Sunday, December 30, 2007

Announcing The Triumphant Return Of My Cat, Gerard Butler.

My cat, Gerard Butler

Recently my cat Stanley and I were sitting around chewing the cud, as they say, and we both realized hiding his true identity was a little silly. So what if all those women on that IMDb thread seemed a little strange. As my roommate, the Schadenfreude Prophet, reminds me constantly, this is the internet. What would the internet be without strangeness?

Since my cat, Gerard Butler, been away for awhile, you're probably wondering just how my cat, Gerard Butler, is doing. He is doing well. Thank you very much for your inquiry. My cat, Gerard Butler, is very excited about my new job because this means I will stop bitching about his deadbeat dad all the time and just get off my ass and buy my cat, Gerard Butler, his expensive flea treatment. Not that my cat, Gerard Butler has fleas, of course. We are merely talking prevention here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

You're A Wonderful Writer. No Doubt About That.

Aaah. Rejection with such sweet words is not nearly as terrible as rejection with harsh words or none at all. Here is what I wrote for Bitch magazine. They want me to keep sending them stuff even though they've returned twice. I guess that's the way it goes. It is long though. I warn you. I wrote it before the movie came out.


Or, how a much-anticipated new movie fails to pass the bar for an enlightened (or just less obnoxious) view of womankind and how some movies you’ve probably never heard of do.

Awhile ago I was rooting around the movie section of a major chain bookstore when one of the films caught my eye. But when I flipped the DVD box to read the description for Beowulf and Grendel, I couldn’t help but feel a little confused. Sarah Polley as ‘Selma?’ The English major in me wanted to know just who this Selma was. Did I sleep through that part of the poem? The DVD box had only this much to say: “When Beowulf meets Selma (Sarah Polley), a mysterious and sensual witch, his understanding of revenge is further complicated.” So Selma’s, what? The Beowulf love interest? Despite a genuine admiration for all things Sarah Polley, I have a good laugh and run home to irreverently put the movie at the top of my Netflix queue.


At the time I was a neophyte. But looking back I can see how this little movie with its stunning cinematography and beautiful soundtrack has opened the door for me into the phenomenon that is the Beowulf Adaptation. What’s even more interesting, for our purposes, is examining what contemporary filmic versions of a very non-contemporary Anglo-Saxon poem (of which the only surviving manuscript dates from the eleventh century) can tell us about the roles available to women in twenty-first century media. Of all the Beowulf Adaptations out there, I will be focusing on the aforementioned Beowulf and Grendel (2005), and a futuristic sci-fi Christopher Lambert flick (1999) as well as the November 16, 2007 Robert Zemeckis film release starring Angelina Jolie as Grendel’s dam and based on a screenplay by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary. Because the movie isn’t out at the time of this writing, I’m cheating by using the novelization (based on the screenplay) by Catherine R. Kiernan and published by Harper Collins. Since Neil Gaiman wrote the introduction, I’m presuming he endorses it. And after all, I think it’s fair to call this text an adaptation in its own right. (I am not, however, even going to gloss the misogyny inherent to the Michael Crichton/Antonio Banderas Beowulf knock-off, The 13th Warrior where ‘Grendel’ is really a group of cave-dwelling, mother goddess worshipping cannibals. Oh my. But by all means, check it out for yourself. Make sure to note the little Venus de Milo figurines the bad guys carry around on their belts.)
Of course it’s only fair to start with the poem itself. Written down by an anonymous poet sometime in the early eleventh century, the poem would probably have been told and retold from generation to generation before that. However, experts say historical events in the poem can be dated to the fifth century. Beowulf is the story of a hero who travels both far and near to deliver his people from suffering. First as a young man, Beowulf travels with a band of warriors to relieve his one-time benefactor, the Danish King Hrothgar, of a murderous troll and also kill’s the troll’s revengeful mother. Fifty years later, Beowulf sacrifices his own life to protect his people and slay a dragon. Set in a biblical context, the poem also deals in the Germanic tradition of reciprocity between a lord and his retainers and highlights the ideal role a queen should play among her people.
At this point, you may be having a good laugh along with me and asking where exactly Selma, the sensual witch, fits in to all of this. But before we turn again to the movie adaptations, it might be worthwhile to briefly check out some important roles the female characters in the poem do play. I consult Anglo-Saxon scholar Jane Chance’s book Woman as Hero in Old English Literature for a quick brush up on the role of queens and anti-queens in the Beowulf epic. Basically, a queen like Hrothgar’s wife, Wealhtheow, can be considered a peace-pledge between two tribes. Once pledged to her king, she in turn keeps the peace in the hall by preserving the social order among her lord’s retainers. The queen does this by offering a cup of mead from man to man in order of social standing. The Beowulf epic rebounds with several examples of good and bad queen-ship. The problem with Grendel’s mother, again according to Jane Chance, is that she entirely subverts the traditional feminine values espoused for Anglo-Saxon women. For example, she takes on a masculine role and actively seeks to avenge her son’s death. Nor does she promote peace on any other level. But women in Beowulf are not just lessons for female readers to mull over as they tend to their weaving and try to learn about their role as proper Anglo-Saxons.
Instead, the poem actually offers at least one instance where a woman steps forward to represent her people as a whole. When an unidentified woman laments over the funeral pyre of her king, Beowulf (lines 3150-3155 in the poem), she bears witness to the trauma of an entire people ravaged by tribal warfare. Others of undisclosed gender also wail in grief during this scene as the lamenter lays out some of the deepest fears a person of the dark ages might experience. Think invasion by foreigners. Think slavery. The lament itself certainly never appears weak or disgraceful. But unlike the original, the Neil Gaiman offering replaces the scene with a one of a male scop who sings instead of Beowulf’s glory. But maybe I’m being nit-picky? It just seems to me that if the screenwriters are going to take the time to include some sort of oral extravaganza over the funeral pyre, they might as well keep the original. Of course, my eyes could have glassed over and missed that part, which is entirely possible despite Kiernan’s fine writing. (Nope, they didn’t. I double-checked.) Hmmm. Just one of the reasons I think the saying ‘something is rotten in Denmark’ should also refer to some Beowulf Adaptations. But by all means, read on. We still have to get to the apple.

There’s something incredibly unsettling to me about the movie Beowulf and Grendel, the character of Selma, and the burgeoning relationship between Selma and Beowulf. The burning question on my mind is simply, “Who the f*ck is Selma?” But I’m no longer asking in an English major this-movie-isn’t-like-the-book sort of way. It’s apparent to me that Selma is important. But something doesn’t sit right. I can’t figure out what’s troubling me. I can’t figure out who she is.

