Monday, November 24, 2008

Time / Lapse

I recently uploaded a number of old photos to Facebook. Knowing that some of you who read this blog do not have (nor want) (nor do I blame you for not wanting) access to Facebook, I'm putting up a few themed photos here. I'll let them speak for themselves unless somebody has a question, with one exception - none of these are digitally manipulated to create the main effect. That is to say, when I scanned in the photos, I used Photoshop or GIMP to restore the original color balance if at all possible. But the primary effects - the multiple instances of a single person, the smearing, all of those things that look like "special effects" - were done solely through the use of an open shutter and creative use of lighting.

Time / Lapse

Mind the Gap

State of Mind

What Big Eyes You Have

Born Slippy

Breaking Free



Saturday, November 22, 2008

2 male artists you need to check out now (and 2 to watch for in the future)

Already Made It

1. Jason Salavon

Salavon creates digital collages and alterations that are both aesthetically pleasing to mainstream viewers and utterly postmodern in the messages they send.

Here's a piece from Every Playboy Centerfold: The Decades. This image is the mean average of every centerfold image of the 80s. The production is most striking when you view the entire series and watch the skin and hair grow lighter, the abstracted body grow thinner.

Salavon's work is wide-ranging in its techniques and messages, so go check out the main site.

2. James Jean

Jean is perhaps best-known for being a comic book cover artist, particular for his work on Fables, for which he's won a number of Eisner Awards. His non-comic art is just as thought-provoking, drawing on various cultures for inspiration and producing images that are often soothing and creepy, childlike and suggestive of hidden knowledge.

Definitely look into purchasing the new hardcover collection of all his Fables covers.

Keep Your Eye On

1. Ivan Farr

I met Ivan at Cushing Library at A&M. He's doing interesting work in a variety of artistic areas: photography, architecture, sculpture. Here's a photograph of his that I own (a large, framed print, at any rate).

There's a great diversity of material on his website. Check it out.

2. Tim Weaver

Tim is turning my poem "ADD TV" into an installation piece. The project has gone through perhaps five iterations, each one a fascinating idea. The latest I heard from him was a sculpture onto which he would project the various characters in "ADD TV" all at once (we recorded footage wherein I performed the poem as normal, then went back and did the entire thing as each character - pretty hilarious at times). The audience can walk around the piece to get different perspectives, thus gaining some power to "change the channel." He was blogging his progress for a while, but things seem to have disappeared. I'll update this post if I can find out where he's hosting video of his multimedia work now...

Friday, November 21, 2008

I'd like $500

The usual response to a statement like that is something along the lines of "And I want a solid-gold toilet." In this particular instance, however, you really can help me get $500.

Go to Register. Go to the competition page, and vote for my poem "ADD TV." There are judges who will award prizes based on the poetry, but there is also a prize for best performance. That prize is decided by users' votes.

For those of you reading regularly, that means that I did make it into the final round of the competition. Thanks for the votes that helped put me here :-)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

For my friends at Halo tonight


we drive by a small town with no graveyard and people
so crackly-old they must have forgotten to die

we picnic by the side of the road
and corn husks
mutilated by ants
litter the ground
tattered as poor ghosts

expecting farmers
we instead find dancers
bloody as newborns
spinning in the fields
leaving little hoofprints in the soil

and knowing that the old people do not die
and knowing ghosts are poor
and knowing that the hoofprints are very small indeed

we begin to dance


That poem was published in Karamu back in 2004, but tonight it's for my friends (who are probably still) dancing at Halo in downtown Bryan.


Man, I just looked at the Karamu website, which hasn't been updated since 2003. Bad site, good journal. Stick to the poem.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Got to Buy It, I've Got to Buy It

During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in college, I interned at an advertising firm in Chicago. Cool job. My first task on my first day was to accompany my boss to a Toys 'R Us, where we purchased a bunch of Star Wars action figures. The firm in question was in charge of several major accounts, including Taco Bell, which at the time was doing tie-ins with Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (aka steaming pile of fanbase betrayal).

I learned a lot during that summer. Most importantly, I discovered that I was a writer who liked history, not a historian who liked to write. Other, less personally important discoveries:

-Sears likes to ask for innovation and then shoot down anything approaching it. "We want to do something different for Mother's Day next year." OK, how about we do a special mom-friendly event where anybody who comes in with a baby receives a free manicure or pedicure, bring in storytellers or magicians to entertain kids so that they don't bother her while shopping, do generational coupons that stack if mom and grandma come in together... "Wait, no, nevermind, let's just put on a sale. And emphasize how much everybody loves mom. Use words like 'Sears Loves Moms.' And maybe use ducks instead of flowers this time."

-Jim Beam started a campaign that was hilarious. It centered on being one of the guys. I was particularly fond of one copywriter's contribution: "They eat your food, sleep on your couch, and now they want your sister." It was silly, poking fun at what it meant to be a guy rather than trying to say "real men drink Jim Beam." I was sorely disappointed to see that same campaign, years later, taking a misogynistic turn (this example is from Australia, but I've seen similar stuff in magazine ads in the US). Sigh.

