Monday, October 31, 2011

today is halloween


Sunday, October 30, 2011

ah sunflower

we drove to monterey friday night, after we picked nick up from school, and listened to halloween satellite radio all the way there. it was a bit spooky what with the ambient noise, ghostly tales and goofy songs like 'purple people eater', but we made it to cannery row just fine. we were tired and ready for bed but i wanted to get the lay of the land so me and nick walked, after we checked in at the hotel, walked down the strip to the end of the street where the monterey bay aquarium sits. not much going on for a friday night. a couple of clubs open, a few dozen people hanging outside. the highlight was watching a mother sea otter and her young pup feed just a few feet away and below us from the hotel balcony.

the days were lovely. nick was in heaven at the splash zone at the aquarium, the area designed for kids young and old to touch and pet various sea creatures. there was a decorator crab, star fish, kelp, seaweeds of all sorts, bat rays and so on. nick even impressed a docent when she pointed out some barnacles and nick said, yep those are crustaceans. she asked nick, you are really six?

but it didn't feel like halloween. it felt more like a day at the beach. which it was. when we checked out of the hotel we drove a mile or so down the road to the city of pacific grove where there is a beach. a gorgeous beach full of swimmers, combers, divers, picnicers, families hanging out and so on. it was sunny and warm. we can see a fog start to roll in but that's probably because the weather was so warm. warm air hits the cool ocean and bingo, you got fog.

i ate too much. which is what your supposed to do at the beach, right. we have proof in the form of pictures of our adventures. the halloween feeling kicked in soon as we left the ocean. that light, that california light! especially in the fall. i tell you the 19th century impressionist and post-impressionist painters would have cum in their pants upon seeing such light.

we got home and i needed to go to the grocery store. sunflowers were for sale. i picked a bunch and brought them home to anna. tomorrow is halloween. the sunflowers sit on our dining room table. trick or treats begin in a few hours.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

every day is halloween

trick or treat!

stop me if you've heard this one before. we were living in san jose. i must've been about 5 or 6 years old. my father took me out trick or treating. i don't recall my costume. i do remember the neighborhood being decked out with a fair share of haunted houses. there were lots of kids on the loose. me, my father [who was holding my hand], and about 10 or so other kids approached a house. the house was dark. no lights. nothing going on. me and the other kids walked toward the front door. we got about 10 feet from the door. the door opened with a bang. what popped out of the door was unspeakable. a ghost! who let out this great roar! i -- we -- screeched back to the sidewalk. my father lost it, doubled up with laughter. the ghost took off the sheet it was wearing. standing before us was a young man. he held out pieces of candy like peace offerings. i gingerly approached the man's hand. i took the candy. i never forgot that night.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

every day is halloween

this is cool. last year the dude behind the blog scar stuff created this video that marries images from eerie publications comic books, which were all horror related comics, with a horror record manufactured and released by mail order by the johnson smith novelty company [1973]. just the thing a monster kid would send away for. so grab yourself a cool one, get a fistful of candy corn, then turn on, tune in and drop dead!


every day is halloween


i was not a regular viewer. in the past 20 plus years there have only been a fistful of tv shows that i'd set my watch to. and yet, there are shows about the paranormal, and there are shows about the paranormal. when the x-files hit the right notes it was very good. i just had a hard time buying into its paranoia and lacquered conspiracy theories. for me the creepiest thing about the show was its theme music and its intro. it looks cheaply made, like something an exploitation filmmaker would cook up. maybe that's why i like it so.

[click on the link above to watch the intro, hear the music and scare yourself silly]


theory of many worlds

as a parent of a 1st grader i am closer to acknowledging that the theory of many worlds as it is explained by a branch of theoretical quantum mechanics might indeed be a fact. many worlds posits that there are many universes, all run parallel to each other, without interaction between the universes. in this theory there are many me's, each to his own universe, and every decision i make, every corner i turn, every possibility i encounter, are all played out by one of the me's. for example, if i decide to call in sick at work one day there is another me in another universe that does not. if i have a close call while driving there is another me that dies as a result of the accident. and so on and so forth.

