12.31.2014

Resolutions

I'm landing on two guiding principles for 2015. First, renew the focus on the four other balls (besides work) we are trying to juggle. Second, take more active control of the shape of your days, months, and year. Out in the world, 2014 was crazy. For me, in career, home, and health, there were peaks and valleys, but the sense I get when trying to summarize is one of drifting. Don't be inert; don't be complacent. Define what you want and work towards it.

One practical application and corollary resolution is to plan a wedding.

12.21.2014

Swamplandia!

It's been a year of good reading overall. I loved reading Swamplandia! best.

What becomes of the family and the family-owned gator-wrestling theme park in the aftermath of tragedy? Three siblings take different paths. Ossie develops mystical powers. Kiwi ventures mainland to a rival tourist attraction called The World of Darkness. Ava schemes to win a wrestling competition, until she is drawn into a journey to the underworld.

Sign me up, please!

The narrative eventually follows Kiwi and Ava.  Ava's swamp scenes were more interesting to me, but there is great language used to describe Kiwi's encounters in Floridian suburbia:

  • "Every day, Kiwi's colleagues taught him what you could and could not say to another person here on the mainland. This was a little like having snipers tutor you on the limits of the prison yard."
  • "The two girls spent the whole ride whispering and doing horsey eye rolls and hand mannerisms in their mysterious female language. So far as Kiwi could tell, they managed to agree that Rollie, a mutual friend of theirs, was in fact a fat bitch and not their friend, and also that Enormous Gladys needed to get some self-esteem, stupid! But Kiwi assumed a second, secret conversation must be happening below this. Otherwise how to explain all the gesticulating? Wrists and elbows went flying through the air in some jujitsu of lady-empathy."
I saw echoes of my childhood in both the studious Kiwi and the imaginative Ava.
  • "It's a book for witches, Dad. And the underworld isn't heaven or hell, it's like a whole separate country. Like a, a Germany under the world."
  • "I was a fairy-minded kid, a comic book kid, and I had a bad habit of looking for augurs and protectors where there were none."
I enjoyed reading a book where characters set out on their quests in order to save their strange little family. "Mothers burning inside the risen suns of their children."

12.19.2014

It's Friday

Let's listen to Dar Williams!


12.14.2014

A Field Guide to the True American Diner

"Hello, I am an American from New Jersey and I care about diners."

12.03.2014

Key Change: Voices of Protest and Hope

NYCGMC and Natalie Douglas performed a cabaret called "Key Change: Voices of Protest and Hope." Outside around the city, protests formed after the grand jury decision in the case of the death of Eric Garner.

There were many great songs and performances, some heavy, some uplifting. For me my favorite was probably "Mississippi Goddam." (A previous Natalie performance found on the interwebs here.) Because today, Staten Island Goddam. Ferguson Goddam.

11.30.2014

Dancer from the Dance

I picked up Dancer from the Dance based on browsing recommended books at The Strand, and was persuaded by phrases on the back cover like "the classic coming-of-age gay novel" and "hilarious" (used in two places).

Overall, I was disappointed.  I found the story repetitive, a cycle of parties with drugs and parks with sex. I would not use the word hilarious to describe the novel. I thought the book lacked humor overall. Given the subject matter, I thought I'd be more interested than I was. Malone was admired by gay New York for his beauty, but seemed dull otherwise. The "doomed queen" Sutherland was a more compelling character, and I found myself wishing the story focused more on him.

I am left wondering if the story was a celebration of these characters' lives, an indictment of them, or a bit of both. This lingering question is interesting; it just was a slog to get to it.

Still, I appreciate having read the book to think about how gay life has changed, how New York has changed since the 1970s, and I have a continuing fascination with Fire Island as depicted in art versus the small piece of it I have known.