Now we can get back to the movies. Obviously, with a slew of male warriors running about slaying monsters and dragons, one has to at least imagine the possibility that media falling under the ever-widening rubric of the Beowulf Adaptation may cough up limited opportunities for the female actors of our day. The current offering, starring Angelina Jolie as Grendel’s dam, may offer just another example of how a major motion picture can present even leading female characters in flashy but ultimately one-dimensional roles. (Huge Major Spoiler Alert.) Basically, Grendel’s ageless, super-sexy mother seduces King Hrothgar and gives birth to Grendel. (This most definitely does not happen in the book.) After Hrothgar breaks a promise he made to the otherworldly merewife, she looses Grendel on his court at Heorot. Beowulf comes with fourteen Geat warriors to save the day. Beowulf kills Grendel and has encounter with merewife Jolie in which, we come to learn, he does not kill her but rather makes a devilish bargain and inseminates merewife with what will become the dragon that eventually is his undoing. Hrothgar abdicates the Danish throne and passes off his wife, Wealhtheow, to Beowulf then promptly falls off a cliff. (I am typing from the fetal position right now. To say this does not happen in the book would be a weak and flaccid understatement.) Oh, and along the way Christianity comes to town and so does Ursula, the ‘young girl’ who brings sex and comfort to Beowulf’s old age.
Oh, I get it! Lust and greed will bring even a good man down, although selfless acts can bring about redemption. But let’s make sure and understand that even as lust is personified by the super seductive Jolie and even as Beowulf succumbs to her rampant sexuality, his desire for her is not necessarily associated with wanton sexual abandon but with capitulation under duress and as paired with Beowulf’s greed to be seen as a great man. Importantly, the sexual woman is standing in for something else entirely here. Playing on what she perceives to be Beowulf’s wish for glory, the merewife gets what she wants by being sexually provocative in a stereotypical mere-bimbo way. She even compliments Beowulf on the size of the magical ‘horn’ he’s carrying. “’It glows so …delightfully” we read towards the bottom of page 193. Oooo-kay. (Those ellipsis are in the original, by the way.) No doubt that line will get some chuckles at the theater. A few pages later, Kiernan tells us (again, based on the screenplay by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary) “the merewife reaches down and runs her fingers along the golden horn, Hrothgar’s prize, Beowulf’s reward, then she slips her arms around Beowulf’s waist and draws him nearer to her. She kisses his bare chest and the soft flesh of his throat” (197-198). I don’t truck much with Freud (especially since he doesn’t seem to know much about women) but I get that whole phallus idea and I’m absolutely, definitely getting that here.
But it gets so much worse. According to my reading, Beowulf’s encounter with the merewife leaves him somewhat unmanned. Directly after the passage quoted above, we read as the merewife tells Beowulf that as long as she gets to keep the horn, the phallus he brought with him to the cave, he can be King of Denmark. I would like to take this opportunity to point out that saying a woman in charge makes a man less than he is need not be viewed as a compliment to women. And while Neil Gaiman is certainly not the first writer to personify the road towards desire and greed for more than one has in the figure of a woman, I can only hope he is the last. This tale has a long and arduous history and needs to go away. Ahem! Eve. The Book of Genesis. That whole apple thing. Just to drive home the point and seal the metaphorical deal, the end of the long braid worn by Grendel’s dam has a life of its own as a serpent. A serpent, I said. I don’t even read the Bible and I still get the reference.
When I express frustration about my reading material to the roommate who loaned me the novelization in the first place, he tells me that Neil Gaiman deals a lot in archetypes and that may be the reason I think some or all of the characters are a bit…non-dimensional. (In this case, the ellipses are mine.) Well, that’s fine, I say. If archetypes can bring us to a fuller understanding of humanity then by all means. But if the archetypes in use serve instead to limit our view, I daresay they ought to be done away with. And I think it’s fair to expect even an animated film to indulge itself in a little complex characterization.
It might be somewhat interesting to discuss what archetype Neil Gaiman had in mind when he was originally conceiving the movie’s two Beowulf love interests, but judging from the novelization, I think it is called ‘Somewhat Passive.’ Or maybe ‘Mildly Adversarial but Ultimately Ineffective,’ in the case of Wealhtheow. ‘Young and Sweet’ for Ursula. (I’m going to spoil some more of the movie for you now.) Basically, Wealhtheow gets handed off to Beowulf and somewhere along the way turns Christian and (consequently?) frigid. We are aware that she knows at least about Hrothgar’s association with the merewife and probably suspects Beowulf. Beowulf, in his old age, turns to the much-younger Ursula. Somehow King Beowulf has got hold of his horn again, both literally and figuratively. This is where we are when the dragon comes.
And come he does. Fire all over everything. Pathetically, Ursula and Wealhtheow get trapped in a dangerous situation. They run back and forth along a bridge, eventually caught between two burning towers. One by one they become frozen by fright at the horrific sight of the dragon, but egg each other on in displays of sisterly solidarity. However, they do not save themselves. Wiglaf, Beowulf’s male retainer, carries the day in the end. But still I have to ask myself if those displays of solidarity (as well as Wealhtheow’s promise to look after Ursula when Beowulf is gone) save this movie after all, at least in the sense of how female characters are portrayed and the agency given them by their creators.
I have already discussed how twenty-first century writers leave out a powerful female voice from a really old poem. The scenes I described above take place nowhere in the original poem nor in other adaptations I’ve seen. Therefore, I suggest we read them as products not of “historical context” but of the twenty-first century pop culture mind. And I don’t think, after a lot of reading and mulling, that those scenes between Ursula and Wealhtheow need be read only as sisterly solidarity. There is no question from the text that Beowulf considers himself to love both women, and that both women, in their way, love Beowulf. Maybe, instead, we should at least consider the possibility that whatever ‘solidarity’ Ursula and Wealhtheow may espouse also signifies a kind of passive acceptance of the one-man-two-women situation. We might see Jolie’s character as the female inversion of this stereotype, but I don’t think we have to. As far as we know, she only gets her men one at a time.

I start to figure Selma out. She’s the outsider. She is the only one with enough perspective to see the larger picture from the get-go. She is defiant in her refusal to validate Beowulf’s participation in a culture of violence. And under her tutelage, Beowulf is like a man waking up. But somehow, to me, the role of edifier seems stereotypically feminine. Just look at Hermione. And most of my teachers have been women, after all. But then I realize something about Selma the umpteenth time I watch the film, looking for that kernel of what draws me back. In the end, Selma rejects the role of teacher. She turns away from Beowulf and forces him to manage moral predicament on his own. That he does so may signify the strength of her example.

Although IMDb folks have only thought to give the Graham Baker directed Christopher Lambert Beowulf film three and a half out of ten stars (as opposed to six out of ten for Beowulf and Grendel), I’m willing to give it ten more than I would give to the current Beowulf offering. The film takes place in the futuristic/medieval setting of the Outpost, where Hrothgar, his daughter Krya, and a band of trusty soldiers battle a supernatural monster night by night as their numbers dwindle and outsiders prevent them from leaving. Right away, the film tips the viewer off that we may be dealing with some bad cinema. In one of the first scenes, an escapee from the Outpost runs down a hill in such a state of sexy dishevelment I think I can only call it dishabille. I dare say red stockings and garters and a provocatively torn skirt have less to do with fighting monsters than with how weirdly sexy the whole scenario is, especially when it turns gruesome and we watch as a captor reveals her bare, muscled stomach in order to more accurately cut her in half. The film also succumbs to the mere-bimbo storyline. (Someone please ask Neil Gaiman if ‘mere-bimbo’ is an archetype.) And in a move that screams ‘Holy Opposite of Star Wars, Batman!’ screenwriter Mark Leahy writes Hrothgar as Grendel’s father once again. Grendel’s dam (Layla Roberts) is Playboy bunny sexy. Here though, she’s pissed because the Outpost is built on land that used to belong to her. So at least that’s something. And Hrothgar’s seduction seems purely sexual. She seduces him. They engender Grendel. Kyra’s mother commits suicide. No using the sexual lust of a man for a woman to stand in for something else. But, you might say. Just look at Kyra (Rhona Mitra), you might add. She walks around the whole time in a bustier. And you’d be right. But it’s what she does in her bustier that really counts.
Kyra has all the courage and integrity of a kung fu heroine. She wants to play an active role in the defense of her father’s people. She does not accept Beowulf sight unseen when he shows up at the Outpost but somehow manages to invert the traditional feminine role of hostess in order to give ever-so polite voice to the misgivings of herself and others in her role of ironic interrogator. “I’m not afraid. I can’t afford to be afraid,” she tells Beowulf at one point. She refuses sanctuary to fight and her decision saves her life when passive resistance proves futile. She bears weapons despite her lack of armor. Kind of silly, just standing there with her spear and bustier. But also kind of noble. And then she throws her spear. Kind of fierce. Despite her lack of choices and her constant proximity to death, doesn’t settle for sex or romance with male friend she loves as a brother. Mourns friend when he dies. Never vamps or tramps. We find she’s the victim of domestic abuse who killed her attacker in self-defense. Lives under the personal torment of thinking Grendel represents her dead husband come to extract revenge. Reveals her romantic feelings to Beowulf with honor and openness. When all with Grendel is said and done, accepts Beowulf’s unknowingness about the future. Makes her decisions for herself. Accepts the unknown.
In other words, Kyra’s not just an add-on to an old text for the sake of a love interest. Instead of Neil Gaiman’s cookie-cutter shapes of Wealhtheow, Ursula, and even Grendel’s mother, we are left with a character with personality, motivation and volition of her own. And although the Christopher Lambert Beowulf certainly has its foibles, just the fact that the filmmakers did not—according to IMDb—include a gratuitous scene of sexual contact between Grendel and Kyra because they felt it didn’t add to the movie may be a sign that this film may at least have its heart in the right place. But when I consult Box Office Mojo I can’t find a listing for the film. When I double check on IMDb, I learn that the film actually won three Video Premier Awards for best art direction, cinematography, and visual effects. Does ’video premiere’ mean this strong female lead never even made it to the theater?

I find out on Box Office Mojo that Beowulf and Grendel opened in only two theaters and has a total lifetime gross of $92, 076 worldwide. That’s not a lot of money. I fear another portrayal of a strong, complex woman has fallen by the wayside. The thing is, I like Selma. I’ve gotten over my English major angst to see that Sarah Polley plays her as a strong, complex woman who doesn’t know exactly who she’s dealing with in the figure of Beowulf. She makes choices based on who or what she has to protect but never slips from her role as the film’s moral center. Rather than detract from what ‘really’ happens, Selma fleshes this story out.

