Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Little Holiday Jeer

I wrote this this morning in a burst of inspiration (if you can call it that). Anyway, I hope it's good for a chuckle (or at least a mirthful groan). I hope everybody is having a beautiful day! Happy holidays...

A Christmas Lament

Santa came last night. He bypassed the milk and went straight for the liquor cabinet. Even finished off the last of the Captain Morgan's. And it isn't as if he didn't see the milk because the fat bastard ate all the cookies. Chocolate macadamia nut. Crumbs all over, ground in the carpet by a size ten Koolaburra with a mix of slush and what, judging by the smell, is reindeer manure. This is just great.

It's not like I didn't see this coming. For the past couple of years, Kris has been getting sloppy. Two years ago he brought two gifts for Madison and forgot Joshua completely. Now that I think about it, I can trace Josh's diagnosis back to that Christmas. Thousands of dollars in counseling fees and countless sleepless nights thanks to ol' St. Nick. Or should I say, "St. Prick?"

Then there was last year. Mr. Red Pants hooked a power line with a runner on his sleigh and took out the electricity to the neighborhood for six and a half hours. On Christmas morning. No blinky lights, no Jingle Bells, no coffee. Of course Johnson next door tried to excuse him. Said he'd heard Blitzen had a nasty cold and wasn't flying up to par. Yeah, whatever. Everyone is always cutting the big man slack. Oooh, he's so jolly and full of cheer. Well I'm not buying it. My guess is that he was flying drunk and by the looks of my living room this year--the broken ornaments, the haphazard wrapping jobs, and, of course, the deer shit--I'm sure I'm right.

So, while you're all sipping eggnog and singing carols, I'll be steamcleaning the carpet and trying to explain to Josh that, "No, Santa doesn't think you're a little girl because he brought you a Hannah Montana play set this year." I want to tell him the truth. Santa's a total lush, Josh. You know how your Uncle Harold gets at Thanksgiving? Santa is the same way. He gets confused. He has a problem. He needs help. But, of course, I can't tell him that. Besides, he'd never believe me anyway. Like most of you people, he's been brainwashed by a steady stream of pro Santa propaganda flowing out of the North Pole. No, it's better to spring for the therapist and keep my mouth shut.

Merry Christmas anyway.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Economic Meltdown

Here's yet another research paper I recently wrote. This one is on the current economic crisis. Pretty depressing stuff--you may want to skip it or save it for after the holidays...


The Next Great Depression


The National Debt Clock in Times Square had to be taken down in September. The clock, which has been informing the public about the United States' soaring debt for nearly two decades, needed to be reconfigured to add space for new numbers. According to the Treasury, the national debt has grown more than $500 billion each fiscal year since 2003. And then, beginning on September 30, 2008, it grew another $500 billion in a single month. Never before in U.S. history has the national debt increased so rapidly. The $700 billion government bailout recently passed by congress could send the total debt to more than $11 trillion and the current global cost of the financial crisis is $2.8 Trillion and counting. As the nation speeds toward what could be the next great depression we are left to wonder, “what happened?” To find the answer, it helps to understand Wall Street jargon—mortgage backed securities, collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps. It also requires us to revisit former economic sage Alan Greenspan, deregulation, and the role of U.S. homebuyers. The answer to the question, however, can be summed up in a single word: Greed.

The current financial tragedy began with one sentence uttered by former Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan right after the internet bubble burst in 2000. He said, “The [Federal Open Market Committee] stands prepared to maintain a highly accommodative stance of policy for as long as needed to promote satisfactory economic performance.” What this basically meant was that the U.S. Treasury was going to lower interest rates to an absurdly low one percent. This was a problem because there is a lot of money out in the world that needs to be invested. This global pool of money—which is, essentially, all the money the world is saving at any given time—is all of the pension funds that pay for people's retirements, the money insurance companies hold back in case of catastrophes, and the savings of all of the world's central banks. It is, in short, the subset of global savings called fixed-income securities. It is also huge; around $70 trillion, which is more than all of the money spent and earned by every country on the planet in a year. This global pool of money had also recently ballooned (doubling in size between 2000 and 2006) largely because some formerly poor countries like India and China had gotten rich selling seemingly insatiable U.S. consumers everything from electronic goods to dog food. The investment managers who oversee this money are continually looking for low-risk investments that pay some return and, suddenly, thanks to Greenspan's decision, they weren't going to find it in historically safe United States Treasury Bonds.

The low interest rates at the Fed were, however, helping a different class of investor—U.S. homebuyers. The nation's real estate market was booming and banks were earning anywhere from five to nine percent or more on mortgages. It was only a matter of time before the global pool of money figured out a way to get in on the action. Brokers sold mortgages to small banks who, in turn, sold them up the food chain to Wall Street where they were bundled as “mortgage backed securities” and peddled to investors. Wall Street couldn't get enough of these things. And that was the problem. Suddenly, banks, in order to feed the growing beast on Wall Street, started making riskier and riskier loans. No Income, No Asset loans (NINAs), which require no verification of a person's salary or net worth (and are usually reserved for only the most credit worthy borrowers), began being offered to anyone, regardless of their employment status or credit history. Ivy Zelman, a former housing-market analyst for Credit Suisse says “there is a simple measure of sanity in housing prices: the ratio of median home price to income. Historically, it runs around 3 to 1; by late 2004, it had risen nationally to 4 to 1.” “All these people were saying it was nearly as high in some other countries,” Zelman continues, “but the problem wasn’t just that it was 4 to 1. In Los Angeles, it was 10 to 1, and in Miami, 8.5 to 1. And then you coupled that with the buyers. They weren’t real buyers. They were speculators.” Investors were happy, homebuilders were happy, and homebuyers-turned-speculators were happy. But, as the housing bubble grew, at least a few Wall Street insiders realized (as far back as 2004) that Greenspan's fateful decision was going to “lead to some terrible day of reckoning.” That day has come.

