Ptarmigan

a grouse with completely feathered feet

4/29/2005

To the architects and denziens of Foetry.com: y'all do realize, don't you, that for all of your gasbassing and bloviating and paranoiac snipping for more than a year, the three Future Stars comics by Jim Behrle (here, here, and here)--made from stickers--have been 100 times more of a devastating a critique on the "Official Verse Culture" that you (allegedly) despise.

So shine on you crazy diamonds, I guess.

4/28/2005

In the obsolete technology dept.--do you remember in the mid-90s when massive CD-changer stereo systems were all the rage? 100 CD changers! 300 CD changers! Holy shit how high could it go!?!? It was kind of like a Babbage Engine form of the iPod. I just checked on some prices and, although this probably isn't definitive, a 300 CD changer is now cheaper (i.e., less desirable) than an iPod.

4/27/2005

Blogger, why are you so touchy today?Anyway, speaking of the GameCube, I rented SoulCalibur II last night, a highly regarded fighting game. Nothing too cerebral, good for some button mashing and the like. It's always interesting how even single-player games in our household are communal affairs. Kristin is really really good with puzzles, and I'm...not. When she's playing say Metroid or Paper Mario, I'd like to think that I give at times some good stategery. Either case, I easily think of it as both of us playing at the same time, no matter who has the actual controls. Anyway, that's just backdrop. When I loaded SoulCalibur, it slowly dawned on Kristin just what type of game we were dealing with here--almost zero narrative, bad voiceovers, pure 75-combo combat baby. Like this:



Aww yeah. At any rate. "This is it?" she kept saying. "This is the game?" "Yeah, it's a combat game." She sighed. Still, Kristin and I started to spar in the game with a series of different characters. After a few times, when she started to get the controls down--lo and behold--she completely kicked my ass ten times in a row. I mean, she was really good. "Hey this game isn't so bad!" she said, after the eighth or ninth time. So beware! (and those of you who have played Mafia with Kristin know this well): it's just like that Eric Clapton song about playing pool in that movie with Paul Newman and Tom Cruise about playing pool--there'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

4/26/2005

We don't have a Nintendo DS (though we have a GameCube)--but PacPix looks pretty freaking cool, and very meta:

"One day a mischievous wizard came up with a mysterious invention called "Ghost Ink." When something is drawn using this ink, it turns into a Ghost. These ghostly tricksters would then jump into pictures and books, to pull pranks and cause havoc around the world. Our hero, Pac-Man, has taken his mighty Magic Pen – the only weapon that can defeat these Ghosts, and locked all the Ghosts inside a book. But before he could turn the Ghosts back into the Ghost Ink, he was also captured within the book! You must now take over Pac-Man’s quest to defeat the mischievous Ghosts. Use the stylus to draw Pac-Man, control his movements to eat up all the Ghosts on the screen. Travel from the lower to the upper screen to collect items and accumulate points. Can you bring peace and quiet back to the world with the Magic Pen?"

Here is a screenshot:

4/25/2005

Browsing a poetry section over the weekend, coming across the collected poems of Richard Wilbur, misreading the cover as saying The Collected Poems of Richard Wilbur: 1643-2004..

4/22/2005

I posted a slightly longer version of this comment in regards to Ron Silliman's post about contests and Foetry. I still don't buy the notion that entering a contest is the same in terms of monetary investment as going to a writing conference or MFA program. The former is by definition, except for one person, throwing money into a black hole. The latter two examples are engagements with people, not an often-rigged game of "$2000 Pyramid".

I guess what bothers me most isn't the larger high-octane contests--those are tied to a mostly bankrupt value system in regards to poetry's place in the world anyway, so whatever. Rather, it's the smaller and more experiental poetry presses--that allegedly are part of a project of a critique of capital and exploring the transgressive realities that poetry can construct in the world--that fall into offering contests and payouts that galls me. "Let's have it both ways! And let's take money from ephebes to subsidize our EXPERIMENTAL VISION!" Doesn't work that way. Or it ought not to, at least, esp. when revolutions in digital printing have lowered costs and raised access everywhere. There are some "post-avant" poets and presses of my generation who fall into this with astounding alacrity and glee--this, I think, is the major question in terms of poetic production that we are dealing with in our generation. And there have been some great solutions (e.g., Ugly Duckling Presse's trapezoidal books).

