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?