Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Yes, I Do Read the Comments

Your wish is my command - (You know who you are)

But seriously, I just can't start watching that show. Maybe just the opening . . . .


I Suck

I am officially an imbecile. I am part of the great unthinking, unwashed masses. I am what's wrong with America.

Not only did I watch an entire episode of American Idol, I actually voted.

FSM, just shoot me.

Ok, in my defense, it was Andrew Lloyd Webber night. I get a pass for that, right?

For what it’s worth – my ranking last night.

1. Carly Smithson -- "Jesus Christ Superstar" (Hmm Judas as a female?? I'd buy a ticket to see her sing that role)

2. Syesha Mercado -- "One Rock & Roll Too Many" from Starlight Express (The dress alone was worth second place)

3. David Archuleta -- "Think of Me" from Phantom of the Opera. (Dude, you do know that song is sung by a girl right? Oh wait. . . yeah)

4. David Cook -- "Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera (Meh - whatever)

5. Jason Castro -- "Memory" from Cats. (My cat left the room)

6. Brooke White -- "You Must Love Me" from the film adaptation of "Evita" (Seriously, the Film version ? WTF?)

Carnival of the Liberals #63

The Carnival of the Liberals #63 is up!!!

Give it a visit!!

Vagabond Scholar: Carnival of the Liberals #63

Carnival #63 is up!

Vagabond Scholar has posted The Carnival of Liberals #63.

Please go check it out!!

Happy Birthday William

This one shouldn't need any introduction. Whether or not Shakespeare invented the modern idea of romantic love, as Harold Bloom contends, or not, he certainly understood it. Happy Birthday Mr. Shakespeare.

Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Things You Can Learn From 14 year Olds . .

There are a couple of things that can be learned from hosting a sleepover for teenage boys.

#1 An Air Zooka can be used to launch a fart completely across the room.

#2 If you are the 14 year old host of the party, and you fall asleep before some of your guests, they will probably draw a penis on the bottom of your foot.

Now you know.

It’s Carnival Time!!

As some of you may recall – Sir Robin Rides Away is hosting the Carnival of Liberals on May 7th. That means it’s time to get those submissions in!! The best way is through the submission form found here. The deadline for submissions is Monday, May 5.

Carnival #63 will be hosted by Batocchio at Vagabond Scholar this Wednesday, April 23. (William Shakespeare’s birthday if you're keeping track at home) Make a note to go over and check it out. I’ll remind you, in case you forget.

Lately, I haven’t been posting as much political content as I used to. There are a couple of reasons for that. Mostly, it’s scandal fatigue. Our government, our election process, our entire political system are just so screwed up, I feel small, insignificant, and utterly helpless in my hopes to change it. Also, there are others who I feel just do it so much better than I do. The second reason is the self-destruction I see going on in the Democratic Party. When I see like minded people who should be happily working together toward a common cause become enemies, it’s time to step back and take a breath.

November is all that matters. I have deliberately been trying to avoid any Primary discussion on this site. That doesn’t mean I’ve given up on the process, far from it!! To that end – Here is my theme for the Carnival of Liberals #64:

Thinking Liberally, Thinking Positively!

I don’t want anything about the primary race, I don’t want any “things are so screwed up rants” As a proud, unabashedly liberal citizen, I get enough of what we’re against, I say – What are we for? I will take submissions on any topic other than the Primary election, but I’m looking for positive submissions. What can Liberalism provide? What can we do better than the failed system of Corporate Harlotry that we have been living under since 1980? Why should anyone be a Liberal? Let’s tell the world on May 7th. Get those submissions in!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I Feel Like Virginia Woolf.

There are 12 teenage boys in my house.

6 are in the den. - They carried a 32" TV down the stairs so they could hook up 3 Xboxes to 2 TV's in an arcane connection of cables, codes and online passwords. They are shooting each other with Spartan delight in a ballet of alien destruction, otherwise known as a six player/online game of Halo. Two are upstairs playing Wi, and yelling down the score of the Rockets game. The other 4, if you're counting, are in the pool room. 2 are playing pool, 2 are throwing darts.

Along with the sound of guns blasting, shouts of dismay, (or Joy - depending on if you're winning or losing), pool balls clicking, and electronic dart boards playing carnival midway tunes, is the cacophony of 12 cell phones, ringing, beeping, and texting in an unholy blend of electronic madness and horrible Hip Hop ring tones.

How one can text a girl, shoot a fellow Halo player, question his manhood for getting shot, and manage to eat a plate of chips and dip while carrying on an intelligible conversation about the NBA playoffs is beyond my realm of understanding.

They smell of sweat, grass, pizza, and an indistinguishable funk that can only be ascribed to teenage boys.

They are well fed.

