Friday, December 23, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011


Originally uploaded by Clint Gardner

At the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Stop the downloading

Hotel Balderdash


You have another year of Signifying nothing to look forward to.

Cheery chimbah.

Cheery chimbah.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tuesday's child is full of grace: A decade of Signifying nothing

Apparently I was traveling then, and concerned about web design.

Go figure.

¡Feliz diez!

Funny thing is, I'm still rabies:

I am Rabies. Grrrrrrrr!
Which Horrible Affliction are you?
A Rum and Monkey disease.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Dear customer,

You are being sent this message because you are a contact for the domain

This domain will expire at the Registry in 30 days, on 2011-12-10 18:13.

If you would like to keep this domain, you must renew it before this date. The domain will be renewable at the normal price until 2012-01-09 08:13
If, on however, you do not want to keep it, there is nothing more that you need to do.

If you do nothing, then will go back on the open market on or around 2012-02-13 18:13 (the exact date may very slightly depending on the registry and the time zone differences).

Thank you for choosing Gandi!

Best Regards,

10th anniversary, yo!

Signifying nothing reader Eric Anderson has pointed out that the new "dynamic views" that our esteemed blog was experimenting with for a few weeks was not readable on his electronic communications device.

So fuck that fancy-pants shit.  We're back to basics.

Here is a picture of a cat:

So much for that.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

iPad note poem number 9: Arab spring

iPad note poem number 9: Arab spring

The city turned cold
Men and women have found
Their lost coats
Hiding from the wind
In spidered closets

"God damn, it is cold,"
They say stamping booted feet
And clapping mittened hands
"Think it will snow?"
There is no appropriate
Response so they ask
Again, breath wafting
From their mouth like the
Demon seed of hope
Floating higher and higher
Above the city where
Finally, it crystallizes
And falls too gently
On the oil slick

Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Encephalitis lethargica

There is no dream
In the disease of sleep
Meatloaf please
Here you go

There is no sleep
In the disease of dreams
I'm sorry, I was only kidding

Are you visiting someone?
You're a patient?
You don't look like a patient.
I don't?

Did you choose this place?

Where else is there?

And somehow we wake up
Each day, a simple mantra
Of self-loathing on our lips

Give me a Rob Roy
On the rocks.

My mother doesn't think

I receive medication
For what
Stored up like your

That's what I hear
That's what I didn't want to do

I didn't want to tell you
I didn't want to tell you

You know you made me love

It was nice talking to you

Take me away from this

How's it going?

How's it going?

My son has disappeared.

That's how I feel.


That's really nice.

He'd die without me.


Hello.  I need to talk to


Are you all right?


The simplest thing.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

IPad Note Poem no 8: the psoriatic

IPad Note Poem no 8: the psoriatic

It starts on the calves
The skin reddens
Swells and itches
It is only later that
The scales come
If they come at all
And then the shame

Of course, it is known
That it is not one's
Fault. No pecuniary
Damage can be assessed
But tell that to the
In-born savage who
Sees patterns in the
Cracking skin: the
Mark of the Devil
The hooves of the beast
Kicked hard into the

So one applies ancient
Balm that smells of
Pitch and sulfur,
Muttering two word
Prayers to a god
Too angry to remove
The curse

Oh God
Oh God
Oh God

And one believes
And one repeats
And one remains
The itching of the
Skin subsides
An abiding God

Recalling the cold
Past where we
Swam deep in
Tropical waters
And our skins
Were hardened
For a purpose
Not beyond

Where the only
God was to swim
On to the next day
With no feeling
In our flinty

Our past
Hides beneath
Supple skin, waiting
For the winter
Morning when it
Will break forth
To protect us
From something
That is no longer

Sent from my iPad

Monday, September 12, 2011

iPad Note Poem Number 5: the good things

iPad Note Poem Number 5: the good things

The good thing about having children
Is that they understand the necessity to move
On, immediately

Move on
Move along
Move on keep on moving on

You, once again, know how it is
You always did, now, didn't you?
You and your fancy college degrees.

Bet you didn't think this one was going this way,
Did you


Sent from my iPad

iPad note poem 6: blinders

iPad note poem 6: blinders

The riders on the bus were not aware of the explosion
They road along in bumping silence, kept company only
By their thoughts, their fears, the hunger, or by podcasts
They hurtled forward towards an interstate they would
Never merge with, eyeing the stop cord suspiciously
As their stops approached. Down through the valley
Wending toward a quiet doom that they just avoided.

