Monday, December 26, 2005

Happy Birthday, Kent!

Today is Kent's Birthday. Happy Birthday, Kent!

We spent last night on the coast, a place called Steep Ravine, in a rustic cabin a stone's throw from the surf.

photo credit: GI

It was raining and fogged in. But there was hardly any wind and the wood stove in the cabin warmed the place up nicely. We ate dinner and read by candlelight.

photo credit: KLM

Today dawned sunny, despite a morning mist the air warming quickly. We took this trail for a walk along the cliffs.

Sunday, December 25, 2005


photo credit: GI

This is a quilt my mother made. It is most extraordinarily ugly. I got it out of the cupboard as K & I need a temporary curtain to shut out the glare and I thought this quilt might be the right thing to tack up. But I started harshing on it so much Kent has been trying to think of ways to defend it. "Don't these shapes look like buttes?" And, "She really figured out how to join odd-shaped pieces!"

Really, there is nothing about it that works. The colors and patterns are at war. Even the materials don't fit together ... when the quilt came out of the wash some materials shrank and some didn't. The quilt never will stretch out flat again. And the backing is an unpleasant pink. I used it many times because Mom made it and because we just didn't have that many quilt options. It's been in the cupboard unused since I moved in with Kent. I think I will throw it away.

merrry xxxmas

or Happy Ancient Pagan Holiday Renamed for the Convenience of the Holy Roman Empire

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

comments on "House Overlook", version 5

It's been almost a month since I last did a version of "House Overlook". That title has always been a placeholder. The poem didn't really have a title. The first version was written in 1995. Not long before I'd written a series of poems that used houses in semi-personified fashion and I would title them "House of ...", as in "House of Rescue" and "House of Escape" and "House of Dimensions" and so on. "House Overlook" was a late edition to the series. It probably works better as a part of a series than as a stand-alone. But I like it well enough by itself.

With this version the poem now has a title, "All the Time Now". I like it as a phrase. As the title? I don't know. I'll let it sit there awhile and see how it settles in.

The changes from version 4 are mainly in the arrangement of lines. Stanzas 2 and 3 swapped places, for instance. I adjusted the perspective of the speaker slightly, emphasizing his being one who looks, a commonality with the house and a difference. The house overlooks. To overlook means to fail to notice and to supervise, to get a good view, to be prominent. The house is stationary, as a house is. The speaker moves about, even to moving to another country. Although in this other country, the houses aren't stationary? The speaker was not busy in the country of the overlooking house? That's implied by the last line. Was his lack of busy-ness somehow caused by the house's overlooking? Is "the house" another way of saying "I"?

House Overlook, version 5

All the Time Now

The house on top of the hill overlooked everything.
It overlooked my house and me and my dog as she squatted and peed,
and it overlooked the street where a few drops of rain fell.

The house overlooked the wind carrying dust.
The wind blew and I turned my head to watch it go.
The house overlooked trees and the birds in trees and the leaves
and the colors of the leaves.

The house overlooked what passed,
and what never came near.
There were mountains that stood on clouds.
The house overlooked them, too.

I moved to another country where the houses rise at first light like farmers
and seem to get a lot of work done.
I pull back the curtains to see the dark go.
I am busy all the time now.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Info Desk Blogging

There's a large gap in the ceiling above the Info Desk. Whenever someone asks me about using the internet without having a library card I point up through this gap and say, "See that line of chairs around the railing? They lead to the 15 minute computers. You don't need a library card to use a 15 minute computer."

I don't know why but I always like pointing up at the hole in the ceiling.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I would support the Death Penalty if it killed State Senator R. Edward Houck of Virginia

From an article about a lesbian couple who decide they must quit Virginia, their home of 17 years, out of fear of the state's new Official Family Destruction law:

"State Sen. R. Edward Houck, a Democrat who has represented the Fredericksburg area for 21 years, says he felt conflicted about the votes he'd cast for the [Official Family Destruction] law and the [Official Family Destruction] constitutional amendment, but felt obliged to represent his 175,000 constituents. Most of them, he believes, support restrictions on ... marriage and [civil] rights. 'I can't always just vote my conscience and my convictions,' he says. Houck also insists that Barbara and Tibby [the lesbian couple he's helping chase from the state], whom he doesn't know, don't have to leave Fredericksburg, that the law refers not to wills and medical directives, but 'the rights and responsibilities of marriage.' But what are those? 'I can't answer that,' he says. 'I don't know all these things.'"

"I don't know these things," he repeated as he pushed the baby's face under the water and held it till it stopped struggling. He shrugged. "What do I look like? A lawyer?"

When Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down

Cheney's surprise visit to Iraq:

"U.S. forces guarded Cheney with weapons at the ready while Iraqi soldiers, who had no weapons, held their arms out as if they were carrying imaginary guns."

Because, you know, if it hadn't been a surprise and the Iraqi government knew ahead of time, Cheney would fear for his life. That is, he'd fear for his life more than, it seems obvious, he already does.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

stem the rose

OK. We saw Brokeback Mountain. K & I walked down to the theatre and bought tickets then went over to a cafe to eat. I didn't know whether it would sell out as was happening in San Francisco opening weekend. On our way back rain was falling and the air was chill. So it was nice to be able to duck right into the building.

The theatre was showing Brokeback on three screens. If they hadn't been I suppose it would have been crowded. As it was I'd say the fill up in our theatre was above average for a matinee. Anyway. Was it good?

It was good. I liked it. I would see it again. I'm sure I will see it again, on DVD if not in the theatre. Beautiful landscapes. And the leads, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, are easy on the eyes. I was expecting more doom, the typical tragic queer story. Lots of angst and not much touching. Thankfully those expectations were disappointed. It's a secret love. And the sadness comes from its being hidden in the mountains, away from every day life, not allowing the lovers to live full lives. But at least they get to love each other. Gee, it seems so little to ask. And it's way too much, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

day off

Nice day.

Day off.


Nice to have a day off.

Nice day off.

Nice to have.

Have a day.

A day off.

Having the day.

The day off.

Nice to have.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Albany Bulb

photo credit: Jef Poskanzer

We walked around the Albany Bulb this afternoon. The tide was out so we got right down next to the mudflats, stepping from one barnacle-encrusted, seaweed-slippery concrete hunk to another.

There are sculptures and paintings in a few places around the bulb, which is an old construction materials landfill that extends into the SF bay. The sculptures pictured have spinning parts.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


On my morning break I scurry out of the library and get me a cup of coffee (short) and a plain (butter) croissant at Starbucks, eat and sip and scan whatever paper happens to be lying around. This morning the tall young fellow who has been working there a little while now looked right at me and said, "Good morning, Pat! What can we get for you today?"

"Did you call me 'Pat'?" I asked.

Flustered he said, "What's your name? What's your name?"

When I told him, he rolled it on his tongue, puzzled. "You should meet Pat," he said, turning to pour the coffee.

"We probably have a lot in common," I said.

As he handed me the cup he said, "How does it feel to have had a different name for the last six months?"

I shrugged. "This is only the second time I've heard you use a name with me." Usually he emphasizes SIR, as in "Can I get a drink started for you, SIR!"

Was it yesterday I first heard "Pat"? There were people in line and I wasn't really sure what he'd said so I just took my drink and smiled. But when he said it so clearly today ... "What's your name?" I asked.

He said, "Chris."

"Thanks, Chris," I said. (I've seen him holding hands with his Asian boyfriend. I like to see that sort of thing.)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain is the new gay cowboy movie significant mostly for being a big budget Hollywood production in which the same sex lovers live happily ever after.

Just kidding.

Of course they are miserable, unable to embrace the happiness they've found together because society forbids it, keep away from each other, and die of broken hearts ... or backs ... unless that's the mountain. On the other hand if you like yearning and frustration I understand this is your film.

No, I haven't seen it. Yes, I would like to because the leads are hot and they do get a little snogging in. That the only gay love story acceptable to the money men of Hollywood still has to be a tragic one ... well ... that's tragic, too. But maybe it's one of those films just crying out for a fan reedit.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Let's say

a new antelope has been uploaded from the front side of the blue century, its glimmering prongs relit with garish tinsel and ice.

Let's say further that this antelope, rather than being one of the placid antelopes of Earthen Springs, that farm from which we have grown accustomed to seeing the to-be-uploaded antelopes led, kind-eyed and stepping with an elegant fragility, is instead but secretly an Antarctic antelope bred in harsh conditions outside an experimental facility.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Info Desk Blogging

My supervisor asked me to take her Info Desk hour today. When last I was here rain was threatening. Rain has come through on its threat. Cool, breezy, but the rain's only been intermittent. Not too bad.

A caller just told me West branch isn't answering their phone. West is supposed to have been open for ten minutes already. I called West, too, and got their "we're closed" message. Wake up, guys!

Patron just said he was planning a road trip and he wanted to stay at some "haunted hotels." I didn't find any books with the words "haunted hotels" in the catalog description so I sent him up to the reference desk on the second floor. Sounds like the sort of information you might find in a magazine article.

Cassandra, one of the workers at North branch, just came in. She traveled to Brazil last year, knowing no Portuguese, spent six months there, and now chatters away at me. I catch a word here & there. I'd sure like to get one of my other-than-English languages up to real communicational fluency. But I'll probably die monolingual. Face down in a puddle on an empty street, late Sunday afternoon, surrounded by sparrows.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


For a few years I sent my mother a postcard each week. My life was not nearly exciting enough to provide a real letter's worth of news and my mother wanted something more than a phone call. At first she was disappointed with mere postcards but, as they piled up, she got so she liked looking at the pictures on them as well as reading them.

Since Mom is no longer around I have a big stack of postcards and no one to send them to.

Actually, I think I'll crank up my postcarding. I sent three today -- one to my brother & his wife, one to an old high school buddy, and a third to my stepmother. I got good at saying just a few things. My letters have tended to the long-winded, which was one of the reasons I got to dread writing them. A postcard, rather like a sonnet, say, is a severely limited plot on which to set up a garden. One can, nevertheless, say something of substance and it's fun to see what.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Info Desk Blogging

Threatening rain. When I went out this afternoon on my break I caught a few drops. But it doesn't look like anything's coming down now.

I mentioned it yesterday but it was officially announced to the library today: next week I will no longer be a Library Assistant ... I will be a Library Specialist II. You're impressed, right? Say you're impressed.

A man and his son (?) of maybe 12 just came to the Info Desk. Man asked if boy could check out books with a photo ID, as he'd forgotten his library card. I said he could buy a replacement card at the circulation desk. The boy said, "I already talked to them." Man said, "What did they say?" "That I need my library card." Man and I exchanged a glance and man and boy walked out together.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


A week from now I'll be looking at my first Monday in a new job. I interviewed for the nine openings at the library. Eight were halftime positions in the branches. The ninth, a fulltime job, was in the same department I'm in currently, Technical Services. With the budget crisis there was a hiring freeze that kept a position in Cataloging unfilled for a couple years. Finally TS got the OK to put a person into that.

I was offered & accepted the Cataloging job. I'm looking forward to the change. New supervisor, different cubicle (smaller but with a window!), new duties.

Kent & I had a pleasant Thanksgiving. K soaked the turkey overnight in a brine of salt, sugar & spices, then cooked it in the barbecue on the back patio for several hours Thanksgiving Day. He also made stuffing, fingerling potatoes, and spinach salad. All very good. After dinner we drove up the hill to a friend's house for company and dessert.

Have to catch up on a few things today -- pay bills, turn the compost, throw out old newspapers.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

comments on "House Overlook", version 4

Kent suggests reducing the number of "overlooked"s, especially in the first stanza. "Doesn't add anything, gets annoying," he says.

I've read it over and at present I don't agree. Or rather, for me the repetition is interesting and not annoying. But this is version 4, after all; changes have been made up to now. I'm open to thinking about others.

Again I'm most dubious about the ending. Although I do prefer version 4 to version 3.

I made this version while dinner was imminent (Kent cooking) and the radio was on, I think. So just as I posted it was my first clear reading.

House Overlook, version 4

The house on top of the hill overlooked everything.
It overlooked my house and me and my dog as she squatted and peed,
and it overlooked the street where a few drops of rain fell.

There were mountains that stood on clouds,
and the house overlooked them, too.
The house overlooked what passed,
and what never came near.

The house overlooked the wind carrying dust.
I turned my head, and the wind blew by.
The house overlooked trees and the birds in trees and the leaves
and the colors of the leaves.

I moved to another country where the houses rise at first light like farmers
and seem to get a lot of work done.
I look out the window.
I am busy all the time now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

comments on "House Overlook", version 3

If you're curious: version 1 and version 2

I like the 3rd version best so far. Still having most trouble finding an ending.

House Overlook, version 3

The house on top of the hill overlooked everything.
It overlooked my house and me and my dog as she squatted and peed,
and it overlooked the street where a few drops of rain fell.

There were mountains which sometimes seemed to stand on clouds,
and the house overlooked them, too.
The house overlooked what passed by,
things passing as they do.

The house overlooked the wind carrying dust.
As I turned my head, the wind blew over me.
The house overlooked trees and the birds in trees and the leaves
and the colors of the leaves.

I moved to another country where the houses rise at first light like farmers
and seem to get a lot of work done.
I look out the window.
How high up I am.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Info Desk Blogging

Short week. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. And Monday is almost done.

And that's not just the work day. I see the light fading on the other side of the library's glass doors.

It's been pretty quiet at the Info Desk this hour, but I'm not full of things to say.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Info Desk Blogging

Nice warm day. When the wind kicks up on a late fall day here in Berkeley, as it did when I was pushing my way to a cafe for lunch, one worries about fires. The 20th C saw two big ones. One in 1923, another in 1991.

I was here for the 1991 fire. A friend and I were headed to the Berkeley Marina for a picnic. An ugly plume of smoke began to rise to the southeast. By the time we got to the Marina we could see the flames, tiny in the distance but obviously leaping over the houses on the hill.

I'm sure nothing like that's going to happen today. Have had some power fluctuations in the building, which crashed the database program, but things seem to be up and running again. Just now I was trying to access one of the Electronic Resources the library links to. I've been attending trainings on how to use this new stuff so I try them out whenever I have opportunity. I was trying WorldCat, which has listings for the holdings of libraries all over the place. WorldCat was very ... very ... slow. I didn't get a response till the inquiring patron had to leave. Tsk.

We need new maps! The map that was produced for the grand opening is getting more and more out of date. Maybe one of the new hires will be assigned to produce it. Lots of hiring going on. The library wasn't hiring during the budget troubles so when people left (retired, moved, etc) they couldn't be replaced. Looks like replacement time has arrived.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Was Sulu my favorite Star Trek character? Hm. Let's see. I liked him better than Captain Kirk. I liked him better than Spock. I liked him better than Scottie. Unlike Uhura he wasn't stuck in a mini-skirt. And, yes, the episode where he takes up a sword and runs through the Enterprise shirtless -- that was my favorite Sulu episode. I wish he'd carved up Spock, frankly.

Turns out he's gay. Right on, Mr Takei!

Thanks to Trek Connection for the photo.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

cat pee

I've talked here before about cat pee. I threw out several books I'd brought home from my mother's house after one of our cats doused them.

Well, the night we were packing for our Hawaii trip we trapped the cats inside the house and the one I'd suspected all along gave me a puddle of confirmation for my suspicions. Was he frightened? Mad at being trapped indoors?

I discovered the dark smelly spot on the sideroom bed when I was mostly done packing and ready to sleep. I threw out the books, should I throw away the bed?

When I was looking for cat pee remedies on the internet they all talked about getting the smell out of rugs & fabrics. Soaking books in some solution didn't seem like a good idea, especially for books I could easily replace. But sheets and pajamas go through the wash all the time so what the hell. I mixed up the formula Kent had used to de-skunk the dog.

Hydrogen peroxide
Baking soda

I don't suppose you should use a lot of water, as it's probably not good to dilute the forumla too much. But I needed enough solution to squeeze through the cloth. I was also afraid the peroxide would bleach the color out. In the case of the cat pee impregnated sheets, however, bleaching would be better than throwing them away.

It really works. Wonders. Sniff the cleaned bedding as I might, I can't find a hint of cat pee. Not a suggestion, not an echo. Wonders. ... and no bleaching!

I left off treating the foam mattress until we got back from our trip so the pee was well dried and who knew if the miracle solution would work the same miracle on old dry pee? I am happy to report it did. Big yay!

And all that time alone in the house did the cat(s) confine their wettings to the litter box? Sadly, no. However, I did have the foresight to pile old newspapers on the most likely targets and, yes, the newspapers were pee damp when we got back. Yuck, huh? Some pee seems to have soaked down to my boxes of stuff but it looks like only a few papers were affected and only at the edges. I'll whip up some anti-pee solution and dip the edges. Updates to follow.

Friday, November 11, 2005


We got back late Saturday night from a ten day Hawaii vacation. Big Island. Shorts & flipflops, snorkeling, reading on the beach.

Monday morning Kent banged on the door at the pet hospital where we board Flash. Here to pick up dog! ... No dog for him to pick up.

Flash died Saturday night or sometime on Sunday. The place is closed Sunday but of course someone comes through to check on the animals. The doctor told Kent that he only found out about Flash late Sunday night.

We have been mourning our dear doggy since. Wish we could've been with her in her last days. Seeing Kent she would have been happy, being home again, she often came to me for comfort when she was nervous.

She was an elderly dog. I've mentioned her breathing problems. Maybe she couldn't breathe, the diagnosis that said she had a frozen larynx, maybe it locked up and she couldn't catch a breath. She had some bad nights like that. Maybe the workers medicated her for it and overmedicated her.

Kent said when the doctor checked her out a few months ago he was surprised by the strength of her lungs and heart. Flash was older than the average dog her size. I remember when Peanuts, the cat I grew up with, was quite old. He got an absessed tooth. It was a simple operation only requiring a local anesthetic so we had the vet remove the tooth and Peanuts regained his lost weight. But within a couple months his weight dropped again. Turned out a tumor had grown under his tongue. The vet, apologetic, said he'd seen no evidence of the tumor when he'd taken out the tooth. Well, you get old. I don't know what ended Flash's life.

