Thursday, December 31, 2009

happy new year!!!

it would seem that new year's eve is an auspicious day to sum up the year just ending. furthermore, it is also the end of the first decade of the 21st century. for many of us all we can say to the outgoing year and the decade is good riddance. it's been pretty fucked up. you all have your reasons why and if you don't a quick glance at a newspaper [if anyone is still reading those antiquated formats of current events] or tv news broadcast will remind why these past few years have been hard.

and yet this decade brought us nicholas who was born in 2004. i also managed to publish three chapbooks and hope to publish one or two more in the coming year. it also brought me broadband where as a person ga ga over movies the ability to watch trailers and clips is to a film geek what an open bar is to a professional drunk. it, poetry and the internet, also brought me many friendships. i am a lucky man and poet.

clicking thru a few australian blogs i see that the world is not blinking out at the turn of the new year. i suppose i might be a bit premature and that 2012 is d-day for the end of days. no matter, one can never hedge his bets and to err on the cautious side and check to see if the world is at an end might seem a bit obsessive but hey i recall the fervor of y2k 10 years ago, and one never knows.

at any rate, i just cracked open my third sierra nevada celebration ale and raise it to you, and the new year. will it be a good year? if we have any influence than let's do what patrick stewart playing the captain of the enterprise, jean-luc picard, often commanded, 'make it so'.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

the man in the back row has a question

in the new year

who will wear the squirrel fur thong

red towel cape

cowboy hat

& sing the


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

hold on loosely

should the grip go slack
after a long night of slurping hard luck
on the rocks that one dim bulb
entertains the notion that what might equal this
will also be a measure of more than that
look into the abyss said the man
you might find your character
rather find another day another poem
another look in the mirror
watching the stranger watching you back
don't let go

Monday, December 28, 2009

the cold

not again. it feels like my cold, the one i had last month, is creeping back with a sore throat and a sour cough. gadzooks! enough of that shit. as samuel l. jackson said in the movie snakes on a plane [2006], 'i hate these motherfucking colds on this motherfucking train,' or something to that effect.

wonderful holiday. if you have a chance to see christmas even partly thru a five-year-old's eyes then do so. the world can be still a magical place.

watched a lot of movies. my brother and i saw avatar [2009] in 3d yesterday and i was just whelmed. the movie is visually spectacular but the movie felt a bit bloated and the set pieces were too slow to engage as stricly an action flick. mind you, i like much of james cameron's previous movies, and this film takes 3d to the first intensity, yet the pace of the pic and the obviousness of its message, noble as that message is, was a bit of a let-down. however, actor sam worthington is a pleasure to watch even if i've only seen him in this pic and the newest entry of an old cameron franchise which i shall call the dreadful movie-we-don't-speak-its-name. seriously, the man responsible for that turd, mcg, couldn't direct a soup spoon from the bowl to his own mouth.

james cameron is a very gifted movie-maker. there are powerful moments, to be sure, in avatar still it seemed like so much pulp. i'm in a list-making mood so here are in no order my favorite cameron flicks.

the terminator [1984]
oh for the glory days of the mom & pop video stores. our neighborhood shop was called the jazzbird, owned by a professional poker player who had invested some of his winnings in a large poker tournament and opened this video shop. i recall the owner also published a how-to-win-at-poker guidebook that he sold at the counter. the movies were kept behind the counter where the clerk would retrieve them for you. you chose your movies from racks, the same racks that were used to display and sell comic books. the sleeve of the video was put in laminated plastic and you took this sleeve to the counter. choices were made by the lurid artwork, especially so for genre movies. i recall my friends found the sleeve for this flick. nothing special about it and i didn't expect much from the movie itself. but wow man, did this movie blow our minds. dark, unrelenting and beautifully bleak cameron made a low-budget flick, with the help of fx wizard stan winston, look like a multi-million dollar epic. a real classic.

