Today is my boyfriend's birthday. He's finally turning 30, which means, for a few short weeks, we're the same age. He's sad about it, but I figure he's already so gray it doesn't matter.

His consolation: a feast at Famous Dave's.

If you don't have Famous Dave's where you are, I feel real bad for you. It's delicious and amazing and surprisingly Minnesotan. When I discovered one here in the Valley, I nearly pooped with delight.

If you need me tonight, I'll be holding my stomach and groaning. From overeating!


Wayne Miller, This is For You.

I think Wayne Miller's poem in Barn Owl Review is one of my favorite pieces I've read in a long time.

I love him for being so brilliant, and I hate him for not being able to do it myself.

I will write more about BOR soon, because the whole issue is a trip.

Another couple of poems I loved lately were the Aaron Belz pieces over at Anti-, another new journal I'm loving.

And D. A. Powell's piece over at linebreak!

I'm drowning in beautiful poems over here.


This Film Is Not Yet Judged, Criticized, Torn Up, Shamed, Sanitized, or Otherwise Ribbed For Your Pleasure

After the conference, I dug into one of my new Netflix titles: This Film Is Not Yet Rated. Kirby Dick's documentary explores the history and controversy of the Motion Picture Association of America's seemingly misguided ratings system, taking issue first and foremost with the fact that all the film raters' identities are kept secret.

Through illuminating interviews with filmmakers, Dick tries to articulate the difference between an R rating and an NC-17 rating, the latter being considered a box office "kiss of death" for filmmakers because it turns off middle America. Filmmakers discuss feedback they received from the MPAA in light of their NC-17 rating and what they can do to get down to an R rating, proving, to some degree, that the MPAA has an awareness of its influence and impact over the filmmaking community.

The director of Boys Don't Cry, for instance, explained that it was fine to show Brandon Teena being shot in the head, but not fine for her to film Lana's face as she orgasms for about a full minute. The film is full of such comparisons, including an extended montage that posits that heterosexual sex acts, no matter how explicit, often capture the R rating, while homosexual sex acts generally lead to an NC-17 rating, even if the characters are fully clothed and, in the case of But I'm a Cheerleader, only masturbating.

Dick makes the point that in America, the only two organizations that work in secret are the CIA and the MPAA. To that end, he hires a team of private investigators to uncover the identities of the raters.

Through surveillance and good old fashioned detective work, the team track, follow, and unearth the identities of the raters, all of whom are purported to be parents of children up to age 18...but most of whom have adult children only. Dick discovers the ratings board's appeal board is made up almost entirely of studio executives and theatre chain owners, who, through the appeals board, are able to effect undue impacts on the filmmaker's creative decisions--and the general public's moviegoing options.

Of all the documentaries I've seen, I think this is one of the most chilling for the insidiousness of its subject. It points out yet another hypocrisy in the nation of free speech and free thought, neither of which seem to be in good health these days.


My Monday is a Sunday

The conference is all done. Things are sitting in boxes and piles in the office, waiting for us to return later this week. I slept, napped, slept, drank lots of coffee for when I wasn't napping or sleeping, and today I'm going to enjoy a lazy day before I have to go to class tonight (Theory of Philanthropy).

Tomorrow, Arden comes home. I miss that little thing. She's so adorable.

Thanks to everyone who participated last week. It's always an overwhelming undertaking, but afterward, it feels more than worth it.


Notes About Running a Writers Conference

Remember to wear deodorant.

Remember things will go wrong. Things inevitably go wrong despite planning, site plans, staffing plans, evacuation plans, lunch plans, cocktail plans. It's not that things go wrong. It's how many people turn when they hear the blast. If no one looks, nothing's wrong.

Remember your body needs food. Denying it of food can lead to other, more serious problems.

Remember to always smile. Bring a toothbrush, especially if the hors d'oeuvres contain cilantro or coarsely-ground pepper.

Pack an extra stick of deodorant you can bring with you and stash in your desk. People appreciate this.

Remember to be where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there.

