Sunday, December 07, 2008

Winding Down

My poem "Trees are poems to a typewriter in the woods" won 1st place in the Indiana Nature Poetry Contest, co-sponsored by Mounds State Park. What a nice way to end the year!

I am scheduled to record new poems in January for Janny Kander's The Poet's Weave program on WFIU. "Trees" will definitely be among them.

The chapbook is "done," at least in the metaphorical/-physical sense. I've sent it to a couple of colleagues for scrutiny. Hopefully I'll start sending to contests and publishers by the end of the year, and in earnest in January.

Mars and I have started packing. Ugh. I'll be in Michigan for Christmas helping her settle, then back with her in B-ton in time for New Years. Then she drives back by herself to start the new job soon thereafter.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Slice!

"Everything written symbols can say has already passed by. They are like tracks left by animals. That is why the masters of meditation refuse to accept that writings are final. The aim is to reach true being by means of those tracks, those letters, those signs — but reality itself is not a sign, and it leaves no tracks. It doesn’t come to us by way of letters or words. We can go toward it, by following those words and letters back to what they came from. But so long as we are preoccupied with symbols, theories, and opinions, we fail to reach the principle."

"But when we give up symbols and opinions, aren’t we left in the utter nothingness of being?"

"Yes."

— Kimura Kyūho, On the Mysteries of Swordsmanship, ca. 1768
(epigraph from Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographic Style)

For Marta



"Green" by Ken Nordine, from Colors

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanks!

Little Glove in a Big Hand, first draft completed today. OK, it's still a pretty rough draft IMO, and not nearly as far along as I feel it should be or needs to be at this point in the year. But I'm real happy with . . . most of it, and overall it is "working." It is accomplishing what I have been intending. I'm planning to nail down the table of contents this weekend, and start tweaking here and there, and finally start submitting it by the end of the year. Go!

I'm thankful for a bunch of stuff:
* a good year living with Mars, like we promised, no matter what
* sweet foley gigs
* announcing for 3 derby leagues
* the return of the MATRIX slam
* teaching gigs
* all my supportive friends and colleagues
* Obama in the White House (in Jan)
* etc.

I'm off for the first of 3 feasts this weekend, today's featuring a bunch of rollergirls and as many as 3 deep-fried turkeys.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Random Observation

This chapbook project has brought on very different work processes for me. Normally, I write something in its entirety (essay, poem, whatever) then put it aside, then come back to it, edit, revise, etc., until it's (usually) whittled down and refined.

The chap has come out of collections of notes and journal entries (and a zillion post-its), and I've built some pieces line by line, from out of several notebooks.

So I'm conflating as much as cutting or editing. Adding to more than subtracting from. I enjoy it but I probably won't keep this process up once the manuscript is done; I think I like writing poems more than writing poetry.* But if I ever do another "theme manuscript" like this again, I'll know how to start. Getting this one fully underway took a couple of months, until I figured out a process, which is why it's a little late getting done. I am finally approaching cohesion, though.

*poems being discrete, beginning-to-end, usually stand-alone assemblages of words; as opposed to poetry, which is a little looser in structure and typically works a bit more obliquely. If that makes sense.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Everybody's Doin' It!

You've probably seen Keith Olbermann's bit on Prop 8 on MSNBC.

You may not have seen this vid from last week, featuring Dan Savage (of Savage Love fame) going toe-to-toe with Tony Perkins (from Psycho the Family Research Council). I've been a Savage fan for years, but this really awesome. LOVE his "final word":

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In memoriam


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

--John McCrae

Long Years on a Red Planet

Mars Phoenix Lander Finishes Successful Work On Red Planet
November 10, 2008 -- NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander has ceased communications after operating for more than five months. As anticipated, seasonal decline in sunshine at the robot's arctic landing site is not providing enough sunlight for the solar arrays to collect the power necessary to charge batteries that operate the lander's instruments....


This story makes me feel so wistful and lonely, which is dumb. It's just a bunch of bolts and wires, right?

I'm reminded of The Martian Chronicles, which I really wanna read right now.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad

So: OBAMA WON!!! I am elated. I haven't felt so charged up since Clinton won in '92. It's like a cloud is lifting, and a bunch of other nice weather-related metaphors. In all honestly, I don't think one person can change much in our country, not in just 4 years (or 8).

But one thing HAS changed, and there is no going back: Americans' individual views about race are what they are, good, bad, and indifferent (mostly indifferent I think). But with the election of a black US president, our politics suddenly seem (and maybe will prove themselves to actually BE) more open (to everyone), more capable of welcoming change -- BIG change -- and possibility and ... aw, shit ... and HOPE.

I personally haven't felt quite so desperate about the state of the world as maybe I should. But suddenly things seem even ... less bad. As if impossibilities are now within reach. I know, I know, kind of hypocritical, and idealistic and goo-goo eyed and ridiculous, etc, to think that the color of a person's skin isn't supposed to matter -- yet here it is, mattering a whole hell of a lot.

Policies? Sure they matter, and I have liked most of Obama's views for a while now. (Ever since he gave that anti-war speech in 2002, he has been in the back of my mind.) I have long felt that Democrats and Republicans, like all Americans, at heart want the same things; they just have -- sometimes wildly -- differing ideas about how to acquire them. What's important about Obama, though, is the positivity of his message. Not simply his eloquence but also his ability to motivate people who, also at heart, really WANT to do something to help themselves and others. I WANT to help but often feel so disenfranchised. And I'm a white guy, with hot and cold running privilege. I was so disappointed when Bush, after 9/11, motivated people ... to go shopping. I mean this country was ready to build a fucking chunnel to Afghanistan and put bin Laden's head on a pike. What does he do? Tell us to keep playing with our funny money.

*shudder*

OK, happy place, happy place, happy place.

Obama won, my state voted blue (take THAT, familial fundies!!!), and I'm ready for more. I wanna see what this kid can really do, and I'm hopeful that he won't let me down. That WE won't let OURSELVES down.

It's hope tinged with sadness, though.

Mars got a job. A dream job. BEST. FUCKING. JOB. EVAR. I'm so happy for her. Tenure track. Actual library work. Roller derby nearby. Plenty of Irish music in the vicinity. Really, it's just about everything she could hope for.

This job is not in B-tizzle, of course, which is where the sad comes in. She and I have been talking about this possibility the whole time we've been dating, and an inevitable move on a career path became a driving force for her (and in our relationship) just about a year ago.

Well it's finally here and it sucks. It's literally a win-lose situation for both of us no matter who decides what. I've blogged about it plenty here. Just typing this little bit is making me sadder, so I'm not going to elaborate too much. Basically, barring some miraculous change of heart on my part, I'm not moving with her. Not by December, when she needs to be up there, as I conservatively estimate it'd take me most of a year to set my local affairs in order. But honestly, I'm just not moving.

I've had a year to convince myself (or be convinced) that leaving B-ton is something I want to do, as opposed to something Mars needs that I am willing to give or something I'm willing to "try." I don't see it. If anything, I've become even more deeply attached to B-ton as my relationships with townies and colleagues and friends have been reaffirmed. I feel like I'm not done here yet, and I don't know when I will be but it's not going to be any time soon, and I don't want to cut my stay short. (Yes, 18 yrs and counting is short, for a Capricorn like me. I'm a late bloomer!)

I feel awful and selfish and a little ill. I also feel like I'm making the right choice. So is she.

NONE of this diminishes my enthusiasm for supporting her as much as possible to get to Michigan and get settled. It just sucks, obviously.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Also, too.

* The 9th was my 2nd anniversary of my 2nd stint here at the Press, which means I am a 10-year IU employee. Sweet! Only 20 more years till I get my sheet cake and plaque.

* I'm teaching classes again at IU and Ivy Tech. The IT project manager just e-mailed me to say that class is a "Go!" which means there is literally 1 person signed up, and class starts Monday night.

* I've been lately fending off the fundies in my family vis a vis Obama. This sort of thing happens every election year (and really only during election years), but has been particularly awesome this year because they have no head for politics but are RIGHT THERE with the Republican talking points re: smearing Obama (i.e., ACORN; where'd he get the $$ to pay off student loans; his name rhymes with Osama <--no shit, Sherlock -- yer talkin' to a poet, you know). So all I do is start talking about policy issues (you know, the boring unimportant stuff, like the bailout and the war, etc.) and they go away.