Five minutes earlier and they would have all been burned
Alive in a gas tanker explosion that God had planned to
Destroy them. Of course no one would say that aloud
But as they crept closer to the site of their fate, the
Thought flitted across their faces as they leaned into
Their windows to get a better view of e roiling black

Sent from my iPad

Thursday, September 08, 2011

iPad note poem no. 4: high desert

iPad note poem no. 4: high desert

The wind started in the morning rattling
Windows to wake the family from sleep.
It was going to be a bad one, they knew
So they talked about it over coffee and melted

It was just fifty years before that her father
First scratched out life from the alkali clay
Baked hard by the high mountain sun
But she remembered his stories of sheets of
Roiling dust, choking even the tall grass with

So they worried over their coffee and cheese
About the coming of the storm, the choking
Wind, the failing of the spirits, the strength of

She watched the west all day, intermittently,
From her kitchen window while she went about
Keeping her father's house, now hers, waiting
For the family to return, and for the coming of
The storm

Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

iPad note poem no. 3: fortunes of war

iPad note poem no. 3

He does not leave her until she gets on the bus
They are newly married, you see, and we all know
The longing look he gives her as she mounts the
First step.

He stares at the bus for a moment too long
While it pulls away and we know and he knows
And she knows he is smitten; he is hers; he is

He turns to walk back to their shag carpet
Where he will lay half of the day killing his
Friends who whisper murder in his ear, not once
Thinking of her

And he is there on the shag when she returns
And he barely notices her in between fragging
A friend from Wyoming. Soon the child will
Be born

A child of lust and longing and desire and hand
Grenades. He won't notice it much either
As it cries for milk in one hand, controller in the

Sent from my iPad

Saturday, September 03, 2011

iPad Poem Number 2: September Morning

iPad Poem Number 2: September Morning

She wakes and suddenly she is divorced
Married in February, separated by May
Divorced by August, alone in September

The marriage, she knew, was just kidding
A means of making this guy happy
That something more might exist that
Would make sense of his mindfulness

But no, she knew better but drove
Ahead with him, even though they
Were clearly on different freeways
He on the interstate, she on the
Belt route

And soon they were miles apart
Not even texting would keep the
Bond that was only a joke in the
First place

And suddenly it is September
And in the back yard there
Is a rat, climbing the tree to
Get to the bird feeder he put

It has no food in it, of course
But the rat checks it all the

Sent from my iPad

IPad Notes Poem 1: Public transit

IPad Notes Poem 1: Public transit

The bus smelled of urine that morning
The odor hanging on hard from some
Unwashed vagrant whose days and
Nights were spent in a whiskey bottle

The bus riders tried to ignore it
Absorbed in their text messaging
Or books or music or staring blank
Into the fetid air

But on occasion you could note
The slight grimace cross a brow
The scrunching of noses
The down-turned lips

And even then someone would
Wonder how they were the
Unwashed. They were the
Vagrants going from here to

Sent from my iPad

Friday, September 02, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Lasers or Captain Phoenix Visits the Sun

I give you vacation action days:

Ok, that last one needs some more clarification:  my friend Jason Jones volunteers to work with developmentally disabled young adults at Art Access here in SLC.  A result of this work is a show where the assisting artist and the artist student display their work.  The title of one of Jason's student's pieces as the aforementioned Captain Phoenix.  

Still, seems appropriate.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rhyming as fast as you can run: a meditation

I was listening to Jackson Browne's "Your Bright Baby Blues" and  I swear I heard one of the lines in the first verse was "Run as fast as you can rhyme."  I played it back immediately because couplings of words like that don't come along that often.  The line turns out to be more in line with the story the song is telling of the isolated observer watching people self-assuredly going places while the lonely singer-songwriter is pining either lost love, lost direction, or both:
Everybody's going somewhere
Riding just as fast as they can ride
I guess they've got a lot to do
Before they can rest assured
Their lives are justified
Pray to God for me baby
He can let me slide
 As it is, the song is an interesting enough exploration of purpose and direction in one's life, but I am still intrigued by the misheard lyric: running as fast as you can rhyme.  It is the sense/nonsense notion that appeals to me in the line.   The juxtaposition of two disperate activities provides some interesting insight into both activities.  I like the idea of rhyming as some sort of physical activity, just as running might be seen as a contemplative activity; it is a sort of mind/body fusion that provides deeper insight into how we are as creatures with minds and bodies.

