Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Archy and Mehitabel

Every once in awhile, I walk into a situation that makes it hard for me to defend the public school system. Today, I walked into another teacher's classroom to borrow a USB cable for my digital camera. A student teacher was discussing "poetry." She had a "poem" on the screen, the following selection from Don Marquis' Archy and Mehitabel:

The Lesson of the Moth

i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires

why do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense

plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
and excitement
fire is beautiful and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
our attitude toward life
is come easy go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became too civilized to enjoy themselves

and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
the longevity

but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself

I approached the teacher and said, "I'm a big fan of Archy and Mehitabel. She said, "Oh yes, I love poetry too"--not having the slightest idea what I was talking about.

I asked her if she knew the origin of this "poem." Not a clue. I explained how Don Marquis was a very popular columnist from after WWI and that he had created this character, Archy the cockroach, as a part of his weekly newspaper column. I explained that Archy was the soul of a free verse poet reincarnated as a cockroach and that every night Archy would crawl up onto Marquis' typewriter and hurl himself into the keys one by one and leave Marquis a column for the next day and, because he couldn't manipulate the shift or enter keys, the column would end up looking like a free verse poem.

I then explained that the Mehitabel was a cat who had been Cleopatra in a past life and now found herself living on the streets of New York.

She had no idea what I was talking about.

I didn't bother to tell her that, while certainly having certain poetic qualities, that it better fit the definition of parody because, in actuality, it Marquis was making fun of this new form called free verse, not to mention writers in general and how they suffer for their art.

Anyway, I love Don Marquis and I love the fact that people who have been to college have no idea who he is and don't bother to do a little background work on him. For that matter neither the teacher nor the student teacher had any idea that this poem had not actually been written by a poet named archy.

Don Marquis would probably be laughing his ass off.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cooking with BABoR

1. Chop two medium-sized onions
2. Mince four clove fresh garlic
3. slice one cup fresh mushrooms thick
4. Layer in crock pot
5. De-skin four bone-in chicken breasts
6. Place on top of vegetables
7. Pour in 1/2 cup of dry white wine
8. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon each dried rosemary, oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper
9. Add one bayleaf
10. marinade in refrigerator over night
11. Wake up next morning, but not too much
12. Put on bathrobe
13. put marinading chicken crock in pot.
14. plug in
15. feed dogs
16. take shower
17. get dressed for work
18. put pop tart in toaster
19. Put water for tea in microwave
20. Note, while not yet fully awake, that crock pot appears to be set on too high temperature
21 Turn temperature down to lowest setting
22. eat pop tart drink tea
23. go to work
24. forget about chicken, except when anticipating how tasty it will be when you get home
25. return home after work
26. having forgotten about the chicken, stop by MacDonald's and get a Big Mac Combo
27. What the hell, get an extra big Mac
28. Arrive home
29. Fire up the computer and eat your first Big Mac
30. Try to figure out why you eat Big Mac's in the first place
31. eat your second Big Mac, not because you like it, but because you paid for it
32. begin to notice a faint death-like odor
33. remember the chicken
34. return to your crock pot
35. observe the chicken and lack of evidence of its cooking
36. remove the lid
37. note the lukewarm, disgusting chicken laying there like a corpse
38. note that, when you turned the heat down in your still half asleep fog, that you actually turned the setting to OFF
38. begin to throw the chicken, spices, and vegetables into the garbage
39. remember that tomorrow there is a potluck at work
40. Remember you signed up to bring a main dish
41. It is now too late to fix anything
42. set crock pot to LOW this time
43. allow to cook over night
44. take to the potluck
46. The next day, insist that you got sick after the potluck and that you think it was the lasagne someone brought to the pot luck

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Snowy Egret?

Thanks to Billy Canary, who really knows his birds. It was probably snowy egret, shown in flight here:

Except the one I saw looked more like this one, with the yellow beak:

A Big White Bird

Today at school, after the bell rang, a group of students were stood around the window at the back of my room enthralled by whatever they saw. I could hear them saying something about a bird, so I went back there to get them to sit down, thinking that I've seen birds back there too and that it wasn't any big deal. Lake Perris sits in that direction and I have even seen hawks sitting on the fence outside my window.

This time outside my window, a tall white bird (I thought it was a white Ibis, but I have looked it up on Google and this wasn't the same species), strutted slowly about. This type of bird is common at Lake Perris and I have seen them flying over head many times, but never standing this close up.