Enjoyable quotes:
It was a journey between islands, after all: from Manhattan, to Long Island, to Fire Island, and the last island of the three was nothing but a sandbar, as slim as a parenthesis, enclosing the Atlantic, the very last fringe of soil on which a man might put up his house, and leave behind him all--absolutely all--of that huge continent to the west.
Now of all the bonds between homosexual friends, none was greater than that between the friends who danced together. The friend you danced with, when you had no lover, was the most important person in your life...
'What do we all have in common in this group?' I once asked a friend seriously, when it occurred to me how slender, how immaterial, how ephemeral the bond was that joined us; and he responded, 'We all have lips.'
Any memory of those days is nothing but a string of songs.
God, was that steaming, loathsome city beautiful!!!

11.29.2014

Reading Material

Browse the Library label at Neil Farber and Michael Dumontier's http://personalmessageblog.blogspot.com.

11.17.2014

11.09.2014

Robot Penguin

Yay science! Watch the video.

10.25.2014

Basic

I hear a very specific subset of gay men throw this term around more than any women, but What Do You Really Mean When You Say 'Basic Bitch'?
And so the woman who calls another woman basic ends up implicitly endorsing two things she probably wouldn’t sign up for if they were spelled out for her: a male hierarchy of culture, and the belief that the self is an essentially surface-level formation.

10.21.2014

Bye Felicia

That time I learned about a meme by reading a blog post about Shonda Rhimes' tweet about a TV show.

10.14.2014

Middlesex

I stayed away from Middlesex for many years, daunted by the length and a fuzzy idea that it was about a hermaphrodite. In other words, I was an idiot. I loved it!

It is about much more than Callie's and Cal's story. It is the story of three generations: grandparents leaving Greece for America, parents struggling to make a name for themselves in the U.S., and the childhood and adolescence of the children that inherit these tales. (Sidenote: every time I think of "coming-of-age" tales now, I giggle thinking of my brother-in-law grimacing at some movie my sister has picked out. My affinity for such stories runs in the family.) Through the multi-generational story of the Stephanides clan, the story of 20th century Detroit is also told. The novel is ambitious in scope.

Elements of the book that resonated with me:

  • Sourmelina, in the closet: "I went to church. It didn't help. In those days that was the best place to meet a girlfriend. In church! All of us praying to be different." 
  • Callie: "Is there anything as incredible as the love story of your own parents?"
  • Acculturation to American society: I believe my mom wrestled with sentiments like the one below growing up; it may have been a driving force in her own story line (and she was already the 3rd generation!) 
But now the Bracelets' upturned noses suggested that there was another America to which we could never gain admittance. All of a sudden America wasn't about hamburgers and hot rods anymore. It was about the Mayflower and Plymouth Rock. It was about something that had happened for two minutes four hundred years ago, instead of everything that had happened since.
    • See also: "Generally speaking, Americans like their presidents to have no more than two vowels...If they have more than two vowels (Reagan), they can have no more than two syllables."
  • Grandmother and link to the old world: "I'm not sure, with a grandmother like mine, if you can ever become a true American in the sense of believing that life is about the pursuit of happiness," and "Everything about Middlesex spoke of forgetting and everything about Desdemona made plain the inescapability of remembering." 
  • A gorgeous passage of Callie and childhood friend Clementine playing in a pool when they are about 7 or 8, too long to quote fully here: "Steam envelops us, cloaks us; light sparkles on the agitated water; and we keep spinning, so that at some point I'm not sure which hands are mine, which legs."
  • The references to Greek mythology, with prophecies, family feuds, and changing forms aplenty

10.10.2014

Blogging the Bourbon Chase

Saturday 10/11 7:23 PM

After 33 hours, 7 minutes, and 49 seconds we are finished with our 200 mile relay! After the past 60 minutes, I tasted bourbon from 4 distilleries. Would I do this again? Probably.




Saturday 10/11 5:40 PM

Our last runner is on the course.




Saturday 10/11 3:29 PM

Horse farms abound. Waiting for Jeff to finish leg 33.


Saturday 10/11 2:44 PM

Baby wipe van showers! JP is done!


Saturday 10/11 2:14 PM

Done! And ravenous!


Saturday 10/11 11:31 AM

Getting ready for my final leg. Woodford Reserve photos.









Saturday 10/11 10:38 AM

Van 2 is breakfasting at Panera in Frankfort, the state capital. And importantly, it is finally not raining!

