Friday, March 28, 2008

Let's give 'em the old pinch-punch

Last night Megan, Meghan and I saw Stacey Levine read from her new and as-yet-unpublished book of short stories at Powell's. She is hilarious and awesome. As Megan said, it would have been nice to sit there all night and have her read the whole book to us. Both the stories and her reading of the stories were excellent.

A large group of students was bused in. Bussed in? Bused in. I missed the word "buses" in the first round of the spelling bee in seventh grade after taking first the year before. A devastating blow. I still blame the Burger King on Outer Belt Drive for this. It said "Busses welcome." Hardly anything is my fault if I think about it hard enough.

I wanted to line them up and give them double cheek pinches least-favorite-aunt-style and then punch them in the stomach. They were so cute and silly and irritating.

When I talked to Stacey afterwards, I felt very shy.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sad Soup

Since we are clearly also a depression forum, here is something good to do when you are sad: have a specific food that you eat. I call mine "Sad Soup." (Brilliant, ey? It's probably a Shel Silverstein poem.) Anyway really it's Tom Yum from this place Cosi Noodle up the street from my office. It is super spicy, so that it burns your throat. Whenever I am sad I go eat it.
There was a time when I ate it every day for several weeks until I eventually got sick of Sad Soup. I don't think I stopped eating it because I was happier, just because it became gross to me, or maybe sadness and wallowing became gross to me.

Today I am super sad. What follows has nothing to do with anything. Today while I was eating Sad Soup, these two Evanston "ladies" sat down next to me and talked about their college-aged daughters who "can't seem to find a place in the world." One of the daughters, who is twenty and in school someplace in Boston, feels really bad because she is going to waitress this summer rather than save the world, which, the mom says the daughter has saved the world every summer since she was 12. (Daughter is in school for something involving saving the world via hanging out with old people, which sounds to me like the worst way ever to save the world.) The mom says the daughter should give herself a break and waitress and go to the beach this summer. But now they are in a fight because the daughter says she can't live without being passionate about something.

Also this lost daughter has a boyfriend that the mom is totally in love with. The mom is ready to go "dress shopping" with the daughter, she says, because the boyfriend is so "special." But the boyfriend is in Argentina until July and the mom won't let the daughter visit because "it's Argentina" even though the daughter just got back from backpacking around Amsterdam.

This has no point, except maybe that I want to be the daughter, because I think I was the daughter at sometime, minus the old people and the perfecto boyfriend. You know that the boyfriend is banging a lot of Argentenians behind the daughter's back. You know what the daughter did in Amsterdam. You know the mom and the daughter are not going dress shopping in relation to this boyfriend. You know the daughter will save the world this summer, despite the mother's wishes.

The daughter made me happier than the sad soup.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

braindead of winter is back

Only Tom Cruise can stop winter. Watch this Scientology video.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Charles Olson is Such a Hippie

So I did my homework. First I tried reading part of Charles Olson's essay "On Projective Verse." It kind of makes sense. I kind of like it. You can read it here.

Continuing my quest to understand the dash-ey poems I described last week, I consulted two very credible sources. Wikipedia said, "In Projective Verse, Olson called for a poetic meter based on the breath of the poet and an open construction based on sound and the linking of perceptions rather than syntax and logic." That is all Wikipedia said. Which, they were basically saying that Charles Olson was a hippie. The breath of the poet? Ugh. Although I do like the idea of "linking perceptions."

Delving deeper, I looked to

"In his influential 1950 essay "Projective Verse" Olson defined poetry in terms of the dynamic world his contemporaries were discovering: "A poem is energy transferred from where the poet got it … by way of the poem itself … to the reader." The poet's own energy as he writes is among that which is embodied in the poem. The syllable, Olson argued, reveals the poet's act of exploring the possibilities of sound in order to create an oral beauty. The line reveals the poet's breathing, where it begins and ends as he works. Conventional syntax, meter, and rhyme must be abandoned, Olson argued, if their structural requirements slow the swift currents of the poet's thought. The predictable left-hand margin falsifies the spontaneous nature of experience."