She was a sweet girl. We got a nice card from the workers at the pet hospital. That's what they called her, "sweet". She was sweet, gentle, friendly, obedient, pretty.

In her last months I tried not to scold her -- for sneaking into the back yard for a dug up treat of kitty poo (I would wave her away), for tiptoeing upstairs to steal cat food, for raiding the kitchen garbage, things she knew K & I didn't want her doing but when our disapproving superegos weren't in the house, her craving little id led her wet nose. I decided she deserved sneaking a few goodies if I'd been remiss in blocking her access. I could see she was old, getting a little deaf, her eyes slightly clouded, rarely active. But she had a bounce in her even in the week before our travel; I remember taking her some treat from the kitchen and she did her happy dance.

I come home and expect her to be here.

Kent laid her collar and the sympathy card in the corner by the bed where she would hunker down at night. Goodnight, Flashy. Good girl.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Info Desk Blogging

Heavy dark clouds. Radio this morning was saying rain, tho it hasn't. I wouldn't mind lugging my umbrella all the way home furled.

Not much writing time today. Rather busy. The usual questions: how do I get a library card, do you have internet.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Info Desk Blogging

The book that the city is reading together this year is Sandra Cisnero's The House on Mango Street. Interesting. I read the book earlier this year. A tattered old library discard as a matter of fact.

There was a giveaway of copies of Mango St earlier. I heard the announcement, once in English, once in Spanish. Bright new copies with tight spines.

A couple years ago the city book was Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. I started to read it. Got a few pages in. But, I don't know, wrong time, not in the mood. When I go back I'll probably start from the beginning.

Cool overcast day. Our security guard, who has to man a little desk by the door, was just wishing for long sleeves.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

feelin's, doin's

Kent is under the weather.

Sundy has an injured foreleg.

Flash had another bad breathing night a few days ago so we've been tiptoeing around her, but she seems fine tonight. Good on her!

Me? I'm antsy about our vacation -- Hawaii! And the interview for the new position at the library. And it having turned out that both things are happening at the same time.

So what'm I gonna do?

The hiring folks have decided to let me do a telephone interview from Hawaii. ... whew ... I'd rather not have the job on my mind while I'm on vacation but I'm damn thankful this arrangement was allowed. They coulda said if yr outta town, yr outta luck. Not like I don't got a lot a competition.

And the other cat? Sutra? He lurks in the bamboo patch at the end of the yard. I stepped out on the porch this evening and the porchlight made gleaming jewels of his eyes. Couldn't see any more of him out there in the dark. And, no, he wasn't interested in coming in.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


lsie dc i aiixhl h ghio hsser jrh ;oiun sli. Rkio kso ein l.uei ;; asliexchh


sieicncn sei aao xein seijw cokna ei xxi w.ix x. oi.oh xx




Monday, October 17, 2005

Info Desk Blogging

A woman looking for telephone directories. No, not local.

I tell her the phone books are opposite the reference books on the second floor.

Says she, "Why did they move them there!"

... Move them? Where were they before?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

comments on "House Overlook", version 2

I wrote version 2 a few days ago and didn't reread it before posting. I think I didn't manage to reenter the voice. Too bad. Some of it tends toward cute, "The house looked down at all the birds even when they were flying and flying." Plus I think I had more in mind for "overlook" than "look down on" and that gets lost here.

The stanza breaks and the new lines work better than the sprawling lines & uninterrupted block of the first version. But this version is less interesting.

So it goes. It's not the first time a revision seems worse than a first draft.

House Overlook, version 2

The house sat on top of the hill and overlooked everything.
It overlooked my house and me and my dog as she squatted and peed,
and it overlooked the street that the rain was falling on.

The house managed to look down on the mountains however far away they were.
The house looked down at things as they passed --
these things had passed like this up to now.
They would keep on passing, of course.

The house looked down at the wind carrying dust.
I closed my eyes being in the midst of the wind and dust.
The house looked down at all the birds even when they were flying and flying.

In another country the houses rise at first light like farmers
and seem to get a lot of work done.
I've moved in order to look out a window very high up.

I'm sure I shall get a lot done, too.
I watch the houses in order to learn how things work
in this country.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

comments on "House Overlook", version 1

The lines that begin "---" are supposed to be indented continuations of the lines immediately preceding them. But I couldn't figure out the html for inserting indents. I went to one webpage that claimed to be offering hints on how to make indents with html and it says, "The indents of this paragraph are ..." but if any were they weren't on my browser. Whatever.

On subsequent versions I have little doubt I'm going to rein those lines in some.

The poem is from 1995. It's a late House poem. I wrote a series of House poems, houses as malleable metaphors. "House Overlook" reads like a draft, doesn't it? I like the voice.

Update: I've edited out the "---" because Kent found me these instructions on how to insert a space.

House Overlook, version 1

The house sat on top of the hill and overlooked everything.
It overlooked my house and me and my dog as she squatted and peed,
and it overlooked the street that the rain was falling on.
The house looked across to the mountains and managed to look down on them
      though they were twice as close to Heaven.
as the house was.
And it looked at things as they passed as though things would go on passing
      just like that,
and it happened this way up to now
so why not.
The house looked at the wind go by below.
I closed my eyes to keep the wind out and the dust.
The house looked at the birds.
I moved to another country where the houses rise at first light like farmers
and seem to get a lot of work done.
I look out my window and see I'm very high up.
I turn to the dishes I didn't finish last night
and I roll up my sleeves.

Monday, October 10, 2005

playlist titles

I've been titling the playlists as I burn them to CD. I look at the list of songs and try to work out a title that conveys the mood of the whole. If the same word appears in more than one song title I start from there.

Some of my favorite playlist titles:

More by Zero
Roominghouse People
The Jaguar's Sunday
Mass Dream Service
Frog Star
Celebrate, Babylon Style
Chauffeur in a Red Forest
Restless Fist
Staggering Wheel
Hey, Sad Girl!
Sugar for Miles
Lightning Fatigue
One Fun Someone
The Future is the Same
Too Good to Baby
Between the Devil and the Radio
One Eclipse Out of the Total

... and today's (see below) I've decided to call
Warm Under the Wire

playlist poem

I gotta say, one of the things that charms me about making a playlist is the list itself. The list below, partly because the strangeness of many of the band names is not evened out by familiarity, just bugs with fun words.

I've built poems from random lists and this one comes close: Meat Beat Manifesto ... Soul Coughing ... Radar Contact ... Supernova Heights ... Warm, Strong Numb ... High Speed Scene

Some of the song titles seem to resonate particularly with the names of the artists who perform them:
Three Murders .... Dead Man
Promised Land .... Underworld
Under The Water .... Jewel
Everything Counts .... Meat Beat Manifesto
Correct me if I'm wrong .... Safety In Numbers
Glance Inside .... Loose Change


In my iTunes I have a playlist where I throw songs I like that I've culled from compilation CDs. Right now there are 156 songs in the playlist.

Now & then I sort out a shorter, CD-length playlist. I'm listening to the one I created earlier today. I like it. It starts with Bob Marley, wends its way through Green Dayish pop punk and ambient-dance instrumentals, ending up in a curious Eurodisco song that samples some sort of BBC news report, the newscaster voice almost lost in a Tubular Bells-like chiming.

If you're curious:

Simmer Down .... Bob Marley & The Wailers
Bert's Apple Crumble .... The Quik
The Bug .... Soul Coughing
The Iroc-Z Song .... The High Speed Scene
Wired For Sound .... Spare Snare
Correct me if I'm wrong .... Safety In Numbers
Glance Inside .... Loose Change
Warm, Strong Numb (Sofa Surfers Remix) .... Mankind Liberation Front
The Train .... Paula B.N. Maya
Three Murders .... Dead Man
Promised Land .... Underworld
Cartridgemusic .... Tomandandy
lullaby from Brazil .... Andrea Merkel
Wild Orchid Main Title .... Paradise
Radar Contact .... Tim Reynolds
Supernova Heights .... Cydonia
Under The Water .... Jewel
Everything Counts .... Meat Beat Manifesto
Voices (Saeed & Palash Mix) .... Bedrock
Electrify Themselves .... Demonic Forces

Saturday, October 08, 2005

humans are not like animals

A favorite trope of the human is the "unlike animals we humans --" blah blah blah. Unlike animals humans laugh, have language, plan ahead, wear clothes, masturbate, fuck nonprocreationally, recognize themselves in the mirror, blah blah blah.

Unless you have a knowledge of the nonhuman that exceeds that of the possible you ought never to make such statements.

In an article in slate the author says, "There's no convincing evidence I'm aware of, from any reputable behaviorist or psychologist, that suggests dogs can replicate human thought processes: use language, think in narrative and sequential terms, understand human minds, or share humans' range of emotions."

My God, does he really think he's said anything? Might as well cross this paragraph right out. The point of the article seems to be that we come up with stories that seem to explain dog behavior but maybe the stories we come up with aren't quite the right stories. Yeah? Isn't it true all the time that people do things we don't understand for reasons that we can't figure out? Used to be the speaker could safely assume it was not because he (HE!) was deficient in figuring-it-outness but because Women don't "think in narrative and sequential terms, understand [properly adult male] minds, or share [the properly adult male's sophistication] of emotions." Swap in race or foreign culture or child. It's that easy!