aliens [1986]
i can't recall when and where i saw this flick for the first time. i'm a bonafide hardcore original ridley scott alien [1979] freak. i can tell where i was when i saw the original for the first time. i can even tell you where i watched the teaser trailer for it that i think was released a year earlier. what i can't tell you was how i managed to catch the sequel and if i had reservations about making a sequel to a beloved film my reservations evaporated on the first reel. much of the fx, especially the military hardware created by cameron and co. for avatar was field tested in this outing. the marines here are a salty group and their weapons and equipment looks used and worse for wear which heightens the verisimilutude. cameron also achieves something like pure dread when we watch the aliens attack the marines from their video cameras mounted to their helmets. such a scene is a work of genius and a testament to cameron's power as a movie-maker.

the abyss [1989]
to me this is cameron's magnum opus, a work of art that manages to remain pulpy and still rises to metaphysics. this flick gets at what i think cameron is trying to achieve with avatar but with so-so success. aliens who are better in tune to the natural world and gives us humans an object lesson in humility and frailty, how were are all connected, are examined in this flick. the titular abyss contains mysteries which are in the end not so easily believed. yet the commanding roles of the domestic as portrayed by ed harris and mary elizabeth mastrantonio as estranged spouses and the cutting edge fx marry up to a gorgeous examination of our being. far out and so desperately familiar this flick is all that avatar is attempting to achieve but is unable to make the sounds for all the notes. the abyss hits all these notes so perfectly well.

as you can see i hold cameron in this highest regard. i can't wait for what his latest project might be. hell, it might even be in 3d. which is by the way a fantastic way to see movies and the technology for 3d is lightyears more advanced than it used to be. now i need to get out of this cold.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

happy christmas!

it's a trip that the holidays are in full swing. another year, another decade, and a new century is now going to measure itself, like a child going from 9 to 10-years-old, into the double-digits where it shall set and where it shall end too.

been busy doing family things and not had much time for much else. so here i want to wish you all a very merry christmas. that means you, you and yes you too. you all know who you are and even if you don't i mean you too.

down the nog, open the gifts and give your loved ones, your children, your lovers, husbands, wives, girlfriends and boyfriends and yourselves big fat hugs and kisses. cuz it is love that shall save us. i think. and if it doesn't then perhaps we don't deserve to go on.

we can't go on but we'll go on. just the same.

let there be a little peace.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

poetry : film

in the last post i said that movies are better than drugs, and sometimes better than sex. both are true. but better than those, better than movies even, at least for me, is poetry. i'm stumped in coming up with either a metaphor or simile in describing the awesomeness of verse. i'm serious. texts are like the movies if the cinema were more like hits of sex and lsd. and more so. the word made flesh indeed.

but we live in the digital age. poets are becoming filmmakers too. not that poets are running to hollywood, tho i'm sure there are a few screenwriters who also pen verse, and poets who have written the odd screenplay. i'm talking about cinema worked as if it were a piece of text. nothing new about this i suppose, brakhage was influenced by poetry and poets and worked his film like an experimental writer -- e.g. jackson mac low comes to mind.

however, digital technology, computers and software makes it possible anyone interested in making films to become a practicing movie-maker. the most recent example in commercial cinema is oren peli who took about 15 grand, 4 people, and his own house and created the terrific horror movie with what is probably one of the lamest titles ever paranormal activity.

even cheaper i would imagine to produce in terms of money is the work of french poet pierre alferi. now i'm no expert in alferi at all and have seen only the couple of his films available via the web. what i dig about alferi is how he takes already extant cinema, what i imagine is a kind of sampling with images, writes his texts as a quasi-narrative and heightens the emotional content with variety scores. i'm not sure if he does his own editing but i suspect he does, after all editing movies is like revision in texts.

there are poets who are doing things like what alferi is doing. linh dinh comes to mind. and nicholas manning's video poetics journal the continental review also features outstanding work. at any rate, i'm brand new to alferi's work so this ain't at all even a gloss on the poet's work. i am simply impressed with what the french poet has achieved with his filmmaking/writing.

below is a little clip of alferi presenting a film about lon chaney. alferi provides a kind of translation, and hence the presentation becomes a poetry reading. it is cut short but still a decent example of what alferi is up to.