-The Blair Witch Project is actually scary as hell when you watch it on a bootleg VHS tape that somebody in the firm got from a friend who was involved with the project. In the theaters? Laughable. But popping in a scratchy version and sitting in your basement to view it? Totally in line with the artistic vision of the filmmakers.

-Fads are powerful. Everybody wanted a piece of Pokemon. Sears (though it ended up rejecting any good ideas we came up with). Various other retailers. Fast food joints. Pokemon pokemon pokemon. This should have happened even back then.

Bonus points for anybody who gets the reference in the title of this post.

Friday, November 14, 2008

ENGL235 - here are some stories

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Facebook Conundrum and Sensations

They finally got me to join Facebook. By "they" I mean what appears to be the rest of the Western world (despite working on my PhD and the ostensibly theoretical tone of the following post, I refuse to argue semantics related to "The Western World" this evening).

Facebook scares me a bit. Partly because technology hates me. Partly because it's a data (not information) overload.

More importantly, I'm ambivalent as to what my Facebook presence ought to be.

As an instructor, I don't want to give my students access to my profile/pages. I'm informal in the classroom, but there's an appropriate distance to keep. Asking "Will you be my friend" does weird things to that distance. Former students - some more than others - can be OK. But anybody from less than a semester ago... I just think it's a bad idea to blur these lines more than necessary.

On the other hand, as a performer, I want to be as close to as many potential listeners as possible. That's what many performing/slamming poets do - use Facebook or MySpace to keep track of fans all over the place. It's exceptionally convenient for this purpose - I can advertise upcoming gigs, converse, release tracks, post photos, all somewhat easier than updating my website. And this closeness/ease runs right into the face of the previous desire.

Sometimes my students are also my audience. I don't perform in the classroom the same way I perform on stage, but sometimes a student (or group) will see me at the local open mic, or find video of me online. This sometimes results in said student(s) wanting to find out more. Great - but on what side of the line should I fall?

Still figuring this one out.


Sensations I've had in the last couple of days - and by sensations I mean images I've seen in my waking hours as though suddenly remembering them - sort of as if a memory ran concurrently with itself - not dreams:

Being in a cube with open sides and gray bars (unknown/unimportant material) for edges. I am facing somewhat to the right, because an edge is directly in front of me. The cube sudden droops on the left-hand side, and I move my arms to balance. The entire time, I'm watching myself from slightly above and to the right.

Gathering wet sand into a short and wide cone, then pushing the cone away from myself.

The road goes on forever, but there are driveways every fifty feet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

deer pausing

I think this image may be closer to what I wanted to write in the poem just posted...

while walking Gollum

at dusk, eight deer
flit across the road
one after another
and silent

the last one pauses,
stares at me walking
as though I were the ghost
in this place

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Three Kinds of Braggadocio

Ron Mohring over at Seven Kitchens Press has given the go-ahead: The Icarus Sketches will appear in 2009 as the third chapbook in that press's Editor's Series. You can see the forthcomingness over in their sidebar.

I recently received two of 7KP's chapbooks - Underground Singing by Harry Humes and Still by Deborah Burnham - and the production value was quite good. I have Icarus poems out at various journals, and some have already been published. We'll see how nice I can make the acknowledgments page look by mid-2009 ;-)


In related news, I finally have time to hunker down and work on diluvium. The recent feature on visual poetry in Poetry is heartening. I also think of the wonderful job Jessica Smith is doing to bring visual poetry out into the light. On the other hand, I have doubts any of the pages in diluvium will appear in a journal. It's just going to be too dependent on sequentiality and linking pages.

If I haven't talked to you about it recently, think of the love-child of Ed Dorn's Languedoc Variorum and Steve McCaffery's Carnival, and that's what I'm trying to do stylistically. Pair the two types of poetry that most depend on a burst of energy/imagery - that is, visual and lyric - and then extend them into an 80+ page poetic sequence.


If you've been reading, you'll recall a previous post about me trying to freestyle. Well, I really liked the bit about boomerangs and elephant pelvises, and every once in a while I think of something that flows. I think this is going to turn into some kind of mock epic. Or mock rap epic. Or rap mock epic. Or epic rap mockery. Or something. Tentative title is "Attack of the 50 Foot Ideologies." These lines presumably will belong in the middle somewhere:

"From an elephant's pelvis I
fashioned a boomerang
that laid to waste and raised up cities
Then he came at me with a shank

shaved from an obelisk
stolen from Egypt
screaming, "I'm an objectivist!"
But I left his penis in pieces-

deflecting it with a shield
made out of Beowulf's contradictions
all the while replying, "Syncretism
derives energy from convictions' frictions."

Yeah, I get carried away. Sound does that. Haven't yet decided whether to choke it back a bit. It's a hell of a lot of fun to say out loud, let me tell you. I actually picture the line breaks somewhere else, incidentally, but there's a definite four-line rhyme box - I like carrying the energy from a set of rhymes into a new set of images.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Less-Important Vote

Not as important as these.

