Bill Murray Reads Wallace Stevens

Some days are just blessed. Imagine the greatest thing you could possibly find on the internet … it would have to involve Bill Murray, wouldn’t it? Well, I was updating the Poets Page and had gotten around to Wallace Stevens when boom. I found it. The greatest thing on the internet: Bill Murray Reads Wallace Stevens …

Apparently, Bill Murray read two Stevens’ poems at Bubby’s Brooklyn as part of Poets House’s 17th Annual Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge back in 2012. As expected, the recital is amazing. Murray first recited “The Planet on the Table” followed by “A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts”. We are ever grateful. Links to both of these poems can be found on our Stevens page.

Want to read more about it? After digging around a little more, found this piece with even more Murray recitals at Open Culture.

Let’s Talk About Mercury …

f_mercuryMercury is cool … both the planet and the element.  Neither is very friendly to human life.  There is, of course, a Mercury that is crucially important to modern human life, at least a happy one, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about really.  Even though we love you, Freddie, this is not your post.

No, right now I am thinking of the planet and an image I just saw that is supposedly the clearest picture ever taken of the planet mercury.  It’s pretty gorgeous, and I can’t look at it without thinking about Alice Oswald and her wonderful poem “Excursion to the Planet Mercury“.  I think maybe each enhances the other.  Check’em out:


mercuryAin’t it beautiful?  Deceptively so, perhaps … perhaps not.  Let’s ask Alice.


Excursion to the Planet Mercury


certain evenings a little before the golden
foam of the horizon has properly hardened
you can see a tiny iron island
very close indeed to the sun.

all craters and mirrors, the uncanny country
of the planet Mercury – a mystery
without I without air,
without you without sound.

in that violently magic little place
the sky is racing along
like a blue wrapper flapped and let go
from a car window.

now hot now cold
the ground moves fast,
a few stones frisk about
looking for a foothold

but it shales it slides
the whole concept is only
loosely fastened
to a few weak tweaks of gravity.

o the weather is dreadful there:
thousand-year showers of dust
all dandruff and discarded shells
of creatures too weak to exist:

paupers beggars toughs
boys in dresses
who come alive and crumble
at the mercy of metamorphosis.

no nothing accumulates there
not even mist
nothing but glimmering beginnings
making ready to manifest.

as for the catastrophe
of nights on Mercury,
hiding in a rock-smashed hollow
at about two hundred degrees below zero

the feather-footed winds
take off their guises there,
they go in gym shoes
thieving and lifting

and their amazed expressions
have been soundproofed, nevertheless
they go on howling
for gladness, sheer gladness

– Alice Oswald

If you  haven’t read any Alice Oswald before, what have you been doing with your life?  She’s amazing, and her Spacecraft Voyager 1: New and Selected Poems is highly recommended as a good place to get familiar with her work.  Also … it should be noted, her work is best appreciated when read aloud.  Do it.

Special thanks to these guys, who had the poem online.


Understanding the Universe

Been trying to make more time to write, mostly on the bus ride to work.  All_seeing_eyeWas listening to Modest Mouse “Third Planet” the other day walking to the bus and was prompted by the “gonna shake that eye’s hand” line to start waxing philosophical.

Well, the truth of the matter is that ultimately, you don’t have to defend your understanding of the universe to anyone but yourself.  And that’s not to suggest an I’m ok you’re ok sort of philosophy, far from it.

It’s more like putting trust into the integrity of every individual human mind: you must make peace with and/or conquer your own demons, de-haunt your own ghosts, solve your own internal riddles. No one can do it for you- why would anyone even bother, given everyone possess their own shadow, claimed or unclaimed? This excludes, of course, the innocent child.

Sure, there is earnest altruism, good parenting for example; there is also codependency where someone gets to ignore their own haunts by focusing on someone else’s. The best that can be done is guidance, whether finding or giving.