There is, of course, the opposite read of the misheard lyric:  that running and rhyming is an desperate act; something one does our of fear or because one is lost, much like the singer in Browne's correct lyrics.  The desperation of running without purpose, or, rhyming without purpose reaches deep into our existence.  No one, after all, wants to be running out of control for no reason.  Perhaps the same might be said for rhyming for no reason, as it were.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Action jackson

Woke up at two today.

That is all.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Last night a thunderstorm rolled across the valley at midnight.  I watched it swell up across the valley, tendrils of lightning marking its path.  After each thunderclap, I swear I could hear people cheering from down the hill.  No doubt it was probably just me cheering the storm on.  It is the first real lightning we've had this summer.  It was nice just to watch the storm from the front porch.  I tried to go to sleep, but it kept on for hours.  To lay awake and listen to the storm is a rare gift.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Resolve

Upper Provo River Valley, Uinta Mountains, Utah
This has been a peaceful, mind-clearing vacation so far.  I pre-determined (aside from a rather rigorous hiking trip to the Uintas) that I was going to completely relax as much as possible and, more importantly, do not much of anything that really isn't just about basic living or taking care of emergencies--and even those I've managed to calm my way through.  I came upon the idea of just relaxing and letting my life flow along a river while hiking along a river in the previously-mentioned Uintas.  It was a pretty freeing thought to just let myself wander down that river a bit, sloshing through shallow and deep mountain water, not worrying, but following the river and a friend who has the good sense to know when to break the easy trail and head into the dark forest for no reason.

That was week one of the vacation, and it was freeing and opening and, without being incredibly maudlin:  life sustaining.

This week is devoted to action--hiking back to camp, as it were, but not just walking back up stream.  This week is devoted to wandering in the woods around the stream--following a deer trail up a mountainside to find ice caves.  I'll lead myself for now, I hope to others who can lead me further along the trail.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Rocks were easy when they were
Elements combined to be hard
But breakable
Sheer on any rock
Will snap it clean

Bonds mean nothing
It is only force
Hammered down
And then split

But it is not clean
No matter how hard
Or how sharp
Nothing will split
The bonds

That tie

The rock lays open
On a river beach
To be broken

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Crowning Taunt of His Indignities

It would have been simple
I want to type "she said" next
And I know why
(And she knows why)
So I switch screens

Click over there

The other screen

Where the song is
That I want to hear
All full of remind
A simple song
Two chords and the

Guitar beaten
Such wandering beauty
Such almost

But I am back here
You never left, did you?

Screens are masks where
Images of past remind
Us that we don't ever

I am back here
But I am over there
And I am under there
Where the music slides
Almost imperceptibly

You won't get it
Will you?

It is just summer.
Hate to bring reality into it
But I've got to figure out how
That works.

You're still there.

Stop that!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Online identity

One of the reasons I started this blog was to understand how the web can define the self, in case you forgot. I think I have forgotten that over time, which is not necessarily a bad thing as the purpose of the blog is still there, I suppose, but by forgetting that it is about how one's person is formed by such a text becomes even more salient.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Utah Government's Reaction to the Public's Reaction to their Passing HB 477


Just Google News Utah Legislature HB 477. It is amazing how many of these people suddenly become so ardently supportive of repealing a bill that they passed party-line unanimously, or, as governor, signed with glee.  (And it was glee.  Just go look.)

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

How Air Hockey Killed Santa Claus or Way of the Puck

1: Santaphile

When I was 10, I fervently held onto my belief in Santa Claus.  Of course I had my suspicions, as every child does, but I was ready and willing to rationalize those doubts for the sake of needing (yes needing) the fat man who doled out copious and extravagant gifts.  Yeah, my desire to believe in Santa was about the gifts and only the gifts—not about his self-effacing goodness or his desire to spread peace and love around the world.

My belief in Santa, however, was smashed to bits the Christmas of my tenth year by, of all things, air hockey.  You see my oldest brother was 18 then and fervently wanted an air hockey table for Christmas.  This was the height of the air hockey craze in the 70s, that Eric D. Anderson touches upon to provide important in his excellent documentary Way of the Puck: A Documentary about Professional Air Hockey…Really.  In the mid 70s everyone wanted an air hockey table in the house…or so my brother convincingly argued each night at the dinner table.  (We still ate dinner at the table together then—the 70s hadn’t blown up that tradition, yet.)  Being the clueless Santaphile, I had no idea why my brother kept bringing this up.  I mean, if he really wanted an air hockey table (perhaps the most extravagant gift I could imagine) he should just write to Santa—which I realized was pretty stupid—or better pray to Santa for it.  Praying to Santa surely gave you a direct line to the big man himself. 