By my estimation they have eaten approximately 27 pounds of food. That does not include the (up to now) 54 soft drinks, 4 quarts of Kool Aid, and untold cubes of ice. The birthday cake, is, as of yet, untouched. Post Xbox, I feel certain the feeding frenzy will again ensue.

I am in my computer room. The door is closed. Nora Jones is wistfully singing of a love gone not quite right. The room was cleaned today. The carpet smells sweet and clean. . . . "Spring Fresh, I think the container of carpet fresh said. The monitor is the only light, and I am at peace, knowing I am master of all these boys need to be happy, yet glad to be slightly removed from them.

A room of one's own is a joyous thing.

Happy Birthday Clinton.

Wherein I Find The Awesomest Thing In The History Of The Internet

This just may be the awesomest thing in the history of Awesomeness. I have looked like mad for the original page and context in which this appears, but I couldn't find it. I hate to just post someone else's writing, but it's awesomeness is such, that it begs to be shared.

Imagine if William Shakespeare wrote the screenplay for Pulp Fiction:

(Scene with Jules and Brett)

J: My pardon; did I break thy concentration?
Continue! Ah, but now thy tongue is still.
Allow me then to offer a response.
Describe Marsellus Wallace to me, pray.
B: What?
J: What country dost thou hail from?
B: What?
J: How passing strange, for I have traveled far,
And never have I heard tell of this What.
What language speak they in the land of What?
B: What?
J: The Queen's own English, base knave, dost thou speak it?
B: Aye!
J: Then hearken to my words and answer them!
Describe to me Marsellus Wallace!
B: What?
JULES presses his knife to BRETT's throat
J: Speak 'What' again! Thou cur, cry 'What' again!
I dare thee utter 'What' again but once!
I dare thee twice and spit upon thy name!
Now, paint for me a portraiture in words,
If thou hast any in thy head but 'What',
Of Marsellus Wallace!
B: He is dark.
J: Aye, and what more?
B: His head is shaven bald.
J: Has he the semblance of a harlot?
B: What?
JULES strikes and BRETT cries out
J: Has he the semblance of a harlot?
B: Nay!
J: Then why didst thou attempt to bed him thus?
B: I did not!
J: Aye, thou didst! O, aye, thou didst!
Thou hoped to rape him like a chattel whore,
And sooth, Lord Wallace is displeased to bed
With anyone but she to whom he wed.

Pure freaking genius. What I wouldn't give to see this actually filmed.
I think this guy wrote this, I found other passages on his site.

Call Me Perseus

Medusa by Sylvia Plath
Off that landspit of stony mouth-plugs,
Eyes rolled by white sticks,
Ears cupping the sea's incoherences,
You house your unnerving head -- God-ball,
Lens of mercies,
Your stooges
Plying their wild cells in my keel's shadow,
Pushing by like hearts,
Red stigmata at the very center,
Riding the rip tide to the nearest point of

Dragging their Jesus hair.
Did I escape, I wonder?
My mind winds to you
Old barnacled umbilicus, Atlantic cable,
Keeping itself, it seems, in a state of miraculous

In any case, you are always there,
Tremulous breath at the end of my line,
Curve of water upleaping
To my water rod, dazzling and grateful,
Touching and sucking.
I didn't call you.
I didn't call you at all.
Nevertheless, nevertheless
You steamed to me over the sea,
Fat and red, a placenta

Paralyzing the kicking lovers.
Cobra light
Squeezing the breath from the blood bells
Of the fuchsia. I could draw no breath,
Dead and moneyless,

Overexposed, like an X-ray.
Who do you think you are?
A Communion wafer? Blubbery Mary?
I shall take no bite of your body,
Bottle in which I live,

Ghastly Vatican.
I am sick to death of hot salt.
Green as eunuchs, your wishes
Hiss at my sins.
Off, off, eely tentacle!

There is nothing between us.

This seemed appropriate. Alas, I am not Perseus, but I'm trying.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Poem For Tuesday

Brave Sir Robin continues to go all poetry all the time . . (not really, it has just worked out this way, I hope to have a regular post by tonight)

Today's Poet is Kenneth Patchen.

I find much of his work to be difficult. That is one of the reasons I like him. He challenges me. For those of you unfamiliar with his work, he is often quoted as the inspiration for many of the Beat Poets.

He was an avid pacifist, an anarchist, poet, painter, novelist, and champion of the union movement. I'd like him even if he never wrote a thing!

He also created many "painted poems" not unlike the engravings of William Blake. The graphic above is one of them.

As I said, he can be difficult, but I find that with each new reading, meaning and understanding flesh out, and are constantly changing. This poem, to me at least, was pretty clear the first time I read it, but over the years it has never failed to reveal a bit more of itself to me.

