Thursday, December 11, 2014

Message from the deep

There's nothing quite like a fine big fish in your doctor's waiting room to keep you from worrying while you're waiting for your appointment. This particular fish has been there for years. He spurns some people but always comes over to the glass for us.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hot damn! another Pushcart nomination

Thank you Savvy Thorne and everyone else at Conclave: A Journal of Character ( for nominating my poem, "Our Lady of the Red Potatoes", for the 2016 Pushcart Prize. I'd been working on this poem for six years, and submitting it along the way without landing anywhere. Couldn't give up on it, though.

For those who don't know about Pushcart, or who wish to know more, here is their website:

Our Lady of the Red Potatoes 

Our Lady of the Red Potatoes
has set her altar on a city bench.
She hunches small. No star-blue mantle
shielding her from winter light.
Hunger-thin and gray, not old,
in Rhino Records’ parking lot she calls
Red potatoes, red, six for a dollar.

Her eyes squeeze shut. I watch
her roughened hands
read each potato’s face.
She listens for their low voices.
Her hands receive the messages
her gods have scrawled there.
Behold, she hands to me
six red potatoes, red, six for a dollar,
thin-skinned potatoes bigger than my fist.

I rasp potato peel, twirl out their eyes,
prepare to receive the mystic meal
of red potatoes, red, six for a dollar.
No healing or redemption from our lady,
just nature’s artless poison, pure green gift
of alkaloids, red potatoes green as glass.
They are fallen from the earth into the light,
sun-stroked like their lady.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Rosewater: the most dangerous profession

We just saw this film, written and directed by Jon Stewart of The Daily Show. It is hard on the system but worth the distress, and very much worth seeing. This is the only film I can remember since "Z" that shows the risks journalists routinely suffer. Did you know that, proportionally, more journalists die while working than any other profession or line of work? If you are not upset to know this fact, you should be.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Neon in a strip mall

The only remaining business in a strip mall. It's a good Thai restaurant, and we've been going there for 30 years.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

More reasons why it is a good idea to go out to lunch, or, Seriously

 As usual, I fervently guarantee that I overheard all of the below. I take notes fast!
When I came home after a bad day, I’d just go straight through the house and start whaling on a 200-pound bag of kitty litter. That’s my punching bag. Kitty litter all over the patio. I had a serious body then, and my roommate would say, Hey man, don’t lose your temper, and I’d say, I’m doing this so I don’t lose my temper, ‘cause you wouldn’t want to be around that, no, wouldn’t be so pretty. I was in a bar minding my own business, and this guy says, I don’t like you, and I say Okay, have a nice day and the guy says No, you don’t understand:  I DON’T LIKE YOU. Okay, what do you want to do about it? And the guy says, Let’s go outside.  Okaa-ay, I say, so I gets up and WHAM I break a beer mug over the guy’s head. Bartender says, Seriously that’s pretty cool. Now I don’t know if it’s the right thing or not but I want to explain to these guys what’s what. That thing yesterday, I couldn’t have walked away like that. I was way too upset about the whole thing. I can’t even get any further into it without sounding so insincere it wouldn’t have made no sense at all. All I could have said was, Gonna rip your freakin’ face off and disappear.

 Now my son’s a good kid, a real hard worker, but the boy’s seriously left-handed, doesn’t read too much. I read over 1500 words per minute, but I just wasn’t into the terminology. I opened for Jimmy Buffett when Jimmy opened for Neil Sedaka. Jimmy wasn’t taking it too seriously. He came off the stage and said, Why don’t you go back on for me?           But they expect you, I said. Nah, they didn’t pay me enough. You go on. So I did and the audience loved it, stayed until 4 a.m.

Now I got a lot of pets, but my cat Fluffy, she’s the bomb. Say Fluffy comes up for attention. She wants her head scratched. I tell her I gotta go to work, somebody’s gotta pay the bills around here, but Fluffy don’t care. You don’t do what she wants, she bites. Try to ignore her, she bites. Sharp teeth too. Seriously. She loves those little raspberry chocolate squares. Chocolate’s not good for cats, but somebody forgot to tell Fluffy.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Dangling Participles R Us

Shame, Lev Grossman and all your editors, shame shame! Your second book in the Magicians series, The Magician King, leads off with the following sentence:

"Quentin rode a gray horse with white socks named Dauntless."


I always name my socks too. Mine are called Clueless and Feckless.

I grant that it is a hard sentence to fix:  Quentin rode Dauntless, a gray horse with white socks? Dauntless Quentin wore white socks and rode a gray horse? Quentin rode a gray horse with white socks; the horse's name was Dauntless? Still and yet, even if it meant reshaping the entire paragraph, there must be some way around that misplaced modifier.

Enjoy the above grammarly griefs. Those who displayed them should have known better. Btw, the middle photo shows marshmallow-flavored jellybeans.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Action at a distance, or, Dr. Bob moves in mysterious ways, part 2


Dr. Bob continues to move in mysterious ways. I have been assembling a book-length manuscript, and I believe that it is at last ready to go out into the (publishing) world. However! when I went to  put the finishing touches on it, I found that I could not get Word to paginate. I tried the proper way some five or six times, and I came up with some work-arounds, and nothing worked. I even considered typing in the page numbers by hand, but decided that if I changed the order of poems, I would be typing and confirming page numbers for a long long time.

So, I called our resident computer guy, Dr. Bob Payne. Dr. Bob not only graduated from Microsoft U., he wrote the manuals at Microsoft U. He knows the godforsaken ways of Microsoft. Dr. Bob asked me to talk him through another attempt at pagination. OK. I narrated, "Clicking on Insert. Clicking on Page Numbering. Selecting Bottom, option 3." All this in the tone of voice I use when I am resolutely remaining reasonable despite great provocation. And, may I be damned if the pagination did not take, at last. Yes, all Dr. Bob had to do was listen to me select the commands, and my document was healed. Truly, the man has god-like powers.