Friday, February 27, 2009

Nerd is such a limiting label...

...for Ken Jennings. And I suppose, by virtue of this post, I'm outing myself as a nerd as well. But one of my favorite blogs to read is Ken's. We have similar tastes in music and film, and he is always witty. We've all seen "Thankful Thursday" posts, right? How about trying one of Ken's "Wordplay Wednesdays" or other random mind games! His (probably oversized) brain is constantly turning over trivia, categorizing things in bizzare ways. For example, I'm linking you to two sets of lists. If you are neither bookish, nor a music enthusiast, these probably won't be very interesting. But I really enjoyed both.

The best American novels set in each of the fifty states:
Part One
Part Two

The best musical artist/group formed in each of the fifty states:
Part One
Part Two

Friday, February 13, 2009

True Love

Valentines Day is protected. It is the one day where, in the name of LOVE, you can get away with shameless amounts of cheesiness. And that's okay, because love often is cheesy. It can't help but be, since we're so unused to expressing it. It's a good day to be a bystander in a grocery store. You may find yourself standing awkwardly in a line of men with sideburns and goatees, closely examining bows, shaped chocolate boxes, looking and feeling lost. But today Joe Plicka will save us. He will show us why love, true love, hides in unlikely places, like the poopy pants of a little girl in the middle of nowhere. Joe is my friend. I reprint his poem here without his permission, and hopefully that is okay.

True Love

Somewhere in northern Nevada,
maybe eastern Oregon, where
nothing has a name—travelers
make up their own and the few that stay on
would rather forget—where the sky ends,
prairie dogs dance with truck tires and
the scrubland rolls away like an ocean swell,
that’s where I figured it out—

We were pointed toward Winnemucca when
that new daughter of ours pooped up her back.
I came out of the greasy roadhouse with a giant
She was lying on the trunk, naked, crooked
scratching the air like an upturned beetle
while you cleaned and dressed her.
She was your daughter then, and I remembered
the time, cradled in blood water,
piecing her together like a ball of tin foil.
And I was your son, knowing you
only from the outside,
and from books.
I saw you striding across paintings
and through silver screens. Mother.
Goddess. Grant me
my only sin: to have wanted you for myself.

I knew then that I am an empty man,
my body a cage,
organs hanging from strings like a lurid mobile.
When I saw you that day, somewhere,
a string broke; things started to sway
dangerously until they were all tangled up.
A marionette
left in a box and shaken up. Here a liver
wrapped around a spleen, hanging under a lung
beating against a kidney—and
I couldn’t do anything but
drive on, just holding myself
together, breathing like a man in a body cast
with you
swirling around me and in me, teasing me with
utter annihilation.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Since the old days of studying literature at the University I've read as much as I could, and at an unfortunately slow pace. In a down year I'll take in about 15 books. In an up year I can get in 25, and that's about as good as I can do with my schedule. In that time I feel like I've done my most important reading. I am a slave to fiction, which I would love to change someday (and have tried to occasionally), but I cannot seem to break free of its chains. Despite the meager sample there have been a small handful of authors that have really blown me away. One of those authors is David Foster Wallace. I had never heard of him until September of last year when news of his suicide made headlines, and I began linking to articles that left me wanting more. I recently finished Girl With Curious Hair, a compilation of short stories that for me were mostly hit (Little Expressionless Animals) with a little miss (the title story). The man is a phenom and a genius.

Secretly I would like to write as well. But I am plagued by demons that haunt me away from it (which is a euphemism for me being too lazy to commit). In one of his stories, "Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way", the narrator sums up in so many lovely words what it really means to be a writer of stories:

"...occasionally a writer will encounter a story that is his, yet is not his. I mean, by the way, a writer of stories, not one of these intelligences that analyze society and culture, but the sort of ignorant and acquisitive being who moons after magical tales. Such a creature knows very little: how to tie a shoelace, when to go to the store for bread, and the exact stab of a story that belongs to him, and to him only. How to unfurl a Trojan, where on the stall door to carve BEWARE OF LIMBO DANCERS, how to give the teacher what she wants, and the raw coppery smell of a scenario over which he's meant to exercise, not suffer, authority. And yet occasionally the tale is already authoritatively gutted, publicly there, brightly killed, done by another. Or else menacingly alive, self-sufficient, organic, sounding the distant groan of growth, trading chemicals briskly with the air, but still outside the creature who desires to take it inside and make a little miracle."

Reading him has given me a bit more energy to pursue the stab that is exactly mine.

*Caveat: He is not a writer I would take home to Mom. I cannot in good faith recommend him to all readers of my blog, especially if you might be thin skinned, or somewhat easily offended.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Here We Go Magic

As you may know, I love to hear Luke Temple. It's been a while since he came out with Snowbeast, and I've been craving some more. So after poking around this evening, I've discovered that he's coming out with an album on Feb. 24th under the moniker "Here We Go Magic". Here is a cut that won't be on the record: