Sunday, December 21, 2008

crazy cold!

We had the worst ice storm in the last eight years I've lived here on Friday and it sucks. All day I listened to the trees in my yard and in the park across the street fall apart and hit the earth like . . . like tree bombs. They sound louder than you think. But they don't explode like bombs.

We have enough limbs down that the bonfire we have in the spring is going to be the best ever. The city only allows small fires, but they won't let me have chickens either, so I think I get to choose to have at least one of them.

It was windy today, so ice has been flinging off the trees. It's like the trees in Wizard of Oz that throw apples except today they are chucking ice at our windows. Trees!!

But see, not all trees are evil. Lookit this cute Doug Fir behind me. Best tree we've had in a long time. Only $35, which is good for these parts. And look at my hands, too: total blur! I had no idea I was that fast! Really, though, I'm terrible.
Saddest Christmas dog ever. Cath: "Put your ears up, Smokey! Put your ears up!"

And garden Buddha just takes it all in. Nothing fazes him.

Oh, and the house I lived in during law school burned down. Thanks to Travis for sending me the cell phone snap here. Cath hated that place, but it was my last bachelor pad, and I loved it, even though it rained in the bedroom. Seriously. My landlord's house was worse, so I didn't think it was my place to complain. One of the great bathtubs was in there, too. I took a lot of baths in there one summer on account of breaking my wrist during (well, actually before) a mtn bike race, and I always swore "I am going to keep taking baths after my cast comes off" and I haven't taken one since. Maybe it's time to start listing resolutions for 2009 . . .

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Yay, my favorite music from this year!

Ok, my ten favorite records that I first heard in 2008:

10. Volume 1, She and Him. One of the cutest videos of the year is for their single off this record. I was surprised just how nice a listen this whole thing is.

9. Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel, Atlas Sound. Even when I am trying to be quiet and calm and push all distracting thoughts out of my mind, the song "Quarantined" from this album is still playing in my head, and that's so cool.

8. Vivian Girls, s/t. I really need to listen to this record more often. It gives me pep. It's only like 30 minutes or whatever, so maybe I could get through it every day, like a yoga routine.
Beach House!
7. Devotion, Beach House. I didn't pick this one up at first because, to be honest, I thought to myself "you only really need one Beach House album." And then I saw them sing a few songs on the "Juan's Basement" show on and realized that you only really need two Beach House albums. Fortunately, they have two albums.

6. For Emma, Forever Ago, Bon Iver. Somewhere I read that this is a 2007 release. But I held out until late 2008 when I was at a party and they just played this album over and over on repeat. By like the fourth time, I said "hey, is this Bon Iver? They're good." That's how quick I am.

The woman who is Grouper. I forget her name.

5. Dragging a Dead Deer up a Hill, Grouper. There are a couple of tracks on here I skip but that's more because the good tracks are so lovely.

4. Microcastles, Deerhunter. They don't do much of anything that feels new here, but they wear a lot of different hats and look dashing in all of them.
Department of Eagles: record cover of the year

3. In Ear Park, Dept. of Eagles. What a crime that this album is getting almost no attention. I think it's as likable as the Fleet Foxes thing. They need a tie-in on Gossip Girl or something.

2. The Fleet Foxes record, I forget what it's called. It's that record that sounds so good but that you are sure is going to wear out through repeated listens but then doesn't. It's almost a guilty pleasure because so many people like it so easily--I'm used to only liking music that requires some effort to like, but these songs seem too easy. I'm so surprised how little backlash there is against this band--usually there would be a hipster uprising against such sweet-sounding and accessible stuff, but no one has the heart, I guess.

Animal Collective!

