Sunday, November 30, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Thank you for your interest in a Creative Writer/Editor position with Hallmark Cards.
This sounds like they're taking me seriously. It's obviously a form letter.
All writing roles at Hallmark are full time and are at our headquarters in Kansas City, MO.
This takes care of whatever sincere interest I had. I don't want to have to keep explaining to people that I don't live in the "Kansas City" Kansas City. But let's just read on a little bit...
To evaluate your writing style, we would like for you to complete a short writing assignment (attached).
So I now have a page worth of sentimental writing prompts, the results of which I will post here at the estimated rate of one per week. My goal here is not to land the job.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Sam and I traded off poems for an hour, with Kevin doing a two-poem spotlight in the middle. I opened with "Meat Joke," we broke in the middle for Kevin, and then Sam opened back up with a poem called "Psalm" about street preachers, and I closed with my "serious poem," which concerns a friend of mine who wanted to kill herself, but the end of the poem is uplifting I think.
This is going to be a really good tour. Sam and I feel that we balance each other out very well. He does very intense confessional work, and I'm usually ironic and/or goofy (except when I'm begging my friend to keep on living).
Most of the time, I feel like humor and irony are the most effective tools for expressing my thoughts on depression and media and other socio-political topics. But other times I feel like I'm locked in a room with a polar bear with earmuffs and a deer with two eyepatches and two talking muffins and a sunburned zebra, and we all just want out.
But then I write another poem about dinosaurs. It's just what happens, and I'm becoming more and more okay with it.
Anyway, I ended up staying at Hampshire for about three days. On one hand, going to bars and shooting billiards with Sam, Charley, and Kevin (can't find him either for some reason) was an extremely good time. On the other hand, this is my idea of a self-destructive day: waking up hungover, drinking a cup of black coffee, going on a long car ride to comic book shop (even if Adam Stone is there watching The Muppet Show), eating greasy Chinese food and drinking a Dr. Pepper, showering and rushing off (into the cold cold night) to perform poetry with your slam team at Emerson to open up the room for Jared Paul.
My body felt like one of those Mech Warriors, and my brain was this stupid kid who just barely knew how to work the controls, and my friend who owns the game was like, "You're doing it wrong! Give me the controller!" But I just wanted to finish the game and go home. Which is what I finally did, and now I'm all well-rested, which I'm enjoying a lot. The road is going to be interesting...
Saturday, November 22, 2008
The Emerson Poetry Project on December 1st for example. About that show: no, we still don't know where it's going to take place, but! I've decided to have a special limited edition "EPP EP" ready. My album is/will be called Soy Replacer, and there are already seven tracks in the works that will be done and on a disc by then. What will happen is that you will give me $3 and in return I will give you a CD in an intricately folded piece of paper with the track listing on it and before I give it to you I will draw a picture on the front, special and just for you.
I feel really good about these recordings. They may be my best accomplishment of my life so far, which isn't saying that much, but still.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Three tracks are done, and you can listen to two of them here. There's a fourth track that's almost done, which is the one about Batman that I was talking about. I need two people, preferably women (not to be sexist, but, you know, women's voices usually sound different, and that's the sound I need) to do backup vocals. It's a pretty simple part, which I prerecorded in a model track. If you'd like to help me out on this, let me know. We could do it before Cantab or EPP or something.
Monday, November 17, 2008
These are all the shows we have so far:
November 22: Basement show at Kevin's house in Northampton
(doors at 7:30, show at 8:00; 12 Union Street, Northhampton, MA)
December 1: Emerson Poetry Project, Boston, MA
(same night as the "prom slam," in which slammers perform the lyrics of pop songs; time and location TBA.)
December 6: Sam's Living Room at Hampshire, Amherst, MA
(tentative; door at 7:00, show at 7:30; Enfield, mod 57, 893 West Street.)
December 9: Gotpoetry Live, Providence, RI
(doors at 7:30, show at 8; 300 Thayer Street.)
December 11: LoserSlam at Inkwell, Long Branch, NJ
(show at 9, suggested $5 donation; 665 Second Avenue.)
December 12: The Bridge Café, Manchester, NH
(show at 7, $3; 1117 Elm Street.)
December 16: Port Veritas at North Star Café, Portland, ME
(show at 7; 225 Congress Street.)
December 18: The Ship, Worcester, MA
(show at 8; 1 Millbury Street.)
December 21: Worcester Poets Asylum, Worcester, MA
(doors at 5:30, show at 6; 335 Chandler Street.)
January 3: The Mercury Café, Denver, CO
(showtime TBA; 2199 California Street.)
January 4: Denver Youth Slam Workshop, Denver, CO
January 5: Pretty Boys School For Public Speaking, Denver, CO
(show at 7; 17th and Wazee.)
January 11: The Green Mill Uptown Poetry Slam, Chicago, IL
(showtime TBA; 4802 North Broadway Avenue.)