And to those who get offended by speciesist language being compared to racist, sexist, ageist (etc etc) language because humans aren't animals: Fuck you. You are so.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Poetry & Pizza

Tomorrow night is Poetry & Pizza in SF. It's a Kitchen Sink reading. I asked the editors to choose the readers. Was I being lazy, too trusting? Surely not!

After looking at his name a few times I realized I recognized one of the readers. Andrew Demcak used to work for the Berkeley Public Library. Now he works for Oakland Public. We half hit it off, as I recall. But when he moved over to Oakland we didn't keep in touch. Kinda fun to see him pop up like this.

You can find links to transportation & parking at the Poetry & Pizza site, but I gotta warn you, I can no longer update the site so it still has last month's readers listed. Yes, yes, I have to set up a new website.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Saddam Hussein's body doubles

Whatever happened to Saddam Hussein's body doubles? Have you heard about any of them since the US invasion?

Wouldn't you think it would make good propaganda to parade some Hussein lookalike before the cameras, have him wave his newly bound memoirs, I Had Evil's Face, and talk up the American success?

We were told he had lots of them.

How do we know the guy they found in the spiderhole is the real mccoy?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Info Desk Blogging

Every so often somebody says something curious with the sort of taken-for-granted conviction that suggests you & he are just not sharing the same assumptions about the world. An individual came up to the desk and said, "On the third floor there was a man, he smelled, but not too bad, he had his belongings around him at one of the tables there. I didn't say anything, but he's not allowed in here, right?, he's mentally ill. He was just staring at a ticket he had in his hand." If a person is being disruptive -- distracting body odors or talking, I said, please alert a staff member. We can certainly ask someone to leave who is breaking library rules.

"He wasn't being disruptive," said the man standing before me. "I know there's no place for them. But he's just sitting there. He's not using the library. They're not allowed here."

I blinked at him. "We don't ban people just because they're mentally ill," I said.

He looked flabbergasted.

He took it for granted that mentally ill persons are not allowed in the public library.

How odd. Ranting is not allowed. Body odor so bad that no one can be near you is not allowed. But aren't we all a little crazy?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Philanderer

While sitting through Theatre Rhino's production of George Bernard Shaw's "The Philanderer", I kept trying to talk myself into caring about any of it. It seems to be one of those 19th Century plays where everybody's locked into rigid social conventions. The slightest flauting of expectation creates pandemic palpitating of breasts and the only way damage to the social body can be repaired is through marriage.

The program notes try to convince us that this stuff is relevant to the 21st Century. I don't see it. I can understand the historical argument -- that the way people confront difference or deviance in the context of their age has something to teach us and Shaw's writing is not without cleverness and I wasn't so bored and annoyed that I felt like walking out but neither did I ever feel engaged. I am not steeped in the taken-for-granteds of Shaw's times. I can't work myself up to caring whether the proprieties of his world are adhered to or not.

Why do I go to "queer" theatre? To see boys kissing.

Theatre Rhino, boys kissing please.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

how well did you do?

I'm trying for a promotion at work, right? So far we've had one set of interviews -- in which those of us who were applying tried to make the best case for our qualifications -- and a list was drawn up of applicants considered worthy. The hires will be chosen from this list.

A few people asked me about my interview, "How'd you do?"

I don't really understand the question. How am I supposed to know how well I did? I didn't fall on my face. I did better than my last interview, I think, in that I didn't stumble over my words and get all nervous. But I'm not qualified to judge how well I did because how well I did depends almost wholly on how I compared to others. And I can't know that.

There are 30 people on the list. There are 9 positions. Does that mean my chances are 1-in-3?

Friday, September 30, 2005

people shouldn't read

I think this advice is so important I hope those of you who take it will not only adjust your future behavior but make this advice retroactive -- to, say, a minute ago, two minutes if you can.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

bird in the house

This bird is in the house. I just got home from work and the cat and dog were waiting at the door. I let them out so they could poke around the front yard and sidewalk. After a couple minutes of that I called them back. I closed the door and turned to hang up my overshirt. Above one of the front windows I was startled to see this bird. Bird escaped from the cat is my guess. It seems to be panting. I haven't yet tried to do anything about it / with it / to it. Bird seems to be looking around so it's not totally stunned. I reopened the door. It would be nice if the bird took advantage and flew out. I don't know whether it is injured. Nothing obvious. As in the picture I can only see one leg, but it seems reasonable to guess the other leg is tucked under the body, not missing entirely. At first I thought the gray leg-like squiggle extending away from the tail was an injured leg but now I think it's just cobweb -- we've got plenty of cobweb around here.

Sundy circles me yowing, climbs me but isn't satisfied with the stability of my shoulder (I can't hold his butt up when I'm typing) so he transfers himself to the couch where he now seems to be relaxing. Flash is parked at the open door watching the world go by. Bird is still where I found him on the trim above the window.

... As I was writing I heard Flash get up and scoot out the door; I turned my head to see if I could see her -- was she going out or coming in? -- I heard an unhappy dog interaction outside. So I rushed out and a man was pulling away his leashed terrier and Flash, her hair on end, came stepping back toward the house, looking both agitated and embarassed. "Sorry!" called the man. Yeah, well. Sorry about letting her run out and get in trouble. I scolded Flash and brought her in. I glanced at the bird. It had moved a few inches along the trim, disturbed by the noise and bustle. Thinking it deserved as free an escape route as I could give it I shooed Flash and Sundy to the back bedroom and closed the door. When I returned to the front room the bird was gone. I've left the front door open just in case, but a quick look around and I don't see it indoors. Well. Good. Happy ending?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I was

totally going to say something, something, you know, that I'd thought about, an issue, but soon's I started writing I looked at it and said I don't care what I think about this topic who else will ...

Monday, September 26, 2005

Info Desk Blogging

"You're looking google-eyed at me." He's not saying that like he's insulted, which is good. I guess I'm wearing my thinking face. He's telling me he needs to learn how to look things up using our online catalog. We've been trying to figure out whether the library owns a couple different documentaries. Both are biographical and we do find VHS copies of documentaries on the two men (he's been hoping for DVD). I take the gentleman to the shelf and we see one of the videos. He still isn't sure it's the one he has in mind but, "I'll take it home and find out," he says.

There's a card file on the Info Desk. I'm glancing through it. The first card is "Abusive Patron". Hm. We seem to have access to the "AT&T Language Line" for when a non-English language speaker shows up. How helpful!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

How Berkeley Can You Be

The other big event of the weekend.

I volunteered to walk with the Berkeley Public Library contingent in the How Berkeley Can You Be Parade. (Kent agreed to come along. For our trouble we got tshirts featuring the library's winged book logo.)

We walked alongside the library's electric car and handed out stickers announcing the library's new Sunday hours. Since the budget cuts the library had closed Sundays. When the budget looked better the administration passed around a survey asking if people preferred return of evening hours or Sundays. Sundays won.

The talk of the parade is always the group of naked people. The brief naked people protests around the persecution of the Naked Guy, a UC student who wanted merely to walk around unclothed all the time (I think he was eventually expelled), were one of the inspirations for the parade. Naked people protests? How Berkeley can you be! ... I saw a small cluster of nudies; what's the fuss?

Walking ahead of the BPL group were three men wearing baskets on their heads and playing shakuhachi flutes.

Behind us was the Crucible with two vintage fire engines outfitted with gas pipes, out of one of which they'd blast a big ball of fire every half block. All the sidewalk spectators would jump and gasp. We marchers would feel the heat on the backs of our necks. Kent fumed about how careless they seemed about keeping a driver behind the steering wheel.

The parade culminated in the park where there were craft booths and advocacy booths. I recognized Josh Garey playing guitar onstage with the Gun and Doll Show. I'm on his email list but never get to any of his events.

It was fun. Maybe I'll do it again.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


I went to the Watershed reading today at Cal. It was set very prettily on a sloped lawn right by Strawberry Creek (a warning came from the stage to watch out for the honeybees whose hive was in a tree nearby). There were even patches of shade which weren't available in previous years when the reading took place at a park downtown. There were fewer people, however, as you had to know about it to find it.

I went partly because I wanted to buttonhole Bob Hass. I'd run into him on campus a couple weeks ago and he'd remembered me. So at that time I asked him if he would read for Poetry & Pizza, the series I help run in SF. He sounded positive, even suggested a charity to which the door funds could go, and offered to read with his wife, Brenda Hillman. Now, Bob being the famous poet that he is, I know he gets asked to do stuff all the time. Even though I wrote him an email the day after we talked I wouldn't have been surprised if he didn't remember P&P. When I cornered him near the stage today (right after he'd finished an interview with a woman who had a tape deck slung over one shoulder) he said he was just back from two weeks in Germany so had miles of emails piled up. Of course, I said.

So I sidled up to Brenda when she was signing books and laid out the notion. I'm giving 30 readings this year, she said, looking a little put out. She seemed least dubious about settling on a date in late spring or summer.