* There is a backhoe with a jackhammer attachment that has been yammering away ALL DAMN DAY outside my window, in the hole where the trees used to be, where they're putting in a pool and BBQ to service the Douche Bag Hilton across the street. I can't wait till it's done. I am so jumping that fence for a dip after work.

* I like lambic but really, what's the big deal??

* My last announcing gig of the season is this Saturday. The teams are worn down to a nub, physically and emotionally. Should be a good time, though.

From Here There Is No Turning Back

Sometimes it takes a while for a poem to coalesce into ... something more than just an interesting arrangement of words. The meaning behind the spark. The logic beyond the frisson. Richard Hugo's Triggering Town becoming a 3-D reality out of a 2-D movie set. The reason a poem gets finished -- edited and revised and honed. Once the blush of inspiration has faded, what then? What's left?

Sometimes that spark is so intense I have trouble returning to a poem out of fear of losing intensity by bringing in intent. What I got down in the first draft so encapsulates (to/for me) what I felt at the time, I'm not even sure I want to "make something of it."

I do subscribe to Ginsberg's notion "First Thought Best Thought" ... but only in crafting a draft. Editing and revision is essential, and only a fool would believe that the Beats got it right the first time. Ginsberg, in fact, was one of Kerouac's editors, and while Jack may have pounded out On the Road in a 3-week coffee/benny-fuled binge, this was after years and notebooks filled with scribbling and note taking. And that big scroll was ruthlessly edited.

The other night I was at Rachael's Cafe for her Friday open mic, where I was the only poet in the house (or maybe the only one who would admit it?). I do some of my best nuts-n-bolts work, writing and editing, at open mics and in coffeehouses. Yeah, yeah, the atmosphere: the clogged sinuses of the espresso machine; out-of-tune guitars; flaccid PA; unintelligible vocals; underrehearsed performances. On the face of it, pretty wretched. But then there was a birthday party with cake + ice cream in the corner; and one of my least favorite people on the planet doing a pretty awesome Sonic Youth impression in one of his own songs; and instant collaborations between musicians. What can I say? I'm a hippie. I start feeling pretty safe and in my element.

All this to say, I finally made some major changes to a piece I first drafted about a decade ago. (I need to look up that very first draft because I have lost track of when I first wrote it. Some time at Unionville, probably out on the patio by the tumble-down barn.) I've only approached it a couple of times since then, once in a workshop even, but I've never been satisfied with it. It involves a pretty touchy subject ... my ex's abuse survival and how it affected her, me, and us.

Yeah, pretty late in the game, I guess, to be going there. But these things take time, some more than others, and maybe this final long lag is what was needed to shake me free of my preconceptions of what that poem needed to say and do. Another, much "easier" poem took about 6 years to ferment into something palatable, and I think the same of the "harder" piece: Yes, getting my own personal reflections down was/is important, but ultimately I write because I want to do something more than record what happened and what I thought about it. "Make something of it." Some good thing. Some thing beyond the trauma of the moment, beyond harsh, lived-with emotions, and into the universal and intimate and familiar. Nouns instead of adjectives. Show instead of tell. You know, poetic stuff.

Sometimes all the effort and desire in the world just aren't enough. (Don't I know it!) Sometimes you just have to step back, be patient, and rethink things with new eyes and ears, again and again. Eventually what you get out of that process may not be perfect, but it's better, definitely. You also tend to cut lines, words that once seemed integral but now are clearly superfluous. Connections and implications reveal themselves. Reason comes into focus. And while I don't think this particular piece is "done" by any means, it is much closer to completion than it's been in 10 years. Maybe even stage-ready. Maybe. And that is so satisfying. And liberating.

Then there's the chapbook project underway, about my cousin Jeffrey's untimely death, which I've been writing about (directly and indirectly) nearly my entire life but rarely in poetry and never successfully. Talk about needing time to process. In this case, though, there were some things I just didn't know until I was about 30 about Jeff and the family dynamic that developed in the aftermath of the accident. Stuff I either couldn't have known or wouldn't have understood even if it had been explained to me. Death being one of them.

"Death needs Time for what it kills to grow in...." --Burroughs

Which is not to say I got death all figured out now. But I've been to enough funerals in 37 years to have an inkling about how grief and sorrow in my family works. It's been an interesting ride, this chapbook. I hope it's becoming interesting poetry.


Unionville, summer 1999

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fall

They're cutting down
a stand of trees
across the way,
outside my window
at work, to make
room for another
student high-rise
Douche Bag Hilton.
I watch them sway
for the last time.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Quotations

"To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making."
-- Otto von Bismarck


"We didn't leave the Stone Age because we ran out of stones. Likewise, we must leave the Oil Age before we run out of oil."
-- Tom Demarco, Whistler, B.C. (letter to National Geographic)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Italics added for emphasis

I was welcomed back to Bloomington while at Kroger the other day. Thanks ... sonny!

I convinced a cow-orker that yes, many, many things are made of plastic, which is made from petroleum, which is a fancy word for oil, which the US gets by the metric fuck-ton from the Middle East, which etc., etc. Aaaaand *POP* went his mind.

The chapbook is starting to take shape, which is alternately exciting and terrifying. I'll elaborate on the "story" a little later but it's heavy and personal, and writing and thinking about it this much kind of hurts but is ultimately cathartic.

My evil sister is even eviler than I thought. And crazier. And more violent, sho nuff.

Mars gets the cast off 9/18, ALLAH BE PRAISED!

Cast off also means something totally different to me.

I'm announcing for the fledgling Circle City Socialites' inaugural bout in late September. That's 3 leagues I will have announced for this season. I'm glad to do it, but hopefully ROSI and CCS are working on getting local color commentators....

I'm teaching my two classes at Ivy Tech and Cont. Studies again this fall.

Met with Lucia today about a potential collaboration involving ... we know not what. Pin-hole photography, motion painting, poetry, sound effects. Something awesome.

Giant bat in the house last night! Big as my face. Nearly carried Mari away. I told her to hide under a blanket while it flitted around the living room and I threw towels trying to knock it down. Sphinx took a swipe at it and apparently nipped its wing. Go Cat Power!

I think McCain McCain's handlers chose Palin just to make Obama look bad vis-a-vis "experience." How stupid is that?

I still want to vacate somewheres this year, damnit. A beach, please. November? Perhaps a cruise?

DEATH RACE is not a great movie, but it was exactly what I needed just then. Also, Natalie Martinez!

No Eroticon this year :( I've heard the DJs at Uncle E's aren't that great, so I'm considering making a DJ Boomslang appearance ... outside of Jakes/Mars/Axis/Jakes! Just to keep muh mixing chops, yo.

I'm convinced: Some cats just plain like to poop on the floor. Guh!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Summertime and the Livin' Is Easy ... Too Easy

I am reclaiming my mornings. I've realized that I get sleepy/fall asleep at the same time, more or less, every night no matter when I wake up in the morning. So I'm trying to get up earlier (i.e., when my alarm goes off, not 25 snoozes later) and get back to my productive morning routines, namely exercising and/or writing.

I gave up on the morning journaling thing late last year. I'd been doing morning pages every morning for almost 10 years, but in these years post-divorce the purpose of it had grown kind of stale. Brain dump, good. But I felt (and later read)like I was evacuating the same crap every morning, over and over, and not really learning anything from it, just filling notebooks. True, I did a metric ass-ton of writing and journaling and editing in late 05 and in 06 that was instrumental in getting me "through" some pretty dark days. But it started to feel like any lingering hard feelings were kept alive by me and me alone, primarily through reliving them, in black and white, every morning.

So in late December last year, I finished filling a notebook, then bought one of those spiffy Moleskine artist's journals, and relinquished my morning regimen. Ever since then I've been just writing then the mood strikes me and occasionally making a random month a "poem a day" project.

Well, that sucked.

