Apr 29, 2007

Poetry Spam

Last night TJ and I went to the Olayas for the second annual Poetry Slam on Hazel Avenue. Now, the Teej was a little skeptical at first. I guess I was too, given my college experience, where poetry was anything read angstily while heavily emphasizing every seventh syllable.

Anyway, it was very fun. The evening opened with a reading of a poem called "Church" by young master Mattheo (5 years old). The poem went on and on about how church (pronounced chuh-tch) is good for you and church is fun and church is where you go to get food and church is all sorts of great. At the end of it, his mom (Amy) leaned over to me and whispered, "We don't go to church." That made me crack up, because kids can be so freaking weird sometimes. Later on Mattheo read another short one about potato chips; this one was very advanced and contained a simile comparing the waviness of the chip to the ocean.

Amy read a sad one about the premature death of her brother. Not too much to be said about that except that it was a good poem, and that it was very sad when her brother died 3 years ago.

Then Brett played some songs he wrote. Brett is a member of the songwriting school that Anna has dubbed, "Let's All Bake a Compost Cake." It's only natural, he's a primary school teacher and a guitar-playing crunchy hippie-type, so he would naturally write songs containing words like "hegemony" and "suburbia" and "privilege." He also sang a song called "You Little Shits." I like Brett - he reminds me of the Bay.

Rich read an extended poem written in Spanish by his late father. Joe read from Rudyard Kipling while his son, Isaiah, climbed on top of him. Some hipsters from Brooklyn came down in a posse and one of them recited Neruda. Another one did a dramatic recital (from memory, at that) of several wikipedia entries discovered by hitting the "random article" link on the sidebar. This last reading would be categorized, of course, as "found art," something close to my own heart and a good topic for segueing into telling you about the selections that I read.

I called my set "Poetry Spam." (Yeh, I thought this was pretty clever until I just googled it and realized that it has already been dubbed as such by others.) I didn't write the poems, nor did I even alter them. I simply read spam emails in their unadulterated form. You ever notice how some spam emails seem to be generated by computers using random phrases fed to the machine; the blocks of random prose get chopped up, rearranged and regurgitated for the purpose of fooling spam filters into letting them pass through as regular discussion material? I used to get these absolutely all the time. Now I get good ones less often, but when they are good, they are very good. Anyway, here's my set - the only thing added by me are the titles.

I Prefer Liberty

I prefer liberty to chains of diamonds.
I never know how much of what I say is true.
Part of being sane, is being a little bit crazy.
The long habit of living indisposeth us for dying.
New Penis Enlargement Patches!
I don't really trust a sane person.

What Did my Hands Do?

Top software brands and Independence you can trust.
Buy Cheap PC Software from Special Reserve.
Everyone dies. Not everyone really lives.
What did my hands do before they held you?

Artificial Intelligence

A frustrating paycheck assimilates the steam engine.
Some pork chop over a grand piano pees on an inferiority complex,
living with the garbage can.

A knowingly dirt-encrusted photon falls in love
with the fruit cake.
An umbrella brainwashes another parking lot.
Some pork chop for the mortician, some globule,
and the fractured industrial complex are what made America great!

Briar Patches and Hockey Players

Sheriff around take a peek at hydrogen atom beyond curse,
but clock for a change of heart about toward anomaly.

Polar bear defined by sheriff, toward trombone,
and about briar patch are what made America great!

Vern and I took around microscope
(with behind tornado, near fruit cake).

He called her Vern (or was it Vern?).

He called her Vern (or was it Vern?).

Behind tuba player, wedding dress around skyscraper,
and for hockey player are what made America great!


We decided to return there for the foodgasm
worthy pesto sauce!
How are you going to use it?

I actually beat him at mini golf!
:::daydream believer:::
:::daydream believer:::

If you see something wonderful,
you confidently embrace it.
But it should also be remembered that this
is a card of great creativity,
of powerful magic, primal feelings and intuition.

It also describes some of the additional features
available if the software is upgraded to
Data Protector Express.

Check the recipes at.

We waited a little longer to sit on the same patio,
and this time we ate early enough
to catch the sunset during dinner.
They're just as good as money in your pocket.
Basically the poor little guy had food poisoning!

Check the recipes at.

We know how to make each other laugh
and just have a good time wandering about.
They're just as good as money in your pocket.
Maybe if I had seen the first night,
they might have introduced people
and expected you to remember.

It also describes some of the additional features
available if the software is upgraded to
Data Protector Express.

This time however, can also result in great creativity,
psychic powers, visions and insight.
Don't waste it; it's still good food.
Maybe if I had seen the first night,
they might have introduced people
and expected you to remember.
They are partnering with Restaurants.
Basically the poor little guy had food poisoning!

Then the plan was to head to the city for SOS.
The list goes on and on and on
:::daydream believer:::

If you see something wonderful,
you confidently embrace it.