Friday, December 18, 2009

what?! a decade already?

is that what happens as we get older, the days, weeks, months and years merge into a singular mass of time so that what seems like recent history happened maybe 20 years ago and what is a distant memory, or no memory at all, occured yesterday.

i recall watching tv news anchor peter jennings on for 24 hrs straight as we ushered in the year 2000. yep, seems like only yesterday. the worries over y2k are a dim memory, if that. the world got smaller with the spread of digital life but it also got meaner and here in the u.s. more aggressive, self-serving and maybe even a bit more sour.

still, we have the movies. films are better than drugs and sometimes even better than sex. the cinema can be mind-bending, jaw-dropping, argument-inducing, slack-jawed and dim, and sometimes all of the above in a single film. i'm not too keen on rating movies into minor and major categories. life doesn't necessarily always work in such binaries as that and my own liking for movies is as subjective as your liking of films.

nevertheless it is instructive to come up with a list of some of the movies of this past decade that some are now calling the naughty aughties. i'll post a few films at a time until the new year. none will be ranked but all on my list are films that have obsessed me and/or blown my mind in one way or another.

so without further ado here are a few of my favorite things.

ghost world [2001]
in a word, awesome. director terry zwigoff's adaptation of daniel clowes' graphic novel deftly mines the layers of complexity of this story of two girls and a sadsack collector of vintage jazz lps. what might seem a gold mine of cliched hipsterdom tropes instead is a beautiful rendition of discovering the necessity and futility of life. instead of all poses and horrid behavior the characters develop a deeper sense of their world. the ending is lovely and haunting and thora birch is a marvel to watch.

spirited away [2001]
strange, haunting, beautiful, hayao miyazaki's story of a little girl trapped in the spirit world is enough to make the strongest person weep with joy. this film is a visual feast and has been on constant rotation here at casa del lopez/bronson since we bought the dvd way back when. it's become a favorite of nicholas too.

28 days later [2002]
danny boyle's revisionist zombie feature is both a thrill ride and a caustic example of our own hubris. the rage virus is jump started when three well-meaning, it is assumed, animal-rights activists break into a research lab that uses chimps. the rest is all down-hill from there. the brilliance of boyle is to cast london as a deserted wasteland in every detail from the billboard of fliers appealing to lost loved ones to the videos of actual atrocities that we humans do to each other that kicks off the film. brilliant, scary and utterly depressing, at least with the original ending, in a good way.

well, that above does it for the list tonight. remember this is a highly subjective grouping and in no way do i say one movie is better or worse than any other film on the list. these are just a few movies of the past 10 years that have blown my mind.

stay tuned

'my god, it's full of stars'

it's difficult to convey gratitude because, i guess, being thankful is pretty unfashionable these days. maybe all days. i have my moments, we all do, what poet martin stannard calls 'fucking life' with its 'optimism and despair', and i have these moments where i am happy because i am alive.

e.g. nicholas turned five years old last saturday. yep, five years old! how's that for a kick-in-the-pants as his old man and his mother are continuously amazed that we made him and that his energy which exceeds a nuclear powerplant brings us at the same time utter joy and exhaustion.

nicholas received a small, portable telescope for his birthday. it's one of the things that the child had requested. last night it was relatively clear as some stars were poking thru the scrim of light cloud cover. so i put together the telescope and sighted a star that we looked at together. it was amazing. the light was bluish-grey and dimpled as the star, i'm not sure which star it was as i just pointed the scope at it and zeroed in till it became visible in the lens.

what a kick and utterly delightful as nicholas was jumping up and down pointing out the other points of light in the sky, including a passing helicopter. such is life in the big city. i settled in to my mere being who is conscious of the brevity of my own life and the lives of all i love and care for. not a big task at all but i am telling you that what i was feeling was gratitude to be given this gift.

nicholas said, there's so many stars. i told him there are billions upon billions. so many that our lives are made sweeter in the knowledge of them. our own minds are points of light too. poetry factors into this equation because for me poetry and the people who make poems are the rods that carry and focus these points. i am alive and conscious and verbal and the better ways to express and record this life is thru language uttered and written either in ink or pixels as poems. why not.