Vincent Daniel, a research analyst who looked at companies that made subprime loans, says, “I saw how the sausage was made in the economy, and it was really freaky.” The “sausage” Daniel is talking about includes something called a Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO). CDOs are Wall Street derivatives made by taking good mortgages, slicing them up with riskier mortgages, and running the resulting concoction through credit rating agencies like Standard and Poor's or Moody's. Big Wall Street investment banks were taking “huge piles of loans that in and of themselves might be rated BBB, [throwing] them into a trust, [carving] the trust into tranches (different classes of related securities offered as part of the same transaction), and [winding] up with 60 percent of the new total being rated AAA.” Marketplace's Paddy Hirsch, explains it this way:

Basically, the CDO manager has a champagne bottle filled with mortgages. Every month when the debtors pay their mortgages, it fills the bottle with payments. The cork pops off and he pours the bubbly over a tray of glasses, each one representing a tranche of increasing risk. The glasses at the top, rated AAA, get paid first and the least amount, and the bubbly flows down to AA, BBB, BB and equity, the tray at the bottom.

“The party,” says Hirsch, “gets bad when people stop paying their mortgages.” Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened and pretty quickly the glasses on the bottom weren't getting filled at all while the securities representing these mortgages dried up completely. BBB loans transformed into AAA-rated bonds? Sausage was turned into caviar and, eventually, champagne became sewage. A reasonable person might ask how all of this was legal. The answer lies in something called deregulation.

The idea behind deregulation is borrowed from eighteenth century economist Adam Smith, who, back in 1776, published a book called Wealth of Nations. In it, he argued that individuals working in their own self-interest naturally benefitted society. Cornell economics professor Robert H. Frank says, “Phil Gramm, the former republican senator from Texas, and other proponents of financial industry deregulation insisted that market forces would provide ample protection against excessive risk.” In 1999, Gramm spearheaded the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in congress. The legislation was responsible for repealing much of the Glass-Steagall Act, which had regulated the financial services industry. Mr. Gramm’s invocation of the familiar invisible-hand theory persuaded many other lawmakers to support the act. This lack of oversight led to a culture of greed that deregulators failed to—or simply chose not to—account for. “Phil Gramm was the great spokesman and leader of the view that market forces should drive the economy without regulation,” said James D. Cox, a corporate law scholar at Duke University. “The movement he helped to lead contributed mightily to our problems.” Economic Nobel Laureate and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman describes Gramm as "the high priest of deregulation," and lists him as the number two person responsible for the economic crisis of 2008 behind Alan Greenspan. In testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, University of Michigan law professor Michael Barr stated: “My own judgment is that the worst and most widespread abuses occurred in the institutions with the least federal oversight. Conflicts of interest, lax regulation, and 'boom times' covered up the extent of the abuses—at least for a while, at least for those not directly affected by abusive practices. But no more.” Gramm, however, is unrepentant. In a recent interview he said, “Some people look at subprime lending and see evil. I look at subprime lending and I see the American dream in action.”

Steve Eisman, a financial industry analyst and one of the few people who saw the current crisis brewing early on, is one of those who saw evil. He says, “These guys lied to infinity. What I learned from [dealing with subprime lenders] was that Wall Street didn’t give a shit what it sold." Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, put it this way, “There was no morality—it was all based on the get it while you can concept." The culture of corruption on Wall Street runs so deep that, “despite plunging the global financial system into its worst crisis since the 1929 stock market crash,” financial workers at Wall Street's top banks, including bankrupt Lehman Brothers and the flailing Citibank, are set to receive pay deals worth more than $70 billion, with a substantial proportion of this money to be paid in discretionary bonuses (including a 4% increase in bonuses for Citibank executives over last year).

As awful as the subprime mortgage crisis is, it is not even the worst thing Wall Street has wrought to perpetuate the ensuing meltdown. That would be something called, innocuously enough, Credit Default Swaps. Credit default swaps were invented by Wall Street in the late 1990's as financial instruments designed to cover losses to banks and bondholders when a particular bond or security goes into default. They are, or at least were intended to function as, a form of insurance. Unlike traditional insurance, however, they are completely over the counter and unregulated and, because of this, big Wall Street banks, investment houses, and hedge funds began to use them as a form of gambling—essentially betting on the failure of big U.S. corporations and even other financial giants. The recent $150 billion government bailout of insurance giant A.I.G. was largely because of its exposure to credit default swaps, particularly related to the failure of the investment services firm, Lehman Brothers. House Agriculture Committee Chairman, Democrat Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota said in recent congressional testimony:

There is an estimated $55 trillion in credit default swaps somewhere out there, but no one knows for sure if any of these swaps offset each other, exactly who is on the hook for these swaps, who is trading with who and on what terms; and worst of all, no one has any idea who is solvent and who is upside down. The first step we need to take is to shed some light on just how the unwinding of these obligations will take place.