4/20/2005

Because the (unseen) (leisure) class lines in poetry still run pretty deep.

It really really sucks that Foetry.com was such a misguided failure. Contests are still a shitty way to subsidize faux-poor poetry presses.

After 3 posts yesterday--whew! I'm tuckered.

4/19/2005

Dave Truesdale has another rantreview at Tangent that would be only slightly less comprehensible to me if it were written in Manx Gaelic. It's really, really not worth reading. It's funny--after his first rant about feminism on the new Tangent site, it got a pique of interest from people--BUT mostly in a kind of nostalgiac way, "there's Dave, oh, I remember him, up to his old tricks again!" Now, after that one-trick pony recussitation, no one gives a fuck. As it should be.

The vast, vast majority of people stumbling 'pon my site are looking for information about ptarmigans. So here it is:

The State Bird of Alaska.

More of 'em.

OK, now I have some facts:

1st, don't eat ptarmigans. They are nice and besides when did they ever hurt you?

The Sea Ptarmigan was a Dutch cutter that ran aground in Duluth-Superior in 1884, and it carried explosives!

The Sea Ptarmigan was also the name of a famous play.

Owls eat ptarmigans and that's just not cool.

St. Trebuchet is the patron saint of ptarmigans.

More later?

Growing up Catholic, devoutly, going to 12 years of Catholic school and still remaining semi-devout for 4 years after that, all I have to say about the selection of this new pope is that--I'm glad I got out while I did.

4/18/2005

It's 80 degrees outside.

It won't last long.

I'm thinking about moving this blog to the taverners-koans.com server and perhaps using WordPress. (1) Blogger server touch-and-go-ness, (2) categories for my nearly completely scattegorical posts, (3) it would be free b/c I already have more than enough server space than I can shake a stick at, (4) tons o' WordPress plugin and opensource goodness. So I'm thinking about it.

Still thinking...

In Timberwolves news, the dark and secret heart of the team's demise is actually...Kevin McHale! How he skated past the Joe Smith debacle with a job and reputation intact (remember, he had to leave the team for an entire season!) is beyond me. Unfortunately, he's bulletproof in this state.

4/15/2005

I've been reading The Etched City by KJ Bishop at long last--and while I'm not nearly finished with it, I really love it so far. It also does some really cool things from an aesthetic standpoint that I was talking about in this post a little while back. (Mild spoilers ahead, I guess.). In a way, the book is an anti-Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. (Disclaimer: I love those stories too!) What seems like the beginnings of a "buddy" novel is anything but, as Raule and Gwynn split up and only occasionally cross paths in the town of Ashamoil. But, while that might not happen a lot in fantasy novels, it happens in real life all the time. E.g., like the best high-school buddies who go to college together, thinking it will be the best 4 years evar, who even room together, who after 3 months are barely speaking to each other. The Etched City so far (who knows, they might reunite) is a gentle deconstruction of expectations of what a fantasy novel should be and do. It willingly goes off the tracks into deeper territory.

I've been listening a lot lately to Blur's Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993) and--I can't believe I'm saying this--but I think it's their best album. Better than Parklife even. The guitar-work is just insane.

4/13/2005

It's my great pleasure to list here the TOC for Rabid Transit #4 (as yet unnamed!). In alphabetical order:

Terminós, by Dean Francis Alfar
PICK, I am, I am., by James Allison
Fragments, by Matthew Cheney
The Sky Green Box, by Rudi Dornemann
Ballerina, Ballerina, by Eric Rickstad
The Sign in the Window, by Vandana Singh

Pleased as punch about this TOC, and we hope you will be too.

If you haven't gotten copies of one or more of the previous chapbooks in the Rabid Transit series, check them out.. You can get all 3 for $14 with free shipping and all.

4/12/2005

If this was done by human hands... this asshole needs to go down.

