world" or the land of Wal-mart zombies and other assorted working stiffs or whatever, so I think we'll hit equilibrium at some point.

What else?
ROLLER DERBY: Announcing for the girls continues to be a hoot, even at away games. I'm not as polished as I'd like to be yet but I've definitely got my schtick down and that apparently goes a long way in the world of Announcing.

MATRIX: Joe and I have hashed out the future of our li'l poetry org. Basically we're paring down too: down to 1 event (an invite-only reading, plus a SHORT open mic) 4 times a year, with summers off. We're essentially modeling it after the InKY series, which we both have read at and enjoyed immensely. No slams (for now...). No more monthly open mics. No more anthologies. We're keeping the workshop, which I found personally invaluable. But I advocated ditching all the monthly, poorly attended events so that I can put more energy into my own work and make the few special events Matrix hosts seem more ... special. I'm pretty thrilled. This particular event-ectomy didn't hurt a bit.

WRITING: I feel like I'm attacking my log jam of a block with a dental pick. But I am attacking. And occasionally there are splinters. I hope to graduate to the adz soon and eventually get back to piloting a Literary Skidder through the underbrush of my quiddity. Or somesuch.

FREELANCE: Gangbusters. I'm teaching another graphic design class in B-ton in late Nov/early Dec. I'm also teaching one in early October ... in Switz City. I'm getting a little extra $$ for that one to cover gas.

EIRE: I need to get my passport soonish, which will kick-start the process of preparing a trip to IRELAND probably next April/May.

SECRET PROJECT: Actually it's not so secret, but I don't want to divulge anything just yet. It involves a New Years resolution, and you all know, gentle readers, how I feel about those.

BODHRAN: Got a gig playing with Mars and some other session mates at the Spoon Sept. 21, as part of Patricia Coleman's poetry series. (I'll be reading there too.)

READINGS: Joe and I are doing about half a dozen or so readings around the Midwest this fall: so far, Sept. 21 and Oct. 5, 19, and 25.

AUDIO THEATRE: I'm set to produce a program of cowboy poetry for next year's NATF (National Audio Theatre Festival) workshop. There also is serious talk now of bringing the workshop to Bloomington, maybe as early as 2009. Now that would be sweet. B-tizzle is perfect for it, and some alumni from previous workshops are who eventually got WFHB off the ground, so this could be real copacetic.

That's enough.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Grappling with the Business End of Writing; or, be patient or become a patient

It sucks. But after 10 years or so of writing, reading, and promoting pretty much non-stop (or at least not taking a vacation from it), I feel like I've got a good handle on that end of things. The problem is: so what? Another newspaper article about Matrix doesn't feel like it's doing anything for me or for the org. It's getting "our name" out there, but who cares? Who but other poets cares about the doings and comings and goings of independent, non-MFA poets? Actually strike the MFA thing; they're even more insular. MFAs who care about anything outside of their own writing programs are a rare breed. And that's as it should be. You don't build a reputation by being all-inclusive, although that's pretty much what I am/have been doing with Matrix.

I bitch a lot about not having time to write, right? That's nothing new and it's not going to change, as long as I (in addition to blogging about not having time to, uh, write...) keep involving myself in things that have nothing to do with writing: playing Irish music; announcing for the Flatliners; setting type (oh yeah, my job); being on the NATF board (and hopefully performing/producing at NATF next year); etc., etc., ad nauseam infinitum. I mean I've made my peace with all that stuff, and more. If I were ONLY writing, I think I'd be a pretty boring person and my writing probably would be boring too. I'd just be a skosh more prolific at it. Hell, I'd probably end up in an MFA program to fill the role of a Matrix in my life, and that I think would be a mistake.

Quiet. Solitude. A Clean-Slate Mind. I am lacking these things and I think it's affecting me, has been affecting me. It's subtle and I've tried to convince myself that it's mostly an environmental sea change, i.e., living in B-tizzle as opposed to 40 minutes west thereof in the middle of a state forest. I mean I was SURROUNDED by quiet and solitude, so cleaning out the old brain pan and settling down with my journal was easy. So easy it became routine.

It's not routine anymore. It's becoming "special," and I hate that. Quieting my mind so that I can focus on something long enough to pen ... anything about it ... that's tough. Lately it's been really tough, to the point where I'm having difficulty finishing poems I've started ... something else comes up ... I have to take notes or attend a meeting ... and then I lose the thread ... or re-read what I wrote and become disenchanted.

Writing, for me, is a numbers game: the more poems I write, the better my chances of writing something I'm happy with. "Good" or "bad" don't really apply to that equation, and that's somebody else's job anyway. Keep writing; something satisfactory will eventually come.

Well it does come, finally, and it always does, and will continue to ... and I am happy about that.