That amount—actually now over $60 trillion—is over twice the size of the U.S. stock market or, to put it in even sharper perspective, more than the Gross Domestic Product of the entire world. Because nobody knows who is holding them, banks are afraid to lend money which is further perpetuating the crisis. Because the banks are locked together in a daisychain of credit default swaps, the failure of one could take down many. Congress, in October, passed a $700 billion dollar “bailout” to help stave off the now nearly inevitable economic collapse.

But Wall Street's savior could also be an enabler, according to Kevin Philips, a former republican strategist and author of the book, Bad Money. Philips lays much of the blame for the current crisis at the feet of the Bush administration and, specifically, Henry Paulson, who he calls 'Mr. Risk,' based on a 2006 Business Week article about the Treasury Secretary. Says Philips:

'Mr. Risk,' calling the shots at Treasury, would focus the Bush administration's 2008 economic 'rescue' policies not on the broad national interest but on bailing-out the 'Frankenstein Fifteen' top U.S. financial institutions. the big five investment firms, the five largest commercial banks, the four mortgage biggies, and AIG, the rogue insurance giant. Along with the buccaneering hedge funds, these were the big firms that borrowed huge sums, merged grandiosely, experimented with all 'the exotic derivatives and other securities' and led the multi-trillion-dollar metastasis through which finance ballooned to take over domination of the U.S. economy by 2004 with 20-21% of the U.S. Gross Domestic product. Although in mid-2007, Paulson pretended that the emerging crisis involved no more than bad real estate lending practices, the cynical observer can assume that 'Mr Risk,' the arch-insider, knew what he was covering up, how deeply the malpractice and deception ran, and on whose behalf.

Naomi Klein, not one to mince words, calls the current $700 billion bailout plan a "stickup.”

Recently, at a congressional hearing on the financial crisis, committee chair Representative Henry Waxman of California, grilled former Fed chairman Greenspan. “You had the authority to prevent irresponsible lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage crisis. You were advised to do so by many others,” said Waxman, “Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?” Mr. Greenspan conceded: “Yes, I’ve found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I’ve been very distressed by that fact.” “Whatever regulatory changes are made,” continued Greenspan, “they will pale in comparison to the change already evident in today’s markets. Those markets for an indefinite future will be far more restrained than would any currently contemplated new regulatory regime.” Small consolation for the millions of Americans who will be asked to do the heavy lifting to extricate the country from this debacle. Small consolation indeed.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

sexless original

friday night
the spiny day turns squishy
home early to prepare dinner
to wash away the greasy matte finish
everything is ready
then you
immersed in a bubble bath
i attentively watching
tomorrow is the weekend
you do not have to get up early
no excuses
relaxation is the moment
i trust you trust me
but i don't know why
i twist to do
spun in sequences of want and expectation
to no avail
the results are as always as expected
down with a sigh

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dramatic Reading of a Breakup Letter

I promise that I'm going to start writing and posting again soon, but first this:

Monday, November 17, 2008

It Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Group of Bigots

More layoffs at Focus on the Family
Ministry spent more than $500,000 to defeat California's Prop. 8 gay marriage ban
By Cara Degette 11/17/08

Focus on the Family is poised to announce major layoffs to its Colorado Springs-based ministry and media empire today. The cutbacks come just weeks after the group pumped more than half a million dollars into the successful effort to pass a gay-marriage ban in California.

Critics are holding up the layoffs, which come just two months after the organization’s last round of dismissals, as a sad commentary on the true priorities of ministry.

“If I were their membership I would be appalled,” said Mark Lewis...

read the rest here.

Perhaps we're seeing the political power of the religious right in its last throes. One can only hope.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Nation Finally Shitty Enough To Make Social Progress

From The Onion...

November 5, 2008 | Issue 44•45


WASHINGTON— After emerging victorious from one of the most pivotal elections in history, president-elect Barack Obama will assume the role of commander in chief on Jan. 20, shattering a racial barrier the United States is, at long last, shitty enough to overcome.

Faced with losing everything, Americans took a long overdue step forward and elected Barack Obama.

Although polls going into the final weeks of October showed Sen. Obama in the lead, it remained unclear whether the failing economy, dilapidated housing market, crumbling national infrastructure, health care crisis, energy crisis, and five-year-long disastrous war in Iraq had made the nation crappy enough to rise above 300 years of racial prejudice and make lasting change.

read the rest here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Finally!

She Lives Discrimination?




Does that mean I'm a minority because I'm a white male who voted for Obama?
You have got to be fucking kidding. This woman is incorrigible. Please, please, please make her go away...

Yes, I'm afraid its come to this...



Did you vote?

Happy Election Day...



Now go vote!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Blank the Blanker

by Steven Weber

How you doin'? I'm _______ the _______.

You may have heard the candidates mentioning Joe the Plumber on their various stumps, making that guy a household word and whatever. A hero to some and an instant punch line to others. Sure, he's lost his privacy and whatever integrity he may have had before he became Joe the Plumber, back when he was only Samuel the Not Yet the Plumber, but since when does anyone need privacy or integrity if they're gonna be famous? He's probably gonna end up with a lucrative coloring book deal and his own show on HGTV or Spike or something.

read the rest here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Goodbye Boomers...

...and good riddance

Monday, October 27, 2008

Voting for Obama

by Craig Barnes

In 1952, when I was 16, my father was stationed in the Air Force in London. I was dating a general's daughter. I can still remember her kisses. They were luscious and the best experience to that point of my young life. Then one night in early September, just after a new American high school opened, I received a call from the girl's father, the general.
"Hello, Craig, it's General Kessinger. I understand you are planning a dance for the high school students at the American Teen Club,"
"Yes, sir." I said, "I am working on it." I had never had a call from a general before.
"This coming Saturday night?"
"Yes, sir."
"I don't suppose you will be allowing Negras to come to that dance, will you?"
There was a long pause at my end.
"Yes, sir," I finally said. "They are in school too. It would be only fair."
"It is not our custom to mix the races," he said, "not socially."

read the rest here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Best. Ad. Ever.

