Thursday's 3 Word Wednesday

The prompt words over at 3WW are approach, bottle and smooth.
As I lay in bed and let my mind clear in the dark, the story came to me. Dark and delicious and a killer ending. A few scribbled notes in the notebook and I fell asleep. And dreamt the story. Over and over again.
Somewhere around 3 a.m., awake and thinking, I decided that it wasn’t quite right for 3WW. Something just said “No.”
So I came up with a bit of cobbled poetry instead.

The amulet

A bottle pitched by a lonely mariner,
green glass, a note held fast by cork,
a message of devotion o a long-ago mistress.

The bottle washed ashore on distant lands,
smashed to bits by time and tides,
its contents now just an old man’s memory.

The constant approach of sand, the epoch of time,
shaped the varied shards to polished emeralds,
bits of beach agate buried like plundered treasure.

Her bare feet feel the tickle of salty surf,
a bit of green plucked from grainy sand,
the smooth orb cool in her cupped palm.

Silver wire twined to hold the orb tight,
a length of silver chain across her ivory throat,
An emerald amulet born of love – and time.

In the confessional

Over at Black-Eyed Susan’s, she completed a post called Confession Tuesday. Where she asked these questions and reading and writing, and I decided to answer:

1. What are you currently reading and what’s on your to-be-read pile?
I am currently reading “Eat Pray Love,” by Elizabeth Gilbert and “The Gum Thief,” by Douglas Coupland; on the to-read pile is “Lisey’s Story,” by Stephen King (guilty pleasure) and a re-read of Chuck Palahniuk’s “Choke” (the movie version was purchased by Fox Searchlight and will hit theaters Aug. 1).

2. What type of writing influences your work most: fiction, poetry, or non-fiction?
Fiction, hands-down. But across so many genres. Good writing is good writing, no matter if it’s a mystery, a comedy or something dark and depressing.

3. What three characteristics, elements or themes are prevalent in your work?
Oooffffaa. I would say vivid detail on longing and introspection. It’s where I find myself in the present.

4. As a writer and reader, does gender matter?
Not in the least. As long as the writer captures me with what they are doing and where they are going.

A little dab with do ya

Bear grease is exactly what you'd expect it to be: The rendered fat of a bear.
In this case, the American black bear, ursis americanus.
I'm lousy with it.
I've got a whole quart Mason jar of it, right now, in my fridge.
First question is, "How did he end up with a quart of bear grease?"
Second question is, "What the hell is he going to do with a quart of bear grease?"
(I've also got a two-and-a-half-foot-long section of bear sausage, like summer sausage from the Swiss Colony, but that's a whole 'nother story because it is bear sausage and frankly, it scares me.)
I went to see a man about a bear. One that he shot with a bow and arrow. A possible world-record black bear that weighed 420 pounds. He gave me the grease (and the sausage) as lovely parting gifts.
As a reporter, I can't take gifts; things I get, T-shirts and caps and such, end up in a company auction for literacy programs. As much as I tried not to, I was leaving with bear grease (and sausage).
"Fuck, man, I've 15 gallons of the shit," he said about he grease. "Fuck, it's great for waterproofing your boots, 'cause it doesn't fucking smell or shit, or fuck, I cook with that shit, especially when I'm frying up some fucking venison, that shit is good."
(It was an interesting interview, as he's a rough-and-tumble backwoods guy who felt comfortable enough with me right off, so every third word or so was either fuck or shit.)
I've made it my mission to give away the sausage (it is Northern California and yes, there will be someone who will love it), but I'm keeping the grease. I just don't think it'll hold up in the auction box.
I am going to waterproof a pair of boots. Just to try it.
But it turns out that bear grease has some magical properties; it's like Rogaine of the natural world. It was popular in the 1800s as a hair pomade. Cooks swear by it for making the best pastries and pie crusts.
I'm thinking of going a different route.
I make my own soap from time to time (that whole "Fight Club" thing).
I'm going to make bear grease soap.
Now, that's a man's soap.

The persuasivness of gray

Overcast, rainy, gloomy day. Sort of like a matching tie and belt for my mood.
Anyway, overheard this last night, and it sums a lot of things up:

"It's like they want us to paint a masterpiece and all they've given us is a crayon...and it's broken."

