Monday, November 29, 2010

Ars Poetica II

For those of you who have asked, Yes, I am working on my Ars Poetica; and, No, I haven't yet written it (but thank you for asking). It's clawing its way out of the belfry, but hasn't scratched the vellum. At the moment I am thinking about defenestration. The subject/victim might be me. Or Professor B., in the fourth floor conference room. With a windowtwo, actually.

Under the impression, and enlightened by the internet, I thought my task was to write a poem about poetry. I'd geared up for this all semester. I hadn't bothered to consult Professor B. Then she throws this at me: Or Just What Is It You Think You're Doing, Anyway? Ordinarily, I'd take this personally, but in light of the fact that she asks the same of my classmates, via handouts, I decide to file it under: I Am A Complete Dope (for relying solely on the www). Or just: I Am A Dope.

And I thought my task was something vaguely analogous to the art of poetry. Instead, Fiction. Writing about my fiction writing. (Oh, is that what I've been doing?) What writing should be, do, try to do, never do, unless... This kind of introspection makes me sweat. It's like swallowing horse pills. This is what writing should never do. Poetry would go down with more ease.

So instead, I send out emails, I fiddle with laundry, I have a banana and peanut butter snack, I drink copious amounts of coffee, I read, I tweak legal documents (oh, that's right, I have a real jobsort of—and I procrastinate there, too) and I blog, when what I surely need to do is wiggle my ears and shuffle my way to an elocution of passable Ars Poetica.

So, with this Friday as a deadline, I guess I'd better mosey along.

G-g-goodbye, Snow White. Back to the mines...

Friday, November 26, 2010

"Friday Night Frolic" - Sex, Lies and Videotape

And Backwoods Betty, telling me about this (in a hushed tone, opens her sleek MacBook, pulls up the video; someone else told her, she says, at work, at that office in the Great White North, the back country, shh; I can barely contain myself; whoa sis, and you heard this where? forget the city, I need to move north; what has happened to me in the burbs? I'm not just rearranging the backyard stones, I'm living under them; how could I have missed her? she's been around since when? this neo-soul vanguard, mining smooth, indelible grooves; detonating deep, spongy vibrations; nothing standing between her and desire, she's drenched in it):

Don't you worry your little heart, child, I'll bet your beau comes back a better man. If he comes back.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Walk Right In It's Around the Back

This year, Turkey Day is with my side of the family. At the Barn. With a fryer. And Uncle Ricky. Oh, no. But we'll be with my side of the family! Not that I don't love my husband's side of the family, but it's been eons since we've been with my side for Turkey Day.

So, much thanks to my husband for this gift. And you know I love your side. I do. All your sides. All of them.

Miss you guys!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

And you. Yes, you, peeking in right now when you should be basting the bird.

(Obviously, Arlo didn't know about Black Friday. Had he, he would have been out by 5:00am like everybody else in the world, thereby missing officer Obie's phone call. Black Fridayhow to save yourself a lot of trouble.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Friday Night Frolic" - Nightingale Tale

It's late afternoon and night has already fallen. You stroll in after work, toss your bag on the mudroom bench, kick off your high heels, hang your camel-hair coat on the peg rack, and step over the threshold onto the dark wood-floored kitchen. Notice: the house is quiet, more so than usual. And warm, toasty warm on this wintry evening. Turn toward the living room and see your husband, or boyfriend, or lover prostrate on the couch. He looks at you and says: Hey Babe, how was your day? You ready to relax?

Drift over to him and kiss him gently on the forehead. Say, in a hushed, smoky voice: It's been a long dreary week; a really, crazy-busy long week, I'm so ready. He murmurs: Hmmm, come here Babe. He sits up a bit, propping himself against a tawny silk-covered pillow, making room for you. He takes your hand and pulls you down toward him on the chenille covered sofa. Run your free hand through his curls and tell him you want to change out of your work clothesthat suit you hate to wear, those dark, constricting stockings. You want to slip into something more comfortable. The fire is lit, glowing embers snapping. Gaze out the window. Wonder how the moon can hang so low in the sky, looking almost tragic.

Let me get you a drink, he says. Oblige him. Sit back in the sofa, sink into it (you'll change later), swing your stocking-covered feet up on it. He pours you a glass of Grenache. From the Rhone Valley. A Gigondas. You've been to this French village's peak, surveyed its clay terraced slopes. Say: Zhee-gon-dahsyou read my mind. Watch him casually deliver it to you. Smile. Remember your first taste of it at a hillside caveaux. Consider how lucky you are to have nabbed this guy. Your thoughts stray to your first date. The stroll along the Charles.