Ah, Mormons

As Nikki said this morning, "you'd think the Mormons would be more tolerant of alternative lifestyles."

My theory is this supposed gay threat to traditional marriage conflicts with their MLM style religion--without procreation their downlines are in jeopardy.

Whatever the reason, if these bigots choose to involve themselves so heavily in politics they ought to be taxed like any other business (oops, did I just suggest that religion is a business?)...


Prop 8: California gay marriage fight divides LDS faithful
The church's effort against gay marriage is its most vigorous since 1970s

By Peggy Fletcher Stack
The Salt Lake Tribune

The thought of going to church in her southern California LDS ward makes Carol Oldham cry. She can't face one more sermon against same-sex marriage. She can't tolerate the glares at the rainbow pin on her lapel.

Oldham, a lifelong Mormon, is troubled by her church's zeal in supporting a California ballot initiative that would define marriage as between one man and one woman. She feels the church is bringing politics into her sanctuary.

"It has tainted everything for me," Oldham said, choking up during a telephone interview. "I am afraid to go there and hear people say mean things about gay people. I am in mourning. I don't know how long I can last."

read the rest here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Message from Ron Howard

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Brilliant

Undecided
by David Sedaris
October 27, 2008

I don’t know that it was always this way, but, for as long as I can remember, just as we move into the final weeks of the Presidential campaign the focus shifts to the undecided voters. “Who are they?” the news anchors ask. “And how might they determine the outcome of this election?”

Then you’ll see this man or woman— someone, I always think, who looks very happy to be on TV. “Well, Charlie,” they say, “I’ve gone back and forth on the issues and whatnot, but I just can’t seem to make up my mind!” Some insist that there’s very little difference between candidate A and candidate B. Others claim that they’re with A on defense and health care but are leaning toward B when it comes to the economy.

I look at these people and can’t quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention?

read the rest here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Truth About ACORN

I admit I'm a bit election obsessed but this one is SO important...spread the word...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cold Political Calculation



So, there you go. Any person with any self-respect and half a brain who votes for this tool is officially off my x-mas list...

Reassuring...

...but no reason to become complacent...

The economics of reporting polls
October 17th, 2008, 11:49am by Sam Wang

The only thing happening in the Meta-Analysis is a slight, slow widening of Obama’s lead. Some of you want to know about individual polls, such as a recent Gallup national poll showing Obama ahead by only +2% (standard likely-voter model) or +6% (high-turnout model). I confess that I tend to ignore individual polls because of the statistical variability. So it didn’t occur to me to care about this particular data point. Obama is still crushing McCain, period.

But there is a lesson to be learned here: It is not in the interest of individual pollsters or media organizations for you to have the most accurate possible picture of the horserace. Here is why.

Read the rest here.

Dumb but good for a chuckle

Thursday, October 16, 2008

HBO Presidential Debate

Now this is funny...


Was There Too Much Sex And Profanity In The HBO Presidential Debate?

John McCain Naked

Michael Seitzman is one of my new favorite political writers...

It was like A Tale of Two Smiles last night -- It was the best of us, it was the worst of us. One man was a study in calm. The other was a study in batshit crazy.

I kept thinking of that line in As Good As It Gets, when Jack Nicholson says, "You make me want to be a better man." Honestly, I know how foo-foo this makes me sound but Obama makes me want to be a better man. Maybe I did drink the kool-aid, but you know what? Jimmy-crack-corn.

read the rest here.

WTF?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Literature Rodeo

Interview Palin!

Your chance to interview McCain's vice-presidential pick, Sarah Palin!

Go here.

He Did It Alright

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Political Porn



Worth watching in its entirety...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

No Serious Person...

I love this quote from Ron Reagan, Jr. (yes, he is the son of the former president).

"...the media has to pretend that there are two viable candidacies here...where there really aren't. There's Obama and Biden, and then there's the joke, which is McCain/Palin. No serious person could any more look at McCain/Palin and say 'that seems like a reasonable alternative,' it just doesn't exist anymore."

Read the rest here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Clay Wright: 1938-2008

Clay Wright, Cindy's father, passed away about an hour and a half ago. I didn't know Clay very well. I regret that. The time I did spend with him though, was memorable. He had a calm presence. He didn't talk a lot, but when he did you knew he had something to say. That's my memory of Clay--quiet and thoughtful. And smart. And loving. I know he was loving because I could see it in the way he looked at Cindy, at the way he looked at his wife Judy, and in the way he talked about his children and grandchildren. And I know he was loving because of the way Cindy talks about him. She said he was the one person in her life who "got her." They shared a bond that, even from the outside, was both real and magical. Having lost my father a few years ago, I can only imagine the pain and grief she is going through right now.

Clay was the perfect balance to Cindy's mom, Judy--she was the sail in their relationship, and he was the ship. They spent nearly 50 years together--she was just 15 when they met. Her pain I can't even begin to imagine.

