Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rachael Ray - "jihadi chic"

Oh my God! The spastic idiocy of some people!

So Dunkin' Donuts runs an ad on its Web site featuring Rachael Ray holding a cup of the company’s iced coffee while wearing a black-and-white fringed scarf. Along comes conservative bloggers Charles Johnson and Michelle Malkin et al. and suddenly Rachael's the scarf became a keffiyeh presto, Dunkin' Donuts has at “jihadi chic.”

Of course this spreads all over the Internet faster than a computer virus and the next thing you know, Dunkin' Donuts ran for cover from the legion of lunatics who put Joseph McCarthy to shame. The company issues the following statement, “In a recent online ad, Rachael Ray is wearing a black-and-white silk scarf with a paisley design, It was selected by a stylist for the advertising shoot. Absolutely no symbolism was intended.” It added that the decision to remove the ad was made, “because the possibility of misconception detracted from its original intention to promote our iced coffee.”

Michelle Malkin eventually praised D.D. for killing the advertisement and took the opportunity to fill us all in. “The keffiyeh, for the clueless, is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad.”

OK, I'm pretty certain that's exactly what Rachael Ray had in mind. A cleaver clandestine operation to use coffee... but not just any coffee, Dunkin' Donuts Iced coffee to spread terror throughout the land.

Before you think that I take the threat of terror lightly, I believe there are people who wish Americans harm. I believe they generally are paranoid about the prospects of an open society with individual rights and liberties. It's not so much that they hate you and I individually, they don't even know us. It is what we represent that they fear and hate. So when I see this kind of knee-jerk craziness I am saddened that there are Americans who feed right into the cause they think they are fighting.

This is the kind of paranoia that leads to suppression of the very rights and liberties that the terrorists despise. This is one of the greatest dangers of terrorism. A bombing that kills innocent people is a tragic loss, but when it happens we see it for what it is.When terrorists create the kind of fear and paranoia that leads a President and telecommunications companies to suspend our rights and liberties without due process, it takes us one step closer to the loss of the very liberty countless men and women have fought and died for. And each act, each tiny chip away at our rights take us a step closer to the same oppressive controls that these individuals exert over others.

Dunkin' Donuts, Charles Johnson and Michelle Malkin, along with a host of other ultra-conservative bloggers who fanned the flames of this stupid notion, deserve nothing more than our scorn and disapproval for the disservice they do to a free nation, not to mention the ill will their ignorance heaps on many honest, good, peaceful people whom they lump into the label of terrorists.

Friday, May 30, 2008

We shouldn't lose our capacity of indignation - the result is a hapless apathy

A good indignation brings out all one's powers. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

What a week....

Crazy week we've just had.

  • Scott McClellan, the former press point man for the Bush Administration writes an unflattering view of the Bush White House and the administration send out it's people with their talking points to counter his harsh criticism. Funny thing is most of us arrived at the same conclusions as Scott well ahead of him and it's comical to see the president's defenders try to play this down, like we've never heard any of it before. Then we have the newest White House press secretary Dana Perino who says it was his own fault if McClellan felt he was an outsider. "You can be as in or out of the loop as you choose to be," she said. Ms. Perino should keep that in mind if she some days finds herself in front of a grand jury.
  • Senator John McCain who scolded Barack Obama over Iraq and suggested he could teach Obama a thing or two if he'd travel with him to Iraq said yesterday, "I can tell you that [the troop increase] is succeeding. I can look you in the eye and tell you it's succeeding. We have drawn down to pre-surge levels." The only problem is the troop level in Iraq is at about 155,000, well above the 130,000 that would mark a return to levels preceding the "surge."
  • Then come Father Michael Pfleger, who evidently feels his calling is to mock Sen. Hillary Clinton in racially charged language from the pulpit of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago (home church of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright who earlier stirred controversy for the Obama campaign.

Anyone else wondering what the weekend might have in store?