The Quiet Mind is elusive to me these days, though. I feel so much more in tune with myself when I can tap into QM often. Used to be daily. Nowadays? Once a week? Maybe? I am definitely fulfilled (in other ways) by all the other things I do, and I still feel like it's all connected ... all part of My Work: bookmaking skillz, spoken word performance, music, sound effects. Lately it's all been performance energy, though, which is essential and yes, I definitely get off on it. But when there's no audience ... then what? Now that Matrix is waning a bit and our smallish crowds at events have dwindled to ... who's left now anyway? Me and Joe?

It's like you paddle and paddle and paddle to get to the other side of the lake, and then you get there and ... nobody's there. There's no prize waiting for you either. It was the traveling, the getting there, that was important to observe, but I was too busy paddling to reflect on ... any of the bajillion things you take note of on still water.

Well, anyway, things are clicking pretty well in all other areas. Why this part -- taking a break from Matrix and promotion and putting on events -- why this is such a chore ... to just set it all aside and fucking write ... why? Hell, I dunno. It's like those old codgers who work forever only to retire ... and then get a job because they can't deal with not having one. I think I have been comforted by the notion that as long as I was doing something with Matrix, I was being "active." But I very rarely get published, or even submit work (I'm embarrassingly behind on my self-imposed quota for 2007), which is what this Summer Vacation from Matrix was supposed to be all about. Drink beer, write, edit, submit. Worry about organizations and readings and promotions later. You know, when you really have something promote, besides a reputation for promoting?

I also think it might help if I could write something substantial once in a while that did not involve divorce and the attendant psychic blowback connected thereto. It's all important, yes yes. Process of ejecting and healing, right sure. Catharsis. Exorcism. Get it out and leave it in the journal, uh huh sounds great.

. . . . . . . .

Jeebus, they used a FILE PHOTO for that H-T article. Have I jumped the poetry shark in the Arnold's Drive-In parking lot of the soul?

. . . . . . . .

All right, whitey, hold on there. Just get hold of your senses and chill out, all right? It'll come. It'll come.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Lifeforce Leaves Me As I Make a Fist

Some Pint-Low-on-a-Tuesday-Afternoon Ramblings:

The worst part about giving blood? Definitely the li'l stick you get in the finger so they can check your iron level. Fuckin' OW! Way worse than the actual needle. But I was told I was "juicy enough" to give today. I find that comforting.

She also punched my card (not a euphemism, fyi) a few extra times and laughed about it. It's supposed to get punched once every time I give. What can I say? I have that kind of power over phlebotomists. Soon that die-cast model of a 1932 Red Cross truck will be mine! MINE! Or maybe a nice RC sun visor....

At this rate it'll be ... a long time before I get my picture on the 10 Gallon Wall.

BP: 116/84, perfectly normal.

The Big Stick was nicely played, and she was talking to the guy in the next chair pretty much the whole time. Total pro. I was #2 or #3 through the door today. Maybe that's the trick for bruise-free donation.

Animal Precinct on the telly while I'm draining. We all agreed that we'd snap at someone or at least act snappy if they were trying to take our food, even if it was a fake hand and even if we were just being "tested" for companionability. I'm eating! I'm large! Come back later--w00f!

Also agreed that Pomeranians are pretty much worthless, just compensating for being small and annoying.

If it were possible, I think I could live on Li'l Debbie Nutty Bars and orange juice alone. (Or was that junior year of college...?)

Why do I always get the Sandwich Artist-in-training at Subway? That or Crackhead Carl. Never fails, and right when I'm all loopy ... is my sub ... supposed to look like French po-mo architecture???

Back at Typesetting Central: Pope Pius XII? Total douche hose. Politically speaking, of course. I'm just sayin'.

Lastly: Aphex Twin? I can't tell if my brain really needs it right now or not, but BRANE AM LURVE!!

That is all.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Blind Leading the Stupid

EDIT: This isn't about Mars fyi.

I used to think collaboration was a Big Deal, something that was a Real Asset. Now, with few exceptions, it's become my Biggest Liability. Have I lost my ability to read people? Do I have "Fuck with Me" writ large across my ample fivehead?

Maybe I should just regress to a more reclusive mode. So often I make the mistake of assuming others are using their powers for good instead of evil. And I'm so surprised when I come to the shocking realization to the contrary! I'm such a dolt. But life really would be easier if we all wore black or white hats accordingly. Or dressed like superheroes. Or even just wore name tags:

"Hello, I Am Bent on Destroying You."

"Hello, I Come in Peace."

"Hello, I Am Become Death."

"Hello, child, lay down your cares and ease your mind in the warm glow of my soothing presence. Breathe." (This one prolly needs two tags.)

Please, World, don't grind me down into a fine paste. I like my idealism and I like working with people, despite it all. Don't take that away from me. I'm small potatoes! There are far more important things to be done with/to people far more important than li'l old me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Let's Talk About Footnotes

Dude, I'm sure your magnum opus on Russian music from antiquity to the 19th century required heavy annotation, but footnotes with letters? Note 1A? Note 34C? Upwards of 400 footnotes per chapter?

Put down the grad student and step away from the manuscript. Personally? I think if you need more than 100 notes in a chapter, you might consider adding another volume (or nine) to this 2-volume set. I'm just sayin'.