It stood about three feet tall, maybe four, with long black legs. It was pure white with a long, straight yellow bill. The bird it most resembled would be the Great White Heron, picture above. But those don't go far beyond the Florida Keys. Also, I think Great Whites are bigger than this.

I went out and tried to shoo it over the fence back into its own territory, but it would just fly away a few feet ahead of me. I worried about what might happen if kids saw it during break. But, hey it wouldn't cooperate with me, so I went back to class.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Thought Obama Was Going to Wait for Me

I missed much of the inauguration festivities today. I had to go to Kaiser and do my annual diabetes triathlon with a registered nurse. The good news: I can still see , feel, and my blood pressure is down.

My intention was to go very early so I could wait in the waiting room and watch Obama's speech. But I couldn't find my car key, which has the little beeper alarm thingy attached to it. My first thought was that either Ruby or Pearl had nabbed it. They come from a long line of technology-eatin' dogs and have chomped down on a remote control or two themselves.

I spent an hour or so rummaging through places where I might have put it accidentally. Finally, I found it on the counter under the mail.

But I was an hour late for my appointment and the inauguration had already passed.

So I went to Kaiser anyway to see if I could get in because it says on the little card that no appointment was necessary, even though they had scheduled an appointment for me.

They told me to come back at 2 because they had an opening then

So I went to Starbucks and had some tea. Then, I went to Magnolia Bird Farm to look at the parrots and such.

They and some new birds in stock, many of which I had never seen before, species-wise. I am toying with the idea of getting a couple of birds, but am only at the early window-shopping stage. I used to have a few birds a long time ago and learned not to get another unless I could commit some time to it. While beautiful additions to any home, parrots and related birds are not good furniture. Canaries and finches, while they may appreciate the free food and water, would just as soon you leave them be. Parrots and related birds are very social and need attention.

They have a variety of cockatoos and Macaws at this place. But I'm thinking about smaller birds.

Actually, I'm toying with the idea of raising either parakeets or cockatiels.

Among the details of my visit, I noticed that a couple of Macaws had plucked their breast feathers out. I have a feeling this place is also a convalescent home for birds who have been neglected because the people here are very attentive to their stock. They hand raise many of their birds and give them lots of attention.

Another detail: there were at least three woodpeckers in the cages--two with the Indian Ringnecks and one with another mish-mosh of parrots.

Visiting this place relaxes me.

Speaking of relaxing, I walked the Roob and saw that fox again. This time, I got a real good look at him.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Add a Verse

Just leave it where Jaysus flang it.
No reason to frame or hang it.
Forget who or whatever sprang it,
And leave it where Jaysus flang it.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Where Jaysus Flang It

I think this may be a good euphemism for dying. Lately I have been referring to people who have "passed," because it sounds so much gentler than saying "he died." But to say that he or she passed describes few of the deaths I know of, because they were either sudden and chaotic or long and drawn out and probably painful.

So I think from now on I am going to say of the recently departed, "they went where Jaysus flang 'em." Special thanks to Howlin' Hobbit for the turn of phrase. I'd send you some cheese, but I'm broke right now.

Uke at Do's Dos

Uked at Do's tonight with Billy C in attendance.

The night started slow. I got a call on my cell from Mike C, former student of many years ago. He's about 40 now and he's in own because his uncle is dying. He wanted to get together some time this weekend to take a break from the hospice.

Worked on Sweet Jane, which sounded pretty cool. We tried sneaking into it without the traditional opening riff, using Do on the dumbek instead, followed by me singing the first verse a capella (except for the dumbek), and then Billy C coming in with the riff on the chorus. After finishing one run-through, Billy C started into Satellite of Love which I thought was a cool blending of the two songs. It sounded like he was just finishing Sweet Jane, but--surprise!--it's now Satellite of Love!

The we did Tweedley Dee. I kinda suggested it because I felt Donita was getting sad. This weekend is the anniversary of Jim's passing. A couple of Jim momentos around the house caught her eye and she became bummed. I thought the song would cheer her up a little.

We then did Ofuskee. Not our best rendering, but we all like that song. One thing that pepped it up is Billy C doing a solo that was both odd and sublime. Up until that point, none of us did solos, I don't think.

Tomorrow, I'm going to join Mike in Murrieta for breakfast. Afterwards, Do and I may take Mama C to see her friend who is not doing so well. She and her husband are old friends of the family and they are the parents of a good friend who passed away a few years ago. She has diabetes and recently had her leg amputated and has trouble taking food. No appetite.

