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Saturday, March 30, 2002
I am unreasonably excited -- or is that unreasoningly excited -- about seeing one of my full-page ads printed in, among others, the Smithsonian, Condé Naste Traveler and National Geographic Traveler magazines. I wasn't excited by it when I wrote it. But seeing it in fairly well-known magazines, well....suddenly I am 13 years old and getting my first poem published in the school newspaper. Yippee!
This Easter, we learn a thing or two:
  1. The unhallowed Good Friday tradition of "The Exorcist" is best not followed, later in the day, by Gangster No. 1. [But while we're on the subject of gangland cinema: Sexy Beast is perhaps the finest modern gangster movie going, period -- and after viewing it you *will* find yourself spouting Don Logan's phrases to your friends. "I'm not swearing, why are you swearing?" If, however, you prefer the victim's-eye-view of being hacked, stabbed and kicked to death, do rent "Gangster No. 1" -- great performances therein, I admit, but even I, gore-fiend of old, was sickened by the violence.]
  2. I am horrible to cook with in the kitchen. I am Chef hollering at Everton. In last night's performance the part of Everton was played rather unwillingly by Fearless. How to make amends? To holler, Chef-like, "I'M SORRY, EVERTON!" into Fearless's face? Or perhaps just to realize that my approach to cooking is incompatible with group work. I do not peek at rice while it's cooking. I measure carefully. I watch like a hawk. Repeat: do not cook with me. Eat my food, yes, but do not don an apron around me: it's blood in the water.
  3. A dish featuring three different kinds of Thai chilies (red, green and bird's-eye) is indeed delicious, but it is not mandatory to see if you can eat all the peppers. They are there merely to flavour the dish, silly. Still, funny how much you can read when you're wide awake at 3:30 a.m. with a fiery G.I. tract and only a single can of club soda between you and spontaneous combustion.
  4. If you are house-sitting for wealthy people, do not invite me over. Coffee flings itself out of mugs onto wool berber carpeting in my presence. Buttered kernels of popcorn insinuate themselves onto leather couches. Fingerprints mysteriously appear on wainscoting. What I do to plumbing you don't even want to think about.
  5. Finally: Those bills are not going to go away on their own.

Thursday, March 28, 2002
Early Poetry Friday: See you Monday.
[Albert Goldbarth]

It's the other ones, who soon enough return
to being happy after the funeral, that are nearest
to their own deaths -- in their gaiety
and everyday distraction, they're so open

and unguarded . . . anything could enter them;
could claim them. It's the ones who weep
incessantly that are saved for now, the ones
who have taken a little of it

into their systems: this is how
inoculation works. And sorrow is difficult,
a job: it requires time to complete.
And the tears? -- the salt

of the folk saying,
that gets sprinkled over the tail feathers
and keeps a bird from flying;
keeps it stationed in this world.

The Easter Tradition: Some may hide Easter eggs. Some may roast turkeys, hams, or legs of lamb. Some go to church. Some wear festive bonnets and parade down main street. To phooey with it all, say I. About six years ago I discovered the best way to kick-start this religious fest: awaken at 5 a.m. on Good Friday and pop "The Exorcist" into the VCR. Aside from being one of the best movies of the '70s, it's also a quintessentially religious flick. God wins, you see. Yay, God! Go, big guy! See the Catholics lean into the pitch and take one for the team! Should you adopt this tradition for your own, we recommend that you nix the pea soup option on the subsequent weekend menus.
Birthday salutes to two of the finest men on the planet: my younger brother, Colin [who does not have a computer and thus will never read this, so my facade of emotional distance will be maintained]; and Grant. [Who does have a computer and may read this, but who cares! Grant, you rock! You're aces!]
Wednesday, March 27, 2002
Mommy was right: Some people are an accident waiting to happen. I first noticed the old blue truck at the crosswalk, as it had just finished nearly running a bunch of us down; then it backed up and nearly hit the car behind it [SFX: outraged honking]. Then it pulled around the corner straight into traffic and nearly T-boned a minivan. I caught sight of the driver: a middle-aged working type, thoroughly dishevelled, fixed stare ahead. "Boy, that guy could sure use some driving lessons," someone quipped. I round the next block and hear a terrific crash; the C-Train has collided with -- you guessed it -- an old blue truck and pushed it a couple of hundred feet up the track. The C-Train itself has partially derailed. The truck was initially on fire, but bystanders and track maintenance crew have rushed to put it out. My building is right beside the tracks, so all of us at Karo been watching the rescue and cleanup efforts with interest. Sure, it could have been another old blue truck, but what are the odds?
Tuesday, March 26, 2002
Serendipitous transit advertising: The bus card with the copy "Pregnant? Scared? " is placed beside "Kentucky Fried Chicken: We deliver!"

