Friday, November 30, 2007

Obligatory cat picture. No time for more. Perhaps this weekend. Just started reading Halberstam's last book on Korean War and am enjoying the Bayard book featured at right.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"Christmas is the one time of year when people of all religions come together to worship Jesus Christ." - Bart Simpson

The first Christmas card of the season from the Santa Ana Star Casino in New Mexico. It is good for five dollars in my favorite slot machine. I still like the picture from artist Arthur Menchego. The card says his given name is KA WHE TEWA, which means "where there is snow." The poem is from last Sunday's New York Times Magazine. I am working on a Christmas song post next. My favorite time of the year.

The Fish

As soon as the elderly waiter
placed before me the fish I had ordered,
it began to stare up at me
with its one flat, iridescent eye.

I feel sorry for you, it seemed to say,
eating alone in this awful restaurant
bathed in such unkindly light
and surrounded by these dreadful murals of Sicily.

And I feel sorry for you, too —
yanked from the sea and now lying dead
next to some boiled potatoes in Pittsburgh —
I said back to the fish as I raised my fork.

And thus my dinner in an unfamiliar city
with its rivers and lighted bridges
was graced not only with chilled wine
and lemon slices but with compassion and sorrow

even after the waiter removed my plate
with the head of the fish still staring
and the barrel vault of its delicate bones
terribly exposed, save for a shroud of parsley.

By Billy Collins

Saturday, November 24, 2007

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

The best Thanksgiving episode ever. I would rank the Northern Exposure Thanksgiving next followed by the gang of Cheers get together at Carla's house with the inevitable pie in the face. The local library recently aquired the 4th season of Northern Exposure and I am enjoying the fond memories of watching this in college and the reruns that used to be on A&E in the afternoons.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It is good to see the Martin Limón's series about two CID investigators return after a gap of several years between third and fourth book. The latest one is set in the same place I was stationed at (Tongduchon, Korea) although the events of the novel occur in the early 1970's about 15 years before I arrived. Red State Librarian pointed out that the second Inspector O novel, Hidden Moon by James Church, is also out. The first one is excellent and gives what I feel to be a very realistic picture of North Korea although I have not had the pleasure of touring Pyongyang yet. I know that Limón's novels evoke my experience near the DMZ area, in Songtan, and around Itaewon, Seoul despite the time difference. I wanted to order some yakimandus. fried dumplings, immediately upon reading about them in the book. And some ramyun with kimchi.

I received a superb present from my mom yesterday. She sent me a stack of old postcards that my grandparents had mailed to be when I was very young from all over the world. I hope to scan some of these and post them up because they look awesome and while reading them it evoked a series of cascading memories from seeing the old addresses of previous homes and deciphering the briefly scrawled words of my now deceased maternal grandparents. The Door to Bitterness by Limón take places during the Korean holiday of Chusok, sort a combination of Thanksgiving and Memorial Day for ancestors which is also a nice coincidence.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! I am off the grocery store to fight the mobs for some rutabagas,cranberry sauce, and chestnuts. Then I am attempting a pumpkin cheesecake. Wish me luck, I will need it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Something leftover from Halloween in our neighborhood. Either that or a very good way to discourage the kids from cutting through your yard. Korean mysteries tomorrow. (See book featured at left.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"They say misery loves company..."

Let's pick up the mood a bit. The above is a clip promoting film about First Avenue Club in Minneapolis during its prime as you may be able to tell from the title. I saw Bob Mould there on a solo tour about seven years ago and was lucky to run into him at some hip veggie restaurant before the show. Way cool. Him not me.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A day late and many things short...

Facing It

My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn't,
dammit: No tears.
I'm stone. I'm flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
this way--the stone lets me go.
I turn that way--I'm inside
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022 names,
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew Johnson;
I see the booby trap's white flash.
Names shimmer on a woman's blouse
but when she walks away
the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird's
wings cutting across my stare.
The sky. A plane in the sky.
A white vet's image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
look through mine. I'm a window.
He's lost his right arm
inside the stone. In the black mirror
a woman's trying to erase names:
No, she's brushing a boy's hair.

by Yusef Komunyakaa
From Dien Cai Dau

Friday, November 09, 2007


Have a good weekend!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Cracker/Jason Isbell @ People's

Cracker front man David Lowery and bass player Sal Maida

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit

The problem with going to Des Moines on a weeknight to see a band is that you are still about an hour away from home at 1:30 in the morning.

