Archives for February 2011

At play in the fields of the JOB

I do not know your name, O weed,

Your genus, species, class, or breed,

But I think the only fact I need

Is this:  that if I touch you, I will bleed.

Keillor Reads Potter

About a month ago, I sent my book, House of Words, to Garrison Keillor. Mr. Keillor is a busy man, an astonishingly prolific writer of many funny, fabulous books and a tireless maestro of radio magic; so I doubted he would have time to even hold my little house of words in his hands. Surely he has people who intercept these things as they arrive, and surely these people would take one look at my book and fail to recognize its breathtaking brilliance. And off the poor little pageturner would go to a recycle bin in some Dylanesque Minneapolis back alley and thence to the frozen prairie pile of some St. Paul pulpmill, eventually to be made into paper for Mr. Keillor’s next book.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, just yesterday, Korrektiv Press received an email from one Kathy Roach. Mrs. Roach, with whom I later had the pleasure of speaking on the telephone, was writing to request permission for Mr. Keillor to read one of the poems from the book on the following Monday’s edition of The Writer’s Almanac. That’s three days from now! Korrektiv Press gleefully granted permission, as did I, and so the wheels were set in motion for my one minute of fame. I’ll take it! And thanks to the magic of the World Wide Web, we can time travel forward to Monday and experience The Writer’s Almanac right now on Friday night. Thank you, Garrison Keillor, for a splendid reading of my poem, “You and I.” You, sir, are all those things; and I am the discoverer of you. Or is it the other way around? See how that can turn? Either way, I am giddy with gratitude, grateful with gidditude, and feeling slightly above average.

Contemporary Pals (With Apologies to Ol’ Possum and Brer Rabbit (Ez Po)) from “Quia Potter Amavi”

I. Mr. Potterax


Mr. Jonathan Potterax, the owner of a loud guitar
                                    and of large dog,
A “green” and a stacker of volumes, has married
                                    at the age of 28,
He being at that age a virgin,
The term “virgo” being made male in mediaeval latinity;
          His poetic reveries
Having driven his wife from one consumer excess to another.
She has abandoned the Land Rover
For it was lacking in vehemence;
She is now the high-priestess
Of a modern and ethical Tupperware party,
             And even now, Mr. Potterax
           Does not believe in plastics.


His brother-in-law has taken to photographs,
But the sister-in-law of Mr. J. Potterax
Objects to filterless cigarettes.
In the parlance of Jackie Mason:
“80% of men cheat in America…the rest cheat in Europe”;
And thus the empire is maintained.

II. Mr. O’Brienax

When Mr. O’Brienax visited the San Diego area
His whiskered whisky dripped among the teacups.
I thought of Lickona, that shy figure among the eucalyptus-trees,
And of myself in the shrubbery
Gaping at the lady in the swing.
In the palace of Mrs. Phlato, at Professor James Fortunatus Dixon’s
He twitched at the lips like a freshly hooked coelacanth.
O this twitching was submarine and profound
Like his old man hooch’s
Hidden under a rock beside the above-ground swimming pool which hadn’t been cleaned for months,
Where worried bodies of drowned bottles drift down in the green silence.
Shooting back three or four fingers of the stuff,
I looked for the head of Mr. O’Brienax lolling in a chair
Or grinning over a screen
With bits of tobacco and rolling papers in its hair.

I heard the roar of a big machine
Two worlds and in between
Hot metal and methadrine
I heard empire down
In fact, I heard the beat of Mr. Andrew Eldritch’s clever allusions
Over the dinny confusion of the Glas pax
As my dry and passionate slant-6 devoured the afternoon silence.
“He is a charming man”–“But after all what did he mean?”–
“His red nose and red eyes … He must be unbalanced,”–
“There was something he said that I might have challenged.”
Of dowager Mrs. Phlato, and Professor and Mrs. Dixon
I remember dried-up pimento stuffed olives
Resting at the bottom of empty conical stemware.

Please consider casting a vote for This Rock in the Catholicism Readers’ Choice Awards

Yes, I went out drinking with the Editor and Associate Editor last night – why do you ask?

But seriously – check out, say, this issue, and see if you don’t think these people are realio, trulio Friends of the Kollektiv.

And then decide if maybe they deserve your vote.

(You can vote once a day!)

I’m building a rocket…

“… he was an integral, important part of a very dynamic publishing operation.”

