Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Which Mythological Form are You

from Lorna:

I dunno, Dean says I act like a princess sometimes.
You are Form 1, Goddess: The Creator.

"And The Goddess planted the acorn of life.
She cried a single tear and shed a single drop
of blood upon the earth where she buried it.
From her blood and tear, the acorn grew into
the world."

Some examples of the Goddess Form are Gaia (Greek),
Jehova (Christian), and Brahma (Indian).
The Goddess is associated with the concept of
creation, the number 1, and the element of
Her sign is the dawn sun.

As a member of Form 1, you are a charismatic
individual and people are drawn to you.
Although sometimes you may seem emotionally
distant, you are deeply in tune with other
people's feelings and have tremendous empathy.
Sometimes you have a tendency to neglect your
own self. Goddesses are the best friends to
have because they're always willing to help.

Which Mythological Form Are You?
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America's Most Literate Cities

We're number one (again). No surprise. It's so gray and dark and rainy here for six months of the year, that we all sit inside and read, or go to a book group, or a writng group. It's that or jump of one of our many bridges. ~grin~
And look at Minnesota, with Minneapolis and St. Paul in the top 10.
See full study here.

The Top Ten

1. Seattle, WA
2. Minneapolis, MN
3. Washington, DC
4. Atlanta, GA
5. San Francisco, CA
6. Denver, CO
7. Boston, MA
8. Pittsburgh, PA
9. Cincinnati, OH
9 (tie) St. Paul, MN

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Orchid Flower

After seven years the orchid that Ly Sieng gave Dean and I is finally blooming, from the window in the basement stairway. I hope this is a good omen for things to come.
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Monday, November 28, 2005

I think it's done now

Thank you to C. and K. for reading the next book and giving me some of your thoughts. I made some finishing touches on it over the weekend, and am really happy with how it has turned out. I think it's done now. I hope it's done now.

I was reading Wallace Stevens yesterday, and I think I finally understand what he was trying to say in this poem.

The Planet On The Table

Ariel was glad he had written his poems.
They were of a remembered time
Or of something seen that he liked.

Other makings of the sun
Were waste and welter
And the ripe shrub writhed.

His self and the sun were one
And his poems, although makings of his self,
Were no less makings of the sun.

It was not important that they survive.
What mattered was that they should bear
Some lineament or character,

Some affluence, if only half-perceived,
In the poverty of their words,
Of the planet of which they were part.

— Wallace Stevens

Sunday, November 27, 2005

OMG: I can't believe we pulled this one out of the hat.

FINAL (overtime)

0 10 3 8 (0) >>21

7 0 7 7 (3) >>24

Nobody is Immune

Found an interesting blog this morning, written by a couple in which one partner has become HIV+, and documenting how they are dealing with it emotionally (and practically), as well as linking to news items about political/legal issues, studies and research.

PS: I'm sorry, but the Donovan concert sucked. His voice was off, he performed way too many songs "from the 70's" that were awful, and too many "here's a new song I just wrote" that were really awful. He was hawking his new book and 4-CD boxed set every five minutes. We came to hear Donovan from the 60's, but we only got a little taste. Oh well. At least dinner at Cascadia was fabulous.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Wear Your Love Like Heaven

Colour in sky prussian blue
Scarlet fleece changes hue
Crimson ball sinks from view

Wear your love like heaven (wear your love like)
Wear your love like heaven (wear your love like)
Wear your love like heaven (wear your love)

Lord, kiss me once more
Fill me with song
Allah, kiss me once more
That I may, that I may


Yes: the Donovan concert is tonight. Dinner out first at Cascadia. I'm smiling inside and out.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Brokeback Mountain

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I just read the original Annie Proulx short story that this movie is based upon. Wow. Terrific sad beautiful moving story. I can only hope the movie is half as good. And, from the trailer, it looks like Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal have on-screen chemistry galore. Hot hot hot. With a great soundtrack to boot. In theaters December 9th.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

There will be about 30 people gathering at the home of one of my sister's and her husband. Dean and I are bringing wine, an apple pie, and a pecan pie. I am really looking forward to seeing everybody. Our family has a lot to be thankful for: Two healthy babies born this year. A niece doing very well with her type I diabetes. A sister finished with chemo and radiation treatments, her hair growing back beautiful and thick and black, her breast cancer hopefully cured.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Monday, November 21, 2005

Congratulations to Scott Hightower, whose new book, Part of the Bargain, is just out from Copper Canyon. Read the poem "Falling Man" here. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 20, 2005


It was much closer than it needed to be. At least the better team won.