He hands you the generously filled long-stemmed glass, places his on the mahogany coffee table and sits beside you. Whisper: Thank you for taking such good care of me. Swirl the deep red in its glass, note the intense burgundy color; admire its clinging legs, slowly tearing from the rim; Sniff the wine; breathe in chocolate and berries. Take a big sip. He watches you drink it, rubs your nylon swathed feet, and says: You're beautiful; I'm happy to be of service to you. He kisses you gently on the lips and then picks up the remote, clicks it and throws it back on the table. You hear this:

A soulful Madeleine Peyroux.

Your stomach is empty and the wine goes to your head. You want to sing. You want to be the chanteuse. You hum. You sway. Almost swoon. Your man catches you in his arms and you giggle, you forget about the melancholy, the sore shoulders and achy legs, the crazy-busy long week. And the kids you haven't yet asked about.

It's Friday night. You're all right.

Remain in this fantasy all evening.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Lonely Turkey

The holiday season has begun in earnest. It was just the day after Halloween when retailers swapped rubber bats and candy corn for Santa figurines and candy canes. Window displays shed orange and black hues for for the sparkling reds and greens of Christmas without so much as a wink to Thanksgiving.

Or did our retailers even wait until Halloween? Heck, I think I may have seen some Christmas paraphernalia in September (or maybe this was last year's leftovers?). Actually, in some cases, Halloween and Christmas have been known to co-mingle.

Eeewww. Pumpkin and pine do not
 a pretty dalliance make.

The poor Turkey. Crowded out by an ever expanding Christmas season. Flattened by surging Yuletide.

And even if you were shut-in like a hermit—had never ventured beyond your driveway—you would know this by the daily onslaught of catalogs. Before Halloween had come and gone, the catalogs were charging, bulging from our mailboxes.

This is nothing - just a small sampling of the onslaught.

Catalogs. I have never even ordered from any of these (ahem). Well, except for Garnet Hill (where my sister is Managing Editor—so I'd better order—course it helps that I love GH, too. Check it out!).

Not to mention mid-autumn jingle bell music and movies...

These days, the only nod to Turkey Day:  Black Friday.

It wasn't like this when I was growing up. Wouldn't dream of thinking about Christmas until after the much loved and anticipated Thanksgiving. This, I remember. Back then, we had respect for a Turkey.

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Friday Night Frolic" - Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose!

Remember this guy from Sling Blade? He's had more than a few stellar moments on the big screen, but the stage is where he really shines.

In 1989, a few years before we were married, I introduced my husband to Dwight Yoakam (er, his music, that is). I remember taking Dwight Yoakam's debut album, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., (in audio cassette form) out to Chicago with me; couldn't wait to tell Michael about this Kentucky cowboy. (You see, I had finally found a music artist that he hadn't yet heard of! A near impossible feat.)  I didn’t much like Country music then, still don’t for the most part (except for Cash, and the sublime Emmylou Harris), but Dwight—he was different. He had that hat. And the tight jeans. The pout and the swagger. Let’s just say, he was sexyis sexyan understated Mick Jagger and Elvis Presley. And then, years later, we saw Yoakam in Mansfield, and I was transfixed.

But Yoakam's music was more than Country, it was his own version of the rough-edged Rockabilly sound from the 1950's (think Elvis, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis), greatly influenced by his personal hero, Buck Owens. It was a new sound: Honky-Tonk. Hillbilly. And did it rock!

(After opening video click on Youtube link to view it.)

It's been more than twenty years since Dwight's songwriting brilliance transformed the Country music scene, introducing a whole new generation to a unique and contemporary Country sound, and influencing many young artists. He's still cranking out new tunes and keeping a hefty tour schedule, and his music is as exciting as ever.

If by any small chance, you don't have a lick of Dwight Yoakam, you may want to start with The Essentials—a compilation of the most rockin' rockabilly songs out there (and click on the link below for another taste of Yoakam). 