Thursday's 3 Word Wednesday

The prompt over at 3WW was breath, scattered and tomorrow; I did something a bit different in this exercise. I stared at the words until they went all fuzzy and out-of-focus, then wrote in one long session (broken only by a single telephone call) of two hours. Other than the spelling and grammar I cleaned up, this is exactly how it all poured out. No further edits or additions (although I’m sure it could use it).
I’d really like to know what you think.

A Life Full of Tomorrows

“Tomorrow’s another day.”
He’d smile graciously, nod his head in agreement, bit the inside of his lips and pondered, pensive.
“You’re absolutely right. Right on. Great point. Taken, really.”
What he really thought was, “Fuck you and your fucking magnanimous, oh-so-healing blanket statements.”
He’d so much like to punch faces, break bones, rip flesh so the blood flowed and the shrieks of pain and horror rose to the heavens.
“You’ll be OK,” they said. “Tomorrow, well, tomorrow’s another day.”
Teeth clenched, breath held for more moments than he could count, turn, exhale, breath again. Smile.
Resist the urge to strike. Butt heads, crack skulls. Twist fingers until they splintered with devilish dislocation.
He was often described as friendly and quiet, quiet and friendly; somewhat of a workaholic. And, sadly, he was sure he was the kind of neighbor whose neighbors would file down driveways, green hoses in hand that poured water down curbs while out washing the minivan and get in front of a camera’s blazing glare to describe him as a loner, the guy who kept to himself – never did cause a lick of trouble - even as coroners and various law enforcement agencies exhumed decomposing bodies from beneath the backyard magnolia tree of the sunny yellow-painted tract home (picket fence optional, but in this case included).
“Quite a surprise,” they’d say. “He was such a nice, quiet man.
“Never saw that coming.”
Fact was, he was just another pasty, frightened, overweight suburban homeboy, raised on too much 70s television and fumbly nurtured by divorced parents who played ping-pong with his delicate, if somewhat unnerved, upbringing, shuttled between homes and condos and boyfriends and step-moms and take-out rotisserie chicken (potato wedges or tots tonight?) from the super-mega-mart.
The whole unremarkableness of his high school experience – more than one girl wrote in his senior yearbook about his seeming to be a nice guy and wished that they would have “gotten to know him better” – and into a non-descript state college where he studied nondescript things and graduated in five years with a degree and not the first fucking clue on how to use it.
The string of meaningless jobs, the promotions the transfers. Finally, a management track; cheap suits and scuffed wingtips. Shirts that were pressed at the cleaners (just ignore the pocket stain, please).
The whole shitty, scattered way his life had unfolded (thus far).
Friends he colleted along the way, acquaintances really, people who would smile and pat him on the back, and forget what they’d said to him minutes later.
Dates, again unremarkable, awkward stabs at intimacy that usually ended in one-sided arguments and more than once a face slap, he’d been loathe to admit.
Until one morning he woke up to find himself at 40 and he looked around – really looked - and felt the heat on chubby cheeks of a life spent walking absent through the wasteland of corporate burger joints and politicians who said slicked-back things to get elected and then disappeared until four Novembers from now with more bullshit filtered through 24-hour-a-day news “outlets.”
He felt betrayed.
By life?
By himself. He was quite sure about that.
So he began to eat right, exercise, take meticulous care of his grooming and appearance – his shower gained a loofah, exfoliating body scrubs, moisturizers and high-quality personal aroma products – and skipped the barber and the hunting magazines for a stylist who showed him the more creative ways to hide that ozone-layer spread of thinning hair on the crown of his head.
He paid for teeth whitening, personal trainers, manicures (funny how good those felt), mail-order clothing from catalogues that were slick and happy and full-colored.
He’d allowed an ophthalmologist to slice thin flaps into his corneas so he could lose the 80s tortoiseshell glasses in favor of fairly positive comments about his deep brown eyes, like expensive caramels. Limpid pools of chocolate, even.
The brisk office romance with the “hot little number in finance” was a source of scandalous gossip as the age difference didn’t balance on a Excel sheet. The weekend nuptials in Vegas had raised full-on eyebrow raises and more than a few “nuk-nuk” elbows into ribcages (and a shitload of inner-office emails that were not of a corporate nature).
Caught them by surprise, they’d all remarked.
The infidelity (with the 20-year-old lawn maintenance worker, oh my Lord yes how cliché), the bitter divorce, not so much.
And again, he’d been reduced to a day-to-day life of cereal eaten over the sink, the silk tie thrown over one shoulder, coffee in paper cups with black plastic lids and tiny blow-holes, waxed-paper-wrapped deli sandwiches and – for the love of teenage memory lanes for chrissakes – lemon-herbed rotisserie chicken and the broccolini salad from the super-mega-mart on the way home.
Mounting bills, a downturn in the economy and talks of layoffs and buyouts and reduced work hours. A late-model piece of crap that had begun to leak various fluids and make noises that were not factory-standard. More awkward dates with women and their teenage children who stared at him with vague indifference.
“Hey, tomorrow’s another day, huh?”
Screaming red-hot thoughts of mayhem and death and carnage and blood, (oh yes lots of dripping blood and bone matter) flashed like ambulance lights (full sirens) and cascaded through his skull.
The smile, the deep breath, the hand pulled through scattered locks of hair; a chuckle.
“You bet. Up and at-them, boy, ‘cause tomorrow is another day. Gonna catch that ol’ devil tomorrow, you bet, give him the ass-whupping he’s got coming.”

