Saturday, July 28, 2007

i have about as much faith in my ability to indefinitely produce somethings worth reading as i do in my ability to live forever. i struggle on an almost daily basis to say something that i like myself for having said, and that doesn't even begin to extend to my concern for readerly tastes. i've kind of been in a dry spout lately, for one reason or another, but i thought i better go ahead and say something so you all know i'm still around.

that said, let me share with you some of my pet peeves that i have discovered in the past week.

1) stories that pretend to be great when they're not (see The Illusionist, as well as Syriana)

2) criticism that pretends that there is an objective scale for good or bad art

3) people who express opinions that, at best, don't get along, at worst, are mutually negational.

but enough of that.


rooms of
in the window

Friday, July 20, 2007

of lawns and little imperfections

how many of you are familiar with panera bread? i used to work there, but that's beside the point. for lunch today i went to panera, got half a turkey sandwich and a bowl of the best french onion soup ever, and took it to my new apartment where i ate on my porch in the sun, overlooking browning grass and a couple quiet streets. i can't say exactly why i like it here so much. it's green, but it's never so green as some other places i've been. oregon's green like something you thought only existed in exaggerated advertisements for cameras; the green in belo horizonte occasionally peeking out of city streets between buildings like a hidden thing. if there's a flaw to this place, this is it. this is lake country, and trees find all the water they need in the ground, but the grass here, and even more so home, in iowa, visibly asks for more rain than it gets. it weathers early, like age settling too soon. and sometimes the rain stops for a while, and, unless shaded, the grass dies for its shallow rootedness. a little further north and this is no concern because there are so many trees to provide shade that the grass either thrives, or dies buried in it and pine needles . . . or in water. and besides, the trees themselves comprise such a lush green that a brown undergrowth is a welcome contrast. now, don't get me wrong, i love a nice lushgreenlawn, and wouldn't care very much at all for a half-to-three-quarters dead one, but there's something in the slightlyyellow, bareblybrowninggreen of the middle of the united states that suggests a consciousness of the weight of living and the inevitability of not. and it's somehow freeing.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

cigars and other oblong things

i had no idea there was such a thing as the military channel. the trouble with the current popularity of smoking cigars is that it seems to feed a certain artificial masculinity already too prevalent in american men. as one who is a fan of quality tobacco i can speak to the virtual oblivion in many smokers who have no idea what they're smoking, except that it is (they suppose) what they're supposed to be smoking. i hear a lot of "oh man, this cigar i had was so good" but not a lot of "i liked ________ about it," unless you fill in the blank with the kill all "smooth." i believe the problem is that they haven't actually liked the cigar, but they're quite aware they're supposed to have liked it. and cigar companies know this, and know that it's just as often about the masculinity of the cigar as it is about the quality of it. for what other reason would Arturo Fuente have a line of (very good) cigars bearing Hemingway's name?

but as i was saying, i had no idea there was such a thing as the military channel. i love finding a good cigar shop. the leaf in abilene is decent. metro cigars in menomonee falls, wisconsin, is better. it's also where i am right now. but the tv's on the military channel, and the conversation focuses on the WMDs on tv and on the "jokers" (and worse names) that are currently protesting the war in Iraq, just down the street. but it's ok because "we're not occupiers, we're liberators," and "this cigar is so smooth." now, far be it from me to judge people for enjoying a pastime i too enjoy, while holding opposing views on what are and are not acceptable forms of military and economic colonialism, but i do find the pairing ironic. a great big cigar, and a show about stuff that blows stuff up and complaints about the "jokers," who are "probably all women," protesting war. i don't know, maybe they are all women. and maybe that eight inch cigar is compensating for something. it's just a thought.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

authorial confessions

seeing how even i did not really enjoy my latest published rant, i deleted it, post-haste. instead, i would like to share with you all some more authorial confessions.

1) in my great ignorance, i once publicly made fun of John Steinbeck. the following day a friend introduced me to Travels With Charley---may God forgive me. i am now a devoted fan of every word he has written.

2) given the opportunity i would make-out with Arundhati Roy: she is the only living author i have wanted to marry.

3) i have for a little more than a year had a secret crush (barely admitted even in whispers) on Gertrude Stein. i wish i could have met her if only to have asked "what the hell?"

4) under pressure i have admitted that J.K. Rowling isn't that bad. but the comparison of her with Tolkien is wildly unfair to her---she ought to be compared with Jonathan Swift (whom i personally care for a great deal less than Rowling).

5) i would rather write a thesis on the collective works of General Motors than ever be exposed to Nathaniel Hawthorne again. in my teaching i plan to pretend he never existed.


the fall
in envy
of autumn leaves
and land
as winter dreams
well fed
in the rain
of butterfly wings
the orange and yellow
of leaves
in their golden dresses
in the bluegray of her eyes

color of the ocean she possesses

Monday, July 2, 2007

some things

i've spent the majority of my time this week trying to figure out 3 things . . .

(1) where am i going to get a job? i basically have two skills: waiting tables and reading papers. it's been hard to do either because up until recently my thrice fractured once dislocated right arm has been bound and gagged.

(2) where am i going to live? right now i live with my fiance's parents. imagine moving back in with your parents, only this time they're very concerned with what you do with your penis.

(3) how is a story i'm working on going to work out? it's ugly right now---hideously ugly. i wouldn't even think of posting it here. but it's consuming a lot of my thought, so i thought i would mention it here and maybe it'll make me feel better and can continue moving forward with it again.

another random thing that's been pestering me: hemingway was a douche. those of you who know me well know of my long running affair with this writer, but seriously, he was a total douche. how do you continue an affair with a man who's a douche?


the trouble with trying to get a job at a restaurant is that restaurants have very strict hours when they will discuss anything with a potential employee (2-4, most of them). if you don't know how to get where you're going, this window can prove to be really small. i missed my turn on friday trying to go in for an interview and ended up in a place i knew must exist but never wanted to really find out where---you know, "that part of the city." that place where kids think it's funny to jump in front of cars and get them to stop, then decide that playing in the street is just so much fun, they'd rather not go back to the sidewalk; the place that people strap tires on front of their cars to substitute for bumpers. i'm not stereotyping---these are things i saw in the 45 some odd minutes that i was lost there. and i might have been perfectly comfortable except that it had an odd feeling of the foreign for me. it seemed more like the streets of brazil i've driven than anything i've seen in the states. in fact, it was remarkably like it. bordering on the third world. wreckless. unsupported. it had all the ear-marks of a society in decay, and i wondered who let it get like that.

and then (after backtracking endlessly) i met the manager i was supposed to see. he was white, and had what was essentially an A.C.T. specially designed to weed out the uneducated or non-white for me to take, with questions like, "what was eleanor roosevelt's middle name?" and "what is the name of the street the white house is on?" and some other ridiculous ones about white american history and upper-echelon neighborhoods that no one could possibly be familiar with unless they lived there, none of which had anything to do with the restaurant business or waiting tables. and i'm not sure if it was just a trick of the eye, but i'm almost sure it said "vote republican" at the bottom.