My heart goes out to Clay's family tonight--Judy, Cindy and Pete, Steve, Christen and Eric, and Tyler and Austin. I wish I could offer more than platitudes but, sometimes, that's all that comes. Wave upon wave of I'm so sorry, and my thoughts are with you, and if you need anything... But life is like that, I guess. We always think there's going to be more time and, then, when it's over, the family is left, alone with their grief, and a bunch of well-meaning platitudes from people like me, heartfelt as they may be. Peace, love, peace, love, peace...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

David Foster Wallace


Mark Morford has a great piece today about the late, great David Foster Wallace...

David Foster Wallace
All literary flags at half-mast, rightfully so. In memoriam

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Let me, if you will, merely add my name to the chorus of the shocked, distraught and saddened sighs going out in response to the news of David Foster Wallace's apparent suicide. Let me do so with reverence, and humble gratitude.

See, I have few literary heroes, certainly almost no one from this online news medium and only a handful from the "serious" writerly universe. Even while having my brain profoundly scrambled by the UC Berkeley English department way back when, a delightfully thorough immersion into the finest literary minds of all time, it's still only been a precious few scribes who've ever managed break through my finicky intellectual resistance and annoying writerly jadedness and really stick to the ribs of my id.

Read the rest here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Conjunction Disfunction

Between Spanish classes and Burning Man prep, event, and cleanup, the summer got away from me blogging-wise. I know in my previous post of a month and a half ago I said no more political rants, diatribes, or filler but I lied (not cynical, calculated, ruthless John McCain-style, mind-you). A lot has changed since I wrote that post (how naive I was back then). We're in a post-Palin world now and the stakes for the future of our democracy have never been higher. Expect more political rants and videos like this in the weeks to come:

Friday, July 25, 2008

Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh

You'll be noticing some changes here at Melancholy Sideshow over the next few weeks. I'll be doing a little housekeeping--the filler, diatribes and most of the videos will being going away to clear space for a more writing and poetry-centered experience. Since this originally began as a space to park my poetry, the new focus is, essentially, a return to my (net) roots. The rants, photos, videos, etc. will likely find their way to a new space and I'll be sure to keep you apprised of their progress but, for now, I'm deciding to get serious (well, as serious as I can get) about writing.

The reason? I've been getting some positive attention for my work lately and I'm beginning to see a future in it. My story Stranded in Kosmas was just nominated for inclusion in The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. 3 published by W.W. Norton and my poem Poetry Finds Static will be coming out in the anthology Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh: manifestos and unmanifestos edited by Stride Magazine founder Rupert Loydell from U.K. publisher Salt Publishing. It will be featured alongside such names as Nick Pionbimo, former Birmingham, England poet laureate David Hart, and Jackson Mac Low...JACKSON MAC LOW! I'm humbled and honored (but not so humbled that I won't brag a little here). I'll provide a link when it goes on sale.

Anyway, I have several works in various forms of completion and my intent is to start "putting it out there" and, perhaps, a more polished, focused blog presence will help with that. At least that's my intent. Thanks to all of you who have supported me in my journey.

BTW, the previous post is a poem by Geoff Stevens who is featured in the anthology as well.

the details of which are boring by Geoff Stevens

the details of which are boring

childhood in the industrial black country
the details of which are boring
school reached across the marl-holed fields
the details of which are boring
then on to a Tom Brown senior school
the details of which are boring
earning a living in a chemical laboratory
the details of which are boring
then marriage and trying to settle down
the details of which are boring
followed by divorce and living alone
the details of which are boring
a beginning to write poetry for publication
the details of which are boring
the reading of his work to an audience
the details of which are boring
until struck down by a series of illnesses
the details of which are boring
and finally death after much discomfort
the details of which are boring
and so to the obituaries in the newspapers
and a life which was rich & exciting

~Geoff Stevens

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Wealth




Thank you for

the box

of diamonds

I can tell you worked

hard

on the label

Wednesday, June 11, 2008







Poet Jennifer Knox was in Ashland last month. Here's a recording of that special, special evening (thanks Bryan!)...

http://enaviation.com/jennifer%20knox%20reading%20in%20ashland%20oregon.mp3

Tip to Kasey

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Stranded in Kosmas

Stranded in Kosmas: A Tale of Lost Love, Betrayal, and the Necessity of a Good Shot of Ouzo While Traveling in Greece With Your Brother and His Ex-Girlfriend

An overseas vacation should never begin with the words, "you don't have to be such a fucker." Ever. In my experience this statement is predictive of future violence. Personally, I have always preferred, "I'm really excited for this trip," or even, "we may have to leave the airport to get a decent exchange rate." Luckily the words were not directed at me but rather at my brother Greg. Unfortunately, my then-fiancĂ©e, Nikki, and I would be traveling to Greece with both Greg and the utterer of this phrase (and numerous other phrases that usually contained a pronoun, an adjective, and some variation of the word "fuck"). This person, this woman who could serve up profanities the way Emeril Lagasse juliennes carrots, was my brother's ex-girlfriend Amy. And, tragically, this wasn't the beginning of the end of their relationship. No, Amy began this trip as an "ex." You may wonder why someone would travel overseas with a person they had already evaluated and subsequently dismissed as a potential life partner. Well, it can be summed up in that two-word darling of Internet travel bargain-seekers—the nonrefundable ticket.

read the rest here...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

No Alternative But Helpless

I'm a little behind on my posts for National Poetry Writing Month (OK, I'm a lot behind) so, in the interest of catching up a little, here's another:

No Alternative But Helpless


Dear:

I think
All this is not why we are happy?

Tasteless relations
No alternative but helpless

The weather is overcast
What can be said to you?