Eight months in and my output is abysmal. The quality of what I'm writing is okay, but writing is a numbers game: the more you write the better you get, if only because you're producing more pages and so more opportunities for greatness. I have not picked up the pace in ye olde blogge either, as I thought I would. Plus, I have missed my morning doodles, especially the ones where I would just explore a thought or an article I'd read or flesh out map on my life path, none of which really involved plumbing the depths of my quiddity or anything. I was just ... writing. And my morning writing habits never really transitioned to later in the day, as I thought might happen too.

So I'm back to it, trying to get into a chair in front of my journal asap after waking up and hack out a couple of pages every morning. So far so good, but I am becoming less enamored of Mr. Moleskine. I have always had an aversion to "fancy" journals but M seemed so austere yet elegant. I think I'm having trouble with the paper, though. Too smooth. Too creamy. Too ... nice. And the pages are just small enough to give me a hemmed-in feeling, even though, looking back in past journals, I don't really take up more space on the page, at least when writing poetry.

I'm still hung up on my blank Sanford Uni-Ball Onyx micro pens. In fact, it's about time to order another box.

I'm gearing up for the poetry retreat + workshop I'm hosting next weekend at Hill House, which I think is what's convinced me that something's gotta give here. I have to finish getting my workshop submission together, which has had me thinking about my process and toolkit. And I've been feeling a little "crisis"-y about it all. I'm supposed to produce a chapbook ms. out of this workshop, as stipulated in my fellowship app, which is how the workshop is getting funded in the first place. No pressure! Really, I'm not feeling pressured externally. I've got at very least 3/4 of the ms. gathered. Hopefully after the workshop it'll be ready to trim, finalize, and then I can start showing it around in Sept., then start submitting it for pubbing in October though the rest of the year.

That's the plan anyway.

Writing aside:

Roller derby is ruling my life these days. Not ruining! But it has pushed a lot of stuff to the side. No more so, though, than, say, that live sound effects gig did. That ate most of May and June this year, but it was such a rewarding experience, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Same with announcing. I really enjoy it but it's not something I can just show up and do. It takes a fair amount of constant involvement with the derby community and actual study of names, numbers, and rules and strategy to be effective on mic.

I can tell I'm getting better at it too, and I'm really enjoying working with X Static this season. We're actually developing some Duo Traits (Liz would call this a Bromance) that's cool on a personal level, but it's also making our part of "the show" much more interesting. It helps that we regularly get invited to announce for the Rollergirls of Southern Indiana in Evansville. I'm going down to announce for them this weekend, and it'll be the third time this year I've announced for a team that's not "mine." How cool is that? They are awesome ladies, too, and ROSI is like another home team to me in many ways.

Let's see, what else:

Survived a visit over the weekend from Mari's parents and brother. eek!

May be Probably having a yard sale this weekend.

Going to Holiday World on Monday with Mars, V-ron, and her man.

Have been invited to collaborate on some kind of visual art/poetry project. Too vague at this point to talk about in more detail, but I think this may be the project I try to get funded with an IAC grant next year.

Can't find my passport anywhere. I hope I haven't lost it but it's probably not a huge deal. It's terribly expired anyway. (I haven't been overseas since it was issued ... in 1987. I flew to Edmonton in 1999 and was let into and out of the US/Canada without a passport. Ah, the good old days of intentionally lax security.) I think I have to report it lost before I apply for a new one, though.

I really want to GO SOMEWHERE this year, far away, like a beach or maybe visit Gerry in the mountains. After reading about Persia in National Geographic, I am stricken with wanderlust, and I think I really would like to visit Iran (or the Middle East) someday, fairly soon, before we americanize it too much. Or start bombing them.

Reading tons of poetry these days: Mary Jo Bang, James Galvin, Kyle Dargan, Frank O'Hara (need to read more FO'H), and the summer double issue of POETRY. I want to start reading prose (fiction or non-) again, but I am so pressed for time.

Saw the new Mummy movie. Eh. Still, it was better than the new Indiana Jones movie, which makes me kind of ill.

Saw Wall-E and absolutely loved it.

Still haven't seen Dark Knight and need to badly.

Just got handed an ms. to set at work: "Revenge of the Women's Studies Professor." Ha! This should be good.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

In honor of the new poet laureate...

Patience
by Kay Ryan


Patience is
wider than one
once envisioned,
with ribbons
of rivers
and distant
ranges and
tasks undertaken
and finished
with modest
relish by
natives in their
native dress.
Who would
have guessed
it possible
that waiting
is sustainable—
a place with
its own harvests.
Or that in
time's fullness
the diamonds
of patience
couldn't be
distinguished
from the genuine
in brilliance
or hardness.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Well, it's over ... for now.


Your Humble Narrator as Mr. Foley


International Mystery Writers Festival

Too many stories to tell. I'm battling a little post-show depression, which I used to get all the time but not really anymore, probably because I'm too damn busy to think "show life" is any different from "real life." For some reason, though, this show is different, and I owe a lot of these loose feelings to synchronicity.


Deana Duncan, director and comedic star

I love doing sound effects, especially live, and boy did this project stretch me. I think I commented elsewhere: 8 shows, 34 performances, 10 days, with a little over a week of real-time face-to-face onstage prep and rehearsal. Damn.

But what made this so rewarding was the talent involved. From the seasoned audio producers, to the pros in the sound booth, to the versatile actors, to the great writing, add me to the mix and you've got a unique, hybrid theatre experience. A little bit old-time radio, a little black box, plus 3 of the shows were screenplays adapted for live performance -- basically movies performed live -- all done on a shoestring.


Amy Walker, BIG talent

And then I got to play Mr. Foley in the REMEMBER WENN play, which was great. I loved that show when it was on the air, right around the time I was getting into radio theatre and sound effects and sound design. More than that, though: I got to BE Mr. Foley for a couple of weeks. Relentless schedule. Non-stop problem-solving, literally on my feet for hours at a stretch. And, as often happens, the distracting noise I was making at first turned into an extra cast member and eventually everyone who didn't know what I was up to "got it." I even saved a couple of plays at the absolute very last minute. Wow!

Yeah, too, too many stories to tell, good and bad, but here are some low/highlights:


* The hotel the casts, as well as virtually everyone attending the festival, was staying in, closed, suddenly, two days after I got into town. So instead of a 5 minute riverside walk to the venue, I had a 10-minute drive across town, and everyone was spread out over 4 hotels. A fairly minor inconvenience for me but not a good start to the run, not to mention 300 people losing their jobs overnight. And they found out about it on the news.


Andy Paternoster, live music on Mapes for Hire

*The schedule was brutal. Most days I was in the theatre by 8am to set up, and rehearsed from 9am till 10 or 11pm every night. It got only slightly easier once we were performing in front of people. The worst day, for me, was Thurs 6/12, the night we opened the first play. Rehearsal at 9a, and rehearsals for other plays all day, then open a show at 7:30, THEN rehearse another show, which I wouldn't touch again until it opened 3 days later. The amount of work was actually quite overwhelming when I stopped to think about it. So I stopped thinking about it.


Rich Fish as the Dead Man, and Gerry Vermillion as the Reporter, in It Burns Me Up!

* Everything was under-rehearsed by the time it opened, but each play was performed 4-5 times, so we had a chance to work out the kinks as we went. By the 3rd live performance, tech, acting, live sound effects, lighting, etc., all were locking together.


David Ossman, director

* One play, FLEMMING, a comedy, hit the ground running -- it was hysterical at the table read -- and everyone new it would be good from the very start, and it was. The REMEMBER WENN piece also turned out great, as was to be expected given the context, and the whole cast really ran with it. WENN probably had the best "energy" of all the plays, everyone was so into pushing it and playing it large. Plus, though it is a comedy, it's a dynamic play, taking the audience from belly laughs to tears in about half an hour. Personally, I cried at the end every fucking time. Right on cue.

* My favorite was probably the Bradbury piece IT BURNS ME UP! even though it had very few live sound effects. It's classic Bradbury, though, and the writing, with Rich Fish's great performance, totally carried it. It also featured a huge walla ensemble, which was a cool thing to see happen live.