3 14 10 0 -27

3 6 3 13 -25

The New York Dolls

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A fascinating new documentary at Northwest Film Forum in Seattle, about the life of former New York Dolls bassist Arthur "Killer" Kane (on the far left). After the seminal glam-punk band flamed out in 1975, he eventually turned to the Mormon church, where he quietly worked in their genealogy department — until 2004 when Morrissey reunited the surviving Dolls for a concert in London. It's amazing to see David Johansen (a cheaper, trashier, version of Mick Jagger) and Sylvain Sylvain meet with Arthur for the first time in 30 years, and play their songs live. The music is still streetwise and edgy, and there is a bit of a surprise ending. The Dolls both scared and intrigued me back in the 70's, when I was a lusty teenager. And now I feel I understand them a little better. You must see this amazing documentary!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

NBA, Music, Dance

Congratulations to the good folks at Copper Canyon. It has been a good week for them: according to an article in the Seattle PI, not only did W.S. Merwin win the National Book Award for Migration, but Copper Canyon also learned they had been awarded a $50,000 grant from the NEA and a $450,000 grant from the Lannan Foundation. Rock on!

On another note, I spent most of Friday at a Continuing Ed course: Why Music Moves Us: The Cognitive Neuroscience of Music. It was fascinating, but a bit over my head. I understood things such as the difference between "unison" and "harmony" (something all couples should know . . . ~grin~). And I understood octaves and fifths and all that. But the "circle of fifths" and "temperament" and the "Art of the Fugue" . . . I was lost.

It was fascinating to learn how music is being used to help stroke and Parkison's patients. Apparently music (especially rhythm) uses neural pathways that are not as affected by the disease, and that timing walking exercises or speech exercises, for instance, to a metronome, or to music, helps patients make up for some of their deficits. There was great video of a man who could hardly walk, but when the therapist played "Back in the Saddle Again" on the stereo, he could just about dance across the floor.

On yet another note . . . Dean and I went out with our good friends Kevin and Bob last night to see Pilobolus Dance Group perform at Meany Hall. What a trip! The things they can do with their bodies. (And what bodies . . . talk about in shape). My favorite piece was a pas de deux (of sorts) for two men, where both dancers are suspended in the air by one arm from a sling, and doing these very masculine movements floating together, or apart, as if they are one moment lovers, one moment enemies fighting. Just a wonderful piece.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

My Lobotomy

This story broadcast on NPR last night really creeped me out. The before and after photos of the 12 year old boy, Howard Dully, are truly disturbing. He was lobotomized by Dr. Walter Freeman in 1960, for no other reason than that his new stepmother didn't like him. It's a gruesome technique, where a tool like an ice pick is thrust into the corner of your eye and up into the front part of your brain, and then twirled around a few times. I had nightmares about zombie children in nightgowns wandering halls with blood dripping from the corners of their eyes, holding their trembling hands to their faces. Very scary.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Home and Warm

Dean passed all the tests with flying colors. They adjusted his blood pressure meds, and hopefully that'll do the trick.

It's funny, but if one more staff person at the hospital had asked if I were his "son," I was afraid Dean was going to haul off and clobber them (~grin~), so I guess it is good they made us go home.

Thanks for the kind wishes, it means a lot.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Dean is in the hospital. Just a minor scare with his heart. All the tests are normal so far. I'm sure he'll be fine and go home tomorrow. It's hard to be a doctor as well as a spouse at times like this. All good wishes appreciated.
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My mother made me a needlepoint hanging of this Norman Rockwell painting, so I could hang it in my office at work. I guess it is the image she has in her mind of what I do there. I'm not sure whether to feel touched or a little weird-ed out.

Make sure to get your flu shot!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Coathanger Bent Into a Halo

Check out Mary Karr's terrific essay, "Facing Altars: Poetry and Prayer," in the current issue of Poetry, about her conversion to Catholicism about 15 years ago, to help her stay sober. It sounds corny and 12-step simple, but it's really a very thoughtful piece. Almost made me want to be a practicing Catholic again (or at least to pray).

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Had a wonderful lunch with Rebecca Loudon at my house today. She made us an exquisite spinach salad with red onions and hard boiled eggs and vinaigrette, and we added some goat cheese and some pears from my garden. (Dean and I pick pears early, in August and September when they are still firm, and put them in the basement refrigerator, and bring them out one or two at a time, to finish ripening on the kitchen counter. If we're lucky, we are eating delicious perfect pears until spring, when blossom are beginning to form on the tree again). Rebecca and I had sparkling water with lime wedges and listened to Donovan and gossiped about you-know-who-you-are (~grin~). Then we put on our coats and went for a walk in the pea patch gardens across the street, and touched all the dewy winter flowers and hips and grasses, and looked at the giant butterfly and dragonfly mosaics. Back in my yard, Rebecca pinched the leaf of a scented geranium and said, Smell my finger! It's roses! And a cat followed us meowing.


