Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Quote of the Day

"When a jet flies low overhead, every glass in the cupboard sings. Feelings are like that: choral, not single; mixed, never pure. The sentimentalist may want to deny the sadness or boredom in his happiness, or the freedom that lightens even the worst loss. The moralist will resist his faint complicity. The sophisticate, dreading to be found naive, will exclaim upon the traces of vanity or lust in any motive, as if they were the whole. Each is selling himself simplicity; each is weakened with his fear of weakness."
--James Richardson

Monday, April 28, 2003

Water Purification

Today's big accomplishment: Between editing, phone calls and e-mania, I cleaned the aquarium, managing to do so without removing the tropical fish--though I probably terrorized them a bit. I added some blue gravel and a new plant (plastic, but highly realistic), and "fished" out as much gunk as I could. Then I changed the filter. The tank is now a crystalline box of tropical blue, like some rare, enormous jewel. The pink, iridescent tetras are playing tag. All is now right in their world.

Resolved: never to let their artificial Amazon turn into such a cesspool again.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Quote of the Day

Why did the writer cross the road?

"Because on that dark and fateful night, a night filled with tempestuous moaning winds of gloom and despair, where the siren scream of direst proportions would be muted by the fiendish howl forced past earths vocal cords of echoing canyons and weird eyries (for it is in Zion National Park that our story takes place), the writer, dread-laden, weary, piteous, forlorn, did with eyes weighted from murky memories and days fraught with hideous care look out across the fell expanse of blackened tarmac and intoned dolorously, 'Mickey D's? Is that ALL there is that's open at this hour? Fuck!' "
--edward george earle gekko-lytton, lizard

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Writing. Who Needs It?

The New York Times article referenced below (free registration required) is both despressing and not very surprising. Our society doesn't value writing--after all, "anybody" can write. The only writing that is richly compensated is that of celebrities (in which case it's the name, not the writing itself, that is being rewarded). It's always been galling to me that writer's are so often expected to give their work away for free, especially by literary magazines. I realize that these publications operate on shoestring or nonexistant budgets (an indication of the esteem they are held in by society), but somehow they do find the cash to pay their printers or ISPs. (Sigh.)

Just my bad luck, I guess, that writing is about the only skill I DO have.

Writing in Schools Is Found Both Dismal and Neglected

Friday, April 25, 2003

Amen! (Quote of the Day)

"There is a definitely a whiff of anti-intellectualism — so characteristic of fascist states — in the air. Beware of bully boys who worship the military and scoff at museums and libraries. Beware of people whose limited brains see everyone as either an ally or an enemy. Beware of people who can't tell the difference between patriotism and military conquest. Beware of people so stupid and ignorant that they accept anything and everything the political and the media demagogues tell them." --Charley Reese

Read more at:

Charley Reese

Haiku 3,457

In the quiet park
The peanut vendors chuckle
As the clouds dissolve

Summer must be coming: the outdoor vendors have returned. In my neighborhood, that means the Mr. Softee truck is back. How I hate that truck! Not because I dislike ice cream--though I rarely eat it--but because of the tinkling little jingle Mr. Softee plays. It's always the same song: "Turkey in the Straw," played at maximum volume. Why can't he change his tune? Wouldn't anyone go mad driving a truck around all day blasting that saccharin ditty?

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

More Signs of the Apocalypse

A few days ago, I said that American TV had hit "rock bottom" by hiring Monica Lewinsky to host a "reality" show. But now I see that it is possible to drill through that rock:

O.J. Simpson Reality Show Planned

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

More Poetry Outtakes


With a lopsided grin
His girlfriend
Just stands still
Completely disregarding everyone else in the room
Don't really appreciate
The prelude to pleasure
Mario's nephew likes dogs

Monday, April 21, 2003

Ancient and Modern

I'm back from my Easter sojourn in upstate New York . . . . I know, you're thrilled. The only thing I did even remotely related to the religious holiday was to listen to Jesus Christ Superstar (the film soundtrack version) in the car on the five-hour drive up there. It's probably the best version of the story yet, with the possible exception of the Bible's. But the Bible doesn't have Yvonne Elliman singing "I Don't Know How to Love Him." On a semi-related note, I watched the TV miniseries Helen of Troy last night on the USA network (part 2 is tonight). My son is studying ancient Greece in sixth grade, so I let him stay up to watch, too. It was much better than I expected, though my expectations were somewhat low. I thought it might be an ancient Aegean version of Dawson's Creek, but the production values and attention to historical/mythological detail were impressive. (In my opinion, that is. I'm no classics scholar, but I have a layman's interest in the ancient world.) We're looking forward to seeing the famous Trojan horse tonight.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

"What you need to know"

All about George W. Bush's favorite phrase.

Random Questions

It was 80 degrees today. It was snowing last week. Why can't we just have spring?

How weird is it that three years ago this week, I took my son up to the 110th-floor observation deck of the World Trade Center?

How the hell did a "bunny" get associated with the most sacred Christian holiday?

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

More Poetry Outtakes

Confess Your Ignorance

Just as we run out of menthe verte,
Scraps of colored silk

Flutter past my window.
Confess your ignorance!

Shout it from the rooftops!
Make me proud . . .

I feel as if time has stopped.
Can you tell me where we are?

Monday, April 14, 2003

TV Hits Rock Bottom

Monica Lewinsky is now hosting a TV "reality show" dating game. I bet you can guess which network it's on (hint: it starts with "F" and ends with "X"). Lewinsky says she doesn't know yet if she really wants a TV career--she also designs handbags and is considering law school. She says she's still trying to "figure out" her life. What an awful thing to have to do in public, for her and for us. Read more, if you must:

Lewinsky to Host Dating Reality Show

Quote of the Day

"It appears that something so profound is happening in the world that none of us is yet able to grasp it. How can we consider and speak to the possibility that America is deliberately declaring that the only criterion of power shall now be power itself? The introduction of the doctrine of the right to the pre-emptive strike is an event in international history of infinitely more consequence and importance than anything that happened on September 11. Even the transgression of a territorial border and the murder of innocent citizens cannot compare to what is being claimed here: the right to go in and destroy a regime, at whatever cost and without any clear plan for its future, not because of what anyone has done, but because of what you cannot prove they might do."