of course i'm simplifying. theoretical physics is way above my head. yet as a parent i am acutely that there are two parallel 'doms' that run simultaneously beside each other but do not cross over. those 'doms' are kiddom and adultdom. all adults experienced kiddom and all kids will grow into adultdom. as an adult we may remember what it was like to be in kiddom but it is an experience that we, as adults, tend to mollify and gloss over as we grow older.

stay with me. because today was the halloween carnival held at nick's school. for the parents the carnival was something where we took our children to play. it was, in short, a ho-hum affair. amusing, yes. fun, sure. it was nothing like what the children got out of it. for them there was dramas galore. great pleasures to be had, and disappointments to endure. the kids all had their own language. their own body movement. their own pecking orders.

i recall my own time in kiddom, but i do not recall it as acutely as when i was watching these kids behave as if there were no adults present. it was a society unto itself. hard to explain unless you are a social scientist, i suppose, but ripe for observation and comment. kiddom is quite unlike adultdom. kiddom is not unlike the theory of many worlds because rarely do kiddom and adultdom meet. unless it is in fiction.

not that i felt the odd man out. i did notice that the kids would acknowledge my being among them. but that acknowledgement was brief and usually done for a purpose, such as being asked if i was standing in a line for an activity they also wanted to do. i am not saying that kids and adults do not interact. of course they do. nick and i had a blast at the carnival. however, kids left to themselves became another thing, another society. it was strange to witness. and thrilling too. i can recall, some of it, the language of kiddom especially when i am thrust into kiddom such as at an event like today's carnival. yet when i think of that kid i once was my memories become fuzzy and vague. like as if i were once a character in a film that i can only recall by watching a few frames without any sound. i do remember reading the script. i just don't remember quite the content. i'm not talking about the cliche being young at heart, or missing my youth. not at all. i mean the parallel world of kiddom. all i can say is that i was there. once. a long time ago.

Monday, October 24, 2011

seriously / chill

few beers
with another poet

says, nope
can't abide sourness

or dour
poets who pontificate

open wounds
their wounded pain

you get
up to read

you get
up to write

is and
is not such

big deal
enjoy your life

Sunday, October 23, 2011

every day is halloween


let us now talk about zombies, and their staying power. if you guessed i'm a fan of the television show the walking dead give yourself a cigar. as i type this currently playing on amc is george a. romero's diary of the dead [2007] a critique of our media culture. that's maybe why 40 plus years after romero's groundbreaking masterpiece, night of the living dead [1968], zombies are a foil protean enough to translate and critique whatever socio-economic climates we create. when we watch a zombie flick we are watching ourselves, the collective at its most primal and base. perhaps maybe it's only that i have eyes for zombies because they are a favorite trope of mine. give me post-apocalyptic cinema any day. throw in some undead flesh-eaters, and survivors navigating thru the madness of an inverted world and i'm a happy guy. maybe zombies are still around because there are enough geeks like me who love them. perhaps it's because it is a week before halloween that zombies seem to be every where. perhaps it's because of a load of issues such as the fucked-up environment, economies in the tank, a rising cri de coeur of the populace fed up with the status quo, and a population that is reported to reach 7 billion by halloween.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

every day is halloween

scary music

there are the standards, like horror movie themes, and there are the horror bands like the misfits and zombina and the skeletones, and there are the novelty songs such as 'monster mash' by bobby 'boris' picket, and there is dark ambient electronica which is indeed some seriously scary sounding shit. but every now and then comes a band that is just plain freaky weird and scary, but in a good way.

pittsburgh's electronica band black moth super rainbow is such a plain ass freaky weird and scary, but in a good way. bmsr's music sounds quite a lot like the psychedelic groups from the '60s with a heavy emphasis on love and harmony. their imagery is fairly surreal, for example a song title from their album dandelion gum goes like this, 'jump in my mouth and breathe the stardust'.

not all of bmsr's sound is so touchy feely. below is the video to their song 'born on a day the sun didn't rise'. the sound matches the crazy, fucked up imagery of the video. watch it and you'll see what i mean. it's not for the faint of heart. great for halloween. even the great pumpkin upon seeing this video might shrivel up in fright.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

best piece of advice i've received

the best peace of advice i got was from an elderly poet. it was one of my very first readings in public, i was 21 i think, and nervous as hell. i thought back then that poetry most be raw and painful, an exercise in exposing the most humiliating parts of your life. i was young and dumb and stumbled thru the reading and was very apologetic about it all.

the older poet said to me, when i stepped back to the table after reading, she said, never apologize.

never hem and haw. get to it. and don't be such an agoniste.

i've learned that poems may be part of expression they are not always self-expression and they are not always a laboratory for examining the shallow pools of personal pain.

never apologize for poetry.

never apologize for being a poet.

just be.