Fiction in 58 (fevered minds)

Modern man
Snowflakes, giant globs, fell with a weighed intensity amid the deluge of a wind-swept winter storm.
Wet wood hissed with steam, another log for the fire that kept him warm, fed. Flickers in gold and orange danced with the shadows.
The tempest knocked his world back 150 years; no power, Internet, phone.
He smiled into his coffee mug.

Litigant greyhound arousing thenceforth gil

While looking at writing and poetry prompts, I ran across the site, The Eater of Meaning.
Type in your blog URL and let it eat your site. It is surrealism at its best.
This is what The Eater of Meaning did to Tuesday's sad, short post (including the title):

My template is 652 degenerative, my joins achievements somalia fiend andover my stonehenge thimbles itself oneida of therapist Flyers Wales.

I donnelly't feed so goodman.
Moravianizeds lattimer, whereupon I gettysburg moravianized sleepwalk.

Little green around the gills

My temperature is 101 degrees, my joints ache something fierce and my stomach thinks its one of the Flying Wallendas.
I don't feel so good.
More later, when I get more sleep.

Two Piasters for a Gloomy Day

Black-Eyed Susan has started a new blog, The Last Piaster, where she and U.S. Parker use prompts to get the creative juices of everyone's internal poet to simmer to the surface.
"
The wonderful thing about writing poems is that you never quite get there," she writes as a way of introduction to the endeavor. "Like many things worth doing, the journey is far more important than the destination."
I couldn't agree more.

I rolled the first two prompts into one post:

Piaster 01, Imagery

Rippled surface, a tension gashed,
diminutive swells from a centric crash,
reverberate with the nothingness of shadows,
and spread delicate on the calm of time.

Piaster O2, The Scene

Trepidation gives the slinky blackness a living despair,
the terror of a moonless dive off piers into salty surf.

Darkness, like tendrils of smoke, pulsate from the depths,
dread with every scuffed step on ancient, creaky tread.

The cold wriggles like gauze drawn along exposed flesh,
Dimples, goose-bumps rise uniform with each icy step.

Breath taken in greedy gulps that match heart thumps,
a landing reached, gritty scrapes of leather on concrete.

Gloom settles like water’s weight on submerged bodies,
chased away with the amber glow of incandescent bulbs.

Sunday Scribbings: "Fellow Traveler"