On the whole Watershed was a pleasant experience, the poetry decent, though I found myself editing the pieces as the poets would read. I do that a lot anyway.

Bob introduced the youngsters from California Poets in the Schools and after one girl read a line that impressed him, Bob enthused, "Like my wife might write."

Husband and biggest fan!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Has LoveSettlement become a photo blog? What's with the orgy of cat pics?

K & I have taken another stab at learning the digital camera. We actually changed some settings! The kind of camera I've always wanted was the one where I could look through the lens then snap the shutter and the picture was what I saw. I don't want to read light levels or zoom or ... or anything. I just want to catch on paper what I'm looking at.

Sundy has been a fairly obliging model. For a cat.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bolivian style

Regarding yesterday's post about the man in the brown bowler Geof Huth writes, "Not quite Bolivian style. But pretty close. Why? Because the men never wear bowlers, and never do the rich or middle class woman. Cholas, the Indians and of the lower class, wear bowlers. Somehow, they took on this accoutrement of upper class English gentlemen."

I've been reading about gender lately. In the dominant Europe-derived culture of the U.S. there are two recognized genders. There are, as well, two recognized sexes. As the two genders are Man and Woman and the two sexes are Male and Female and no Female can be a Man and no Male can be a Woman we are easily blinded to the cultural construction of gender. Why even refer to "gender" if a Man can never be anything but Male, a Woman Female? It's only in cultures (or species) where there is more than one gender that one can reflect on the distinction without difficulty. Observers from a gender-poor (two gendered) culture have a helluva time figuring out persons of a gender-rich (3 or more gendered) culture.

When Europeans came to the Americas they encountered male persons who seemed to be masquerading as women. The Europeans labeled these persons hermaphrodites, sodomites, or female impersonators. In other words they either thought these persons a physical amalgam of male & female, they thought these persons men who just liked to get fucked by men (so dressed as women to attract men), or they thought the men were disguising themselves as women so they could get some squaw (as though the natives were so stupid they couldn't pick up on such a ruse!). Or the Europeans used these words merely because they didn't have a word for a non-Man Male; having searched their box of words and come up empty they made do.

The native people of America were quite clear on male and female anatomy, but the spirit world was often at least as important as the physical body. Presumably those who rant on about the "soul" in European ideologies would agree with that. If your spirit way was a mixture of Man and Woman there was a place for you. In the Europe-derived (and simplified) culture of the U.S. we certainly recognize there are males who don't behave "like Men". Unfortunately the rigidity of our two-gender system requires the shoehorning of every person into one gender or the other. Each gender is not one size fits all but is the size to which one's person must (sometimes literally) be cut to fit.

The native cultures of the Americas have undergone a great deal of change since the arrival of the Europeans. Some of it was accidental -- the Europeans brought diseases that reduced the native population by as much as 90%. Nobody realized they were waging biological war. And what happens to a people upon whom has been inflicted such grave injury?

But some of it was a war of cultures and the war against native cultures (decimated though they are after centuries of abuse) continues today. It's little wonder that many natives are more-Euro-than-thou, especially when it comes to denouncing those who do not fit the reigning gender ideology.

Geof writes to emphasize the gender of the Bolivian bowler. (Not to mention its class & culture.) It's a woman's hat. If a well-dressed English gentleman strolls down a street in Potosi does everybody think he's being femme?

Gay or British?

the fixing

Ah! So that's the reason I never get any email from readers of LoveSettlement. I had a typo in my mailto link. It is now fixed (thx GH!). For all of you who have had carefully wrought responses bounced back because I was so lame as to have a typo in my mailto, well, try again:

Monday, September 12, 2005

Info Desk Blogging

A man at the check-out desk has his long dark hair (with streaks of gray) pulled back into a pony tail. On top of his head: a brown bowler. Bolivian style?

Mother and two children come to the desk. Boy is holding (fingers cupping the object gently by the edge) a DVD. Seems they returned the box then discovered the DVD was still in the player. I called up to the Children's Room to see if the empty box was waiting up there on their snags shelf. Indeed! An empty box is waiting so I send them upstairs.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

cafe life

It's a pleasant day in Berkeley. I started out with shorts, it's sunny!, but the cool in the moving air talked me into long pants, which are, nevetheless, not of the heavier sort.

When Kent packed up to go to the gym I fetched a short stack of books and went over to the French Hotel cafe where I ordered a mocha and cookie and sat and read and wrote in my diary. It's a nice hangout if they haven't chosen a bad radio station. Today it was Spanish-language music, thankfully polka-free.

I do like the cafe life. Day after day? No. But once or twice a week? Maybe I could stand that.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Except for Schwarzenegger and Bush -- Democracy works!

Monkeys scream overhead

All right. I'm going to 'fess. The Project I've been working on is getting a promotion at work.

I had the first interview today. It's a ranking interview. A qualifcations board is going to rank all the candidates into Unqualified, Barely Qualified, Sufficiently Qualified, Pretty Decently Qualified, Right On, and Better Qualified Than Anybody on the Board (otherwise known as Overqualified).

I applied for an earlier opening in this job category and got Sufficiently Qualified (or maybe Barely Qualified, I don't remember).

So long as you're among the Qualifieds you can be hired by them that wants to hire you. So what's the signif of the whole sorting thing? Uh. Eh?

The grade hound that I am wants to see me get Right On. But the realist knows grades don't matter in the world, really, except to make people jealous, which rarely boosts your chances with them.

There are a handful of positions that have been newly created. Lots of people are going for them. Many have worked at the library for years and years. Which would be at least one years longer than me. My chances?

Wish me luck!

Oh. Yeah. The post's title comes from something I said in the interview. I was asked about finding information in the library and I said the cataloging system is like a map to the information jungle. You're walking along, can only see a little way ahead and the path branches in this direction and that direction. Monkeys scream overhead.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Reading with horror much of the coverage of the Katrina hurricane, from Bush's visit temporarily shutting down relief efforts (all helicopters were grounded) to people who were rescued from floodwaters dying at waystations because there wasn't food or water or relief from the heat.

Bush murdered these people.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

what she said

I saw Wong Kar-wai's Happy Together when it was in theatres. In a post on her blog Pam says she noticed something that I'm sure went right by me. In one scene two characters speak to each other in different Chinese dialects; Pam compares it to one person speaking correct Portuguese to another who holds up his side of the conversation in correct Italian. The languages are not so dissimilar that, have you an ear for this sort of thing, you can tune the ear to get the gist of what's being said.

Interestingly, different dialects of Chinese are written using the same character set. A Chinese character may be pronounced quite differently when spoken in different dialects. Chinese language movies are often subtitled with Chinese characters so all who are literate in Chinese (despite the differences in dialects) can read what is being said.

what he said

Seth has an essay in 10 points about the magnitude of the devastation caused by hurricane Katrina.

I'm reminded of one of Bush's favorite snarks, "I'm a leader. Leaders lead." Some leader.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Let's say

a bruise blossoms on your left bicep, an injury that surprises you as you don't remember having tripped on a root to fall on a stone, don't remember any rude idiot knocking you aside as he ran for a bus, don't remember a baseball out of nowhere thudding into muscle, but you find yourself fascinated, not with the possible origins of the damage, but with its beauty, though "beauty" seems the wrong word, and you gaze into the colors the bruise has produced, not just the old black and blue but reds of several shades and purples both deep and orchid, hints of green. When you touch it it hurts, yes, but you can't keep your fingers away. You prod this bruise and trace it; you vary the pressure, your fingers circling or sliding back and forth. "I would like to save it," you say to yourself. "I would like to keep a version of it on my desk."

Info Desk Blogging

Two people who want replacement library cards. The second came so fast on the heels of the first that I thought he must have heard my instructions but no.

Since the Information Desk faces the entrance I try to give everyone who looks my way a friendly face. One of the people who came up to me asked what it means when the book is in "Tech Services". I sighed. He said, "It means you sigh." So I laughed and said, "I sigh because it means the book is not available. It's either just been received and has to be processed or it's being mended." Sometimes I not only sigh I make funny faces, which people react to and I have to explain. Oh well. Let's not be scowly, at least.

Helen H, who retired last month (was it a whole month ago?), is standing at the head of the line at the Circulation Desk offering patrons help checking out using the new RFID self-check out machine. "Oh that's easy," said one as I passed the desk. "I could do that."

... aren't I sounding perky today? Here I thought I was all grumpy and everything. I've been teasing one of the librarians about slapping on the phony happy mask; maybe mine's got to feeling natural.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

new stuff

Bro David is posting the first issue of his comic book Misspent Youths. D says he's posting the comic because he doesn't have any left to sell. He's selling the subsequent issues. Misspent Youths was published back in the 90s. Waaay back in the 90s. But D is hatching new plans for the cast.

My guy Kent has started channeling George W. This would be horrifying if it weren't funny.

And here's Sundy taking a swing at the camera strap:

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Pooh. Looks like I won't be able to update my homestead site again. Today I tried to thread my way past the homestead demands we old freeloaders start with the monthly moola already; homestead has made it harder & harder to figure out the way through and now it looks like they've shut the portal altogether. Pay or forget it, huh?