Cubeland Mystic sent me this with a note saying, “This one has your name on it.” And, yeah, it pretty much does. Thanks, CM.

Setting the Hook

Go here, listen from 14:30 to 27:00.  The bit about cleaning up the devil off the floor is an O’Connor story in real life.  But it’s all amazing, if rough on faith.

Red Bull Shit

According to the Crass Cheapshot Catechism of Madison Ave., the benefts of Dietrich Mateschitz’s wondrous beverage extend to the spiritual world…

Of course we won’t be holding our kollektiv breaths to see Red Bull GmbH’s marking dept. throwing up an equal opportunity mullah spinning like a dervish on the stuff in his minaret seeking out his 72 virgins…

(After all, I imagine that Europe is earnest in its desire to avoid joining the block parties presently occuring in North Africa and the Arabian peninsula.)

The Belarus Free Theatre Performs Zone of Silence

The Belarus Free Theatre has been gaining a lot of new fans lately, including Tom Stoppard, who helped support a production in New York last month. Zone is more performance art than drama (and low tech performance art at that), but it’s well done and remarkably playful considering the subject matter. And subject matter would have to include the subtitles, which are random quotations of various statistics, such as “70% of the radioactive debris from Chernobyl fell on Belarus”, or “100% of the workers cleaning public restrooms are women”. Almost random: during one segment involving a woman and a ballon, we read “80% of pregnancies end in abortion.”

Belarus—as one speaker says after the production—is old school when it comes to tyranny. Alexander Lukashenko has ruled the country since 1994. His policies are the reason that in their own country the troupe must perform out in the woods or in private apartments, and suffers arrest, beatings, and constant intimidation. As someone says towards the end of the clip, When a Belarusian poet is silenced, it violates our right to hear her. So stand up for freedom in Belarus and watch this clip … at least some of it.

Today in Precious Bodily Fluids

“For men, the principal and preoccupying challenge was not to spill a drop of seminal fluid outside the sacred bounds of marriage – and not much there, either, if they could decently manage it.  As one authority explained, seminal fluid, when nobly retained within the body, enriched the blood and invigorated the brain.  The consequence of discharging this natural elixir illicitly was to leave a man literally enfeebled in mind and body.  So even within marriage  one should be spermatozoically frugal, as more frequent sex produced ‘languid’ sperm, which resulted in listless offspring.  Monthly intercourse was recommended as a safe maximum.”

– Bill Bryson, At Home:  A Short History of Private Life

One Book at a Time, Bob

Speaking of books, it looks like Simon & Schuster beat us to the punch on cutting a deal with Bob Dylan for his next six.

“Such are the seasons still beneath the earth….”


Walker Percy: A Documentary Film Available on DVD

Lickona, Finnegan, and I got in on a preview of this in New Orleans last year. (And Lickona is turning his account of the trip into a book to be published by Korrektiv Press — unless FSG makes him a better offer. Something like a bad Catholic version of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.) We had some reservations about the film. The preview we saw didn’t lack for earnestness … and there are were some fascinating excerpts of Percy home movies … and requisite murmurings of eloquent Percyphiles and such. But the overlay of nostalgia seemed misplaced. Anyway it will be interesting to view the finished product. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it. Watch for a review here soon.

I wrote a (very short) review!

The Housemaid is very, very tidy until things get very, very messy.

Hey, didn’t you used to be somebody?

Once upon a a time, I made cartoons.  Apparently, I’ve gone and made another one.

“A good way to get et up by hogs…” A couple of thoughts after seeing Winter’s Bone for a second time.

[Sort of spoilery.  Read at your own risk.  I would hate to ruin this film for anyone.]

The first time, the overwhelming dread that suffused nearly every scene served to obscure the fact that Ree’s conversation with her crazy, silent mother – “Just this one time, help me.  Tell me what I should do.” – is a prayer. To an apparently silent, possibly absent God.  But of course, Ree’s prayer is answered.  All she has to do is throw caution to the winds, sacrifice her body, perform acts that most people wouldn’t think themselves capable of, and abandon her own self to the point where she can say “Help me or kill me” with perfect equanimity.  Then lo and behold…

“Thus Ponce De Leon’s Pascua Florida…”

Plus ca change…

– by Jeff Danziger, sometime during the Reagan presidency.