January 13: Safe Smiles at The Trace, Chicago, IL
(show at 10, $3; 3714 North Clark Street.)
January 30: Philadelphia, PA
February 10: Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
(show at 9; 415 South Street.)
There might be a gig in Indiana too, and after all of this, we'll be doing a reading at Stone Soup. I'll let you know.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
And then I remembered that that's pretty much what having ideas is "all about," since there's been more than enough time for genuine originality to die in all of these years of humanity. So now I'm the one having an existential crisis. Again.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
My name is Steve, and I am a young writer who has recently become interested in greeting cards. I believe that greeting cards say what people have trouble saying because sometimes it's really difficult to say the right thing at the right time.
What is the right thing to say? When and how do you say it? Is "the right thing to say" always the right thing to say? I struggle with these questions.
I hope that you will read over my attempts and let me know if I'm on the right track.
I'm really curious to see if I get a response. It would be a pretty great relief to see that someone who works in a managerial position for a big company like Hallmark has a sense of humor about what they do. I wonder if any of them are poets outside of the office.
I know it's pretty obvious of me to believe this, but Poet really should be a salaried position. Even mediocre poets help people think about how they feel, which is at least as productive as working for Hallmark, and writing can be at least as difficult as making presentations on PowerPoint and whatnot. Service rendered, hours devoted. But fine, I'll keep on applying at cafes. People who help bring food to people are probably the most valuable members of society.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Sean Conlon's One-Man Show: How Multimedia Artistry and Understanding of Loneliness Totally Kills Ass
Thesis: Sean Conlon wants to make you cry, and you should let him.
Synopsis: Last night I went up to Amherst with some friends to see The Pornography Diaries, Sean Conlon's Division 3 project for Hampshire College. We all know Sean well enough that we expected emotional catharsis, disturbingly sharp metaphorical and literal imagery, and splashes of dark humor sweetening but never overpowering his heartbreaking sincerity. We knew that there would be songs. We knew that there would be recordings of Sean's friends sharing their views on and experiences with sex, and that there would be projections of early 20th century television advertisements and pornography, and that we weren't going to know the difference between them (this we were told). We still weren't ready when it all hit us.
The Pornography Diaries attacks sex from every angle. We know that sex leads to love, and that love hurts, and that sex and love are both caused by chemical reactions, and that neither one is necessary to our survival, and that we still always want sex even though we're never satisfied, and that we still always want love even though it hurts, and that advertisements subvert our desire for sex and love so that we desire cheap crap that we need even less, and that sex can make life feel worth it, and that love can make sex feel the opposite of cheap--
but Sean takes all of these things that we know and are still unable to transcend, and he looks at all of them, and he cries, but he keeps looking, and then he makes you look too, and then you feel just as lost as you did the last time you loved somebody, and the only thing Sean does to comfort you is show you how lost he is too, but that's totally enough and everything seems worth it and stupid at the same time. It's a good feeling. Sean Conlon wants to make you cry, but it will feel good, so you should let him.
In less exciting news, I'm working on a pizza cheese alternative. What I did, after watching The Food Network in a hotel lobby this morning, was I grilled a banana (Food network says this is a good dessert with strawberries and cream); then I ground some walnuts, and mixed those together with basil, oregano, red pepper, and flour. It tasted pretty good, and it was at least squishy enough to resemble mozzarella. I think I'll mix in some almond milk next time (so it doesn't dry up in the oven) and pair it with a wine-rich sauce (so as to counterbalance the sweetness of banana).
Special thanks to Sarah, who recommended the almond milk.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Two steaks walk into a grille. One orders
textured vegetable protein. The other
orders a rack of ribs. The first steak
says, “How can you eat that? It comes
from where you come from.” The second
steak says, “This place serves pork ribs.”
The second steak offers the first a rib.
The first steak says, “I don’t eat pork.”
The second steak asks, “Why not?”
The first steak says, “Ethical reasons.”
And then it gets pretty quiet. The steaks
don’t know how to talk to each other
about this. Their friendship suffers.
Also yesterday, a guy was talking to me outside the T. He was oldish, had a stoner-y air to him. He said "Hi" and nodded his head a lot. I said hello back, and he said I had nice hair, and I said thanks, and then he said I was really cute, and I said thanks and walked away, and as I was walking away he said I had a "nice ass."
So that made me feel pretty sick inside. I started looking at my own sexuality through a lens I would never have asked for. I correctly predicted that sound clip popping into my head the next time I was in the shower, also predicted it popping into my head and stopping me the next time I masturbated (yet untested, won't let you know about it).
I think it sometimes must be very difficult to be a woman. I feel that having the experience of being catcalled might have brought me at least a little closer to genuine sympathy to that experience.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I watched the election results come in with my recently-exed girlfriend. It was a pretty good time. It was an especially good time when the results came in for Ohio. When the win was locked, she called her parents but they didn't pick up, and she said they were probably having sex and she was happy about that, but I didn't want to think about it, especially since I've met her parents, and I don't really like to think about anyone I know having sex.
