Archives for August 2011

I was supposed to prepare a talk for the Moviegoer conference …

… but then a peculiar thing happened.



A long time ago, on a website far, far away…

…I dreamed up a cartoon.  Not so long ago, I got around to drawing it.


4 yr old: Dad, you’re funny.
Myself: Thanks.
4 yr: You’re weird.
Self: I liked it better when you said I was funny.
7 yr (chiming in): You’re half funny and half weird!
4 yr (smiling): And half nice.
7 yr: But sometimes he’s mean.

Wisconsin man peels back Onion to its obsolescence


I don’t understand how reality keeps scooping the boys from Madison (perhaps because they moved to New York?), but this one is especially painful for being in their old back yard…

Occurring right at the end is what could possibly be considered the money quote to end all money quotes:

“I’m not the smartest guy, but this is going to be my journey,” Dan said. “Just a guy learning and growing with fragrances.”


Top Ten Female Singer Songwriters

1. Celine Dion
2. Joan Baez
3. Lady Gaga
4. Linda Ronstadt
5. One of the Indigo Girls
6. The other Indigo Girl
7. Justin Bieber
8. Sarah Mclachlan
9. Norah Jones
10. Matthew Lickona

Like a Slow-Release Drug

Patrick at Plastic Beatitude turned me on to another fine essay, this one by Jim Santel at The Millions, in observance of 50th Anniversary of The Moviegoer.

F. Scott Fitzgerald thought “the purpose of a work of fiction is to appeal to the lingering after-effects in the reader’s mind.” Other than Fitzgerald’s own works, I’ve never read a novel whose power lies so fully not in the course of being read, but in the astral glow of having been read. When I completed The Moviegoer for the first time, I was at a loss to explain the significance of the 242 pages I’d just traversed, but I knew they had been important. I felt the novel working on me in strange ways, like a slow-release drug. That so much of The Moviegoer’s effect is felt when it’s not being read can be attributed not to some defect in Percy’s prose, but rather to the nature of the novel’s moral project. Read more …

Santel seems to be grokking something John Desmond touched on here as well.

“…Invoking music’s mirrors with selfish spells.”



(Thanks for reading!)

Blast from the Past: Cafe Grotesque, Plus Inspirations from Notre Dame

Turn About’s Fair Play

Nick Ripatrazone, poet, writer, Korrektiv guest blogger, and interviewer extraordinaire at The Fine Delight, recently got interviewed himself.

Room in Heaven

Son of Sam Doesn’t Want Out of Jail Because of Jesus

Rimbaud’s Last Stand

One shipment: a single tusk
One shipment: two tusks
One shipment: three tusks
One shipment: four tusks
One shipment: two tusks
– Rimbaud’s last poem, as dictated to his sister

I. In Marseilles
Harar was hell, my last season
Before packing off for Marseilles
And the dark shadow of Mama,
Never to see the Ivory Coast . . .
Which was my dream, my poetics,
My languishing and (Eh!) my paradise.

II. In Ethiopia
And if I’d never resorted
To carving my bowl from wood?
And if I never came here, never
Returned to hovel-living,
To black, primitive souls, trading
My garret-fevers for jungle-rot?

Dining my soul on pineapple,
I’d hobble down to the seashore,
Seeing why it takes the poets
To name a place: My Cote d’Ivoire,
Bone-white strips of blinding-hot sand,
My universe might have coalesced to coral.

Instead, I overfeed my body
On dry cakes and putrid water.
I crisscross the Red Sea, Harar
To Aden and back, hectic for
One more deal, something to show besides
A bullet-wound’s rose bloom and dirty poems.

The jungle’s eyes narrow; its edge
Touches my hut. It knows regret
Is useless. But how do I keep
The powder dry? Why ask anything?
The jungle dims its eyes, hard-edged
In day’s wilting heat; it asks no questions.

When the monsoons return, someone
Will come to replace me, someone
Else will come to sell these guns, lock,
Stock and barrel, to King Menelik
And his indiscriminate wars
Waged for a bunch of rotten bananas.

Caveat mercator is the key:
Otherwise, Menelik et al
Calmly amputate body from
Soul; then, carry out the head in
Its own wooden bowl. Then, maybe,
Report the agent’s death in cloying words.

Crates of tusk and hairy leather
Wait for cheap caravans to gore
Me of francs. “When you do business,”
I wrote mama, “in these hellish
Places, you never get out. . . in fact,
You go deeper – ever think of selling slaves?”

I myself have sent several letters
To my managers. Not a word
In reply. But I will continue
To send mail, artless vitriol
That it is, to keep my wits sharp
And ward off attacks of memory.

Yes, my customers grow tired, bored.
My ledger bleeds unpaid debts.
I lost my last shipment, thirty
Crates of carbines, in a typhoon.
But between tempers and tempests,
I must believe replacements coming.

III. In Aden
The Red Sea’s a clean line of horizon;
No ship’s smokestacks to smudge the strict
Emptiness. In palm shade, I make
My stand, reclined as a naked girl
Spoons meat from imported coconut,
Scraped clean down to the same emptiness.