The Walla Pit for Crime of Passion

* I most definitely am going to get more live SFX work out of this, likely in other theatres where troupes want to stage radio plays or "wide-screen audio" performances as opposed to staged readings (yawn). In fact, there are serious plans afoot to take some of the plays from IMWF to a for a week, soon, before the original casts scatter to other projects. More details on that as they develop. Keep your fingers crossed! Mine are.

* If you climb a shelf in Home Depot and hold up a 8' sheet of corrugated barn roofing so someone else can shake the bottom to test its usability as a thunder sheet ... people will look at you funny.

* I got to break a lot of glass on stage. A LOT OF GLASS!



THE PLAYS
The Help by Bill Kerby: 90-minute screenplay adapted for stage/audio. Very cinematic, obviously. Almost a movie within a movie too. Four grifters -- including protagonist Buck, a poolman/part-time stunt man -- cross paths. You can't trust anyone in Hollywood.

BRADBURY/CLARK double bill
It Burns Me Up! by Ray Bradbury: Classic Bradbury tale, told from the perspective of a dead man, enhanced by the gaggle of reporters, onlookers, and cops come to watch.
Crime of Passion by Mary Higgins Clark: By mystery legend Mary Higgins Clark, who attended the final performance. NOT my favorite play, but we pretty much nailed it. Part whodunit, part US Weekly romance.

Hallie Bowers by Harris F. Mack & Linda Campbell: Set in 1941. Hallie, a female PI, tracks drug dealers and dodges handsy club owners, all before sending her kid brother off to fight in the war. Another screenplay, and one of the most complicated sound designs.

Cajun P.I. by PJ Woodside: A retired detective teaching a criminal science class at a community college inadvertently leads one of his students into a bad situation.

Mapes for Hire by Lee Goldberg: Harvey Mapes works the security booth at a gated community, until he's hired to follow a man's wife. His first case as a budding private investigator! But PI work is not all fun and games, Harvey learns.


Orson Ossman as Harvey Mapes


Phil Proctor, the Total Tool, directing the walla group for Mapes

MURDER TIMES TWO double bill
Take My Word For It And You Don't Have To Answer by Robert S. Levinson: Two early film "stars" reminisce about their failure, the crime one of them has kept hidden all these years ... and the payment finally due.
Between Sins by Robert S. Levinson: Pure radio noir. The engineers dubbed this one "The Downer" because everyone is a bad guy and it's a pretty relentless tale. A private dick, a comely judge, and an ex-con with an axe to grind cross swords.

Flemming: An American Thriller by Sam Bobrick: Probably the most successful play. Broad, slapsticky comedy about Flemming, a bored suburban businessman reinventing himself out of his midlife crisis and into life as a hard-boiled detective. Drinks on the house!

An Armchair Detective: A Remember WENN Mystery Play by Rupert Holmes: The first half is the first episode of the acclaimed AMC show; the rest is new material written by Rupert Holmes, the show's creator. It's 1938 and young, wide-eyed Betty Roberts, fresh from Elkhart, Ind., arrives at station WENN in Pittsburgh ready to write her way into a career in broadcasting. But, of course, this is live radio, where nothing ever goes as planned.

All photos by Bryan Leazenby

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Greetings from Owensboro, KY!



This is where I've been, literally, for most of the past week. I'll try to take and post more pics of the different sets. My rigs for each play are actually quite different, some more elaborate than others. This was taken June 8, just a day or so after I'd been down here, so my li'l 8x8 square is relatively uncluttered. Haven't even set mics yet at this point. Full write-up to come, but below are some of the amazingly talented (and at times difficult) people I've been fortunate to work with ... and may have an opportunity to work with again in the very near future....

David Ossman
Phil Proctor
Gary Sandy
Amy Walker

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Tale of the Type

Now that Hill is out of the picture, for me it all comes down to this:

McCain's typeface: Optima, a modernistic sans serif designed by the German type designer Hermann Zapf in 1958 that was popular among book and magazine designers during the 1970s.


It ain't a serif face; it ain't sans, but it's not exactly neutral either. Could this be a centrist typeface? No, it's just Optima, trying to split the difference. Except for that insipid star/dingbat fiasco on top. Also, used for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which makes sense considering his military achievements. All right already! I get it! you're a war hero! sheesh.

Technically speaking, though, I think he's using a false bold in order to make a strong font out of a fairly week one. I've set entire books in Optima. Don't care for it. Makes me think of a dentist office shingle.

Obama, on the other hand, is using for all his "change"ing needs Gotham, a relatively new face by Hoefler & Frere-Jones, modeled after Port Authority Bus Terminal signage in NYC. No, it's not Helvetica or Arial. It's Gotham: refined, simple, bold, and progressively familiar. Used on the Twin Towers memorial cornerstone.


Plus, and best of all, it's an Open Type font, meaning it has nearly endless variations for virtually any application. This is probably one reason why every piece of printed matter the Obama campaign uses starts with Gotham (other than his name/logo, which I find endearingly generic compared to the Importance of His Message). Everything. Signage, door hangers, leaflets. Everything. That's good design -- way to control your image. Talk about having your game together.

I'm not saying my political inclinations depend on typography. But they certainly are reinforced by it. And the candidates' platforms are, I think, amplified by their design choices.

btw, Hillary went with New Baskerville. No comment.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Would You Buy a Used Car from This Man?

Oh yeah, how could I forget: I ran into jim the fiend* at the roller derby after party at the Vid last month. Hadn't seen or heard from him since my ex and I separated and he was living with her in Spencer for a very short time to help her out financially. Very enlightening conversation. Now, I take (and have always taken) everything James says with a grain of salt so titanic ... well, it's so big it looks like it could sink the Titanic. But I also understand Jim and his longterm friendship with my ex well enough to believe that he was just trying to help and got the short end of the stick for it.

Regardless, it was really good to reconnect with someone from that time -- one of her oldest friends even -- who hasn't written me off as a patriarchal, life-ruining asshole. (Although that's the line he was fed too, and he believed it for a time. Who wouldn't?? It's so plausible....)

Also, clearly I wasn't crazy or fabricating any of my grievances regarding co-homeownership. So, score one for my tiny tired brane brain.

*This link is in all likelihood NSFW, as James works in the adult entertainment industry.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Five Days to Kentucky

The most glorious rainstorm came through just now, a strong one but not so scary that I couldn't sit on the porch and enjoy it. The wind picked up and blew rain in on me. Thunder and lightning. Cars slowing down in the downpour.

It felt like time just came to a standstill, I've been moving so fast in so many different directions lately. The Ivy Tech class went really well ... despite there being only TWO students. But they were great, knowledgeable people who already knew InDesign pretty well. They just wanted to know more about it. I learned a few things myself too. Overall, a great experience.

I have announced for the Rollergirls of Southern Indiana (in Evansville) twice now, and apparently the legend of Dick Smack is growing. I was introduced to a local radio DJ who wants to be an announcer for ROSI someday, and when I said "I'm Dick Smack," she says "Oh, I've heard about you." Really? About Dick Smack or about me? Let's hope it's all just part of the act. Anyway, good times on the derby front. The ROSI girls are awesome, and they and their refs helped us out a bunch at the season opener on 5/17.

I'm gathering gear like crazy this week for IMWF. I leave Friday and will be down there till about the 24th. This project is really kicking my ass, which was expected, but it has also been causing a great deal of anxiety. There's so much to wrap my brain around: 10 scripts, totaling well over 800 pages, one of which I won't even see till I get down there. I haven't been sleeping well, which is totally weird. Normally, I work work work but as soon as my head hits the pillow (actually as soon as I get anywhere near comfortably prone, say, on the couch) I am out like a light. For a couple of weeks, though, I've been either having trouble getting to sleep or waking up an hour or so before my alarm. Making lists. And lists of lists. And walking through everything in my mind. Gotta build a glass-break box. Gotta figure out how to perform flashbulbs. Gotta find a wind machine ... or, failing that, build one. So I get up earlier than usual and work, rather than just lay there and fret.

