Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Deep thoughts...

If hell had a theme song it would be Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up."

I bet you Middlebrow's "theme song for life" is worse than yours

Tipola to the Urban Spelunker at the SLTurbulant. Go to
This day in Music enter your 18th birthhday and find the "Theme song of your life."

Mine is (I curse you gods!) "Man Down Under" by the never-talented Men At Work.

Middlebrow's was a crime to music, however: Chicago's "Look Away."

Poor Mid-B. Poor me. What horrific theme songs for our lives.

What's yours?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Stepping out

Stepping out
Originally uploaded by Theorris.

Assertively Unhip, Hightouch Megastore, and Middlebrow out on the town! Chicago will never recover.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"Crushing blow"

Sleepy E's Way of the Puck got a nice write-up in the Houston Chronicle:
"These people welcomed me into their lives and trusted that I would not mock them and make them look like air-hockey versions of Trekkies." (Air-hockey champ gives a crushing blow)

The film (which I had the honor to seen an advance copy of) will be at the Houston International Film Festival next month (or is it World Fest?).
Excellent work, E!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Stacker of wheat

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders

Carl Sandburg, "Chicago"

So I'm off to Chicago for the rest of the week. I haven't been to Chicago for hmm over five years now. Chicago to me is one of those cities that just seems to welcome you like a German grandmother: all hugs and bratwursts. "Wilkommen! Haben Sie gegessen?" she seems to say (although I doubt your German grandmother is going to use the formal case as I think I have done here.) I've never felt anxious or threatened in Chicago--not like say New York or San Francisco where I always feel that slight edge that some punk is going to step out of an alleyway and take a bat to me for my money.

Of course my feelings are not borne out by the city's overall history, in that historically it has been quite a rough-and-tumble town only surpassed by, perhaps, Kansas City for overall American rough-and-tumbleness. Chicago and violence, as the poet would have it, go right along with each other like onions on a hot dog. I suppose if I looked up the crime statistics, as well, I would probably find Chicago is still right up there with any big American city (but I don't think I'm going to do that.) Yet somehow I am never threatened by Chicago; it just seems like a cozy but giant midwestern city that opens up and takes you inside out of the cold wind.

So what's my point? Perhaps it is just a way for me to build up a necessary and proper tenseness that a visit to a modern megalopolis requires so as not become one of those very same crime statistics.


Did I ever tell you about the time in Baltimore where I made a "donation" to a guy who had "just gotten out of the Baltimore county lock up?" Now that was the moment when I could have become a statistic. Luckily I only had 5 bucks in my wallet and he saw that.

Like Chicago, Baltimore if one of my favorite cities, by the way. I could wander all day through the shadiest of areas and never feel like I'm in danger, even though, quite probably, I am.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Three for the commute


Shoud shave
He thought when he awoke
But that would take minutes
And he only had hours

So he swung out of bed
Pulled on his clothes
Not seeing the sun in patches
Dancing across the floor


The slow kid was out
Counting time again
On the train platform

"This one's two minutes,
That one's four" he repeated
Gesturing wildly to no one
First north, then south
"Two minutes four!"

He gave the people starring
At him a desperate look
Staggering from one end
Of the platform to the other
"This one's two minutes,
That one's four! This one's
two! That one's four!"


The wake and bake twins
On the train this morning
Talk bitches and hos and shit,
Guns pointed at their heads
And how baked they
Got the night before
And how one or the
Other's mom sucks
And how freaking
Boring all this shit is

But that's no big deal
You know, since it is
Better to be alive and
Bored than dead
You're treated like shit
You know, but what
The fuck.

And what day is it?

Yeah, what the fuck.

