Category Archives: Reflections

Ode To OCD #1 — Fractured Faith Blog

From the folks at Fractured Faith Blog.

I know what this feels like.

You let me binge And now I’m singed Unhinged. Swinging from the gallows that I constructed for You. As you look on The idle god of all you survey. You smile As I decay Dismayed and flayed. Splayed in my grave Of rotating routine.

via Ode To OCD #1 — Fractured Faith Blog

If Hollywood Were Sentient, We’d Call It Harvey Weinstein

We tend to think of Hollywood as a place were supposedly liberal or progressive ideas and attitudes happily roost, and from which new mores emanate across the fruited plains like crashing waves.  These mores seep into the ground on each coast, but run off the hard, dry acreage of the great American middle.

You’ll allow me some poetic license, but you’ve the heard the story.

Here’s the thing, though.

If Hollywood were sentient, it would be Harvey Weinstein.  Hollywood is one of the few American institutions that has been allowed to routinely and for-profit objectify women under the guise of art and progress, all while paying lip-service to equality and fairness.

Our civic and religious institutions have trended over the past 100 years toward gender equality.  They’re not there yet in anything resembling absolute terms, but they are empirically progressing.  At the same time, Hollywood produces more and more material using the female body to tantalize, a process that necessarily objectifies women and encourages a disposable view of them.

I’m not saying we need Victorian convictions about decency.  Those are actually also part of the problem.  But it occurred to me in reading about the allegations surrounding James Franco that most sex scenes or instances of female nudity in film probably exist because the directors, writers, producers or whomever else are creeps.  How many of those scenes are necessary to the plot and integrity of their respective projects?  I’m willing to grant that some are.  But, in light of everything we’re learning about powerful people in Hollywood, my gut says the balance are someone’s exercise in wish fulfillment.

It’s ironic that calls for decency  typically come from the American middle, and are chaffed at because of those origins.  And because, like the Victorians, the American middle is, perhaps, a little too hung up.  But Hollywood is hung up even more so.  I think that’s obvious now.

(Miss You) When You’re Gone

 

There’s an image in today’s British press of Dolores’ mother following her casket into St. Joseph’s church.  It’s very striking.

This from The Guardian:

Born in Ballybricken, Co Limerick, O’Riordan was the youngest of nine children (two of whom died in infancy) of Terence O’Riordan, a former farm labourer who was left unable to work after an accident, and his wife, Eileen, a school caterer, and went to Laurel Hill, a Roman Catholic school in Limerick. She was a tomboy, burying her dolls in the garden and spending most of her time with her heavy-metal-loving brothers. Yet she also played the organ in church and, well into her teens, wore flowery dresses bought for her by her mother. The influence of her church music and the heavy rock she heard at home instilled a desire to join a band – specifically, “a band with no barriers, where I could write my own songs”. That’s what she got.

At 18 she landed a job with a Limerick group called the Cranberry Saw Us by playing an early version of a song she had written, Linger (it was inspired by her first kiss, aged 17: “I’d always thought that putting tongues in mouths was disgusting, but when he gave me my first proper kiss, I did indeed ‘have to let it linger’,” she said last year).

Equally in thrall to rock and Gaelic folk music, her voice was startling and steely, and gelled uncommonly well with the band’s melodicism. Her Doc Martens-shod, spiky-haired look provided a visual anchor, overshadowing the rest of the group entirely. Despite being out of step with the prevailing Britpop and grunge scenes, they were taken on by the Smiths’ former manager, Geoff Travis, and courted by 32 record companies. The pivotal moment came when the successful label Island booked them as the support act on the fast-rising band Suede’s 1993 American tour. Suede’s seedy ambiguity cut no ice in the US, but the Cranberries returned home as stars.

Return home, a star.

To a Poem is a Bott the Stranger

A few thoughts on this.

I’m not sure if I’m inspired by the overall success of some of the language or if I’m terrified by it. I am leaning towards inspiration, but I also tend to romanticize things.

That said, some lines really stand out:

“the wind is only for me.”
“there’s part of the world between the darkness”
“the father of the light is not a fist of the bones.

The line about the wind is almost identical to something I read yesterday, which I think was by Antler. I’ll share it here when I can find it again.

The darkness line is lovely, and reminds me of “Break on Through,” by The Doors.

“The father of the light is not a fist of the bone,” is to my ear very similar to the idea behind this line of Christian scripture: “anger does not produce the righteousness of God.” That’s James 1:20. James 1:17 says “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Data for Breakfast

Code is Poetry. This is part of the WordPress philosophy. As a coder and a poet, I have always loved this phrase. I decided to turn this phrase around and ask, Can I make poetry with code? Could I make a bot that could write original poetry? I created an experiment to find out.

First off, I knew that if my bot was to learn to write poetry, it first had to read poetry. In 2017, authors used WordPress to publish over half a million posts tagged as poetry. I reached out to some prolific poets sharing their work with WordPress and asked if they’d be willing to collaborate with me on a fun experiment: would they allow my bot to read their work so that it could learn about poetic form and structure, so that it might learn to write its own poetry? Special thanks to these intrepid…

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Milestones

We were having a picnic, the late summer, ’93, a milestone barbecue birthday.  None of us had to cook, which is no small thing when you’re all in the food business, mobile concessions with hot flattop grills and fryers throwing off wavy lines and bad skin.

There was a tent in the yard with circus stripes, yellow and white like a hard-boiled egg.  My friend Dwayne, who was called Bubba, brought the October solicits from the comic book shop.

Batman #500 was gonna be big.  New costume, new bat-#&%! and broken jawn under the hood. The Knightfall arc was long and exhausting, for Bruce and for us.  500 was the payoff, the resolution, the all-new Batman in an era when all-new anything came with variant covers, pre-boarded and bagged, everything die cut and metallic.  I think Cable #1, with its hologram cover, came out the day of the party.  Comics were events, and huge stories were everywhere.

I was reminded of all this today by a post from Graphic Policy looking back on the milestone Batman issue. It’s hard to believe everything from 1993 will be 25 this year, things like the death of Superman and Batman #500.  Me turning thirteen, my Dad turning 40.

You only have to write one true sentence, Hemingway said.  I’m trying to write one true sentence a day.

Pushing Through Fences

Twice in two days I’ve encountered poetry with the image of livestock pushing through fences.

The first was Robert Okaji’s piece I linked to yesterday.

The second, which I came across today, is from Valerie Worth:

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Years ago, we went to an adoption event at a local pet store. I had never had a dog, which every child should.  Childishly, I thought we’d bring home one of the black lab pups, industrious, oblivious, silly. But a year-old Aussie shepherd, brown and creamy and with people-eyes, pushed through the fencing of his black steel crate and asked to join our family.

I wrote yesterday about the healing power of dogs. He was the best at that.

Robert Okaji: Sometimes Love is a Dry Gutter

Lava is an evocative image.  In the last week, I’ve seen in it three poems. One in a bookstore, one I wrote partly in response, and now this from Robert Okaji, published at Vox Populi: Robert Okaji: Sometimes Love is a Dry Gutter.

It’s used very precisely and sparingly and at the same time almost jarringly Okaji’s beautiful piece. Steeped as I often am in pastoral imagery (that is, of things having to do with land and animals and farming),  I also found myself pleasantly surprised at how effective the image of the goat is here.  A beautiful poem, and very well done.