I'm also reading Rynn Williams' Adonis Garage winner of the 2004 Prairie Schooner Book Award, and just out from U. of Nebraska Press. The disco ball lights on the cover are perfect for this first book with poems recalling wild days of the 70's and 80's (I'm assuming) full of drugs, dancing, gay bars, drag queens. Reality hits home, friends die, she perhaps has an abusive boyfriend, eventually gets married and has kids, and later finds she is "Positive" with "Hep C." My favorite poem in the book is "In the Window of the DV8 Store Near My House." The poet is trying to explain to her three year-old daughter the collection of S/M paraphernalia she sees in a store window: "How do I tell her that sometimes you love/and hate at once? That there will be/serious games of hide and seek, you'll want/the bad guy to tie you to a stake, and also want/the prince to burst in and save you — . . ."

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Good Morning Iraq

I've been reading the new Brian Turner book of poems, Here, Bullet, winner of the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award from Alice James (don't you just love Alice James Books?). Turner was recently a soldier in Iraq, and many of these poems were written during his time there. The book is being compared to Komunyakaa's Dien Cai Dau. In these poems we are given gruesome details of suicide bombings in the streets, instructions for how to invade a civilian home (do not say "Stop! or I'll shoot," but "Good Morning," as you are kicking down the door), weird hallucinations from malaria pills, accounts of soldiers (and civilians) shooting and being shot, soldiers dying injured on evacuation flights or putting a rifle in their mouth to end it all. We are also given an account of the animals escaping the Iraq zoo after the initial invasion (a terrific poem to open the first section with), poems about seeing archeological sites in Iraq, and some historical poems about Iraq under previous sieges. It was a good read: the writing is tight and evocative; I enjoyed the transliterations of Arabic words; I enjoyed the authenticity of someone who was actually there. The only thing missing for me: there is nothing about why the poet is there in the first place. Not a clear note of inquiry or speculation or doubt about the "mission." Of wonder about its "rightness or wrongness." Perhaps it is a standard military thing: not to question. But I think it is a significant omission.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Last Day of Call

I am feeling a little giddy this AM, as it is the last day of a week of after-hours and hospital call. It has been a fairly steady week, with a few adult inpatient admissions and about half a dozen newborns so far. I just love rounding on the babies. With names like Hernandez, Garcia, Saechao, Tran, Ng, Jones. Imagine: these kids are going to be part of the HS class of 2023.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Can Cats Make You Crazy?

Light Poetry

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Wave Press, the new Seattle-based poetry publisher headed by Joshua Beckman is hosting a "poetry event" at the Henry Art Gallery's awesome and serene James Turrell "light chapel." There will be two "seatings," at 3pm and 4pm, Saturday, November 19th, featuring Beckman, Mathew Rohrer, Jen Bervin, and Dorothea Lasky. Reserve a space by emailing

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

What Kind of Postmodernist Are You?

. . . from Reb-L's blog:

tortured conceptual artist
You are a Tortured Conceptual Artist. Your fellow
postmodernists call you an anachronism, but
you've never cared much about the opinions of
others. After all, most of them are far too
simple-minded to appreciate the nuances of your
work. They talk, while you are part of a lived

What kind of postmodernist are you!?
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I *Heart* Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver is reading tonight in Seattle, at Town Hall, a venue that seats about 3000 people and is SOLD OUT (correction: the hall seats 900 people; still that's a hell of a lot for a poetry reading). I know her poetry (or at least a specific poem and its "dead kitten poetics") has been pilloried of late in the blogosphere. But I think she has written a lot of terrific poems. You have to read her for what she is, a kind of Romantic/Transcendentalist. She looks to nature for instruction on the self. Nature is just one big teeming pool of metaphors for her spriritual growth. Occasionally she comes off as preachy; but often she is quite illuminating. For more on this see the Mark Doty essay here.