If you’ve ever received guidance, then you know, it can come from anywhere and in any form.  If you’ve ever given guidance, then you should remember: often things are internalized differently than intended, and what most helps someone could be a throw away line or flippant statement off the cuff.  Whereas the most well thought out advice often falls on deaf ears.  Guidance is tricky … both finding and giving.

This is sorta where another kind of faith comes in to compliment the aforementioned trust in every human’s own desire/need for mental integrity. And this is a faith in … well, I’m catholic, so I call it the Holy Spirit, but lots of people call it many different things, karma even sometimes. We’ll have to have another post about karma vs. divine justice in the future.

Anyway, here we run into a faith & understanding that the Holy Spirit wants every individual soul to be as holy as it can be. Being a divine spiritual being formed out of the purity of the love between the Father and the Son, it is entirely probable the Holy Spirit wants this far more than any human possibly could.  This is why overly intrusive/regulatory systems of enforcing holiness become tiresome. Not only do they forget there is no virtue in coercion, but they also demonstrate a lack of faith in the Holy Spirit’s work.

It is my understanding the Holy Spirit can sculpt any soul into a saint, can sculpt any substance from sand to clay to metal to diamond.  It goes better for us the more pliable we are, of course, but diamond, which would presumably make for a beautiful saint, is not pliable at all.  Hmmm.  Father Carapi used to talk about this sort of thing, and I guess he would really know … at least his story always made him seem to be as stubborn as diamond …

discworld-seriesAnd that’s about all I got around to on the bus ride.  There are so many caveats to make that weren’t made.  Still, there really aren’t any caveats to be made, are there?  That was sort of the point.  It doesn’t matter to me if someone thinks like Terry Pratchett that there are worlds out there existing in discs balanced on the backs of elephants surfing a great cosmic turtle through space.

That’s cool, as long as that’s what works for them … like it passes their own integrity test in the silent solitude of their own minds.  And then, maybe it doesn’t pass this test, but it doesn’t count as a significant test to that person … that’s fine too.  We can discuss it … I will not argue it … we may can debate some things if it can be done in the right spirit of mutual illumination, but again … when it comes to understanding the universe … read that first line of the second paragraph again.

Of course, there are always those who have to stretch the limits of all things … I give you, Pastafarians:


Nah, I’m just kidding … I could probably party with these dudes … esp. if they catered the event. 🙂

Monday Morning Mishap

So the usual morning routine is to walk to the bus and ride a tiger transit to campus. It’ Monday. A subroutine of the morning walk is to fish out my ear buds & get some tunes going for the ride. Today I pulled my ear buds from my inside jacket pocket & noticed some trash that had to go.

Monday is trash day on my side of Auburn so I took advantage of a green herby curby in route & ditched the unwanted cargo. I walked on a pace or two before going back into my inside pocket to get my ear buds, only they weren’t there. Odd, I thought. There always there in jacket weather.

It is Monday. Maybe one of my kids nicked’em sometime this weekend and didn’t put’em back. I checked my other pockets thinking maybe I had already put them with my phone, nope- not there either. I was thinking about turning back now, but then horror struck and I wondered if i accidentally tossed them with that trash. Oh no!

I had already walked way past the herby curby, which was way far from my front door-turning around at this point for either reason would blow. Decided to switch my lunch-a plastic grocery bag of goodies-from one hand to the other so I could check a different pocket I knew would be fruitless,’and there they were. dev_id___where__s_my_pencil__by_sio64-d4bi12x

They were in my hand the whole time. So I thought it’s gonna be one of them kinna days. And then the bus took the extended, tardiness inducing fisheries route. Yep-one if them kinna days.

Except then I thought again-I’ve had time to write this thanks to fisheries … Nothing even happened; I didn’t lose my ear buds. I didn’t have to go back for anything, and I had an opportunity to laugh at myself early in the day to remind myself I’m an idiot. Like losing my pencil behind my ear, which I haven’t done in a while but used to do regularly, I lost something in my own hand. How foolish, yet all too common.