4/11/2005

So my wife will laugh at this, and she has every right to, since I've said "I'm done!" with this long poem more than a couple times in the past. And then after a couple of weeks the poem would keep...growing. But this is it. The Stations is at last done. 117 pages of a speculative poem, done. Well, I'm done with the first draft at least, the shape it's going to take for the most part. (OK, so that's hedging my bets a little? But the 2nd draft is one of consolidation/revision, rather than slapping words onto pages). It took me a while to figure out, and then fill in, the structure. 27 poem-ish "stations" and 9 prose-ish "voyages." So here is the TOC (for now!!!) of the different sections:


I Station of Particula

II Jackal-Insect Cosmological Research Station

III Mysterious Station

1 A Brief, Compensatory Voyage

IV Venison’s Logos Station

V Treasure Tower Station

VI Station of Welfare’s Winch

2 Voyage (No Fuel Until Instant Wakes from Repose)

VII Or Ore Fetch Station

VIII Walleye Station

IX Station of Euphonic Kites (Simulation)

3 Voyage Inside a Cave Painting Depicting a Giant Elk Shoved Off an Asteroid

X Punt Esau Station

XI Station of the Greavemaker

XII Open-Aired Station Resembling an Advanced Touch-Type Institute

XIII Station of the Eighteen Fortresses

4 Voyage through Dead Project Pressures

XIV Modest Subterranean Station

XV Station of Imaginary Civilians

XVI Oolong Jayhawk Station

5 Voyage (Best Nomad Wins)

XVII Station of Friendly Confines

XVIII StationCon (Home of the Nightly “Dance of the Werewolf”)

6 Pointless Voyage

XIX poststation

XX Instant Aspirant Breakdown Station

XXI Gnomic Avalanche Station

7 Voyage (Feverfew Trade Route)

XXII Station of the Untoward River Jongleurs

XXIII ? Station

XXIV Smelly Station

8 Ruined Convoy Voyage

XXV Launched Half-Mammal Station Preserve

XXVI Shameless Station

9 Aphoria Rout Voyage

XXVII Plaindwelling Station to the Lector’s Left; or, a Jewel

________________

So, I think I'm going to take a...breather with this one for awhile. Maybe I'll post a section or two of the more-or-less finished pieces on the blog? At some point?

Ron Silliman has a great post about the School of Quietude in poetry, its development and its roots in early American literary history. And, again, Poe pops up as a pivotal figure here, as he does for both science fiction and mysteries.

I don't think are so clearly cut and dried though. I was reading Randall Jarrell's Poetry and the Age this weekend. I guess it's a good sign of criticism that Jarrell actually made me want to read ROBERT FROST. Well, going back to some of his more obscure work. Speaking of obscure work, and the hand-wringing about obscurity (and this goes for SF/F too), there's this great quote:

"One judges an age, just as one judges a poet, by its best poems--after all, most of the others have disappeared; when posterity hears that our poems are obscure, it will smile indifferently--just as we do when we are told that the Victorians were sentimental, the Romantics extravagant, the Augustans conventional, the metaphysicals conceited, and the Elizabethans bombastic--and go back to its (and our) reading..."

And this brilliant quote from Proust:

"All that we can say is that everything is arranged in this life as though we entered it carrying the burden of obligations contracted in a former life; there is no reason inherent in the conditions of life on this earth that can make us consider ourselves obliged to do good, to be fastidious, to be polite even, nor make the talented artist consider himself obliged to begin over again a score of times a piece of work the admiration aroused by which will matter little to his body devoured by worms, like the patch of yellow wall painted with so much knowledge and skill by an artist who must forever remain unknown and is barely identified under the name Vermeer. All these obligations which have not their sanction in our present life seem to belong to a different world, founded upon kindness, scrupulosity, self-sacrifice, a world entirely different from this, which we leave in order to be born into this world, before perhaps returning to the other to live once again beneath the sway of those unknown laws which we have obeyed because we bore their precepts in our hearts, knowing not whose hand had traced them there--those laws to which every profound work of the intellect brings us nearer and which are invisible only--and still!--to fools."

4/06/2005

Don't look now but I've entered into this discussion. Ben, Ted, David, Susan et. al. are far more smart and articulate than I am on these matters but it's fun to at least take a gander on it.