Monday, February 25, 2008

Tuesday Poetry

Folk Song, by bongwater (Ann Magnuson)

I met an anarchist in Tompkins Square Park
he was an angry man
spinning words so dark
he called for death to rich men
death to Yuppies too
death to art fags, bourgeois blacks
death to landlord Jews.
Kill the bankers
kill the cops
kill him her and me
kill them all for CBS, NBC, ABC, TBN, CNN, HBO, "Live At Five", MTV Spring Break
Party Weekend, Sally Jesse Raphael,
and Kathy Lee...

And I said,
Hey, I admire your get up and go,
your youthful brooding and sexually charged enthusiasm and all your
other utterly naïve and thoroughly endearing adolescent qualities
and I bet you can keep it up all night, can't you?

But I bet you don't even use a rubber no you don't even use a rubber,
no you don't, do you?
Because you
think you can live forever.
Or do you have this adorable and misguided notion
that death is something really radical and cool?
But I still can help being wildly attracted to your
fresh-faced uncompromised tattoo'd rebel stance
and goddamn
I'd like to help you sing your tune.
But I've been making friends with this here death
and it seems a might too soon.

And I said,
Hello death, goodbye Avenue A
I'm getting tired of waiting, tired of being afraid.
Joseph Campbell gave me hope
and now I have been saved.
So I say, Hello death, goodbye Avenue A.

Now I'm not trying to be flippant here,
or irreverent, or exploitive, or sarcastic, or ironic, or post-modern, and this is not
a parody.
Get it? Got it? Good.

I've been thinking what he told me,
that it's okay to cry
when we held the crystal Tina Child
spent 12 Grand to buy
homeopathic mantras
fresh-squeezed wheat grass juice
doctors up in Bellevue
Doctors Salk and Suess.

And it's time we'll all be going home
if you can find the way
Yes, everyone is going home
going home to stay.

And it's time we find a way to cope
a way to find some hope
for some it's the Bible
or Buddha
or Mohammed
or Krishna
or cheesecake
or bourbon
or the Butthole Surfers
or Giorgio Armani
or Romeo Gigli
and you really can't afford it
but it looks so fabulous on you so why don’t you take it on home
and speaking of home
isn't it about time
you move out of that
East Village hellhole
you know the one with the Honeymooners view
of the brick wall out the window
because you deserve something more life affirming
like a tree, or a flower, or a patch of grass,
or a singing little bluebird
or maybe you just want to take your boyfriend to Europe because he's never been
or quit the job you always hated
or learn how to play the guitar
it's easy
or get obscenely drunk in a piano bar
and sing show tunes
show tunes!
and don’t be embarrassed,
because at this point
I'd rather see "Brigadoon" than "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer"
or maybe you'd like to get politically active
so you disrupt a Presidential press conference by shoving a 5 pound week old stalk of broccoli between those thin lying lizard lips
that no one can read anyway
because half the country is illiterate and the other half is apathetic including the First Lady
who couldn't step just 500 feet out of the overdecorated White House to visit the goddamn Quilt or maybe you'd like to put a bullet into Jesse Helms pea brain
but you know when you start thinking like that
when you start thinking like they do
then it's time to let go of the material world,
so maybe you'd like to get yourself some religion

because Jesus is the Way
Jesus is the Way
Jesus is the Way
Jesus is the Way
Jesus is the Way.

Besides, it's a lot easier to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior
when he looks like Willem DaFoe.

But maybe that stuff turns you off
so you rent "Power of Myth"
it made me feel really good (for about ten minutes),
or maybe you'd just rather do acid and listen to Led Zeppelin

Then again, the last time I took hallucinogenic drugs
was about five years ago
I took mushrooms in Joshua Tree
looking for that Carlos Castaneda kind of experience.
I got off, my boyfriend didn't
he fell asleep, left me alone with the television.
Turned it on, put on PBS,
you know what was on?
"Berlin Alexanderplatz"
So I started watching it,
and you know what?
I got really bummed out.

