Halloween Costume Options

Deciding between:

1. Olympic swimmer in a square-cut speedo and swim goggles


2. Clark Kent changing into Superman

The weather will probably make me decide. But I do love some hot pants on Halloween.


Poetry, the West, Land, and Solitude

In reading blogs yesterday, it began to become clear to me just how nice it must be to live on the East Coast.

All those cities so close together! So many cultures and communities just a brief commute up or down the coast. All those little states (blink and you miss one—there goes Delaware! Hey, wasn't that Vermont?)!

You are all so close together. I have written that before. How, when I went to New York, I could barely breathe. There was no sun, no sky. There were people all around me and it was like locusts descending on a field of ripe crops. That is the downside for me: you have no space. You live in cubicle-sized homes and apartments off narrow streets in tall buildings that take away the sky.

The West was an adjustment to me, having previously been only Midwest, but very rural nevertheless. I lived in a State Forest. It was only slightly more advanced than your recent M. Night Shyamalan film. My small town had a different kind of density—everyone knew me, knew my business, knew who I belonged to. The only trouble worth getting into was the anonymous kind, if you could find it. All others carried swift punishment.

And so the West for me is as much mindscape as landscape: openness, expanse, sprawl. I never have to think of smelling someone on a subway because I drive my own car to and from work (twelve miles). I live in the heart of the city and know two of my neighbors. My physical space encourages emotional space: the encounters I have in my life are almost entirely intentional, fully realized, purposeful. There is almost never a chance meeting.

Almost never, and never here, at least.

But what I love about the West is this: my brain fills up the empty spaces between people, thinks thoughts, breathes, makes notes.

My next book is about the PHYSICAL WEST. You know I'm writing fences into it. You know I'm writing death and beautiful women falling from the doors of old missions in historic San Francisco, and I'm writing about the West that does not exist, the West between here and there, the metaphysical West where we are together, but not touching.

You can have your East Coast. I'm sure you like it there, and that's good. But me, I'm here. I'm only going this way from here on out. When I get to the ocean I'll know I've made it far enough.


That's a Wrap

Living Things is off to the printer! It's laid out beautifully and I'm so happy with it. I can't wait to have a copy in my hands!


Seeing It Again for the First Time

In a flurry of retroactive activity, I've spent several days revising old manuscript poems.

It has been going well.

I have to revise in hard copy, and I have to use a pencil to make changes. Sometimes I pull out whole poems. I'm not afraid of that. They don't work. I see that now. I lose them and move on. Other poems I rewrite. I have written my poem "Canaries" four times—and that's not including the individual revisions. That's that poem as four different versions, incarnations, voices, perspectives, etc.

The hustler appears in each version, his red welt a constant. Then appeared a boy looking down from his apartment window, the moon slicing his body into small blocks through the window panes. Then, disco. Then, nothing.

I pulled out some poems from manuscript 2. It feels good to cut back the hedges.

Manuscript 3 I cannot read. I am embarrassed by it. It is incomplete.


Philosophies of Time Travel and Other Realistic Impossibilities

There are times in your life when you must retreat.

There are times in your life when you need to step forward.

There are times in your life when you have to hold out your hand because you believe something will land in it if you wait long enough.

There are times in your life when you must wait, patiently, for what you want.

There are times in your life when writing poems is an inconvenince, and times when it is all you have.

There are times when you can let your writing define the world around you.

There are times that are happy and places that are happy and there are ways in which you can be happy if you appear in these places at designated times. It is not appointment-making, it is just good fortune.

There are times in your life that stop making sense, but there are times in your life where everything makes such clear sense you can see straight through every window in the world at once, all of them, and you can see the end and it's exactly the place you wanted to be.


Excerpt from Musical Theater In Hell!

Everyone at our school knows that the girls in drama are real easy because they’re mostly fat and they don’t have good self-esteem. Actually, they’re not really that fat, but they all complain about it all the time. Once I heard Lily Owens talking to one of her skank friends after school and she was all like, “I totally saw Nellie Jacobs puking in the bathroom after lunch, and she was totally gagging herself. Fucking bulimic bitch.” Nellie is pretty nutso, but she’s probably the least bitchy out of all those fat girls. So, maybe I’ll get laid.