Emily Dickinson has that poem about a jewel in her hand, and Princess Leia has that wonderful line about the tighter the grasp the more star systems slip through our fingers. Star systems, dude, star systems … Think about that. I Just lost some ear buds. Except, I really didn’t. Tempest in a Teapot …

Mildly Addictive Tron Game

If you’re a child of the eighties – born in the seventies but did a lot of fun and memorable tron-arcade-indianapolis[1]stuff in the eighties – then you likely plugged more quarters than you care to admit into arcade games. And when we say games in this context, we mean vintage arcade games in all their 8-bit glory. Sure, unless you have a kid who is cool enough to be into retro games, most young folks just can’t appreciate what they’re getting out of their home consoles in replay value. Sure, the games are sixty bucks a pop, and that’s outrageous. But play them enough and consider it on a quarter-per-restart scale, and you find a value that just increases with every time you play.

One game in particular that I must have plugged at least fifty dollars worth of my grandmother’s quarters into was that Tron game. No, not the Discs of Tron one that you stood inside and dueled other disc wielders – I played the one some, but mostly I played one that had multiple aspects of the Tron movie … the spiders, the bikes, and, of course, the master control dude at the end. Well, imagine my delight in finding a Tron Flash game that does the bike part after finding that Contra flash game the other day. I had to check it out … about half an hour later, I realized I was still playing it. Enjoy (doesn’t seem to work on mobile, btw):

Can’t remember what some of the other parts of that game were. I remember the bikes and the spiders, but what else was there? I know you had to throw a disc into the master control face at the end, but I think there were two other parts to get through first. Hmmm … Had the same issue with trying to remember all the stages from that Journey arcade game the other day … dang that game was awesome!

A Little AU vs. UA History Lesson

I’m not really one to study bammer history or anything, but I do get into general collegeib_art football history and lore, as well as, primarily, Auburn football history and lore – which is clearly the best of all the teams. 🙂 Given that bama is one of Auburn’s rivals, and that rivals engage in smack talk … it follows that some bama history is relevant to Auburn fans.

This is true particularly in the realm of the smack-talking bammer who boasts of 15 national titles. There is no need for this, obviously, when they can legitimately claim ten between 1961, their first nationally recognized, and the present day. That is pretty impressive, so why boast of five more? Ah, well … these links below do some explaining on how bama hired a guy in the 80s who did some research and claimed more titles from the past to boost recruiting.

One of the best sources on this comes from the War Eagle Reader, who did two parts on it:
Part I and Part II.

Oh, and that bit about 1961 being bama’s first nationally recognized title … TWER has a piece on that too, here. bama1961

But the kicker is this image of this newspaper clipping here … note the last two words in the last sentence: “Alabama’s first.” As in first national title … four years after the Bear became their coach.  His first season was 1958, this season here was 1961.

It wasn’t until the eighties, after Wayne Atcheson – referenced above – did his thing that bama fans would start claiming any pre-Bear titles.  The more you know …

Truth be told, some of their claims seem legit or deserving, but then many schools could make similar claims as well.  My question is always why, especially now?  I mean, they have added four or so since Wayne was there, so … why claim the phantom five?  It smacks of insecurity, ya know?

When I hear smack talk of this nature, I always think about that old saying about being the boss and if you have to say you are … well, there’s a good chance you’re not.  The same goes with being the best.  Bama fans are always saying they’re the best … makes ya wonder … like they need a second opinion or something.

Fun with Contra

So, I was having some fun coding different theme changes and whatnot. Got bored … and decided to try and embed Contra. Well, some version of contra anyways. Nailed it (doesn’t seem to work on mobile, btw):

The site I found it on seemed a little buggy, possibly full of germs, if you know what I’m saying … but I figured WordPress would take care of some issues if I embedded it. Also, using a Mac these days, I just really don’t worry to much about any of that … malware or any of it really. Though my kids are always infecting their stuff … with exactly these sorts of free game sites, derp. So … play at your own risk. It’s a little weird — there are tons of lives, which is good b/c the controls are buggy. I may embed some more, haven’t decided. There is a cool Megaman fan game that piqued my interests.