And that's when I said No to Drugs
No to Drugs
no no no no no
hell no to drugs,
and maybe you'd like to say no to drugs too
or maybe you want to join
Atheists of America
or the Madonna Fan Club
or watch Richard Gere follow the Dali Lama across the world
and then do those oh-so-Zen like movies with those oh-so-Zen like messages like
Hey! It's fun to be a prostitute!
I can't wait to spread my legs across Hollywood Boulevard
because then maybe some rich, handsome billionaire in a Jag
will come driving up and take me shopping on Rodeo Drive
and that's what a woman's all about anyway, right?
Sucking and shopping
Sucking and shopping
Sucking and shopping
Sucking and shopping
Sucking and shopping
Sucking and shopping
come on, it's a sing along
Sucking and shopping, sucking and shopping, sucking and shopping, sucking and shopping but hey Who am I to argue?
because this is the the feel good movie of the summer,
it's the feel good movie of the year
it's the feel good movie of the Nineties
it's the feel good movie of the Millennium
and you know what?
If it puts a smile on your face
and a song in your heart
and a spring in your step well
whatever makes you happy,
whatever makes you happy,
whatever makes you happy,
whatever makes you happy,
whatever makes you happy, whatever makes you happy, whatever makes you happy, whatever makes you happy
Whatever gives you hope.
Even if it's a truly tasteless joke.

So fax a manifesto.
Pencil in a date.
Let me know when something gives I hope it's not too late,
because I'm getting tired of waiting,
tired of being afraid.
Joseph Campbell gave me hope and now I have been saved.
So I sing, Hello death, goodbye Avenue A
Hello death, goodbye Avenue A
Hello death, goodbye Avenue A
Hello death, goodbye Avenue A."

Friday, February 22, 2008

wiping the wood

From Combine meat market a little disturbing
By Michael Silver, Yahoo! Sports

INDIANAPOLIS – Four years ago in the RCA Dome, a small-school defensive line prospect named Isaac Hilton nervously awaited his moment onstage at the NFL scouting combine. Chugging water to add every possible ounce of weight to his 6-foot-3 frame, the former Hampton University star wore only spandex boxer briefs, and his legs were shaking as he walked up to the podium.

A combine official began taking Hilton’s measurements as several hundred coaches, scouts and front-office executives carefully examined his musculature. And then, to the shock and dismay of everyone in the building, Hilton had an extreme physiological reaction to a very unnatural situation.

“The poor kid pissed himself,” recalls one scout who witnessed it. “He was standing up there … and it all just came out. Craziest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Says another team’s personnel director: “All of a sudden people were running up there with towels and spraying the stage and wiping down the wood, and they led the guy away, and he just looked stunned.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tuesday Poetry

Lotos-Eaters, by Alfred Tennyson

“COURAGE!” he said, and pointed toward the land,
“This mounting wave will roll us shoreward soon.”
In the afternoon they came unto a land
In which it seemed always afternoon.
All round the coast the languid air did swoon,
Breathing like one that hath a weary dream.
Full-faced above the valley stood the moon;
And, like a downward smoke, the slender stream
Along the cliff to fall and pause and fall did seem.

A land of streams! some, like a downward smoke,
Slow-dropping veils of thinnest lawn, did go;
And some thro’ wavering lights and shadows broke,
Rolling a slumbrous sheet of foam below.
They saw the gleaming river seaward flow
From the inner land; far off, three mountain-tops,
Three silent pinnacles of aged snow,
Stood sunset-flush’d; and, dew’d with showery drops,
Up-clomb the shadowy pine above the woven copse.

The charmed sunset linger’d low adown
In the red West; thro’ mountain clefts the dale
Was seen far inland, and the yellow down
Border’d with palm, and many a winding vale
And meadow, set with slender galingale;
A land where all things always seem’d the same!
And round about the keel with faces pale,
Dark faces pale against that rosy flame,
The mild-eyed melancholy Lotos-eaters came.

