Archives for January 2013

Three Pieces for Barbara

OBrien Pictures 024

It’s pieces of sky reflecting the ground
She whispers from deep within her loamy
Brown eyes, the watchful ones she inherited
From her earnest aunt and her laughing mother.
A flood of flakes fall across the window
And pass their questions on to a landscape as stormy
As her eyes. She proofs the other weather
In sentences of twinned, lonely footprints
That trail off beneath the sad light of day’s lid
Closing eyes that fill up with falling snow…
Unlike poems, a child’s daydreams are foolproof.

My daughter knows poetry, although
She thinks outside rhyme and meter’s weather.
The craft escapes her, but genius will grow
With increasing accumulations.
The day snows and snows and snows, and she over-
Excites herself. The promise of being
Buried up to the roof in it settles her
To comedy in cataclysmic images
And seismic euphoria and metaphoric
Meteorology: Snow is so freeing.
It’s cold and white and crests her roof before noon.

The snow is like earth’s shadow in the sky.
She’s expert at the poetic make-up of a sigh
Too young for real grief. My daughter, full
Of syllogisms of the heart, knows the kind
That matter to this falling play of time
Dancing its old jig in her youthful blood. It thrills
Her soul back to earth to find the ground.
For if (as she sweeps her glances through a room)
All love is deep and all deep things return
Then it is for and to love that love is born –
Even as all things turn from time to time to grief.



Located: The Selfish Gene


“It was a thrill to watch that boy grow inside her, but I must admit during that second trimester as we watched him move around on 3-D sonograms I saw how human they were and my life long belief in abortion rights was – let’s say – jostled. It was life colliding with belief system. I had to rethink my position, but in the end I remain committed to being pro-choice because I cannot imagine arguing against a woman’s right to control her body – and thus – her life.”

I think I prefer the glass of whisky, fire on the hearth, roses and sexy talk when I’m seduced into buying a bill of goods… But, oh well.

Film at eleven.

He liked to leave mysteries.

Happy deathday, Mr. Frost (h/t to IC)


Russia, Caution


So I was doing a (job-related) image search for “Vladivostok nightclub” and this young lady showed up. I don’t think she’ll trip anybody’s NSFW alarms, but she’s got me feeling…conflicted. I’m pretty sure that her efforts to share the good news of the Gospel are making her chilly.

Wake Up, Time to Buy

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That’s right, folks, Guitarist Extraordinaire William Wilson has released a new album. You know the drill – head on over to Amazon or iTunes and buy, buy, buy! The dude has a mortgage now! Plus, it’s good and stuff.

Glory of Texas


Gaiser Conservatory, Manito Park, Spokane, Wash.

Today in Footnotes


This is a very fine appreciation of the man behind Parker, who shows up yet again on the big screen this week. It includes this beautifully formatted footnote:

A list of Westlake’s most prominent novelistic pseudonyms: Richard Stark (Parker, inspired by the actor Richard Widmark), Alan Marshall (erotica), Edwin West (erotica), Curt Clark (science fiction), Tucker Coe (private-eye series featuring detective Mitch Tobin), and Samuel Holt (about a former TV detective named … Sam Holt). This does not include several more he used for one-shot books and magazine stories, including Ben Christopher and Grace Salacious.

Grace Salacious! Has there ever been a finer pseudonym?


New favorite Gospel (from today’s Mass readings):

Jesus came with his disciples into the house. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Today in Porn: Life Imitates Art Edition

This news flash just in from Melbourne by way of our La Crosse office:

A Southern Health dental hygienist ceased work a day after being told dozens of images of her posing explicitly in the Cranbourne clinic were posted on a members-only internet porn site.

Which is as if ripped from the pages of Bird’s Nest in Your Hair, the latest publication from Korrektiv Press:

It took them a couple of trips up the elevator, but other than a dropped item here and there, everything went off without a hitch. While Tom and the others set up cameras and the rest of the equipment in the examination rooms, the performers sat on couches in the lobby, smoking cigarettes and thumbing through copies of Highlights and Ladies Home Journal. One fellow wearing a white lab coat was fiddling around with a tank of nitrous oxide, pressing a mask to his face with one hand while turning a dial with the other.

A couple of guys in tool belts were in the final stages of clearing out one of the overhead lights, deemed an obstruction for one of the more complicated shots. Near the front of the examination room were two women, chatting with a man holding what appeared to be a giant diaphragm. The women were unusually well built. This was obvious enough in their tidy little mauve smocks and white leggings—grossly exaggerated idealizations of dental assistants, judged Tom.