So Charles Olson is a hippie language poet. Projective verse is the language of hippie language poet/cult leaders. I think projective verse is a cult.

I like all of those ideas, and I like energy and spontenaity and swiftness, and probably I liked the very first projective poem ever written by Charles O. But now the dash-ey poems are everywhere. And now the dash-ey poems and the absent left margin are obvious; we know what they're up to; they are not performing any trickeries like we like. So why are people still writing the dash-eys? I guess it's like everything else that people are still writing, like sonnets and whatever else. I hate when something cool groundbreaking gets adopted by bazillions of people. It makes me feel so American. Like Charles Olson's projective verse will someday be part of Pepsi's ad campaign or something.

I am stealing the phrase "oral beauty," though, which sounds so wonderful and gross to me and should have nothing to do with poems.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I would like to take this opportunity to point out how dumb we are

You guys! We didn't write an author letter to Elizabeth Crane! Let's do it now(ish)! It will make us happy!

Coincidence or coinky-dink? You decide.

Do you guys wanna know something weird. Wait...first I must summon Jack Morgan to the Venom blogo-sphereite.
Jaaaaaaaackkk, Jaaaaaaackkkk....Donnie Deutsch is here. He wants to talk to you about lead toys and tiny poems on wasted pages of paper! The poems are great but you must recycle something to atone. This the 2000's after all. But you live in California so you probably have a car that runs on good vibes or else you start out a day early for appointments because you walk everywhere. So you are now forgiven. BUT!!!! I am way off point.
All I really wanted to say is- I was logging on to check my email and I saw a little red book on my desk. I assumed that it was another frivolous item purchased by my reading obsessed girlfriend whom you know from this blog as Sarah. (I'll speak with you later, young lady.) Anyway, I read the whole short volume in one sitting (RARE INDEED!) and found on the last page the image of a boat with the words "Stormy Petrel" printed under it.
Where am I going with this and who is that handsome woman in the image? Alas! I am the Stormy Petrel! And the woman in the image is me!
Let me clarify. Jack Morgan has written an excellent bookie-let (it's littleish) called "Dearest Children of the Revolution, I am Pleased to Announce My Resignation" and it is published by Stormy Petrel Press. I am currently performing in the play "Top Girls" by Caryl Churchill, in the role of Isabella Bird who is THE Stormy Petrel named so by friends "because of her passion for howling winds and rain".
Look it up bitches!

Friday, March 21, 2008

a sincere question that will nevertheless reveal my stupidity to the Universe

whut is up
with poems--

that look like this

all over the page

why do the lines look all separate-y like that?

what is the purpose of the separate-y lines?

i have a hard time reading
poems that look

like this--

this--(they usually have lots of hyphens)------

or like this first because they look too smart for me

and second because they are just---

fucking hard to read

and third because i distrust them

and i don't understand line breaks anyway

kathy i know you know

Thursday, March 20, 2008

the hedgehog is coming!

It looks like we're getting 8+ inches of snow over the one day Spring Break tomorrow. Seek shelter or prescription drugs immediately. The Chicago Times is calling the godawful blend of snow and rain "snizzle" or "heart attack snow." I've decided to name it after something else excessive and past its prime (Ron Jeremy). If you can think of a nickname for the monstrosity, especially referencing autofellatio, post below.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Novelist Strike Fails to Affect Nation

"Novelist Strike Fails to Affect Nation Whatsoever" (Upcoming Poetry Strike Likely to Be More Obscure)

Other top news stories: Meg(h)an Lane createdfor reckless drivers! "Signs will be posted to warn regular drivers that they must drive either under 30 mph or over 90 mph."
"All of the lanes will also feature ramps."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

gchat topic: i'll be me and you be everyone else in the world

i have been thinking about how i confuse myself with other people. partly because of matthew savoca's awesome book that he is writing, partly because of the "postmodern poetic of decentralized voice" that people in grad school love to yammer about, and partly because i am confused mentally. but if you experience everything with your mind, then everything kind of is actually you. you know? i talked about a related topic today with neil kubath over gchat.

