Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Rock. Hard Place.

No, it wasn't from listening to old Roxy Music. It was from hearing Surf's Up at the Booeymonger in Friendship Heights while my daughter had a frozen yogurt. Again, composed on the phone keypad.

Oh, this rock.
Sand in my throat, sand in my hair.
My tedious keening.
What a lot of work it is to wail you into destruction!
I sing the song without thinking,
Sink deep inside myself.
Ah. In dreams I indulge
In pratfalls, digging turnips, silence—
Nothing to do with sailors. Peace.

Another storm kicks up.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

"I Think It's Kind of Sexy that John Malkovich Has a Portal"

For the sleepless with access to hundreds of cable channels, I recommend the replay Oracle: When you're stuck, awake, looking for insight and inspiration, switch on the TV for a minute, flip through the guide, don't get stuck on Real Sex, keep going, looking for a movie they run over and over--Pulp Fiction is usually my go-to. Turn it on, see what scene's running, and take that as a sign from the cosmos.

Three times in the past few weeks when I've tried it, it's been Being John Malkovich. And three times it's been the scene where Cameron Diaz pops out of the other end of the portal, exhilarated and inspired by the ride. "I finally knew who I was!" "But you weren't you!"

Last night, unable to sleep after a wedding rehearsal dinner, it was the scene where Malkovich was rehearsing his lines for The Cherry Orchard. And she pops into him. And is about to go on a date with Keener.

I love the way in a later scene Keener's all looking at her watch while she waits for Diaz to show up inside Malkovich.

So all the sudden there's a false debate about whether a woman can be hot and funny. Get out. Diaz has been doing it for years. Any doubts about her acting chops, just rewind this one.

When it's Pulp Fiction, I most often get the "Bonnie's Coming Home From Work" sequence.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Um, Happy Solstice, Sort Of

Well, not exactly the sweet midsummer greetings I was hoping for, but this is what came to me when the sun came up:

Air Conditioner: A Horror Story
Summer always lulls me into believing
I can write a ghost story
The bestseller, or the latest from M. Night--
Horror looks so easy, the kind of thing you could churn out
In your sleep, or with your toes buried
In the sand. Take something you see every day—
A car, a house, a child—and flip it into malevolence.
Of course, get into it, and it’s another story:
Conversations bog down when they should
Spur the action, the plot feels forced, the
Veneer of omniscience flakes, and
You get that sick feeling they can sense
Your uncertain steps. And there are only
So many ways to describe rot,
Aren’t there? Maybe you know more.

Maybe it’s the air conditioner—
The shudder of that one ragged streamer,
The corrosive drip, that hum and huff
As it struggles to keep things fresh.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

There WILL BE Cookies

The latest memo by a executive-level newspaper serial killer with QUITE a PENCHANT for UNREGULATED CAPS USE snuck out of the office and gets taken down here. YOU HAVE TO read the comments. It just keeps getting better. The commments section, I mean. The media industry just keeps getting worse.

Wish I could go to the reading tonight by many of the writers in this anthology, BUT I HAVE TO BABYSIT. I NEVER REALIZED that was IRONY. And YES there will be cookies there:
Not What I Expected: The Road from Womanhood to Motherhood, ed. by Donya Currie and Hildie S. Block: An anthology of poetry, fiction, essays and artwork by Jody Bolz, Carole Burns, Grace Cavalieri, Christina Daub, Mary Doroshenk, Patricia Gray, Clarinda Harriss, Anne Hasselbrack, Jacqueline Jules, Mary Ann Larkin, Lyn Lifshin, Hilary Tham, Donna Vitucci, Mary-Sherman Willis, and tons more. Montgomery College, Thursday June 19, 7:30, Humanities Building Room #009.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The 13 Confessions

UPDATE: Completly forgot the whole reason I wanted to write today was about the beautiful and mysterious Anacostia River. Post had a story yesterday, but they'll make you register to read it--go here instead and take a FREE freaking boat ride and you'll see why it is beautiful. OK, there are lots of things you can do for river cleanup, but here's the biggest one: Don't leave your soccer ball in the yard. Serious. They get washed away in the rain and they end up in my fave river.

1. Stuck in midsummer’s amber, lying around like a full lion, licking my paws and waiting.

2. Happy wedding day, Californians! Apparently, licenses now read “Party A” and “Party B” instead of “bride” or “groom.” That sounds fun!

3. Caught a minute of a commentary by Colbert King this morning on stupid WTOP—gist was that after 47 years of marriage, he’d learned to mind his own business when it comes to other people’s arrangements. No offense to the always-great Mr. King, but I knew that one even before going in myself 12 years ago.

4. Picked 15 quarts of strawberries with DD, froze many bags of them and made an absolutely dismal pie. Have I lost my touch? Maybe it’s the weather. The butter just melts.

5. Still convinced pistachio is the nut for strawberry. Like hazelnut for blueberry. And pinot noir. But people keep asking me to update the template for the deliverable. Damn. Where’s the “…and the living is easy” part?

6. This is too effing funny.

7. I did my first public poetry reading in 20 years the other night, and I didn’t throw up.

8. But at one point I was reduced to hanging out the door yelling “There are cookies in here!” to get people to come in and listen.

9. It worked.

10. A “cultural trend research company” I had to deal with at work is predicting a baby boomlet fueled by high gas prices. It says 2008 will be a “summer of love” because no one can afford to travel. Newly married Californians, start your engines, so to speak.