Something tells me that the new Robert Zemeckis Beowulf Adaptation isn’t going to just fall by the wayside. There are posters all over town. I’ve seen the trailer, and I’m pretty sure Angelina Jolie looks pretty darn hot. There’s something (not just literally!) seductive about the power her character seems to hold over the hearts of men. Who hasn’t dreamed at least once of taking on the dominatrix role as the Beowulf-or Hrothgar-like gimp bends to our will? But as a friend in the know once pointed out, in most non-illegal S&M activities the gimp actually has the safe-word and therefore the power to end the entire interaction. I would argue that whatever ‘strength’ anyone might see in the domination Grendel’s dam espouses lies really in the willingness of her victims to capitulate. And isn’t that the nature of Eve, of seduction? Leave it to the little movies with barely a box office to give us the inner strength of a Selma or a Kyra. In the future we might take a long hard look at why a hugely marketed film resorts to unpacking unintelligent silhouettes of women (and men, but that’s another story) while two much smaller movies with little income or distribution manage to serve up human beings. For now, though, I’ll offer up something else for the future. At some point during the last few paragraphs, I became an aunt to a niece. Here’s hoping our attitudes can shift as a culture just a teensy-tiny bit so she can grow up in a world where Angelina Jolie continues to be a badass humanitarian but ‘Eve’ is just the opposite of ‘Day’ and apples are a tasty afternoon snack.

Monday, December 3, 2007

I Did Not Go Out This Weekend. Also, I Accidentally Purchased French Vanilla Coffee Instead Of French Roast.

It'll do for now.

I am very preoccupied right now. I am learning to touch type. Also, I have a visitor coming from another country. One of my oldest, greatest friends. Consequently I am very excited. I am so excited I have spilled breakfast cereal on my keyboard. Even though you didn't necessarily ask, I will go ahead and tell you that it is very difficult to eat breakfast cereal and touch type at the same time. I was just born to live on the edge I guess. Thank you.

Friday, November 30, 2007

For The Last Three Days I Have Done Nothing But Drink Diet Coke And Smoke Cigarettes

My actual whereabouts, however, remain heretofore unknown. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Green Tea, Day Two. One More Morning Like This And You Are Looking At MY HEALTHY LIFESTYLE!

So much tea, so little time.

Healthy whole grain cereals. All natural face lotion. A finger nail buffer made from Dead Sea products. When will this barrage of health and well-being ever end? And that's not even counting regular yoga practice, sometimes twice a day. If I keep this up, I will be allowed to hang out in all natural settings in white clothes as I meditate peacefully. Screw my impure heart. Who can remain so in the face of all these fish oil vitamins I'm taking? How did this happen? How did I transform from someone who swills ice cold Diet Coke at seven in the morning to someone who is rocking gently out of sleep with nothing but the thought of further relaxation. I'll tell you how! Guilt, pure and simple. Those lifestyle sellers make tough sales pitches. They act like the planet will fall apart if you don't have a cute teapot that currently has green tea in it. As for me, I just make it by the cup so I guess I am not as far along as I thought I was.

Monday, November 26, 2007

After My Morning Yoga Routine, I Decide To Drink Tangy Citrus Green Tea Instead Of Coffee

To the left you will find an example of the kind of natural environment I like to surround myself with during my AM yoga practice. It is also an example of the kind of surroundings not available to me as I live in a city, don't have a car, and am not allowed to wear white clothes because:

1.) I am clumsy and would spill a lot of green tea and/or coffee on said white clothes;

2.) I am just not calm enough to be able to wear white clothes. (Also, although my heart is largely pure, my heart is largely impure.)

As I understand it, getting the okay to wear the white yoga togs is a really big moment in any yoga apprentice's life. As for me, I am still new to this whole green tea thing. Usually I just think it tastes like the alfalfa I used to feed my guinea pigs. That's why my yoga togs are black sweat pants that are covered in cat hair. Not only that, but I had a cup of coffee before I "practiced." It wasn't even decaf! What would Rodney Yee say about that? Will the yoga police come to my house and upbraid me? Everything has police. Which is why I can't wear white clothes.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

My Roommate's Friend Spins Yarn Out Of Cat Hair

This makes her a good person to know in a time of disaster if all your clothing has been burned or otherwise compromised and you have no way to get more. Depending on the weather, I guess I would rather wear clothing knit out of cat hair yarn than just walking around nude exposed to the elements. Go Eileen! Full points for ingenuity! The East Bay is full of such creative people.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Finally I Have Met My Filmic Soul Mate. His Name Is Donnie Darko.

Two peas in a pod.

Granted, a jet engine has never crashed into my house and I have certainly never traveled in time (as far as I know), nor have I ever stolen my parent's gun to shoot some guy in a bunny costume for driving over my girlfriend while I'm trying to get in touch with Grandma Death. Nor have I ever used an ax to commit an act of vandalism, although one time I did use my forehead. Well, that's not true either. But I thought about it. I thought about it long and hard. As for Frank, the evil bunny rabbit, I can't really talk about that. I will just say that I've never had a shrink who wore cowboy boots. But I bet I have a lot in common with the sarcastic English teacher who gets fired for teaching actual literature. Yeah, she's my soul mate too. However, the fact that Karen and I are now soul mates should not take away from my soul connection with Donnie Darko. Not that I sleepwalk or anything onto golf courses. But isn't there such a thing as a cosmic golf course? Aren't we all just wandering around in our pajamas on a big cosmic golf course watching other people use metal clubs to hit balls into holes? See, now we are all Donnie's soul mates. However, that doesn't mean I won't fight you for him. With my forehead. Watch out for the rabbit.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

In Fact, The Turkey Was Not 'Moist.' It Was Dessicate. But Who Am I To Judge? I Just Had A Cheese Sandwich.

Poultry is possibly the most disgusting food on the planet, if you ask me. Which you did not. Gobble gobble. Maybe that is because you never had to watch your mother cook gizzards and eat them just like that. Just boil them in a little pan of clear, innocent water. I would rather change a very dirty diaper of a baby with gastroenteritis than eat gizzards. That is all I have to say today.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Beowulf: a great movie for people who believe in the sanctity of their anus and tits.

Yeah, you like that?

Beowulf is fearless. You know what happens when the monsters come around? Beowulf doesn't flinch; he gets naked and waits. He sleeps naked in a room full of men singing songs about raping virgins and just waits. When Grendel comes around, he hops on his back and starts fisting him so hard Grendel gets soft and small. Then, right when it's almost over, Beowulf yells his own name and rips off Grendel's arm. Fearless.

When he goes to kill Grendel's mom, he brings a big sword. He lets her come right up to him and stroke it; he doesn't care. Beowulf has no fear. Instead of killing her, he gives her his big golden horn and a good seeing to, siring a fire-breathing dragon who wants to kill Beowulf for some reason. Is it for fucking his mother? Is it for killing his half-brother? Is it for not being there enough when he was little? We may never know.

Some Frisian wants to kill him, but Beowulf is so brave he's like, "I don't need no Jesus 'cause y'all can't kill me." Then he stares the Frisian down until he cowers in fear from Beowulf's bare chest that is so manly everyone is really impressed.

When the dragon comes to town, Beowulf isn't afraid. He's fearless. He's older now, so he doesn't get naked, but he hops on the creature's back with a chain. Still no fear! All of the soldiers in the kingdom shoot arrows at the dragon, but Beowulf coldly swats away the arrows before they can hit him. He's held onto his sword this whole time!!! Then his dragon son slams him into a cliff like it was nobody's business, and still Beowulf keeps his sword and composure.

Then the dragon hovers over the castle tower. There's this thing on top of it that is a long shaft with a round, sharp head on it. It gets uncomfortably close to Beowulf's anus. It goes up his warrior skirt a little too far for his liking. This scares the crap out of Beowulf. "Nothing goes that way, yo. Beowulf's anus is sacred, ain't you heard?"

He's a little embarrassed, so he has to up the ante a lot. He has to rip out the dragon's heart. The dragon has a heart much too small to pump as much blood as a dragon must need, but that's OK. It's magic. But he can't reach. For some reason, he thinks that cutting his arm off will get him into that nice sweet red hole just far enough to stab the heart with his sword. He only has his short sword, so he has to do it. It just isn't long enough to get to that sweet spot. He cuts off his own arm, but he drops his sword when the fire hits his hand. No big deal: it's a long way from his anus. So he reaches with his sound arm as far as he can and miraculously pulls out the beast's heart as if it were a tomato on a leafy branch in spring. Of course, the dragon falls a long way down without a heart in its chest, but Beowulf is not afraid. He dies bravely.