Will, a quiet one news wise would be nice. I do intend to do some household chores this weekend and some writing. Yes, I did say writing.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Poetry Buzz

  • Kudos to Jayne Pupek for her poem Speculation which is appearing in Juked. I'm impatiently awaiting another book of poetry by Jayne. Hint, hint!
  • See why Eileen Tabios is Happy as a Cop with a donut. click here
  • A Rejection Sticker? click here

Barry on the Cover

Create Fake Magazine Covers with your own picture at

Time to get real

Reportedly speaking in a condescendent tone, Sen. John McCain challenged Sen. Barack Obama on Wednesday to travel to Iraq with him to better understand the war. I challenge Senator McCain to visit the real world and come out of President Bush's delusion.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Puzzled? Laughing hysterically

When White House officials claim to be puzzled by Scott McClellan's assertions about the Bush administration in his new memoir, I find the whole thing laughable. First of all, it is nice to see the former press secretary to the president acknowledge what most Americans figured out long ago. That top officials in the Bush administration including the president and vice president themselves have been bold faced liers to the American public.

When the current White House spokeswoman Dana Perino calls McClellan's description of his time at the White House "sad," it is, but the reason it's sad is the Bush administration not only lied to the American people but conducted much of the nations business, including foreign policy based upon those lies.

These aren't little white lies. These are lies that have cost 4,589 American servicemen and women their lives thus far. Lies that have cost American taxpayers so far in excess of $523 billion and counting. Money that in many instances has been paid out to fat-cat contractor that have over billed American taxpayers. In other cases there are funds paid for services and supplies that cannot be accounted for.

That the President and Vice President will retire with pensions and leave this mess for the next President and the American people is beyond sad. My belief is based on their conduct in office, both should be serving time behind bars.

The Birth of Poets

A young Belarusian poet named Valzhyna Mort (Martynava) was featured in the recent issue of P&W. From that article came this great line... "Someone said we're born a poet from this wound inflicted on us by other poets' poetry."

In terms of my own experience, I feel a real kinship with this statement. There are a number of poets whose work has touched me in such fashion, but I suspect if I were to recall one single poem, from on poet that had this kind of impact upon me, strangely enough it would be The Blue Dress by Sharon Olds. Remarkably strange I suppose for a guy since it is written in the persona of a young girl and the main prop being a blue dress. Yet the poem speaks to relationships and lack of relationships and the very first time I read it there was a real visceral connection to this poem. This was not the first such instance, there are works particularly by Plath, and Sexton which impacted me, but perhaps the strongest I can attribute to a single poem was the Olds poem.

I wonder how many others writing poetry can point to a specific poem that profoundly inflicted a wound so great that did or could have been the birth of their own inclination to writing poetry?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Future of K.C. Lit Fest

The Second Annual Kansas City Literary Festival is past now and I noted that John Mark Eberhart, Book Editor for the Kansas City Star has a few observations about what the future might hold in store for this young event. His assessment, which appeared in the Sunday arts and entertainment edition of the Star, was a good honest look at the event.

Eberhart noted that the event did a good job of recognizing local authors and giving poets a strong presence at the event. But Eberhart sees a problem with the lack of big name draws. It isn't that they have not been booked, but in the two years hear - circumstances have lead to last minute cancellations of the top billed authors both years. Such things are bound to happen. That is why he urges the powers that be to book top name authors across several genres. It both broadens the pool of public interest and lessens the chance that the event looses it's top draw, as there would be more than one.

These suggestions are wise ones. If there was much of an increase in foot traffic at the event the second year, I could not tell it. I don't believe it was any less attended, but I didn't see measurable growth.

The planners do deserve a lot of credit. But there were shortcomings. The official web site was black till quite close to the event. Something I found inexcusable for an event that was anticipated even as last years packed up.

I can't say enough about the support they have given the poetry community. The poetry stage was well organized and featured a good cross section of local talent.

The organizers would do well to take Eberhart's Sunday article and use it to shape a blueprint for next years event. It would do a lot to assuring this thrives in Kansas City for years to come.

Monday, May 26, 2008

With a firm grip on my pen...