Anybody out there still update a free homestead site? Are you blocked, too? If not, email me (link under contact in upper left) and give me some clues how to get in. I could log in all right but couldn't get to the editing program.

I suppose it doesn't matter that much if the LoveSettlement site never gets updated. It will gradually decay, the links to ezines breaking as the ezines die or change addresses, and those broken links will just have to sit there. But poems don't really get old. Fortunately at the top of the page I direct visitors to the blog. Still, I'd like a more static page. Any recommendations for free hosting?

Actually, what I was trying to do was update the Poetry & Pizza site. It's OK right now so far as it goes. September is like it says. But I was going to add the readings for October and November. Now what?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

banal thought of the day

"[M]ost contemporary poetry is boring. It is. But that's always been the case." -- Tony Robinson, poet

"Tony, I also agree most poetry these days is pretty boring, and agree, also, that that's always been the case. Let me tell you, Tony, there are days I don't even like poetry." -- Seth Abramson, poet

... from way down in the comments at Seth's blog ...

I read poetry every day, pretty much. Usually I get something out of it, something interesting. Even bad poetry goes somewhere prose won't and there are times I need to get away from prose, get to a poetry place.

That said, after reading page after page of poems that do nothing for me (and that's a friendly choice of words -- hello, Poetry magazine!), I will think never reading another poem is the better choice.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Info Desk Blogging

It's 4:30 and I've just logged in to Blogger. It's been bih zee!

Phone ringing, people walking up, even forming a line. And now, a lull. Whew.

"Do you have a film book?"

"Film book?" (me thinking Leonard Maltin)

"No. Sorry. Phone book."


Sunday, August 21, 2005


Last Thursday I went to the 5th anniversary reading for Shampoo. It was held at a gallery in San Francisco's Embarcadero Center. I like the idea of a poetry reading in an art gallery. The art is somehow less distracting than rows of titles on shelves. Or the bang of cash register, whoosh of espresso machine in a cafe. There was an Afro-Cuban band throwing up a din that made conversation impossible except outdoors. After the reading the band returned and got into a cool groove that could've kept up for hours, far as I was concerned.

I met Kyle Kaufman, Sara Larsen, and Melissa R. Brenhan, three young poets I discovered via Kyle's blog and invited to read Nov 4 for Poetry & Pizza. Kyle handed me an invite to send work to el pobre mouse, a magazine he & a few others assemble and (according to the invite) "spray-paint."

Inside the gallery door there was a table of scented shampoos for attendees to take home. At the table sniffing the bottles, I got to chatting with an East Coast transplant, Jasper, who just came West to go to UC Berkeley. In his own blog post about the reading Jasper says, "I didn't introduce myself to anyone." ...

The reading itself was OK. A long list of poets. Many of them with names that have long been familiar (& most I've seen/heard here & there) -- Kevin Killian, Leslie Scalapino, Bill Berkson, Kit Robinson, etc. Only one poet went on as though it were his own feature. If there's only one that's better than average. Most read 2 to 4 poems. (Actually I think Mr Stage Hog read only 3 poems. It's just that his third poem had 2 parts and went on for several pages.)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Let's say

you're half awake, the other half half asleep, the final quarter in a new state we can call by its name when its name is given us and before that, neglect. You're standing on the earth edge of Ocean Avenue, which surges, as the moon comes over, toward the tobacconist and haberdashery. A bolt of blue has ripped on the edge of one idea and is spilling another idea, a trapped and cold idea. You look up at it as toward a basketball hoop, the chains whispering about what passed through them. Maybe if you look a little deeper into the opening you will see the discarded wrapper all creation came neatly tied up in. Perhaps it retains the shape of what it held. The door of one building opens and lets out a wail. What wail is that?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Info Desk Blogging

Leaving the library, a black teenager in a blacker baggy tshirt. On the front a grainy white square in which is silhouetted a figure at a microphone, underneath the picture the word POET. On the back:

I would wear that shirt!

... Been having a busy hour so not much to read this time ...

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Haven't had a whole lotta energy lately and what energy for writing there's been has gone to a project. I'm not going to talk about it right now, but it's a great excuse, ain't it?, the project that's taking all my energy but about which I must keep mum. An excuse for all sorts of things! Not writing thank you letters, not sending postcards, not signing checks, not writing on my blogs. You, too, should have such a fine excuse and wield it as indiscriminately!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Info Desk Blogging

And so Monday rolls round again.

Shambling. That's it! Hagrid from the Harry Potter movies. A tall husky young man in long black trenchcoat, big black boots, black hair down to the shoulders, beard under the chin, swaying as he walks. I couldn't quite make out his Tshirt (also black) but the design on it looked like that of a heavy metal band. A rectangle of white cloth was pinned to the back of his trenchcoat -- a political message? The human face featured on the cloth looked like the 5 dollar bill portrait of Lincoln and there were words stenciled beneath. Couldn't read the words. Maybe it's time I got glasses?

"Your travel guides. Which floor?" Young woman, speaking with an accent. She's showing me a printed paper with a series of questions ... seems it's a scavenger hunt. She just has to fill in the number of the floor in the space on the paper. For some reason this doesn't quite compute in my head. She doesn't actually care where the guides are, at least, not in order to use them? Um. No. Once I get this through my noggin I give her the floor number and she writes it on her paper, then she and her friends go out the door.

Do we have a book about selling a Ferrari? Her friend is reading it in Hebrew so she's not sure of the title. Thinks it's fiction. Could it be this book?

Saturday, August 06, 2005

around the house

Still have to do dishes.

But K replaced two faulty light switches and I replaced a burnt out bulb. So we have s'more light.

And I buried kitchen waste in the compost. While I was outside I dug up a few more vine stumps and snipped away at trailers.

Did laundry. Blues and a few dark greens. Jeans, underwear, socks, sheets.

Defrosted the freezer. The frost layers had built up so thick the freezer's upper shelf was close to unusable. We transferred what food there was into the vegetable crisper. I plugged in the big floor fan and K chopped away with a spatula and serving spoon. When I came in from the back yard the freezer was mostly cleared, which was nice to see.

Always things to do, ain't there.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Let's say

your life begins its left turn next door, where the acanthus slings her blanched blooms over a railing so wrought it's obvious it's fought two battles to get out of God's workshop, where the eaves cling in turns to the retiring roof and to their own trumped-up fortitude, where the paint on the walls is the wall's friend but not the friend you choose, and every light visible from within dances its lugubrious yellow in an unsteady hula hazed with hints and obfuscations, the left turn being the turn no one but your odd grandmother (and you insisted you don't take after her!) wants to take next, though of the available options it has the benefit of inevitability what with its slope being abrupt and down, very down, down in a tear the wheels off and you'll keep rolling toward the pit kind of way, the pit, the pit, so picturesque, that pit, and calling your childish and secret name.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Info Desk Blogging

Is it Monday? It must be Monday!

The first public RFID self-checkout station is in use. I didn't see it earlier because they've positioned it on the Circulation Desk itself in place of one of the GS staff stations. I'd expected the self-checkout to be where the old self-checkout terminals were, that is, opposite the Circ Desk. The volunteer who was helping out here at the Info Desk last hour says there are sometimes traffic jams around the new self-checkout. No surprise, I guess. Always some confusion over new things. But I'm glad a self-checkout is at last available.

The library will close two hours early tonight, at 6 o'clock. There's going to be a big RFID public presentation. The presentation won't be at Central but admin wanted staff to be able to attend so the library will close.

Hm. Blond straight hair roughly parted, hangs to just above shoulders. Big dark glasses. His shirt boldly striped. Wide belt with round belt buckle. Jeans. Very 70s, pre-feathering. Except, I don't think the jeans were flares.

... Minutes after I wrote about the self-checkout station it crashed. I think it's back up again.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

nice day in Berkeley

Just back from brunch at Saul's, a Jewish deli & restaurant around the corner from our house. Kent has been coveting a long salami and I said, "Get it!"

I'm feeling sleepy. Maybe I'll take a walk. Nice fresh air out there and some sun.

Before heading out to eat I played Luxor a few more times. I completed the final screen. Yay! A combination of strong playing and a fat dollop of good luck, I'd guess. Now I never have to play that damn game again.

Friday, July 29, 2005


Been having trouble sleeping. Some days this week I was half sleepwalking even while showering. I'm surprised I didn't konk out at my desk.

I called in sick this morning and went back to bed. Sundy joined me, which he usually doesn't do, being, I suppose, as I tend to toss & turn. But I was so zonked this morning even a sensitive kitty could lie comfortably beside me.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Let's say

your mouth hurts, so you escape from October by means of a thin wire looped several times around a blue beam that was balanced three years ago across a stern fulcrum somebody brown anchored in a favorite field thirteen miles from the county seat, the wind blowing back blazes, the clouds catching up mountains by their peaks and dragging them toward the sea which is dipping here into wine cups and spilling brisk brine on tablecloths that certainly used to be nicely ironed, tidy people assert, even though such cloths have, in the long trek across the continent, been on more than one occasion stretched over a sick infant when the sun was unfriendly, perverse even, driven by the insistence of an unholy rhyme.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

cherry ice cream

Kent is upstairs making cherry ice cream and watching Big Brother 6. His last batch of cherry was the best of his ice cream creations, yummy! I'm looking forward to tasting tonight's.