Doubtless, somewhere in Calgary tonight, someone else is blogging: "Geez there was this crazy old bitch on the bus tonight, pointing at ads and laughing, what a freak."
Eavesdrop du jour: "Your mind may be beautiful but the rest of you's an asshole!" Cut to me, having inhaled a lungful of coffee, trying to conceal my reaction from the speaker. It doesn't work: one lung implodes and my mirth is revealed.
Monday, March 25, 2002
God bless you, Bill Barol! "Love's Fresh Lemon" was the 1970s shampoo with the plastic lemon for a cap. My quest is fulfilled. I can rest.
In this morning's raft of e-mail,one subject line caught my eye: "A Sympathy Card for You!!" One screamer is bizarre enough, but two? On a sympathy e-card? Book 'em, Netiquette cops.

The card was from a neighbour, consoling me in the recent loss of the affectionate orange thug, Vinnie. On a related note, I picked up Vinnie's ashes from the emergency clinic yesterday. It's an activity they get you through as soon as possible. After all, you're walking through a waiting room of hopeful and worried pet owners, and you represent Their Worst Fears, walking by with a small box and a card. Yeah, a card from the animal crematorium, complete with consoling poem and panoramic image. Well, anyway, it's done. I have considered rewording the old saying "it's the cat's ass" to "it's the cat's ashes," just because I know it's in bad taste. But I won't. And I realize that if I chose the most appropriate place to scatter Vinnie's remains, I would have to sprinkle them underfoot, seeing as how I tripped over that cat on a daily basis. The hardest part, lately, is catching myself looking out for him so as not to fall over him or kick him accidentally, then realizing I won't have to do that any more.
Oh, yeah, the Oscars: Here's what I liked:
  • Woody Allen
  • Arthur Hiller
  • Randy Newman
  • Cirque du Soleil
Here's what I hated:
  • Everything else.
Oh, okay, okay...I can't really claim to be surprised or shocked that the "bravely borne affliction" movie, "A Beautiful Mind," was considered Best Picture. Lately the Best Picture nods have gone to fairly safe or predictable flicks. Come on: Gladiator? Shakespeare in Love? Titanic? Flavours of the week, but hardly substantial stories, and definitely ordinary performances.
Bravo did a neat thing again yesterday, playing a few Best Picture movies. "The Greatest Show on Earth" was certainly a spectacle in 1952, but years later you realize that, as a story it was "a bool shitt," as my old professor Dr. Bresky would say. I can't watch "Platoon" any longer without wincing at the acting style. Just as artificial as commedia dell'arte. Only instead of Pantaleone and Columbine you have Deranged Sergeant and Heroic Recruit.
But quality is the least part of the Oscars, unless like me you are an idiot and feel that they should actually represent the best achievements in film and performance. No! Get over it! The concept of having a "best" anything, given that the stories and genres can be so radically different, is ludicrous. You have the Oscars so you can have good friends over, drink a little too much and eat cheese sticks. So you can accuse Gwyneth Paltrow of smuggling wet gym socks with sand in the toes under her dress top. So you can fill out a ballot and only get 7 categories right out of 24.
But for the record: Peter Jackson wuz robbed, I tells ya.
Friday, March 22, 2002
Those f*ckin' clients!
"Delectable selection of breakfast goods, interactive stations, flambes, and an outstanding selection of regionaly inspired cuisine. From the traditional eggs benedict to our decadent array of desserts, our Brunch promise a perfect end to your weekend."
Check your scorecards: No verb in the first sentence, then a mixed modifier [A "delectable selection of interactive stations"?], then using "selection" twice in the same sentence, then misspelling "regionally," then an endearing Quebecois verb structure: "Our Brunch promise a perfect end." Mm-hmm...client-written just can't beat it.
That 70s 'Poo: How could I have forgotten "Ultramax"? "It's going to go where you want it to, flow where you want it to...."
Poetry Friday:
The Wild Swans Skip School
[Andrew Hudgins]