Jane Pupek had a link to a place for writer's gifts - her selection was "Will write for chocolate." I had to chuckle when I saw the one at the left. When the actor Charleston Heston passed away recently I made some disparaging remarks about his NRA affiliation and ardent opposition to handgun controls. My wife responded saying I should leave the poor man alone, he's dead. She went on and said your the same way about your pen. We'll have to pry it out of your cold dead fingers to get it away from you. She's right of course, but I've never accidentally or intentionally killed anyone with my fountain pen... yet.
Went to the half-price book store today & picked up a copy of John Ashbery's The Mooring of Starting Out: The First Five Books of Poetry. Two of the things I love about Ashbery's writing is his command of language and the pictures I contrive in my head when reading his work.
Last night, my wife and I watched ReCount on HBO. The chronology of events in those post election days in 2000 are worth every American reliving.
The recent catastrophic disasters to hit China and Myanmar are heavy on my mind. Add to that the rash of sever storm related death and distruction to parts of the Midwest, south and southeastern parts of the U.S. The need for 3.3 million tents in China is mind boggeling. Where do you turn to get that kind of need met overnight?
I heard Frances Richey on NPR this weekend - Soldier's Mother Bridges Distance with Poetry.
It's a compelling example of poetry that renewed a bond between mother and son.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Order & Reason

I’ve read many poetry books where I paused at some point and asked myself, “why is this poem here?” The sad thing is, many of these are very good poems, they simply don’t appear to belong where they are or even in the book.

Perhaps the greater art than writing the poems is arraigning their placement within a manuscript. It’s an agonizing task, but an important one none the less. The paint artist gets to work his or her subjects onto the canvas as the picture is coming into being, but the poet must take individual poems and piece them together like working a giant jigsaw puzzle.

I imagine most of the time poems are written without future consideration for a broader manuscript. I realize there are exceptions to this, but even when one is writing with a broader manuscript in mind, it is unlikely that the whole manuscript will be written in a concise order or that all of the poems will end up in the final manuscript.

I heard Katrina Vandenberg read in Kansas City sometime in the past couple of years. She is the author of Atlas, published by Milkweed editions in 2004. This week I read an extraordinary piece in P&W on the subject of ordering you for manuscripts that was written by Katrina.

Putting Your Poetry in Order sounds a bit like planning for one’s death but it’s not. Still, there is something very final about a manuscript. How and what you place in a poetry manuscript may well have a lot to do with how a potential publisher views the work and it certainly can be important to the consumer once the book is published. I know I have read some poetry books that seemed so disjointed that I will likely not give the poet a second try for a subsequent book of poetry.

If you have wondered about creating a reasonable continuity to your manuscript, and don’t have a clue other than thinking you must have a strong opening poem, then I recommend reading Katrina’s thoughtful approach. It may startle you to know that the placement of poem number two is as important as that first one.

My wife would laugh at what I am about to write here. It is helpful with poetry to have a reason to what you are doing. I find that if I have a reason for a word, for a line break, for an order to copy, then there is a greater likelihood I am creating something that will work.
Will everyone see “your” reason in the work? Probably not. But some will see it, and when asked by others, you’ll have something better to say than, “It felt right.”

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Colors of spring & summer

One of the many things I like about spring/summer is the greening that occurs in Missouri. I'm not much of a heat person, so the spring weather is more to my liking, but the landscape coming alive with shades of green and the various other plant blooms that brings reds and yellows and blues, these sharpen my view of the surroundings. I also appreciate the longer daylight hours. I'm reminded how as a young boy I loved that stretch of evening that was browning down but not yet so dark I was required to come in.

I think these kind of nights fill me with an appreciation for colors and textures and words that allow images full of a range of shades to creep into my mind and work up something to put on a page.

A few bits from my journal of recent:

  • Was it Bukowski that said/upright is so overrated?/If he didn't he should have.
  • The weave pressing patterns/into my skin that rests/upon the rug of reverence/as I meditate on the life/of annoyances-
  • Stories travel linear/ and mark their time with words/filled with suggestion
  • counted votes spill upon the walk/in naked rawness so blistered/ by the divisions of public sentiment.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Rush of Music

Wet fingers
curl under
pounding on the keys
of sticks and leaves-

the medley flows on
and on downstream
settling at last
in the depth of silence.