Saturday 10/11 7:22 AM

The sky is lightening over Wild Turkey Distillery. 2/3 of the way done!

Saturday 10/11 5:08 AM

Biscuits and gravy at the church, y'all.

Saturday 10/11 3:04 AM

At America in the middle of the night: car dealerships, crosses, and election signs.

Blurry selfie.



Saturday 10/11 1:33 AM

Wake me up before you go go! That's my at bat song for Leg 19, coming up at just before 2:00 AM.

Friday 10/10 10:22 PM

All of our runners have run one leg. We all met up at the Danville exchange point. After warming ourselves at the Hub Van 2 is catching a nap at Danville High School gym. Zzz.

Friday 10/10 7:44 PM

Darkness has descended upon the land. I had a delightful taco from a roadside pop-up stand in Perryville.

Friday 10/10 6:19 PM

Tim at the start of leg 10.

And the rest welcome Jeff back.

Photo opp at Maker's (11/12 present)


Jaime handing off to me.

Harlan and Jaime somewhere pretty from van 1.



Friday 10/10 5:11 PM

Some serious rain during Leg 9. 

This van is trying to win the prize for best costume.



Friday 10/10 4:15 PM

Yours truly is back in the van after completing Leg 7! We switched off at Maker's Mark. My run was hilly but I ran at my projected pace. JP is out on the trail now in glorious weather.



Friday 10/10 11:26 AM

Van 2 is having a less than spectacular logistical start. Meanwhile please enjoy this photo of Captain Belinda in our chariot.




Friday 10/10 9:23 AM

Van 1 is at the start at Jim Beam! Here is a picture from Lisa: 


I am in Van 2. We have to zigzag to pick up the rest of our team. We start this afternoon after meeting up at Maker's Mark.

10.09.2014

Testing

You guys. T-1 to the Bourbon Chase! Testing le mobile blog for possible updates from Van 2 when I'm not running, driving, or sleeping!

10.05.2014

Eyes vs. Stomach

"Why do you all have a story that involves eating so much that you got sick?"

10.01.2014

Sentiment Analysis Problem Set

Brian is shit
Brian is a shit
Brian is the shit
Brian is the shittiest

9.28.2014

I'm on a Boat


Beautiful day in Norwalk with a purple Long Island across the Sound.

9.26.2014

Dear Andy Samberg

Dear Andy Samberg,

Please come over and play Taboo.

Best regards,

Brian

9.21.2014

A Summary of Seasons

Spring: I thought of Monet and his haystacks, painted at different times of day and in different weather, how the poem I wrote was like revisiting an old subject to see how the light had changed it. I wondered about friends and the haystacks they returned to.

Summer: I felt more self-assured. I could see how life could go. But the broader world made less and less sense, and fear crept in.

Fall: Impermanence of all things, universe expanding, lives lurched forward. This culminated in a shrug from an Irishwoman: “Change is as good as a rest.”

7.07.2014

Running Commentary #10

After much procrastination and complaint, deadlines appear on the horizon.  The Bourbon Chase is in October, and Princeton Half Marathon is in November.  My goals for the Bourbon Chase are to work on speed so our team doesn't get kicked out, generally figure out what the fuck is going on with logistics now that I'm starting training, and drink bourbon. My goal for Princeton is to beat last year's time.

Here we go again!

6.11.2014

Lately

Lately, Q.U.E.E.N. is my jam

"But we eat wings and throw them bones on the ground!"

6.10.2014

There's Something About Maleficent

I have yet to see Malificent but kept mulling over this io9 post, which raises good points. Of the older Disney movies, Sleeping Beauty was a house favorite second only to Lady and the Tramp. One critical reason that Sleeping Beauty is great is because Malificent is awesome, as evidenced by *spoiler alert* turning into a fucking dragon.  She may be the first villain "you hate to love," as they say.  Wicked Witch of the West? Okay, but her weakness is water. The Evil Queen in Snow White is jealous, and Cinderella's stepmother boils down to a garden-variety bitch (also, not magical, so less cool).  Maleficent has horns, throws curses, creates a thicket of thorns, and transforms into a dragon. Therefore she is awesome as in awe-inducing.  Before Vader, there was Maleficent. Before Magneto, there was Maleficent. Before Amanda Woodward, there was Maleficent.