1. Merriweather Post Pavilion, Animal Collective. It won't be out until January, and I've only heard three leaked tracks from it, but still. It's so good, it has already dominated 2008 for me. To be honest, I'm putting it here because I'm worried the album is going to be a let-down. The live versions of all the songs are so good and I played them so much this last year, but the leaked songs seem de-fanged or something. But the songs, I can't explain it. It's the closest thing to Loveless I've ever had since Loveless.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Jim Harrison

Handed in my final essay for my class in Surrealism today. I can't think of any two classes I've taken yet that, combined, had as much work: (1) half-hour presentation; (2) 6 page essay on Aime Cesaire; (3) a tiny book of poetry; (4) 13 page essay on Frank Stanford; and (5) 13 page essay on Jim Harrison. That's a lot of weekends of sending the family somewhere fun while I sit in the library. But that was fun, too--just a lonely kind of fun.
Aime Cesaire

For posterity, then, the titles of my written output this semester:

1) Found Mythologies: The Imaginative Unity of Aime Cesaire's "Lost Body"
2) Le Petit Surrealiste: Poesie et les Amusements de Beaute Convulsive Pour l'Enfant Sensible
3) The Blackest Joke: Frank Stanford's Surreal Ontology
4) Surrounding Nothing: Zen Dialogue with the Deep Image in the Poetry of Jim Harrison

Tough class, but so cool that stuff, that Surreal stuff.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

When Teachers Party

A small gathering of English teachers (with a few select teachers of other subjects) holding a holiday gathering at one of our city's finer/ only used book stores.

Mr. Jankowski, rising guitar phenom.

Ms. Valencic, not the easiest photo to get.

Ms. Venderly, fitting as much Peru into her head as will fit before December 21.

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A New Post

Frank Stanford
Quite a gap between posts there. That's not like me. But I have been busy with a class I'm taking and finishing The Savage Detectives and putting up storm windows and reading my friend Dawn Potter's blog and wondering where all the world's money went and putting up storm windows.

I just finished an essay on Stanford that is okay. I started with a title that came to me when I woke up one recent morning after I had been thinking about it for awhile:

The Blackest Joke: Frank Stanford’s Surreal Ontology

I liked it. I said it to myself while I drove to work. Sometimes when I was shaving. I said it at Catherine like it was a dare. Then, I decided I better figure out what the hell it meant, so I started making up stuff, pretty much. It's amazing how closely critical writing resembles creative writing. I mean, you can only map so much out on an outline and then you have to close your eyes and start typing.

Anyway, The Savage Detectives is so sadly thrilling. It would be book of the year if I kept such ratings. Now for another long book, probably David Copperfield.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Eric Baus at Visiting Writers Series

Local poet Eric Baus returned to town Monday night.
I read his book, The To Sound, all the time. I try to be like that book.
His next book, Tuned Droves, is out soon, and his readings from that were my favorites of the night.

Here, a form of Haiku jujitsu.

I asked him who his favorite English teacher was at Snider H.S. and he said "Randy Rusk and Pam Teagarden." Randy taught me, too, so I thought "yeah, Mr. Rusk. He yelled a lot--in a good way."

Noah Eli Gordon also read, a poet of diverse talents and wit.
He blinked in every picture I took of him, though.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

By request

As I promised someone earlier today, here is James Wright's "Northern Pike." I am now four months into my self-imposed one year waiting period before I tattoo the thing, in some big tattoo font, on my muscular back. The one year wait is to help reduce the likelihood of my regretting the decision, but also because I need the time to make my back muscular.

Northern Pike

All right. Try this,
Then. Every body
I know and care for,
And every body
Else is going
To die in a loneliness
I can't imagine and a pain
I don't know. We had
To go on living. We
Untangled the net, we slit
The body of this fish
Open from the hinge of the tail
To a place beneath the chin
I wish I could sing of.
I would just as soon we let
The living go on living.
An old poet whom we believe in
Said the same thing, and so
We paused among the dark cattails and prayed
For the muskrats,
For the ripples below their tails,
For the little movements that we knew the crawdads were making
under water,
For the right-hand wrist of my cousin who is a policeman.
We prayed for the game warden's blindness.
We prayed for the road home.
We ate the fish.
There must be something very beautiful in my body,
I am so happy.

--James Wright

So, we'll say eight months from today, then. That's a lot of words/ pain, I'm realizing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Frank Stanford Diary, Part 2

The Chief

So the Chief ended up being so great. If I drove by this place at night and Edward Hopper were riding shotgun with me, he'd almost decide to paint it. "Dude, slow down . . aw, never mind," he'd say. They had shampoo packets, too, which was a bonus, because I had to wash my hair with tiny bar soap at the Motel 6 the night before.