No feeling of hunger
Unhealthy

But he was not happy
Always hard to find

Saturday, April 12, 2008

NaPoWrMo #12

Valentine's Day

Remember to cherish her.


Although I do not know whether she is any good.

But you should not--she is improper.

I wish you a Valentine's Day sweet sweet honey.

NaPoWrMo #11

If you know a child nausea

If you know a child nausea

If you know a look at Dream of the Red Chamber Miss Margaret Jet Milk East touch of nausea children

If you know a low-fat drink every day of nausea children

If you know a gray forever with the nausea children purple eyeshadow

If you know a song listen to a three-nausea children

If you know of a low back pain is not the pain-nausea children

If you do not understand a fine home for the first child nausea

If you know a holiday release is not to travel nausea children

If you know a summer shirt only buy the nausea children

If you feel that a self-awareness of nausea children



NaPoWrMo #10

left sea

negligence of the world to those
who have never savored mediocre
to fool people affected your faith
you
the truth


buried deep in the sea beads
left
do not know benefits
everyone except me can understand that the idea of God
find dazzling pearl gravel


ordinary people wronged your children
but I do not believe you worry
boring
meaningless
know no one in the days to enjoy
but who can know

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

NaPoWrMo #9

Clothing

Outward few days, in the home, of course, a good thing happened - I Mint Chiffon blouses, shirts are short of the two-inch, multi-inch short sleeves, a long short-sleeved.

Ironically enough? Back a long time, have been maimed as a half people to wear this shirt,
can play a disabled beggar to begging.

Each time, it will clothes washing machine that clothes can not,
do not want to hand wash is not critical and wait for me

to return to Hong Kong
will be taken to the laundry.

Then, there are always one or more
do not like dolls clothes waiting for me back home.

Bad clothes washing frequency
than the number of clothes I buy more.

Unfortunately clothing,
because I have decent clothes through many years, not to mention, clothes.

Born in the 1980s friends,
a secondary school during the walk wearing Nike Taotao.

They often miss is the most laughs
through the Yasaki never, I always speechless.

I have,
and that is Yasaki fish and rice.

Wear a skirt school for five years,
become translucent, underwear lace bra and the car line, far have seen.

Finally, only the unpleasant task
of asking students to replace the old school dress.

At the time,
the family really basic fields?
Is not.

Mother that I would deliberately poor growth.

However, I only hate hearts forever.

NaPoWrMo #8

Playing catch-up again...

"The bitter cold in a bowl of hot rice with barbecued pork"

Parents are traditional,
a meal of rice to stomach.
risotto.
Sushi rice is not, of course, not risotto yes.

Is a bowl of hot rice,
Lord of white rice.

And our generation?

Dining out, think of Italian pizza acne
are sheep
clams caramel
what is good, is not think of rice,
or a bowl of ordinary rice with barbecued pork.

Monday, April 7, 2008

NaPoWrMo #7

Breaking the psychological barrier of Trilogy

1. Makeup on the bus
2. Stations paste fake Wenjiemao
3. Rail trains in Hong Kong within Tu Shuangwenpi Chaizhao eyelid glue again 30 seconds



...I really do not even of the points that I can of epilepsy.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

NaPoWrMo #6

No flies old World

"Drainage frightened old World No flies."
Because of this word, I think the whole night.
Inevitably, we in the housing topic, please do not continue, all of the bar.

To my old, will pick up mosaic tiles sleep flyover depends on the good fortune of their own.
For the parents, must also.
This moment I truly fortunate, we should also, but home, but there are still retreat.

Because my salary has never been more than a single grain that number.

NaPoWrMo #5

Uh oh, playing catch up...

Skin to the body of the letter

Dear skin of the body:

You okay?
Sorry so late write to you, I am sorry.
To tell you now say "sorry", it is too late?

Have you, will forgive me?

Seven years ago is still my students started throwing waves 24 hours a day,
the consumption of health impatient youth.

The results, after seven years, I, not to 30, have been aging.

If a drop of blood can be became the organs of the body,
I really want to know your dissatisfaction,
what I question is how slow you,
which will be three in the 2nd cold sore throat tonsils ear inflammation water imbalance stomach cramps insomnia.

When 10-year-old mill that the injury situation,
although experienced half of Utah Health dead of night without sleep,
I prefer not to have rebound insomnia.

Friday, April 4, 2008

NaPoWrMo #4

Hair, I am sorry

Hair, I am sorry.
The memory of you
You, he, I, you, thick
the beam with a ponytail in the face of others
will be painful.
In reality you, I have to be careful to finger comb,
shampoo with the anti-alopecia exposed to care.

Fingernails, I am sorry.
But obviously born relatively thin fragile,
I, for the sake of convenience,
two layers of chemicals in your body
not let you breathe.
Over the past year, you may be freed eventually,
but dying as the film "Saw II" posters in the finger.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

NaPoWrMo #3

Ah, what the hell, let's call it a poem...