Make arrangements in your life to avoid going home to angry, neglected lovers and dead pets.

Say "Thank you."

Say "Please."

Say "Of course we can do that."

Wear sensible shoes. Remind yourself that the brown Kenneth Coles fare better over fourteen hours than the black ones. But, sometimes your outfit is black, not brown. Style prevails.

Realize that when you just typed "fourteen years" instead of "fourteen hours" in the previous note, it was both hyperbole and true.

Let your guard down. Things will inevitably go wrong even when your guard's up.

Remember that things will also go right.

Notice those things when they happen.

Don't consider a "light reception" a meal. It is a snack.

Don't feel bad about missing your gym days because you do more running in those Kenneth Coles than you do in your Nikes.

Never let them see you sweat.

Remember to smile, even if you're sweating.

Remember you brought extra deodorant for this.


I wish you'd never forget the look on my face when we first met.

I'm popping back in real quick to mention this song that has been haunting me this week...

The animation's kind of saccharine, but the song....is something different.



I'm going to have to take a brief powder from blogging for a bit. I'm attending class 9 - 5 all weekend and, in the evenings, finishing off the plans and prep for the 2008 ASU Writers Conference. It starts on Wednesday...and it's going to be a whirlwind of good times!

If I can get all the handouts made, the volunteers trained, the equipment coordinated, the catering set, yadda yadda yadda....


What Is Not To Love

2007 Best of the Net Anthology


Greg Wrenn's "Brother on Brother" from Memorious
Dorianne Laux's "Dark Charms" from The Pedestal Magazine
Michaela A. Gabriel's "what is the sound of one hand clapping?" from Juked
Renee Rossi's "Movements" from LOCUSPOINT
Simone Muench's "To give a child an idea..." from LOCUSPOINT
Tamiko Beyer's "Forget" from The Boxcar Poetry Review
Marty McConnell's "Marrying the Violence" from The Boxcar Poetry Review
Heather Salus's "How We've Moved" from The Boxcar Poetry Review
Derek Pollard's "If You Were To Die Right Now, Johnny Depp" from No Tell Motel
Charles Jensen's "Bargaining" from No Tell Motel
Justin Lacour's "Sees the ______ and Waits" from Horse Less Press
Ann Neuser Lederer's "January Thaw" from Segue
Juliet Cook's "Some Explanations for Fainting Goats" from Prick of the Spindle
Nanette Rayman-Rivera's "Shoes 1943" from Chantarelle's Notebook
Jane van Slembrouck's "Found Art" from Eclectica
Adam Clay's "Leaned Against the Trope That Demands to Be Denied" from Past Simple
Matt Hart's "Red Bird: Prophylactic" from Past Simple
Anne Haines's "Swallowed" from Valparaiso Poetry Review
Barbara Goldberg's "Kingdom of Speculation" from Beltway Poetry Quarterly
Gregory Lawless's "Snapshots of the Epic" from Contrary

Anne, Renee, Simone, Adam, Matt...that's hot.

And I think former Charles Jensen stalkee Merrill Feitell served as the fiction judge. Hotter still.


Can I Please Have "Places In Which I'm Thrilled to No Longer Live" for $1,000, Please Alex?

For the record, it has been gorgeous here. Over the weekend, I could have worn shorts.

MINNEAPOLIS - It lived up to its name: The temperature in International Falls fell to 40 below zero Monday, just a few days after the northern Minnesota town won a federal trademark making it officially the "Icebox of the Nation."

It was so cold that resident Nick McDougall couldn't get his car trunk to close after he got out his charger to kick-start his dead battery. By late morning, the temperature had risen all the way to 18 — below zero.

Story here.

I'm feeling for you, T and E.


The Anachronist's Cookbook: Jesus Christ Superstar and Marie Antoinette

It seemed an unlikely pairing this weekend, when I watched both Jesus Christ Superstar and Marie Antoinette, but I found the juxtaposition of these two films especially fitting. While both maintain a connection to an historical past, they both engage in felicitous and creative use of anachronism to create a further commentary on their source texts.