Poetry break or Brought to you by the National Fix-up and Paint Commission

I was goofing off today downtown having paid a visit to the Salt Lake Art Center to see the Motherwell exhibit that is current showing (more on that later, I should think) and wandered over to Sam Weller's afterwards ostensibly just to get a coffee and see if they had any new used Gallway Kinnell (thanks Hightouch for reminding me that I enjoy Gallway Kinnell) and ended up finding the latest McSweeney's (The McSweeney's Store--for those of you who refuse to leave the house). The latest edition is much less fanciful than the previous edition (which was brilliantly packaged as asorted mail you might receive in your very own mailbox, q.v., including an advertisement for something like "togetherness clothes" and various official looking letters which were, in fact, short stories). The latest McSweeney's, however, came bundled with a DVD Wholphin which is a collection of short films and other video oddities such as a Turkish sitcom with subtitles rewritten by 6 different writers and a 50's civil defense film which unironically proclaims "it is the white house in the middle which will survive a nuclear attack!" (or something like that. There was definitely an exclamation point at the end of the sentence, however.) There are many fine pieces on the DVD, but I would say my favorite (I've watched it three times now) is "Death of a Hen" based on a Grimm's fairytale by Brian Dewan. Poor animals. They all end up dead. I laugh each time I see the final slide in which the narrator proclaims "So then they were all dead."

Back to poetry.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Haiku on posting nothing but poetry during Spring break

Poetry quiets an
Audience faster than a

Haiku on the contemporary experience of snow storms

They scream as their car
Slides helplessly into mine.
What terrible drivers.


Shakespeare and I go out drinking one night.
It is cold, so I offer Shakespeare my
Long coat to brave the cold and snowy gloom.
(He is wearing those fancy pantaloons
With long gartered stockings--so inappro-
Priate.) But we end up only at the
Corner Tesoro to buy some cheap beer.
"Firke!" Shakespeare exclaims, "Wherefore art we here!"
"Well you're the one with the coin," I say punch-
Ing his arm. "I am but a poor fool, lack-
Ing that which would profer us more profit-
Able imbibment." "Heave over," he cries,
And calls a cab, so we wander into
The dark night, seeking Queen Mab, or good beer.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


You can't write a real poem on a computer,
Just like you can't draw a proper picture
Without whooping the daylights out of paper.

Look at this kid drawing:

Originally uploaded by Stebbi.


Your whole body has to be into the action,
You have to get your feet up against that wall
And push with your whole might to write it

(If you want it right,
that is)

You have to move the arm so
You have to cut the paper with the pen
You have to get the best of it
Wrestling with the words
Pinning them to the table

It has got to be messy, my friend
You've got to bleed ink on your fingers
You've got to get a paper cut
Or two
It's the way it is,
Yes it is

Heart pounding
Head sweating
Biting your lip as the paper crumples

The whole lot

You have to feel the poem under your hands
Until it surrenders
Calls uncle
Then, breathless, laughs with you
At the childlike absurdity of the

"Thortable" used by permission. © 2006 by Steffan Kjartansson. Available from 5

Friday, March 10, 2006


This is the cause of that thought

1. The crew

Clifford Ross: Do you think [the crew in Moby Dick] had the same feeling--that things were going faster and faster and leading nowhere? Is whaling just a chase without end?

Laurie Anderson: It's a job. It's a workingman's book, staring guys who are working. It's not Goethe, where a hero goes out, is challenged ande learns things. These men work hard, and they sail, and they drown. And it's not just that they're going to drown, it's that they're being led by a madman who they don't understand and they follow him because he has has unbelievable charisma. He knows what he's looking for. How do you drive men to action? You get some really good bait and dangle it in front of their eyes. Ahab did not have great respect for his crew; he thought they'd only respond to money. Now that is the great American story.

CR: The only explanation that I found in the book for why they kept going was the golden Spanish coin. Of course it's a ridiculous incentive. Were Tashtego, Queequeg or Stubb after that god coin? Or were they swept up by something exciting and abstract? Did the whale become their goal, too, by proximity to Ahab's crazed, infectious drive?