And then Carlos called, and he said that he was calling everyone he knew, and that the Gringos and I were second on his list right after his parents, and that made me happy, but it also made me a little sad to think that I couldn't share this moment of history with my parents, since they almost definitely both voted for McCain. I'm afraid to even ask my sister.
It makes me a little sick to think that while I was watching Obama address that huge crowd in Chicago, tears welling in everybody's eyes, marvelling at how much everything had just changed, my parents were rolling their eyes and sighing, thinking about how their taxes were going to go up (which, unless I've been mislead by the Obama platform or by the level of my family's wealth, isn't even true).
We were talking about this: how much of our beliefs are just a personal and selfish reaction to our upbringing?
I remember a time that my family was eating at Bennigan's, and we were talking about politics for some reason. I was thirteen--just old enough to care, and just old enough to really enjoy disagreeing with my father. Canada came up. I mentioned that I thought socialized medicine sounded like a good idea and wondered why we didn't have it. My father asked me, without a trace of irony about him, why I hated America so much. The argument lasted well past the time we got home, my father closing us into the office, lecturing me about the principles of capitalism and conservatism. I got a really big headache and played a lot of guitar that night.
Would punk exist without disco? Maybe it's okay that good things primarily exist in response to not-so-good things. I don't know.
Anyway, last night I baked those sugar cookies for me and my ex to eat while we worried and then celebrated. Instead of brandy, I muddled a bunch of leftover mint leaves with some sugar and soymilk, then spooned in a lot of the soymilk. (I skipped the cinnamon and just coated them in sugar.) They came out pretty tasty--my only regret is that I didn't put more of the actual mint leaves into the batter.
I also mixed us what I called "reverse creamsicles," which were a shot of triple-sec in soymilk (because that's what I had around). Don't do it. It's a reckless idea.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Carrie had a potluck on Sunday, which I guess was kind of spur-of-the-moment, but a lot of people were there, but they were mostly Emerson film students who wanted to talk about film shoots and Lost, so it was kind of a wash for me.
But! The potluck was Autumn Harvest-themed, and I did some cooking for it that went pretty well.
I worked (yet again) out of Veganomicon, this time a recipe called Grilled Yuca Tortillas, preparing a recommended variation using a mixture of sweet potatoes and black beans instead of the fancypants yuca. Basically, you mash the sweet potatoes and beans, and you stir-fry garlic, diced yellow bell pepper, and jalapeno with some lime, you mix all that shit together, and you grill it in a tortilla.
All of this I did, BUT ALSO, I chopped up some tomato and onion, and I threw in some lime and coarsely chopped mint. Mint pico de gallo, ladies and gentlemen (yes I know it usually has chile too, but I worked with what I had left. The mint was leftover from some mint juleps I made for another party).
It went with the sweet potato so well. I actually had some leftovers with guacamole instead, and it wasn't nearly as good.
Seasonal food, I'm telling you. It's the way to go. If you have money, you can have whatever you want all the time in this country, but I submit to you that that is not what good eating is about. Someone who knows food (possibly Simone) once told me: good food is fresh ingredients in the right order.
I hope you're voting today. I told my parents and sister that if they don't vote for Barack Obama, I'm going to get really drunk on Thanksgiving and embarrass everybody.
Who am I kidding though, I'll probably do that either way.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
I'm going to try to lay out this analogy that I thought of about two-thirds of the way into listening to this album:
Imagine that you take your kids to a puppet show at a little theater two towns over. The theater is called The Whitehaus. The puppets are extremely colorful and look homemade: there are a couple of very elaborate sock puppets, one large wooden puppet with the knobs of branches sticking out, and several taxedermied chipmunks that act as the play's "chorus." The songs are folksy and extremely catchy. The kids love it.
But as you listen to the dialogue, you notice something different. The characters aren't talking about baking cookies and visiting Grandma; they're discussing the horrors of American capitalism and the dark history of its racial tension. They're not frolicking through the woods; they're diving through dumpsters. In short: this is some subversive shit.
A lot of the other parents make their kids get up and they leave, muttering. But you stay. You stay because you get it. And the kids have fun, and everyone who stays learns something about themselves and each other.
Or, as Brian (who appears on the album) put it, "It's very good, but it's very real."
The CD offers a lot more than the chapbook in terms of quantity and depth, but I strongly recommend getting both, if only so that you can fully appreciate "Refuse," which might be frustrating to listen to without a libretto, and which is too good of a poem not to receive clearly.
Casey will be the feature for the Emerson Poetry Project tomorrow night (November 3rd) in Room 202 at 120 Boylston Street. Doors open at 7:30, mic starts at 8.