IV. Back in Ethiopia
I, the first, am also the last.
Poor Verlaine, more child than I, gone
From myself – poor shot that he was.
– But a better fate than oblivion
In a pile of unopened mail
– Damn the Home Office for making me wait!

I imagine already I am
Become a mere fiction, full of ink,
A terrible infant who did not
Fulfill his promises, one by one
Disappointing investors and
Giving my critics due satisfaction.

A terrible amusement for
The Republic, I was the savoir fare
France was looking for. These Goddamned
Heathen, though, love a good story
To tell. No doubt, like all critics,
They will resort me with my own words.

V. Back in Marseilles
I have run guns through Africa,
But no more. I have attempted
Trade in ivory, gold, but no more.
Instead, I will just sit here, stumped
From the groin, smoking my pipe,
Loitering, still jealous of the stars in heaven.
– 2002

Today in Porn: Kardashian Wedding Edition

Dammit, I thought this category was dead.  But then JOB had to go ahead with the kreepy kiddie stuff, and we’re off…

Found myself explaining the existence of Kim Kardashian to First Son yesterday.  No, I did not introduce him to the notion.  Happily, I neglected to mention the headwaters of her fame…“Kris Humphries wasn’t the only person who wanted to consummate his marriage to Kim Kardashian this weekend, ’cause at the same time … MILLIONS of ‘fans’ were flooding the official website for Kim’s XXX tape. TMZ has learned … roughly 2 MILLION people visited between Friday and Sunday night … a HUGE boost from the average weekend traffic.”

One for the Katholic Poets in the House

“Mr. Duffy’s strategy is to flesh out the intense relationship biographers have established between Rimbaud and his rigid Roman Catholic mother, to elevate it to equal status with the connection to Verlaine, which dominates Ms. Holland’s film.

That approach allows Mr. Duffy to supply answers to the question, ‘How, in short, could a poet of genius systematically erase his own life — unwrite it?’ Mr. Duffy suggests, for one thing, that Rimbaud wanted to impress his mother, who didn’t care for all that literary rot.”

Ghazal: Bembo to Lucrezia

I want every art to be yours; every shadow
In the palace to be contained by your shadow.

It’s by your uncontested form that the pupil
Hurts to know beauty’s force, like dust motes in shadow.

Our love’s majestic compromise annihilates
An empire’s wrested maps; over all, your shadow.

In the ovals that blank out the statuary,
In Caesars’ eyes – only one thing moves, your shadow.

Your silken pallia trains desire, and hangs
A ghost from its drape, sings clouds shot through with shadow.

Lions bleat and lambs roar, both flesh out your precise
And suggestive shape – an hourglass’s shadow.

Beneath a smoky bell jar, your lithe body’s mass
Mints my realm’s coin from ingots of dream and shadow.

You, excessive as renascent stone but soft, soft –
 A battle-fallen shield’s boss of crimson shadow.

A cold mountain creek’s flow blankets with greening moss;
Your features transfix such frames and times in shadow.

You are aesthetic excess; you tame the hot noon;
You teach the day not to withdraw into shadow.

Your ankles, wrists are marbled water spit and splashed
In icy-columned trinkets across the courtyard’s shadow.

The fresh bones of morning bleach and fade behind you.
In ruined delight – you walk the tiles with your shadow.

You neutralize the sweet splendor of stone fountains.
Your captivated gardens wait for your shadow.

“Death to the evening star!” cries the sun all along.
At dusk your raven hair wraps my naked shadow.

Imagination and your smooth flesh dance with fire.
Ambition drowns painter and sculptor in shadow.

I hear art’s ecstasy groan with your body’s fit,
O private country, my love, my trembling shadow!

See – failing us both, the terraced lights from the sea
Glimmer below heaven, above the law’s shadow.

O cardinal temptress, my blade blushes hot and quick;
But you seal your royal pacts with knives in shadow.

Palace shadows creep across the moon, cradle love
With embraces, curdle love’s grimace in shadow.

Hilted steel whispers its secret to each of us:
“Divide the bruised moonlit blue from ocean’s shadow.”

The crescent skies kiss through the twilight’s principate –
The one that shares borders with me and your shadow.

Separated at Economic Birth?


Is Warren Buffett like the Pope?

Feel free to take the gloves off for this one…


It’s lookin’ kinda Satyriconny around here…

Petronius, call your vomitorium.


Two Haiku

caterpillar curls
around the green flower stem,
my daughters watching

crawdad almost dead
too easily in our net
no shade from the sun

Rubaiyat on a Summer Day

We went to the bus stop, my daughters and I,
But the bus didn’t come — we just looked at the sky.
We missed the damn bus, but that was okay,
We walked into Starbucks and drank — we were dry.

Then we hustled back out in the heat of the day
To catch the next bus that was headed our way.
We paid the buck-fifty, selected our seats,
Sat back and enjoyed the roll and the sway.

We got off at the Plaza, where everyone meets,
And marveled at big cats, skywalked across streets.
Soon we were down where the river flows by,
Searching for crawdads, blackberries, and treats.