By the time I was 10 I had already tossed the idea that elves made all of Santa’s presents.  I mean, come on, that’s just stupid.  If you wanted  150 in 1 electronics kit from Radio Shack, you weren’t going to take some crap elf knock-off.  Crap elf knock-offs abounded, of course; they were the gifts that were trying to be what you really wanted, but obviously Santa turned it over to his elves to take care of.  You know—instead of a Batman or Superman action figure, you find “Superbat” under the tree, complete with his pink skate board.  (Pink?)

Lesson:  never delegate the important stuff.

In any case, it is quite clear that Santa didn’t spend his year lounging around the North Pole watching the elves do all the dirty work;  he, quite clearly, was the most avid shopper of all time.  Think of all those Tonka Trucks he had to pick up a Kmart.  All those G.I. Joes waiting with Spartan resignation at Grand Central.  When out shopping with my mom, I’d keep an eye out for Santa in disguise.

It was a few days before Christmas and we were already out of school for the break when my dad gathered me and my other brother up for a trip to Big V—a gritty little local department store.  Big V was a kind of proto-dollar store, complete with screaming children and dirty floors.  I knew there was something really weird about to happen since my father quite literally never went shopping.  This is, in fact, the only time I recall him ever shopping.  Of course he would go to the auto parts store or the feed store, but that isn’t shopping.  That’s going up to a desk and demanding exactly what you want--the height of efficiency.  Watching my dad walk into Big V, therefore, was unsettling enough in itself.

As you might guess, Dad was in quick and efficient form that day.  My brother and I chased behind him as he went directly to the section of Big V that housed the air hockey tables.  My mind was racing to resolve the cognitive shift that was blasting through my brain.
No Santa.

There is no Santa. 

There is no Santa! 

Take a deep breath.

Swallow hard.

You know how it is when something shatters your perception of the world.  The mind reels.  It always seems to happen in an instant, but you are so focused that everything slows to a crawl.  The hands shake.  The throat swells.  I think my other brother suspected something was up, as I had regularly regaled him with my theories of Santa.  He was 14,  but wasn’t mean, and generally indulged my fantasies. 

Dad grabbed the air hockey table off the shelf and lugged it under his arm to the cashier. Ok, he probably didn’t carry it like that, but I have a distorted view of my Dad, given that he died just a few years later.  I still have that childhood awe him that all kids have of their parents; I suspect, however, that my perception of his physical strength was fairly accurate.

I was still reeling from the death of Santa—standing in front of the air hockey tables on the shelf, when my brother came back from the front of the store to get me.  “Come on.  Dad’s waiting.”  I wanted him to say something about Santa and what the hell was going on, but he just grabbed my arm and dragged me out of the store.

The ride home was, needless to say, silent.  The air hockey table, all nicely boxed and ready to be played on Christmas day, lay like Santa’s coffin in the bed of Dad’s truck.

2: Elf knock-off

It turned out that the air hockey table was an elf knock-off kind, and according to my brother, wasn’t the right size, and didn’t have the right paddles.  Of course he didn’t say this to Dad, but he did let my other brother and I know the inferior nature of the table.  He didn’t dare have his friends over to play it, he said. 

In any case, the air hockey table was fun for my other brother and I.  We used to play it quite a lot.  We didn’t have a table for it to sit on, so we played it sitting down.  Playing air hockey that way gave it a sort of communal feeling.

In Anderson’s Way of the Puck you also get a sense of that communal feeling amongst air hockey players.  It is a strained community, however, in that the very nature of the game is counter-community.  Thus in Way of the Puck you have an excellent exploration of not just air hockey, but also masculine/male culture.  Each competitor is in it for himself:  each one wants to be the best air hockey player in the world.   See the trouble?  You want to be better than the other guy, but you need the other guys at the same time to form a community.  Through interviews with competitors themselves and philosopher Lou Marinoff, Anderson explores more than just the game, but how men live and get along with each other, and how there may be something missing from our culture that allows men to interact and to find their place in the world.

Anderson explicates this cultural phenomenon with grace and aplomb.  Much has been made already about how fairly Anderson treats his subjects, and how he doesn’t mock these men.  That doesn’t mean, however, that the film is “playing nice” and not showing the men as they really are.  As an honest portrayal of people who passionately pursue a quirky sport, Way of the Puck is a forthright depiction of these men’s lives—warts and all.  I don’t wish to leave you with the impression that Way of the Puck is some sort of Iron John film with all the boorish heft that Robert Bly gave it, however.  Way of the Puck is an entertaining examination of air hockey, how men interact, and how we live our lives with lots of mad air hockey action.