Here's a poem that I think could be her ars poetica. It is one of my favorite Oliver poems:

The Lilies Break Open Over the Dark Water

that mud-hive, that gas-sponge,
that reeking
leaf-yard, that rippling

dream-bowl, the leeches'
flecked and swirling
broth of life, as rich
as Babylon,

the fists crack
open and the wands
of the lilies
quicken, they rise

like pale poles
with their wrapped beaks of lace;
one day
they tear the surface,

the next they break open
over the dark water.
And there you are
on the shore,

fitful and thoughtful, trying
to attach them to an idea —
some news of your own life.
But the lilies

are slippery and wild — they are
devoid of meaning, they are
simply doing,
from the deepest

spurs of their being,
what they are impelled to do
every summer.
And so, dear sorrow, are you.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Yellow Leaves

Sonnet 73

That time of year thou mayest in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

I found myself reciting this sonnet from memory to Dean as we were driving out to the University district today. It came out of nowhere, reminding me of my Shakespeare class in the 70's with Dr. Coldeway. It's so sappy (the sonnet) but so perfect.

Compare it to this contemporary lyric from the Mamas and the Papas, which is an obvious rip-off (~grin~), right down to the church, the preacher, the love interest, and "death's second self" in the guise of a journey to LA:

California Dreamin'

All the leaves are brown
And the sky is gray
I've been for a walk
On a winter's day

I'd be safe and warm
If I was in L.A.
California dreamin'
On such a winter's day

Stopped into a church
I passed along the way
Oh, I got down on my knees
And I pretend to pray

You know the preacher likes the cold
He knows I'm gonna stay
California dreamin'
On such a winter's day

All the leaves are brown
And the sky is gray
I've been for a walk
On a winter's day

If I didnt tell her
I could leave today
California dreamin'
On such a winter's day

(California dreamin')
On such a winter's day
(California dreamin')
On such a winter's day

Saturday, November 05, 2005

I'm Just Mad About Saffron . . .

I'm so excited. Donovan is coming to the Moore Theater in Seattle this Thanksgiving weekend. My Hurdy Gurdy man and I are going! Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Persephone

Pomegranate Martini Recipe:

1-2 tsp Knudsen's Pomegranate Juice Concentrate
1-2 oz water
4 oz Vodka
2 oz Cointreau
juice of one lime
5-6 ice cubes

Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and mix thoroughly.
Strain into chilled martini glasses.
Garnish with a lime wedge and 3-4 pomegranate seeds.
Enough for 2 large or 4 small martinis.

Comment: Looks like a Cosmo, but darker and more mysterious. One sip and the door to the underworld opens for you.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

C Wing

Catherine Wing gave a terrific reading at Open Books tonight, from her new book Enter Invisible. A standing room only crowd, including Richard Kenny, who I believe was a former professor of hers at the UW MFA program, and dozens of local poets (you know who you are!). Catherine read a good sampling of poems from the book, including some fun "Tom & Jerry" poems, a riddle on the "Nay-Word," an Abecedarian, the two Keillor poems, and more. As well as some new work. She ended the reading with a little performance piece where Cody Walker (another CW) read her hilarious poem "The Pitch" while she stood to the side and tossed off cue cards with key words from the poem written on them. What a hoot!

Dean and I didn't make it to the after-party at KF's. On call for a week starting tomorrow, and I wanted to get my sleep (I'm not getting any younger, you know).

the happy uncle . . .

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The happy parents & baby

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

In the latest issue of Poets & Writers, Joseph Bednarik asks the question: "would you prefer a beautifully produced physical book, with the guarantee that it would find two thousand engaged readers, or no physical book, but the guarantee that through various means of publication--anthologies, newspapers, magazines, the Internet, and so on--the poems would find an audience of twenty thousand engaged readers. . . . Either choice has equal effect on job security and advancement, review attention, and financial rewards." He was surprised to find most writers he asked this question of informally wanted the physical book. You can take the opinion poll online at Poets & Writers, where currently the vote is running about 54% to 46% to publish via alternative means and reach a larger audience. I dunno . . . I think I would want the physical book most of all. Though I love all the alternative means of getting poems into the world as well.

I am reminded of something James Merrill said once about poetry, and its small audience, and if he wished he had a larger audience for his work. His answer went something like: "Think what one has to do to get a mass audience. I'd rather have one perfect reader. Why dynamite the pond in order to catch that single silver carp?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I'm So Confused

He who hesitates is lost.
Look before you leap.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Better safe than sorry.

Variety is the spice of life.
Never change horses midstream.

Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Clothes make the man.

A penny saved is a penny earned.
Penny wise and pound foolish.

Too many cooks spoils the broth.
Many hands make light work.

The pen is mightier than the sword.
Actions speak louder than words.

Out of sight, out of mind.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
It’s never too late to learn.