Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

I suppose that not adoring every page of The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow is tantamount to disrespectful and dishonoring. I know that many have found such books as Tuesdays with Morrie incredibly inspirational. I guess I can see why. Knowing why something is inspiring doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it will inspire me, however. Perhaps my problem is, yet again, I went into reading this book with an agenda in mind and my expectations (or needs) went unfulfilled. Perhaps it would have helped if I had listened to the famous Last Lecture Pausch presented, the lecture that was heard and seen around the world wide web, as it were. I didn’t. Instead, I wanted to read the book because I am a book person; I wanted to read the book before I ever approached the lecture.

Big mistake. There is the truism that the book is never as good as the movie but I am beginning to wonder if it is just that when one media is based on another media it is bound to lose something significant in the translation. In this case, what the lecture probably lost in being translated into a full length book is intensity. The book is only 206 pages long and has over sixty chapters. That gives you an idea about the length of the chapters. And let me point out that there are a few photos and images sprinkled throughout so that isn’t 206 pages of text and only text. Plus it is one of those tiny hardcover books, the kind meant to be welcoming. “Look how tiny I am. And thin. You can read me. Even if you don’t like to read.” Think Paul Evans or Nicholas Sparks. Think Tuesdays with Morrie which really is the best comparison because here you have a professor who is dying passing on his life’s wisdom to others.

I appreciate that these books are written. I believe and even agree that they serve a purpose. I just really need to stop reading them, even if they do come recommended. Especially when I could just sit and watch the movie or listen to a lecture and save myself the tsoris of reading these books when I could be reading something more stimulating.

So here’s the lecture. If you love it so much you can’t resist reading the book (or you adored Tuesdays with Morrie) then by all means read the book. If not, listen to the lecture and save yourself the time. You’ll get the message. And you know, I laughed more listening to the lecture, felt more responsive listening to him, than I did in page after page of whatever. I really wish I had listened to the lecture first. I would have been more satisfied.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Spring Into Summer

We went from almost having a spring to practically dealing with the summer. It isn't quite that hot, really, but you can't tell it by the dogs who are clearly overwhelmed by the heat. Speaking of which, we have yet to know if that is the only reason Romanov is sleeping so close to Snowdoll. (BTW, Snowdoll and I both have overcome our tummy issues.)

The big surprise is that our rose bush has resurrected itself. Last year it bloomed a bit but then seemed to simply give up completely. Rob cut it back, in a brutal even ruthless manner. Neither of us had much hope of its surviving the winter or breaking into bloom. Yet, it did. Or is. One small rose is making an attempt at giving the entire plant a reason to hope.

When my mother first came to visit me one year I warned her about Atlanta traffic. Mind you, she knows traffic. New York City and New Jersey both have traffic you have to factor into every outing. But I explained to her that I wasn't talking NY traffic. Not even NJ traffic. This traffic goes above and beyond typical traffic. It is not unusual to hear a report that there is a traffic on the interstate because there are cows in the way. This is what happens when you transport cows along the interstate, obviously. Then there is the issue of the chickens. Should a chicken delivery truck overturn then the hopefully frozen chickens have to be moved to the side of the road where they will begin to rot and stink--especially if it is summer--long before they are cleared away. Worse is if the chickens are alive because although you don't have to worry about rotting meat on the roadside, chickens scare easily and the result is a slippery road because chickens literally get scared shitless.

After a while, you get used to these ridiculous occurrences and you think, "Only in Georgia." What I cannot begin to explain is how a zebra was hit on I-75. I mean, at least chickens, cows and horses are indigenous but zebras? Zebras . . . with an s because this is the SECOND zebra to get lost on the interstate.

(I should probably mention that a man fell off the back of a pickup truck on I-20 and was hit. He's going to survive. So is the zebra. I still want to know why zebras are wandering around GA. That is far more interesting to me than some unbuckled fool falling off a typical vehicle.)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Not the Way to Start the Month of May

April is over and here is May. Snowdoll and I have both started this month with very unhappy stomachs. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll both feel better. If nothing else, I need a good night’s sleep which I cannot get when my stomach is trying to kill me from the inside.

Aries Horoscope for week of May 1, 2008 Your power symbol for the week is an ant carrying a potato chip. It means you'll possess so much strength that you'll be able to hold aloft burdens that are much bigger than you. More than that, Aries. You'll look graceful doing it. And here's the kicker. That giant load you carry may ultimately provide nourishment not only for you but also for everyone back at the nest.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April 30 with book review

Queen of a Rainy Country is Linda Pastan’s collection of poems. I met Pastan when I was going to college. She came to the campus to do a reading and her quiet personality is evident throughout her poetry. Read her writing and you get a clear picture of Pastan’s perception of her life and the world. Both intimate and universal, her poetry builds on the Frost tradition of drawing inspiration from the simple. Nature imagery infused with both light and dark, life and death. The poems are never so heavy that one feels burdened in the reading nor so truthful that they feel raw. Instead, this is ars poetica. I have never been disappointed when reading Pastan and doubt I ever will be as she continues to delight me. The following piece from this collection is not only a testament to Pastan’s appreciation of Frost but echoes my own doubts about why poets keep writing.