Footnotes, to me, are functional and important, but they're like hyperlinks: you're essentially leading the reader away from the text to go look at some detail. I love footnotes. I love minutia. I just think they should be used sparingly, and I really appreciate scholars who can get away with just a few or even no notes at all.

That is all.

Monday, July 09, 2007

INSTANT REVIEW: The New Bloomingfoods

Well, let me start by saying that it's nice to be able to walk a couple of blocks to a B-foods for lunch....

Okay, that said: The new place has a distinct "Wild Oats" vibe about it, and you can tell by the angled parking spaces out front filled with SUVs and Lexi -- next to the poor, poor unloved bike rack -- at whom the near-westside store is targeted. No, not necessarily the soccer mom set ... generally the older, childless (some say godless) hippie crowd. NOT, though, I would say, the somewhat surly emo types who work there. Who shall inherit the earth. And Bright Eyes. And a lot of dead iPods.

Oh I don't know. It's fine. It seems under-stocked to me, but a longtime Bloomingtonian I bumped into there said the store sold out of A LOT the first three days it was open. (Some cold cases were completely emptied by the weekend and are just now slowly being restocked.) It'll be a month or more before they figure out how to buy for their customers. It feels so very franchise-y, though. Extremely chain-y. The downtown B-foods has a real distinct character/smell. Ditto the east side. This one? Maybe it just needs breaking in but it seems far more showy and less utilitarian than the other stores -- but there's really not that much to show -- and what's a co-op without utility?

I don't think the cash registers are laid out properly either, and there aren't enough of them. If the single "express register" right next to the hot/salad bar is full you have to walk through the store to get to the other two registers ... then either walk back to sit inside or walk out and halfway around the building to get to the outdoor seating. Which is right in front of said angled parking. Not a terribly appetizing view/smell, especially when said longtime townie s c r a p e s his lovely painted beemer bumper over the curb mere feet from where I'm grazing.

On the positive side:
Hot bar!
Indoor and outdoor seating!
Not walking downtown or driving across town to get to ... Seventh Generation Toilet Paper???

Hmm, well I've not been in a positive frame of mind lately, so that's all I could come up with. I'll try again later.

And regardless, I'll definitely be lunching the shit out of B-foods ... wait, that came out wrong. I shall be eating there often. How's that?

By the by, let me learn you young uns a lesson: If you can sit still for upwards of 4-6 hours getting a half-sleeve tat, you can be civil to this Working Stiff as he's paying for his meager salad during your shift at the local air-conditioned co-op. It's true! I heard it on Oprah read about it in some old fart's blog.

Don't make me have to start handing out demerits.

Maybe I just need to stop caring.

I'm full. Of spinach!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

This may have broken my brain....



In roughly chronological order:

Gave a reading at a peace and enviro-activism event in Indy on Saturday. Not bad! I busted out some new stuff, which went over pretty well. Mars came with (a reading buddy is always a good thing) and we ate at a good Indian place in Broad Ripple thereafter. No more readings until October. I need a break and I need to get more new stuff penned.

Mowed my ridiculously overgrown yard Sunday.

Saw Seann Sunday night. He's done with basic training and some special training. Now he's just doing the 2 weeks plus one weekend a month or whatever it is the Guard requires. Oh, and they can also call him up at any time and ship him off to Iraq.
Honestly, beyond the obvious physical changes (MUCH better shape, shorter hair, pretty sober), the army doesn't seem to have affected Seann all that much. I think the discipline and rigid structure was probably good for him, but he saw pretty quick just how stupid a lot of it is. I'm worried about him, but supportive. There is a severe shortage of a) able-bodied troops, and b) older, more mature guys who aren't gonna just start blasting away at/abusing the first guy with a beard they see. But Surge 2007 is still in effect, so it's just a waiting game at this point.

I'm towing derby girls in the 4th of July parade tomorrow. That oughta be a hoot.

Mars and I are going to Holiday World/Splashin' Safari on Thurs. It's redneck hell, but it's also a blast. And it's a beautiful drive there. It's a truly Hoosier thing to do, so I'm glad I get an opportunity to expose her to it.

Speaking of roller derby, I'm announcing my first bout in Kalamazoo in a couple of weeks. I'll be working with the K-zoo announcer, not actually "on my own," but it's their first bout too. I'm looking forward to it.

Jogging ... is going ... eh, it's all right. I'm really not a fan of it, so I'll probably just stick to biking. Running is harder on my joints than I care for, and I'm not particularly interested in going to a gym. I want an exercise I can walk out my door and DO, rather than have to get to and do.

I'm busy as hell, as usual. But I'm actually taking a couple of days off work this week -- meaning I am NOT WORKING on Wed, Thurs, or Fri. (Towing hot chicks on skates isn't really work, is it?)