Oh yeah, and Angelina Jolie is naked. Well, kind of. It's not really her, but if you really try, you can look past the fact that she moves like Shrek and fool yourself into thinking it's really her. She has stiletto heels growing out of her feet because that's what men want. It's about as hot as when Bugs Bunny dresses up as a girl bunny. Soooo hot.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

CSI. My Apartment. Episode One. The Bathroom.

Slightly disheveled bathroom. Towels hang lopsided from racks. Rumpled bathmat. At least twenty bottles of bath and body products loiter around all corners of the tub and sink.

Camera pans in on chrome toilet paper holder. We absorb the silver color and lack of fluffy white surrounding it. Camera backs up and out of the bathroom turning to open a small linen closet. Camera pans in on empty plastic wrapper that once encased 16 rolls of toilet paper.

The familiar theme song plays: Whooo are you? Who-hoo? Who-hoo?

Commercial break. Then back to the show.

Five people live here. There are five suspects. Interrogation tactics ensue. In an exciting twist of plot, the interrogators are all suspects themselves. Lights shining in eyes. Sleep deprivation. Good cop bad cop. Meanwhile the crime lab examines the evidence. In another exciting plot twist, all of the crime lab technicians are suspects too.

In the end, nobody really knows who used up the last of the toilet paper. Some cases are never solved. But at least everyone suspects each other.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Yesterday I Went To See The English Movie. I Would Tell You More About It But I Have Slipped Into A Coma. And Not From The Junior Mints Either.

As for the Scottish play, it was Scottish-tastic! My friend Jack Morgan (Macduff) did a really great job knocking on the gate in the morning after Duncan has been killed, but before anyone knows it. I felt these knocks were full of tension and impending doom for the Macbeths.

However, for the second half of the play I was distracted by the thought of how much my viewing experience would be enhanced by a small portion of the liquid kind of Scottish-tastic. That amber liquid. Those clinking ice cubes. Ah... Maybe some other time.

But screw Scotland and England. Come to Pegasus in downtown Berkeley tonight if you dare! 7:30. Me and William Moor. It will be a night to remember if it is good and a night to forget and feel resentful about wasting your time if it is bad. Thank you. I mean "William Moor and I" of course.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Who-Hoo! Today Is National Beowulf Day! I Am Soooooo Excited!!

I plan to celebrate this step backwards for English literature by going to see the Scottish play.

But by all means, get out your leather underwear and join the 5th century panty party. It takes place in a dank, moist cave and there is a naked lady with Barbie feet.

Maybe if you're lucky, she will let you engender a monster with her, the monster that will be your ultimate undoing.

Do you not understand!???! This is a story about greed and lust for power!!

Good. Now that you know the whole plot, you can come see the Scottish play too.

7:30 at 125 Morrison Hall at Cal. Five bucks. My friend Jack Morgan is MacDuff.

Together we can celebrate MacBeowulf Day. Thank you.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What's Not To Like About A Guinea Pig In Hot Pants?

Herman couldn't agree more.

As I'm sure you can imagine, the only real options about whether or not a guinea pig should wear hot pants or not involve not "Yes" or "No" but rather should the hot pants be:

A. Leather

B. Pink Satin

C. Rhinestone

This is going to be great. Guinea pigs have some junk in the trunk.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Cat Is So Cute I Just Want To Squash Him. However, All The Other Pets In My House Disgust Me.

My cute cat, Stanley, finally looks like a cat again

Unbeknownst to me, I have been living across the hall in my apartment from a rodent farm. There are also snakes involved. I fear something truly nefarious is taking place. On top of that, my cat's chubby co-pet, Morgen, had her brand of food switched and now has gastrointestinal distress. Consequentially, the front half of our apartment smells like a dirty diaper. I am becoming one of those people who breathe through their mouths a lot and/or burn a lot of incense. Not the kind of place you would bring guests over to.

Oh, hello there! Don't mind the cat poop. And why don't you step on back to our eenie-weenie chamber of horrors. Please just don't tell me it's 'nature.' I am okay with 'nature.' That is something that takes place outside or at the zoo. But not across the hallway from my bedroom. Thank you.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Little Bit More About Me. Not That You've Asked. How Rude!

I am most like the 'Gerard Butler' version of Beowulf. I may go a little berserk, but then I really think about what I've done.

I still have three, not two. That means I am still available to funnel your requests directly to Satan. Mostly I'll be asking for a new lifestyle. Flashy car. Wads of cash. That sort of thing.

I will be reading aloud (or stuttering aloud) my poetry at Pegasus in downtown Berkeley on Sat. Nov 17, 2007 at 7:30 pm to celebrate the inaugural issue of Sorry 4 Snake. Although I have sent a message to my lupine family living in the forest preserves outside metropolitan Chicago, I do not think they are going to be able to trot out to California in time to see the show. You may be wondering about my human, adoptive family, but I will just tell you this. There are two things I don't talk to my 'mother' about and the second thing is poetry.

It is still all about Disability in the City. However, this serious slice of the pie of life does not stop me from looking fabulous in my stylish thrift shop purchases or from having shallow conversations with my three best girlfriends about my shoe obsession.

I am writing a new opera. It is about the trials and tribulations of living on the Oakland / Emeryville border. For example, am I imagining things, or are there no street lamps on my block? Also I will be singing a moving aria to the stray pit bull that I ran into the other day and am hoping never to see again. At least it was just one dog. Not like the the wild pack of canines that tried to befriend me on my way to work one morning. Thanks passing motorist!

The libretto might go something like this:

Dog: Growl!

Me: Tra-la-la! Are you friendly? Are you vicious? Tra-la-lei!

Dog: Pant! Drool!

Me: IthinkI'llcrossthestreetrightnoooo-oo-oooow!

Of course, I could also write an opera about my slow internet connection in my bedroom that is making me blog in the living room with the smelly cat. (More on that tomorrow.)

But as far as I can tell, there are maybe only one or two things more about me to know and then you will know everything there is possibly ever to know about me. Ever. Of course, I'm lying. I lie all the time. But that still doesn't mean I find the music of Bollywood a nice choice for 9am. Like some unfortunate people I know. Right now. I may have to go and put on some death metal. Okay that will have to do.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Welcome to National Beowulf Month, Week 2. I Hope You Are Enjoying Yourself.

I am not Beowulf!

I just wanted to take this opportunity to say that I have thought of a few more movies that I think are going to turn out to be better than this Beowulf thing-a-ma-jig. Oh, wait. The list is too long to mention here because it includes almost every movie I have ever seen, including Conan the Barbarian. This is partly because Conan does not use shitty animation to tell its spellbinding tale of life in Barbarian times. But maybe the movie will turn out to be great and I will be forced to boil my leather underwear and eat it. Somehow I doubt that though. I do not eat leather, first of all, even if it is boiled. There is no second of all.

But please continue to go about your daily lives, by all means. The movie is still a week away.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

In Other News, National Beowulf Month, Week 1, Is Coming To A Close

Who says boxer briefs are a recent invention?

I would just like to take this opportunity to go out on a limb and mention a few films I think will turn out to be better than this Robert Zemeckis offering. Like Citizen Kane, for example. Or maybe also Fred Claus, the heartwarming Christmas story starring Vince Vaughn as Santa's brother. Or the deeply disturbing documentary I watched on the history channel the night before Halloween about how Romanian superstitions about vampires still exist to the point that corpses are stolen from the grave and stakes driven through their hearts. I am pretty sure that my somewhat Americanized great aunts who have occasionally slipped me a twenty at family functions do not engage in anything like this practice, but still!

Seven Samurai is another great movie, as is Virgin Spring of course. I am pretty sure (in other news) that these movies manage to shy away from the kind of overused stereotypes and tired plot contrivances the new Beowulf movie will be dishing out. I've written about them in an article I sent to a magazine and the minute it gets rejected, I will be posting it here. But in a Huge Major Spoiler Alert I will just say that Angelina plays Grendel's dam as a new Eve with Barbie feet and in a stroke of original brilliance, the filmmakers make a really unusual choice to use sexual lust for a woman as a stand-in for greed for power, etc. I wonder where they got that new-fangled idea.

I am also thinking that the new Elizabeth movie with its cheesy love triangle is a better movie, plus all those "girly" movies I have at home that I'm not going to share the titles with you other than to mention that one of them has Drew Barrymore in it. In other news. And that I love it.

Friday, November 2, 2007

In Other News, My Cat, Stanley, Continues To Make Loyalty Into An Extreme Sport

my Xtremely loyal cat Stanley does his part to celebrate National Beowulf Month

My cat, Stanley (the cat previously known as Gerard Butler) is so loyal he won't leave my side for just one teensy-tiny minute. Isn't that special? However, he is really just rooting for information. He keeps asking me to spoil some of the plot of the new Beowulf movie for him since I seem to know all about it. (Teaser: there is a phallus symbol involved.) But what he really wants to know is who the f*ck is playing Selma.