But I see light at the end of the tunnel. Items lists are getting checked off. I need to make one or two more trips to the hardware store or Goodwill, and then I can just box it up and get down there. Of course, this is all prep work. The REAL ball breaking doesn't start till Saturday. Then 6 days of rehearsals before the first show opens. And each day after that we'll be performing AND rehearsing every day. Some days as many as 4 performances, more or less back-to-back.

So yeah, I'm a little tense. I mean I'm really looking forward to doing it, and working with Fish and David Ossman and Judith Walcutt, but there's just SO MUCH. Even David and Judith are openly overwhelmed by it all. Fortunately, I do like this kind of pressure. Especially since I'll be the only person down there doing live sound effects. I like to specialize.

But it has made an already tense situation with me and Mars even more pressurized. You know the story, gentle readers: she's leaving B-tizzle, eventually, for a library job. Somewhere. This week's contender is Wells College (upstate New York). Am I going with her or staying here in Bloomington? Good question, one I never tire of asking myself. So on top of conceptualizing sound effects and gathering the gear to perform them, and planning to be gone from work at the end of the fiscal year and right before our senior designer is retiring, I'm thinking about my options every other minute instead of every other day like usual. I just KNOW I'm going to get a call while I'm in Kentucky asking if I want to move to Ithaca. And I'm just don't feel capable of making that determination that yet.

The thought of leaving Bloomington fills me with as much dread as the thought of not going with Mari wherever she goes. I can make it work, right? Find a decent job. Connect with the locals like I have here. Keep all my hobbies and varied interests going. This is about as far I get into the internal discussion, though, because I then have to turn my attention to IMWF. I feel like once I'm done with this gig, and I'll have only derby and poetry to contend with for the rest of summer, I can start doing some job searches and general location research right alongside Mari as she applies to all these places. I feel like I can't wait, though. I feel like she can't wait either. But I can't just hope it'll work out. I don't have the confidence to just pick up and hope greener pastures await me. I need to know that at least some (optimally most) of what I want from a community is going to be there. bleah.

We fight quite a bit lately, but honestly I think it all comes down to this core issue.

We're both traveling a lot in June/July. She's leaving for Pennsylvania for her bro's high school graduation about the time I'm going to Kentucky. Then we're both home for about a week before she leaves for LA for the M.L.A. conference. And I still want to go somewhere in July or August. Someplace beachy, maybe, with a poetry workshop nearby. That's not too much to ask, is it? Or maybe see Gerry in Colorado? Vacation: that's the word I'm searching for.

Books read:
Miracle Fruit by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Really good but a bit too feminine for me. I loved hearing her read in person, though, and will probably seek out her new book. Foodies, take note: lots of poems about fruit, cooking, and the senses.

The Splinter Factory by Jeffrey McDaniel
Good but I bet I'd like him better in person. His poetry seems a little confined by the page. Is that a bad thing?

Recent movies:
No Country for Old Men
Wow. Definitely deserved all those Oscars, and made up for some comparatively lame Cohen Bros. movies of late. Real gritty.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
The last movie featuring the original TV show crew. Actually this is one of the better flicks of the series. I think I may have run out of steam on this viewing project, though.

Storm's over. Sun's out. We had the most incredible, long spring this year. Weeks and weeks of it. All things considered, this is going to be a great summer. Just need to get past IMWF.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Too-Busy to-Update Update

DEEDLE-DON'T
Didn't go to Tionol. Instead, I had a foley gig in B-ton this past weekend, as part of a live-broadcast variety show capping WFHB's spring fund drive. Talk about a last-minute production: I signed on about a week ago but didn't learn until Wed that it was live in front of an audience ... at the Waldron auditorium. Cool! Also, did not get final scriptage until day of show ... and didn't rehearse until ... about 40 minutes before show time. And then, not on mic; everyone just gathered 'round the foley table and we did a quick run-through. The show went off surprisingly well and virtually flawlessly. The smallish crowd enjoyed it too, in all it's cheesiness. The 3 live musical acts are all old friends, and my cast/crew have all worked together for a billion years, so a good show was practically guaranteed I guess. I believe it was recorded; I'm interested to hear how my Rube Goldberg bit came out.

SPEAKING OF/ON RADIO
I recorded two new poems for Jenny Kander's The Poet's Weave program on WFIU. That will at 11:45 air on Sunday, May 4, and eventually be archived on WFIU's website.

THE ROBIN WILLIAMS THAT AIN'T SO HAIRY
Graphic Design class is going swimmingly. Best. Class. Evar. (Compared to the other two times I've taught it.) Everyone, with 2 exceptions, is in the design certification program, which means they've already taken classes in Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator, which means I DON'T HAVE TO TEACH SOFTWARE, I just teach ... The Principles of Graphic Design, like I'm supposed to (and like the class is named). Now, I have heard many complaints from my peeps about the InDesign portion of the program, that the teacher didn't cover what I consider (and what I think are) basic, key areas of the software (esp. master pages and paragraph styles). But the class all know one another from all the other classes they've had together, and they are enjoying what I'm laying down and seem to genuinely "get it." They're sharp, which is awesome. Third class tonight, last one on Thurs. Then a week off, and the InDesign CS3 class I teach at Ivy Tech starts the following Tues.

DUH
Remember my InDesign dilemma? I'm a dork. I bought the whole Adobe CS3 suite (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, etc.) for $250 (not $1,600 retail or $1,200 through my IHETS connection) through IU with my staff discount. Problem solved. I say again: duh. I don't know why I didn't think of it before.

MENTAL HEALTH DAZE
I took Friday and Monday off work, which has been unusually grind-y lately. I pushed out A LOT OF BOOKS in March and really needed some time off. I did virtually nothing fun, though. Friday I ran errands like crazy in the shitty, pissing rain and in general caught up on home life stuff. But then ... nooner! That was lovely! The weekend, she was also very busy. Then Monday, the weather was nicer but I still just ran errands, recorded at WFIU, had a derby meeting, then was suddenly stricken with allergies. bleah.

NOW HEAR THIS
I'm gonna give NATF the boot. It's been a tough decision to make, but I just don't like the direction the org is going, there's too much in-fighting for my taste, and I feel like I'm getting guilt-tripped into doing more than I already am, and I absolutely HATE not-for-profits that act that way ... make you feel as if not sacrificing your first born means you don't care enough. That whole "get-give-or get out" mentality re: fundraising really rankles with me. I want to finish my two-year term (ending this fall), continue working on the newsletter and possibility moving the annual workshop here to B-tucky ... but beyond that, I just get the willies thinking about what a clusterfuck I'm dealing with. The unspoken (and sometimes spoken) animosity, which I think is really poisoning the org. The facade of a fairly rinky-dink org trying to present itself as "national." I mean a 25-year-old org ought to be able to conduct itself in a professional manner. But now I just want to do my bit and get out.

A BETTER OFFER
What's REALLY drawing me away from the workshop this year, though, is a better offer also in June: performing live sound effects for 8 audio plays (screenplays adapted for live audio theatre stage performance) in Owensboro, Ky., as part of the International Mystery Writers' Festival. I was passed over for this last year, and apparently the guy they did get was a complete disaster. (Serves them right: Mr. Hollywood is good, but he's got a big ol' ego too.) So now the producers (whom I've worked with before) have asked me, which is way cool!!! It's a vast project: 8 plays, multiple performances of each, 4-5 performances total a day, and each play is at least an hour long (some will be closer to two). Last year there were around 600 pages of script total. Yikes! But I like a challenge, especially when it's clearly defined and well funded, and I am adequately compensated.

A BETTER PROSPECT
The downside of this is that I will have to skip the IU Writers Conference, which was to be part of my fellowship fulfillment. But you know, in a way this is a good thing. IMWC gives me a perfectly concrete out from the NATF gig, and I really don't mind missing the IUWC; it was kind of a compromise since I have been/am going to be so busy but wanted to get the workshop portion of my fellowship proposal out of the way. "Out of the way": not the best way to think of a monetary award, eh? I was also going to have to shoehorn it in right before NATF, which means I'd likely not be fully focused on it. So now I need to find a good poetry workshop I can attend sometime between July and December, and maybe by then I'll actually have the chapbook manuscript written. The application I put together for the IUWC was too soon, too soon. I cobbled together something I thought would eventually be part of the final manuscript, but it's already getting torn up, rethought, and probably even discarded.