That is all.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Weak in the Knees (let's try this again)

Well, I had penned a longer entry (as usual) about all this stuff, but then it somehow got lost in the ether, so here's the truncated version:

Friday was good, great, then shitty: Company picnic. Croquet. Home brew. Irish session. Hanging with Joe. Poetry bidniz. Fall reading tour. The future of MATRIX.... Then his GF's yippy li'l kick-me dog bit me! Looks like a chupacabra got me. And when I left, someone had egged my truck ... but it bounced off the rear tire and only splashed up into the wheel well. LAME! Worst. Egging. Evar. I'll recover from the wound, but next time Erma comes at me I'm gonna punt that mutt.

Saturday was fine: Wandered the rainy farmers' market then went to a wedding with Mars. Her roommate from Penn State and here (for a while) got hitched. We also hung out with her composition prof and his lovely wife. Good peeps. Weddings are enjoyable affairs again. It helps that I didn't really know anyone involved. Last year I got snubbed big-time at a friend's wedding. A table of peeps who had un-friended me (not in that passive-aggressive myspace fashion but very real-time, I guess to make some kind of Statement -- or maybe they simply didn't like me and now have no reason to put up a facade ... anything's possible) totally ignored me ... except for Thom, who said hello, chatted about what we're doing now, commiserated a bit ... then he returned to the Table of Fellowship, mission accomplished, his conscience clean. Good for him. Now I just go, eat a bunch of tiny food, eat some cake, and drink a bunch of wine. No big whoop. I love Beatles weddings. Especially oompa-brass Beatles weddings.

Sunday: sleep/rest/recoverzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I skipped a nontet concert on campus because $12 admission + going by myself = not enough fun to coax my tired ass out the door on a dreary afternoon.

This morning I jogged a bit. Only about 20 minutes. I want to work up to 45-60 minutes over the next few weeks. Does this mean I now need to get up even earlier? Guess so. Hrrmm. The running part was fine but my knees are killing me. I stopped doing the roller derby dry-land workout because my patellae felt like swollen donuts ... and not in a good way. Too much hopping, and the stair climbs were murderous. The cardio of running is great but the impact feels pretty severe later on. We'll see if I can keep this up. Old high school football injury. No shit. Maybe I should just bike instead?

So much for truncated.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A chicken walks into a pub with a bodhrán under his wing....

Good night of deedle-di at the Golden Ace in Indy last night. It's pretty sweet being the only bodhránai in the room. No competition, and I think that's partly why the regulars there have been so kind to me. There's not a lot of bodhrán love to go around, you see.

There's also this ancient Irishman, Scotty, who has become progressively involved in the music since I've been going semi-regularly. First he just tapped along on the table; then started playing spoons occasionally; then he would sing a song or two (real ribald stuff too; his wife I think was a little embarrassed); last night I walk in and he's pumping away on a small accordion and trying to keep up.

I was told by the uilleann pipist that my playing is "respectful," "restrained," and "reserved," which is pretty flattering. Granted, we were in a discussion about letterpress printing (he retired from typesetting in the early '70s, back when it still actually involved moving type around) and so were kind of in a chummy mood. But he could have said anything ... or nothing at all ... so I did what I have learned to do with compliments: acknowledge, say thank you, and move on.

I have since I started this new percussive venture attempted to play WITH the music, not in spite of it (or all over it). I'm the only one in the room improvising (though I'm gradually learning "my part" in various songs with which I've become familiar), so I'm careful not to overplay. Plus, I'm playing with people who have been mastering their instruments for a long time ... some as long as I've been alive. So yeah, respectful, restrained, and reserved.

I also usually sit next to my lady violinist friend, who is hot and a total shredasaurus on her axe, both of which take some heat off me. It almost makes up for the bow tip that occasionally comes RACING TOWARD MY EYEBALL!!! GAHH! Seriously, I bet we look like a Warner Bros. Silly Symphony cartoon from across the circle.

So in researching my instrument, I've found all kinds of sound files and video tutorials online, some very helpful. Many, though, are just wank-fests to me. On YouTube, there are hardly any bodhrán vids that aren't just solos. (Where's the rest of the tune, please?!!) Very few feature good playing WITH other musicians. As technically intricate as some solos are, after just a few of them (lo-fi too) they all sound same-y to me: endless scales and volume changes. There are exceptions, though.

"Pressed for Time" by Flook

Comas, one of Jackie Moran's bands, at a pub in Belgium

ANYWAY, some time ago I was introduced to the Bodhrán Joke, of which we bodhránii are often the butt. There are a million of these ... and actually they are the same jokes I've heard for years, just substitute Bassist or Guitarist or Lead Vocalist, etc. To wit (ganked mostly from

Fellow walks into a pub in Belfast with a plastic bag under his arm. The bartender asks, "What's that?"
"Six pounds of semtex," he answers.
"Thanks be to Jaysus; I thought it was a bodhrán!"

A bodhrán player was sick of the band abusing him, and decided to start his own. He walked into a music shop, planning to buy the first instruments he saw.
"Give me the red saxophone and that accordion!" he said.
The assistant said, "You play the bodhrán, don't you?"
"That's right. Why?"
"Well, the fire exinguisher I can sell you -- but the radiator stays."