In other news, I still live with four roommates in a five-bedroom one-bathroom flat with two cats who really, really hate each other.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Apparently, I Am The Omega Roommate. I Am Not Allowed To Use The Bathroom.

Wolves do it outdoors.

While I was growing up with my lupine family in the forest preserves outside Chicago, I got used to thinking of the outdoors as my own personal WC. Leaves for toilet paper. That sort of thing. But now that I live in a house, I would just as soon do my personal private business within the bright white walls of what I've come to learn is called 'the bathroom.' Just because I can. Not so.

(To those of you who are wondering how all of this makes me the 'omega' roommate, it just so happens to be a little bit of wolf lingo describing the member of the group who is the outcast. Who is always getting metaphorically shit upon. Maybe literally. Of course, this could never happen to me because I am never allowed in the bathroom. But perhaps I shouldn't presume the shitting upon would take place there.)

Actually, it would probably be alright for me to use the bathroom if it were ever available. My roommate takes showers that are soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo long that I have to go to the bathroom three times over before he's done. I would go in the yard, but there's just a big cement slab back there. No little bushes for privacy. So I am back to square one.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

My Cat, Stanley, Briefly Becomes Indoor-Outdoor Cat In Thrilling 20-Minute Chase Scene. Announces He's Running Away To Live With Wolves.

If this isn't highly socialized behavior, I don't know what is.

I think Stanley is trying to tell me he is bored with our current living arrangement. He would like to live with the wolves again. Quite frankly, so would I. Just the other day I was thinking about how out of step with most of humanity I am as I was politely waving another driver ahead and using my turn signal. This sort of high-end cooperative behavior can stem only from being raised within a highly socialized group structure if you ask me. Like the highly socialized group structure of wolves, for example.

Monday, October 8, 2007

I've Had An Exciting Weekend. Let Me Tell You Why.

I've come for the cat.

Something totally crazy happened this weekend! You probably won't believe me but I'm still going to tell you about it. I opened up my front door Saturday morning to find out what was causing such a racket and was confronted by some guy in what looked like fifth-century garb and armor with wild hair and an excessively annoyed look on his face.

I was made to understand through a combination of hand gestures and a bastardized mix of English and German on my part mixed with whatever antiquated language he happened to be speaking on his part that he wanted me to give him my cat, Stanley, the cat behind the cat that is my cat, Gerard Butler.

I pressed my luck. Are you the doctor? I asked. Have you come to take me away from this shitthole I live in all the way to the ends of the universe? He stared at me blankly. Obviously he was not the doctor.

My Saturday morning time-traveler also used this opportunity to tell me that he wanted any and all photographs of my cat, Stanley, the cat behind the cat that is my cat, Gerard Butler.

What is the world coming to?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Male Friend Denounces 'Beowulf And Grendel' Movie As 'Bad.' Declares 'Long Haired Actors' Not Valid Plot Point.

Ingvar E. Sigurdsson (Grendel), just one of the many long-haired actors that make the recent film 'Beowulf and Grendel' a visual treat.

People are just haters. For example, that guy that doesn't like the movie most emphatically does not have long hair. Nor does he know what it's like to go to an all-girls Catholic high school and live down the block from your long-haired metal-head public school crush who thought you were lame because you went to Catholic school. For the record, he went to Lutheran school. This strikes me as a little funny, his misgivings about Catholic school girls. As everyone knows, Catholic school girls are wild as bison. Just better looking. Plus they've built up higher tolerances to alcohol so they won't embarrass you at the next Metallica concert. Let Metallica embarrass themselves, I say. After all, it's their night.

Remember: every day is just one day closer to November 16. As far as I know, that is the date for the new Beowulf movie. When is not so important, I say. What I really have a burning desire to know after perusing the cast list is: who the f*ck is Ursula? Something tells me I've been through this before. Did I miss that part? Did I forget to read the right poem?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

In Other News, I Can Help You Write That 'I'm Sorry I Drove You To Drink Letter.' In Fact, Let's Do That Right Now.

Just look at what you made me do!

First of all, it's important to address me correctly so I know who the letter is coming from. For example, you might include one of the following as your salutation: 'dear ex-girlfriend' or 'dear ex-girlfriend' or 'dear ex-girlfriend.' You get the drift. Also appropriate would be: 'dear stalking victim' or 'dear stalking victim.' Yes, I am talking to both of you. Just because the first time happened 13 years ago doesn't mean it doesn't count. There is no statute of limitations on driving a person to drink.

In other news, my cat, Stanley, the cat behind the cat that is 'my cat, Gerard Butler,' has spent most of his 15 minutes of IMDB fame (now over) doing exactly what he usually does. Sleeping. Meowing in an annoying fashion. Eating. Chasing chubby co-pet Morgen around the living room. Finding himself confined to the kitchen and back hallway because his chasing of chubby co-pet Morgen is annoying to chubby co-pet Morgen and to others. Meowing in an annoying fashion. Also, he is not an enchanted prince. I have already checked. Nor, do I presume, does he have assets hidden somewhere in a Swiss bank account. That would be really cool if he did though.

In other news than that, an important commission recently discovered that 'job skills' is only one (alphabetical) letter away from 'job kills.'

Just a few more possibly appropriate salutations: 'dear co-worker' or 'dear employee.'

Or, 'dear daughter.' I'd be willing to write this letter myself and just let the guilty parties get away with giving me their John Hancocks. Yeah, we get along fine now. In fact, we get along really well now. But like I said. There is no statute of limitations about driving people to drink!

I feel like I must be leaving someone out. Although I (blah blah) now enjoy alcohol responsibily in small, manageable quantities, I did do a fair amount of drinking back in the day. And I am pretty sure it was always someone else's fault.

In other news, my cat, Stanley, the cat behind the cat that is 'my cat, Gerard Butler' is sleeping right now. I'm just going to go doublecheck and make sure he doesn't have a wallet somewhere that he's hiding from me. Being the core cast member of Disability in the City is really killing me financially. In my case, that's like killing something that was already dead.

In other news, if my cat could write, he'd be writing me that letter right now. I think you should probably take the next few minutes to do a little soul-searching.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

In Case There Is Any Confusion Over My Mental Health Status, I Am Clearly Insane. However, I Recently Remembered That My Cat's Real Name Is 'Stanley'

my fake cat, the fake 'Gerard Butler'

Here is a funny thread on an IMDB messageboard about my blog. My cat, Gerard Butler, has now achieved the kind of notoriety and infamy that I previously thought was only available to my friend, Jack Morgan,or other people who post pictures of women in lingerie on their poetry blogs. If my cat, Gerard Butler, looked good in lingerie, I am quite sure Jack would have featured sexy photos of my sexy cat, Gerard Butler on his blog long before now. But. There is something I have to come clean about.

That is not even a real picture of my cat who looks exactly like the cat in the photo. All the 'real' pictures of my cat, Gerard Butler, are on the harddrive of my ex-boyfriend's computer. By 'ex-boyfriend' I of course mean 'my cat, Gerard Butler's, deadbeat dad.' So he has the pictures. I do not have a camera. He remains uncooperative. You figure it out. If my cat were a cat burgler instead of just a cat, we might have a solution. But he is not.

Also, his 'real' name is Stanley Kowalski or just 'Stanley' for short. Up till now, Stanley has preferred to lead his life outside of the limelight that accompanies being the cat my cat, Gerard Butler. But since the hullabaloo on IMDB, I feel that he might like me to share a few fun facts about the cat behind the cat that is my cat, Gerard Butler.

First of all, like his namesake in the Tennessee Williams play 'A Streetcar Named Desire,' my cat is abusive towards the women he loves. My cat, Stanley, is a notorious chauvenist. Believe me, you would not want to be senior pet, Morgen, a rotund calico who really just wants to be left in peace. Stanley is all over her and in her face whenever we allow him in the living room. He just wants to mount her, of course. If she would just let him do it once, maybe he would leave her alone. But no. Constant drama.

Another funny thing about my cat Stanley, the cat behind the cat who is my cat, Gerard Butler, is that he is shy about expressing his true self in front of people or animals that are not me. For example, he refuses to play in the living room in front of senior pet, Morgen, but will tear my room apart trying to catch a feather strung from a stick when it's just the two of us.

Also, Stanley is controlling about his cuddling. Always when he wants to!