Superstar is a passion play detailing the last weeks in the life of Christ and the events leading up to the crucifixion. Norman Jewison's 1973 film version features hippies, heavy artillery, pipe scaffolds, and even picture postcards in the temple. The film opens with a bus full of hippies arriving in Israel, unloading their props and costumes, and then beginning to act out the rock opera from there.

The musical itself is a fairly modern critique of celebrity and American culture, laid over the familiar story of the events that led to the martyrdom of Christ. "What's the buzz? / Tell me what's a-happenin," one song chants over and over, while another connective piece features reporter-like characters sticking their fists in Christ's face, as if holding a microphone, while they ask a series of invasive questions. Even the lepers, wrapped in black bandages as they crawl over the rocks and beg for Christ's healing, bear a strange resemblance to starfuckers and autograph seekers you see on, say, TMZ.com. That particular number concludes with Christ sinking deeply into a sea of lepers, who pull him down into their circle. It resonated oddly with footage I saw on Best Week Ever this week of the paparazzi swarming Britney Spears's car—in traffic—ambushing her.

Antoinette is anachronistic, too, but mostly in a non-diegetic way. Coppola takes her straightforward filming of the ill-fated queen's rise to the throne and puts down modern rock tracks. While the music is obvious, it does not detract from the film, but draws attention to Antoinette's youth and rebellious nature (as portrayed in the film). By linking Antoinette to the modern culture of youth while showing her engaging in the decadent partying, drinking, gambling, and seduction that were her ultimate downfall, Coppola locates a renewed humanity in her story, a way we can understand her—and her failings.

Dunst's Antoinette is capricious, barely able to keep her mouth shut, and she speaks not in the stuttered tones that affect the French around her, but in a nonchalant and flowing tone that bespeaks her confidence. Contrast her to Judy Davis's Countess, who can barely wrap her teeth around her carefully enunciated lines and you see the difference. Dunst's line delivery is also playful and sort of seductive in and of itself. It's an interesting performance for a costume drama to say the least. A breath of fresh air, if you ask me.

Superstar is one of my favorite musical dramas. I'm not sure why. I do enjoy the anachronism present, but I also think the staging and choreography are brilliant, and Judas turns in a star-making performance here, particularly in the final number that solidifies the show's primary themes:

"Could Muhammad move a mountain
or was that just PR now?
Did you mean to die like that, was that a mistake,
or did you know your messy death
would be a record breaker?"

It's also fun to watch this song evolve while Judas wears a bright white bellbottomed jumpsuit with arm-to-floor fringe, backed up by Solid Gold-style dancers.

Antoinette, on the other hand, is an intensely internal film. Coppola tries to invite us not only into the decadant world of her heroine, but into her psyche as well. Echoing the imagery of her version of The Virgin Suicides, Coppola shows us Antoinette's disembodied hand gliding over the tall grasses of the fields beyond Versailles, Antoinette lounging in the grass, filled with ennui and disillusionment. The conceit, for me, was effective and moving; a departure from the stereotypcial portrayals we historically see.


A Brief Documentation of the Subtle Shift in American Foreign Policy

"We have nothing to fear but fear itself!"

"We have nothing to fear but a Democrat in the White House!"


I am not my usual self

I am currently not the best version of myself. I mean, I used to be kinder. I used to have more energy, could talk for long stretches, could stand to be in crowds.

I want you to know I am tired. It's a bone-tired. It's a cumulative-tired.

This is not my usual self, who you met or saw. It is an approximation of someone I used to be; a poor substitute, I think.


The Gay Agenda: Wednesday, February 6

5:45 am
Wake up and tend to Arden; get ready for work.

6:30 am
Leave Phoenix for campus; stop to put gas in car on way to work.

7:00 am
Arrive at campus in Tempe to pick up MFA students.

7:10 am
Drive 30 miles to North Phoenix for MFA student event.

7:55 am
Nearly cause accident when finally spot Starbucks fly by to right of car; swerve across three lanes of traffic for coffee pit stop.