Quake Poetry

Many Chinese families have left remaining housing in recent days for fear of anticipated aftershock from the big quake that hit a week ago. They have pitched tents and bedded down for the nights away from structures in the event of more seismic activity. Still, another aftershock of the quake has been the influence upon poetry. Poets are finding ways to reflect upon what has happened in their writing. One such example was featured on NPR. Here you can see and hear 'Elegy' by He Xiaozhu. Even listening to He Xiaozhu in his native language without understanding the words, there is powerful poetry in the inflection and sounds.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Poet Is In

Saturday, besides reading from the poetry stage at the Literary Festival, I helped staff the booth for our local chapter of the Missouri State Poetry Society. At one point, some ladies were passing by and a gentleman in the booth along side me said aloud, “Ask a poet, we have real poets here, ask anything you want to know of a poet.”

Now there are many ways I can go with this, but most of them are not good. There is for example, the notion that no one cares for the opinion of a poet on anything, much less his or her trade/avocation (the latter since we are getting real here). I was amused (the heat could have been a factor) and watched the ladies flow by.

It also occurs to me that it is not a good idea for lawyers, politicians and yes poets to solicit questions that could result in being unprepared for the consequences. I have for example, had individuals ask when certain events occurred in my life based on the presumption a given poem was autobiographical because it was written in first person and they assume poets all are narcissistic and think/write about nothing but ourselves. Of course that notion is silly. At least that is my story and I’m sticking by it.

In my mind I imagined this looking something like the Peanuts Psychiatric Booth with the sign, The Doctor Is In. Imagine my surprise when these ladies circled around, came back and stopped at the both. They picked up one of my poetry month broadsides, read it, and chatted among themselves. A few moments later, one offered that a certain member of their family had been interested in writing poetry and wondered if I could recommend any particular book that might be beneficial to someone getting started. Surprised at a reasonable question, and one that I could actually answer, I offered The Poet’s Companion by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux. The ladies seem grateful and of course I was relieved.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Pausing the pain

A short post before I call it a night. I've taken a few pain killers so I have the option of holding my head up with relatively little pain for the moment or as I plan shortly I will be able lay with my head on a pillow with less discomfort. It's just over the counter stuff, none of the rally good stuff. I won't last long till it wears off. But then, hopefully I'll be asleep.

I've decided tonight that I need to clean up my list on the sidebar of blogs I read. Some are no longer being updates and I need to remove them from the list. Additionally, there are a few I need to add. Hopefully I can get to this before the week is out. I do really hate it when there is a very well done blog that challenges you as you read it and you get into it and then one day it stops and is not updated for months on end. I always hope that the blogger is simply taking a break and will be back, but you never know unless they post their intentions.

I had not looked at my web page stats in a while but I did this afternoon and noticed that there were quite a few hits the past two days on the site. I am guessing that since most of these were local that it may have been the result of my reading at the Literary Festival yesterday as well as my broadsides that I gave out to many visitors.

Besides meeting a lot of new people, it was nice to see many people from the local art community that I know from various places. The Festival seems to be well grounded in these first two years, and likely to become a very permanent feature in Kansas City.

Read at the Literary Festival yesterday

The weather is beautiful... my wife and I had lunch out on the deck earlier. Saw a gorgeous Cardinal in the yard.

Doing much better except for the continual pain in my head behind the ear. It's relentless and I am so physically tired from it.

Yesterday, I read from the poets stage at the 2nd Annual Literary Festival here on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. Normally I have no problem with public readings. I've had a lot of anxiety with this one due to the Bell's Palsy, but in the end, all went well.

Around the poetry world...

  • I saw Jilly Dybka's book "Trouble And Honey" is out and you can go here to get your own copy.
  • If you are as taken by quotes from poets as I am, check out this little gem...