So that is just a little bit about the cat that is the cat behind my cat, Gerard Butler. If only the real human Gerard Butler could find out about the hullabaloo then he could play 'Beowulf' and 'Selma' with us. With the stipulation that I get to be Beowulf, of course. And maybe, just maybe, the real human Gerard Butler will be able to answer the question burning its fiery imprint on my mind ever since watching the movie 'Beowulf and Grendel.' Who the f*ck is Selma? As if I don't already know. She is a sensual witch, of course.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

High Ranking Commission Rules My Cat Gerard Butler's Deadbeat Dad Still 'Mockable' Despite Passage of Time And Chief Mocker's Emotional Healing

After a break in my important commission work, I contemplate my role as chief mocker

But I really can't list all the reasons he's mockable here. I have to start thinking about saving my soul. Rest assured the mocking will continue to happen, but it will happen during private mocking sessions with select individuals.

My cat, Gerard Butler, however, would like you to know that my cat Gerard Butler's deadbeat dad's other cat--with whom my cat Gerard Butler shared a home for two years--is a total Prima Donna.

Thank you.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Drama Can Also Occur in a Pharmacy. Believe Me, I Know. I Stood In Line In One All Day

my trusty service animal needed to restock

I finally know how my immigrant forefathers from Romania must have felt as they were herded through those awful winding barriers to have their eyes checked for glaucoma. I waited in line for so long today at Kaiser that I had to take a break just to go and flirt with the guys at the coffee stand near the windows at the end of the hall. Usually I actually buy something. I am a familiar face to them, however, because I am disabled now and always at Kaiser with my best friends Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte. Usually when I swing by they pull out a little salt lick for Herman, my service animal.

Indeed, by the time Herman and I made it back to the pharmacy I could see my name in red lights on the marquee signalling to all the world that my drugs were ready to be softly nestled in Herman's little blue service pouch. I patiently rejoined the endless queue. Then the funniest thing happened. A discrepancy of sorts, you might even want to say.

The service clerk dutifully pulled out my brand new bottle of my brand new prescription pills. They were tangerine-hued and oblong. Oh yeah, I told Herman nostalgically. I used to take these in college and they made me take naps when I was supposed to be studying. Herman agreed with me that those are the best kinds of prescriptions. Did I say 'prescription?' I meant 'excuses!'

The service clerk and I looked at the unusually large pills. Take 1 and 1/2 tabs before bedtime, the directions stated. The service clerk gave me a 'pill cutter' which has a razor blade in it. I was flattered that she trusted me, but Herman looked a little worried.

But then I noticed the discrepancy. A big yellow caution sticker slapped across the amber bottle. Big words. DO NOT CHEW OR CRUSH. SWALLOW WHOLE.

Do not chew or crush? Cut pills in half? Swallow whole? I mulled over my options and decided to consult with the pharmacist, something I almost never do since the time one of the 'pharmacists' gesticulated loudly in broken English that my medicine was for 'crazy people.'

Other people looked at me. I could see the craziness in their eyes but didn't have the same sort of proof about them that they had about me.

This pharmacist was different and solved the problem after only a few growls from Herman, my service animal. For the record, she too believed that there was a discrepancy between the directions on the bottle and the scary warning label and warning pamphlet that always comes with my medicine highlighting potentially lethal side effects to show me exactly how I am slowly killing myself. Of course this meant that I had to wait in line again and I really couldn't go over to the coffee stand again. That would be shameless and although I am completely shameless, I like to act like I'm not. So no coffee stand this time around. Herman was peevish, however, because he was jonesing for his salt lick.

Still it is so weird to me that Kaiser would not have their shit together enough to prevent such a discrepancy from occurring. They are so good at organizing those winding ropes to keep people standing in long, coiling lines. Well, multi-tasking gets the better of the best of us, I suppose!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

In Other News, My Cat Gerard Butler Is Doing Well

my cat, Gerard, Butler, doing well

In other news, my as yet unpublished novel remains unpublished. It has also failed to sell more copies than the Da Vinci Code.

In other news, reviewing the Bible with one star on Goodreads failed to generate any controversy that I know of.

In other news, my mother practically begged me not to do the same with a certain other religious text. I honored her wishes. She is right. Practically speaking, that would have been a bad idea. It is probably a bad idea to talk about it here.

I finished most of my grilled cheese sandwich at Ben and Nick's last night instead of just the usual one-half. It was delicious and some nice people picked up my tab. Thank you, nice people.

In other news, I met up with the doctor and we went back in time in the Tardis and I was able to help a stumbling Herman Melville think up an idea for his next novel. A whale of a tale! Actually, I wrote most of the book. The best beach read ever. However, he made me leave out the part that Moby Dick is actually an alien from outer space. It was a great experience, and I'm glad Herman Melville got his book done, but sometimes it still just really hurts not to get any credit.

My attempts to prove that I am a direct descendant of Vlad the Impaler remain unfruitful. But 'Dracula' and 'Draia' are both Romanian names and they both have 2 'a' in them. Their must be a connection! yo vral un pec palinka! Sorry, that is ghetto Romanian, and spelled phonetically. It means 'I would like some schnapps (blood).' I just thought, if I could prove my heritage, I might get free drinks at Death Guild. Not that I go there. But I know people that do. Maybe they could drink for free.

In other news, my cat, Gerard Butler is being lazy and not hunting, catching and torturing the annoying moth that is fluttering around my computer desk. Apparently he is taking a little vacation from being a Spartan.

And finally, DISABILITY! the musical is in the planning stages. Get your jazz hands ready.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

is more about the shooting. I've met the officer at a neighborhood watch meeting. Seemed like a 'good officer.' Shitty shitty shitty shitty. For everyone.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Rest In Peace, I Hardly Knew You, But You Always Said 'Hey'

A nineteen year old boy who hung out nearly every day with his friends on the stoop next to mine was shot twice and killed by a police officer yesterday around 5 pm at the intersection of 54th and MLK, two blocks from my house.

I have heard conflicting reports, which doesn't strike me as unusual. Police say a loaded gun was found at the scene. Other eyewitnesses say the boy was shot in the back as he was running away. The police had tried to detain him as a homicide suspect, but were unable to restrain him. He was not, however, particularly large.

This is crazy for so many reasons.

If the police are wrong, then this kid who has always struck me as a good kid, who has never caused anything untoward to happen in the year I've lived in this neighborhood, who always says 'hey' or 'hey' back or nods hello, who never does anything in his spare time but hang out and talk with his friends on the stoop is an innocent victim of--what? a case of mistaken identity? A panicked choice to run from police?

If the police are right, then this kid who has always struck me as a good kid, who has never caused anything untoward to happen in the year I've lived in this neighborhood, who always says 'hey' or 'hey' back or nods hello, who never does anything in his spare time but hang out and talk with his friends on the stoop killed someone yesterday afternoon.

The devastated faces of his friends today as they gathered to console each other were a lesson in humility. Because this boy was closely linked to the two-flat I live in, most of the gathering took place in my driveway. One of the kids talked with me for awhile about how they were trying to stay strong. All I cared about was making sure they stayed safe and he reassured me that they were. Even though there was some drinking, and the grief on their faces was immeasurable--one other boy just leaned against the house and cried for hours--no one got out of hand. What I am trying to say, again, is that they all just seemed like good kids. Some adults in the neighborhood helped a lot too, ordering pizzas for the kids, supervising, etc.

I know good kids do bad things sometimes because I used to work in child services in Chicago. I've seen it happen. A good kid makes a terrible choice.

(I was a fucking idiot when I was nineteen years old. A lot of us were. A lot of us (self included, I hope) lucked out and got a chance to grow out of it. )

But I also know the police do bad things (or just plain make mistakes) and lie about it to cover their asses. Again, in Chicago, I've witnessed stunning displays of police brutality from my living room window.

I don't pray. I don't believe in god. When the boy who spoke to me today on my driveway told me that he believed his friend was looking down upon him and his other friends able to see how they were staying strong for him, I didn't know exactly what to say. I certainly didn't contradict him. I just kept listening.

So I don't believe in praying. But I believe it's possible to wish people well and that that act can mean something. So even though I may never really talk at length with those kids again, and even though I know that none of them are ever going to read my blog, I can wish for them.

They are so shocked and so angry and so hurt regardless of what the 'facts' of the case turn out to be, if they can be found out for sure at all. So I wish for each and every one of them, but especially for the boy who spoke at length to me today, and for the other boy who just leaned against the side of the house and cried for what seemed like hours, that they can find healthy ways to express their grief and their anger, that expression of grief can slowly (so slowly) aid towards its eventual assuagement, that though none of them will ever be able to forget, they will be able eventually to remember their friend with joy and not just sadness. That they all make good choices in their lives. That life doesn't come down too hard on them for the bad choices. Or that they at least get second chances and shots at redemption.

For all of you, my young neighbors. For all of you.