We beat wings. We
fly rings. We

scorn Yeats. We
have mates. We

won't stay. We
fly 'way.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat: Shampoos of the Seventies, redux: M. le Mangue adds two more to the list: Wella Balsam and Clairol Herbal Essence. I wasn't clear that yesterday's list named only shampoos not extant. So that's why you don't see shampoos that were born in 70s and are still around, like Pert. ["Bouncin' and behavin' hair!"] But what was that stupid lemon-capped shampoo called? And did "Love's Baby Soft" also have shampoos? The Internet is disappointing me severely on this oh-so-vital matter.
Thursday, March 21, 2002
She Who Puts the "Moron" in "Oxymoron": Did I actually just write the term "assisted independence" and mean it? Did I really? Is the mere act of writing a brochure for a retirement home enough to bring on dementia praecox? My own predilections are coming into conflict with the clients' wishes: they want me to write about quality of life; I want to add "Banana-free dining." Having worked in a nursing home, and visited several relatives in nursing homes, it's my experience that the dreaded banana makes an appearance at every meal. For some reason people think the goddamned things are easily digested. Even good for you. All I know is, for me, the list of Fears of Growing Old, including Reduced Mobility and Galloping Forgetfulness, has now been increased by one: "Enforced Banana Consumption."
Whatever Happened To Shampoos of the Seventies? Presenting a far-from-complete list, cudgelled from the data banks:
  • Halo
  • Breck
  • Yucca Dew
  • Faberge Organics
  • Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific
  • Rain Barrel [Wait, am I thinking of "White Rain"? With the hilarious tagline: "For hair that's 'rain barrel soft'"?]
  • Body on Tap
  • Bright Side
  • Milk Plus 6
  • Short 'n' Sassy [Dorothy Hamill-inspired, originally just the conditioner]
  • Long 'n' Silky
  • The one my mom would never let me buy, with the big plastic lemon for a cap
The gods, having taken no note of yesterday's frantic salute to spring, or perhaps they were insulted by the paltry offerings, have lowered the temperature another couple of degrees. For the next 5 days. Charmink.
Wednesday, March 20, 2002
Spring Rituals to avoid: The Karo "Welcome The Equinox" 3:00 p.m. Pissup: Baby Duck Sparkling Wine and X-brand Chocolate easter eggs. To non-Canadians, Baby Duck is the drink that EVERYONE got bombed on when they were 13. It's basically fruity pop with ethanol molecules, and you *will* barf if you drink enough of it. Oh, and it's minus 25 degrees Celsius in Calgary today [for US readers: it's not as cold as your minus 25, but still damned chilly], so happy frolicking in the snow, spring chickens.
Many thanks go to the people who phoned and mailed yesterday. Each offered words of comfort and understanding, and they help. They do help. I will probably always struggle with having made such a bad decision not to take Vinnie in to the vet immediately, once I noticed he was ill. And I am still tortured by the thought of having caused his last hours to be so painful. And by the feeling that even though I loved that little bastard (and he was a prime, destructive bastard among cats), ultimately I failed him.
Still, I am better able to cope with the reality of my major misjudgment today, thanks to good friends, and to Fearless in particular who sat with me in a coffee shop last night and watched as I progressed from stoic silence to cascading grief in one sentence, and stood by. And to Laur, the eponymous "Vinnie" herself, who phoned from Los Angeles.
Tuesday, March 19, 2002
Vinnie died of acute renal failure at 2:10 a.m. He had not been poisoned; rather, he had a severe case of feline urinary syndrome. A condition which my bad decision, that being to leave Vinnie to rest in his kennel throughout late Sunday night and yesterday, aggravated to the point of no return. He deserved a better owner. I should have taken him in on Sunday night. It's one thing to make stupid decisions; another to make them and have something you love die as a result. I can't stand the thought of having caused him to suffer. I know he was a cat, and cats die. But he didn't have to die this time.
Monday, March 18, 2002
Arrived home last night to a very, very sick animal. The microcephalic Vinnie had helped himself to something in my absence, and it's poisoned him. He's drinking a lot of water and keeping very still. When I moved him to the litter pan, he retched strenuously for two or three minutes. Later on I found him stretched out beside the water dish, asleep on the cold, bare linoleum. Lovely; just the sight to cause every guilt synapse in your head to fire simultaneously. Generally, when my cats have eaten what they oughtn't, time and rest is what they need. Here's hoping he'll be perkier at the end of the day. If not, off to the vet we go [and I'll just insert another quick prayer in here that it won't be too late]. Stupid cats. Why do I have them? Why, with all my bluster about retarded cats, my abiding awareness of their many shortcomings and frequent annnoyances, am I so worried about the dumb little things?
Sunday, March 17, 2002
Uh-oh. I don't feel very well so much right now.
How to know when the staff at your local Tim Horton's has reported for work directly after leaving the rave:
Customer: I'd like a half-dozen fruit muffins, please.
Makeup-smeared Doughnut Jockey: You mean, six?
Red Deer Chronicles: The Literal Life of My Nieces and Nephews, Explained: When Auntie Jane asks "Are you kids watching the puppy?" and all four of you answer "Yes, we are," Auntie Jane does not mean are you watching the puppy chew both rockers off the rocking chair. Just so we're clear. Oh, and chewing Trident Dental Care gum is not the same as brushing your teeth. And yes, you did put your dishes in the dishwasher, like you were asked, but next time let's make sure it isn't full of clean dishes, shall we?
Friday, March 15, 2002
I am off to take a bag of joints to KB, who's just come out of the hospital. She's going to try to pay me, and I'm going to resist, tactfully. In fact I'm going to ask her to grant me the favour of letting me think I'm doing something helpful. It's selfish, and I know it. But there is literally nothing else I can do for her at present. Except give her something to quell the nausea and perhaps spark her appetite. Something which, in a better world, she should be able to buy in the produce section at Safeway.
Poetry Friday Double-Header courtesy of Delmore Schwartz, and perhaps the finest poem ever written about being fat:
"The Heavy Bear Who Goes with Me