Branches they bore of that enchanted stem,
Laden with flower and fruit, whereof they gave
To each, but whoso did receive of them
And taste, to him the gushing of the wave
Far far away did seem to mourn and rave
On alien shores; and if his fellow spake,
His voice was thin, as voices from the grave;
And deep-asleep he seem’d, yet all awake,
And music in his ears his beating heart did make.

They sat them down upon the yellow sand,
Between the sun and moon upon the shore;
And sweet it was to dream of Fatherland,
Of child, and wife, and slave; but evermore
Most weary seem’d the sea, weary the oar,
Weary the wandering fields of barren foam.
Then some one said, “We will return no more;”
And all at once they sang, “Our island home
Is far beyond the wave; we will no longer roam.”

There is sweet music here that softer falls
Than petals from blown roses on the grass,
Or night-dews on still waters between walls
Of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass;
Music that gentlier on the spirit lies,
Than tir’d eyelids upon tir’d eyes;
Music that brings sweet sleep down from the blissful skies.
Here are cool mosses deep,
And thro’ the moss the ivies creep,
And in the stream the long-leaved flowers weep,
And from the craggy ledge the poppy hangs in sleep.

Why are we weigh’d upon with heaviness,
And utterly consumed with sharp distress,
While all things else have rest from weariness?
All things have rest: why should we toil alone,
We only toil, who are the first of things,
And make perpetual moan,
Still from one sorrow to another thrown;
Nor ever fold our wings,
And cease from wanderings,
Nor steep our brows in slumber’s holy balm;
Nor harken what the inner spirit sings,
“There is no joy but calm!”—
Why should we only toil, the roof and crown of things?

Lo! in the middle of the wood,
The folded leaf is woo’d from out the bud
With winds upon the branch, and there
Grows green and broad, and takes no care,
Sun-steep’d at noon, and in the moon
Nightly dew-fed; and turning yellow
Falls, and floats adown the air.
Lo! sweeten’d with the summer light,
The full-juiced apple, waxing over-mellow,
Drops in a silent autumn night.
All its allotted length of days
The flower ripens in its place,
Ripens and fades, and falls, and hath no toil,
Fast-rooted in the fruitful soil.

Hateful is the dark-blue sky,
Vaulted o’er the dark-blue sea.
Death is the end of life; ah, why
Should life all labor be?
Let us alone. Time driveth onward fast,
And in a little while our lips are dumb.
Let us alone. What is it that will last?
All things are taken from us, and become
Portions and parcels of the dreadful past.
Let us alone. What pleasure can we have
To war with evil? Is there any peace
In ever climbing up the climbing wave?
All things have rest, and ripen toward the grave
In silence—ripen, fall, and cease:
Give us long rest or death, dark death, or dreamful ease.

How sweet it were, hearing the downward stream,
With half-shut eyes ever to seem
Falling asleep in a half-dream!
To dream and dream, like yonder amber light,
Which will not leave the myrrh-bush on the height;
To hear each other’s whisper’d speech;
Eating the Lotos day by day,
To watch the crisping ripples on the beach,
And tender curving lines of creamy spray;
To lend our hearts and spirits wholly
To the influence of mild-minded melancholy;
To muse and brood and live again in memory,
With those old faces of our infancy
Heap’d over with a mound of grass,
Two handfuls of white dust, shut in an urn of brass!

Dear is the memory of our wedded lives,
And dear the last embraces of our wives
And their warm tears; but all hath suffer’d change;
For surely now our household hearths are cold,
Our sons inherit us, our looks are strange,
And we should come like ghosts to trouble joy.
Or else the island princes over-bold
Have eat our substance, and the minstrel sings
Before them of the ten years’ war in Troy,
And our great deeds, as half-forgotten things.
Is there confusion in the little isle?
Let what is broken so remain.
The Gods are hard to reconcile;
’Tis hard to settle order once again.
There is confusion worse than death,
Trouble on trouble, pain on pain,
Long labor unto aged breath,
Sore task to hearts worn out by many wars
And eyes grown dim with gazing on the pilot-stars.