Monday, September 17, 2007

After A Lot Of Careful Thought, I've Decided That The Best Poetry Reading I've Ever Been To Is The Imaginary One That Takes Place In My Head

Some friends of imaginary poetry enjoy a good cake and ice cream banter after one of my imaginary readings

Really, not to be arrogant, but what is better than standing in front of the mirror and reading about 15-20 minutes from your manuscript? There is no audience making uncomfortable noises, impatient shifting with their limbs, or just distracted looks like when is this person going to stop? Also, the really great thing about imaginary poetry readings in front of your mirror in your bedroom with the door shut and the music turned up just loud enough so that none of your roommates can figure out what you're doing, is that you do not have to listen to anyone try to make banter. But you can make banter up for yourself, even if only your cat is laughing. My cat, Gerard Butler, is really fond of these special readings, although sometimes he does do really annoying things like meow to leave the room when I am halfway through a poem. Doesn't he understand? I only have twenty minutes. I am timing myself! And deluding myself also takes time!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Dear Satan: I Am Very Tired From Funneling So Many Depraved And Selfish Requests From My Friends And Aquaintances To You

Three. Part Two.


Things are getting a little out of control at this end. My good friend Jack Morgan alone had 113,215 requests mostly having to do with you not letting specific people into hell so he will not have to spend the afterlife with them, for example, Destiny's Child. That is a lot of laminated cards for me to read into my direct line to you. We are talking about me reading off laminated cards way into the night and all Jack did for me was buy me a grilled cheese sandwich, three beers, and an unlimited supply of ginger ale. That was nice of him, but since he owed me money anyways, I think he sort of took advantage of me in his zealotry to make sure he does not have to spend any more time with Destiny's Child than possible.

Some other requests I couldn't call you with because I was too tired:

"Satan, if you make make my cellulite go away, I will sacrifice a seeing eyedog in your honor and deliberately disorientate the bereft blind person."

"If you make my as yet unpublished book of poetry sell as many copies as Billy Collins without once requiring me to sacrifice artistic integrity, I will burn a number of religious books that say bad things about you in front of people that really care about those religious books."

Oh wait, that is me. Or:

"If you make my doctor write me off work for a month because I am disabled, I will sell drugs to small children near their schoolyards."

And so many more!

My body is exploding from all of these evil thoughts. But whatever you do, Satan, don't come visit me at work for a month. I am disabled. I do not, for the record, have a cellulite problem. At least not one I plan to admit to any time soon. They have cremes for that now you know!


Thursday, September 13, 2007

I'm Really Broke. But Now I'm Going To Earn Money By Renting Out My Direct Line To Satan. Do You Have Something You'd Like To Ask Him?

Not Two. Three.

Not everyone has a personal chat room with Beezlebub himself. But I do. It's called having three bumps show through your t-shirt when it's cold instead of just two like you normal people.

We could work out some deals, not unlike those two-year contracts so many cellular providers require. If you help me pay my rent and get some Tidy Cat for my pampered cat, Gerard Butler.

But no you can not see it. Only special people get to see it. Unless the air is a little chilly and I just happen to be wearing a thin t-shirt.

Instead we could work out a system sort of like those old mass cards Catholic churches sold so that the priest would say masses for your dead relatives. The priests then said the masses you ordered for your dead relatives while simultaneously using the money you scrounged up out of your misguided grief and devotion to buy lube to rape alter boys.

Just think! You could come to whatever bar I'm hanging out at and fill out laminated cards with your questions / comments / deal proposals for Satan and later in the dark of the night I would whisper into my witches' tit and carefully note each and every one of the Dark Lord's replies, including any follow up questions he might have for you.

Please consider my suggestion carefully. I will also accept groceries. Please note however that I do not eat canned tuna packed in oil. I prefer the Starkist fresh pack. In water of course.

Also, I will let you buy me beers and pub snacks.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Only Reason I Escaped Being Sacrificed At the Viking Funeral Today Was Because I Convinced the Angel of Death I Am Not A Natural Blond

I had to, you know...

It has come to my attention that there is a Beowulf movie that I haven't yet addressed.

But really. 1/3 cup Beowulf+1/3cup historical Arab chronicler+ 1/3 cup extra misogyny=13th Warrior!

Cannibalistic, goddess worshipping, underground dwelling Neanderthal types who wear Venus de Milo figurines attached to their belts? Normally I would consult a preeminent detective like Sherlock Holmes or Nancy Drew to unravel the mystery of where this sort of thinking originates. However, as Michael Crichton wrote the book the film is based on and is not known for subtlety, I am going to go ahead and surmise that this movie takes an anti-goddess worshipping stance. Which is okay by me. Anything or anybody that entices normally rational women to build huts out of pine cones and woven grasses in the college quad to celebrate their menstruation is a force that should be mocked as often as possible. Just like I am doing right now.

There are some major similarities between Beowulf and 13th Warrior. I would go into them but I would really much rather say something kind about my friend Jack Morgan who let me read his manuscript and it's quite layered and thought out and I did not feel disgusted even once, probably because instead of blowing a gasket, I sat around for awhile and asked myself why he was doing the things he was doing. And I came upon some possibilities that are pretty mind-blowing. So go Jack! That manuscript is something you can sink your teeth in and keep finding more. Of course, I should still tell you about the really important similarities between Beowulf and the 13th Warrior. Basically, one of the band of 13 plays one of Beowulf's band in Beowulf and Grendel. Coincidence? I think not! Those viking-looking guys are all in the same movies anyways. Why won't anyone make an Elizabeth of Bathory movie? I could play one of her handmaidens. I have that Elizabeth of Bathory handmaiden ethnic look. But then I would have to stand naked in the snow while she froze me with water and bit me until I bled and then we'd all have to get our blog bags out and throw up.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Something Very Bad Happened At My Work Today

I did not work very hard at my work today.

My mother sent me an email I can't even open because it's so nice. I'll probably just go around feeling ashamed for awhile before I finally delete it.

It's hard to be funny all the time. A friend gave me a manuscript to read. I wrote something funny then deleted it. It felt like a lie. But I am in a better mood now than when I was always trying to be funny. I just want to say what I think. The manuscript is something to look forward to. I get so caught up in shits and giggles sometimes. The shits and giggles make me sick.

I have to get out of Borders. So I took some good steps today. Anything better than inertia. Wish me luck. But don't think you are never going to have to hear about Selma, or my life as a wolf, or my dashing cat, Gerard Butler. I just needed a little break because my roommate was driving me crazy. And that guinea pig is getting all holier-than-thou about 'rations' and 'appropriate dosages.'

Saturday, September 8, 2007

In Other News, I Have Absolutely Nothing To Say About Anything

Please enter the void of my mind. It is ugly and sinister here, so make sure to bring layers.

I had to go away for a few days. But I am not sure where I went. There was some guinea pig there wearing a fanny pack who kept trying to give me Klonopin.

I met a lot of lost souls along the way. People who had committed all sorts of sins.

You're just going to have to bear with me, I told them. Because I'm not exactly sure where I'm going. I just woke up in a parking lot somewhere. I remember that I went to the store to buy cigarettes. I must have had a fugue. Hopefully I lucked out of having to do something hugely responsible.

The others didn't buy it. Also they thought the guinea pig was really, really weird. Go back to school, they said. And then suddenly I remembered who I was. I was Selma, Beowulf's girlfriend! I had been waiting for him to swing by my hut on his horse because we had planned to go for a little picnic, but he never showed up and then somebody sneaked up on me from
behind and hit me over the head with a piece of petrified troll dung.

I don't think I remember a guinea pig there but we might have just eaten it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Just A Few People I Think I Might Like To Meet

not quite on the list

1. Christine de Pisan. Sure, she could write. But what did she look like?

2. Gerard Butler. Mostly to apologize for taking his name in vain. Over and over and over again. And over. With no real plans to stop.

3. Okay, you caught me. I listened to Enya last night. I needed help falling asleep! But that doesn't mean I want to meet her.

4. Jesse. You know. To find out what happened to his girl! (You have to admit that "Jesse's Girl" would be a bold and unusual way to start off any wedding reception. That first special dance between bride and groom. Hints of a back story.)

5. Amy Winehouse. Amy Winehouse this, Amy Winehouse that. Mostly to slap her around. Why should she get all the credit? A number of us have been quietly destroying ourselves behind the scenes without accolade since long before she even got her first tattoo.

6. Selma. Obviously. And I think everyone can guess the question I would pose: who the f*ck ...?!

7. The unnamed, underpaid individual who is going to be changing my diapers when I'm old, if I make it that long. Thank you in advance. Please don't beat me.