And it's getting close to Christmas,
with even more candy on the horizon.
They are partnering with Restaurants.

We decided to return there for the foodgasm
worthy pesto sauce!

It also addresses common backup and recovery scenarios
to assist in disaster recovery planning.
It also describes some of the additional features
available if the software is upgraded to
Data Protector Express.

But regardless, the hype about the movie seemed to be
about how it was designed to influence people
to feel pro-Republican
and anti-Democrat.

I was supposed to meet some friends.

I was supposed to meet some friends.

I decided to go to sunset, bring the puppy, and just catch
the last
hour or two.


Apr 23, 2007

But why?

I've been hanging out with some kids lately! This past weekend we went up to New Jersey and then to Connecticut, dropping in on my second cousins and their three boys (7-year-old Ethan, 5-year-old Ezra and 2-year-old Aidan) and then visiting with Tracy and Sheila who have Jack (almost a year) and are expecting another boy in July. Last week I attended Gabriel John Dubin's bris (he's the soft and pretty new boychik in my cousin Marc's family). Every couple weeks I walk home from work with Jim and see Asa as well, who was born in August so is about 8 months. This coming weekend I should hang out with a few girls (Hallie and Karina, both under a year, and maybe some others that will come to the WalkAmerica March of Dimes fundraiser).

All these kids develop at different rates, and it's really interesting to watch! Some are sitting up before the others, some say words and some don't, and in Jack's case he's practically walking but still can't crawl. Hallie was behind the eight ball in that she was extremely premature but (knock wood) seems to be keeping up with the rest of the class pretty well.

TJ and I joke around about what our boy will be like. We usually imagine him as becoming one of those curious types who tend to charm some people and annoy others.

You know how some kids are:

Kid: Dad, why do birds fly?

Dad: Well, because their bodies evolved to be able to take advantage of the air as a medium for, you know, moving through space.

Kid: Why?

Dad: Well, that's a question for an evolutionary biologist. I think they started out as some kind of reptile, and then gradually their bodies started to exhibit feathers and whatnot.

Kid: Why did that happen?

Dad: Um, maybe some of them who had a few feathers were able to get off the ground and escape predators, so they lived to reproduce where their no-feathers counterparts did not.

Kid: Why?

Dad: Because the ones with no feathers got eaten.

Kid: Oh no! Why?

Dad: Because there is this thing called the food chain. Unless you're at the top of it, you're supposedly going to get eaten by something that's higher up than you are.

Kid: But why?

Dad: Because that's how the world works.

Kid: That sucks for some animals.

Dad: I know, I guess we should be lucky that we're sort of on the top now so nothing will eat us. We just have to worry about wars and about killing each other...

Kid: Yeah. Why is there war?

Dad: In this particular instance, our President... actually, it's kind of a long story.

Kid: Oh. Why?

* * *

So that's how some kids are. Right? This kid is probably four or so, and everyone secretly wants to have this kind of kid because the kid is curious and smart and verbal. (Let's just call him Isaac for the time being.) Anyway, Isaac is totally knowledgeable about things that adults don't know about at all, like which atmospheric layer is the stratosphere and which one is the troposphere. Isaac also know the difference between Tyrannosaurus and Allosaurus, and he'll tell you which animals are endothermic and that a koala is not a true marsupial. Isaac cracks some people up, but his parents are worried that he won't socialize properly if he doesn't shut his trap and let other kids talk, including his little brother who is probably a mute because he can't get a word in anyway.

Anyway, who knows what our kid will be like, we're just guessing that he might be a little bit Aspergery (G-d forbid for real, just joking) and care overly much about racing cars or Sputnik or the history of the tractor, to the exclusion of other things.

Yesterday we were driving home, and I said, "Ok, let's practice."

TJ: Huh?

Me: How does the car work?

TJ: You put gas in it and it goes.

Me: Why?

TJ: Because of combustion.

Me: What's that?

TJ: Gas catches on fire in the presence of oxygen and burns. It needs oxygen, though, so usually the gas in your gas tank doesn't spontaneously combust like that lady was talking about on Car Talk.

Me: Why not?

TJ: Because there's a special valve in the intake pipe.

Me: Why?

TJ: Ok, stop.

* * *

I asked him what we would do if we had the "but why" kid who didn't grow out of the phase.

Can you believe he said, "Well, you haven't really outgrown it yourself."

I was like, "OMG!!! I'm the BUT WHY kid? I'M THE BUT WHY KID!! AGGHH!"

All of a sudden I thought of tons of examples, like how I always ask him about the characters on Lost and their inner motivations, like, "Why would Charlie even Trust Desmond, he's acting hella sketchy? And why the heck would John blow up the submarine, that, like, makes NO SENSE at all. I mean, why are they making Juliette out to be all evil, when all the flashbacks show her as a good person and people don't just turn evil overnight, right? And why do they write this dumb show as if they haven't even figured out what happens next week yet but they're just going to plant enough seeds of foreshadowing to make everything a possibility, which is really annoying to the viewing audience."