it reminds me of an old homily. i can't recall where and what context i first came into contact with it, i suppose i could google it but why bother, it works just the same. a captain is standing on the bridge of his ship. he sees either a wave, an iceberg, a torpedo, or even a giant whale, coming at the ship. the first mate says, we are going to be destroyed, what, captain, are you going to do. i think i shall praise it, says the captain.

the title of this post comes from a line in the movie 2010 [1984] which is a haunting line in an otherwise crappy sequel.

web tip of the week: retrocrush. fans of pop culture should get a kick out this zine. do go thru the archives where you'll be treated to articles about the worst album covers, cool cereal boxes, and even wealth of interviews with celebs past and present.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

fuck yeah

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

after eileen tabios

looking like a dope waiting for the light to change
after dark on k st all lit up like x-mas
everyone too lit up like it was friday night
looking like a dope me and my backpack
among the crowd there is one motherfucker
who stands so close to me we could be lovers
dude stank like chemicals
all lit up standing so close i think he's going for my pack

sure enough when the light changed i trot off
sling off my pack and see it's been opened
a bit and i reach in for a feel
nothing missing nothing the motherfucker
would think is worth much i gather

unless there's a black market in an empty lunch container
a book of poems and a moleskin heavily annotated
with drafts and notes for poems in a script
that appears for all the world like the handwriting
of someone suffering a psychotic trip

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

from the moleskin

a mission
--ain't it always a rough draft

2 days off work sick i return with a cough plosive
like an elephant gun
barely making it inside cesar chavez plaza
there's a queen who stops right there
legs akimbo head down staring
hard at the cracks in the concrete
then looks up at me as i pass and says good luck
in a deep voice
fair enough i think which might or might not mean a thing
but make it into this poem
and might also make it a good day

Sunday, December 13, 2009

the man in the back row has a question

perhaps 200 or 300 hundred years from now people will look back at our time as they suffer limited resources and scarcity

see that some of our problems were we had to rent storage space for all the shit we buy and that a leading cause of death was obesity because there was a super-abundance of food

do you think that they'll find that funny or become very pissed

Friday, December 11, 2009

winter music

some bands and musics reminds me of winter. at the moment, a cold rain is falling outside making the inside all cozy. i recall something anna told me when she took a horticulture class a couple years back. in california everything greens up in winter which makes winter in california, or at least my neck of it, like spring and summer on the east coast. it can get cold in california but not too cold. you probably won't freeze to death, i think.

and but then so this piece by sigur ros, from their album takk, which translates to thank you in english, is a winter song. i love this vid, how iceland in summer looks like winter in my part of the world and that family and children are prominent in the video. does that sound rather fuddy-duddy? well, as i'm a father i think that artists who celebrate, in various fashions, the family is a boon to art and to humanity. also, i've got a thing for iceland. i've never been there but somehow think of it as one of my spiritual homes.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

bueller? bueller?

had the day off which meant, hopefully, doing a lot of nothing. only got that partially accomplished. spent most of the day in the garden de-pooping [hugo is a large dog, and sophie, even tho she is a much smaller australian shepherd, can really produce] and removing leaves. trees sac has, in abundance and it seems all of the city's trees leaves find their way onto our front lawn and back garden. besides, a storm is expected by tonight and i wanted to get the leaves felled by the last storm out of the way to make room for the new batch of incoming leaves.

also spent some time reading what i can find online by new zealand poet bob orr. a few days ago i was reading the new zealand anthology big smoke. packed with historical data and poems of writers active between the years 1960 thru 1975 this tome is quite a compendium of some seriously good shit. i read the poems of orr and copied down these lines in my moleskin:

are nothing

I'm not interested
in moments of eternity

I'm here
I'm somewhere

the bio-notes for orr detail the fact that he had worked for 20 years on the docks in the waitemata harbour. i'm listening, sounds like a cool job, but i''m rather leery by what i remember reading the bio-notes for a british alt-poet from a long defunct lit journal that said the poet just finished a residency on a dock. i thought that the poet was being clever in the bio and took a blue-collar job because the poet needed the dough. but no, the british government was setting up poets with residencies with various industries as poet-in-residence of say airline pilots.