That's by the award-winning playwright David Hare. Read more at:

Don't look for a reason

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Sunshine and Sinking Feelings

My son was in a Little League parade today. The weather was golden and springlike. It's odd how normal everything seems on the surface at this bizarre (in my opinion) moment in our nation's history. After the parade, I listened to the gaseous speeches at the Little League's opening-day ceremony, with the requisite references to how well "our boys" are doing in Iraq, feeling like I had entered the Twilight Zone. Of course, in one sense, they have done "well"--Saddam is gone. But as that country descends into chaos, the whole rationale for the war seems screwier than ever to me. Now the talk is of taking over Syria, too--supposedly, the "weapons of mass destruction" that they still can't find were sent over there (how convenient). These weapons, powerful as they are, are both awfully easy to hide and awfully easy to move, it seems. It reminds me of the search for the holy grail . . . Sometimes I wish I could just turn off my mind, turn on Fox News, and stop questioning so much.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

Haiku 10

As icicles drip
The small fire warms my hands
I want to go home

Suddenly, it's spring here. Last week, winter returned with a vengeance, but today it's 70 degrees (F). Such schizophrenic weather! I often think that what we see on the outside is a reflection of what's going on inside us. This is a time of transition. We're heading into an uncertain future as a nation, I think--standing at a fork in the road. Everyone is afraid, on some level, and fear makes people do strange things. We all want to "go home," I think, but we don't know how to get there. It reminds me of a scene from a Marilyn Monroe movie, The Misfits. "How do you find your way home in the dark?" Marilyn asks Clark Gable. "Just head for that big star straight on," he says. "The highway's under it--it'll take us right home."

Friday, April 11, 2003

Poll: Nude Celebrities

Traffic has been a bit slow here lately, so it's time to revive our favorite poll. Which one of the following public figures would you most like to see naked?

Michael Douglas
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Snoop Dogg
Regis Philbin
J.K. Rowling
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Condoleezza Rice
Karl Rove
Jessica Lynch
Sharon Osbourne

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Foul Ball

Does everything have to be politicized these days? The Baseball Hall of Fame has cancelled a showing of the film Bull Durham because the stars, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, are anti-war. This sort of paranoid pseudo patriotism is ominous and reminds me of the worst days of the Vietnam era--or even the McCarthy period. What's next? A black list? Read more:

Baseball Hall Cancels 'Bull Durham' Event

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Quote of the Day

"Another effect of the ‘support the troops’ (meaning in fact, support the war) message is that it elides any debate about what the war is actually about and what it costs in every sense, and obscures deep splits within US society. Before the war, the entire discourse centered on Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction.” Now, three weeks into it, as US forces have found no evidence of such weapons, 58 percent of Americans say that finding them is not necessary to justify the war. We seem to be looking at a process whereby as the stated reasons for it fade from consciousness, the war becomes self-justifying, based largely on the perception that it is a success."

More of this essay can be found at: Pockets of anti-war resistance in America

Monday, April 07, 2003

How to Support the Troups

"[We] support our men and women in the armed forces. We regret that their Commander in Chief has sent them on an ill-advised and unnecessary mission, but we respect and thank them for their service. We urge special support for the families of service members and reservists who have been sent to the Persian Gulf. We call for greater efforts to address the medical problems that will result from service in the gulf. More than 167,000 veterans are currently on disability as a result of their service in the first Gulf War. We condemn the cuts in veterans' benefits approved by the Republican-controlled Congress and call for increased availability of medical care and other benefits for veterans." --April 21st issue, The Nation

Another Perspective

Here's a site that collects reports on the Iraq war from Russian journalists and military analysts (and translates them into English):

Russian military intel update: War in Iraq

Quote of the Day

"Everyone sees what you seem to be, few perceive what you are; and those few don't dare oppose the general opinion, which has the majesty of the government backing it up. ... The masses are always impressed by appearances and by the outcome of an event -- and in the world there are only masses. The few have no place there when the many crowd together." --Machiavelli

Better watch what you say. People are taking names, says columnist Richard Reeves, writing on the new political correctness.

Saturday, April 05, 2003

Black Humor

It may not seem that there's much to laugh about these days, but some lucky people can find humor in just about anything. One such is The Wacky Iraqi. He describes himself as "Just a regular guy--an American who happens to be of middle-eastern decent. I am an artist and a musician, educated and opinionated. I am a former write-in candidate for the US House of Representatives (one vote, and it wasn't even me), and a rabid, card carrying member of the ACLU."

This self-described "rag head" may be left of center, but he's definitely not politically correct.

Friday, April 04, 2003

Dreams Come True

My short story, "Wagstaff's Dreams," has just been published by:

The Square Table

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Quiet Desperation

Why do so many Americans support this war?

"It's true that there may be no final, single version of the Truth about this war, but there are better or worse descriptions of the reality. But getting to the clearer view is difficult: it requires reasonably good information and a willingness to work through that information critically. Most of my fellow citizens, however, absorb their ideas through the skin, passively. (The post-modern version of Thoreau's 'The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.')"

Read more at reading & writing.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

The sun never sets on the American . . .

Here's the US plan for governing post-war Iraq, according to The Guardian. Sounds to me like the plan is to rule it (without UN involvement) as a Victorian-style colony.