[from a comment i posted at jim knowle's blog]

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


i've got the 21st century blues

* * *

each to one their own digitize

* * *

01 10 001 10001

* * *

go to the mall and step on to some sci-fi movie set

* * *

soon it's 2012 and i still don't have a jetpack

* * *

tho there are bills to be paid house to be maintained work to go to

* * *

captain kirk would represent

* * *

make mine a medicine for every kind of melancholy

* * *

even my dog takes prozac

Monday, October 17, 2011

every day is halloween

horror novels

i still read them. once upon a time i was a voracious consumer of horror fiction. and once upon a time bookstores had sections devoted to horror. i'm here to testify to their thrilling appeal and their lurid cover art. boobs, blood, gore and monsters galore! everything a teenage boy needs and wants.

even when i started reading poetry horror fiction was prominent in my reading life. i was balls out for stephen king. i discovered clive barker's seminal short stories collected in a series of paperbacks titled the books of blood. women writers like tanith lee and melanie tem were important voices in horror. i inhaled h.p. lovecraft and old pulp dudes like seabury quinn. there was also ramsey campbell whose elegant fiction belied its nastiness. there were also experimental writers like steve rasnic tem whose fiction was not bloody or gory but weird and disturbing.

perhaps the 1980s was a mini-golden age for printed horror. i recall anthologies of short stories published in abundance. i lost or gave away many of these old paperbacks. i've kept two, the best of masques ed. by j.n. williamson [berkley horror, 1988] filled with masters such as robert bloch [author of the novel psycho which was later adapted by hitchcock], and ray bradbury. the second anthology is night visions: in the blood ed. by alan ryan [berkley books, 1988], a three author series. the writers are charles l. grant, tanith lee and steve rasnic tem. i think i kept these two paperbacks because they are the only books i have with the fiction of tem who i think is quite a good writer.

i'm sure a few more examples of my horror book collection are tucked away in boxes here and there. i don't read as much horror fiction as i did. in fact i hadn't read a horror novel in many, many years until about five years ago when i picked up a paperback by brian keene. keene's a real gut-munching crazy whose prose reads like an exploitation movie. keene reinvigorated the zombie genre in horror fiction with novels such as the rising, city of the dead and dead sea. keene's fiction is fast-paced, gory and addictive.

another recent, for me, discovery is richard laymon who passed away 10 years ago, i think. laymon's fiction is the equivalent of drive-in horror movies. his prose is not as fast but is pretty twisted and damn well bloody. i've read only a couple of laymon's novels cuts and the cellar and they are an acquired taste.

it's a different age. laymon's and keene's publisher, leisure books, gave up the ghost a year ago. they no longer publish cheap paperbacks but have moved into print on demand and e-publishing. the age of pulp fiction, at least fiction printed on pulp, is over. bookstores still carry horror novels and short stories but now they are usually crowded in with fantasy and sci-fi or even tucked onto general fiction shelves. rarely is horror given its own shelf space. still, the internet has been a boon for some horror writers who have gone the route of self-publishing their fiction.

and yet, i miss the bookstore stacks where weird works were to be had for those stupid enough, and brave enough to seek them. i was -- i am -- just that idiot who loves a good lurid cover and a cheap, fast read. just a few nights ago i remember a piece of this dream. i was in a bookstore with a poet friend -- i don't know quite who -- and found a delicious cache of pulp novels. i bought one and said to my friend as i brought the book to my nose so i can smell the paper and print that i love these exploitation novels. here hold it, i said. you can feel the weight of it in your hands.


