November 21, 2017

So entirely satisfying to cross off pretty much everything on my to-do list.

Not that there was much more to the day than that.

Does every day have to be the best EVER?

Technology on the move

November 20, 2017

Tags: electric vehicles

Much as I lament, at times, the end of the internal combustion engine, the recent electric-vehicle advances are pretty cool.

For example, last week Tesla showed the prototype for its battery-powered, nearly self-driving semi that they say can go up to 500 miles on a charge—not good enough for long-distance trucking but terrific for many routes, especially as the truck is exhaust-free and cheaper to run than diesels. (more…)


November 19, 2017

I'm fighting that cold/flu/health weirdness that's going around. Fighting as in lying around & staring at the ceiling. Fighting as in being cranky. As in making sad face.

It would be fine if I could curl up with a spy novel, but my eyes itch & I feel restless.

Woe is me! Alas!

Random photo of me in high school

November 17, 2017

Rich Ostrander on the left.
I remember that sweater & skirt set so well—they were a deep gold color & very heavy.

I remember less well why the photo was taken.

Not true, I remember perfectly well but am embarrassed that, almost 50 years later, I know it was for being a National Merit Scholar.

Embarrassed because I was so proud of my superior knack for taking standardized tests. I didn't even know I wasn't smart, because I was officially smart.

Books x2

November 16, 2017

Tags: Snowbound

A very quick mockup of what our chapbook will look like.
I sent the manuscript for my new & selected to my publisher, finally having decided on a title: Now That I Know Where I'm Going. I have wanted to use that for a long time, & meant it for American Guys 20 years ago, but Murat quite rightly talked me out of it. But this time it fits much better & I'm excited.

Not only that, Steve Willis, my friend of nearly 50 years, loves snow as much as I do, if not more, & we are putting together a dos-à-dos, or more properly, as I just learned, a tête-bêche book, where you'll flip his to read mine & vice versa. Nothing fancy, just a fun way to collaborate & get our work into a few hands.

Hola, España!

November 15, 2017

For some reason, I have been feeling strongly that I HAVE to go to Spain. So I bought a ticket. I'll go for 8 days, leaving in 2 weeks, & stay with my friend Mercè, who lives near Girona (she's from Barcelona). Our plan is to go up to Toledo for a couple of days, where neither of us has been.

I wish I could remember the Catalan I was learning before I went there a couple years ago, but I've moved on to Hiragana, which is so frigging hard; at best I'll be able to say a few polite phrases in Japanese & identify the characters.

Myron Floren

November 14, 2017

Tags: Myron Floren (1919-2005)

Wow, when did you get Myron Floren's autograph??

He was the guest of honor at a Sons of Norway lutefisk dinner, held in the basement of the Nordic Hall, a small building where my dad had his office for as long as I remember. I was probably 10 and very shy about asking—probably someone asked on my behalf. (more…)

Psychologically healthy

November 13, 2017

In my blog on October 15, I told the story of a guy who exposed himself to me on the train. I burst out laughing. When my younger sister was little, her friend's uncle exposed himself to the two little girls. Their response? They put peanut butter in his shoes. "He was bad, so we (more…)

Lady Bird

November 12, 2017

Tags: Lady Bird

Clearly I'm in a tiny minority for not loving Greta Gerwig's new movie, Lady Bird.

The Times for example:
You might think you’ve seen this all before. You probably have, but never quite like this. What Ms. Gerwig has done — and it’s by no means a small accomplishment — is to infuse one of the most convention-bound, rose-colored genres in American cinema with freshness and surprise. The characters can look like familiar figures: the sad dad and the disapproving mom; the sullen brother and his goth girlfriend; the mean girls and the cool teachers; the too-perfect boyfriend and the dirtbag boyfriend. None of them are caricatures, though, and while everyone is mocked, nobody is treated with cruelty or contempt, at least by Ms. Gerwig. (Lady Bird is not always so kind.) (more…)

What a week!

November 10, 2017

The women of America fought back & the world of elected officials looks a lot different than it did a year ago.... I finished a book.... I got a cellphone..... Something big that I can't talk about yet....

What Home Is

November 8, 2017

Tags: Ginevra Kirkland

Fall in Minnesota.
What Home Is
for & with Ginevra Kirkland

I’ve lived so many places I don’t know where I’m from. Everywhere seems like the town I could have lived & died in, & maybe I did.

I was there in the POW camp with the German soldier who only wanted to get back to his herring, beer, & fraulein. I was in Otis, Colorado, a town so peaceful the only bar was on the second floor of an old hotel. I was a Mainer, or Mainiac, & lived 3 years in its white, bright, unmoving postcard. (more…)

Vote early, vote often

November 7, 2017

If anything, there's more at stake in today's election than in last year's, at least in the sense that we are now activated. It's fair to say we dropped the ball last time, but I don't want that to be said tomorrow.

The Double Yews

November 6, 2017

Tags: The Double Yews

I have to admit, it's fun to say "my band" & it's fun to be in a band, even a half-assed poets' band, where I can't really play an instrument or sing. Annabel Lee & I mostly match poems to familiar tunes and sing them accompanied by her on guitar, me on various amusing rhythm instruments (more…)

Why is everything so big?

November 5, 2017

Tags: Milky Way

So an object—asteroid? lump? comet? spaceship?—from outside our solar system, but inside the Milky Way, one of many galaxies, recently zipped past the sun & only 15 millions from us. Astronomers can tell it's from away because of its orbit. But how is that they know it's from our galaxy & not from even farther away? And how is it possible that, as the astronomers assert, it's the "first interstellar object known to have visited Earth’s neighborhood," according to The Economist Espresso. Is this a big deal? Why? And to whom?

Quote V

November 3, 2017

Tags: Simone Weil

Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.
—Simone Weil
Gravity and Grace

I've always loved this. Such a good correction to that immature longing for the "bad" that so many of us fall for when young, & I guess usually outgrow.

With lightning speed, I enter the 21st century

November 2, 2017

Not an iPhone... I'll miss that pony-hide cover Maggie brought me back years ago from Wyoming "in case you ever get a cellphone."
My tale of woe & redemption begins with my office phone going out. Verizon (boo) sends a repairguy. He reluctantly & slowly tries a couple of fixes then basically tells me to fuck off. I know that Verizon (hiss) has no real interest in fixing copper wires/landlines—they're expensive to maintain & fewer & fewer people have 'em.

He leaves, promising to come back the next day.

Verizon (jeer) also tells me to fuck off: the next available appointment is actually more than a week away. They act like they are my friend.

I go up the block, & an hour later my office number has been converted to a cell, & I am the owner of an iPhone. I guess that means putting my little workhorse 10-year-old flip phone to rest, eh?

Welcome to the future! I mean the past! I have a smartphone! Call me!

Tony Towle

November 1, 2017

One of the faraway heads is Tony's.
The suave & witty poet Tony Towle read last week at the Poetry Project. As he gets older, he gets mellower but without losing his smart language.

My favorite of his books remains Autobiography but his new book, Noir, is pretty darn good. Unfortunately, I can't lay my hands on either one but here's the beginning of "Lines for the New Year":

The first day of January is the first day
of the New Year. In the north
there is snow and ice and the forest rings
with the sound of the ax.
So this is really a game of tag. Run across it
as if it were a cake, and you were a knife
cutting it right through the middle. At other times
the clouds seem to be pillows. My target
is a cool, tax-free million. I am very calm about it.
I could end up making a good deal more.