LA: They basically forgot what they were doing for several hundred pages. Time and place are gone in this book, they're lost from the first minute they get out of Nantucket.

CR: What keeps them going?

LA: what keeps anyone going? When your alarm clock rings, you don't get up and say, Why am I in the world? You get up because you have to be at your job on time. It's simpler to think of small things.

CR: When Melville was writing, do you think that he wanted the reader to experience the book through Ahab, or Ishmael? Whose journey is it?

LA: I think we're meant to be omniscient in ways that many readers would never want to be. You only see from Ishmael's point of view initially. Around page 100, when they ship out, it becomes a collection of essays and the thread is Ahab, but it's not longer really a story. It's an adventure on a certain level, but raising and lowering sails doesn't advance a story. In fact, the story itself is rather static. Ahab is crazy from the beginning and he doesn't really change, expect a tiny bit at the end. (Ross, Clifford. "Laurie Anderson." Bomb: The Arts and Culture Quarterly. Fall 1999: No. 69. p. 65)

2. "It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul."

Oliver Parker's Othello had opened in the United States on 15 December 1995. As played at such a moment, it could not but take on a particular topical resonance. Antoehr story composed of the same essential narrative ingredients had until very recently enthralled the United States (and the world beyond) as it played out under the spotlight of saturation media coverge [sic]. The verdict at the trial of the black American football player, O.J. Simpson, accused of murdering his white ex-wife, ahd been delivered on 3 October 1995 after almost nine months of testimony. The political and emotional fall-out from what became known as 'the trial of the centruy' was still being felt as Parker's Othello took to the screens. The points of intersection between the two stories were difficult to avoid. In both, the central protagonist was a black man celebrated by white society for his heroic performances in a masculine, combative endeavour (soldiery/football). Each had married a white woman (Desdemona/Nicole Brown), attracting a blaze of publicity in the process, and each had subsequently suspected her of having a sexual relationship with a white man (Michael Cassio/Ronald Goldman). After the murder, each displayed self-dramatising suicidal tendencies: Othello delibers a dramatic speech of self-exoneration before his public, choreographed suicide, and Simpson had, it seems, written a suicide note before being shown on live television holding a gun to his own head on a Los Angeles freeway. In an uncanny echo of Othello's self-portrait as 'one that lov'd not wisely, but too well' (V.ii.345), Simpson's suicide note included the claim that 'If [Nicole and I] had a problem, it's because I loved her so much'. The sentiment was reiterated later in the note: 'I loved her; make that clear to everyone.' His 'make that clear to everyone' exhibits the same concern for how he will be remembered after his death that motivates Othello's comparably insistent 'set you down this' (V.ii.352) in his final speech. Neither, it seems, could contemplate suicide without having first scripted a romanticized version of his own history and stipulated that its central tenets be 'ma[d]e…clear to everyone', or 'set down' as authoritative. (Buchanan, Judith. Shakespeare on Film. New York: Pearson Longman, 2004. 110-111)

3. "Thou talk'st of nothing."

Romeo: He gad in triumph, and Mercutio slain?
Away to heaven, respective lenity,
And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now.
Now, Tybalt, take the 'villain' back again
That late thou gav'st me, for Mercutio's soul
Is but a little way above our heads,
Staying for thine to keep him company.
Either thou, or I, or both must go with him.
Tybalt: Thou, wretched boy, that didst consort him here,
Shalt with him hence.
Romeo: This shall determine that.
They fight. Tybalt falls [and dies]
(The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, III.i.117-127)

4. Suffer him

But it came to pass within a while after, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a kid; and he said, I will go in to my wife into the chamber. But her father would not suffer him to go in.

And her father said, I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her; therefore I gave her to thy companion: is not her younger sister fairer than she? take her, I pray thee, instead of her.

And Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blameless than the Philistines, though I do them a displeasure.

And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails.

And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives.