How do you know when there is a bodhrán player at your front door?
The knocking gets faster and faster and faster...

Why do bodhrán players find it difficult to enter a room?
They never know when to come in.

How is pre-mature ejaculation like a bodhrán solo?
You know perfectly well what's about to happen, but you can't do a thing about it.

What's the difference between a bodhrán player and a drum machine?
You only have to punch the rhythm into the drum machine once.

In Dublin, a bodhrán is sometimes made from the skin of a dog. Then it is called ... a bow-wow-rán.

Then there was the bodhrán player who remembered that he had left his bodhrán in his unlocked car. Rushing back, he opened his car door to find two more bodhráns in the back seat.


This was just handed to me ... via a poetry slam Yahoo! group sig line ...

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act. It is a habit."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Just How Busy Am I?

Let's take stock, shall we?

IUP projects (book composition):
Taliaferro: Breaking Barriers from the NFL Draft to the Ivory Tower
Long Journey Home: Oral Histories of Contemporary Delaware Indians
The Grace of Four Moons: Dress, Adornment, and the Art of the Body in Modern India
This Place We Call Home: A History of Clark County, Indiana

MATRIX (the arts):
Hosting a writing workshop tonight
HIATUS from events this summer
Hosting a reading at the Waldron in October

Bleeding Heartland RollerGirls (derby!):
Review the rules
Learning opposing team rosters
Announcing my ass off
Recruiting volunteers for the first home bout in August
Help SOME with bout production BUT
Layout of bout program (2-4 weeks before 3 home bouts this fall)

The Same Page (freelance work):
Educational Horizons (copyediting, ongoing; summer issue nearly done)
Hanapin Marketing (content editing in late June)
Edit/prep class materials (8 design/layout classes in Oct, Nov, and Dec)

Personal Creative:
Edit and submit (I'm about 2 months behind BUT have several subs out there...)
Reading in Indy June 30 (Triage Arts Fest)
Possible collaboration with letterpress/silkscreen artist???
Play bodhran/bones min. 3 hours a week (no problem here!)
"Gig in the Woods" July 20-21
Nothing on the horizon. Humph.

Personal Misc:
Yard sale in July
Moving in August
Schedule eye appt.
Acquire passport
Learn to bake naan

Making lists! (Well, I find it helpful.)
Fulfillment and contentment!
Spend QT with Mars (aka maritime)!
Travel someplace cool this year (where? when?)!


Never hurry, never rest.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Yet Another Observation (I seem to be full of these, among other things...)

When someone says, "I just want you to be happy," what they really mean is, "I want you to do as I say." Clear communication kills bullshit dead. Dead. DEAD.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Congratulations, you're normal.

So: I had a bunch of blood work done recently after a checkup with Mein Doktor. This would be my first doctor's visit since ... 2002 ... which was for a sinus infection. My last actual Check Up had been 1999, so yeah, I was due for a tune-up, check my fluid levels, air up my tires, etc. I've experienced many life changes since then and a goodly amount of stressors and environmental changes. What's up with my body these days? is what I wanted to know.

But speaking of checking my oil, I also experienced my first prostrate prostate exam, the first of 40-60 or so I shall likely endure from here on out. Hey! Using the whole hand there, Doc? I was a little nervous, since the attendent, upon learning from me that I wanted a doctor's finger(s) up my ass, "prepped" the appropriate accoutrement ... including SEVERAL latex gloves and a FUCKING MOUNTAIN of lube. eeep! If I'd known it was that kind of party I'd have brought my own smock, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

Long story short, Mr. Prosty is right where he oughta be, full of vim and vigor, and my lady doc has some ... rather slender fingers....

Oh yeah, the blood work:
Negative on all STIs
Electrolytes and liver functions are normal
My thyroid also is normal (There was some concern there but I'm good.)

Also of note: I've gained 20 lbs. since 2002, which everyone tells me is normal. I'd still like to drop 5 or 10 lbs. I think finally being off my Bachelor Diet (i.e., beer and frozen pizza, exclusively) and walking/biking to and from work should take care of that. I've also taken to doing the dry-land portion of roller derby practice, which has been hell on my knees but great for everything else.

And I learned I'm only 5' 10.5" Here I've been going around thinking I'm 6 feet tall ... but, like many of my vitals, I think that was a holdover from high school footbal, when my stats were, ahem, inflated to make me appear more intimidating (on paper). Seriously! According to my senior year roster, I was 6' 1" and weighed 165 -- but I bet I didn't even tip the scales at 155.

May in general has been a wellness month for me. Getting to the doctor, honestly, has been on my to-do list for about ... 2 years. Yeah, pretty lame.

Next up: Dentist. Actually I'm good about that (no reason not to be), but somehow I'd not received a cleaning notice from Doc Arnold ... and when I finally called them, we learned that by the time they're available to see me it'll have been about 2 years since my last cleaning. Ick. Fortunately, I'm pretty good about flossing.