i think i might write a story about a girl who lives with a boyfriend and a child and a dog and a cat and they are all the same person. or else maybe this gchat is good enough. i never write anyway.

me: are you having a pang?
Neil: I am.
me: where is it
Neil: my tummy.
me: i would rub your stomach for you if you were my dog. or my boyfriend.
or my child.
or my cat.
Neil: Wow.
me: is this a case where i am being too blatant and that's why you said wow?
Neil: Yes.
me: oh
you have a problem with being my dog or my boyfriend or my child or my cat? i don't see why.
you freak out easily.
Neil: I don't.
I just like making you think I do.
me: oh
me: i wish you were my cat
i saw you typing and erasing!
Neil: Nope.
Well, yes on the cat.
me: you wish you were my cat?
Neil: Yes I have a problem.
me: that's not a problem. being my cat would be nice.
Neil: I don't like cats.
me: for real?
Neil: Not that much.
Not enough to be one.
me: well why did you say you want to be my cat then?
Neil: I didn't.
You asked if I was freaked out.
I said yes to the cat.
me: oh, so you don't have a problem being my dog or my boyfriend or my child?
Neil: Correct on all accounts.
me: i wish you were all three. i would have such an interesting life.
Neil: I'd be awesome.
I'd also be Oedipus.
me: it would be so cozy at home. everyone would play chess all day. including the dog.
Neil: You mean me?
me: yes, you. you are everyone. including the dog.
except i am me in this scenario.
me: do you not play chess? because that would make this whole thing impossible.
Neil: I play chess.
Not very well.
me: effin.
Neil: I will get better.
me: yay!
i was going to change it to jeopardy tournaments, but it makes me happy that you'll get better at chess.
Neil: Ugh.
me: what?
Neil: I missed out on nonstop Jeopardy tournaments.
me: it's nearly impossible for a dog to play jeopardy, neil.
Neil: Not really.
me: how would he communicate the answers?
Neil: He'd bark...duh.
me: oh
Neil: Yeah.

It's me!

You realize none of my photos have been retouched! I look a solid 25 in this photograph. Not a day over! I am a very wise 25 year old who has seen some things that would turn people's hair gray, but I smile on with my bright white 23 year old teeth. (My teeth are the youngest part of me.) Lines? Not of age but of experience.

Don't I look good in green? This is my St. Patty's post. I realize it is a day late but I don't like to hurry and worry and gibble-gobble about deadlines. That is why I look 25...I mean that is why I AM 25. I made that word up- gibble-gobble. Do you like it? I am trying to get it into the dictionary this year so start using it a lot. It can mean anything you want it to!

Now that I am 25 I have decided that I have nothing in common with Hillary Clinton. Where is my I-POD!? I would DIE without it! I have to listen to my down-loaded pod-casting about Obama. It is by a very influential Bloggist on the political blogger-sphere. This country needs CHANGE, man! I am soooo sick of OLD-LADY presidents!!!!!! It's time for Obamarama...OOOOhhh like Bananarama except they are sooo old that I certainly have not heard of them. I think my Dad likes them or something and some other weird sounding old person bands like David Bowie.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I can't believe it's winter again

I was thinking about it this morning, and I'm pretty sure we all called it back by having such a Braindead of Winter weekend. Most of us spent at least two hours in the suburbs. Most of us purchased things while we were there. Most of us ate at chain restaurants, such as The Olive Garden.

This evening, I am going to walk home in the freezing rain and perform complicated rituals of my own devising to make it be seventy degrees by next week.

Also, I finished Elizabeth Crane's You Must Be This Happy To Enter in like three hours and now I have nothing to read. Someone should recommend something. Or loan me something.

Let's have a meeting on Friday. On my deck. We'll bundle up in (faux) down comforters and sip hot cider. We can talk about how being happy might be connected to believing in god and then stare into space and sigh.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

braindead, almost spring activity

I just wanted to make a public service announcement: all the cool stuff at H&M on Michigan avenue has moved to floor 2. I don't want anyone to have to do what I did this afternoon, wandering around the main floor, confused and bombarded by dress slacks and unattractive people.