The venue was cool although crowd seemed a bit ambivalent. I think an Iowa City show would have had a better turnout but that is also what happens when you get two legitimate headliners on the same bill. There was a third band that opened, Backyard Tire Fire. They are playing at the Picador here in town tomorrow night and they played a decent set. Worth checking them out.

Jason did a great job including a goosebump inducing version of Decoration Day and an awesome cover of Van Morrison's Into the Mystic. Cracker was fun and I recommend their new album, Greenland. It was unfortunate that most of the crowd was probably their just to hear them play Eurotrash Girl and Low but it was still worth the trip and the late return. I did sleep in the next day.

How many days until No Country for Old Men hits town? New Yorker's brief take on it here.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Dead Souls in the Bedroom?

The above video by Gogol Bordello was recommended by my Tucson gang. We are heading out to Des Moines (the Hartford of the Midwest) tonight to see Jason Isbell open up for Cracker. Very excited. (About the show, Des Moines not so much. I think this will be the only the 2nd or 3rd time in the last eight years that I have lived in Iowa. Don't really know the city that well so I shouldn't really knock it. Not that I have met any great champions of the place either, see Bill Bryson etc...) I have not seen the full Cracker lineup in a while and this should be a great combo. I will post some photos from the show if and when I can.

I highly recommend seeing the film Little Children. Hard to describe but it is memorable. I would also suggest avoiding the so called 'art' film, Old Boy Joy, even though it clocks in at a mere 76 minutes it was more painful to sit through than Hiroshima, Mon Amour.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Buenos Dia de los Muertos!

Last year I had a great time at the Day of the Dead celebration in Tucson but missed out on a trip there for work this fall. C'est la guerre.

The Frida picture is from a slide show at The New Yorker. There is an article about the exhibit at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in this week's issue. I am hoping to experience this firsthand in a couple weeks on the way back from a trip to Madison. (Granted this will be the long way back but I also hope to see some old friends from my salad days in the Army who live near St. Paul.)

Recently I have been listening to and enjoying the latest albums from Rilo Kiley, Bruce Springsteen, Dwight Yoakam (all Buck Owens covers), and The New Pornographers. Speaking of Neko Case, the November issue of Poetry has a brief essay by her about poetry entitled, "My Flaming Hamster Wheel of Panic About Publicly Discussing Poetry in This Respected Forum". You can read it here. Here is another poem from The Poetry Anthology. I like this one as I think we have all been at poetry reading that has exceeded our allotted span of attention and the mind starts to wander. Have a good weekend. (I was just informed that Wilco will be on PBS' Austin City Limits this week. Check your local listings. And now the poem....

At the Poetry Reading

I can't keep my eyes off the poet's
wife's legs—they're so much more
beautiful than anything he might
be saying, though I'm no longer
in a position really to judge,
having stopped listening some time ago.
He's from the Iowa Writers Workshop
and can therefore get along fine
without my attention. He started in
reading poems about his childhood—
barns, cornsnakes, gradeschool, flowers,
that sort of stuff—the loss of
innocence he keeps talking about
between poems, which I can relate to,
especially under these circumstances.
Now he's on to science, a poem
about hydrogen, I think, he's trying
to imagine himself turning into hydrogen.
Maybe he'll succeed. I'm imagining
myself sliding up his wife's fluid,
rhythmic, lusciously curved, black-
stockinged legs, imagining them arched
around my shoulders, wrapped around my back.
My God, why doesn't he write poems about her!
He will, no doubt, once she leaves him,
leaves him for another poet, perhaps,
the observant, uninnocent one, who knows
a poem when it sits down in a room with him.

by John Brehm
Source: Poetry (June 1998).