Plants vs Zombies

Ever played that game?  My kids loved it … well, the younger one loved it … it was the only zombies I would let him play.  His older brother was big time into Black Ops II zombie killing online with his friends, but younger bro wasn’t allowed to 1, stay up that late, and 2. play realistic, mature first person shooter games (we did let him play Halo, fyi).  But for some reason zombies had made a big comeback and all my kids thought zombies were cool.  We don’t watch that zombie show or anything, but we did notice the zombies making a big comeback around 2008ish give or take a few years.  I had friends in grad school who used The Zombie Survival Guide as the primary text in their rhetoric classes in 2009, for example.

As a child of the seventies and eighties, I always thought zombies were a comical horror movie bad guy.  Yeah, some of the movies are a little scary, but only because zombies are hard to stop.  You know?  Shoot them, and they just keep coming … because they’re already dead.  However, they’re very easy to out run.  I mean, they’re slow as the clock in Saturday detention, so people in horror movies that holed up in houses or whatever and waited for the zombies to come were considered pretty stupid by this audience member.  So, color me somewhat surprised they have made the comeback they have … from the TV shows, to movies with Brad Pitt, to news stories about face eating zombies in Florida, to rumors of Ebola victim zombies, to video game zombies for teens, and youngins.  Which gets me back to Plants vs Zombies.  It’s cute and cartoony.  I mean, the zombies are still zombies.  They clearly look dead and move as if they have rigor mortis and everything, but they’re almost smiling with their stupid dead expressions.  Check it out:


Ain’t he just adorable?  Maybe he’s not smiling, but he doesn’t look too vicious either.  Like a mild mannered accountant type (note the sports coat and tie) who happened to become a zombie.  Sure, eight year old son, you can play this cute little game.

Well, I hadn’t thought about that game in years, and then an old friend of mine shared one of his new paintings on facebook.  I love the way this guy paints.  I wonder if it helps I’ve known the artist since high school and even took a poetry class with him in college.  You know how you can have some friends where if someone started a sentence, you both would finish it the same way?  Well, he wasn’t that kind of friend.  He was the other kind.  We would have never finished the sentence the same, and even better, I would never be able to even come close to predicting how he would finish that sentence.  And so I’ve always appreciated him for his unique perspective on all things.

You know that expression out in left field?  How about off the wall?  Off his rocker?  Well, all those have been used to describe yours truly (pun, yay!), and so I hope he takes no offense if I use one to describe my artist friend.  But from my perspective, he is out in left field, and coming from me that is saying something.  He truly has an artist’s brain — whatever that means — that just can’t help but be creative.  That’s why I always loved hanging out with him … never a dull conversation … never a dull moment … and always inspiring.

I could go on singing his praises … like how when we met in high school I expected him to be a snob b/c he went to a school that was regularly described as being full of snobs, and his parents were rich, like super rich from my perspective, and all that stuff … but you would never know it if you met him.  He was always the most humble, down to earth, genuine person … and that’s really the only kind of people I like hanging with.  Genuine.  Being genuine in high school is kind of tough, especially since we’re still developing our identities at that stage, but he was always genuine and still is.  His wife and kids are very lucky.  But enough about that.  Let’s talk about his art.

Well, there isn’t much to say … we could discuss it on the forums I guess … but really I just wanted to show it here.  It’s titled “Plants vs. Zombies” and I just love it … check it:


Isn’t it glorious?  Did I mention he is our house artist?  Yep.  Alwayspoem will always celebrate his art and I hope to make a few more posts about some other paintings of his.  I love his style.  It reminds me of a Russian artist we featured one time at this gallery I worked in right after high school.  I can’t remember the artist’s name, but I remember his paintings, and they were in this style … and super expensive.  🙂

Cacio e Pepe

Tried to make Cacio e Pepe last night for an Ash Wednesday meatless supper. Wanted something that wasn’t fish sticks but was still pretty easy. Special thanks to the Dude Food peeps for their tutorial.  I didn’t have any of the proper ingredients, and I messed it up by forgetting the olive oil until I had already put the noodles in. Seriously, I screwed this dish up something major. I had to use regular pepper, bagged shredded Italian cheese blend (gasp) with bagged shredded cheddar, and the sauce didn’t cook right. I still can’t believe I forgot the olive oil. But dude, it was still good, like super good. What’s up with that?