Rereading Frost

Sometimes I think all the best poems
have been written already,
and no one has time to read them,
so why try to write more?

At other times though,
I remember how one flower
in a meadow already full of flowers
somehow adds to the general fireworks effect

as you get to the top of a hill
in Colorado, say, in high summer
and just look down at all that brimming color.
I also try to convince myself

that the note of the smallest
instrument in the band,
the triangle for instance
is important to the conductor

who stands there, pointing his finger
in the direction of the percussions,
demanding that one silvery ping.
And I decide not to stop trying,

at least not for a while, though in truth
I’d rather just sit here reading
how someone else has been acquainted
with the night already, and perfectly.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

April 29

Acquainted With the Night by Robert Frost I have been one acquainted with the night. I have walked out in rain - and back in rain. I have outwalked the furthest city light. I have looked down the saddest city lane. I have passed by the watchman on his beat And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain. I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet When far away an interrupted cry Came over houses from another street, But not to call me back or say good-bye; And further still at an unearthly height, One luminary clock against the sky Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right. I have been one acquainted with the night.

This Has Got To STOP!

I am really tired of so many things. This morning we were sort of waking up and heard a big thunk. No big deal. There are people doing some sort of work across the street and we figured that the thunk was something they were doing that had reverberated on the wind.

We were wrong. This is what we found on my car when Rob went outside to go to the supermarket for some milk and bread and . . .

At lest the car is still usable. Imagine how much fun I'd have trying to find a job without a car.

Monday, April 28, 2008

April 28

Almost everyone has heard of Basho, consider a master of haiku. Here is one by Hashin.
No sky no earth - but still snowflakes fall
In translation the 5-7-5 syllable measure is lost but still . . . Where is the story? Well, once upon a time I participated in an open mic and the host challenged everyone to come in with a haiku to share at the next reading. I not only had one haiku but one for every day between then and the last open mic. I then went on to write a haiku a day for an entire year. I was very grateful when that year was over!!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

April 27

Okay. We knew this was inevitable. One day I would break down and share some of Janice Erlbaum's poetry. How could I not? There is a story behind my choice, of course. I read one of her sestinas at an open mic and my friend Greg Nix and I were talking about poetry and sestinas afterwards. A challenge was made--write a sestina and read it at the next poetry reading. We both not only wrote a sestina but read it at the very next poetry reading. And all this because Janice wrote one long before I even knew what a sestina was. Here is a more recent sestina she wrote, one she shared in her own blog.
How do married people masturbate?
How do married people masturbate? What do they picture when they come? They think of the guy at the office, the girl In the video, her asshole stretched, wincing; Ex-girlfriends, ex-boyfriends, the ones they still hate. There’s nothing safe to think about, they fall asleep. This is how you prepare to go to sleep, How you wake up, how you run home and masturbate. Everybody does it! Why can't you? You hate Me for wanting to fuck when you just want to come – I turn to stroke you, you turn away, wincing. I don't care if you think about another girl. I would want to fuck her too, that girl, Anybody but me, laying next to you asleep, A big fat fucking obstacle to your wincing Nightly ritual: Pop in a tape and masturbate, Watch that girl get drilled. Two minutes to come. You mop up, drift off. You burned off some hate. Not me. I walk around with mine. I hate What I saw on that tape. I thought, poor girl, She's in pain and she has to pretend to come. I lay next to you that night, unable to sleep, Therefore you were unable to masturbate. The clock shined mean and bright in the dark. We winced. Some nights I straddle a pillow, wincing, Squeezing at thoughts I don't want to think, I hate The way you come to me when I masturbate. Face down on my belly, I look like that girl. I writhe a while. I give up. I go to sleep. I don't come. It's okay. I don't need to come. I don't care what you think about when you come, As long as it's me you're fucking, wincing, Waiting for you to get off and slump, fall asleep. You are faithful. I have no right to hate You, hate myself, hate the hundreds of girls With their assholes stretched, so you can masturbate. I know who you are when you masturbate. I come Into the room, kiss your forehead, your lover girl. Why are you wincing? Your toes curl in silence. I hate you. I love you too. Let's go to sleep.