6.04.2014

Red Doc

Spoiler alert?

Geryon is now G and Herakles is now Sad.

Things that I think happened:  G's mom is aging. An artist, Ida, connects the exes. ("The man had been his oxygen once.") The two go on a road trip north. They are visiting a glacier. Sad takes the car and peels out; G uses his wings and flies. They both end at an auto repair shop called Batcatraz...ice bats?...which is connected to a clinic.  In said clinic an old army buddy of Sad is found, 4NO. He suffers from seeing 5 seconds into the future.  Ida triggers an incident with pots in a plastic bag, Sad freaks, Ida calms the room by singing.  There is an escape from the clinic. A volcano is erupting. One of G's oxen, Io, believes she can fly and flings herself off a cliff, but is escorted safely the the flock of ice bats. Time passes. Death.

So I want to read it again and let the words just flow over like lava.



5.04.2014

April

In conclusion, we need poetry all year long. It was a reason to write.

4.25.2014

Poem in Your Pocket Day 2014

In my pocket this year was “An Archive of Confessions, A Genealogy of Confessions” by Joshua Clover. For the syrupy drag, the terrible magnet of love, the free will, the bluing evening, and the excellently pointless.

4.22.2014

Evening Walk Remembering One Morning

I thought of a Manhattan epitaph:
"We were miserable, but the bagels..."
Restaurant owners, a tip:
a basket of bagels
brings glory to morning.
Our souls rise like phoenixes,
mythical bird of suburban
dream dictionaries!
We squawk, triumphant!
I want tequila!
(What's plural for 'phoenix'?)
Let's hire interns!
I swear one day
I'll write something
quiet, incisive,
but for now just know
the brunch was, in fact,
in Brooklyn.

4.20.2014

Memory Research

Memories are a globule of one substance in another
Usually a gas in a liquid
Memories may remain intact when they reach the surface
of the immersive substance

Sometimes memories are just air in agitated water,
such as below a waterfall

Memories form and coalesce into globular shapes
Memories can be seen because
they have a different refractive index
than the surrounding substance

In speculative memories
prices are at variance with intrinsic value
An example is the Tulip Memory,
a memory in the 1630s and a metaphor for other memories

Memories are often only conclusively identified in retrospect
A sudden drop appears
This is called a crash or a memory burst

The Local Memory is a cavity in the interstellar medium
It contains the Solar System
It is at least 300 light years across
The Local Memory is the result of supernovae that exploded
within the past 20 million years

When disturbed memories oscillate in size
Some memories only last a few seconds before bursting

Memories are used for children's enjoyment
Memories are used in artistic performance

When light shines memories appear to change color

The longevity of a memory is limited by the ease of rupture
of the very thin layer which constitutes its surface


This was inspired by the replacement prompt from Day 12 of NaPoWriMo. This post isn't a poem as much as a copy-and-pasting exercise from Wikipedia, but I liked the idea because of the language it introduced.

4.14.2014

Synesthesia

Your name tastes gentle,
Like petals brushed against my lips.

4.13.2014

District Road Trip

We trained
We turnpiked
We Ninety-Fived

To see

A blossom
Our cousin
Our friend

Our cousin says
"I'm confused. All the trees are in bloom!"

Our friend says
"Hookah tastes like old man shoe."

I say give me walks with them again

4.10.2014

Adventures in Poetry (not a poem, only background)

1. My father reads my family "The Night Before Christmas" every Christmas Eve.  My sister memorized it before I was born.

2. In 7th grade Language Arts, Matt and I performed "The Raven."  He was the raven.

3. In 9th grade, we had to divide up into groups and set the prologue of Romeo and Juliet to music. Beth, Cristine, and I chose "The Bunny Hop." I remember Melissa's group did "Chim Chim Cheree."

4. In 11th grade, the entire class had to memorize and individually recite "Loveliest of Trees."  I still know the first verse by heart.