The rest of my diary, then:

9:05 Atlanta Bakery

When there is a table of retired men sitting in a bakery where there are no pancakes, one of them will do all the talking. He is the large one. He will talk to his smaller, fellow retirees about other men they might know, and who have heart trouble and are looking for part-time jobs in their retirement. It is always this way.

9:15 Atlanta Bakery

I want to know, in The Savage Detectives, what happens to Juan Garcia Madero, but the book is not telling me and I am getting distracted. I almost put tea in my coffee just now.

Mathew Henriksen giving directions before the marathon reading of The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You. In the background, you can see trucker hat guy.

9:44 in the upstairs loft at Night Bird Books in Fayetteville, where I have just discovered a new book of Chris Ware sketches that is beautiful but too expensive.

Before I left school yesterday, my friend Wendy said to me "Have fun on your trip! I hope you get to meet your poet-guy." "He's dead," I said. Then she laughed.

10:30 Farmers' market at Fayetteville town square .

Half of the citizenry of Arkansas is dogs. And yet it is still a red state. Not enough dogs.

If you see a three-legged dog, it is good luck. Especially if you have a leg and are looking for a dog.

12:50 Fayetteville public library, first panel discussion.

This guy in a baseball hat on the panel just said the exact same thing I have been thinking about Aime Cesaire and Frank Stanford but assumed I was wrong about. Now I think it's a good idea.
I will write it.

Matt again.

9:30 pm Marathon reading for Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You

We are 100 pages into Battlefield, and I have never read this much of it at one time and it's just too crazy. It's the only way this thing should be read. There are about thirty people listening in here and whenever the door opens to the hall outside, you can hear another twenty or so clinking beer bottles and talking about the poor market for PhD's.

I just got to get up on stage and read two pages. They included the part where the circus performer's cat is doused in cognac and lit on fire. I tried to rise to the occasion.

11:17 Getting tired already.

This guy in a trucker cap just got up there. I can't tell if the trucker cap is ironic hipster or sincere, but I wish I could wear hats the way he does. He gave the reading of the night. He sang it almost, in a voice like, I don't know, Michael Stipe or something if he were a public-access TV preacher. He was phenomenal, and a perfect note to end my night on. I'm not doing this all-nighter thing, though I might have if I brought a sleeping bag.

Irv Broughton, film-maker

And that's all I wrote! The travel and lack of decent breakfast was wearing me down, I think. I spent the whole trip home reading The Savage Detectives, but slowly. In the photo above is the guy who made the film that was one of the centerpieces of the conference this weekend. Before I took this picture, we talked IU basketball and Kelvin Sampson and the Ft. Wayne Zollner Pistons for a while. Super guy. Here's to hoping he can get a good version of It Wasn't a Dream, It Was a Flood released in the near future. It's stunning--I keep remembering the looped, hacking laughter of the figure that keeps coming in and out of focus at the beginning. Crazy.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 27, 2008

Late Birthday

I'm so bad with birthdays. This blog, for example, turned three a few days ago. The vanity! To celebrate, and to buy time as I pick out what pictures to use for part 2 of the Frank Stanford diary, here are a few of the old posts that were kind of funny, if occasionally long and pointless:

8.6.07, in which I report on Prospector's camping trip to the Upper Peninsula.
and part two of the same trip.

9.27.06, in which I first cause my daughter significant trauma, both physical and emotional.

9.6.06, in which I recount the time I told a joke about drunks for third grade show and tell.

Good times!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Frank Stanford Diary

In Arkansas, they use vines for telephone wires, like on Gilligan's Island.

I'm back in Indiana, where my newspaper delivery lady, Maribel, has started delivering the paper to a different door, and I can't decide if I mind or not. Here is one part of a diary of my weekend in Fayetteville. This part, admittedly, does not have a lot to do with Frank Stanford.

Friday, 6:10 pm, Fort Wayne Int'l Airport

It has been so long since I last flew in a plane and I am surprised to learn that they still want you to only bring small tubes of things on the plane, not big tubes. I brought a small number of books, and have a small amount of change in a pants pocket, but they don't care about that. So my large tube of toothpaste, large and white and tartar-fighting, must go. I even throw it out before I go through the line to save myself the embarrassment of being exposed in front of others as someone who doesn't know about these kinds of things. When I go through, they don't even look in my bag, so I could have saved my toothpaste. I still have my floss, though.