But, propped on beds of amaranth and moly,
How sweet—while warm airs lull us, blowing lowly—
With half-dropped eyelids still,
Beneath a heaven dark and holy,
To watch the long bright river drawing slowly
His waters from the purple hill—
To hear the dewy echoes calling
From cave to cave thro’ the thick-twined vine—
To watch the emerald-color’d water falling
Thro’ many a woven acanthus-wreath divine!
Only to hear and see the far-off sparkling brine,
Only to hear were sweet, stretch’d out beneath the pine.

The Lotos blooms below the barren peak,
The Lotos blows by every winding creek;
All day the wind breathes low with mellower tone;
Thro’ every hollow cave and alley lone
Round and round the spicy downs the yellow Lotos-dust is blown.
We have had enough of action, and of motion we,
Roll’d to starboard, roll’d to larboard, when the surge was seething free,
Where the wallowing monster spouted his foam-fountains in the sea.
Let us swear an oath, and keep it with an equal mind,
In the hollow Lotos-land to live and lie reclined
On the hills like Gods together, careless of mankind.
For they lie beside their nectar, and the bolts are hurl’d
Far below them in the valleys, and the clouds are lightly curl’d
Round their golden houses, girdled with the gleaming world;
Where they smile in secret, looking over wasted lands,
Blight and famine, plague and earthquake, roaring deeps and fiery sands,
Clanging fights, and flaming towns, and sinking ships, and praying hands.
But they smile, they find a music centred in a doleful song
Steaming up, a lamentation and an ancient tale of wrong,
Like a tale of little meaning tho’ the words are strong;
Chanted from an ill-used race of men that cleave the soil,
Sow the seed, and reap the harvest with enduring toil,
Storing yearly little dues of wheat, and wine and oil;
Till they perish and they suffer—some, ’tis whisper’d—down in hell
Suffer endless anguish, others in Elysian valleys dwell,
Resting weary limbs at last on beds of asphodel.
Surely, surely, slumber is more sweet than toil, the shore
Than labor in the deep mid-ocean, wind and wave and oar;
O, rest ye, brother mariners, we will not wander more.

Monday, February 18, 2008


No holiday here. Just horizontal rain and wall rattling wind.

I could tell simply by listening that being outside today will be a thoroughly soaking experience. Once I got out of bed, I confirmed that it even looks like we're having a minor hurricane.

Today I need to go in early to meet with some extra needy students. I've been irritable all weekend because my leg and hip have been sore and all the NSAIDs I'm taking round the clock for that seem to have started catching up to my stomach. I got into a fight with someone at the supermarket last night whose poor manners caused her to repeatedly get in my way - no play by play - it ended with most of the front of the store knowing that all she had to to was say excuse me. I came home, ate dinner (which didn't sit well), patted the cat, and watched SNL's commercial parody collection. Laughter is the best medicine indeed, but like so many meds, it's often more immediately a palliative measure rather than a targeted treatment.

Needless to say, waking up to nausea and a car horn blaring outside (redneck doorbell), my shitty mood has returned. Oh and we don't get today off. No holiday here.

Here's one of those "not a threat but a promise" statements people seem to have a hard time with (as if my knowing that I am going to react in an inappropriately strong manner to something is enough to prevent me from doing it): If my students either don't all show or show up with nothing to contribute, heads are gonna roll today, not just with that set but with the entire lot of them.

Friday, February 15, 2008

cat on a bike

Here's my first attempt at making an animated image. I think it came out good, lots of fun too. I made it for my sister - A, the one I sent you has a background image. This is just Rosie. And bike.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tuesday Poetry

An Academic Haiku, from Rate Your Students

Junior faculty,
running scared from job to job,
no place to call home.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


I was looking over my site meter this morning and seeing that a rather large number of people end up here by typing funny shit into a google image search. Up until now, it took them to a post about Archie McPhee and christmas shopping in 2005. Other than cjblue commenting that she almost bought me some of the very items I had been admiring at Archie McPhee's, there wasn't much remarkable about this post. Oh how disappointed these people must be. I'd like to know what the logic is that governs this selection of search terms.