WRITING MY WAY OUT
As usual, in the midst of all this other stuff I got going on I hit on a GREAT chapbook concept that is going to be therapeutic and important for me to write. Briefly, it involves my "twin" cousin who died in a farming accident when we were 4 and how our eerily identical families dealt with it (or didn't). I can say no more. I've tried writing about Jeffrey off and on for many, many years but nothing good has ever come of it. I think I see it now, though.

THE WALLS, THEY SEE THROUGH ME
My allergies are really kicking my ass today. I feel downright malarial.

VAMPIRES!
That's the name I gave the number in my cell for the Red Cross blood bank. So when they call, it gets my attention. (Similar to how I labeled the student loan fuckers "Student Loan Fuckers!" so I don't inadvertently answer their shitty calls.) Sometime last month, I had my quickest blood donation ever. From the time I left work to the time I returned, including a little QT with Little Debbie and Grandma at the blood bank cantina, I was only gone about 50 minutes. Wow! They drained me fast. Vitals are good: BP 118/78 (oddly, identical to my previous donation reading), Pulse 76.

READINGS
I don't have any scheduled; I'm kind of enjoying my poetry performance hiatus and am trying to channel that energy into writing. However, I went to an awesome reading last Wed -- I termed it the Unspeakable Reading because I could only pronounce Patrick's name -- at the Waldron, featuring Aracelis Girmay, Tyehimba Jess, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and Patrick Rosal. And I am co-hosting a reading on the 17th at Rachel's Cafe. I might break out something for the open mic, or maybe not. Incidentally, B-tizzle-ites, if you haven't been to Rachel's yet hie thee!

FIN
There's more, always more. But that's enough for now. It's April!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Stand By For Adventure!

TO-DO DO DO, TO-DA DA DA
So, sometime ago I posted this MASSIVE to-do list for the first half of 2008.

It's still in place. Some to's have been done. I've actually TURNED DOWN some work because I just can't handle another project. (Go me.) In general, I'm pretty all-business these days, except when I'm in FUN MODE, in which case I'm all bid-niz, yo.


NO, ASSHOLE, TURKEYS FLY!!!
The NATF retreat in St. Louis was equally frustrating, shocking, invigorating, and terrifying. I learned some things about the org that, frankly, if I'd known this was "the state of things" or "how shit gets done," I might have passed on a board position.

But, as my drinkin' buddy Don Rumsfeld once said, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had. So I'm sticking with these folks for at least the remainder of my first 2-year term. Beyond that? Who knows. I don't think I'm cut out for this level of board involvement, especially if they "ratify" the "give, get, or get out" fundraising credo -- which I think is asinine and definitely was stated NOWHERE in the welcome-to-the-club literature.



In other NATF news, IF I'm on staff at the annual workshop this year (and that's still an IF at this point, sad to say) I won't be performing sound effects (sniff) ... I'll be DIRECTING a segment most likely including but not limited to an adaptation of some Shakespeare, some cowboy poetry, and a Native American folk tale. Kind of a mash-up of all three. I think. Which is cool! Though I haven't directed anything in ... about 14 years. But considering my "job" that week will consist of hanging out with cowboys and getting them comfortable with this whole AW-DEE-OH THEE-ATE-R concept, I'm pretty thrilled.

So there's that.


STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS
Some bullet points, sans bullets:
I'm still on a bit of a conspiracy theory kick these days. At work, I'm watching/listening (mostly listening) to "The Secret Rulers of the World," which is a little too nuthatch-y in spots (and poorly spiced together in general) to be taken seriously (all 29 parts of it), but it is a fascinating and entertaining overview of governmental/religious/regal/economic/racial dominance of civilization over the past 3,000 years or so, from the Egyptian pharaohs up to the Bush dynasty. The "dot connecting" and Illuminati stuff is, I think, pretty far-fetched, as much as it fires my imagination, in an attempt to posit conspiracies and World Domination plots. But the series is full of Interesting historical tidbits and questions.

There's another good series by the BBC called "The Power of Nightmares," which posits essentially that much of the "enemy threat" during the Cold War and the concept of al-Qaeda as a faceless, country-less terrorist org with global sleeper cells, even here in the US, were largely if not entirely ... fabricated, like the bogeyman, as part of a neocon agenda that's not really hidden.

I'm also watching/listening to as much Noam Chomsky as Mars is reading/listening to Michael Pollan. To each his/her own I guess.

I managed to hook Mars on LOST, despite the screaming (in the show, not from me). I watched about a dozen episodes somewhere between season 1 and 2 last year when I was still living with Mike, so I knew I had to start over at some point and watch it all the way to the present. Yay, Netflix.

Because it needs to be said: I really wish my ex would get her financial shit together. I'm tired of hearing about it.

Oh, and RIP William F. Buckley, Jr. He was a good 'un.

EDIT: This could use some intro: it's a debate between Chomsky and Buckley from 1969, on US intervention in world affairs. I don't agree with Buckley's view that the US should be able to intervene because we are "disinterested" and have [INSERT COUNTRY NAME]'s best interests at heart. This view I think is what the neocons ultimately fomented into today's yee-haw US foreign policy, where we are INCAPABLE of wrongdoing ... or even human error, since God is on our side. ANYWAY, what I do love about Buck is the way he gets his point across as intelligently as Chomsky does. B is a little overbearing, I think, and cuts Noam off a lot. But in general you can tell that at heart, these are two intellectuals who WANT people to understand what they are saying. I mean, can you imagine talk like this showing up on TV (or radio or even the innerwebs) today? There's far too much mutual respect here, and not nearly enough mindless screaming and poo-flinging.






DEEDLE-DI
Got two Irish gigs with Mars and some session mates coming up around St. Patty's Day. One is tentative at this point (Sunday 3/16 at tutto bene), but the other is as firm as cold haggis:

ODDS-N-ENDS
Let's see:
I hosted a poetry slam on campus for the Hop-Hop Congress Culture Awareness Week (yeah, college kids can do anything as long a "culture" is attached to it). Good times. I showed up thinking I was "officiating," i.e., picking judges, speakin' rules to the playas, keeping score. Turns out they had no MC (ahem, SLAM MASTER), so I offered. It went well, although their white-ass DJ was trying to spin trip-hop that came across like elevator music. And I hate the "play music while the poet approaches the stage" paradigm made famous by Def Poetry Jam. Plus, I kinda lapsed into some "yo"s, "what up"s, and "yeeeeah, boy"s, which was a little embarrassing, but hey, when in Rome ... better hit a bathhouse while you're there, right?

Filed taxes; received refund of same. A piddly refund, I might add, compared to last year's largesse; but my income was a bit less last year and my freelance expenses were WAY less, so I didn't have nearly as much to deduct (like my laptop, for starters). Still, every freaking dime is earmarked, which I actually feel pretty good about.

Howled at the moon during the eclipse.

Read some really good books of poetry lately, including:
Dismal Rock by Davis McCombs
Book of My Nights by Li-Young Lee
The Cold That Burns by Siobahn Campbell
What Narcissism Means to Me by Tony Hoagland

REALLY tired of election coverage. Actually I've been tired of it since about December/January. I'm still making up my mind, but that's only because I'm still learning about these people as leaders. Chomsky talked about US elections once, saying Americans make opinions about candidates as if we were deciding who we'd like to sit down and have a beer with. You know what? In the grand scheme of things, I want a good leader, not a drinkin' buddy. (Sorry, Don. I wouldn't vote for you anyway.)

Dug a couple of things out of my closet and went to an 80s party, where Mars and Liz knew the lyrics to the cheese better than I did. Truly, though, if you remember the 80s, you probably weren't there ... those of us who were are trying desperately to forget it. (I mean come on: public high school in the Reagan era? yeesh.)

Have been workshopping poems with Joe again ... and it feels so good! If it's just the two of us, is it really a workshop? Eh, whatever. I'm writing a bunch; the Moleskine journal is working out I think, and my work is taking on new shapes and moving in different directions because of it. (I honestly think my content is being affected by the shape, color, and texture of the paper ... and the lack of lines, or RULES, as they say in the trade.) At this point I think I have maybe 6-9 poems that I'd like to include in the chapbook project. That may change. Or not! Right now I'm just focusing on getting it out and down on paper; we'll sort it out, me and the Freemasons, later this summer.