After that: Eye appointment. I just got new glasses (and contacts) last April, so I'm only a little past due on the annual exam. I'm thinking about getting new frames again, though, even if I don't need new lenses. I get red sores something fierce on the sides of my Big Nose from the li'l rubber nose guard thingies. I DO NOT, however, think I could stand myself in those dark emo frames. Plus, I'm not a librarian,so what's the point of looking like one?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Let's Talk About Drums!

Okay, here's the story:

I've always been a crooner, ever since I led singing in church back in the day. But I never had another instrument. Four years of trumpet, 5th through 8th grade, but that didn't stick. I never even learned to read music properly. I learned most of the hymns in church orally, though I stood in front of everyone with a hymnal and waved my hand around like I knew what I was doing. Basically I was mimicking the church elders, who, let's face it, couldn't hold a candle to my stylings. It's true! I was a goddamn progeny prodigy ... in a white bread Protestant church ... just like Michael Jackson ... or something.

Then there was a sad attempt at electric guitar in high school. Nothing to report here, except it was a cheesy Fender knock-off with a Van Halen paint job, and I never progressed past the opening sequence of "One" by Metallica. Ppthbb. I did have some support: my assistant principal/football coach came over and tried to show me a few things. But again, it just didn't stick. I was a poser, a dork with a guitar and no real motivation to learn to play it other than looking cool. Clearly, even then, writing was my main thing.

In college I did what every red-blooded American hippie does: get a shitty li'l acoustic guitar and learn some CSN&Y. Here I had some success. At one point I actually had a 12-string Fender acoustic that sounded great ... for about half a song, before I had to retune it. I think I spent more time tuning than playing that fucker. But still no real breakthroughs in the instrument department here. I did, however, learn to tune a guitar well and FAST, and my rhythm was solid. So that's good.

Then there was the band. Around senior year, Christopher Austin started teaching me hand drums, mostly congas and djembe. This went well! And I took to it right away. I eventually played gigs in 1992-93 with Christopher, Kel, Josh, D, Brian, and Ted (plus or minus a couple of others depending on the gig) under the loopy moniker Buli Zaja (BOO-lee ZAH-zhah). I wrote songs, sang, and played those congas into the ground. It was a good time and we were some sexy mo-fos. Most people of that vintage still fondly remember the Earth Day show in Dunn Meadow where all our hippie friends came out to shake, or our first live gig as BZ ... opening for The Drovers at Second Story! *swoon*

At the same time, I was doing the radio theatre thing, notably Hayward Sanitarium. I was also on the verge of graduating and trying to figure out "what next?" with my lowly English degree. The band and Hayward were the two big projects in front of me, so I decided to let Fate make the choice: whichever project took off, I would follow, as I loved doing them both about equally. Somewhere in there I traded my axes for a drum kit, which I no longer have.

The band broke up after about 6 months and everybody went their separate ways, literally. D ended up in Chicago for a time; Kel I think went back on the road, touring with the Dead, back when you could do that kind of thing; Josh went away to god knows where; Ted I think is still in Indy; Brian I think went back to Connecticut; and Christopher ended up in Cincinnati and points beyond.

Meanwhile, Hayward demos were receiving favorable reviews from Big Names in radio, and it eventually was picked up by NPR Playhouse (back when NPR still did that sort of thing) in 1994. So I got more and more into voice work, audio production, and script writing, and eventually worked in a recording studio. I still banged my bongos in the dirt sometimes, and even sat in with some bands here and there (National Groove/Fambooey, The Green Jam, etc.), and played on a couple of radio jingles. But I played less and less in general, and ultimately dropped out of the "drum circle" scene altogether too. I think I got a bit snobby about that kind of thing. I also think I managed my time a little better, not content with bumming around until something cool happened. I knew I was capable of Making Cool Happen. So let's go.

When the radio theatre thing did not ultimately lead to Something Big, beyond more vanity projects, I took what I had learned about voice, timing, writing, sound effects, and rhythm and piled it all into poetry, spoken word performance, and, finally, MATRIX, around 1997-98. Here I kind of quit playing drums altogether, except for some small percussion as part of a performance. I don't think it was a conscious decision necessarily. I just didn't get that much out of it anymore by itself, and definitely did not get off on carrying my congas everywhere. I could have gotten another, more portable drum. But by then I was really, REALLY into the writing and performing thing. Why dilute my energies, right?

I still do radio theatre, mostly just voice work and sound effects, but I'm all freelance and stuff about it, and that's fine. Lately, though, my thoughts have returned to beating skins. Actually they've been returning every since sound effects gigs started popping up around 2000. It's that whole hand-eye percussion thing, which I think is what attracted me to sound effects and drums together at about the same time. I still have my congas ... but the lambast I used to enjoy whilst pounding the hell out of a big drum ... is pretty much gone, and has been for a while. I like to listen. I like to hear what's going on around me. I also like ensemble playing. I think I missed being part of a band more than I missed just playing. So how does one insert oneself into an environment where one can back up other musicians, basically be the rhythm section, as opposed to endless variations on the same hand-drum soloing?