4.09.2014

LBI Aubade

I mistook the wind
rustling the curtains
for your fingers on paper

In my own bed
(separate twin)
I lay still
slow, measured breathing

I lay still
all night wondering
what you were reading

When dawn crept in
I dared turn

Morning illuminated
the geography of your back

I bathed in that

I rose, tired and foolish
begrudging wind and light
fleeting things

Still

Years later
I inked a sketch
the half-hidden view

Your body a sun
the pitched roof's beams
radiating

4.07.2014

Morning Walk to Work

Forecast for morning walk: overcast with smoke from the west.  Broadway sidewalk = black bubble gum ghosts, and the grates a grave for cigarette butts. Pass sinister unshaven doormen of Nomad Hotel. Import/export handbags wholesale. The R underfoot. I can hear it. Head swims with scansion and standard deviation, and I plot a caffeination. I can't hear it.  I can't hear it for the singing, my own singing. Torso jewels, Monaco is moving!!! Someone else has moved.

Child's Garden

The moon
The stars
And chocolate bars

4.06.2014

Some Nights

Incessant rattle of the hail,
my foul fever dream expires,
I scratch insomniac and wail,
Thrashing with desire.

4.05.2014

BAM!

1
BAM!
Born on Independence Day,
Forged in a laundromat--
Morristown, N.J.--
Firework of confidence,
Realist incarnate,
Loudest of three loud sisters,
Master of ceremonies,
Master of stories,
Jokester and scholar,
Tempest in a trench coat,
Hurricane Bonnie!

2
"Boogers!"
"Pumpkins!"
"Monkeys!"
she calls us.

We are not her darlings.

We are members of her
raucous, writhing, striving tribe.

4.04.2014

Wachovia Bank, 2004

Tethers frayed
asphalt glint
lie stings
sure of it

4.03.2014

1 and 2

I mean, who knew about this 30/30 challenge? I think we should try it.  With time limits or the ability to opt out.

1. Things I Carry

This fucking phone.
These wrinkles, these extra pounds around the abdominals,
Quickness to anger,
Quickness to despair,
Quickness to elate,
Every song you ever said you liked,
Fear of being duped,
Belief in God,
(Recently) my grandmother's prayer card,
I carry your heart with me, per e.e.,
The bathing suit my mother always told us to pack.

2. Knock on the Door

In Manhattan no one knocks on my door. You have to be buzzed into the building.

2.17.2014

Vacation Idea

A driving app to trace the route from On The Road.

2.02.2014

Queer 13: Lesbian And Gay Writers Recall Seventh Grade

I picked this book up at a local thrift shop, very excited by the premise.  I didn't love the collection but was fascinated by it.  There were several memoirs written by authors who would be my parents' age; they made me wonder how strange school must have been with drills for nuclear attack.  I thought about the question of what draws you to other kids when you're 13 - could this person be your protector, could this person be your co-conspirator, could this person be your creative partner?  I marveled at how the women's stories and the men's stories seemed so different.  It's weird: there was much to relate to, but overall these stories felt like they were from a distant planet. Science fiction.

1.25.2014

Cathedral

Raymond Carver, why didn't I know I didn't know you? Great, great, great. "A Small, Good Thing" was one of the most satisfying stories I've ever read. I loved "The Bridle" and "Cathedral", too.  Go read this, and then let me know so we can talk about it.

1.20.2014

Timber

That night we finally broke out the gift certificate Jenn and Rich gave us for Christmas in 2012.  After dinner we explored that neighborhood by checking out the Fairytail Lounge.  A unicorn head on the wall, go-go dancers on the bar, tables with hooves and topped with half-mannequins to make centaurs, porn on the television.  And Kesha on the radio.  He says he only hears Becky singing it now, ever since her rendition on the Christmas Eve drive home from Nana’s.  Then he says, “I’m really glad to be joining your family.”  I’m stunned by the setting and the timing. And I think it’s one of the nicest things anyone ever said to me.

1.11.2014

And Another Thing

Another good word is deciduous.

1.07.2014

Word

Word that I love but rarely have occasion to use: talisman.