It got me to thinking … That dish is so good, esp if done properly with freshly cracked peppercorns & a good sturdy cheese, so yummy that it may in fact thumb its nose at the spirit of fasting-albeit meatless & certifiably OK for Ash Wednesday.

Then I got to thinking … This is a rustic dish, a most common staple of European/Italian cuisine. It was born in grandma’s kitchen, not in some chef’s kitchen like béarnaise. And so, I bet it was actually born of fasting. I mean, Italians fasted all through modern history, having remained catholic through the reformation of Christian Europe.

Incidentally, if u have never read Lord Byron’s poem Beppo comparing Protestant & Catholic diets, among other things, you should.  It’s a riot, a true romp of a poem that will make you laugh out loud in the library for realz.   Seriously, BTDT!

Anyway, getting back to Cacio e Pepe, I bet this dish – that from my modern American Catholic perspective is so delicious it defies the spirit of fasting – you know, asceticism & all that – was derived by hungry Italians who just wanted something tasty while fasting more strictly than I likely ever have. Oh the irony. #Judge not. #Perspective … omg … did I just use a hashtag? … time to go to confession …




Random Thoughts – Waiting on a Bus

So the internet has been around 20+ years-more if you count the ARPAnet years etc – and I’m wondering … How has publishing changed? Lots of ways, clearly, esp considering news publications/blogs, but aren’t there ways it really hasn’t changed at least maybe in terms of literary publishing?

How many famous internet poets are there for example? I guess there are internet musicians’ success stories – the bieber? –  and there is Bukowski, king of internet poetry-but he didn’t publish to the web first-he was successful in print and film way before the internet came along.

Famous internet novels? I guess there is the 50 shades one, initially published in some form or another on the internet as twilight fan fiction.

What about digital books? People with macs can publish ibooks – anyone can make a pdf these days -is there a stigma against self publishing?  Or has it all gone niche maybe-everyone has their own digital territory: youtubbers for example, there is a youtubber for everything from vegan culinary arts to retro video game speed running to just opening little gifts & eggs etc of tiny toys.

I guess what I’m wondering about I would need to ask someone who wanted to be a successful writer-whatever that means-does it mean earning a living or just being published or what? I would ask though about self publishing either in blogs or ebooks or even forums maybe-if they were doing it, had done it, wouldn’t do it & why??

I had a buddy who used to run a helluva forum for poetry & people would share verse they were working on to get feedback from other poets-many of whom had work published -both in publications & their own volumes of verse-but i never understood why it didn’t count as publishing when they would share a final version.  I believe he had it set up to automatically copyright any work submitted by the user-but many publications only want to publish the first copy or whatever its called-so how didnt putting their work on the web mess up the chance to publish it? Stupid question?

I guess I’m asking in an attempt to understand my own hypocrisy … I mean, I’ve never written to publish … it’s always been some sort of compulsion when I write, as if I were sick and writing relieves the symptoms a bit.  On the other hand, it would be nice to one day publish some of my poems and short stories, maybe be anthologized in American Lit somehow even, but that kind of publishing requires a good bit of hoop jumping, and it helps to meet people in grad school or writer’s workshops and join in the cannibalistic nepotism that is the modern publishing circuit.  So, I’m torn because I’d like to share some of my stuff on the web, but I’d also like to maybe publish it “legit” one day.  We’ll have to talk about the stigma of self publishing later I guess …