The Irish Seisiun.

Mars plays fiddle, as does a co-worker. She started bringing me to sessions when we first started going out, and I was happy just watching and listening. But I kept eying the bodhran players. I never got into Irish drumming. I stayed with Afro-Cuban stuff, mainly because that's what I was taught and what the folk/rock music I was making then required.

But after a little (very little) coaxing, I asked a session drummer if I could try out his drum.

BAM! Holding the tipper like a pen + playing air guitar = the basics of bodhran. It didn't take long before I was seriously hooked. A year later, playing (and knowing when not to play) is all coming back to me, and I think I've figured out how this fits with everything else I'm doing. (I'm real big on compartmentalization, in case you hadn't noticed.) I think I'm on to something long term here.

All this to say: I haven't bought a drum in about 14 years. Last year I bought a shite bodhran off eBay, and it's been a good beginner's instrument but honestly, barely adequate from the start. (And garnered more than a few sideways looks from other session-goers. I'll have to write another entry sometime about the reputation bodhranii have at Irish sessions. It's pretty funny -- and pretty spot-on.) It was clear (to everybody at the seisiun, not just me) after a few months that I was in need of a proper instrument -- if only so everybody could hear me! Seriously, for the effort I was putting in, the sound I was getting out was abysmal. Thwappy like a wet paper sack is a pretty good summation. So I did my homework, talked to other players, and contacted a few makers, here and abroad.

Next week (or thereabouts) I shall take possession of a 15 x 6 tunable, curly maple bodhran custom made by Mike Quinlan out of Chicago. I'm thrilled!

Incidentally, I found Mike and decided on him mainly based on his work, his reputation, and his integrated tuning system. But what sealed the deal was this connection: Jackie Moran (formerly with the Drovers, now playing trad Irish with Gan Bua) plays Mike Quinlan bodhrans exclusively.

Ah yes, synergy!

I may even get back into gigging at some point too. We'll see.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A rare post re: work

Dear Cow-orkers Who Keep Bringing Projects into My Office:

That's it, I'm building a wall and it shall be made of the stacks of proof you insist on bringing me! Just FYI.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Bird Watch

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Saw one of these guys at the feeder this morning. He's huge! About 8 inches tall, and his red breast is very prominent and bright on a dim, wet morning.

I've also been seeing a lot of downy woodpeckers lately, including one peck-peck-pecking in a tree near work yesterday, and one at the feeder at home last night.

With the leaves off the trees last winter, I noticed there is a large cardinal nest in the thicket between my house and the House of the Pomeranian. That's where all the LOUD CHIRPING is coming from in the morning (the cardinal nest, not the Pomeranian; he has more of a shriek).

I've seen a ton of bluejays on the walk to work.

A couple of days ago, two Canadian geese flew north over the Press, honking loudly.

That is all.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Blast from the Past

One good thing about Myspace: seems like EVERYone is getting on.

I was doing some name searches (like ya do) and found ... my best friend from JUNIOR high school! He moved away freshman/sophomore year and we pretty quickly lost touch, but man, we shared some great, formative years. Played D&D together, skulked around town at night, raised a ruckus in class, cruised chicks, shoplifted. Wow, a flood of memories.

It's funny: just looking at us, we've become pretty much who we always thought we would. I'm the literary-type writer guy; he's playing lead guitar in a band. Awesome.

This is good nostalgia. The painless kind.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I've been reading his last book of poems.

by Jack Gilbert

I can't remember her name.
It's not as though I've been in bed
with that many women.
The truth is I can't even remember
her face. I kind of know how strong
her thighs were, and her beauty.
But what I won't forget
is the way she tore open
the barbecued chicken with her hands,
and wiped the grease on her breasts.

from Refusing Heaven (c) 2005

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Ze Update, She Is, how you say, Oeuvre Deux, no?

Finished my first week of teaching the graphic design class for Continuing Studies. I feel pretty good about it, but I also feel like I'm rushing through a mountain of material. It's only a 2-hour class, twice a week for two weeks, so no, there really isn't a lot of time, to cover anything. We could spend the entire class just working on a hands-on project and still not cover all the basics.

The best I can do lecture-wise, really, is go over some concepts and terms and show them some before-and-after designs. That takes up less than 30 minutes or so. I can show them a few specifics, but design and type composition is all about problem-solving. I think you have to learn that by doing not listening and watching me do it. By the time I'm teaching them, the class has already taken courses in InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Ostensibly I'm showing them design and layout not how to use the programs. But their skill levels are wide ranging. Some people know InDesign (which we are using almost exclusively) very well -- and even have shown me a couple of things, like how to use hanging punctuation. Others are obviously still a little baffled by the interface. But overall I'm happy with how things are progressing. Monday's class is on color; Wed is file prep for printers; then I'm out.