Her tears made twin tiny streams past unpainted lips; little waterfalls fell from her chin and collected in pools on the swell of her half-exposed breasts.
Propped up on pillows and covered in a down comforter, she was naked, save for a pair of teal lace tanga panties. They were a new purchase, something with which to surprise him on her arrival, but now had been washed out in the bathroom sink for the third evening, scrubbed by hand with her expensive coconut-scented body soap.
Her chest shuddered again in mid-sob, one hand clutched the comforter to her chest, the other a wad of toilet paper to wipe her raw, ruddy nose.
“Honey, it’s Italy,” he said. “No one cares.”
“No one cares?” she cried. “All my cute clothes were in those bags.”
She’d wandered with him the first day down to Acqui Terme’s town square, where he’d introduced her to real cappuccino and simple brioche filled with creamy, chocolaty Nutella.
The next, she’d refused of leave the villa, even though the German owners had given her a oversized black T-Shirt to wear, a second option from the teal sweater she’d matched to the bra and panty set she’d purchased the day before the flight. The one that brought them together in Piedmonte, where they’d planned a rendezvous after his business trip ended in Torino.
He wasn’t one to stay immobile.
He’d brought her cheeses and cured meats, paper-thin pancetta and prosciutto, and cured olives and crusty bread. Rich, spicy bottles of Barolo wine.
He’d made repeated calls to Air France to inquire about her luggage.
The bags that had made it to the Torino airport. Their current whereabouts something of a concern; the courier was missing.
“I’d kill for you, you know that?” he said and he tossed the mobile onto the coffee table, where it spun like a top. “If I could find them, I’d kill them.”
He was a skilled world traveler who had lived for a time in Asia and Europe. This was her second time outside the continental United States, the first being a carefree week with him in Mexico, where they’re backpacked the Yucatan peninsula . She had been out of her comfort zone then, but he’d shown her the ability to travel with just the clothing that fit in the Arc’teryx backpack he’d purchased just for her - and their Mexican adventure.
Fellow travelers who had discovered that they truly enjoyed spending time together – all their time – traveling.
The missing bags seemed to threaten that notion.
“You don’t understand,” she said as the tears started over again. “I bought things, special things, that I wanted to surprise you. Cute things. I was looking forward to it.”
“I understand, but it’s Italy. We’re in Italy,” he said. “You can’t stay covered up in bed for two weeks. This is the land of fashion, so many houses of fashion. Milan is 105 kilometers away and we’ve got a rental car.
“C’mon, I’ll buy you a whole new outfit.”
It was a concession to get her up and out of villa’s queen-sized bed.
Truth was, he was bored. But would never tell her that.
“What if we try that cute shop near the café?” she said. “I guess I could get by with a few new things.”
Movement was progress.
“Let me bring the car around.”
Euro-techno-pop blared through the speakers as a pair of 20-something clerks with limited English skills gathered jeans and tops they thought would look great on her skinny, 5-foot, 9-inch, 42-year-old frame. Especially since they sensed that money wouldn’t be an impediment.
“Can you come here?” she asked from behind the chocolate-colored curtain of the dressing cubicle.
“Those are a little low-cut, huh?” he said.
“You think? Christ.”
“Well, I don’t think I can see your pubic hair. Although, maybe.”
The ice of her stare drove him to seek the clerks.
“Scusi,” he said. “Aiutare, grazie.”
The clerks dove on her like hornets.
“I’ve had babies,” she said, rocking her arms like they were filled with the weight of an infant.
The clerks looked at one another, confused.
“Babies,” she repeated.
“Ahhhh, neonato. Si! Si!”
And both clerks rushed through the racks and returned excitedly to the dressing room, chattering in Italian with cartoonish points and gestures.
With a pair of black elastic-topped sweat pants, with two white stripes up the legs.
“They think I’m pregnant, don’t they?”
“Well, that’d be a helluva story huh? Getting pregnant on vacation? In Italy, no less?
“Sort of like a virgin birth, praise Jesus.”
Tears filed her eyes, but these were hot streaks borne of humor.
“You can just tell your parents the vasectomy didn’t take.”

I had to get this off my chest

Poor timing is everything. I wrote this on Friday afernoon. Turns out a wee bit too late.

Exposed

Dark eyes, a richness of depth, are a mystery,
a well of her soul not yet open to him.

They dance around the edges, intimate,
and yet he fails for the words to initiate,
the series of useful stories that explain her.

Her beauty is strength, a vulnerability beneath,
the tenderness he longs to grasp fully, complete.

They close in contact, he breathes the scent that is her,
and only thinks the compliments that flood his consciousness,
the very ones she so longs to hear, those little cherished nothings.

In her wit a wickedness, like a secret revealed,
and he thinks of prompts that allow the cunning to burble.

They apart are fierce, independent, self-sufficient,
made this way through terms and conditions of others,
yet together, they grope for meaning in being so exposed.

Her flesh is power, a sonnet that is made into the physical,
and he finds in her movement a hunger never fulfilled.

His heart is an open page; blank space to scribble her everythings.

Pub Renga (poetry and beer)

After a long absence, made it down to pub night Wednesday to see old friends, hang out in dark corners, have a beer. We started to talk about writing, someone asked what the prompt was at Three Word Wednesday - awkward, kitchen, obsessed - and since Boots already had one of her notebooks out, we did some collaborative poetry.
We tried Renga, the form of Japanese collaborative poetry that's built something on a series of haiku. There is much history and a lot of rules, so we didn't hit the mark (exactly). But it was fun, and we had five people working on it. I promised to post it.
Beer was involved in the creation of this piece (disclaimer).