Last night one of my neighbors kept propping open the outside door. This meant the heat was on full blast, roasting at least A____, me, and two of our other neighbors I ran into while I was closing the door a second time. It did occur to me that they could have been lying, but there are good, non-altruism assuming reasons for that being very unlikely. So some dipshit is propping the door. So what? Aside from being worried that our landlord will raise the rent (an issue for me and A____ who are no longer on a year lease), it means we will run out of oil faster. We've run out between 11 PM and about 1 or 2 AM the last few times. This is no fun because it means (a) NO ONE gets heat. If these idiots think their underheated apartment is cold now, imagine how much colder it will be when the whole building is freezing. (b) the oil line to the furnace will clog because it sucks up sediment from the low end of the oil tank. This happened the last time and the filter had been changed within the past year. Clogged means it won't run or won't run well.

I had occasion to wonder what kind of reasoning leads to the behavior of my neighbor last night. I decided that more than being purely self interested, it is childish. That is, self interest would say "I'm cold and I want to be warmer. I don't care if making myself warmer make others uncomfortable. My warmth is the most important thing." So then this person being warm should be a governing principle in the decision of how to act. While propping the door open on a cold night so the cold night air floods the hallway where the thermostat is will make the furnace run hard and might warm the colder apartments, it will also increase the chances of us running out of oil. No oil means NO heat, not simply insufficient heat. And that outcome would seem to be directly in opposition to the governing principle of maintaining warmth.

Ok so this is not supposed to be like some fucking greek philosopher style argument. My point is just that if you're trying to keep warm, wouldn't you think that you'd avoid doing thing which might make you warmer in the short run or for a limited set of times but which has the risk at ANY point of making you much, much colder?

That's the childish part. I don't mean childish like petulant, I mean childish like someone who hasn't mastered object permanence.

All of this is just a long way of me wondering What the Hell is Wrong with People?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

(Super) Tuesday Poetry

Down to the Ark by The Mountain Goats

The candidates met up in North Dakota
And they donned their black robes there in the chapel hall
They said a brief invocation to their cloven-hoofed prince
And they signed their names in blood on the vestry wall

In Christ you know there's neither high nor low
And the void will claim all creatures small or bright
Seal up the borders or let everybody in
In the order of the serpent, there'll be neither left nor right

And we pull down our blindfolds
And we reach out for the lever in the dark
Get a sticker for our shirts as we head into the sun
Proudly bearing the mark
Headed down to the ark

The applicants went down to Oklahoma
And they hired an accent coach to teach them the western twang
And several post-born babies learned the hard way:
Vampires only kiss you if they've sharpened up their fangs

And as Minnesota fell, so went Missouri
We met at VFWs in the snow
And we voted down the tax codes, and we voted down the war
So many names to choose from, just one way to go.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Much of where I travel in Connecticut is a no man's land for radio signal. The already slim pickings for radio broadcast you could listen to without wanting to ram the car into a tree narrows even further as I wind my way down the quaint, deadly country roads. The road dips and there goes the signal, Punk Rock Jukebox dissolves into a hiss of static punctuated by bands of some top 40 shit - played at a handful of stations by live djs and played at an increasing number by a radio robot (seriously - they don't even have a human to give the play list, just a prerecording referring listeners to a website).

Last night I found myself listening to a muzak version of Mrs. Robinson on a station way down the low end of the dial. It was damned funny. I found myself wishing they would announce the artist because I deeply feel I need to add this to the next CD I make for cjblue.

I mention the muzak so you'll have the proper context for the shit I will listen to simply to listen to the radio. Some people are radio people. When I drive, I am.

So with the exception of a few college radio stations (god love 'em), which can't compete with the massive, sloppy signals on the corporate dial, there's not much to listen to. And even the little stations let me down now and then. Take their tendency to carry NPR programs....please.