Why I Write

I'd like to say I write because I have something so profound to say that it would end conflict, solve global warming, and cure disease. Yeah, if only. I have no such altruistic expectations. I'd like to say I write because a pen fits perfectly in my stigmata. But that's not true either. No, I write primarily for attention. That's not, of course, the only reason I write. I also write to untangle the disparate threads of my experiences to create a narrative that allows me some kind of cohesion to hang my sanity on or, more precisely, I write because I'm psychologically damaged enough to think that I can. I write as an excuse to drink. I write so my keyboard doesn't get too comfortable. I write as proof that I'm not yet dead (but if I was dead and I could still write, I'd be a zombie, and how cool would that be?!). I write so I have a place to put all these pesky words. I write because I find solace in clearcuts. I write so I won't kill—again. I write because I like the feel of wind in my hair and the lure of the open road—oh, wait, that's drive. I write to chase that damnable flashing cursor across the page. I write because I want to meet Oprah. I write because I like it when people ask, “whatcha writing?” I write so that I can tell those people, “none of your business!” I write to bury my ghosts, but they're ghosts so they never stay buried for long. I write so, someday, I can get away with wearing a cool beret and turtleneck. I write because the way blank pages mock me really pisses me off. I write because if Dr. Phil can have his own TV show, I should be able to write. I write because Nabokov would've wanted it that way. I write because my parents wanted me to be a doctor (that'll teach you mom and dad!). I write in lieu of a real job. I write because if I stare at the monitor long enough I can see some really trippy tracers. I write to ignore the burning in my...uh, never mind. I write to find out the function of “Conjunction Junction.” I write so my dog will stare at me all day wondering when we're going to play fetch—he's so cute. I write so if there's an apocalypse and the only way to fight off the mutant zombies is with words, I'll be ready. I can write a perfectly good story right into the ground—where it belongs. I write because the need for sappy sentimentality is stronger than ever. I write so I can use big words like antidisestablishmentarianism—and girls really dig that. I write because if I ever go to prison I'll get all the good jobs. I'll write that smile right off your face. I write as the perfect antidote to American Idol. I write because the aliens gave me a choice between that and the anal probe. I write because I need a hug. I write so I can make fun of people who can't read. I write everything down so the detectives will have to dig through piles of paper to find my rotting corpse. I write up one side and down the other...if you know what I mean. I write off language on my taxes and that really confuses the IRS. I write furiously to keep warm. I write because meerkats can't.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

NaPoWrMo #2

Something must be faced

I have to go to work tomorrow but only.

Always bad dark purple.

The doctor said I have depression.



Tuesday, April 1, 2008

NaPoWrMo #1

It's National Poetry Writing Month again so I'm going to try to post a poem a day for April (if I wimp out, I reserve the right to call April Fool!).

Juicy and yummy

In fact, I enjoy a good freeze.

Drainage each television broadcast to both, I will immediately look up to the fire is clear.

Searching late seamless music freeze not only new to girl skirt, the color stockings.

Juicy and yummy, really no-regrets of the dead.

Facelift, so-called? Microphone also bought both of the same principle, but you'd be a shirt.

Peugeot looks, long hair, breast enhancement, shining hip, a curve.
Hands and feet really go the distance still left little meat, think?
(If I lose weight willing to sponsor cutting array of narrow nose, I am the servant to you! Will be met my blog, ah?)

Assuming all kind-hearted, only: artificial beauty of the same points, you really will pick a shame of both?

If you despise people trafficking and sex, but that of everyone in sale for living expenses.

Unless death, the first time for selling you, you will be met despise their own land sales?

Net will be afraid of a price. Well, good enough.

I fundamental to every minute of all sex trafficking, went to see the workers, the same conditions apply to everything, a kind of feels unpleasant to the eye, the other on three sharp 180, I want to ocular discomfort.

Only worry of both, and if there are three drainage both appearance and I both influenza is not even the world will be better.

Honest, a bra top garter, I think.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Just Because...


There's a story behind this (like you need one) here.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Unexciting surprising protein cake


This is an extraordinary form of a packet of cake.

Margaret Macao from the bakery.

Cold, I will not take the risk of ear imbalance water over the sea.

Farthest friend's car just sitting at home kitchen to eat smoked chicken shrimp at the expense of the center vegetables naringin.

A telephone conversation last night with good friends, told her of delicious cakes.

Tonight, the puppy that she had just disembarked to my house.

Almost forget that a very good friend like Baianni longer.

I have the impulse to the beautiful flies patted flat with her face.

Matters

Did you know?

You are one of the secrets of others.

Do you think he would mind early packet, and sent to a distant land, no return address.

Day after day, as calm lake.

Then, finally, revealed clues.

You can only pretend do not know anything because this is not a multiple-choice questions.

Simply missed, it is no longer.

Remember this?

Mo missing Intercessors

Have seen this movie?

Business class a quiet, I revisit in the dark.

Everyone at any time, the need for support, even knowing that the starting point is selfish.

Be happy to embrace is still cherish others Jinian.

Lack of split hearts have always Mok others to make up for lost Intercessors.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Flying Off the Shelves

The Pleasures and Perils of Chasing Book Thieves

A great read from The Stranger.

Check it out here.

Friday, February 22, 2008

And Yet Another...

Book Lust


Every now and then, someone who is brilliant says something stupid — often the result of spending too much time riding a jet stream of high praise. Steve Jobs, the co-founder and chief executive of Apple Inc., did such a thing last month when he all but declared the death of reading.

Asked about Kindle, the electronic book reader from Amazon.com, Jobs was dismissive. “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is,” he told John Markoff of The Times, “the fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year.”

This is nonsense on several levels. But before we get to reading, let’s stipulate that Jobs is deserving of his 2007 ranking by Fortune Magazine as the most powerful person in business. Anyone who can cause revolutions in five industries, as Fortune noted, is a titan— capable of touching a billion lives.

You can find the rest here.

Tip to Greta.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

And now for the other side...