Whoot, whoot, holla... the boy's got some mad skillz. Pull up those cowboy boots, channel that inner-hillbilly. Hey Mister, turn it on, turn it up, turn me loose

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Little Team That Did

Sports is not a topic I often write about, as I am woefully unqualified to do so. But, with both of my kids now involved in middle school athletics, these past few months have been a whirlwind of sports related activity, an opportunity for me to act as enthusiastic spectator (soccer), as well as assistant coach (cross-country). Even so, I must further preface: I know—aside from a permanent reminder of the game in a place where the sun doesn't shinediddly about soccer. 

Couldn't tell an offside from a dangerous play.

Brackets?  Finally figured them out! And here's what they looked like yesterday:

Look, there's Mount - front and center! Go Mounties!
Last night, I watched our team, Mount Saint Charles Academy—the team I affectionately, secretly, referred to as The Little Team That Couldlose the state championship to a formidable opponent. While admittedly (at least statistically and by physical stature) Mount seemed the underdog, one still hoped for that "you never can tell" moment. The moment where the little guy, wide open, grabs the assist and charges to the net. It was not to be. Archie R. Cole Middle School in East Greenwich scored the only goal of the night with a header. It's not easy to keep that kind of ball out of the goal.

But hey, there they werethe boys (our boys, an exceptional bunch), an assembly of seventh and eighth graders from different towns, even states, their first season together, their coach an ancient (but apt) priest, a final night on the astroturf, under beaming lights and freezing temps, wind howling in the tear-streaked sky, performing war chants, looking... well, cold. And ready.

The other boys? Large and rugged, with a perfect record. Also ready.

I was sitting on the wet, metal bleacherswishing I had a nip bottle or valiumnot ready. 

Well, you already know how it ends, so no need for further detail. Except to say, that The Little Team That Could stood proud at the Final, and their loss last night could not diminish their many accomplishments over the season. The fact that they were sandwiched in those brackets spoke volumes to superior coaching, hard work, team spirit, dedication, and remarkable camaraderie. 

To Fr. Charlie, his assistant "Mrs. Coach", and the boys: it really isn't whether you win or lose, is it? Sure, some glory is good, but you know it's really all about—as they sayhow you play the game. I know you know this. You left the field glowing. Tired, wet and cold, but glowing. And no longer The Little Team That Could. No, no. What you had become was something much more, something very impressive:  The Little Team That Did.  Glory, Glory, Alleluia.

MSC - State Finalist - Soccer State Championships 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

"Friday Night Frolic" - Pig Out

When my son dressed in costume, for school, as "Mustache Man" last Fridayfashioning a mustache from duct tape and paperI knew it was time to write about CAKE. And not the kind you eat. Not the chocolate variety that I love to whip up from time to time. Or that cake-like Whoopie Pie... oh, my. Speaking of... it's cold out there, maybe it is time for a little baking.

CAKE. Upon the release of their breakthrough album (do we still say "album"?) Fashion Nugget in 1996, I became an immediate fan. Their most recent album, Showroom of Compassion—which includes the song Mustache Manis slated for a 2011 release, but available now for pre-sale via Cake's website or at Amazon

CAKE. Imagine  Devo, Was (Not Was), and the Talking Heads getting together in one room. Imagine what the three of these bands might spawn. Yes, lots of silliness. Much fun. 

Here's a little CAKE (warningthis may leave you a little hungry, send you straight for the kitchentake notes!):

What do you know, a band that cannot only make some very cool music, but can also cook up a gastronomic feast! Well, with a name like CAKE, you'd better have some culinary craft. 

Yes, that's right, there is a bit of a monotone vocal delivery (intentionally?), but it only adds to CAKE's layering.

To wit:

CAKE. Fairly measured stuff. A recipe for lots of smiles. 

CAKE. Gorge yourself. Have fun.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Errant Election

I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and 
politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's.
Mark Twain in Eruption


Double, double, toil and trouble:
(the week thus far...)

Piecing a soft-serve together,

Pink eye,

New eyeglasses (conjunctivitis as cue: replace scratched, bent, melted eight year old glasses).

Unfortunate election results,

Writer's block (likely the product of chocolate overdose and political perdition).

This cannot be true (not the writer's block, although that is rather crippling, too). Perhaps we should check the voting machines?

Maybe it is still Halloween, an extended scare, pranksters unaware of the time. Go home now kiddies, all the lights have been turned off. 

Politics: Blah! I'd rather have an ice cream cone.

But on the positive side, at least the election demonstrated that Rhode Ilanders do not believe Gauche to be the new Gold Standard.