8. My 'inner child,' if you will. The last time I saw her, she was in the fetal position. However, I am pretty sure that she can be coaxed out with a rapid succession of piping hot tuna melts and delicious tapioca puddings. Maybe my outer child should get her inner ass on a plane to Chicago. Before I finalize my travel plans, though, I will have to consider one burning question--

Burning Question: Who is going to take care of my cat, Gerard Butler, while I am gone?

Burning Answer: My cat, Gerard Butler, is a Spartan! Spartans are like wolves. They do not necessarily get to eat everyday.

9. That elusive health care professional I know is out there somewhere who will admit that 'everything in moderation' is actually true. Take cigarettes, for example. They can't be all bad. Just check this out if you need proof--

To stand under the blue gleaming sea of wide air
and burn in so obviously pious a manner
a fragment of white cigarette
is to contribute to the negative of the moon's light and glitter,
to the cold moon on the water

(Miyazawa Kenji, from "The Moon on the Water and the Wound")

But then, I really like cold moon on water. So maybe Miyazawa Kenji as well.

10. Last but not at all least. The anonymous poet. He would lecture me on the danger of laughing hysterically while simultaneously rolling over in one's grave. Multi-tasking can be dangerous. Just because you are dead does not mean you can't hurt yourself.

Oh, and go see Lily Brown at Pegasus tonight!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

In Other News, I Had to Work Yesterday. And Today.

I used to live in Bavaria. In Bavaria, the Ascension of Mary is a state fucking holiday! No mail. All stores are closed. As an atheist I wholeheartedly disapprove of this unabashed union of church and state. As an atheist who enjoys eating potato salad and going to bbqs, however, I wholeheartedly embrace these bizarre religious practices.

In other news, I didn't feel very well at work today. I told my friend-at-work Rebecca that I thought I might be suffering from soy protein deprivation AS THE CASE OF THE PURLOINED CHOCOLATE SOY MILK STILL HAS NOT BEEN SOLVED! Rebecca was surprised I hadn't called out sick. She thought that 'soy protein deprivation' sounded like a 'Berkeley' illness.

I know who fucking drank my soy milk. I just don't have any proof. I haven't found any little drink box straws while rooting among my roommates' personal effects for clues. But in my heart and in my soul.

In other news, Korean tv dramas on AZN are only fun to watch alone or maybe with one other person who will pretend not to notice how into it you are.

I need to read a book. Please tell me what book to read.

In other news, I don't think my mouse is working properly. Or my hand isn't working properly. Or the soul attached to my hand. Actually, that's probably it.

Monday, September 3, 2007

I Am A Gentleman And A Scholar. Except When I Am Neither A Gentleman Nor A Scholar.

I would put a picture of myself here except that I am so ashamed.

Like when I came to workshop totally unprepared and did not even feel slightly guilty about it. In fact, I felt sort of good about my lax nature. I further did not even bother to use the class time to hurry up and write comments in the margins based on the useful things that other people were saying. I have not been in a workshop where anyone has ever said anything useful. Unless it was something good someone said about one of my poems. That still counts.

On a recent Saturday afternoon when I was in a bad, bad gloomy mood: instead of diving into one of the 3 new books of poetry I bought at Pegasus and writing various sorts of super-serious book reviews and sending them off to serious literary magazines (possibly laboring under the perhaps false assumption that if I publish a book review somewhere, I have a better chance of someone actually consenting to read my poetry before the inevitable rejection slip) I took a 3 1/2 hour nap with my adorable cat, Gerard Butler, and got on the Who the F*ck is Selma train again. How many more stops can I make on that train before I get to the end of the line? Don't worry, I'm sure we'll find out together.

(Anyone who can figure out why my roommate is talking on the phone so goddamn loud right this very moment should let me know pronto. I'll be checking the comments field every 5 minutes for your ideas.)

Worst of all, I recently deleted all of the Kurosawa films from my Netflix queue and replaced them with movies like "Phantom of the Opera," "Blades of Glory," and "Druids." We all know how I feel about Vercingetorix! I did not regret my choice.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

I Am Going to Have a Niece! Her Parents Are Catholic Republicans! I Will Be A Hero!

a very relaxed Gerard Butler, just moments after sipping the last of his raspberry / hibiscus blend purchased the day before at the natural food store

I have something very serious to talk about today. I have a niece on the way now. I take this very seriously. I mean, everybody has to have a bad influence. After all, her due date is October 31. What a badass day for a baby to be born! However, that means I have just a few days short of two months to get a motorcycle, develop a severe drinking problem, and get ill-thought-out tattoos on a whim in very visible places. Like my forehead.

This is a really tall order, people. However, I figure that by making a spectacle of myself and just in general ruining my life, I would be doing my entire extended family a huge favor as well. If my family didn't have me to embarrass myself at wedding receptions or family parties, there would be nothing to do but make small talk with Beverly, third cousin once removed that no one possibly has ever met before. The family that laughs at the failure of others tends to stay together. And why shouldn't I be that failure? I can get up on a table, wag my finger, and sing "No, No, No!" in a smoky, soulful voice with the best of them.

Still, I am feeling a certain amount of trepidation.

Sure, I used to be a bit of a wild child, if I do say so myself. And I do. But now I'm older and hopefully wiser and I've gotten used to hanging out in my bedroom with my cat, Gerard Butler. We'll often spend a quiet evening together drinking herbal tea and talking late into the night about our feelings.

A typical conversation might go like this...

Me: Gerard Butler, am I fat?

my cat, Gerard Butler: Meow!

Me: Oh thank you, Gerard Butler. It's so good of you to say so!

my cat, Gerard Butler (coyly): Me-ooow?

Me: Oh sure. You can be Selma this time.

Going out to the bar every night to the point that I am sweating alcohol and look and feel like an ashtray would get in the way of these small but heartfelt interactions. But I mustn't be selfish. I have my niece to think of. Maybe I can compromise. Maybe if I ever get another f*cking cat carrier my cat, Gerard Butler, can ride on the back of my motorcycle.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

In Other News, Please Bring Your Pitchforks and Torches to My Residence at 10pm Tonight.

some trusty villagers on their way to my residence to drive out my foul-tempered roommate

My foul-tempered roommate is not delicious to live with. And my poor little furry friend, Gerard Butler, is feeling the brunt as well. My cat, Gerard Butler, is not used to being verbally abused. That's it. That foul-tempered roommate has got to go. 10pm. And tonight it won't be stylish to be late.

In other news, everything I am wearing right now was purchased by Gerard Butler's deadbeat dad. The important thing to understand about going out with people with $ is that you pick someone who is not your dress size. Likelier than not, they will show their affection by buying you things. And because they aren't your size, once they are inevitably no longer affected by you, you will get to keep the merchandise. Not that I need cocktail dresses living in poverty and squalor as I do. Of course there are those fancy dress parties I throw in my bedroom for myself and my cat, Gerard Butler.

Ah! I just went down to the corner for Jarritos and now I am Jarrappy!

Apropos Gerard Butler. Last night when we were playing 'Beowulf' and 'Selma,' I got to be 'Selma' for once. My cat, Gerard Butler was quite dashing as Beowulf. I could see why Selma wanted to sleep with him. Of course she also slept with Grendel. Oh my god, did I just write that?! Did I just give it away?! We still haven't figured out just who Selma is. But this much I know: Beowulf + Selma + Grendel=LOVE TRIANGLE! If I were the anonymous poet, I would probably go back and forth between thinking all of this was very funny and periodically turning over in my grave.

In other news, my mother said if I came to Chicago to visit her she would make me piping hot tuna melts and delicious tapioca pudding every night if I wanted her too. Actually she didn't say anything of the kind but it never hurts to plant the seed. She also mentioned that it would not be any sort of problem for her whatsoever to do all the dishes herself while I lay face down on the sofa.

I was thinking I should write something called, 'Frankly, I Prefer My Own Mother to My Mother-in-Law.' Actually I don't have a mother-in-law right now, but I sort of did for awhile. Brrrrrr! The best part ever was when she sat me down at her kitchen table and told me to give her the "dirt" on my mother. My mom and I had a good laugh over that one. Everyone knows only I am allowed to criticize my mother. Usually during some part of the process of being ungrateful. In any case, the moral of the story is you shouldn't talk shit about my mother or I while make fun of you on the internet.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Lately I've Been Neglecting My Special Time When I Lay Face Down on the Sofa and Ruminate


I have been pretty happy lately. Hanging out, writing a lot, swimming. Just in a general all-around good mood. Pretty soon though I am going to have to buckle down and get back to negative thought patterns, addictive behavior, sleeping 14 hours a day, and eating nothing but that which can be consumed through a straw.

On the other hand, I just might shirk my duties and stay happy for awhile longer. The way I see it, everyday I live my life as a happy and well-adjusted human being, I am taking revenge on people who thought I would never get off the couch.