I repeat, everything attractive has moved to floor 2! Also, I'd like to announce that, for the next 10 days, I will be wearing matching socks!
(The official first day of spring begins when I run out of matching socks for the year).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Actors are nice

Weirdly enough, Venom Literati likes actors. I think the actors like us for our quiet consideration and reluctance to upstage them, and we, in turn, enjoy how pretty they are to look at.

Two of our actor friends are doing good things right now.

1. Go see Top Girls at Live Bait Theatre. VL's own Abby (you may remember her from all those sexy headshots) is super-awesome in it. She learned two accents with a dialect coach for it, and she somehow makes her characters both hilarious and touching. Also, she is pretty. Time Out Chicago likes it (and her) too.

2. VL friend Neil is a big star in this movie that just came out, Carver. It has nothing to do with Raymond Carver. At all. You should buy it, or at least rent it.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Jamaica Kincaid is Like 400 Feet Tall

Jamaica Kincaid lectured at Northwestern last night. Missy and I went. It was awesome. I LOVE Jamaica Kincaid. If I could write At the Bottom of the River I would happily keel over and never write again and/or die and/or both. I tried to write like her this afternoon and it is impossible and extremely embarrassing.

I usually avoid going to lectures because in sooooo many instances I have gone to them and really disliked a writer after hearing them talk. I was especially hesitant about this one, because I love Jamaica Kincaid so much and the title of the lecture was "On Writing," (puke) and there were going to be a billion undergrad "writers" there, all of whom would ask really awful questions during the Q&A.

The bad undergraduate writers were of course there: all googly eyed and grinning and salivating like they would, at any moment, leap onto the stage and try to devour Jamaica, which would be impossible, because she is seriously a 400 foot tall giantess. Granted, she did look delicious. She wore a brown jumper-like dress with a button down shirt and jeans and really old-looking brown shoes and gold hoop earrings. (I think she probably got the button-down at Rainbow, I think she definitely shops at Rainbow like Elizabeth Crane. If you've started that book you know what I'm talking about. Her outfit was a combination of Rainbow elements mixed with Salvation Army elements mixed with elements of your/my/anybody's mother's closet. Also, this is hilarious, in the picture above, which I just found, from a different lecture, she is wearing the exact same outfit, only I think this picture was taken like 10 years ago. I wish she still had the cornrows.)

So not only was her outfit awesome, but I think she is even more awesome in real-life than she is on the page, mostly because after her awesome lecture, she didn't really answer any of the stupid questions that were inevitably asked during the Q&A. Mind you I am paraphrasing, but here are some examples. Imagine her speaking in a very sweet, soft, English-accented voice:

Q #1 (from former high-school English teacher who probably wanted to be a writer but failed): I think it's absolutely EXHILIRATING to learn that "Girl" was the first piece you ever published. How did you come to write such an amazing story as your first piece? Can you speak to that?

Jamaica: Ooooooh! I think I can! (imitating teacher's overboard excitement) I read Elizabeth Bishop's "In the Waiting Room" and I immediately knew how to write. I was working at the New Yorker, and was used to reading a bunch of old, white men, and I thought their writing was boring and not very good, and that if I showed them how to write something different, maybe they would stop writing. So I wrote "Girl."

Q#2 (from drooling undergrad or grad writer): Many of us in this room are writers. I wonder if you could talk a little more about process.

Jamaica: I'm the wrong person to ask about that. You should ask John Updike. He gets up and writes a novel, then he eats breakfast and writes a book of poems. Look at my books--they're so tiny. All I do is read. I became a writer so I could sit around all day and read and not be called lazy. I'm really the last person you should ask about process.

Q#3: (from undergraduate African American Studies student) What was it like to read black writers for the first time, or writers from the West Indies?

Jamaica: I don't remember. I don't really think of myself as being black. I live in Vermont and I'm the only black person in Vermont. I'll be walking down the street in Vermont, and someone will start waving erratically at me, and I won't be sure why. Then I'll realize that it's because we're both black, and I've forgotten that I am. But I don't think of myself that way at all.