Last week, I think it was exactly a week ago, I came up out of a valley and paradoxically lost the station I had been listening to. I scanned and a blurb of talk caught my attention. I forget now what exactly was said that held the promise for something interesting to come. I paused, letting the dialog sink in. It was one of the NPR women, one of the ones who sound exactly the same to me but who lately have taken to adopting a new (apparently hip?), more casual style of speech than what I am accustomed to hearing those clone voices uttering.

The clone was talking to a man who was talking about politics. During the time I listened, the close never disclosed who this man was or why they were speaking. However, what I did hear was the clone and this man stating then agreeing with their statements that issues are not what makes a difference between a Clinton voter and an Obama voter.

The reason for this conclusion they had whipped themselves up into was singular as far as I could tell. The man mentioned that exit polls hadn't shown a discernible difference in issues that people who said they voted for Clinton cared about and issues that people who said they voted for Obama cared about.

Have you ever done an exit poll? They suck! Oh god they suck so much. First, some exit polls are conducted by news agencies, not research foundations. I don't the source of the data cited in this show because Mr. Smary McSmarterson on NPR did not address the point and the clone didn't bother to follow up. She was too busy breathing heavily into a microphone and blithering in a way which I truly have come to dislike.

My god, I think, is this what other people think all liberals are like? No wonder they hate us.

Back to my point. My point is, NPR what the fuck? I listened as the interviewer and interviewee went on to make still more conclusions based on that one conclusion from the poorly presented exit poll data. I had to change the station to keep myself from getting too ramped up.
I guess if I want intelligent radio, I will wait until Democracy NOW comes on (at noon on one of my beloved college stations, one which has little to no NPR and the like). Until then, it's the the transient signals of college stations doing independent and local programming (along with the occasionally and accidentally great moments like Mrs. Robinson) to break up miles of top 40 radio for the robots.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Gender bender

According the The Gender Genie, I'm a boy. In five out of six trials, it says the blog text I submitted was male, as opposed to female. The text I submitted was only my own writing, so there is no news story writing confound here. The Gender Genie was prompted in part by a story about a story on a research project , the findings of which one of the researchers apparently feels supports the claim that "women are more comfortable talking or thinking about people and relationships, while men prefer to contemplate things."

Oh, and my fella's a girl.

Go U. Maryland Grad Union!

Some hopeful news from Maryland.
For more info from the organizers, go here.

(Excerpts from)
Grad Students May Get to Unionize
U-Md., Which Doesn't See Them as Employees, Likely to Oppose Bill
By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 3, 2008

A Montgomery County lawmaker will introduce legislation tomorrow to allow graduate students and adjunct professors at Maryland's public universities to form unions, setting up a legislative battle over an issue that has hit a nerve at campuses across the nation.

Graduate students at the University of Maryland's flagship campus in College Park, many of whom hold campus jobs teaching undergraduates or conducting research for faculty, have partnered with national labor unions and hired an Annapolis lobbyist in the campaign to unionize.

The legislation, proposed by Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery), would give graduate students collective bargaining rights to negotiate stipend pay, benefits and workloads with university administrators. Raskin said the students should be able to form a union, just like the university's clerical workers, mechanics, janitors and campus police.

"Graduate students are treated like the migrant laborers of higher education," said Raskin, a professor of constitutional law at American University.
Although Raskin has persuaded several colleagues to sign on to his legislation, the bill is likely to face opposition from the University of Maryland.

Administrators have not studied Raskin's bill, but university spokesman Millree Williams suggested that they might not support it.

"The University of Maryland-College Park is not opposed to unions," Williams said, reading from a prepared statement. "We have several on campus, and we work quite well with them. Our students, however, are students and not employees, and we don't view them as employees."
Supporters argue that by forming a union, graduate students could receive better benefits, which would help the university compete against other institutions in recruiting top-caliber students.
Laura Moore, president of the College Park campus's graduate student government, said U-Md. is "losing good prospective graduate students because they can't afford to live on what they're being offered."

Moore said most graduate students working as teaching or research assistants receive a stipend of about $14,000 but spend the vast majority of it on rent.

"The situation for graduate students here is very close to untenable," said Moore, a master's candidate in entomology who helped initiate Raskin's bill.