The Bloom Magazine article about poets/poetry in Bloomington is out, just in time for National Poetry Month! Yes, gaze upon my haunting visage in all my full-color glossy glory. (I haven't actually seen the issue yet so I'm not sure just how glorious the article itself is ... but I know it's out there. My roommate's GF made a collage of my write-up for me! How sweet is that. Hell, I may just skip the article and rely on the collage.)

Speaking of National Poetry Month, I have been endeavoring to write a poem a day (minimum) this month, like I did last year in April and November. This is a great excercise and I'm getting some pretty good stuff. I'm also surprising myself with my ability (and inclination) to do everything else I'm doing and find time to write. I almost bailed on this project because of, uh, certain pro bono obligations, but I'm glad I persevered. A couple of days I got behind, in which case I added that quota to the following day (but I can never "get ahead," meaning if I were to write 6 poems in one 24-hour period I would still owe at least one poem the next day). So at one point I was down 4 poems -- which, in case you're wondering, is quite a hole to get out of. But I've gotten into a good rhythm now: a poem over cereal/coffee before work and another during lunch. I'm able to write in the evening sometimes too, which is new for me. I've been a morning person for a long time now, building steam and working to a peak around mid-afternoon and then winding down throught the rest of the day. I tend not to do any writing after, say, 8p although I can still edit like a motherfucker. Different muscle group there, I guess.

Also, I'm starting to put together another poetry manuscript. I've been thinking on it ever since I put together The Great American Scapegoat. I may submit it to some chapbook contests. (I don't think I want to do another book-length collection for a while. Too much filler.) Or I may just self-pub again, but entirely DIY this time.

There was a time when I was eager to collaborate with a visual artist on a book project. I think I'd like to revisit that notion, but this time? An artist with whom I'm not so personally involved. Or who is not crazy. Crazy does not equal creative! Sorry. Let's just make a book together and let that be our relationship, m'K?

Let's see: I'm moving in with Marz Barz and I are moving in together in August. Did I mention that already? I'm pretty stoked about that.

I have received rejection notices for everything I've sent out so far this year. Humph.

I'm concerned that NATF is going to want me on staff at the audio theatre workshop this year as, like, stage manager or something instead of sound effects director. I have conflicting feelings about this; namely, do I want to go if I don't get to do my thing?

I'm going mushroom hunting on Saturday.

Also, I'm reading in Greenwood sometime that day.

I just spilled coffee on myself.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

On Notice


Despite yourself, I think you still check in here now and again, so I want to say publicly that I'm not yet giving up on your crazy ass. A year is not nearly long enough to make me forget why I was (and still consider myself to be) friends with you. I'm exceedingly patient ... no matter what else you think of me, you know this ... and I intend to wait a good bit longer ... either for your return to socialability ... or for my memory to fail.

Take care of yourself. We'll meet again.


Friday, April 06, 2007

Cut It Out

Dear Recipients of Pro Bono Work from Your Humble Narrator:

Okay, I'll admit it: I've bitten off more than I can chew. I love saying yes almost as much as I love saying maybe, and so I find myself at the end of March and into National Poetry Month (w00t, as the kids are fond of saying nowadays) feeling stressed, overcommitted, chronically underrelaxed, and, as if that weren't enough, disappointed with myself. In short, I'm a walking ticking frag grenade of nerves and blown expectations, and TIME IS RUNNING OUT, ASSHOLES!!!

Uh, heh, ahem. I mean: I've felt this way before, and I know know that it's time for me to cut some projects loose. Seriously. No offense. "It's not you -- it's me." And it's true. There is a fine line between "serving my community" and working 4-6 hours a day (after an 8-9 hour work day) + as many hours on weekends, 12 weeks out of the year for just ONE project ... and I often find I have to justify my work to people who don't seem to grok that "10 years," "professional," and "experience," mean that I do indeed know what I'm doing. Really! And that kind of deadline-oriented work just isn't right for me, not when the production schedule perpetually runs up against something else in my life that is equally if not more important. I'm just asking for ulcers -- and life's short enough as it is.

Also, lately I am able to squeeze in an average of AT MOST an hour or two a week to writing/editing/submitting my own work, and that just isn't going to stand. My mental health lately is such that I'm feeling less present, meaning I'm in a constant state of preparation for the next project, thinking about where I "ought to be" and what i "ought to be doing." I'm multitasking instead of paying attention to the here and now. I missed most of two beautiful weeks in the B-tangle, instead cooped up and staring at a screen, moving type around.


What's wrong with me? Clearly not my work ethic. I just have too much on my plate. And frankly, I'm pretty full. So no, no more. No wafer-thin mint. I'm just going to have to say no a little more often here, and it's going to SHOCK AND AWE people to hear me say it as calmly and congenially as I said yes in the beginning.

But hey, it's Sorry Charlie Day. Plenty of people around with whom you can commiserate, right, pro-bono-work recipients o' mine?

Thanks for understanding.
Really, it's for the best.

The Management