Then the Philistines said, Who hath done this? And they answered, Samson, the son in law of the Timnite, because he had taken his wife, and given her to his companion. And the Philistines came up, and burnt her and her father with fire.

And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.

And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam. (Judges 15:1-8)

5. Purge

Now she's done and they're calling someone
Such a familiar name
I'm so glad that my memories remote
Cause I'm doing just fine hour to hour, note to note
Here it is the revenge to the tune
You're no good,
You're no good you're no good you're no good
Can't you tell that it's well understood
I'm never gonna know you now, but I’m gonna love you anyhow
I'm here today and expected to stay on and on and on
I'm tired
I'm tired
Looking out on the substitute scene
Still going strong
Xo, mom
It's ok, it's all right, nothing's wrong
(Smith, Elliott. "Waltz #1." XO.)




This is the thought

The madness plays out
Like a sad song
Or a somber book
Or thoughtful analysis
Or bible verse
Or an interview
Or tragedy

Moby Dick
Romeo and Juliet
the Samson story
the Elliott Smith song

In horror movies monsters don't win.
In Moby Dick the monster
(Moby Dick)

Is Ahab the real monster?
Poised with his harpoon
Screaming into the dark storm
Wailing to the God who makes
The shark
Consider the sea
Consider the deep

Is fire-eyed Romeo his monster?
"I am fortune's fool!"
He screams having
Killed Tybalt,
The king of cats,
And eats his banishment
With a side order
Of suicide and murder.

Is Othello the rational monster?
Forcing reason to his unreasonable
Sweating thoughts of Desdemona.
He becomes the thing he denies he is.

(No. No. No.
Do not touch the modern.
Do not let the image of a dog licking blood
Off a sidewalk enter into your mind.)

And Samson, in his monstrous anger, burns the town
Using three hundred foxes as the instrument
Of righteous indignation, and that town turns about
To kill that which they perceive to be the cause.
And his revenge will be complete, hip and thigh

All seek
The one cause.
The one problem.
The one fix.

And poor Elliott, singing through the bottles
And the bottles singing through him
Sings, completely misaimed in his vengeance:
Confused, rash, uncertain
Leading him to drive a knife into his chest
Like Juliet, poor monster,
Thy lips are warm.

Vengeance wants to be rational
Supposes sense and becomes (just) irrational,

Ahab maddeningly seeks
The beast that took his leg,
As if the creature had sense.
And offers gold to those who
Follow him.

Romeo, Romeo, Romeo
Kills Tybalt out of convention
He cannot even see
The white whale he should be

(O! O! O!)
Believes he is wronged
Stifles the alabaster
Love he believes wronged him
With a pillow on their marriage bed

Need one go on?

Vengeance, the monster.
Pity this poor monster manunkind.

It wants some sense
But like the white whale
Has none
And they, all of them
Think they have it
With these rash acts
Of white anger.

Something bonds these men/monsters
(And they all are men and monsters):
A belief in sane act
For insane reason
Their eyes see the need

But we the watcher
We the reader
We the listerner
We the feeler of
The knife's point
The fingers around the neck
The eaters of charred earth
The mourners
And sometimes the ones who
Kill for vengeance
(So angry we see white)

We peer into the dark edge of that
Insanity and cry
Like Elliott Smith
Harpoon or rapier or sword or knife
Poised to be driven

The dark rolling waters


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Honeycomb's big, yeah yeah, its not small, no no no

All right out of a need to be contradictory (oh you could say hypocritical, but hypocrit is such an ugly word) with my rambling post from earlier today, here is my top 10 list of CDs that came out last year that I purchased:

1) Beck--Guero
2) The (International) Noise Consipiracy--Armed Love
3) Eels--Blinking Lights and Other Revelations
4) The Dandy Warhols--Odditorium or the War Lords of Mars
5) Stephen Malkmus--Face The Truth
6) Iron & Wine--Woman King
7) The Kills--Now Wow
8) Frank Black--Honeycomb
9) Sigur Ros--Takk
10) Rotten Musicians--Make a Face

Damn that was hard. No wonder I hate ordering things into lists. Most of those could easily interchange. #10, as well, is a local band to good old SLC. Look them up. They rock hard. They rock Pippi Longstocking-style.