EXISTENCE/EXISTANCE
I really don't have time these days for existential crises. I'm not too worried about things in general: job is good; arts stuff is poppin'; love life seems stable (and honestly, not having time to dwell on it is kind of a boon due to my tendency to overthink).

I suppose if I HAD to get all introspective about life, I'd say that Mars' job woes weigh on me. It makes her cranky, which makes her hell to deal with sometimes, even as Zen as I like to try to be. There's no certainty, still, that she's going to be in Bloomington for more than a few months. It just depends on what job she finds and where. Only SHE doesn't think she's worthy of that tremendous opportunity, which gets us into this cycle of my telling her she's great ... so she can find a job elsewhere and move away.

Wouldn't it be smarter to just roll with the negativity and AGREE that she's only worth the shitty job she has, so that she'll stay here?

No, of course not. Not even I am that selfish.

So there's that.

I'm nearly 100% certainly staying in B-ton for the foreseeable future. There's simply nothing driving me away, and no place pulling me toward it for more than a visit. Plus, I got all this stuff going that I'm really happy about. I think I want to be selfish, and feel okay about it, and keep all this stuff for myself. I'll share, though.

With that admission in mind, I also do and don't think about buying a house again. I hate renting but love not having to deal with major house stuff; yet while dealing with major house stuff kept me more active, mortgage companies in general suck and lately, suck hard. Yeah, I guess it's a buyer's market these days, but I'm not so sure I want my finances tangled up in a mortgage just now, thanks. I still owe a (to me) considerable amount to a credit card company. But I now owe monthly rent and monthly utilities, and beyond that I'm a free man financially. That feels really good, and it's been over a decade since I've been in this position. Plus, until she gets some things worked out/paid off, my ex is going to continue to threaten me with bad credit/bankruptcy by association. Nothing I can do about that but wait, unfortunately. And it could be 3-4 years before anything positive comes out of that. So ... I wait.

Which is fine! I'm exceedingly patient and there is PLENTY to keep me busy until I'm ready to get more domestic again. Playing house with Mars has been fun, and I think I want to continue that (we need to decide soon whether to renew the lease here). So rather than see all these Major Decisions as a pall over my otherwise clearly progressing life, I'm choosing to view the time I do have to consider them as a gift. "Why thank you! How thoughtful. That's just what I needed."

Lastly, it's still wintry here, and my old Capricorn soul loves it. The gray and gloom make some people S.A.D., and I'm sure it does me some too. But I'll take it! I love it. Love the high contrast and the biting snap in the air, the way melting icicles are like God pissing his name in the snow, the sweet anticipation of spring, which always feels so good when it finally arrives after months of monochrome. The x-mas hoohah is long gone and it's a few weeks from the Season of Mud, so I'm enjoying it.

Okay, that's enough.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

NOT-SO-INSTANT REVIEW: The Netflix Queue

STAR TREK: A BUNCH OF SEQUELS
So Mars and I embarked on a journey ... to watch all the Star Trek movies ... in order. Honestly, you're either into ST or you're not, so a review is kind of pointless -- although the fact that we are now arguing over who's idea this was should give you some indication of the overall quality of this venture. (Ahem, it was HER idea, I tell ya! I'm just an old Trekkie.)



I will say, though, that the old adage is true: all the odd-numbered installments (I, The Non-motion Picture; III, The Search for PlotSpock) for the most part suck; all the even-numbered flicks (II, Khan Strikes Back; IV, Save the Whales) are actually quite good.

We've gotten halfway through ... this madness. Then one night I recommended a couple of episodes of Carnivale a friend ripped for me some years ago, though I never finished the series, as it was on cable and I didn't have it at the time.

CARNIVALE:
So we took a little detour into Dust Bowl Depression-era America. Wow, what a show! Basic Summary: a carnival/freak show is traveling the circuit from Oklahoma to California in 1934. Concurrent to this story are the trials and tribulations (literally) of a pastor grappling with his faith in the middle of very hard times. The show implies, obviously, that there is a connection between the carnival and the pastor, but that doesn't become clear until much, much later. Everyone in the show has a detailed back story, too, which you really only glimpse in the 1st season.



If you liked Twin Peaks, Carnivale has a similar grittiness (the creepy dwarf from TP, Michael J. Anderson, is a lead actor here) and "good vs. evil" overarching story, but Carnivale is more accessible, not nearly as self-consciously weird as Lynch's small-town America. Huge ensemble cast, good acting (for the most part, although a few scenes were surprisingly awkward, I thought), impeccable production quality. I've read up on the show and apparently one reason why it only got two seasons on HBO was the high price tag: the network wanted to DECREASE the cost to $2 million per episode but the producer/creator wouldn't budge, so, even though HBO tends to let a good show play out no matter the cost, the show's sluggish ratings got it yanked.



Seriously, though, the attention to detail is really impressive, from costumes to slang to the constant wisps of dust and smoke drifting across the sets. I read that in the first season the costumers clothed about 5,000 people, there were so many extras. (I noted in one shot, where two leads were talking in close-up, there were probably 20-30 "roustabouts" passing behind them working on setting up the carnival, all in period dress. And that was a pretty incidental shot.)

I love this era of American history, especially the clothes and music, so for that alone it's worth a watch. But the story is really engaging too, and grows increasingly dark and ominous as it progresses into the last, second season.

That's right; two seasons and that's it, so the end is disappointing in that respect. The creator imagined the series as a 6-year project, with 2 seasons covering a "book" of the story. So we do see some resolution of SOME plot points, but nothing is conclusive, MUCH is left undone, and several characters who were just getting some attention remain largely unknown. Which is kind of fitting, but frustrating nonetheless.

EASTERN PROMISES:
I just watched this last night. Aragorn, son of Arathorn, continues to impress me, and Naomi Watts still has my heart in her kooky li'l hands. She's like a toned-down Nicole Kidman. Me likey. Also, Vincent Cassell and Armin Mueller-Stahl. Really good cast here.



I had forgotten until I saw the credits that this is a Cronenberg movie, which means it's got some pretty damn gruesome scenes, while it's not what I would call "violent." It's dark and dreary, but no shootings, low body count. Suffice it to say, though, that the killings are grisly and discomfiting, as they should be. The fight in the sauna was particularly gory and hard to watch.

That out of the way, this is a great story. A London midwife (Watts) delivers a baby just after a teenage mother dies on the table in the operating room. Midwife also finds the mother's journal, in Russian, which she has translated. This pulls her suddenly into the sphere of a Russian crime family, some members of whom she already knows. Viggo plays a driver for this Eastern Euro mafia. He's also something of a ... cleaner. A fixer of problems. Can't really say more. Murder, deceit, retribution, arterial spray. Classic Cronenberg. Plus Viggo Mortensen is up for a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Nikolai.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

DIE, VERSIONS!!!

So ... I use Adobe InDesign all the time: at work, freelance, personal chapbooky-type projects. It's great.

BUT I'm suddenly plagued by the fact that:
1) I use InDesign 2 (for PC) at home (a ... free copy ...)
2) I just switched to InDesign CS3 (part of a design suite that includes Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, etc., as well as ID) at work.
3) The graphic design class I'm teaching in April through Continuing Studies is still going to be run using CS2 -- they're not switching to CS3 until the fall.
4) I'm teaching a class on ID CS3 at Ivy Tech ... also in April/May.

Did I mention InDesign is great? Did I also mention you cannot back-save to a previous version? The obvious solution, of course, is to simply bite the bullet and get myself a copy of the whole CS3 suite ... for about $1,200. (InDesign by itself runs about $700, and this is with a friend's uber-IT-for-educators discount. I am looking into eBay options, though....)