11. I’m traveling a lot this summer. To France and New Jersey and more. But I don’t know, maybe I can fit a little love in there too somewhere.

12. Mostly I’m going to be locked up working on a oh lord don’t say it novel. And trail training. If the trees ever stop falling over.

13. Got to thinking about Sandra Bernhard in her movie singing “I Never Meant to Hurt You” and before I knew what happened I ended up downloading a bunch of Laura Nyro songs.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

You've Got to Accentuate the Positive

I was bummed to hear Tristan Taormino won't be editing the Best Lesbian Sex annual anthology anymore, because I would have liked a shot at getting a story in with that editor. Maybe there will be another Taormino-edited project. I'll poke around, so to speak.

In a farewell to editing column noting the trend toward stranger sex in a lot of the stories--as in perfect strangers, not as in more unusual--Taormino quotes a therapist: "Most people look at anonymous sex with morality and judgment and rarely talk about any positive aspects," he notes. But "because there is no emotional investment in a relationship, there is no history and no future. The experience can be all about the here and now. It's not about attachment. It's very Zen."

Which gives me an idea for a story.

Photo: Zen rock garden. Photo is being sold as a poster by a company that does not see fit to say who the photographer is. So I'm not saying what the company is. Does that just make it worse?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Chemists and Alchemists

I had to be on stage the other night, and I wasn't nervous enough, and I was a little worried about it. I'm better at things like that if I'm nervous. No nerves, no energy. The guy running the performance, the co-director-star, made some recommendations about large quantities of Red Bull, then said: "It feels like falling in love." Now that I'd like to have in a can.

And then I thought about Kip Hanrahan's "Tenderness."

Photo: Hanrahan's pub photo. Mmmmm.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Why Two Touches Just Doesn't Get the Job Done

For the past two weeks, I've been writing about Member Development. Heh heh.

So, the buyouts were taken at our nation's capital's major national newspaper (and there really is only one. I've also worked at the other one that says it is, and trust me--those MFs all crazy up in there). I'm not going to cry for my favorite writers or columnists, or for me, Argentina (or any of the other bureaus that have been nailed shut over the years. Because who cares what's happening to those people anyway.). Most of them will go on as contract. (Paralleling the "efficiencies" in federal contracting--lose your job, get hired back for more money, and somehow we all save money from it.) Financial took a big hit, but who needs to know about boiler room mortgage companies, anyway?

Other people can mourn the writers. What I come to bury not to praise is the Washington Post's new copy editing structure, called the "two touch" system. Which sounds like what you get when you can't afford the Emperor's Club.

Even when I worked at a little local, we had at least three reads and a page proofing on all copy. No more. Now much of the writing at one of the two remaining major dailies (nah, I don't count LA either, and Chicago bowed out way back) will get a quick hand job and be sent straight to you!

When the good copy editors are gone, the skeptics are gone, the institutional memory is gone, the integrity is gone, the woodwork squeaks and plagiarists and fabulists and liars and starfuckers and self-promoting freaks of all stripes, not to mention simple scared barely interns who are easily fooled, come on in. And then someone's using the money that's supposed to pay for school building repairs to buy his cousin a Mercedes, and your kid is getting her ass shot off halfway around the world because someone started a war, and you couldn't get a straight read on what was going on early enough to at least try to do something about any of it.

Give me back copy editors and stay off my lawn, you kids!

Not everyone agrees with me.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Trying to Get Over

Dow Chemical is talking like the first-graders in the class I'm right now baking brownies for: "I didn't drop it, why do I have to pick it up?" Article also puts the Union Carbide contribution to Bhopal survivors at currently $550 a head. Mighty big of them.

Oh, but happy birthday Curtis Mayfield and Allen Ginsberg. Wish you were here.

Lordy, a two-poem blog entry run, ain't nobody coming back here ever again.

Clouds: A Business Plan

Keep churning it out;
Someone’s eventually going to want it,
Aren’t they? And we’ll have it ready for them.

We can’t pull out, we’re too far in,
So we’ll just pull back a little,
And then a little more; do more with less.

Take out the ones who know the right words,
The ones who know the rules,
The ones who know what to do.

Slide out the equipment, the plans,
Valves, plates, water spray, escape hatches,
A little at a time, pulling every prop

Until the factory, unsupported, hovers like a cloud.
Humming, barely running, emitting
A buzz of discontent and tension.

What a trick! Like coyote off a cliff,
Legs cycling frantically in midair
Before it crashes. And the cloud escapes.

He remembers a day in Catholic
Grammar school: He was castigated
By the sister for drawing clouds

With flat bottoms. Clouds are puffy,
She insisted; he knew better, little scientist,
And stuck to his guns and took the hit.

Then the toxic cloud rolled down the streets
Like a rogue wave, chasing humans,
Bringing them down. Three thousand

Souls escaped in that moment, spirits
Like smoke into the sky. What a haze
They must have made in paradise.

They say at least one more dies from it
Each day. They say they’re not sure
Where they’re sourcing that statistic.

No matter; today, the world is flat,
The clouds are flat. So he runs
It up the flagpole to watch it wave.

He sees cirrus wisps, but the crown chakra
Is not top of mind. Outsource democracy;
No danger of overproduction here.

The executive summary counsels
Keeping a keen eye toward opportunities
Presented by the fog of war.

Image: Rene Magritte's "The Castle in the Pyrenees," used so often by everyone, I'm sorry, sue me.