The heavy bear who goes with me,
A manifold honey to smear his face,
Clumsy and lumbering here and there,
The central ton of every place,
The hungry beating brutish one
In love with candy, anger, and sleep,
Crazy factotum, dishevelling all
,Climbs the building, kicks the football,
Boxes his brother in the hate-ridden city.

Breathing at my side, that heavy animal,
That heavy bear who sleeps with me,
Howls in his sleep for a world of sugar,
A sweetness intimate as the water's clasp,
Howls in his sleep because the tight-rope
Trembles and shows the darkness beneath.
--The strutting show-off is terrified,
Dressed in his dress-suit, bulging his pants,
Trembles to think that his quivering meat
Must finally wince to nothing at all.

That inescapable animal walks with me,
Has followed me since the black womb held,
Moves where I move, distorting my gesture,
A caricature, a swollen shadow,
A stupid clown of the spirit's motive,
Perplexes and affronts with his own darkness,
The secret life of belly and bone,
Opaque, too near, my private, yet unknown,
Stretches to embrace the very dear
With whom I would walk without him near,
Touches her grossly, although a word
Would bare my heart and make me clear,
Stumbles, flounders, and strives to be fed
Dragging me with him in his mouthing care,
Amid the hundred million of his kind,
the scrimmage of appetite everywhere.

Poetry Friday:
For K., Whom I Did Not Marry
[Rex Wilder, c. 2000]

Turning back the years like the sheets
In the Parc Central, I give the past its due.
That is, its future. We looked down at streets
In one another's arms by the window
As if their lines formed a graph
In which x and y rose together off the page.
Now I offer this epitaph
On a bench beneath a tree that feels myage,
A tupelo, in the middle of Central Park.

Autumn this year is the girl I was good for,
Unselfconscious, exquisite, a work
Of art at play. On the city's forest floor
Lie her love scene clothes.
She reminds herself of nothing dying,
By the looks of it. So? The throes
Of fall have always been death-defying,
The sacrifice of the leaf for the tree.
The leaf built to leave, as she did me.