That's it for now... Have some writing to do.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Major Improvement

In the last 48 hours there has been remarkable improvement in the paralyses in my face from the Bell's Palsy. I would estimate that there is perhaps an 80% recovery in the facial features so far. This is really good news to me and while I still have some pain in my dead behind the ear on the affected side, my spirits are much improved.

I'm feeling much better about reading in public on Saturday.


STOP THE PRESSES! McCain: U.S. can win Iraq war within 4 years
  • And he assumes we believe this?
  • And he assumes we are willing to drain another $500- 600 billion (of unbudgeted $) there?
  • And he assumes we all feel safer because of this?
  • And he assumes we have the military personnel to maintain that kind of presence?
  • And are willing to lose another two to five Americas every day X 1460 days?


Monday, May 12, 2008


I finally felt like I turned a corner yesterday with the stagnate writing. Turned out a draft that has some promise. This of course is helpful to my overall mood. Things otherwise are about the same.

There is something weird that must go on in Edinburgh because it seems to have quite a connection to poetry. I am always seeing it in the news in one way or the other with poetry. The latest is Gillian Ferguson. Gillian who had already authored two poetry books, received a Creative Scotland Award to fund her research into the subject of genetic science and shape her findings into poetry. Her fascination with the subject seems hardly containable. In a Sunday Times Online piece I found the following discourse to support this... “We have 99% genetic similarity with mice, which is fantastical,” she says. “Worms have the same muscle propulsion genes. We could make a tail if the gene wasn't switched off, or wings. Even people, there's a 0.01% difference in the genome of every person on earth.”

The results of her marriage of creative & scientific efforts can be found here: The Human Genome: Poems on the Book of Life

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I will write today and I will be happy for it...

The wind was wickedly gusty when we left the house this morning to drive to Bob Evans for breakfast. A continuation of the overnight angry storm. It has quited a bit now to a plesant breese that moves the tree branches in little flutters and not the swaying prwer struggle between tree and the raw power of nature.

This weekend has been somewhat depressing in that I'm starting the second week with little change in the facial paralysis. I know it can take weeks and sometimes up to three months for the return to normal, it just gets difficult to put that into perspective when you get up each day and see no chsnge. It sort of challenges your ability to believe normal will ever look like it once did.

Working on some new poetry today. I'm planning to write a hour without distraction. I'll see after that.

The sound of the mandolin is a very curious sound because it's cheerful and
melancholy at the same time, and I think it comes from that shadow string, the
double strings. ~Rita Dove

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Though for the Day

If language did not affect behavior, it could have no meaning. ~Kenneth L. Pike

Friday, May 09, 2008

Friday Midday - checking in

No posts for a few days now. I have to be honest, I've really felt drained of creativity at this point. I had a day off yesterday and I took our car to be detailed. Tried writing in the waiting area. Tried writing at home. I suppose the trying is worth something, but the results were uninspiring. I thought perhaps I just needed to focus on the visual and for a brief time last night I worked with charcoal on paper and wasn't happy there either.

Moving on, today is the birthday of Denise Low, poet laureate from neighboring Kansas. There was a nice interview on the local NPR station of Ms. Low this morning. Angela Elam with New Letters on the Air conducted it. You can Listen here.

That's about it for now... weekend can't get here too soon.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The power of reason

Reason transformed into prejudice is the worst form of prejudice,
because reason is the only instrument for liberation from prejudice.
~ Allan Bloom

Mr. Droopy's Update

I planned to go into the office today and go about business as close to normal as I could. I realized everyone who saw me would likely want to hear the story so I figured that would be a revolving door all day long unless I could just keep out of sight.

As luck would have it, my right eye had become painful... or I guess I should say more painful in the wee hours of the morning so work was scrapped and I went to the doctor's office today. The eye appears to have an infection, not surprising because I likely got something in it when it could not be closed. Anyway that's the assumption they are going on today. I have an antibiotic for it and tomorrow morning I will see an eyes specialist to make sure it's not scratched.