A sad weekend shaping up, but it had a good start.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

For Those of You Who Think Obama Hasn't Done Enough

I thought Obama would get me laid.

From Brecht to Gruber

Last night, I went with Do and her girls and their boyfriends to the Largo at the Coronet to see Gruber--the Comic formerly known as the Naked Trucker--perform with some other guys, featuring sketch comedy from Gruber and his group, Two-headed Dog. I guffawed several times.

The The Coronet, by the way, is famous for being the venue where Bertolt Brecht and Charles Laughton premiered their English version of Brecht's GALILEO.

The Largo is a theater that used to be located elsewhere, but then moved to the Coronet, hence the name Largo at the Coronet.

Greg Proops had the actual Largo theater, while Gruber performed in a little room called the Little Room, which could hold maybe fifty people, tops.

As we waited in the Foyer for the doors to open, celebs abounded, most of them waiting for the Greg Proops show. Among them: Greg Proops, Margeret Cho, Andy Richter, Fee Waybill, This Guy Who Used To Be On Saturday Night Live, and I'm sure I have forgotten a few.

Like I said, the show made me laugh out loud. If you ask me to explain why, I couldn't tell you. I guess I could say that I just know funny when I see it. I once saw Lawrence Ferlinghetti give a poetry reading, during which he said trying to explain poetry was like trying to explain a bowl of roses. So, I guess trying to explain comedy is like trying to explain a bowl of rubber chickens.

That, and I think most comedy is disposable and, like a bowl of rubber chickens, is bound to wilt with time.

But, at the same time, I marvel how this ex-naked Trucker guy seems to churn out bits and pieces and do new material all of the time. I recently listened to a CD version of Steve Martin's "Born Standing Up," and it seems that Martin worked for years developing about three hours worth of material, then quit.

I met Gruber after the show. A pretty nice guy. Kind of intense, but upbeat and positive.

As both shows ended, the two audiences mingled again in the foyer, and, like Gruber, Proops walked through the crowd thanking people for coming. At one point, he walked up behind me and squeezed my shoulders and patted me on the back as if to thank me for being there.

I dind't tell him that I had just come out of a different there.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Climax Interruptus

I have this condition called the I'm-Almost-Done-with-This-Book syndrome. I had an attack today.

It occurs when I'm reading a book and I have gotten to the climax and, just as the tension is building, I get a phone call, someone drops by to tell me about Mormonism, or something explodes and I have to run out of the house for my dear life.

Anyway, I have been reading this one book since summer. It's called Cloudsplitter and it's about the abolitionist John Brown as told by his son Owen, the last surviving member of the raiding party at Harper's ferry, who, by the way, settled in a shack out in Alta Dena after the raid, tending goats and sheep. He's an enigmatic figure because he kept to himself and never much talked about his father or the raid.

Anyway, I've got 20 pages left and I am at the part where the raider's kidnap George Washington's nephew, Col. Lewis Washington, and take him and others hostage in the fire station, when the phone rings. It's a friend. We talk for a bit. I get back to the book.

The phone rings again, just as Oliver Brown walks out of the fire station with a white flag and a hostage and gets shot. Another friend.

It happens again and I let the phone ring and the answering machine clicks on. It's Do. I am 5 pages away from finishing this book, so I figure I'll call her back. She will hopefully understand.

This happens to me almost every time I read a book and get close to the end. I get into the rhythm of the final moments and am really engrossed in what may happen next and I get interrupted. That's why I prefer reading late at night.


No, this isn't going to be about some religious conversion. I just wanted to add to yesterday's blog that another benefit of the CPAP is that I haven't felt like dozing off in the middle of the day. There was a time that I thought I had become narcoleptic. I would be in the middle of something--like teaching--and, if there was a moment when I was not being active--say, listening to a student presentation or showing a video clip or sitting in a meeting and listening to the discussion on a topic I had brought up--I would nod off. On days off, I would find myself wanting to nap, even if I had slept in that morning.

On those days that I would complain about being too tired to do anything, folk, you have no idea how wound down I was feeling.

I only noticed yesterday, but I haven't even thought about taking a nap for about three days. And I haven't been sleeping excessively--just around 8 hours. before, I would sleep in and still feel unrested.

We'll see if this holds over when I go back to work, but I have a schedule next semester that should allow me to get to bed earlier.

So, if the people who make CPAP machines need an endorsement, I'm available.