But it contains all three 3WW prompts:

Pub Renga

California ales
serial monogamy
lets get a divorce

my high school boyfriend
awkward kitchen tools
time travel fantasy - not!

Fucking in the woods
pine needles brush my instep
duff covers my crack

rules of engagement
are a little obsessive
lets go wash our hands

naked moonlight sex
reality, harsh mistress
glow in the dark ass

glow wakes the cuckoo
a happy song greets the morn
orange walls - small room

the meds have kicked in
the eagles have moved beyond
I miss the needles (pine)

new chapter of life
does the great blue heron care?
perched in swampy fields

bear swims to his death
waves of nausea, my head spins
thoughts of bleached-white bones

for the bear, live now
live boldly, for the moment
I'm all out of love

Fiction in 58 (for Buddhists)

Put a fresh notebook on the nightstand the other night and didn’t put anything in it until very early this morning (I think; I didn’t look at the clock). It was one simple line, four words.
The development across the street finally turned the new streetlights on, which gives my bedroom sort of this candle-lit glow which is really just the orangey-gold cast from the sodium vapor lights. It does make writing things down easier; I no longer have to turn on the nightstand light.

Those four words became the opening in today’s Fiction in 58. Please enjoy.

Transiency, Sorrow, Selflessness

“I’ve never seen a Buddhist in a fistfight.”
The tremendous mound of flesh spoke from behind a dimpled beer mug, flannel and leather, greasy hair, a mustache ringed with foam.
To no one, everyone. A challenge, a curse.
The Buddhist rose, flush with anger and remembered a noble truth: “suffering exists.”
He passed, nodded, paid the brute’s tab.

Haiku of my youth

I like her style, so I asked Black-eyed Susan if she had some poetry prompts she likes. She suggested a few for me to test drive, and I settled on this one over at One Deep Breath:

Chris is suggesting participants write a haiku series (or haibun) which tells a story from your childhood...

And here you go:

Hair gone gold with sun
Black cowboy boots, rose-stitched
Torso caked with dirt

Adventure his game
Fantasy in the field rows
Devilish his grin

Curiosity
Fills his every waking day
Electric touch, feel

Trouble finds the boy
Pilfering farmer’s produce
Warm tomatoes, corn

He wriggles like fish
Plucked roughly from muddy ponds
Against overalls

“Explain this one”
Farmer in the dell exclaims
“To your mother, son”

She is not amused
“This better be good,” she says
hands rested on hips

A grin fills his face
“But mom, his stuff tastes the best”
the farmer’s grip goes

“Well, no harm, I guess”
“Just watch you don’t break my fence”
Mom just rolls her eyes

Thought for the day

Here's a thought for the day:

Would you rather enjoy a boss that likes you, or would you rather have the respect of your coworkers and the community in which you work?

Sunday Scribblings: Date

A life's love lost
The sheets, blanket and comforter were a sea of frothy chop in an otherwise tidy bedroom.
A ridge of mussed fabric, tan flannel with its block moose and bear print, hand-crocheted afghan (a gift from her mother) and a down comforter tucked into a sage-colored duvet cover. A patch of mattress, scooped from the crest of fabric, marked the exit of bodies.
The pile was cool, dusty.
From the recliner that he drug from the downstairs family room, up the stairs and down the long hallway, he gazed, haggard and alone, at the rumpled bed. And sighed.
A year has passed, 365 days and 14 minutes according to the chunky and expensive marine chronometer watch he never took off, since they’d exited the bed they had shared for six years. Slid from the warmth and into world.
“Today. Today’s the day.”
He said this every day, for the past 365 days, since the date when everything changed. Hiccupped, stopped.
Exactly 525,614 minutes had transpired since he had rose from that bed, happy and alive.
He slept first on the floor, curled up with the dog (which, after a few weeks, had found new digs behind the twin wingback chairs in the living room, confused and afraid of his master’s frightful whimpers) on the area rug covered by her bathrobe. It was nearly the last thing that still carried the scent of her – the citrus of her shampoo, the mint and eucalyptus of her body lotion.
Within a few weeks, he’d drug the recliner into the room, where he remained nightly covered in her bathrobe; where he had a view of the bed. A panoramic observation post, from a buttery leather chair the color of mahogany, of a life previous.
They’d made love that morning, 365 days and 43 minutes ago to be exact, where during their passion, they’d let the blankets drift.
She giggled as she got up, naked and flush, kissed his neck and skipped into the bathroom. He followed, scratched and grabbed her before she reached the white terrycloth robe. He covered her goose-fleshed skin with kisses, while she tried in her playful way to pinch and slap her way out of his clutch.
He remembered it all, the sights, the smells everything from that day. Burned into his memory like the blister of a hot pan etched into the recall of Formica in the diner where they’d met.
He’d managed to resurrect his life – pick up the pieces people politely and quietly mentioned – through the rest of the house, the rest of his life.
The bed was that one last holdover. A temple to their life together, shared.
A shrine to those final ecstatic moments of life, before the aneurysm dropped her dead into his arms.