I think this little excercise in list-making has changed my perspective on such things--slightly. The world feels like a more orderly place now that I've decided which CD is better than the rest.

Morning ramble or the dangers of blogging or violating all my rules

I've been meaning to write about "best of" lists and how much I dislike them. The top ten vogue to me is just utter silliness in that I can't imagine having a "favorite" anything let alone a ranking of top ten of them. This behavior, of course, is just a big mask for my surprising lack of taste. Don't get me wrong, there are things that I dislike in this world--things that bug the hell out of me or things that just turn me right off, but on the whole I can find value in most things.

What crap. I am probably the most biased person I know when it comes to things cultural. Hmm. Which is it then?

I guess that's the whole problem: I'm of two minds on most issues. I guess that is because when it comes to something like music, for example, I don't really think about it musically or performance-wise, but more in a functional sense: what can I do with that? What bizzare project does it stir up in my brain. For example with the aforementioned music I tend to go cinematic--plotting out music videos or movies which I think the song/music could go to. In that way something as dull and prefab as Teenage Fanclub has potential beyond its watered-down riffs or even, God forbid, some drivel excreted by an American Idol star can be useful.

Yet amongst the functionalist approach to music I also bear great hate towards some artists and enjoy mocking or openly castigating them. Hmm, again.

I was telling Mid-B the other day that this blogging stuff is bad for my writing. It really is just one big public scratch pad for me. Eesh. Perhaps I should make a resolution (another thing I dislike that seems to be well-received--the new years resolution) to spend more time on these things and not just set it and forget it, as the famous informercial would have it.

Funny this, I also dislike writing about blogging or the appearance of said blogs--especially my own. Guess I'm just breaking all the rules this morning, aren't I?

What the hell was I writing about?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Har Kommer Pippi Langstrump!

I don't care what anyone says, Pippi Longstocking rocked.

Made you laugh, didn't I?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Speed travel

Spring has suddenly gotten the best of me, I think. I've been harboring fantasies of travel. I catch myself thinking about high speed trips across the flats of Wyoming to some unknown destination in the East, or about getting lost on a long hike in the San Rafael swell here in Good Old Utah. All that sounds quite reasonable in that I might just wander out one of these weekends now that it is warmer and do that very thing with all my camping gear in tow, but it is more than that: I've come under the affliction of a desire to speed travel again. "Speed travel? What is that?" I hear you ask. Read on.

The other day I found myself staring at a copy of National Geographic wondering how much a flight was to Venice for a weekend a month or so from now. Of course I immediately went and check it out ($1098 round trip), and felt extra-foolish since I know I would never be able to see anything in Venice in the mere 6 to 12 hours I would have there. Then again, I think I would much prefer to visit the city and move on as quickly as possible--even if it meant coming back pretty much the same time one arrives.

You see that used to be my modus operandi when traveling: get there quickly and then move on. I've done this since I took various trips with my brother as a teenager and college student. We would drive all night and day and night to get somewhere and then once there we would do whatever it was we went there fore and then hit the road again. No malingering for us! We spent, for example, 3 days getting to Toronto and then spent like 12 hours in the city--and half of that was sleeping.

This behavior, of course, is an extraordinarily bad and annoying travel habit, especially if you are traveling with someone who wants to soak in the local color, or wants to sit and watch the natives, or even just a pretty sunset. Nope, none of that for me. In such situation I always desire to be 200 miles further down the road: always on the move--never stuck to one destination.

What is the cause of this travel depravity? Why do I lake the desire to go to a place and "soak it in?" There is something Zen and something ADHD in my response to those questions, but I'll just keep that to myself.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006