Talking with my younger daughter in Phoenix who has only seen a picture of me, she laughed at her older sister's comment about my mouth being crooked like Rachael Ray's. Meghan thinks I need to do some sample cooking videos and send around with the idea of landing my own cooking show. Cooking With Droopy.

Well, that's the latest. I can close my right eye now somewhat. The right side of my mouth hasn't changes- it sill droops from the paralysis. Actually I think my speech is slightly more slurred today, but I may be overacting.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Feeling a Little Droopy

Last night I was watching a movie with my wife, and my daughter and the latter asks what wrong with my mouth, I have that "Rachael Ray" look? She adds that by that, she was inferring that my mouth looked like it was crooked. I was tired and dismissed her comment thinking nothing more of it. This morning I got up and went to the computer room where my wife is at work and speak with her and all of a sudden my mouth feels different. I said nothing about it, but went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. As I moved my mouth, sure enough the movement was all on my left side, which is not a pretty sight when one speaks. Certain word sounds were not easily rolling from my mouth.

There was a moment where the word stroke entered my mind, but the rest of my right side appeared to function fine. No problems with my hand or feet. Then I realized that I could not fully close my right eye. As I related these things to my wife, she did a search on the Internet for Bells Palsy. Had my grandmother not been inflicted with it about 20 years ago, nether of us would have thought to consider it, but as we read, the symptoms were classics.
  • comes on suddenly often after an illness epically viral
  • often the victims are diabetics
  • Causes drooping of one side of the mouth
  • effects the eye on the dame side
  • There is a partial loss of taste

My wife called our doctor and he recommended an emergency room visit just to rule out anything else but was relatively certain that is what it was. The conclusion after visiting the hospital was the same.

I have been under the weather for about 4 days. My sinuses have been bothering me but this was more than just that. Basically it is thought that somehow a nerve in the inflicted side of the face is impacted causing a paralysis to that side of the face.

I'm sure there are worse things that could have happened to be but this is frustrating and unnerving. It usually is not permanent. Paralysis can last for weeks to maybe three months. Usually there is full recovery, however there is a rare case where there may remain some residual paralysis or drooping in the face. Oh, it also affects my sinus drainage on the right side of my face and that along with the fact that my tear ducts in my right eye aren't working remain by two biggest physical annoyances. Eating seems a little more challenging and presently I am not really excited about being out in public. I am slated to do a poetry reading at a very public event middle of the month an that is weighing heavy on my mind.

Now I'm on steroids (I suppose I should use this time to my advantage on my video baseball game) and an anti-viral. Can this weekend get any more exciting? sigh

Friday, May 02, 2008

McCain one more way to Spell W

Wow, John McCain seems to have sold out his reputation of an independent maverick in favor of a clone of W. God, the thought of the George W. Bush legacy extended four more years.. what a downer.

Simic stepping aside as U.S. poet laureate

Charles Simic will be stepping aside as U.S. poet laureate at one term. He has asked not to be considered for a second term as he wishes to spend more time writing. Hard to argue with that.

I like Charles Simic as a poet and I believed his background made him a good choice for the post. An immigrant with a childhood that experienced war first hand. Simic had sensory talents that I suspect are enhanced by these experiences and has had a gift of ability with his writing that reach a level that many don't achieve.

As a poet laureate, I would have liked him to have been a little more out front. Perhaps this is not a part of his personality. Of course his departure means a search begins again for the next laureate. I have a list in my head of several men and women who I believe would be extraordinary candidates. I am hopeful that perhaps we will see a woman this next time.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Oh How True!

I was an accomplice in my own frustration. ~Peter Shaffer

**expletive deleted!**

I went in to work on Wednesday and left for the day at 10:00a.m. feeling sick. The days recuperation helped and I went back to work today. I managed to get through it but by the end of the day I was beat.

My Sinuses are driving me crazy tonight and I want to scream. It's hot ( checked the thermostat and it was on 79) ZAP!!! The a/c is on. I feel mildly insane at the moment, and all of the things that I planned to say over the past couple days that I have not blogged seemed to have left me or are less relevant that my current tantrum.