Thursday, March 14, 2002
O Thou Cranky Accept my blogs.
I so dig the Internet: you know why? Because with one exception, every time I've written to a blogger to say "Hey, dug that blog," or something equally salutary, I've had a reply within a day. Well, actually, this doesn't include e-mails to the people who know me personally; for instance, it's common knowledge among his fans that you can fling any number of e-mails at The Bad Man without hope of reply. My other friends are, thankfully, adept at the quick response. But that people who don't know me will actually reply to a gushing e-mail! What riches. The Mango, Mr. Kani,Herr Blather, the Gaijin, Mr. Nimby, Rik the Meme, Her Harrumphship, even the sought-after Dean of Blogs, Prince of SFO and King of Bleats -- each of them has, at various times, made my day. And today, after I'd written to thank him for turning me on to John Berryman's poetry, two messages arrived from Mr. Barrish. I'm also thrilled that this still thrills me, getting messages from people whose writing I admire. I don't ever want to get over that.
Well, the below entry was a tad whiny. Upon re-reading it and wincing, my instinct is to delete it, but I over-edit my posts as it is. And anyway, if this blog/journal/rant is going to be a true record of my, um, mercurial temperament, I'll just have to put up with the wincing. (Saying to myself, each time, "Oh, whine much? Get a helmet and shut the hell up.")
Tuesday, March 12, 2002
An e-mail from the Melvinator has just arrived, and surprise, during his upcoming week-long vacation to Alberta, he can "try" to get together with me for a quick lunch on the Friday -- as long as I can arrange to meet him later in the day rather than sooner. He still has not seen El Condo Non Grande, and apparently plans to keep not seeing it for one more visit. This time, though, I find it comic, not pathetic. We have observed the rituals: I can't say he didn't try to see me, so the familial gods are appeased. Hmm. I wonder who's going to crack first? Will he ever travel into deepest, darkest Inglewood to see the beige wonder of the condo? Or will I hop a jet to the island? Stay tuned.
Oh, and I also have an Eddie Murphy and "That guy who plays the older guy on 'Ed'" degree of one. I love having a friend in the biz.
Great, just GREAT. Apparently the boldface instructions "DO NOT leave popcorn unatteded in microwave" didn't get through to the user. Or maybe this person, who is hiding like a coward, punched in 50:00 cooking time instead of 5:00. It happens: I blew up my soup last week by hitting one too many zeros. To replicate what I'm living through right now, wrap a dead chicken in hair and sauerkraut, then toss it on a barbecue. Breathe deeply, dammit.
Monday, March 11, 2002
Thanks to my enterprising, beloffed friend Laur, she who works in the CBS universe, I now have both a Neil Finn and Craig Kilbourne degree of one. They thrill me equally.
Innocent, I tell you, I am innocent. I am stockpiling local newspaper ads for retirement homes as research for our retirement home client. The ads are uniformly, amateurishly, awful, featuring actual residents as models. But there was no call for someone here to pen an impromptu caption for a picture of an elderly man who was clad in a vertical-striped sweater, Tyrolean hat and windbreaker, reading: "Don't worry, Grampa will have help dressing himself from now on." Disgraceful behaviour.
Oscar backlash: Too many quality movies lately ["A Beautiful Mind" excepted]. Brain full. So this was bound to happen. Last night I rented "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" and sat at home laughing like a loon for two hours. I think I was mostly laughing that I rented such an awful, awful movie. Unrelievedly dumb quote: "What the F*CK is the Internet?" But somehow I love Kevin Smith all the more because of the movie. Loving Jay has been my shameful movie secret ever since "Clerks" -- and lo, a quick scout of my preferred database reveals that he and I have the same birthday. So it must be fate, me being a fan.
Sunday, March 10, 2002
A ranting run-up to the Oscars, continued.