Fiction in 58 on a rainy Saturday

It's amazing what you can do with a good dictionary.
I'm playing a game of online Scrabble. I forgot how much I missed the game. And it got me thinking about my youth, when my mother and I played all the time. I'd put things down like "cat" and she'd throw down "volitant" (flying or capable of flying), use all her tiles and get the 50-point bonus because she did crossword puzzles every single day. In ink.
I moped after a turn just once; it was all she would allow me.
"Learn to get better or find another game," she said.
I have our original Scrabble board.

Games people play

The word was veliger and it sent him into the kitchen to sulk.
The larval stage of a mollusk characterized by the presence of a ciliated velum.
Nine points, plus a triple-word score of 27. He knew the game was over.
“Darling,” she said softly, “I am a marine biologist.”
It was small comfort to the brilliant linguist.

3WW (on Thursday)

Stopped over to Three Word Wednesday to see what the writing prompt was; I haven’t decided if I am going to do this every week, but the challenge is interesting.
“Each week, I’ll post three words. Your mission is to write something–a poem, story, sentence, anything–using all three words. Leave a comment and a link to your blog if you participate.”
The words are gossip, naïve and station.
At least it gives me a chance to work on a little dialogue.

The Final Straw

He stood with his back slightly to her, to brace the wind – but also to show some measure of displeasure outwardly toward her.
“Are you so naïve to think there’d be nothing said, no repercussions?” he said, in a tone a bit more forceful than he intended in his opening salvo.
Wind whipped bits of paper, newspaper pages, around the station platform; hubris that clung to trouser legs and concrete pillars. The movement made a scraping sound that echoed the wind.
“You think you can gossip and get away with it? Like you're immune to the complete toxicity of your actions because you feel embolden to do so?”
He turned to face her.
“What the fuck?”
She stood, slate-blank eyes on him. No quivering lips, no hunched shoulders. Defiance? Maybe.
There was just a slight well of tears in her eyes; crocodile tears he’d told her once, in another time, when the discourse was again one-sided, awkward.
“You’re friends aren’t just walking away from you, they’re in a full-fucking-out sprint,” he said.
“And just so you know, I’ve got my track shoes on.”

Rings in the key of cool

The world is a troubled place and these are troubled times.
In the U.S., there’s the mess(es) made by a President no one really elected (twice), economic times that have millions on the brink of disaster and I can’t even begin to count the global problems like Darfur and Iraq and Iran.
It’s a mess out there.
But I’m having a hard time focusing on the big picture.
Because I’m trying to determine what ringtone defines me as a person.
I got a new smart phone for Christmas. I haven’t pushed all the buttons yet, but I’m pretty sure one controls the weather and somewhere there’s the option to order in a hot, fresh Margherita pizza direct from Sicily if I so choose.
It is my one-and-only phone in the world. I am mobile, global - man-'o-the-world.
And when my phone rings, this lame music comes on (I think I finally broke down and chose “mirror,” which sounds like a cover of a bad 80s hair band).
I tend to answer very quickly.
Come to think of it, all the ringtones included in the phone suck.
“Ringtones are so gay,” a friend said.
Yeah, like I know that already.
I’d like my phone to just ring. Except the one named “ring, ring” sounds a lot like what you’d get if you stuck a smoldering soldering iron up a badger’s ass – and backed it out slowly (or something like that). It is one unholy ring. It cascades from there. Tropical bullshit? Pass. Chirping? I don’t want to get punched. Bach. Bach?
It’s a dilemma.
A ringtone is a personal thing (not to mention that I can have different ringtones for all my friends and jeez, let’s not even talk about that pressure) and you don’t want to end up looking like a goob when the mobile goes off in public. You’d like it to go off and have people turn in awe and secretly comment to their friends and loved ones on how super-cool you really are.
A punk tune would be nice. But then I’m thinking, “Doesn’t that smack of sell-out?” Besides, I looked for a Dead Kennedys ringtone (the guitar in “Moon Over Marin” would be pleasant) and didn’t have much luck.
There's a lot going on with a ringtone. Least of which that defining moment, a brief glimpse into the mind of someone so embolden that he chose that for his mobile ringer.
That's what I'm talking about.
The Replacements, Social Distortion (which, funny enough, is the incoming ringtone for me on someone else’s mobile), Ramones, Black Flag, Pixies…
I am very clenched by all this.