The audition sign-up sheet says I need to have a song ready for the audition time I picked (tomorrow at 3:45), so I start thinking about a song to sing. I don’t know any of the songs from Camelot, but one time we had karaoke at my sister’s birthday party and I sang “Love Bites” pretty good, even though I couldn’t get the falsetto to work right, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to sing that. When I turn away from the door to start heading down to the Ms. Howard’s room for Physics, I run smack into that skinny bitch Lily Owens, who was like, standing right behind me or something.

She goes, “Ouch, you stupid fuck! You totally just smooshed my boob!” A coupla heads turn in the hallways because Lily only has one volume and it’s really fucking loud. Plus, she says the word “boob” all the time and that gets people’s attention, especially her boobs, which are big and probably fake. Except they are really smooshy, and I’ve heard only real boobs do that. It might be Kleenex or something. I wouldn’t put it past her.

I go, “Suck it, bitch,” and brush past her in the hall. Her boob squishes against my arm and I can feel it stretching her t-shirt to the limit. She’s obviously there to sign up for the musical because then she goes, “Oh, what, you’re an actor now? That’s a laugh. You’d have better luck as a prop.”

So I just start walking away because I’m not gonna fight with some skinny bitch about this, and plus, we’re probably gonna be in the show together. She’s a real ho, though, and God I can’ t stand her. Maybe I can get her into bed, though. If only I can get her to shut up long enough.


Ain't No Other Date

Thanks to AWP, there will be no Christina Aguilera concert for me this year.

It's, like, the worst thing that's ever happened to me.


Critique of My Last Entry

I just noticed that Goldy Gopher wears a sweater but no pants.

I can tell you from personal experience that this is never a good idea in a Minnesota winter.

They fight, they fight! They fight, they fight, they fight! Fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight...you know the rest.

In this week of ASU's Homecoming, I am reminded that I still remember the words to (and can sing) the University of Minnesota fight song:

Minnesota, hats off to thee!
To our colors true we shall ever be!
Firm and strong, united are we!
Rah-rah-rah for ski-u-mah
Rah, rah, rah, rah
Rah for the U of M!

Go Gophers!

And if you didn't know, cheerleading was invented at the University of Minnesota.


Stay Where I Can See You; Douse the Lights

I know who MM's last ghost blogger was.

It's going to be a busy, busy, busy week. But then it will be over and I have a little something on its way to me that makes it all worthwhile.

I added three new songs to my karaoke repertoire this weekend:

"Man on the Moon" (R.E.M.)
"Sunday Morning" (No Doubt)
"I Know What Boys Like" (The Waitresses)--need a little work on this one, but it has potential.

Do you know what boys like? Do you have what guys want?


A Radical Interpretation of the Text

This weekend, at least for part of the time, I will buried up to my neck in articles and readings for the research paper I'm writing for my class. It explores why nonprofit presses have sprung up and even proliferated in an otherwise highly profitable commercial market—publishing.

I'm particularly interested in why poetry has been engulfed by the nonprofit press segment and what impact is has on literature and on reading habits.

So far, I have read many articles that indicate that a mass shift in the publishing industry in the mid-90s drew most of our major publishers under the auspices of just a few multinational conglomerate enterprises, like Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch, some German folks, and even some British firm.

With fewer spoons stirring the poet, there are fewer risks taken by the "big" houses...leaving a market failure gap for the reading public who value experimental literature, poetry, and other related texts.

Nonprofits frequently exist to fill perceived gaps in for-profit markets in "public service" to a niche community of stakeholders.

Master's degree, here I come.


Meditation on a Kind of Poverty

This isn't a religious poverty, for we have so much spirit we are bloated with it. This isn't emotional poverty because we feel things, really feel things. We have a lot of feelings, a glut of feelings, so many feelings we cannot even name all the feelings we have and they are too quick and too fierce to be tied down.

This is not a poverty of ideas because our heads will not rest.

This is not a poverty of opportunity because the world belongs to us, it holds us on its tongue and we are the pearl in its oyster. You are the pearl in the oyster. There is no poverty of safety when I am with you.

There is no poverty of distance, for all we have is separation, distance, miles and maps; we have gasoline tanks and hybrid cars and even once we had a rapid transit tram—and there was also that time we walked together and held hands like nobody cared.

There is no poverty of reasons. Reasons are sticking their pointy noises from the soil all over the yard and each one smells like you. And I know the reasons will bloom into permissions at any moment, so close are they in the Mendel square of overall worldwide genetics.