6:45, departing Chicago O'Hare for Fayettville

It is night and downtown Chicago is all lit up below and around my window and I just remembered the Liz Phair song where it goes "I flew into Chicago at night, something something/ it looked like a Galaxie 500 video." I've seen a few Galaxie 500 videos, but don't remember any that look like this, but I am glad that I remembered that line while I was living it out in a way.

When you fly over a city at night and its lights are briefly and suddenly obscured by a soft shape below you, you have just seen a "night cloud," a cloud that is made at night

6:50 (all times are guesses because I don't have a watch)

I just realized that my wife's ipod that I have here has Galaxie 500 on it, so I could have been listening to them while I remembered that line. Minor setback.

9:20, landing in Fayetteville

When all the people around me, the second the pilot says it's okay, pull out their cells and call someone just to tell them "I just landed," the people on the other end should answer "So?"

Saturday, 8:00 am, Motel 6, Fayetteville, Ark.

There are blood stains on my motel wash cloth, and I haven't had a bloody nose and don't remember killing anyone last night.

Last night, when I checked in, the clerk said to me "Are the cops still out there?" "I dunno," I said. "Was there a dust-up?" "Every weekend. The cops come every weekend. It is a good thing," he says.

I like staying in awful motels. It has all the hardships of camping without any of the gratification, so it's more hardcore. I found a cheaper, hopefully more awful, motel closer to the Stanford deal, called "The Chief," so I'm going to move there for tonight.

I sat in the morning sun and watched this string band for an hour.
We talked about our favorite banjo tunings (D and double C) and Ralph Stanley.

8:45, after driving around looking for pancakes.

88.3 FM in Fayetteville is the coolest radio station I have ever heard. So far, though, I am the only person I have seen here who looks like they might entertain the thought of listening to it. What's more, you cannot buy a pancake here, yet all of the people I see look like they would really like pancakes. Fayetteville, I am learning, is a city of contradictions.

There is, literally, not a pancake within 50 miles.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 17, 2008

It was carnage as usual at the Mississinewa 1812 reenactment this fall. Last year, I took the kids but missed all the fightin', so we made it a point to bring the whole family and get there early. The trees were gorgeous and the river is pretty: steep banks and a little bit broader than the river that is near your house.

Only when I got home did I read up on some of the history to learn that no real battle like this one you see here ever took place. The real battle on this river was in the middle of a snowy November and was an attack on some sleepy Indian villages. There weren't gaggles of British forces and cannons and firing lines and what not. We didn't care.

Because this thing was cool. The whole day. At first you think it might be embarrassing to see all these people playing dress up in one place, but they take it on with such earnestness that you can't help but suspend your disbelief a little bit. This is J and me listening to an Indian story- teller (not pictured) (and not Indian, either). I need a new black hat. My Air America hat, like the radio station, is fading.

This, too, is not an Indian, but he rubs red paint on his skin and plays one on the weekends in a kind of make-believe Native American National Guard. This particular one appears to be inter-marrying, establishing a Metis culture in a part of the country where I don't think there was one.

I still am not sure what tone this weekend is taking toward the events of the battle itself. They aren't celebrating it, but they aren't examining it either. The Indians always lose, though, that's for sure.

Best shirt of the day. And his friend had one just like it.

The climax of the day was supposed to be a "pirate battle," which just ended up being men shooting randomly at each other from across and in the river. Best part was when a white man settler-kind of guy ran out into the river, got tomahawked, and then did a dead man's float in front of us, following the current. I can imagine him looking forward to that performance all year: "Just wait til they see my dead man's float!"

You should go next year. It'll be fun.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bad news.

So sad.

Seen on the way to the annual Mississenewa 1812 reenactment, where a big Indian slaughter is celebrated, or depicted, every year near Marion, Ind.