I like to think of his work as the beautiful but shy young woman sitting in the back of the classroom. Few take the time to notice her, or to get to know her, because of all the barriers she has put up. But if you befriend her, she will start to reveal herself to you a little at a time. Never all at once, but by the end of the semester, she is your friend and you understand her. Years later, she is still one of your dearest friends, and you never cease to marvel at the new layers she has, waiting to be discovered, and at the depth of her soul.

When We Were Here Together

when we were here together in a place we did not know, nor one
A bit of grass held between the teeth for a moment, bright hair on the
What we were we did not know, nor even the grass or the flame of
hair turning to ash on the wind.
But they lied about that. From the beginning they lied. To the child,
telling him that there was somewhere anger against him, and a
hatred against him, and the only reason for his being in the
But never did they tell him that the only evil and danger was in
themselves; that they alone were the prisoners and the betrayers;
that they - they alone - were responsible for what was being done
in the world.
And they told the child to starve and to kill the child that was within
him; for only by doing this could he become a useful and adjusted
member of the community which they had prepared for him.
And this time, alas, they did not lie.
And with the death of the child was born a thing that had neither
the character of a man nor the character of a child, but was a
horrible and monstrous parody of the two; and it is in this world
now that the flesh of man’s spirit lies twisted and despoiled under
the indifferent stars.
When we were here together in a place we did not know, nor one
O green the bit of warm grass between our teeth. O beautiful the hair
of our mortal goddess on the indifferent wind.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Poem In Memory

On this day in 1865, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Walt Whitman wrote this poem to help console a grieving nation.

O Captain! My Captain!

By Walt Whitman

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
The arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Friday, April 11, 2008

They'll Always Be My Kids

My oldest son turned 17 a few days ago. Not exactly a man, but not far from it. Whenever I think too hard about my children growing up and moving away, I get a little sad.

I'm sure it must be a bittersweet moment when the empty nest finally appears. Suddenly one finds one's self with all the time in the world, and wondering how on earth they will fill it.

Happily, that time is still not quite on me yet.

Today's poem is what got me thinking on this. On a first reading, I must confess, it brought a little tear to my eye because of its sweetness. Subsequent reading have allowed me to find the joy in it. Even when they're gone, they'll always be my kids.

Sentimental Moment or Why Did the Baguette Cross the Road?

Robert Hershon

Don't fill up on bread
I say absent-mindedly
The servings here are huge

My son, whose hair may be
receding a bit, says
Did you really just
say that to me?

What he doesn't know
is that when we're walking
together, when we get
to the curb
I sometimes start to reach
for his hand

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Tubes Are Full Of Cool People

The blogosphere has given me more than a voice. It has given me friends.

It goes without saying that all of you are dear to me. I consider myself friends with at least most of the bloggers in my blog role.

There are of course, sites where I only visit every once in a while. There are a few sites were I lurk, not feeling like I have anything to add to the discussion.

And then there is Mimi Smartypants.

I guess you could consider her a "Mommy Blogger", as her site is mostly about her daughter, Nora.

I wish I could meet Nora. She reminds me a lot of Clinton at that age. Nora loves her some Darth Vader:

When it is not stupid jokes, it is (still) stupid Star Wars questions. How does Darth Vader take a bath? I don't know, wet wipes? Sponge on a stick? He pushes the button that says "Wash" on his control panel thingy? The good part of her obsession is that she frequently talks like and even quotes Mr. Vader in her James Earl Jones voice, which is the cutest thing ever. She would kill me if I said that to her, though. She would use the Force to choke me with her mind. Every time I watch Nora walk somewhere I just know she is hearing the Imperial March in her head.

Mimi herself sounds like the kind of person I'd like to have a drink with, or certainly live next door to:

Today either I am abnormally hostile or people are abnormally weird, because strangers keep TALKING to me and LOOKING at me funny and just generally EXISTING IN MY SPACE, and I am super-sick of it. When I went to order my grilled cheese the grill guy (a new or perhaps substitute grill guy, not the awesomely taciturn grill guy who just gestures at you with his spatula in lieu of verbally taking an order) was all like "Grilled cheese! For the grilled cheese girl! Coming right up!" and I was all like "Shut your mouth before I shove you in the fryer" but of course I did not say that. Then I was waiting for an elevator and a different guy was giving me awkward half-smiles and doing some kind of eyebrow thing and I wanted to suggest that he keep his eyebrows to himself, unless he had brought enough for the whole class---which he kind of had, they were pretty bushy. Maybe the eyebrows were new and he was showing them off. In retrospect that was probably a tic or something. Okay, he gets a pass. People I work near, but do not normally speak to, keep punishing me with "Hi" and "How's it going" today. Arrggh! Politeness! Civility! I can't take it anymore!

If you don't visit Mimi Smartypants, you should. Alas, don't go there seeking a community, she doesn't have comments on her site.