The Dumbing Of America
Call Me a Snob, but Really, We're a Nation of Dunces
By Susan Jacoby
Sunday, February 17, 2008; B01


"The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself." Ralph Waldo Emerson offered that observation in 1837, but his words echo with painful prescience in today's very different United States. Americans are in serious intellectual trouble -- in danger of losing our hard-won cultural capital to a virulent mixture of anti-intellectualism, anti-rationalism and low expectations.

This is the last subject that any candidate would dare raise on the long and winding road to the White House. It is almost impossible to talk about the manner in which public ignorance contributes to grave national problems without being labeled an "elitist," one of the most powerful pejoratives that can be applied to anyone aspiring to high office. Instead, our politicians repeatedly assure Americans that they are just "folks," a patronizing term that you will search for in vain in important presidential speeches before 1980. (Just imagine: "We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain . . . and that government of the folks, by the folks, for the folks, shall not perish from the earth.") Such exaltations of ordinariness are among the distinguishing traits of anti-intellectualism in any era.

The classic work on this subject by Columbia University historian Richard Hofstadter, "Anti-Intellectualism in American Life," was published in early 1963, between the anti-communist crusades of the McCarthy era and the social convulsions of the late 1960s. Hofstadter saw American anti-intellectualism as a basically cyclical phenomenon that often manifested itself as the dark side of the country's democratic impulses in religion and education. But today's brand of anti-intellectualism is less a cycle than a flood. If Hofstadter (who died of leukemia in 1970 at age 54) had lived long enough to write a modern-day sequel, he would have found that our era of 24/7 infotainment has outstripped his most apocalyptic predictions about the future of American culture.


read the rest of the story here.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Literacy in the Digital Age

I was having a conversation with my friends Goa and Jeff about this very issue just last night and, lo and behold, I came across this compelling article by Howard Gardener in the Washington Post today:

What will happen to reading and writing in our time?

Could the doomsayers be right? Computers, they maintain, are destroying literacy. The signs -- students' declining reading scores, the drop in leisure reading to just minutes a week, the fact that half the adult population reads no books in a year -- are all pointing to the day when a literate American culture becomes a distant memory. By contract, optimists foresee the Internet ushering in a new, vibrant participatory culture of words. Will they carry the day?

read the rest here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Good Luck With That In November...

Funny send up.



The original can be found here.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Henry Mancini's Barnacle

A triumphant return to Flarf (well, a return anyway)...

Henry Mancini's Barnacle

welcome to theocracy
the perfect world of
bald eagles and born-aginners a'calling
bombshells are for eastern cultures, not barmaids

never underestimate the importance of
mud-slinging, highly caffeinated
performance enhancing Republican leaders
returning to slaughter everyone who is not a Christian

globalization's valuation
as intense as 9/11 on steroids
someone should stop that ludicrous summer solstice
and agree to have a plucky duck religious first impression instead

not so sure about marine crustaceans
crazy kids with their colons
how big will I get from a bottle of steroids?
odds are it's probably steroids that got Jesus fingered

analyze abalone, abacuses, bilious vapors, and a barnacle encrusted blow-up pool
authorities also said they are investigating
whether steroids may have been a factor in Henry Mancini
he does have some outstanding baggage

for every human being on earth, there are about 200 million insects
abandon barleycorns and bald cypress, scrambled eggs, and scotch chasers at your peril
They invoke the nightmarish possibility of juxtaposition
That is—you can probably thank a trilobite for your soaring profits

four slim legs borrowed from the truth

The Joy Of Writing
by Wislawa Szymborska

Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
For a drink of written water from a spring
whose surface will xerox her soft muzzle?
Why does she lift her head; does she hear something?
Perched on four slim legs borrowed from the truth,
she pricks up her ears beneath my fingertips.
Silence - this word also rustles across the page
and parts the boughs
that have sprouted from the word “woods.”

Lying in wait, set to pounce on the blank page,
are letters up to no good,
clutches of clauses so subordinate
they’ll never let her get away.

Each drop of ink contains a fair supply
of hunters, equipped with squinting eyes behind their sights,
prepared to swarm the sloping pen at any moment,
surround the doe, and slowly aim their guns.

They forget that what’s here isn’t life.
Other laws, black on white, obtain.
The twinkling of an eye will take as long as I say,
and will, if I wish, divide into tiny eternities,
full of bullets stopped in mid-flight.
Not a thing will ever happen unless I say so.
Without my blessing, not a leaf will fall,
not a blade of grass will bend beneath that little hoof’s full stop.

Is there then a world
where I rule absolutely on fate?
A time I bind with chains of signs?
An existence become endless at my bidding?

The joy of writing.
The power of preserving.
Revenge of a mortal hand.


Translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh
Copyright © Wislawa Szymborska, S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Truth About Meerkats


so I'm reading about meerkats
because there's just something I like about them
and I find out they belong to the mongoose family
which seems strange, because meerkats are pretty cute
while mongooses seem pretty nasty
but then I remember Rikki-Tikki-Tavi
who seemed nice enough
except to cobras
but he was just a character in a story
by the guy who wrote Gunga Din
so anyway, I find out meerkats sometimes share their burrows
with yellow mongooses
which are sometimes called red meerkats
and I wonder whether they like being labelled
and then I think maybe meerkats invite yellow mongooses
into their homes so they can treat them
the way the British soldiers treated Gunga Din
and if they do, what does that say about meerkats?
and, because we think they are so damned cute,
what does that say about us?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Love?


Tip to Erika