Thursday, October 13, 2011


sitting quietly doing nothing nick said

daddy, i know we can't be in tomorrow

we can't be in yesterday

we can be only in today

* * *

slamming down two cups of rocket fuel

i'm out the door going to work

six blocks in i really had to piss

each step a torture

only 26 more blocks to go

* * *

the steps turned into one long step

thinking of the future when i can hit the bathroom

time turned inward

i looked out amazed

* * *

yes nick i said

we can only be in the present

we can think about tomorrow

plan for tomorrow

we can remember yesterday

we can be in only today

* * *

the slow need of the bladder

becomes a metronome

marking time of the just now

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

every day is halloween

resident evil [2002]

i haven't forgotten to watch some shitty movies for the pumpkin season. this flick fits in just fine. for it is quite a shitty movie. i'm not a video game player so i'm totally unfamiliar with the source material here -- it is based on a video game, duh -- but the pic stars gorgeous milla jovovich, who is just simply watchable in whatever drivel she's cast so how bad can it be?

i can't tell you about the plot. i couldn't bear it. it's not all bad. it's entertaining in a grade-z kinda way. i won't spoil you on what little plot the filmmakers eventually propped their filmmaking conceits. however, on the strength of this flick the series became a franchise and there are now -- what? -- 5 or 6 resident evil movies. they all star jovovich and that is the only reason to waste a few precious hours out of your life, hours you will never see again, hours you can never get back, to watch.

ostensibly the movie is about zombies that are created by an evil corporation [are there any other kind?]. jovovich can kick some serious zombie butt. the electronic score is pretty good too. while the movie is effectively lit using muted tones and the editing does a serviceable job of sequencing the action scenes.

the direction is a bit slack. and character development? you must be kidding. i've seen jovovich in a few movies now and i honestly can't answer the question: can she act? she can hold a scene by her sheer presence. she does very well in the action department. but demonstrating honest human emotions. i'm at a loss.

doesn't matter. i count myself a fan of hers. even in such schlock as this. the only frightening thing about this movie is. . .ah no. there's nothing frightening about this movie. proceed at your own risk.


Monday, October 10, 2011

blatant localism

every day is halloween

we were driving to wheatland yesterday. to bishop's pumpkin farm for our yearly fall ritual of going to the pumpkin patch. nothing prettier to the eye than fields upon fields of pumpkins. and tho i've been a nut for all things halloween all my life it wasn't until the birth of nick that we started our ritual of the pumpkin patch.

why would we without nick? after all pumpkin patches are really designed with children in mind. there is nothing frightening, or gory, at bishop's. there is nothing that goes bump in the night. i do think spending an evening in a pumpkin patch might be a little spooky given the right atmosphere. if and but bishop's pumpkin farm is loaded with activities for the kids, places to eat, fresh pumpkin pies to be relished and loads of those kinds of kitschy crafts that one tends to find for sale at seasonal places like this.

still it was fun. we met b. and s. and their kid and the kids had a blast. there was even a band that played surf music cover songs that i thought were quite good. the kids agreed because they were seriously shaking their groove things much to the delight of the lead guitarist who often joined the kids in the crowd to shake his groove thing.

pumpkins, indeed. we bought a peck of them. it was a delightful day thru out. wheatland is a small, farming community about 45 minutes outside of sac. there is a whole lot of fields and little else out there. at the end of the day we were tired, dusty and laden with all things pumpkin-y. nick was still going strong. anna and i were ready for a nap.


quote unquote

halloween is life

--alex gildzen

Friday, October 07, 2011


it was a day of protest

leaving work OCCUPY SACRAMENTO surround the building

no one is in there

* * *

the tents are set

the media center too

what will become of this

* * *

oh my big hippie soul

quote unquote

The moon of leisure circles the planet Work
with its mass and weight. --That's how they want it.
When we are on the way home the ground pricks up its ears.
The underground listens to us via the grass-blades.

* * *

Even in this working day there is a private calm.
As in a smoky inland area where a canal flows:
THE BOAT appears unexpectedly in the traffic
or glides out behind the factory, a white vagabond.