I'm so glad Al Gore invented the Inter-Tubes, because all of you make my life richer, and fuller. It's wonderful that I don't need to live close to someone to be friends with them.

Poetry Isn't Hard . . .

Do you like Haiku?

It is relaxing to write.

Please write one for me.


It’s almost that simple.

Technically, a haiku should have a suggestion of nature, and perhaps a reference to the season in which it was written, but those constricts have mostly been done away with in English versions.

The acknowledged master of traditional Japanese haiku was Basho. National Geographic Magazine did an excellent article on his life and his Journeys which I would direct you to read, rather than trying to do it justice on this page. When I read the article, I was struck by how serene his life and his work seemed. I have since read as many of his poems as I can, but I can’t help but think that I will never appreciate his mastery without learning his language. As that seems unlikely at this point, translations will have to do.

Translating Poetry must be among the most difficult of tasks. For what is poetry, if not meter, and rhythm, and sometimes rhyme? To get the essence, the feeling of the original into another language must take the utmost skill, and mostly I think - the passion for the art and the language.

To understand the difficulty, go to this page. There is an original Haiku by Basho, and 30, that’s right 30 different translations. Which one is the most accurate? I know which one I like best. How about you? I Like this one:

The old pond is still
a frog leaps right into it
splashing the water

Perhaps I like that one best because in my mind, the 5-7-5 must hold, but it just seems to capture the feeling right. Who knows?

I have recently been reading a new translation of Beowulf, and it is such a beautiful poem. Not at all the way I remember reading it before.

So, back to my little Haiku at the top:

Do you like Haiku?

It is relaxing to write.

Please write one for me.

Please, today, include a haiku in your comments. If possible, make it about this blog in some way. It doesn’t matter how. It could be about a particular post, about me, about a commenter, about our little community here in this corner of the tubes. It can be about one of the pictures to the right. Just 5-7-5, that’s all.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Are You Drunk?

As National Poetry Month Continues, I couldn't let today pass without honoring French Poet Charles Baudelaire. He was born on this day in 1821.

I wasn't familiar with his work, but was recently introduced to him via Bee.

This poem is the source of her nom de blog, and a wonderful exaltation.

Be drunken
Always. That's the point.
Nothing else matters; If you would not feel the horrible burden of Time weigh you down and crush you to the Earth,
Be drunken, continually.
Drunken with what?
With wine, with poetry, or with virtue as you please.
but Be drunken.
And if sometimes on the steps of a palace or on the green grass in a ditch or in the dreary solitude of your own room
You should awaken and find the drunkenness half or entirely gone
Ask of the wind ,of the wave, of the star of the bird, of the clock of all that flies, of all that sighs, of all that moves, of all that sings, of all that speaks, Ask what hour it is, and wind, wave, star, bird or clock will answer you,

"It is the hour to be drunken
Be drunken if you would not be the martyred slaves of Time.
Be drunken Continually, with wine, with poetry or with virtue, as you please."

I love the idea of this poem. Be filled!! Be Drunk with what is ever it is that fills you, be it poetry, virtue or wine. So, with what are you drunken? With joy, with love? Are you drunk with rage at this administration? Can our congress be drunk with justice?

Let's all be drunk with something!! Please let's not be martyrs of time.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

It's National Poetry Month!!

Do you celebrate, (or even know about) National Poetry Month?

Well I say you should! Poetry is good for your soul, it works the mind, it expands your range of understanding words and language.

I challenge you to read at least one poem a day for the whole of April. You may find that you'll want to continue when April is done. I also ask that you expand into Poets and styles that might be new to you.

Sometime in this month, post on a poem you like.

Here are some sites you can go to:

Poetry 180 - This is a Poem a day site with Poems selected for High School Students. - The Academy of American poets. This would be a good way to read a poem a day without any effort, they are posting a poem a day on their site.

Favorite Poem Project - I like this one. Founded in 1997 by then Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, 18,000 Americans wrote in and suggested their favorite poem. From that list, 50 were selected and given the chance to read and talk about their favorite poem. It's worth looking into this site, it is rich with content.

A dear friend sent me this poem a couple of days ago and I just love it. It seemed perfect for this post. (Don't you love it when serendipity just steps in and hands you something like this?) I love the idea that Poetry is alive, it's everywhere, and just needs finding. And yes, Poetry is in the eye of the beholder.

Valentine for Ernest Mann
Naomi Shihab Nye

You can't order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, "I'll take two"
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, "Here's my address,
write me a poem," deserves something in reply.
So I'll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.

Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn't understand why she was crying.
"I thought they had such beautiful eyes."
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.

Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Billie

Today would have been the 93rd birthday of Billie Holiday. A tragic childhood, a hard life, and one that was all too short, oh, but she could sing! She could bend a syllable and move an audience to tears. Ella, Lena, Sarah, they all stand in her shadow.