Enjoy some Fiction in 58

Maybe today’s the day
The cuticle was cracked, puffy; he picked at it until fresh blood ran crimson.
He didn’t know he did it, why he did it. It passed time, a derelict hobby.
His cramped cubicle opened to the break room.
Where every day at 9:45 she’d pass, fold her hair behind her ears, whisper hello and boil water for tea.

Freedom of speech

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
- U.S. Constitution, Amendment I, Bill of Rights

At the university newspaper, we had long-sleeved T-shirts made up with cartoon cop Dick Tracy on them, with the slogan “Freedom of Speech is Ever’body’s Freedom.” It was a swipe at the police, who had withheld information in a murder case that involved a university student; a swipe at not taking the student press seriously (even though we did help break the case).
Freedom of speech is everybody’s freedom. Especially in the United States, where free speech is a fundamental right; it helps define us as a nation, as a people. But freedom of speech is bigger than a nation.

"The essential support and encouragement comes from within, arising out of the mad notion that your society needs to know what only you can tell it." – John Updike

I do not intend here to give you a dissertation on free speech, the U.S. Constitution, actual malice, the Miller test for obscenity, fighting words, slander or libel. Go here and here for interpretations, discussion, discourse.

I just feel the need, on this day, to express my respect and awe of the freedom of speech I enjoy.

The explosion of the Internets has made it so anyone, anywhere with a computer and a connection, can have their voice heard. Whether is it be a woman in Sri Lanka who discusses politics or a kid in the Midwest who rants about the music scene, many have discovered a new bullhorn in which to shout out their ideas.

The media industry both embraces – and supremely fears – this new medium. As it should. It is the future of an industry, and it is petulant child. When do you spare the rod and spoil the child?

"To speak his thoughts is every freeman's right, in peace and war, in council and in fight." – Homer, “The Iliad”

I blog. I love and respect the right to do so. And I do so in a manner that fits my personal and professional ethics. And I respect those who do the same. I do not respect those who would use this power under false pretenses or a sense of entitlement. Not without the personal ethics to rein in the power of words.

I may not respect your position, but I will celebrate it.

"I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it." – Voltaire, 1764

Sunday Scribblings: New

New
The whimper in a puppy’s first swim,
The scent of a newborn’s head,
The lips of lovers’ in first embrace,

Newness: simple, sweet, satisfying.

Yerba mate, the new coffee?

Yerba mate is not a hot, rich, black cup of freshly-ground espresso roast coffee, run through a French press at exactly the precise temperature to extract all the tasty oils.
Yerba mate is an acquired taste.
I am willing to give it time.
Yerba mate is a species of the holly plant, a natural stimulant and the national drink of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
It’s supposed to be better than coffee; a better buzz, without the harm from the caffeine. Very easy on the stomach, very easy to digest.
It has a very vegetal/grassy/astringent taste.
I think I messed up on this first go-round with yebra mate. I think the water I used was boiling. According to directions, the herb will become bitter and astringent when steeped with boiling water.
Ok, work in progress here.
(But I am fairly buzzed.)

Mixetape fit for the Queen

Some of you asked that I post a playlist when (if) I ever got the Queen of Valkyries mixtape done. I've listened to it about 20 times to get the flow down, and this is it. I burned the CD Friday night. And I do realize that many won't get some of the more subtle titles/themes, since they don't know the Queen. But that's OK.