nothing wrong with that gig, but ugh. turns out orr is a pilot on the harbour. works, or used to work, up to 70 hours a week. whoa! if it seems i'm making too much of this poet's working life i must again state that i think poets should be doing all kinds of day jobs. and a poet who can work such a physically demanding job and write poems and publish and be overall a presence in contemporary new zealand poetry, man, color me impressed.

how's the dudes poetry? orr is a quiet voice but apparently a decent sort of chap according to this profile published in 2000, loyal to his friends and a hardworker both in poetry and his day job. i found myself lost in his texts, a good kind of lost, a few made me laugh outright. there's a touch of sadness and the daily working lives of both writers and people who make their living by their hands keep orr's lines taught.

i was so lost that perhaps if there was anyone around this afternoon between de-pooping and shuffling leaves they might not have recognized me. i was so gone that i could almost hear ben stein's voice from the film ferris bueller's day off [1986] calling out, bueller? bueller?

quote unquote

One this is certain: you're slowly rotting as you read this. I hope you understand that on the day that you were born the angels got together and found one big cosmic dick to fuck against you for the rest of your life.

--todd colby

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

sitting around doing nothing

the hounds deep in early afternoon sleep as i listen to internet radio
comfy in my chair it is cold out there

temp. at 6 am was 24 f. which according to urban legend is colder than a witch's tit

the cold torch of the sun and scrubbed blue sky
pieces of this and that

outside the window on the telephone line
reflected in my computer screen

the squirrel running to and fro

quote unquote

The Nazi death camps shoved a stark reality in my face. Walking around the site, with all these walking skeletons…half dead men and women, made a powerful impact. I saw the ovens, and I went into the room where they told people they were to be given showers, only to be gassed. I could almost hear them scream, see the agonized scratches on the walls, as they died. These impressions stay with me even today. Had I been afforded combat duty, I probably would have killed without pity. This has affected me as a man and a writer this way; I want to be able to use my words to benefit mankind. To show that love, instead of hate is the key to life. Who am I to declare all this? Still, I hope my voice means something. My experiences with poverty, tragedy, rough times, the Depression, has no doubt affected my writing.

--ed galing [from an interview with doug holder, from holder's poet ed galing: a poet of the greatest generation]

Sunday, December 06, 2009

perfect day

finally got a decent night's sleep and i'm here to testify that good rest does wonders for the soul. which got me round to thinking about the perfect day. not, i mean, the perfect day, but a good day when the mind is at ease and the spirit is free. when you might not be at you're best but you feel a million bucks and stress turns into an abstraction.

so then anyway, i just read two things on the net that are examples of perfect days. first, an interview with cormac mccarthy where he describes his perfect day as sitting down with a few blank pieces of paper.

and then there is alex gildzen's poem another day begins which sounds like a perfect day to me.

i enjoy travel. i've done a share of it. i look forward to doing more. but i'm happiest sitting still. not moving from one spot for hours on end. perhaps that is why i've never left sac, one can never escape the self, which is a reason i suspect people move around, no matter where you are. plus, i've long thought, way before the net and the concepts of globalization became ubiquitous, that i am a citizen of the world, so my provincialism is international in scope. if that's the case, why leave the town i was born in which it so happens is the place i hope to die.

a perfect day for me is sitting in my chair in my backroom with my laptop, a couple movies, and a few books. occasionally i'll jot something down in my moleskin or try to flesh a poem out on the laptop but why hurry a poem into the world when the world is already so populated with good texts. i can sit here for hours on hours. my favorite time is dark, like right now, with a storm soon expected to be a real gullywasher. when i get up i get up only to pee, or get something to eat or drink. that is heaven to me.

i've appropriated the line from thom gunn's poem 'on the move' from being 'one is nearer by not keeping still' and made it as 'one is nearer by keeping still' for my own mantra.

what then pray tell is your perfect day.

blog tip of the week: f.a. nettelbeck's sewing memory. nettelbeck's been around a long time publishing his texts and chaps in the small-press but he's relatively new to me. i'm glad he's a prolific blogger. nettelbeck's gritty imagery and tangy slang bring to mind other notable poets of the down and out such as bukowski and william wantling but nettelbeck's way is his own. an unapologetic chronicler of the seamier slices of u.s. life nettelbeck is also a visionary experimental poet and is an addicting read.