Monster's Ball: I have now added Billy Bob Thornton to the "DeNiro Rage" list of those actors whose portrayals of extreme anger give me the williams. There's one scene where he flares into a rage at his son, played by Heath Ledger, and I commenced to sinking in my seat to get away from him. By the way, teen hunk looks aside, Heath Ledger's performance really stayed in my mind -- a palpable though not visible presence through the movie. And Halle Berry's performance was either brilliant or a scenery-chewing aerobathon, depending on the scene. If she wins best actress, I'll be resigned -- she's unforgettable in a couple of scenes, I have to admit. Do I recommend it? Yes, but not if you're depressed.
However, if Russell Crowe wins for "A Beautiful Mind", I shall outdo myself in flinging orange peels at my television on Oscar night. I was predisposed not to like this film because I've had a look at the book behind it, and I knew before going in that the movie bowdlerized John Nash's life to a great degree. But even then I wasn't prepared for the paint-by-number portrayal of those wacky symptoms of mental illness, from an actor who's talented enough to give better. Fearless and I went to see the movie together, and came away quite pissed off. The whole point of the published biography was that the schizophrenic tendencies of John Nash's brain, those that wrecked his life and his family, and were passed on to his son, also enabled him to redefine economic strategy [group theory] in the latter 20th century. But, onscreen what do we get? A simplified explanation of Nash's mathematical breakthrough, which -- hey, why not, Ron Howard's directing the thing -- hinged on a flimsy "Happy Days"-like "girl rejects brilliant boy in bar" scene. And then there's nothing else about it until near the film's end. I guess it's just not as fascinating as schizophrenia. Shameful.
Slow down, slow down. I will be fair here. There are one or two great moments in the movie -- Nash's ability to spot patterns in seemingly random occurrences, for one. And the hallucinations were intriguing and tragic at the same time. But the whole movie was just mental illness played at loud volume for the inattentive mouth-breathers in the audience. Disease of the week schlockfest. Oh, and if Jennifer Connelly gets an Oscar for keeping her mouth slightly agape throughout the film, I really will lose it my own self and scream at my television the way she screamed at her bathroom mirror. She's a great actor, like Crowe, but what a waste in this crapper of a flick. Recommendation: if you must, see it, but only on video. Or read the book and learn the real story.
Friday, March 08, 2002
Right up my nose, personality-wise: Specimen 1: The Office Conscience. Meet Sandra. You really want to hate her for many reasons, but you can’t. Sandra is earnest. Sandra was born without joy. She knows that the lunch you’ve just enjoyed has its origins in the destroyed rainforests of the Amazon. The chocolate chip cookies you’ve baked and lovingly given to your undeserving colleagues are edible postcards of child slavery on cocoa plantations in Sierra Leone. The hairshirt Sandra began knitting at birth is one size fits all. She sends regular e-mail reminders of our failure to be considerate to one another at work: someone has kindly borrowed a cutting board, but unkindly kept it; someone else keeps letting the printer run out of paper; and yet another egocentric has dared to put techno on the office stereo. Do we not know, are we that selfish, couldn’t we just?

But then: Sandra organizes the yearly donations to needy families at Christmas and other holidays. She volunteers countless hours at community recycling swaps. She reads opposing points of view. Damn her, she puts her money where her mouth is. If only that mouth would curl up at the corners once in awhile.
Poetry Friday, or "Uh-oh, I'm hooked":
Of 1826
[from "77 Dream Songs" by John Berryman]

I am the little man who smokes & smokes.
I am the girl who does know better but.
I am the king of the pool.
I am so wise I had my mouth sewn shut.
I am a government official & a goddamned fool.
I am a lady who takes jokes.

I am the enemy of the mind.
I am the auto salesman and lóve you.
I am a teenage cancer,with a plan.
I am the blackt-out man.
I am the woman powerful as a zoo.
I am two eyes screwed to my set, whose blind--

It is the Fourth of July.
Collect: while the dying man,
forgone by you creator, who forgives,
is gasping 'Thomas Jefferson still lives'
in vain, in vain, in vain.
I am Henry Pussy-cat! My whiskers fly.