I've been playing Luxor again. And again. And again. I thought I was one screen away from completing the game but then discovered there was another level with several screens, each of which usually kill me 4 or 5 times. My play can blister but if I play too long I make bonehead mistakes over & over.

I'm working on a new long poem. I suppose it's a poem. I'm not so much thinking of it as a poem, whatever that is, as I'm using the line breaks because the character who is writing his story would use line breaks, the surface he's writing on being unlimited and unlined.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Info Desk Blogging

Been fairly busy this hour. So it'll probably be a brief post.

It'll be nice to have self-check-out machines again. The line at the Circulation Desk sure does get long. It looks like they only have two workers this hour (unless somebody's on break) and the line is ten persons deep.

I've had two phone calls from patrons wanting to place holds on items via the website. It was easy enough talking them through the process -- though I had to renew one man's card before he could complete the process.

One of our summer teen workers in an orange shirt just pranced through the front door -- pranced! big grin on his face -- bounced up the stairs. Very cute.

A girl just asked, "How many books can you check out at one time?" When I said, "Up to fifty," -- her face, you shoulda seen it. Maybe I should have said, "You can have out up to fifty items." You can check out 5 a day for the next ten days, for example. Anyway, 50 seemed plenty to her.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


Bought some new clothes today.

Instead of searching the closet for empty clothes hangers I looked for shirts I haven't worn in ages, shirts that have dissatisfied me for some reason.

I removed the unwanted old shirt from its hanger, draped the new shirt over the hanger and put it in the closet. The old shirts I wadded up and put in a paper bag by the door for Goodwill.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Khufu's Revenge

It's been nice to slow the blogging down for a few days. Been playing Luxor, the gameplay is rather like Space Invaders. You fire projectiles at a descending enemy. In the case of Luxor you're firing colored balls at other colored balls which are working your way toward you on a track (on some screens there are two tracks that intertwine). The track twists back and forth and you have to hit blue with blue, red with red, etc. When three balls of the same color form a line they disappear.

The hardest screen has to be one called Khufu's Revenge. No margin of error is available on that screen. Luck and unerring aim have to be on your side to clear it. In order to get from one level to another you have to clear several screens. If you fail to clear the 6th of 6 screens on one level you have to start over at the 1st screen on that level. This wasn't a problem, really, until Khufu's Revenge.

Say you are able to get past KR, right? I was able to. After probably twenty tries. But the other screens were hard, too, and I knew if I didn't clear the screen after KR I'd fall back behind KR again, trapped for 20 more tries. I appealed to Kent, who is much better at the computer thing than I. Isn't there some trick? Isn't there some way to return to the game before 'game over'? K looked for where the computer saves the play data and made a duplicate of the folder.

When I then did fail to clear the screen after Khufu's Revenge I was able to throw out the failed files and revert to the game as though I'd just cleared KR. Yay!

Many screens are still fairly easy. And some take a few tries. Khufu's Revenge has appeared twice. The first time it was on an early forgiving level where you get all the right colors and the balls move slowly. The second time was the bad time. That's several screens back now. And I'm hoping hoping hoping it doesn't turn up again. If it does that's probably where the game will end for me.

And Karl Rove? Here's hoping his own tricks don't include this one!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Let's say

a beautiful balloon falls on your head. It's a large balloon. Large as a house. But your head, as of last night, is three houses long and two wide. People knock on the door but no one answers. You are trying to be quiet because you know the balloon's grandmother has an axe and if you don't answer the axe will swing against another neck. However, one of the people so insistent at your door of doors is the son you gave up for adoption when you yourself were adrift, back in those terrible days when boils flamed up on your eyelids and the lamprey on each arm was warm with your lymph. Those weren't the sort of days you want to own up to, even though you did pay off the mortgage and got a letter from the bank saying as much. Which bank was it? No doubt it also has been absorbed into the greater family of institutions greater and greater than all lesser gods, including your cats -- those still living -- and your parakeets -- those still nibbling at the bone wired inside the cage.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Info Desk Blogging

Would I get in trouble for Info Desk Blogging?

Now & then in the news you hear about somebody being fired for blogging. Usually it's because they've said bad things about their employer. Or discussed things that happened on the job in a way that made the employer nervous. Surely, I've been circumspect here.

I haven't told any of the bosses at the library that I blog while at the Info Desk. Easy enough to find out, I suppose. If one thinks to look.

Woman just came in holding hand of blond toddler. Toddler hops, hops. As she turns her back to me I see sewn to her white Tshirt, at each shoulderblade, a hand-sized white wing.

D. Travers Scott is going to be reading in SF this Wednesday. I'm thinking of going. I just read Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises and Scott's novel, One of These Things is Not Like the Others, uses elements from the Hemingway book.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

evil has no meaning

"The NAACP unfortunately in the 2000 campaign likened the president to James Byrd, who was a racist killer in east Texas, who the president brought to justice." -- Ken Mehlman, Republican National Committee Chair, via Eschaton

James Byrd was the black man dragged to death chained to a pickup truck in Bush's Texas.

Bush brought James Byrd to justice?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

to scrutineer

"[L]ike many of the competitors [in the solar car race], Cal's team needed to tweak things on its vehicle, named the Beam Machine, during the scrutineering process." link

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Life in Berkeley

The city closes off a small street around the corner on Thursdays for a Farmer's Market. They haven't been doing it long in our neighborhood. There are FMs on other streets that've been going for years & years. It's nice. Today I loaded up on tomatoes and squashes and peaches and got a watermelon. I cut some peaches after Kent got home but they weren't so good; juicy but tart.

The flesh around Flash's eyes was itchy & swollen so K took her to the vet again this week. Conjunctivitis, says vet. And he encouraged K to give Flash a tranq when she starts with the heavy panting. It's part of her therapy. The panting may overstress her chest muscles. So K gave her a tranq last night, a whole pill. In the past she's gotten a half a pill and then gone groggy on us. Last night? One pill? Three times she just fell over. She lost control of her pee. Dog pee, it seems, ain't anywhere near as nasty as cat pee. So. We won't be doing a whole pill again. Today she seems to be doing well.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Yesterday I mentioned seeing a "hot blond" come in the door while I was on the Information Desk.

Not long after I wrote that we had an incident involving a peeping tom. Sheesh. Makes one self-conscious.

I remember when I first became aware libraries were hotbeds of pervishness. I was working at the SRJC campus library and my boss was after a guy for peeking under desks, creeping out the girls who were trying to study. I didn't believe it at first. Doing what? And the guy my boss was after was someone I knew slightly who seemed like a nice enough person. Well, one day I was out in the stacks shelving books and, damn, our peeper was being so obvious. Squirming at his desk, dipping his head down to peep at the girl across the aisle. I gave him some odd looks and I think he got up and moved. That day or some other I remember my boss chasing the guy out of the library.

A library aide yesterday told me that he sees it far too often and sometimes now he will say something, something like, "Can I help you find something, sir?"

Monday, July 11, 2005

Info Desk Blogging

Here I am ten minutes late for my first regular Monday Info Desk slot. I have such a regular routine it's tough to remember variations.

But then I had a helluva time keeping track of my hours when I was an intermittent -- a substitute. I so looked forward to having a regular schedule!

And it'll be nice to settle into a regular Info Desk hour again. So far the hour's not been crazy. I've been interrupted several times but, um, that what's supposed to happen, right?

Forecast has several days of hot weather for us.

Speaking of hot ... had one hot blond walk thru the door while I was on the phone. I'm not one who gets excited by blonds in theory. I'm more likely to find dark attractive. But hot is hot. It was nice to be on the phone so my eyes were free.

Today's Info Desk questions have been pretty standard -- on what floor is this call number? can I change my address in the computer? what do I need to use the internet? ... that sort of thing.

"The air conditiong in here is great," a man tells me passing.

Daddy gives each child a video to return. Girl runs to closest drop slot, boy to the next. Boy drops his in then says to girl, "No!" Girl is trying to return DVD in Book slot. Daddy intervenes and girl gets to drop DVD in the correct slot.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

cat pee

One of our cats peed on a cardboard box of poetry books I brought back from my mother's house. I threw out one of the books (sorry A.D. Winans) but the rest I'd prefer to hang onto, I think. Pah.

There seem to be a lot of hints on the net for removing the smell, but they are mostly for fabric (carpets, clothes). Anyway, I'll isolate the affected books and see what I'm in the mood to do about 'em.

I suspect the urinator is the big fluffy one, Sutra. Why? Because Sundy is so sweeeet. And Sutra hates hates hates to be trapped inside. The revenge theory of peeing!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

wrestling the stump

The trees planted along the eastern fence of the neighbor's yard control the afternoon light in our yard. We also have trees planted along our eastern fence. Thus we have trees to the west (their yard) and to the east (in our yard) and one strip of sunlight down the middle during the middle of the day. It's a yard mostly in shade. This makes gardening problematic.

But we seem to like gardening more in theory than in practice, anyway. Frankly, yard work often depresses me. But the last few weekends (except the one we were out of town) I've gone out and cut away at the berry vines (two kinds) and invasive trees (the neighbor's trees aren't content staying on their side of the fence).