So I did join the contest over at This is definitely not a FameCast situation, and I'm not going to self-promote the way I did during that competition*. However, I'd appreciate it if any of you regular readers would swing over to the competition page, register (you won't get spammed the way FameCast did, but you will get emails from time to time regarding the contest), and use at least some of your points on "ADD TV." Tell your friends if you want. Don't tell them if you don't want.

There are a total of three rounds. I already made it through the first. Getting through the second round depends on user votes - each user gets 50 points to distribute among the entries (all points can go to a single poem, of course). The third round is given over to official poetry judges in New Zealand, though there is a "viewer's choice" kind of award for best performance.

If you do vote, please make it legit. Don't create multiple accounts. Don't do anything to artificially boost my score. Use your real name and an email address you actually check so that if there is a vote audit, yours doesn't get eliminated.

Thanks :-)

*admittedly, I came in 10th out of about 80 poets, including Taylor Mali, Big Poppa E, Andrea Gibson, and other major slammers, in Season Two of FameCast, but it was way too stressful for way too little payoff.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Captains' Log

OK, I'm late in posting. Cable company hooked up internet yesterday, but I had to wrestle with the wireless router for ~3 hours to get it to work. Much better things to do in the new house, but Kate can take care of most of it while I'm back in Texas. Geekery is apparently on my side of our division of labor (along with doing the dishes and vacuuming).

Kate will post photos of the trip online at some point. While the landscapes get increasingly beautiful, the photos become fewer as Apple got more and more afraid of the camera. Don't ask - you just don't want to spend hours in a car with a dog who freaks and tries to hide whenever you pull out the digital camera.

In the meantime, and perhaps of more interest to some of you (hi, Julie!), here are selections from the journal we kept on the road. Anytime there's a long pause between entries, you can reasonably assume we were talking politics or religions or just laughing too much to record what made us laugh.

h = hour
m = minute


m1 I feel pretty good about this

m2 Who farted?

m3 Stubby is licking the atlas. The world tastes good.

m5 Cacophonous birds

m8 Anti-fog wipes, my ass!

m9 Who farted?

m49 What smell is the equivalent of a sunrise?

m53 We decide that our dogs would vote Libertarian: "I caught the squirrel. Don't take my squirrel, Government. I earned that squirrel."

h1m52 A poem for Gabe Gudding, to Apple: "My balls are not an ocean and you are not a boat"

h1m56 Billboard: "Sheriff / TOMMY THOMAS / for Sheriff"

h2m40 I thought you said his name was Otter Bots

h4m57 Bubba Oustalet

h629m JeFF tries to tell Kate she can't write "Guess what, mutt butt?" but she thwarts him. Although he won't know until he reads this later.

h7m30 Baptist Pumpkin Center

h7m33 JeFF: He's hanging on with his forelimbs
Kate: Four limbs?
JeFF: With an E
Kate: Limbeez?

h10m17 Fuzzy butt bumpkins butt bum bum bump bum

h12m30 Garmin: Continue 120 miles.
Kate: Screw you, Garmin!


m45 Road names that sound like bad pornos: Beaver Ruin

h1m45 "Dad's Restaurant / Voted Best Burger / 100% Cow"

h2m3 Musical options: 9 stations praising Jesus, "I'm proud to be an Okie from Muskogee," something bluegrassy about a monkey who steals a locomotive, or death metal

h3m55 Apple starts to lick one foot, while the other sneaks up on her and starts to scratch her ear. She looks at it grumpily, since it didn't have permission to scratch.

h5m3 The tree is saying, "Pcchhkk, I am Yellow"

h7m9 Apparently "Drill here Drill now" is a national meme

h7m46 JeFF: It's Roger Thomas, Jr.!
Kate: Who?
JeFF: The guy in the low-rider with flames.
Kate: He has his name on his car?
JeFF: Yeah.
Kate: Who's Roger Thomas, Jr.?
JeFF: The guy in a low-rider with flames!

h8m15-30 MAINT REQD. Owner's manual near-useless.


m9 Mistaking God for coal

m16 eat the egg not my finger!

m57 Passing Frackville, PA...want to go buy and smash a toaster...

Side note: Penn State road symbol. Mason? Keystone?

h4m44 "Eve was framed" bumper sticker

h6m33 Apple licking cardboard box. Stubby licking cell phones and sun visor. Either very hungry or have lost fragile little minds during long trip


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Coming Soon

Photos of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and however far we get today. I was going to post them last night upon arriving at my brother's house in Georgia, but a 14 hour trip turned into a 16 hour trip thanks to an accident just outside of Montgomery. Add in the loss of an hour upon reaching the Eastern Time Zone, and I was too tired. Now I don't have enough time. Hopefully you'll get something more substantive from me tonight.

Kate and I have been keeping a journal of punch-drunk car-trip sayings. I'll get some of those up at the very least. It won't be any Rhode Island Notebook (I'll fill in a hyperlink on that later for those of you who don't want to Google it), but might prove amusing.