And our imaginations are not poor. If I listed all the ways I have already experienced you in advance I would be arrested for indecency on the spot. I would be arrested for gross negligence of propriety and I'm okay with that. This is not a poverty of freedom so they can take that from me. This is not a poverty of love so they can take that from me. This is not a poverty of future because nobody owns the future, not even God. Not even us.

This is not a poverty of present because I live in it with you, I own it with you. I walk side by side with it with you, the three of us, and we are there, not poor, not hungry, not alone.


Nobody Played

But the answers are:

All the terms are nonprofit management terms except

"overblown fanaticism"


"absolute managerial"


Pornographic Spam Email Subject Line or Term My Nonprofit Management Teacher Uses?

A quiz: can you identify the origin of each item on the list?

nondistribution constraint
invisible sector
overblown fanaticism
focusing event
voluntary failure
public goods
consumer control
excessive particularism
mediating structure
substantive representation
vicarious liability
rational calculation
service delivery
absolute managerial


Halo Effect

Today in doing my homework for my nonprofit class, I came upon this term in the reading that really captured my imagination and attention:

Halo effect.

Wouldn’t it be a great title for a manuscript? I’m wondering if I can adjust one of my books to take it on. Adding a poem with that title, for example. I think it could work pretty easily…

The term itself relates to the impact of charitable work done by nonprofits to “cloud” any entrepreneurial or fee-based programs that only slightly (or don’t at all) relate to the organization’s core mission and values.

I could see how this term has a wider reach, though. There are many halo effects in our culture. We are easily blinded by light.


In Bed with Ghosts

Lately I've been tugging this into bed with me:

I'm in love with fiction right now. 2006 is the year of the novel for me.

Because It's Friday: And Something for John Sparrow

Veronica Mars loves America!

and also boys in British panties:

And love is a beautiful thing.


You Win!

I increased the font size on LOCUSPOINT...

Is it better now? :)

Does Poetry Have Genre?

My post yesterday got me thinking about genre in general and poetry in specific. I wondered, Does poetry have genre? Fiction has genre. Music has genre. Film has genre. Do other arts have genre?

In responding to this, it's helpful to go back and review what a genre is. A genre is a subgroup of an art that consists of a series of endlessly replicatable "conventions." In film noir, those conventions were both character archetypes (the hardboiled investigator, the good woman, the femme fatale) and visual elements (shots saturated in high contrast black and white, rainy city streets, perpetual night, dark costumes). The romantic comedy also has easily identifiable conventions: two people who are obviously MFOE (made for each other, if you're not 14), are kept at arm's distance from each other by any number of the following: hatred for each other, career/class difference, other relationships, ethnic backgrounds, family pressures, or physical distance. The beginning of the film should solidify and reify the major relationship blockage; the central portion of the film should complicate or nuance the blockage; and the end of the film should involve one or both characters resolving to move out of the way of the blockage in order to achieve love.

In fiction, the romance genre is so conventional that you can write to a romance novel publisher and receive a simple sheet of plot conventions and character archetypes in crafting your narrative.

With the constant evolution of poetry, with the way it, like film, can eat all other forms of art and spit them out changed, it seems like genre might be a no brainer. But what are the genres of poetry?

As someone who has worked with elegy for about four years (and three books' worth), I'm not convinced that the elegy is a genre. I guess it does have some conventions; it needs, for example, to concern the death of someone or something. Most elegies have a consistent tone, but I wouldn't say that there is a consistent elegaic set of images or words per say.

Forms aren't necessarily genres, although they, too, have physical conventions of meter, rhyme, stanza formation, etc.

Questions...? Comments...? This is an essay I can't finish yet.

There's a Wriggle in My Gut that Isn't Parasites

It's poetry

and it means

it's time
to start writing again.

Helpful Web Browser Tip of the Day

Did you know you can override the size of type on web pages based on your own preference?

On a Mac, press Command and the plus sign.
On a PC, try Control and the plus sign, or look under the view menu.


In Praise of Logan: A Paean to Bad Boys

If you watch the first episode of Veronica Mars and then stop, the image above might more than surprise you; it might cause you to full-on crap yourself.

In the first season of Veronica Mars, we are presented with two film noir archteypes in Veronica's life. In traditional noir, these archetypes are called The Good Woman and the Femme Fatale. The Good Woman is traditionally the blond supportive housewife type, the woman who doesn't venture into the seedy underbelly of the city and thereby remains "pure" and "untainted" by the harsh realities that live there. The Femme Fatale is her doppelganger. A denizen of smoky bars, the moll of any number of gangsters or hitmen, she is danger in a fur coat. The Good Woman represents the "virginal" male stereotype of women while the Femme Fatale is naturally the "whore." But oftentimes in noir, the Good Woman ends up dead and the Femme Fatale redeems herself—just before she gets killed for her transgression into the world of light.

On Veronica, the archteypes play out in Veronica's love life as Duncan Kane, ultrarich heir to the Kane Software fortune and all-around mild-mannered guy, takes on the role of the Good Woman. Duncan is the calm, supportive boyfriend to Veronica's hard-boiled investigator. Cheerful and easy-going, he always does "what's right," even when it means sacrifice for himself.

Logan Echolls, the Femme Fatale (or what some people have termed the "Homme Horreur"), is the brash, bratty, spoiled son of a multimillion dollar movie star. As the poor little rich boy, Logan's sullen attitude and ferocious social behavior make him a constant loose cannon. In season 1, he commits various transgressions from organizing a series of bum fights to volunteering a large sum of his father's money to a homeless shelter in response to being made to do community service there.

The point of this is: Duncan is cute but boring; Logan is sexy and alluring.

Figure 1: Logan is sexy and alluring.

What is it about bad boys that we love? Logan's assholishness does tone itself down during the first season; when he discovers Veronica is still doggedly investigating Logan's girlfriend's murder the year before, something clicks in him. And their first kiss, on the balcony of the Camelot Motel in the wrong side of Neptune is more than hot; it combusts. It feels right.

There is something about the bad boy who makes good that we can't resist. Now, after two years, Logan is perched on the precipice of becoming The Good Woman, having been redeemed both by Veronica's love and the death of his parents. Duncan, on the other hand, having played out all his goodness, has escaped to Australia and can never return to the United States (*cheers*).

Figure 2: "Having an Orangina with You"

When you give someone a key, it means something. Veronica has the key to Logan's penthouse. This is what we in the writing business call a loaded metaphor. When it comes wrapped in a red bow, it means love.



I'm so curious to know what people are thinking of LOCUSPOINT! If you have any comments, feel free to backchannel me using the link on the right.


Is TV Better than the Movies? A Confession.

Lately I've not been going to the movies because TV is free, already in my house, and full of great stuff.

For example, I've started watching a few new shows this fall:

Ugly Betty
Six Degrees
Brothers & Sisters

All three of them are pretty stellar in their own ways:

Ugly Betty is the most interesting of the new shows. Think The Devil Wears Prada meets The Princess Diaries (without the makeover). What's astonishing to me about this show ends up being a huge list:
1. Betty's nephew, who's probably about 12, is obviously gay, and nobody in the family cares.
2. There are also gay people all over the fashion magazine's office, and *gasp* they aren't thin and beautiful!
3. The chick from Extras is on it!
4. Eric Mabius is interesting to watch even while clothed, although he isn't always (thankyoujesus)
5. The show succeeds in being campy without being dumb.

The campiness is what I like best: camp is hard to pull off. It's easy to do it poorly—and that generally occurs when the cast and director pretend to play along, or, in other words, make camp the priority of the show. Ugly Betty is REAL camp because everyone is committed to keeping their characters human—they don't turn them into the charicatures they're begging to be.

Six Degrees is compelling in that for an hour, you watch these six people orbit each other, sometimes colliding, sometimes just missing each other. The cast is amazing (last week's Dreamboat of the Week, in fact) and the writing is the best of these three shows. J. J. Abrams is the executive producer, and nobody sells New York like he does (think Felicity and its oddly omnipresent ambient city noise instead of music). It's soap opera, but relevant soap opera, it seems.

Brothers & Sisters also features a great cast (Sally Field!) and some medium writing. Good production values and interesting storylines. It's tough to introduce an entire family in one episode because they have 30 years of baggage to explain and reveal...but it's going well so far. The characters are fairly well-rounded and interesting, although you can see how each one fits into family stereotypes: "The Bitch," "The Hero," "The Screw-up," etc. Oh, and guess what: somebody's gay on this show, too.

Despite all this good TV, one film that's going to get my out of my house sometime soon is Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette. I would wade through buffalo manure to get myself to a Sofia Coppola film.

I won't tell you what I'd do to get myself to a Kirsten Dunst film. I'll let you marinate in that for a while.