Perhaps they were inspired by the novel. Kind of hope they were, kinda hope they weren’t!

Read the rest of Bird’s Nest in Your Hair, available at

It was inevitable

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…that I would someday get around to posting this man’s work – which I celebrate with abandon.

You have to dig it.

Christopher Howell

He rose up from a farm near Portland
And ranged a Lutheran college north;
Seattle beaconed down, and heartland
Unmindfulness propelled him forth
Beyond a war of naval typists,
Their visions rival solipsists
Undoing; lately in the man
Arriving here to make Spokane
The house of his body, snowing lightly,
A lucky crime, the crime of luck,
But mercy holds his hand; he’s stuck
For now but angels come fortnightly
To sing him over heaven’s bridge
From jagged ridge to jagged ridge.

The Catholic Monarchist’s Lament

— to Denis Diderot

When that last king is strangled

With the guts of that last priest

Then who will stay the whip-hand?

They talked of law and love, at least

(However much they mangled

The charge left in their care)

If God’s a deaf and dumb thing

And the hungry masses, kings

Then our spires sink in quicksand

And the stupid poet sings

To tell us we are something

More than spleen and hide and hair

Newsflash: You are going to die.

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No, seriously, you are going to die.

Segregating the old and the sick enables a fantasy, as baseless as the fantasy of capitalism’s endless expansion, of youth and health as eternal, in which old age can seem to be an inexplicably bad lifestyle choice, like eating junk food or buying a minivan, that you can avoid if you’re well-educated or hip enough. So that when through absolutely no fault of your own your eyesight begins to blur and you can no longer eat whatever you want without consequence and the hangovers start lasting for days, you feel somehow ripped off, lied to. Aging feels grotesquely unfair. As if there ought to be someone to sue.

Up from Comments II


This one’s for Wendell…

Up from the comments

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The Crescat:

**** If you’re post-abortive what you are about to read might be too graphic and upsetting.****

I encourage you only to proceed with great caution. Please know I don’t write this to cause you any pain. I write this post so that people who advocate abortion can read what it is exactly they are advocating.

The vacuum.

I remember thinking it looked like a regular vacuum cleaner with a glass canister which allowed me to see the contents. I clutched the sheet that covered the vacuum in my hand and stood staring at it for quite some time trying to decide if what I as seeing was real. I just couldn’t comprehend it. Why would any one leave that there, like that, for a patient to see? I kept thinking, surely this was a mistake and any minute an apologetic staff member would come in and take it away. Someone was careless and just forgot to clean up after themselves. Yeah, that was it. Why else would I have been left alone in the room with that thing?

The glass container was half full and splattered with blood. Even the tube that fed into the container was crusted with blood. What I saw inside the collection container defies belief, little baby parts swimming in a bloody muck. All those graphic photos you’ve ever seen of tiny dismembered arms and legs are accurate. Only this wasn’t just one set of tiny arms and legs… this was more than I could count. This wasn’t just one baby that was aborted and some careless worker forget to remove from the room. This looked like all the babies that had been aborted that day. All together in one glass container, swimming in a gruesome soup of blood and bits. They hadn’t even bothered to clean the equipment between patients and I suddenly realized they had every intention of using the same filthy equipment on me.

The Abortion Machine depicted above was my idea of a nightmare vision, the sort of thing that might enter the head of someone who had ingested too much overheated pro-life rhetoric. This made for stunning, sobering reading.

15 Women (and a few Men) on Aborting

A little first-person work over at New York Magazine.

In related and astonishing news, someone bought a copy of Alphonse issue two last week.

Waugh came up.

hugh bonneville downton abbey nov 2011

Evelyn Waugh, er, Hugh Bonneville. Dammit, will someone please let me make this movie?

“I know I’m not a wordsmith,” Bushnell said, the afternoon sun shining on her face through a wall of glass doors. “And I don’t write poetry. Sometimes I think I should, because it’s really helpful. But I always wanted to write novels. I think when I was 12, I started reading Evelyn Waugh, and I loved Evelyn Waugh so much, and I thought: This is how the world really is. If I could be Evelyn Waugh, then I would be happy.’ ”

– from Edith Zimmerman’s “Candace Bushnell’s Fantasy World, Starring Candace Bushnell” in The New York Times Magazine

Waugh’s masterpiece, “A Handful of Dust,” is one of the finest English novels of the last century, both hilarious and catastrophically sad. And it contains a climactic scene that I just don’t buy at all, a scene I detest, a horrible scene that bowls me over with the beauty and skill of its telling every time.

– from Maria Bustillos’s “Reading Writers I Can’t Stand” on The New Yorker’s website.