Friday, December 04, 2009

almost human

but feeling not quite. returned to work today which helped unfreeze my funny bone. this cold had turned me into one big grouch indeed. oh the horror! the horror! now if i could only stop the urge to hack a cough so hard it feels like my brain is about to launch thru my nose holes.

just the same, i felt well enough to sketch out a poem in my moleskin in bits and pieces thru out the day which made me feel good. the sketching out part, i mean, who knows about the poem.

the past couple days i've watched a few movies, the norwegian zombie nazi splatter platter dead snow and the peter weir helmed movie green card which was weir's introduction to mainstream u.s. moviegoers to crazily charismatic gerard depardieu, being my favorites.

also reading thru the archives of new zealand and australian zines such as hutt and cordite. a poet i think is wildly fantastic is joanne burns whom i've read for the first time in an issue of verse a couple years ago but hadn't noticed her poems were so abundant on the net. burns' texts, in a word, just simply pushes my buttons -- in a good way.

finally, what nearly cinched my feeling almost human was taking the mail down to the mail room. in the middle of the mail room, sitting on two large carts, were books on top of books. novels mostly, true crime, sci-fi, detective and so forth. i asked the security officer sitting nearby what's the deal with the books. he told me that instead of throwing these books away it was decided, by whom i don't know, to gather them up and let people have their pick, first come first serve.

piles and piles of books, oh my! i felt like charley in the great chocolate factory. most of the tomes were tom clancy and robert parker type thrillers. i like good pulp but saw very little in the ways of sleaze. then my eyes alighted on a paperback edition titled the a to z encyclopedia of serial killers. couldn't pass that up. set underneath that slab of dementia was a clean hard-back copy of portrait of a killer -- jack the ripper case closed by patricia cornwell, a real find. another glance at another stack and i spy a copy of the wretched of the earth by frantz fanon and i wondered who in their right minds would throw these books out?


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

all i have to do is dream

tonight i left the following comment on jean vengua's blog regarding terrible dreams.

i can't recall any terrible dreams. but i had an interesting one this afternoon. stayed home sick from work today. watched 1 full film and 2/3rds of another one this morning. then a light lunch before a nap. hit the pillows and out like a light. i awoke to the dogs barking at something. then fell right back to sleep. my dream was thus:

somewhere, a campus or a park, i see the oz poet john kinsella across the green. he's loaded down with some books. so am i. i run to catch up with as we've made eye contact and was set to introduce myself to him.

he says, hi rich. sorry for not talking to you sooner [i think in my dream we had both been at this same place for some time].

surprised that he knew my name and my poems. i see his famous shaggy coif of grey hair and noticed he hadn't shaved for a couple days.

i started in with a rush of words, about to ask him about his pacificism and veganism.

then the dogs' bark woke me again.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

hits of nyquil

after another long day at work and a bout with the seasonal cold going around i take a couple hits of nyquil to help me sleep and maybe quell my hacking cough and leaking nose

after all this and getting a slight buzz on i write a couple of emails and do so rather sloppily which thought maybe i shouldn't post anything tonight but simply veg out

i rented a couple of flicks terminator salvation that i know will most likely suck but want to see it anyhow and dead snow the norwegian splatter comedy about zombie nazi officers that i know i will in all probability like a lot

feeling rather down and exhausted i read this post by geof huth and listen to his homemade rant poem and i'm happy and feeling better than any hits of nyquil can cure

huth is all poet even when doing the dishes even while attending to the astringency of daily work and errands and shopping

huth's post is a medicine for my melancholy and makes me glad to be alive

now to get some sleep