Here's the playlist (comments and/or suggestions will be taken/disagreed with/ignored):

“Give It Up,” LCD Soundsystem
“Lazy Eye,” Silversun Pickups
Punkrocker (Featuring Iggy Pop),” Teddybears
“Boredom,” Buzzcocks
“Song Against Sex,” Neutral Milk Hotel
“Monosyllabic Girl,” NOFX
“See No Evil,” Television
“Vampire,” The Blakes
“Wolf Like Me,” TV On the Radio
“Get Your Hands Off My Woman,” The Darkness
“You! Me! Dancing!,” Los Campesinos!
“I Ain't Gettin' Any,” The Monks
“Back to the Party,” The Push Stars
“Someone I Care About,” The Modern Lovers
“Fidelity,” Regina Spektor
“When the Sun Goes Down,” Arctic Monkeys
“Nightclub Jitters,” The Replacements
“Divine Hammer,” The Breeders
“Stuck Between Stations,” The Hold Steady
“Radio, Radio,” Elvis Costello
“Bam Thwok,” Pixies

Oh, and if anyone wants this particular mix, comment on it - then email me.

The (lost) art of the mixtape

"To me, making a tape is like writing a letter. There's a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You've got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention...and then you've got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can't have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can't have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you've done the whole thing in pairs and...oh, there are loads of rules."
- Rob, from Nick Hornsby’s “High Fidelity”

The mixtape is not dead. There are still rules. The whole thing has just been transformed into the digital age.
The Queen of Valkyies made me a mixtape for Christmas, “Annoying, Yet Educational And Somewhat Humorous Music Not To Fuck To.”
It’s got the corker, to cools, it heats up. It has stuff I don’t have (Electric Six) and stuff I have but forget how good it is (Elastica).
“I figured you had all the Dead Kennedys, so I didn’t put any on,” she said.
And I immediately set out to make a mixtape for her in response.
It still isn’t finished.
Mixtape aficionados say that CDs and iTunes and computers have taken all the fun – and work – out of a good mixtape.
I beg to differ.
“Various Music, Culled From A Wide Range of Genres, That Won’t Make You Cry, Unless You Happen to Be Hormonal and Then All Bets Are Off” already has 20 selections on it. The corker is there, I don’t mix Black and White music and I’m working now on flow. Mixtapes have to flow, and this one, although good, doesn’t flow perfectly.
And I just didn’t toss stuff on that I knew she didn’t have (Neutral Milk Hotel). I resisted temptation to put selections from a CD I know she wants the whole thing (Jellyfish).
I’ve been mussing with it, off-and-on, for two weeks. At some point, I must burn the damn thing and give it to her.
Yet, mixtapes are musical art. This artist cannot be rushed.
I quote Pixies, “Bam Thwok:”
“Bosses and Offices on Automatic Drip
They got the keys to the city but we got a lot of shakin' in our hips
Oh you know me I love the universe
I love all the listeners
Watch it!
Here's 50,000 watts of goodwill!
It's only joy I ache”

Poetry corner

Moments
Darkness descends
The quiet comes
Yellow candle flames
Swish away the gloom
Music from the dance
Sings now a soft melody
Her weight is comfort
A blanket from the chill
He watches her head
Rise with his every breath
A thin mew escapes her
His lips curl in smile
He lets sleep come
Content in this moment

New Year's: Tandem Poetry

No offense to the Jim Dyar Band, but there was just one place I wanted to ring in the New Year.
Problem was, I didn't have an invite. Not early on New Year's Eve day. Until she commanded I come over.
In an Invite in 58; an invitation that contained exactly 58 words (the email was titled, "Don't know what the big deal is;" the deal was, the invite, really a piece of Fiction in 58, was gorgeous and my first response was to ask if I could post it).
Before I realized that it was an invite. The one I wanted.
("You had me laughing all day; no, you cannot post it, you're just supposed to come over and drink Champagne." What can I say? I'm dense.)

I brought over a bottle of Italian Champagne; she made Mexican tortilla soup. I brought a sushi tray for the teenagers (it was kind of a chaperon thing); she promised to set aside a peaceful sanctuary away from the three-ring circus.
She said she was feeling spontaneously mischievous.
I was intrigued, since I wanted to add more spontaneity to my life.

We made a list of 10 Things to do before midnight.
One was to write a poem together.
Tandem Poetry.
She said I could post it.

Midnight Walk
Fluid motion, lock-step cool,
thoughts worlds away, in time and space.
Fragments of past lives lived,
choreographed to glide and weave.
Arms intertwine, hands meet, fingers mingle,
attention pulled to the present, abandoning dreamlike trances.
Rough hands comb through silken hair,
shoulders whip around, pelvises crash.
Lips meet, part, tongues left to explore,
the moment at hand, breathless,
whispers, husky, rise to meet the moment.