There appeared to be much chagrin on the faces of the African American Studies professors, who had congregated in the corner of the room.

Q#4: (of course) Do you have periods of not-writing, or periods where you can't write?

Jamaica: Oh, all the time. I hardly ever write because of that.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

it's going to be 55 next week

It's going to be 55 degrees in Chicago next week, people. Your next braindead assignment is to try to recall what you and your friends look like when not covered in 17 layers of thermal underwear. I imagine it will be just like that scene in the Jim Henson movie The Dark Crystal, when the evil Skesis attack a hunchback, ripping off all his clothes to reveal a terrifying birdlike creature, 10% of its original size.

I can't even remember what I look like. I think once my pointy ears appear, I will look like a Gelfling and will play a mystical flute while climbing mountains to save humanity. I feel bad for youth born after 1982 who missed the totally fucked up Dark Crystal and became E.T. people and probably sociopaths.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Braindead of Winter Activity Number Nine: Start an ambitious art project and then abandon it due to inclement weather and forgetfulness

I was working on a month-long art project on March 1 and 2, but then I suddenly went to Bloomington, Indiana. I intended to take my computer with me. I neglected to do so. I thought I would only have a day-long gap in the project, but then the skies of Indiana vomited toward the earth on our way home, and we stayed at a Motel 6.

That's Braindead of Winter Activity Number Ten, by the way: Stay at a Motel 6. The bedspreads are killer.

So now it hasn't been done for two days, which means that I've not worked on it for as long as I've worked on it, which means...I'll start it over again in April.

Braindead of Winter Activity Number Eleven: Wait till April.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Braindead Activity #8: Make the Rest of the Universe Work in Small Groups

Whoever invented small-group-work is awesome. Has anyone on the planet EVER enjoyed working in a small group? Not me. Therefore it is my new favorite way to torture people (ie: students). I have discovered that small group work is the best way to a) waste time and b) prevent oneself (and the rest of the Universe) from thinking--a serious offense (and also an utter impossibility) during Braindead of Winter month.

By forcing others to work in small groups, we alienate ourselves (another key element of braindead of winter month) and also avoid mindnumbing, irritating, and/or thoughtful conversation.

If at any time during this month, someone attempts to make smalltalk or intelligent-talk with you, just say: Go discuss it with that group over there. Yep that one, waaaay over there at the other end of the building. They can't WAIT to communicate with you. Ready, go!

You can also use the opposite tactic--when your boss asks you to do something, say it must first be discussed "with the rest of the group" (note: it is especially important to use this phrase--as "the whole group" would include your boss.)

Meeting with "the rest of the group" means talking about the Jim Jones Kool-Aid extravaganza, or internet celebrities like Moo, for the next two hours while alienating your boss.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Braindead Activity 7 - discover internet celebrity, Moo

Chris Crocker has nothing on Moo, the hottest internet celebrity I have found on YouTube in the last five minutes. For your next braindead activity, check out this video, "Moo mooing Properly", then watch the original "Moo mooing" video, "Moo learns to walk", and "Moo, tired and scurrying" (spoiler: she doesn't really scurry).

braindead-of-winter activity #6: watch movies

i watched some movies. yesterday i watched jonestown: the life and death of people's temple. it was a pbs documentary about the jonestown mass suicide of like 900 people in 1978. they interviewed several survivors and members of the people's temple. i kind of feel like if i had been around at the time i might have joined the people's temple. you'll have to watch it to see what i mean.

also last weekend i watched step up. it was super awesome. do not get it confused with step up 2 which is out in theaters right now. this is the original step up starring channing tatum. he is really good at break dancing or whatever they call that kind of dancing now. i love how every dance movie features a pristine ballerina who meets a street thug and decides to take a walk on the wild side.

and tomorrow our friend neil kubath's movie carver is being released. we are going to have a screening and report back with a review. until then, consider it your braindead of winter job to watch as much television as possible.