Not long after that Christmas when I was 10, the air hockey table was stowed under the bed, to be brought out only occasionally thereafter.  The last I saw of it in the mid-80’s, it was piled on top of a junk pile out by the barn.    Air hockey itself was seemingly consigned to the junk pile of pop culture by the late 70s.  In another major theme of the movie, Way of the Puck examines the dedication a few men have in keeping the sport alive by buying old manufacturing equipment and whole companies to make air hockey supplies. 

This lands the movie squarely back into the basic contradiction the men portrayed in the movie face:  how to live in a community yet still push for individual success.  There are several men pitted against each other in their efforts to “save air hockey.”  It reminded me of watching cats—sure the cats will hang out with each other, but each one makes sure the others know that they have their own space.  Some of the men are more cooperative than others, but one wonders if the basic problem with professional air hockey is that they are too competitive to ever get along to form a working professional league.

Way of the Puck  is available on DVD from, or digital download at

Friday, January 28, 2011

The doe

I walked past a dead deer today
She lay bloated, back leg snapped,
Near the busy collector route
That takes commuters home to bed

Her snout pointed skyward
And her bulging black eyes
Watched the endless flow
Of traffic that took her

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

For Burns Night 2011: the Flower Banks of Cree

It is Burns Night. I chose a Burns poem that didn't require me to try to emulate (and therefore slaughter) a Scot's accent.

On a side note:  my great great grandmother apparently didn't speak a word of English when she met my great great grandfather in Canada cerca 1840.  She was born in Argyll.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mobile Poetry Lives! Carrie reading W.S. Merwin's "Thanks"

Carrie is Bigbrownhouse on flickr.

You too can contribute to the Mobile Poetry the number over there -->.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On a leafless bough

So I have a new toy...a Bamboo tablet thinger.  I bought it on a whim as a self-given birthday gift, but I've been inspired to do it by Hightouch and Snyder, who have (apparently) made excellent use of similar (or the same) devices.

After taking in the tutorial, I dived right into a program that has baffled me for years:  Adobe Illustrator.  While listening to the Jazz trounce the Nicks, I came to realize that Illustrator really is meant for devices like my new tablet.  I also realized that it really isn't all that different from many other Adobe programs I've used:  you just need to find what works for you and ignore everything else.

Being that my drawing skills are suspect, at best, I decided to start with some word art:

If you don't recognize it, this is a haiku by Basho--and a rather nice one at that.  I've never been a fan of my handwriting, but I actually wasn't bothered by this rendition.

Still--with a program like Illustrator, I felt compelled to do some more:

Basically this is the same file, with a fatter brush stroke.  It looks like I wrote it with a Sharpie[TM].

I realize that this is not very exciting to you, but I was very pleased with the difference and how my handwriting took on a more artistic bent.  I was even more pleased when I tweaked the file with this charcoal brush:

Now that's more like it.

With that, I decided to sort of emulate something Hightouch has been doing for awhile...adding text to photos.  While I was doing it, however, I couldn't quite stomach just throwing text up there on a photo, so I attempted to blend the text in, as if it were in the photo originally:

I don't know Illustrator well enough yet to get it to blend the text properly, but it does give the impression that someone has vandalized the wood--sort of.  I need to figure out how to blend the layers better (who knew Illustrator had layers!)  

We'll see how this works out.  I think blending the text in was a mistake.  I should just do the layer over layer over layer thing. 

Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Mummy's Revenge

After many, many years ado, I finally can announce the world premier of The Mummy's Revenge, and epic filum of woe and intrigue developed over days in 2005.

all the cool kids play accordians

From world traveler and flickr friend, Big Brown House (aka Carrie de Azevado-Poulson).

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

They Call It Haze

They Call It Haze
Originally uploaded by Clint Gardner

While the pollution that besets the Salt Lake valley every year creates some spectacular sunsets, it is still pollution non-the less. Because of the nature of the valley and our temperature inversions, we regularly get "Red Air Quality Days" and people are encouraged not to drive. The local TV media often tries to gussy up the problem by calling the pollution "haze."

Ultimately we all bear responsibility for the problem and should act accordingly to lessen the impact of the smog days.

Politics of Heath Care

Look at me, getting all political! See this is why I am not allowed to take vacation time normally.

Saturday, January 01, 2011