BUT then anything I work on at home (in CS3), I still won't be able to use for the graphic design class (in CS2) this spring. As it is, I can create something at home (in ID2), but if I alter it at work or at the class (CS3 or CS2, respectively), I can't work on it at home anymore ... in ID2. AND anything I work on or create at work (in CS3) for the IU class (CS2) won't be usable for that class until fall (when they switch to CS3). AND I also won't be able to work on those files at home (in ID2) unless I upgrade, now to CS3 (skipping CS2 altogether). The Ivy Tech class is actually in CS3 ... but honestly most of it is going to involve making documents from scratch rather than me bringing in pre-designed pieces, so I'm not too concerned there.

I'll bet Masonically symbolic US currency that the Illuminati are behind this!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

He's Doing It Again (a free write)

A day of conspiracy theories and consequential rethinking of societal machinations.

37 U.S. presidents are direct descendants of the Illuminati bloodline. I know exactly what I think this means to me. Christ, it doesn’t sound good, does it?

And the Codex Alimentarius sounds like a fine way to end the Mayan calendar, if you ask me. Blood for blood. A 90% population reduction might just do it, too. I sometimes wish I had my chickens back, but then, we’re all being bred for something bigger than ourselves. Doesn’t matter if it comes from the end of a gun or under the knife or slowly, at the end of days, or slower still, in a nursing home. Something is going to devour me, even if it’s just the Earth. There’s a lot of formaldehyde to eat through first. I’d like to see that.

Apparently JFK objected to selling drugs to pay for the Cold War, and to providing our alien overlords with specimens at the ends of their sex probes. So we offed him. Is that all you got? I mean we MADE IT to the moon in that de-cade. And everything after. And this country loves sacrifice more than even meat. More than washers and dryers. It’s in our religion, and don’t even try to tell me this country wasn’t founded on religion. We invented Jesus. For there are no kings, have never been any kings, where there is a clergy standing behind them. Pope’s the best thing happened to the Crusades. Put a human face on it. Otherwise it’s just an esoteric agenda.

And this is a global problem, by the way. Where do you think that first 90% is going to come from anyway?

Here the difference is low wages still gets you satellite TV and three squares of corn syrup a day. I’m still dissatisfied, I’m still disgruntled, feeling dissed with my higher yet not advanced degree, still wondering when I’m going to get mine, though more likely at a movie theatre than on a frontline somewhere.

It’s almost impossible to imagine this story any further without bringing myself into it, which of course makes it all seem so far-fetched. I’m more hobbit than elf at this point, more content to live in the world than be a part of it.

Sum total seems to be 2nd amendment horseshit involving gun-clingers: “I don’t hate the guy that did this. He’s a loon anyway. I don’t hate the guns that did this. They didn’t walk in by themselves and start shooting.” Something about you need to keep your guns no matter what. Like life insurance. You have it and hope you’ll never need it, but the one time you need it and don’t have it, boy will you be sorry.

I’m already sorry.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ha! Sorry, Jack.

Found whilst sorting and filing stuff from the past two or three years.

I'm gonna

Break your steel
Cut your heel
Eat your meal
Call misdeal
Club your seal
Roast your eel
Numb your feel
Haul your keel
Make you kneel
Zest your peel
Spin your reel
Paint you teal
Chew your veal
Lance your weal
Shrug your zeal

Monday, January 14, 2008

Suck it, global climate change!

And let me just say how thrilled I am (really!) by the return of winter. That 60-65 degree shit simply was not making my January any better. Now it's icy, windy, and back in the 20s where it oughta be. And it even snowed! A little. Hopefully more tomorrow.

The Big To-Do

January
* Find a poetry retreat/workshop (right now I'm seriously contemplating IU Writers Conference + another Hill House retreat in Spencer with Joe et al.)
* Edit IU class materials (should go quickly; I've been over them a million times already)
* Restart MATRIX workshop

February
* NATF retreat in St. Louis
* Prep for IVY Tech class (need to acquire InDesign CS3 ... as that's what I'm teaching)

March
* Bear down and push out poetry ms. (my goal is to have at least twice as much material than the final chap will contain, so I can start cutting down and sequencing throughout a series of summer workshops, readings, and retreats)
* Finalize NATF project details (I'm producing a Cowboy/Indian/Shakespearean poetry mash-up; hopefully I'll be on staff at the workshop too)

April
* Tionol (trad Irish fest in St. Louis)
* Teach IU classes
* Research chapbook ms. contests (there are a ton out there)

May
* Teach IVY Tech classes
* BHRG bout program prep
* First 2008 derby bout
* NATF newsletter deadline
* Prep for NATF in June, as needed

June
* IU Writers Conference (mid-June)
* NATF (West Plains, Mo., last week o' June)

July
AS LITTLE ACTIVITY AS POSSIBLE
* Maybe visit Gerry in Boulder

August
* Hill House retreat
* Finalize chap ms.

September/October
* Submit chap for publication
* Fall reading tour(?)

November
* Submit report on Greer Fellowship monies


"Oh it's not that bad," he said. It was the last we heard from him for some time....

So ... I did okay on my 2007 resolutions, for the most part. Really the only one I didn't keep was cooking (myself) at home more often, but that picked up toward the end of the year, so I figure I'm just a late bloomer. I tend to carry over some resolutions from the previous year (mostly health-related), and I do have a few new ones, but I like to keep them on the down-low. I fret less when I don't make them public until the following year.

The first half of 2008 is going to be unbelievably busy for me, more than usual. It's all doable, I think, but it's going to require a lot of focus and shifting gears and mindsets, often. Audio theatre stuff, teaching 2 classes, making it to Tionol in April, tackling another stupid newsletter project (why do I do this to myself? I'm a sadist not a masochist....) -- and bubbling away behind it all is the chapbook manuscript I'm working on and need to finish, workshop, and shop around as per the poetry fellowship I won back in October. And I want to submit work for publication in general, which will help boost the viability of the ms.

And, of course, simmering behind even all this is the big question. The Biggest Question: should I stay or should I go? I'm still largely undecided, which is only natural, but when I do feel conclusive I also feel, by turns, sad, angry, and/or depressed. Doesn't matter which outcome I choose, either. Which is JUST LOVELY, let me tell ya.

There's no use fretting over it too much now, I tell myself. Until Mars has a where to go with the what, and an inkling of when, there's no way I can answer if with anything but maybe. But I'm a thinker ... a slow thinker ... and I can't seem to keep from dwelling on it now and then ... every day.

But ... on to more productive thoughts: A lot of friends had babies this year, and I am really happy for and proud of them all. Some of my favorite couples are reproducing, and that's awesome.

2007 seemed like a volatile year for a lot of people ... for me it was a year of settling. 2005 was the Year of the Never-ending Shit Storm ... that did finally end, but 2006 was the Year of the Move. Three times in 9 months. Bleah. So last year was, for me, a time to re-ground, check my gages, and start plotting and scheming again.

I like to plot!

I also cut some projects loose (unheard of!) to make room for more personal growth (shocking!) ... and BOY did that ever feel good, after a brief twinge of failure, of course.

I think it's fair to say I have hit the ground running in 2008.

I going to make a concerted effort to post here more often. They'll likely be less lengthy posts, but I hardly post on LJ or facebook and never on myspace. I like it here, though. It's quiet and I can hear myself think. Sounds like something needs tightening.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Am I Really That Awful?

So a friend (from the radio theatre crowd) stopped talking to me, some years ago, around the time of un fiasco per quattro. I was, and am, fine with that. I understood then that I was mostly a "business associate" to those guys, an interloper. So that shunning was expected and relatively painless.

But I just learned that another, mutual friend succumbed to lung cancer some time in 2007. I learned about it by lurking in his LJ ... not from any of several other mutual friends ... not even the ones who do still talk to me.

I know, I know. Someone I once considered a friend is dead, and that's what matters, not how (or how long after the fact) I received the news.

Craig didn't smoke, ever; learnt me a thing or three about killin' chickens and general good ol' boy craft in the wilds of Owen Co.; and was one of the finest Christian men, warts and all, I have ever known. Loved his kids too.

He moved away to Rochester to make better money, then promptly got divorced but didn't move back. The money was too good, and his kids were staying out east with his ex, so he stayed too. I'm sure he was brought back here for his funeral, though. I'll have to go find his stone soon.