8:05 am
Arrive at event with coffee.

9:30 am
Drive 30 miles back to campus, to office for staff meeting. Park and walk 15 minutes to office from parking lot.

11:30 am
Walk back to car and drive 15 miles back to Phoenix for lunch time meeting. Need food...maybe Taco Bell?

12:05 pm
Arrive at meeting, pleasantly surprised to find free light lunch waiting.

1:30 pm
Drive 15 miles back to Tempe for meeting with boss. 15 minute walk back to office.

3:30 pm
Become hungry again; coerce coworkers to walk to Coldstone for ice cream delight.

3:35 pm
Briefly enjoy ice cream concoction; return to work

5:30 pm
Leave office and walk to car for third time.

5:45 pm
Drive back to Phoenix to go home and tend to Arden.


Cosmetic Surgery for Dummies; School Blues

So, my blog is slowly coming back. I'm not super excited about the blocks Blogger put into place when it comes to template-jacking (everything I had before was done "by hand" by altering code on the template), but at least I got the Buffy quote back...and more things are on the way, I hope.

Some of you know that this semester I'm experimenting with taking a weekend-long "intensive" class. Well, actually two of them. For my first class meeting, I had to read Good to Great, but for this next weekend (that's Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 9 am - 5 pm), I have to read Managing Human Behavior in Nonprofit Organizations. Which, if you've ever worked in a nonprofit, you know is fairly unmanageable! J/k. Mostly.

This is all so I can graduate from the program in December. That's only 11 months. I'm hanging on, like that kitten on that poster..."Hang in there!" While it's desperately clinging to save its life.

So, I have to read that first, and then I made a promise to my conservative friend that I would read The Fountainhead without fully understanding that it was 700 pages long.

And I'm writing poems again. Little ones. About axes and serial killers.


Update on Boo

Also, I got these books, which I tucked into my carryon and read on the plane:

Now You're the Enemy, James Hall
BLOOM, last winter's issue.

The first place I went when I had free time in Manhattan: H&M.
Why? Because I'm a frugal Scandinavian!
I bought jeans.


AWP wasn't what I had hoped it would be. I felt like I was trying to have a good conference and a good time in the city and failing miserably at both.

Maybe some of you noticed that as I sped by you running here, there.

I didn't get to see many of the people I care about, which was a big disappointment. But I did get to spend some wonderful quality time with a few people and that made me very happy.

I was also shut out of getting Mary Biddinger's book for a second consecutive year because it sells out every time.

I drowned my sorrows by doing the entire book fair in an hour and getting these:

The Octopus Books 8-pack of chapbooks
White Boots: New and Selected Poems of the West, William Pitt Root
Key Bridge, Ken Rumble
The Bad Wife Handbook, Rachel Zucker
Sanctuary, Adrienne Su
Magic for Beginners, Kelly Link
Protection, Greg Shapiro
Want, Rick Barot
Lawnboy, Paul Lisicky
Horror Vacui, Thomas Heise
Columbia Poetry Review
Court Green
Our Aperture, Ander Monson
Jacket of the Straights, Vincent Zompa
A Conventional Weather, John Pursley III
Creation Myths, Mathias Svalina
Exit Interview, Paul Guest
In the Particular Particular, Stephanie Anderson
Harlot, Jill Alexander Essbaum
The Myth of the Simple Machines, Laurel Snyder
Never Cry Woof, Shafer Hall
Shy Green Fields, Hugh Behm-Steinberg
Mid-American Review
Your Ten Favorite Words, Reb Livingston
The Man Suit, Zachary Schomburg
Glean, Joshua Kryah
Scorpionica, Karyna McGlynn
Some Nights No Cars at All, Josh Rathkamp
Anne Boyer's Good Apocalypse, Anne Boyer
World Jelly, Tony Tost
National Anthem, Kevin Prufer
A Fiddle Pulled from the Throat of a Sparrow, Noah Eli Gordon

I will spend the rest of my life reading.