Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It's Just Love; It's Not Food

I SOOOOOOOOOOOOO apologize for not getting back into the blogging biz, and I promise my Usual Suspects, the Dirty Dozen-and-a-Half, that I have been reading you, even though I haven't been commenting. But upon returning from California (last Tuesday, a week ago, a lifetime ago), I was enlisted to work on yet another project. This time it's three weeks of grading algebra. Do the math.

Which is to say that I have been returning home brain dead every afternoon for the last week, except on the weekend, which was full to the brim with Uncle Jim duties.

But I saw/heard a commercial just now-- Whilst playing solitaire, which is about all my mushy gray matter is up to about now-- that got me. The build-up was all this Oh-it's-hard-to-be-a-good-family stuff: "We hardly have time to see each other" "I work the day shift, he works the night, but we catch up at dinner," yada yada yada, coming up to the nipperoo or pay-off: having dinner together keeps families strong. And the product?

Hamburger Helper.

Now, I have eaten my share of Hamburger Helper. Back when we were both working, that was our evening meal oft-times, because-- and this was part of the ad, too-- it's damned easy to make. One pound, one pan, dinner. And it's not bad bad food. I mean, I can certainly think of (and remember) worse. And you know what's in it. You put in the wet stuff (meat, water, whatever), and if you read labels, you know what kind of gunk the box is adding for you.

And then, one night, I was just done with the stuff. I found myself confronted with a plate full of ground beef and noodles and orange goo, and I simply didn't want it. I told my wife this, and we haven't had HH since.

It's not a hard prohibition; it's just that shortly after the episode the Wifey decided to go on a diet, so we ended up eating separately, a practice we continue to this day. She has her healthy stuff, and I eat outrageous crap that ought to be killing me but, mysteriously, isn't. (Burgers, barbeque, fries, sausage, pizza; about the healthiest I get is Mexican food.) On the weekends, of course, we go out, together, and every single meal is a concombitant of our culinary lusts of the moment.

(I was gonna stick something in here about how ridiculously strong our marriage is, but y'know what? Either you already know about that or you don't really need to.)

But my point, and I do have one,* is this: Hamburger Helper has never saved a family at risk. In fact, I have nothing to back it up, but I would wager that it has more often lead to instances of abuse and marital strife than it has brought the fam together in the warm, soft glow of domestic bliss.

PS: The Wifey ate at Morton's Steakhouse last night-- business trip, dinner on the corp-- where she had Salmon Fillet, which she described as scrumptious. After reading this entry, she commented: "That piece of salmon I had last night could have saved a family at risk!"

*Thank you, Ellen, forever thank you.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Going to California

With an achin' in my heart. I always go to California with an achin' in my heart. Have you seen California?

So I will be incommunicado, yet again, for about a week. More or less. Then the seasonal job I can't tell you about, inexplicably, resumes.

I'll be back. Eventually.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Happy Ed White Day

Today is the 41st anniversary of the first space walk. In celebration, here is a poem I wrote last year about space walking, which was actually inspired by an ad for an online time-share trading service.


And the sun revolves around the moon
Incandescent, belching tongues of flame
Into the oily black
At the tip of my outstretched glove
As I twirl in the void, anchored
To a spinning, sparkling starfish,
Miles above the frosty face of the sky.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Poetry Is Theft

So I wrote another poem recently. More on that in a minute. But first, a little ventilation.

I just got a post from the editors of Tarpaulin Sky. Which is an online poetry rag I submitted stuff to a while back, coupla years ago if I remember right. As do all such rags, they claim, vociferously, to take all comers, but they rejected my stuff as not up to snuff. I remember reading over the stuff they were publishing and thinking to myself that they must have a very different sense of aesthetics than I do. Because the crap they published then sucked.

That sound like sour grapes? Fine. I don't give a rat's ass.

In the process of submitting, I signed up for their e-blast notifying of the publication of subsequent publications, and as near as I can tell, they're on a less than strict 18 month publication schedule. Additionally, I have been less and less impressed with the contents. This time, shortly before discovering that their featured, up-front poet has been writing quasi-Ferlinghettiesque anti-Iraq war bullshit, which has the distinct advantage of skimming better than it reads, I got clued in to the man behind the curtain, the ghost in the machine: it's a City University of New York publication. Which is to say they will never publish anything by anyone who isn't in their club. Which is to say they will publish some awful bullshit, so long as it was written by someone in the club.

Anytime I get on this subject, I always remember that Far Side cartoon: "Yay! Rusty's in the club! Rusty's in the club!" (Either you get that or you don't, don't sweat it.)

So I wrote this thing a couple of days ago, for Anika, who's going through a bit of a rough spot.


For Anika

There’s always something. Isn’t there?
One more wrinkle to smooth, one more tear in the fabric.
One more dent in the bumper, one more ding in the car door.
Always something to tell you
Things aren’t going entirely to plan.
Always one fork
With a bent tine
You never knew was there in the drawer.

It’s always something.
One more straw for the camel, one more stroke
For the horse.
One more stile before the crooked man gets crooked home.
One more cat’s path to cross.

One more wrinkle to smooth, one more tear
In the fabric of space-time
That spills you out into the universe,
Twirling in despair, not quite flying,
Not quite falling, and no idea
How to draw the earth back in again,
Spinning in infinity
Into the heart
Of nothing.

And then, two days later, I get the Tarpaulin Sky crap. In the mean time, I'm thinking over a couple of different things, like whether I should post this on the Works In Progress page of my web site (www.poetical.biz), if I can remember how to work FTP and Dreamweaver, whether to put it up on the old Geocities page. (I hadn't thought to put it up here, and, frankly, would have asked Ani if it was OK with her before doing so, but, now, y'know, I'm pissed.)

And then I went and read one of the crappy poems the people at CUNY think qualify as art. Terrif. "You've acheived a good crapness, but is it art?"

So I could say the upshot is I'll never submit anything to Tarpaulin Sky again, but I reached that conclusion on reading the second issue I received from them, after they rejected me the first time. Or I could say that my poem for Ani, or any of my stuff, is too good to be sullied by the editors of CUNY's poetry rag, but frankly if they agreed to publish my stuff I'd most likely let them. I mean, it's not like there's any real money in poetry. (Not to say Poetry, the magazine, ;cause there is money in that, but none that ever goes to the people writing the poetry that goes in the magazine.) Or I could go on bitching about the quality of the content, but, as I think is pretty clear, I've only skimmed the one piece so far (and I skimmed it because I came to the second stanza, thought to myself This isn't too too bad, so long as it doesn't drag on, and the discovered that it goes on for something like seven pages, in the same tone, same vein, and, as near as I could tell, the same three images.)

But the fact is that this has so very little to do with me. The poetical industry has become like network TV: quality doesn't matter, product mainly has to look good to the advertisers, and it only has to resemble art, it doesn't actually have to be art.

And so to hell with them.