--tomas transtromer (from On the Outskirts of Work)

* * *

congratulations maestro transtromer. your poems have nourished and sustained me for a long time and they remain a luminous presence in my life. thank you.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

every day is halloween

a big part of the allure of the scary season is the telling of frightening tales. whether it be in movies, books or song we love that thrilling sensation of gooseflesh as we terrorize ourselves with our imaginations. sometimes these scary stories are presented as allegories. often they are only just pieces of whimsy. but sometimes the stories we scare the hell out of ourselves are cautionary tales.

the collection of children's tales titled shock-headed peter [der struwwelpeter] written by heinrich hoffman and published in 1845 is a book of the damnedest stories ever read to kids to get them to behave. the book was reprinted all the way into the 20th century. my copy dates to 1954. i hope parents don't use these stories as cautionary tales for children because they will scar the tots for life!

for example there is a story titled the story of the thumb-sucker. the kid in the tale is warned by his parents that if he doesn't stop sucking his thumb a tailor will sneak into his room and cut off his thumbs. guess what happens next! that's right. the kid's thumbs are cut off with large shears, all bloodily illustrated, because he can't stop himself from sucking his digits.

yikes. oh the world was different a 100 plus years ago. we don't scare are kids straight anymore do we? no need to answer. every age has their boogeymen, and women. however, this book is for the adult who might have a macabre sense of humor.

there are a few of us around. even the neo-cabaret trio the tiger lilies adapted shock-headed peter into a suite of songs. below is the band performing the dreadful story of harriet and the matches.


Monday, October 03, 2011

every day is halloween

i am a child of the 1970s. that era of macrame, disco balls, polyster, mutton chops and bad hair. it was also a time for the paranormal to creep in to pop culture. as a kid i soaked up that shit like a sponge. as an adult i should know better but i do love a good ghost story, ufo sighting and bigfoot lore.

particularly bigfoot. growing up we did a lot of camping in the sierra nevada mountains. every time we camped i kept my eye out for bigfoot, and my ears open and my nose trained toward catching anything stinky that was out of the ordinary. it is alleged that bigfoot stinks rather awful.

of course i never saw bigfoot or what might approximate any evidence of the existence of bigfoot. that hasn't stopped me looking. i still look. each time we drive to lake tahoe i am looking out of the corner of my eye for some large mammal that doesn't have a drink in its hand and is not pissed at losing in the casinos.

the most famous, er infamous, evidence of bigfoot is the patterson/gimlin film shot in 1967 in oregon. the film is fascinating to watch and there are many defenders today as there are detractors. i've watched many documentaries on television that keep this bit of film alive.

all the same, whether real or no it makes for interesting viewing during the scary season. it is the folklore of cryptids that hold my attention. the shaky cam, the grain of the film, the focus both blurry and clear. when we watch this film we are staring at ourselves. whether man or beast we do scare ourselves with our own desert places.


Sunday, October 02, 2011

whitman never pictured this

i've been haunted by news and pics of occupy wall st.
i hope it is the seed of structural change
and not something that burns out and fades away.

when i told friends about these protests
they were surprised because they've not
heard or read anything about them in either
the newspapers or television.

that might be changing now.
for the better?
or worse?

the 21st century is beginning to find
its identity even if we can't step back
and see what it might become.

when i look at these photos
of the protests and the police
barricading and guarding the statue of the bull

o wit! o fancy!
i think of a poem by the post-war polish poet
ryzsard krynicki

from a window

The soldiers kill
boredom; they have brown shoes
and to the mute question "What did you do,
when they ordered you to shoot defenseless people?"
they have the mute answer: "I was lucky,
I was just guarding the TV transmitter."

[translated by clare cavanagh and stanislaw baranczak]

'the blood of october lay leaved on the ground'

except for sac, because the trees really don't lose their leaves until november/december. what matter! i love october. it is our favorite month. anna and i will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary this month. we met in early october and that anniversary stands strong at 19 years. the weather can't be any more gorgeous. we drove up into the hills, apple hill, a collection of farms and apple growers located above placerville, today. it is an annual fall rite around these parts. we had a blast and i am still full from that huge hunk of sour cream apple pie. there were horse rides and hay bale mazes and pumpkins bought and roasted pumpkin seeds consumed. nicholas found a new friend too, a little plush toy hamster with a halloween witch's hat that he named cuddles and took with him to see every farm we visited. halloween is just up around the bend. houses and stores are appropriately decorated too. i look around and take a deep breath and i am damn glad for these gifts.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

ballad of the ok grey poet

perhaps a touch of grecian formula?