Every once in a while, he'll say, "Why are you asking me? I don't know." And I'll say, "Asking you what?" and he'll say, "All these questions?" and I'll say, "Oh, I guess they're rhetorical." And then he'll say, "How do I know if a question is rhetorical or if you want me to answer it? Sometimes it's confusing." And I usually say, "Well, if we're watching TV or a movie it's probably rhetorical."

So that's it. I AM THE BUT WHY KID. I hope I'm the charming version and not the annoying version, but the BUT WHY KID never knows which one he is. That's the rub.

Anyway, since I've already come out of the closet about this, I might as well ask you all some questions.

For example, why did Paul Simon write that song about Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War? Did he like Magritte's work in particular, or he just saw a photo of them after the war with a dog, and made up some random things but it didn't have anything to do with surrealism at all? Or did it? And is there anyone who knows? Did his friends ask him these questions after the album came out, and if so, did he answer them, so at least they know? Did he tell his Mom? Did he tell Carrie Fisher? Did she ask him about the song? If she didn't ask, did he get mad that she wasn't even curious? Is that why they got divorced? Or if not, WHY did they?


"Le rendez-vous de chasse", Bruxelles, 1934.

Sitting from left to right: Irène Hamoir, Marthe Beauvoisin, Georgette Magritte.
Standing from left to right: E.L.T. Mesens, René Magritte, Louis Scutenaire, André Souris, Paul Nougé.

Apr 9, 2007

Give me more advice

Along with the yam recipes that you can suggest at the end of the previous post, I also need your help with baby knowledge.

Hear ye, baby people! If you own a baby or know anything about them, help me by telling me what to buy in advance of a newborn's arrival. For example, I know I need diapers and a place to change the baby, but I doubt we need a crib right away. We need some type of bassinet and a bouncy seat thing? What kind? What kind of stroller is good? I don't like huge ones, but I suppose we shouldn't get a flimsy one, either. A plastic tubby? What else might we not think of? Do we need a humidifier? Does everyone use a baby monitor, and if so, what type is best?

You're helping a woman who occasionally gets information overload. Sometimes if I go to buy a stick of deodorant, I have to stand in the aisle and smell each kind to see which one is the most "me" and which one I can deal with the best for the next two months. I'm not trying to be difficult and waste time, I'm just a victim of the great bounty of products and information available to us all. (See previous post about why I do my grocery shopping online.)

Help me, please.

For your amusement

I do online grocery shopping because I HATE the grocery store. I like Trader Joe's and I like Whole Foods, because they are pleasant and the people there seem content to be shopping. But the regular grocery store is where one has to go to buy (a) things that are on special, (b) toilet paper that doesn't abrade your hiney, (c) bulk seltzer and cat litter, etc.

Online delivery from Genuardis works great in helping me avoid being in that nasty big-store environment. I hate the fluorescent lights, and I hate that they play terrible muzak, and I hate that everyone looks miserable pushing their carts around. In fact, after about 30 minutes of wandering around listening to some R&B duet between Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt, I get kind of morbidly depressed. If I go outside again and go straight home without passing go and without stopping at the Designer Shoe Warehouse, it wears off in short order. But it's a risk I prefer not to take.

So lately I've noticed that they always screw something up about my order. Sometimes they forget things, sometimes they're just out of stock in a bunch of categories. But they're always good about crediting my account when I call them to report the problem, so I usually don't sweat it that much.

Tonight, the delivery came and they made some, er, substitutions. For example, I ordered 3 Clif Bars at $1.00 a piece. They were out, so they substituted 3 BOXES of another kind of peanut butter energy bar and charged me $15 instead of $3. They substituted some other wacky stuff, too. (Although I actually did buy the gefilte fish and horseradish, which TJ thought must be a mistake. That's right, I bought it. You heard me.)

They also tend to pack everything in about 400 plastic bags. Most items come, like, one item per bag. I HATE THAT. I hate owning plastic bags. The only saving grace is we have a dog, so we USE them. But still.

Finally, the best part of tonight was getting two giant bags full of yams. It looked like about 25 yams. I said to the guy, "Um, I ordered one pound of yams." He said, "Well, here's 10 lbs, sorry." So I called up Genuardis and told them that I ordered 1 lb of yams but was charged for 9.27 lbs and received 9.27 lbs. I made a joke, like, "Oh, I thought I hit '1' but I probably hit '9.27' by mistake." The customer service lady did not laugh. She took the extra off my bill and told me to keep the yams.

What shall I do with the 25 yams that are sitting on my counter? Taking suggestions now in the comment area.