Notice how the sign uses a backward D, creating an emoticon that can't be made with a keyboard. Some linguist working on her ph.d should interview the author, I would think.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tomorrow's Breakfast

So in Chicago a couple of weekends ago, Kimberle totally kicked my ass at ordering breakfast. I made a common mistake by erring on the side of excess, going with a manly pile of eggs and chorizo and I think there were avocados in there, too. Kimberle went simple, though: oatmeal and caramelized bananas. I didn't have a chance!

So here is me correcting my mistake, realizing how laughingly simple it is to caramelize your own dang bananas. Why don't we do this every day, I have to wonder. Anyway, touche, Kimberle.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Anything for the angel of death

Man, I want to go to this thing: they've actually organized a conference for Frank Stanford in Fayetteville in two weekends. If I can get it approved for my professional development this year, I'm going to fly down, but time is running short for me to get approval before ticket prices go up. I wish I had known about the thing sooner, but oh well.

For the last year or so, more than almost anybody else, it has been his books that fall out at me when I go stare at the shelf. Here's one I read with my writing club last Friday, and which got a stronger reaction that I'd even expected.

Everybody Who is Dead

When a man knows another man
Is looking for him
He doesn’t hide.

He doesn’t wait
To spend another night
With his wife
Or put his children to sleep.

He puts on a clean shirt and a dark suit
And goes to the barber shop
To let another man shave him.

He shuts his eyes
Remembers himself as a boy
Lying naked on a rock by the water.

Then he asks for the special lotion.
The old men line up by the chair
And the barber pours a little
In each of their hands.

UPDATE: I'm going! My goal is to have at least one of my patented "awkward conversations with a kind of famous person who matters to me" with C.D. Wright!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

file dump

Here are some other pictures to show what kind of fun we could get into with 24 hours of babysitting and enough gas money to get to Chicago and back. I love that city, but it's always a little scary going there. "What if I get lost in Gary?" (didn't happen) "What if I can't find a parking space?" (did) "What if I get jealous of all the cool downtown neighborhoods and their stately homes?" (did, but that's part of why you go there in the first place)

This is the second picture Cath ever took of me since our first kid was borned. Honest. She was mainly trying to get the prettiness of Potato Creek State Park, where we fit in two laps on their rightly-lauded mtn biking trails. Not technical, but fast and more fun than you'd think, being in what I assumed would be flattish part of Indiana. I bit it 2.5 times, but only one of those times was at all cool.

And this is the first picture Cath took. That fall light can't be beat and it makes you want to take pictures of everything, even your husband. My triumph of the day was after this picture when I talked our way through three levels of state park bureaucracy to get to use the campground showers before we drove into Chicago for the concert: (1) campground booth lady; (2) young ranger guy booth lady called in for backup; (3) unseen boss ranger guy called on his radio who gave us the ok.

Pointed toward Chicago now.

Hanging out after big burritos at Carmela's Taqueria, one block from the Aragon Showroom, oblivious that MBV was probably playing their first song right about now. It was a cubicle-sized restaurant that we shared with five ticket scalpers and a cop. Very cozy, and good food, but I wish I got to hear all of the first song.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 28, 2008


So the My Bloody Valentine show last night was kind of a stunner. I think I wanted to go in part out of a sense of obligation--I don't think there is any record I have listened to more in my life than their Loveless, and Isn't Anything is close behind. But a big part of me assumed that the live experience wouldn't quite be able to translate the feelings that I associate with the recorded version-- that was the whole reason they try to be the loudest band, right? To make up for their inability to recreate the album? That's what I thought, anyway.

It was the loudest thing I have ever heard. Ridiculously, I skipped the ear plugs until the finale of "You Made Me Realize." I tried them, but it made the sound to muddy. I mean, if Kevin Shields wanted it to be that loud, who was I to try to counteract his vision by wearing ear-condoms? My ears don't ring at all today, though, which is kind of a surprise.

And I decided not to wear my lawn-mowing ear protectors, too. And I'm glad, because I saw one other guy wearing them, and it would have been awkward.

But the music was just so, well, awesome. I think the entire Aragon Ballroom was in awe of what we were seeing after 16 years of waiting. You could really feel that.

Here's Youtube from last night of one of songs I especially dug.

And Nathan--no sale. By the time we got there, the street was swarming with scalpers asking for only $10--and there were no takers I could see. Sorry!