There's one particular strip of tree growth that's been working its way east; we've cut it back every year. Today I tackled it with the idea that I was going to root it out. Roots are the story. The trees send these fat roots under the fence and shoots lunge up along their route. There's been a stump six feet or so into the yard that's about the size of two fists. After I cut and yanked up all the smaller shoots I turned to this stump. The wood of this tree (I don't know what kind it is) is brittle. Typically a good pull breaks branch or root. But this stump was taking my weight and not budging. So I got a shovel and dug around it and tried again and nothing. So I kept digging. Where was the parent root? The ground was getting harder. At top the soil is dry and loose but dig down a few inches and you hit hard clay. This probably is a problem for the trees, too. Four or five inches down I found the root; it was about an inch thick (inch & a half?). I managed to wriggle the shovel tip under and pry. Again used my hands to pull at the stump and it wobbled. Again with the shovel and snap. The root broke.

There's still, of course, lots of root underground that can throw up new shoots. But there are no more stumps to stumble over. Yay!

Friday, July 08, 2005

queer flicks

I posted today about queer TV circa 1985 on my Dare I Read blog.

Then on his blog Charles Jensen writes, "I've been noticing lately how rampantly contemporary American cinema reinforces the 'norm' of heterosexuality. So many of the films I've watched recently have incorporated into their plots some kind of inane romance, affair, or love story involving heterosexual couples. This was never as unfortunate as it was in the recent Land of the Dead, where, among the walking corpses, two plucky heteros—one a freedom fighter, the other a virtuous whore—come together."

I wrote the following in Charles' comments:

I saw Land of the Dead (typed Lawn of the Dead, then corrected) last weekend also. My view of it is much more benign as far as its queer aspects. First of all it's a genre movie and those tend to rely on stereotypes. So you sorta give it that coming in. I don't recall any out gay characters in George Romero movies but you might want to check out his Martin, a vampire movie that's definitely queer. Romero cast black leading men when it was not the thing to do, especially in a horror flick. The lead in Night of the Living Dead is black. And Land of the Dead is by no means all white (except at the top of the bad guy hierarchy).

These days we almost take for granted the butchy femme carrying a big gun in the action movie but it was not always so. Romero included action women in his Dawn and Day zombie movies while standard Hollywood femmes tended to the fainting. Anyway, can't you give some queer cred to a movie with a chick who programs the missile launcher being called "Pretty Boy"?

Plus I disagree that the cute male lead (worked for me!) hooks up with the gun-wielding prostitute. They never kiss. They never even embrace. They don't even exchange charged looks. The most significant looks between her and another male character, I'd say, are between her and Riley's buddy when she's sussing out their relationship. "I make myself useful," the buddy says. And Riley says later, "He's good with a gun." You might say Slack (the prostitute) adopts their language when flirting with Riley when she later says she too is "trying to make myself useful." Is she sexualizing an innocent remark or is something else going on? Yes, if there's a sexual component to the boys' buddyship it's totally covert but monsters and handicaps in horror movies have often been codes for queer sex -- and Riley's retard (fag?) buddy is physically damaged (horror movie code for the inner life). In this day & age we deserve somebody out & taken for granted. But I don't agree that the lead boy & girl "come together" in the breeder sense.

more on the above at skook

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Info Desk Blogging

Nothing new in the "Hot Info!" section of the Info Desk Clipboard/binder. So I guess I'm not totally behind the times.

Starting next week I have a weekly Info Desk hour again so you might see more Info Desk blogging. It's 4-5 Mondays. I hope that's not a crazy hour.

The hour's first question: Are all the new books of the retranslations of Proust's In Search of Lost Time now available? Or have the last few not yet been published? I couldn't quite locate the answer. The Prisoner, which is the book the patron was seeking, is not listed in our catalog, nor is it listed in Penguin's catalog, Penguin being the publisher of the preceding volumes. I was hoping to find there at least some sort of publication announcement ... no luck. A line was starting to form so I sent the patron on to the Reference Desk upstairs.

During my lunch breaks I've been reading Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Frankly, I'm getting a little bored with it. Is it anything other than a travel diary? A slight memoir of an American living in Europe between the wars?

Looks nice n sunny out, breezy. The vat of roofing tar that for weeks had been smoking away at the curb seems to be gone. Whew.

I just checked out at one of the RFID stations at the Circ Desk. First time I've done that. Easy. I jumped the line for an old lady who'd already been through it once; an item was supposed to be on hold for her but wasn't. Fortunately another copy was on the public shelves so I found that for her. Now I realize if the item on hold shows up and the patron doesn't pick it up she'll be charged for not picking it up. Oops. If I remembered her name I would cancel the hold. Naturally, I do not remember her name. My nonphotographic memory -- a security feature!

Looks like we finally have enough DVDs that some are on the shelf now when people come in. Oddly the DVDs are now intershelved with the VHS tapes. Maybe that's why more are on the shelf. They're harder to find.

Update: Later I realized I did remember the title of the movie that was supposed to be on hold so I was able to look it up and cancel the hold on it. Ha!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


There's not a lot of good news in the paper (or the paper's website) these days, but when is there?

Nor do I have much to say. Not about what's on now, anyway.

I skip thru my usual blogs (kos, ron, gay news, and whichever of a long list strikes me at the time) but it's all motion and I can concentrate only for a paragraph.

I've discovered the library has taken to cataloging graphic novels in adult fiction so on break I sometimes wander the aisles scanning spines for something that looks graphic novel shaped. Today I brought home Jens Harder's Leviathan, a wordless book about whales & popular culture. Or something. I've just sampled and it looks interesting.

I went to yoga after work.

It's overcast and breezy out, I see.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


As you no doubt already know we're in for a battle over Sandra Day O'Connor's replacement on the Supreme Court. A nasty ugly mean battle. Bush will choose someone who wants to bring back the death penalty for homosexuals and the Democrats will say we'll vote for her if she just assures us she hasn't decided yet which homo she wants to shoot in the head. She will say, "I can't comment on a case that isn't in front of me." And the Democrats will say, "Well, okay, okay, Ms. Absolutely Fucking Incredible Patriotic Genius Who We Love And Before Whom We Will Bow & Scrape, just say, 'I will consider not shooting a homo in the head with a gun if the case before me makes that action seem really really inappropriate.'then you'll get 99 votes." And she'll say, "Senator, I don't deal in hypotheticals. But I will concede that I have seen a case that involved a homosexual and, after due consideration, I thought he deserved flinging over a cliff." 99 votes!

Friday, July 01, 2005

wrote a poem

I wrote a poem in my notebook. I was pleased with the poem. It's a new notebook -- I just started writing in it last week. It was fun to be pleased with the poem and I think the book is off to a good start. Many many blank pages ahead.

I filled the notebook I'd been working in for a year. I usually title the notebooks when I'm midway through. Typically a title will come calling and hang around waiting to be affixed. This time I don't remember thinking about a title at all. Not until I was only a few pages from filling the book did I realize it had no title. I flipped through what I'd written. Helen ... my mother's name. Mom died shortly after I'd begun the book. I'd written a couple poems leading up to her death and a couple poems after. Helen ... It's the right name for the book. So I wrote "Helen" in plain script on the inside front cover.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

dumb post

a post that's dumb as a post

a post with a nonspeaking role

a silent mailing

a bill one realizes it was a mistake to put on the wall

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

comments on "I miss you" version two

I'm suspicious of ending on "light" ... but I'll let it sit awhile and see what I think later.

I like this version. I wrote it a few days ago. Then we went out of town. Now I'm reading it again, am more distanced from the creation than usual, maybe have more perspective. But I can't think of much to say. The new title is from a translation of a nahuatl poem. I've been reading an anthology of World Poetry and there are lots of poems about death. The nahuatl poem, for instance. (Nahuatl is the language of the Aztec of Mexico.) So I was trying to pick up some pointers.

I'll have to come back to this.

If you missed the first version it's here.

"I miss you", version 2

Not Forever on Earth

for Helen Luster

The perfect shape to drop to the earth
and roll.

Bees in the honeysuckle,
telephone ringing through what you say softly,
the neighbor’s telephone calling somebody other than us.

The bumps of his vertebrae pass under my hand
as he crosses to leap and settle into
the lap you put together for him,
the place in the room he’ll stay.

In the cradle of your hands, fingers nearly
thin as their arms, you rest your glasses
from their focus.

“I don’t know if it’s a poem,” she said.
Or you said. You said.

What happens stays in the shadow it didn’t notice,
what was prevented
as well, as well as, as well as what deliberately
stood up,
meaning to catch light.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

mud baths

We were out of town for a couple days. Drove up to Calistoga for some relaxation. Paid well for it, too.

I wanted a mud bath. I loved mine! Felt pretty close to my fantasy about floating away, supported and semi-conscious. The black mud is warm and supportive. Unfortunately in the next tub over Kent was suffering, his body overheats and it makes him miserable. I'd love to do it again. Kent? I think never.

We had massages afterward.

There's also a big pool filled with water warm from the earth. A sign by the pool said it was 94 degrees. Boy, that was great, lying back on a floaty, closing my eyes and drifting about.