Tuesday, March 05, 2002
Those who think that poetry should serve to soothe the spirit or lull the madness wrought by daily life would do well to avoid this poem reprinted on Mr. Barrish's web page [scroll down a bit -- about halfway]. Me, though, I find it creepily beautiful. But then I count The Wasp Factory as one of the best first novels I've ever read. So I guess you could say that I'm not turned off by twisted imagination. The more tortuous, the better, in fact.
Oh, and apropos of poetry: Being able to rhyme words does not make you a poet, any more than knowing the alphabet makes you an author. This axiom brought to you by Jane, Hater of Doggerel. [Not My Doggerel, har har, beat you to it, Fearless.] Actually, there’s doggerel and there’s doggerel. You’re allowed to write it if you’re as talented as Les Barker, writer of many wonderful verses, including the following on the French Revolution:
They began to behead the nobility;
The mob didn’t do things by halves
And at each beheading, old women sat ‘round;
Mistakenly knitting them scarves;
Beheadin’s a bit of a mixed blessing
You’ll find, if your head has gone
It’s great if you had a headache,
But it’s a sod when your scarf won’t stay on.
More imagination: I want to meet the creative team behind the new series of VW Passat commercials shown up here. First there’s the man lovingly washing the Passat in the driveway; at the end of the ad we find out he’s not the car’s owner, and the tagline reads “Get your own Passat.” Then there’s the tropical bar in which the bartender’s watching a game show during a blinding rainstorm, where the contestant chooses a tropical vacation over a new Passat. “What an idiot,” says the bartender, turning to see the same contestant seated at his bar, staring balefully, as the rain beats down relentlessly behind him. And then, oh joy, the ad I saw last night, where a prospective buyer puts “lick guard” on a silver Passat in the car lot to keep other buyers from viewing it. Hail to them for being so joyously silly.
Monday, March 04, 2002
Hard to believe, but I've been at the new job for exactly a year. A very good year, overall, world events notwithstanding. The creative director has just handed me a "You're still here?" gift, comprising:
  • a gumball
  • a square of chocolate
  • candy cigarettes
  • candy necklace
  • bubble bath from the fatherland
  • an economy-sized roll of antacid tablets
  • a tiny bottle of gin, and
  • rolling papers.
It's frightening to be known that well by one's colleagues.
Relax, puritans. I am rarely able to take advantage of rolling papers these days. It's not because of morals, it's because of my Achilles heel -- or more accurately, Achilles lung. The weak right lung, a souvenir of premature birth. Oh well. At present I'm wheezing like a gutshot accordion. But a gainfully employed gutshot accordion, by God.
Saturday, March 02, 2002
Well, it's like this: I took the freelance jobs because I am getting very worried about the massive income tax bill I'm facing, as well as the property tax on my raving little condo. But then the day job went critical, and the one brochure I was supposed to write on mezzanine financing [don't ask. just -- don't.] morphed into three. They're supposed to be distinct from one another. I am now taking the words "equity" and "senior lender" and lobbing them at the text, hoping they'll at least look impressive wherever they stick. Then it occurs to me that math is not my long suit, and that the money I'll earn -- if I can con the client into paying me -- is mostly going to be eaten up by the Feds anyway. So I am spending this weekend writing about money, a thing I won't be earning. My earlier plagiarized comment about copywriters being halfway between killer and poet is no longer applicable. As a hired killer I'd hand the gun over to the victim and say, "Here, you do it." As a poet I'd be churning out doggerel.
It kills me that I never, never learn.
Friday, March 01, 2002
Oft-imitated (which is increasingly appreciated) Poetry Friday:
The God Who Loves You
[Carl Dennis, from "Practical Gods"]

It must be troubling for the god who loves you
To ponder how much happier you'd be today
Had you been able to glimpse your many futures.
It must be painful for him to watch you on Friday evenings
Driving home from the office, content with your week—
Three fine houses sold to deserving families—
Knowing as he does exactly what would have happened
Had you gone to your second choice for college,
Knowing the roommate you'd have been allotted
Whose ardent opinions on painting and music
Would have kindled in you a lifelong passion.
A life thirty points above the life you're living
On any scale of satisfaction. And every point
A thorn in the side of the god who loves you.
You don't want that, a large-souled man like you
Who tries to withhold from your wife the day's disappointments
So she can save her empathy for the children.
And would you want this god to compare your wife
With the woman you were destined to meet on the other campus?
It hurts you to think of him ranking the conversation
You'd have enjoyed over there higher in insight
Than the conversation you're used to.
And think how this loving god would feel
Knowing that the man next in line for your wife
Would have pleased her more than you ever will
Even on your best days, when you really try.
Can you sleep at night believing a god like that
Is pacing his cloudy bedroom, harassed by alternatives
You're spared by ignorance? The difference between what is
And what could have been will remain alive for him
Even after you cease existing, after you catch a chill
Running out in the snow for the morning paper,
Losing eleven years that the god who loves you
Will feel compelled to imagine scene by scene
Unless you come to the rescue by imagining him
No wiser than you are, no god at all, only a friend
No closer than the actual friend you made at college,
The one you haven't written in months. Sit down tonight
And write him about the life you can talk about
With a claim to authority, the life you've witnessed,
Which for all you know is the life you've chosen.
And if I were to post two poems today, I'd copy that bugger Morton and post the same poem by Lucille Clifton that he did. Oh, and Mr. Ford over at Ftrain is calling for favourite poems to be e-mailed to him. This I like to see.